Monday, June 25, 2018

WE'RE LIVE!


My first two singles have been approved by CDBaby and are already live on many of the popular digital retail sites. Both tracks are searchable on iTunes & Amazon and I just uploaded these videos to YouTube.

They're not necessarily videos-- I just used the simple cover art I made for the Bittersweet Smile single and applied it to a new project in Mixcraft as the video content with the song playing underneath. 

I don't have the time, energy, money or interest to make a proper music video, but I did want to make sure I had the songs readily available on that flatform. YouTube is one of the most popular and accessible websites on the planet.

I honestly haven't considered how I plan to market these songs yet. I want people to hear them. I've been fighting the idea of having any sort of identity for this project whatsoever. Part of me wants to take on the challenge of getting these songs heard without any identity beyond the nom de plume The Brave Companions. 

That's terrible advice for anyone trying to make a living in the music industry-- I understand that.

There isn't any timeline attached to this project.  There will be no tour promoting this project.  It's beginning to feel like the concept behind this project is creating entertainment content that only exists in the digital universe.  

The truth is, I have the luxury of being able to experiment with the marketing of this project.  I'd be curious to see if I can prove to myself that I'm capable of making a living creating music from the comforts of my own home. 

It's an exciting point in the project timeline and I won't have time to dedicate to writing and recording until next week. I'll have plenty of time to scheme up how best to get these songs heard in the meantime. 
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

PROGRESS!

Album Artwork       Album Artwork

The first two tracks of my new project have been finalized and submitted to CDBaby!

It feels great to have made a significant step forward.  I'm hoping to capitalize on this momentum by writing and recording more material.  I'm especially pleased that I managed to accomplish this during an extremely busy period.

It goes to show that, if you make your goals manageable and attainable, nothing can get in your way.  I wasn't afraid to modify my original goal-- that is where many people, daunted by the enormity of their goal, assume it's easier to simply throw in the towel.

Maybe two singles, one being a cover song, isn't a tremendous achievement. I'll be the first to suggest it is not, but there's not denying the fact that it's progress.  A few short weeks ago, I had nothing.  Now my project has two releases under it's belt that will soon be available on numerous digital retail sites.

I'll have more time this weekend to devise and refine the next step of my goal.  I'm going to have to figure out how best to market these singles while still staying focused on creating more material.

 I've really been reveling in the anonymity of this project.  I want people to think this is a full band and I almost would prefer that my involvement be obscured. I want people to discover these songs organically, without me shoving it in anyone's face.  Still, I will need to make sure that its out there and easy to find.

More to come this weekend. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

PUSH AHEAD

Summer is pretty much here.  Officially, we still have two weeks, but the weather here in the Pacific Northwest has begun to turn and my personal schedule is filling up much faster than I'd like.

I'm finding that I have increasingly less free time and the little time I do have, I'd prefer not to spend indoors.

I work at what is essentially a tourist attraction, so this is our peak season.  Summer projects are ramping up and with that comes overtime and exhaustion. I also have a 9 year-old daughter, and she's experiencing the transverse of what I am-- increased free time with ample opportunity for fun and adventure.

With fear setting in that my project completion date might come and go before I know it, I really wanted to take some action that will give me a sense of progress and accomplishment. 

I came into a little bit of extra cash.  Not a lot, but for someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, it was a pleasant predicament to find myself in.  After using part of it responsibly to tackle some bills, I found myself with about $250 unaccounted for.

I decided I would take the two tracks that are already completed and pay to have them setup with CDBaby to release as singles.

The total cost for taking care of both tracks was just shy of $70.  There were some restrictions with regard to the cover song, but here's what that included:

Sell on store.cdbaby.com
Sell on your website & Facebook
Global Music Distribution
Click here for more info...
Make money from YouTube, TV, & film
Free Show.co marketing tools
Click here for more info...
Performing Rights Affiliation 
Click here for more info...
Song Registration in 100+ Countries
Click here for more info...
Publishing Royalty Collection
Click here for more info...
Mechanical Royalty Collection

The fee also included a charge that cover's the licensing of the cover song.   When I get home, I'll have to prep the songs to upload and ensure that they're completely finished.   I'll have to create some album artwork as well and upload all of the pertinent track information.

I used the remaining funds to purchase 3 additional drum libraries for EZDrummer2, the software that essentially acts as my drummer.  I did this to encourage myself to continue to create and work toward my goal of releasing an album's worth of material by late August.

Hopefully, this motivates me to keep plugging away.  I'll probably work on creating some sort of Youtube video for the songs.  Who knows, this could even help to contribute financially to the project!

A lot still lies ahead.  But this is another step forward.  And moving forward is what it's all about. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

DAUNTING TASKS AHEAD-- YOU CAN ADJUST YOUR GOALS

June is a mere few days away.

I'm starting to get nervous about reaching my initial goal for this project.

The prospect of finishing writing and recording 10 new songs and having them ready for release in just under 3 months feels a little unrealistic right now.

Right now, I've got 2 songs fairly well done and a third song that is in the works-- written, but a fairly long ways from being considered 'done'.

I've got a lot of options right now.  The first option in front of me is the easiest-- just give up.  Pack up the music gear and stuff it back in the closet.  Pretend none of this ever happened. I've already got two recordings done that I'm fairly proud of, so that would be a waste of effort, and disappointing, too.

The next option is to just scramble to meet the deadline.  Slop together 10 songs as fast as I can. If I go that route, I might feel the satisfaction of making my goal-- but I suspect I won't be proud of the material itself.  Ultimately, this route seems likely to discourage any further attempts at producing new material.

So, I think what I will do is a compromise that will eventually get me to my original goal. I'm going to put out a series of EPs containing 2-5 songs each.  Collectively, the 3 or 4 EPs will combine to represent a body of work that comprises of 12 or so songs.  Maybe 2 original songs and one cover song on each release.  We'll see how that works.

I'm going to try to knock out two more songs, which would put me at 3 originals and a cover, and try to get that out before the end of June.  I don't think I will physically release these until I've compiled  more than 10 tracks.

Stay tuned.  Things are always changing.  We'll get there. Keep your head down.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

4 THINGS TO DO FIRST

I'm still in the very early stages of my latest project. When I received an email this morning, the headline caught my eye.

Today's post from the CDBaby DIY Musician blog was titled "Ready to launch your next music project? Do these 4 things FIRST"-- I was stoked!

The article, written by Dave Kusek, is short but sweet and touches on many of the points I've been hammering on in this blog. It also breaks down and defines what exactly a 'project' might be.

I highly recommend you read the article for yourself (and sign up for Dave's webinar next Tuesday).  For the sake of brevity, I'm going to answer his 4 questions here as they relate to my forthcoming project.

1. What is the big-picture purpose of your project?

The big picture for my project is essentially two-fold.  I have a strong artistic purpose and a business purpose that I intend to go hand in hand.

The artistic purpose is to create a body of work that I am proud of.  As stated previously, this will be my first professional release in almost a decade.  Creating something that I'm proud of has always been a goal with previous releases, but with this one specifically, I need to prove to myself that I can still do this while reminding myself that this is something I'm good at.  The fact that I'm doing this alone stands only to amplify those feelings upon completion.

The other, more measurable purpose for this project is to create a residual income stream from this album by way of song placements, digital & physical sales, and other publishing royalties. More specifically, I would like this project to generate enough revenue to fund the book I'm writing. 

2. What are your goals?

To be honest, I haven't really set specific goals for this project yet.  Knowing that this project can't move forward without having written and recorded the material that will become the project-- I guess I just assumed that I would address them once that stuff was completed. 

I guess there are a few goals that have been set for this project.  I know that I want to have it ready for release on or before August 20th of this year.  I know that I want it to be at least 10 songs in total, if not more.  Outside of that, I haven't put down any SMART goals for this project.  Let's do that now.

I would like to place half of the songs from this record (at least 5 tracks) in television shows.  In the past, I have placed songs in shows on MTV, Oxygen and FOX.  That was almost a decade ago.  Flash forward to today, we have a completely different landscape in which people consume their entertainment.  Netflix, Hulu and even internet webseries are more prevalent in media than ever before.  5 unique song placements in TV by the end of 2018 will require a lot of hustle, but I feel its a tangible goal.

I've never placed a song in a film before, outside of skate videos back in high school that may or may not have ever reached an audience outside of my home town. I would like to place at least one song in a film by next year.  

Additionally, I want to ensure that the album is available on every streaming and digital distribution retailer available.  Ordinarily, this would be a monumental task unto itself-- but CDBaby really takes care of its clients by handling this.  

I have a loftier goal of raising enough capital to put a down payment on a house that will ultimately serve as host to my home studio, but I'm planning to fund that from a pool of music revenue as well as writing.  I'll have to clarify that as the book planning progresses.

3. Make an action plan

I've somewhat begun this and laid it out in previous posts.  Essentially, I'm going to plug away writing and recording over the next 3 months.  I've already got two songs completed (though, one of them is a cover song and it may hinder the project's completion by virtue of licensing and the additional capital required to release the song).  I've also tentatively completed the artwork.  

Once the material is completed and ready for production, I'm giving myself a budget of $1,000 to cover mastering, duplication and marketing.  An extremely thin budget, but that's going to be part of the challenge.  The duplication portion of the budget will go to getting a small batch of physical albums pressed, cover the licensing fees for the cover song, and paying for the PRO CDBaby! membership to get the songs into digital retailers. 

Whatever remains of the $1,000 budget will be spent on social media marketing.  I'm guessing that this will be less than $250 dollars, but hopefully that will get the word out on the album since I'm planning to do ZERO performances.  

Lastly, I intend to make a music video for the strongest song of the album.  I'm not sure how or what this video will be, I only know that I plan on doing it entirely by myself to avoid incurring any additional hits to my budget. 

4. When is the project actually finished?

The project will be actually finished when I have the physical CDs in my hands, the album is on iTunes and Amazon and all of the other prominent retailers, the advertisements have been purchased and planned, and a music video is available online.


Even for someone as engrossed with the subject of planning for musicians as I am-- Dave's article got me thinking about things I hadn't considered previously.  It just goes to show that you might consider yourself to have a good grasp of what you're doing, but when you listen and consider the advice from others while taking a big step back to get a bird's eye view of where you're heading, you might actually glean something unexpected. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

INEVITABLE ANXIETIES

I just finished the next track for my album.  Finished probably isn't the right word-- there's lots of mixing left to do, but I did complete the skeleton of the song and a good portion of the flesh.

I've found myself frustrated while mixing both of the songs I've done for the album.  As I tweak each voice in the track, sometimes I find myself going down a rabbit hole for which I never find my way back. Sometimes, I get to a point where I feel like the whole thing is ruined and I just want to walk away for good.

What I continue to tell myself is simply to keep going. I can't let frustration interfere with creation.  I know ultimately that I can go back and fix everything-- tedious as it may be.  But, I can't do anything if I stop making stuff.

Two songs, still unfinished.  It sounds like a drop in the bucket.

Nevertheless, that's 1/5 of the way to my goal of ten songs, and a long way from where I started.

I'm finding now that its a lot harder to go at it alone, rather than with a band. When you do it yourself, you don't have anyone to lean on for direction or support.  I thought that doing it myself would afford me tremendous artistic freedom, which it has, but I never considered the detriments of solitude.

Even though my late August deadline feels looming, at least I'm moving forward and making progress. Plans may change still, so I'm staying flexible.

Here's some art I'm considering using for the album. I'm also flirting with the idea of performing under a band name pseudonym, The Brave Companions.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

MUSIC VIDEOS ON THE CHEAP

Music videos are integral to the promotion and sales of your songs.  Nowadays, everyone has access to a decent camera and editing software is cheaper than ever before.  Still, it remains a mystery to many artists out there who simply do not possess the knowledge or the time to do it on their own.

Over at the CDBaby DIY Blog, they sat down with Wons Phreely, an Australian-born, LA-based synth-pop artist who recently did his own video with a budget under $1,000.

Not only did he do his own video-- it's pretty great, too!

Read the full article at the link above and check out the video for "The Night Has an Alibi" below.