Reconsidering Charts – Listening vs Shopping

One of the first social networks I ever joined was – back in the pre-corporate buy-out days, it was an amazing way to connect with music listeners, to find people with similar taste, and through them discover some amazing music.

What was most revolutionary about it at the time, at least for me, was that it was a website that created ‘charts’ based on listening, not on shopping. So you had a record of the music that was soundtracking your life, rather than just the latest things to tempt you to part with cash. Continue reading “Reconsidering Charts – Listening vs Shopping”

Who Is Your Audience?

As some of you know, I’ve recently started teaching in the music department at Kidderminster College. It’s a fabulous opportunity, as I get to spend every tuesday working with bassists (and a violinist!) in the mornings and on social media with a load of mainly singer/songwriters in the afternoon. Yeah, two of my favourite things, in one day. Lucky me!

So last week, I set the afternoon students the task of thinking – and blogging – about who their social media audience is:

  • Who do you know reads what you write?
  • Who do you imagine is reading it when you write it (who are writing to)
  • Who else may end up reading it?
  • Who would you most like to have reading it?
  • How do these considerations affect how and what you post (be it original words/pictures/video/music or shared stuff from around the web)

Continue reading “Who Is Your Audience?”

What Do Singles Sales Tell Us About The Health Of The Music Industries?

Here’s an interesting data set – a list of the best selling singles ever, divided into physical and digital. It lists anything with ‘verified’ sales of above 5 million (though those numbers are often rightly questioned because of the way that ‘sales’ are reported – there are 185 references at the bottom of the wiki page 🙂 )…

One of the interesting bits for me is the time span of each era – the physical sales cover 1935 (Bing Crosby, Silent Night: 30 million sales – at a time when it must’ve been owned by pretty much everyone on the planet that had a record player, was before albums existed, probably sold even more copies as sheet music and was a song in the public domain!) through to 2004 (Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams: 7 million physical copies, of a track that was also on an album that sold 15 million too.) So that’s a 69 year span, with 128 singles selling more than 5 million copies. It’s worth keeping in mind what percentage of the records released those were (how many records had even been made, let alone were stocked in shops, by the end of the 40s/50s/60s etc…)

The digital list covers 2004-2012 (8 years), and has 104 singles selling more than 5 million copies. All of which also appeared on (numerous) albums, were licensed for films/games, earned some money for streaming/youtube/other usage, and were no doubt torrented extensively. But, crucially, none of them required any plastic discs to be made and shipped around the world. No shops to stock them, no trucks to carry them across the country… So in terms of where the money went, far less of the gross revenue needed to go on the fixed cost of physical manufacture and distribution of a scarce good.  Continue reading “What Do Singles Sales Tell Us About The Health Of The Music Industries?”

How to Talk About Music on the Internet

The ‘publishing revolution’ of the internets has been overwhelmingly positive. We know that, right?

However, there have been a few – perhaps unintended – consequences to all online words being given equal billing (at least potentially) and all public typed conversations being searchable. So let’s have a think about how we – as musicians – talk about music on the internet:

One of the hardest things for a musician to do online is work out two very distinct ways of describing music positively: Continue reading “How to Talk About Music on the Internet”

“conversational hegemony”, or how lobbyists hijack the terms of engagement

It’s kind of in the job description, for Lobbyists to try and limit the parameters of any discussion to the ones that concern their particular paid interest. Lobbying is high-dollar stuff and getting into time-wasting concepts like ‘fairness’ and ‘seeing things as they really are’ are not what good lobbyists get paid for.

They get paid for ‘conversational hegemony’ – taking over the parameters of any discussion, so that even before they put their point across, the fencing around the subject is skewed in their favour. Thus recording industry lobbyists, like the BPI in the UK and the RIAA in the US, have successfully made so much of the discussion about ‘music’ – particularly at a policy/government level – about their particular set of economic concerns. Namely:

“how do we protect the virtual monopoly that we’ve had until now on defining ‘success’ for recording artists, controlling the avenues of manufacture, distribution,  promotion and publishing/licensing, and thus leave in place our usurious terms of engagement with the artists whose recordings we exploit for financial gain?” Continue reading ““conversational hegemony”, or how lobbyists hijack the terms of engagement”

Brand New Music And How To Get It

My internet bandwidth at home is taking quite a battering today, as I upload gig 3 to Bandcamp, in preparation for sending the download codes to all those who’ve bought the Dropbox/Bandcamp versions of the FingerPainting full set. At the same time, I’m putting some of the tunes from gigs 2 and 3 on Soundcloud, so you can hear what you’re missing 🙂

The album of gig 3 is called “Nie mój cyrk, Nie moje maÅ‚py” which is a spectacularly brilliant Polish phrase that means ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’. Here’s why: Continue reading “Brand New Music And How To Get It”

Expanding Audio Orthodoxy – Recording, Mixing, Mastering

As you know, I’m in the middle of mixing and mastering 11 hours of new music. It’s taking a long time, but the results are some of the best audio work I’ve ever done. So let’s have a chat about audio recording. 🙂

My thesis: The received wisdom of how and why things are done is, it seems to me, based on a resource equation that exists in a paid studio environment.

The factors are time, budget & complexity.

The assumption is that if a project is simple it’s because the budget is small and therefore time will be tight. Thus mixing from the multi-track to 2 track without getting too fixated on the final version maximises time in the studio, doing what studios do best. You make it sound as good as possible through the speakers there & don’t worry too much about continuity between tracks, consistent leveling etc. Those wouldn’t be a productive use of mix time. Continue reading “Expanding Audio Orthodoxy – Recording, Mixing, Mastering”

How To Apply A Discount Code In Bandcamp

Today’s the last day for the ‘awesomenessftw‘ 10% discount code on orders for the new album…

Here’s how to apply it.

  • Click ‘buy now’ on whichever USB or CD package you’re wanting (if you just want the download, it’s ‘name your price’ so feel free to knock 10% off what you initially thought you’d like to pay, and type that in instead 😉 )
  • note the minimum price for the package you’ve chosen (indicated to the right of the ‘Name Your Price’ box).
  • Click on the invitation to add a discount code (circled in the pic below)

  • type, or cut ‘n’ paste ‘awesomenessftw’ into the box that appears and click ‘apply’ – type the code without the ‘ ‘ at either end. Keep all the letters lowercase.
  • You’ll then see that the price to the right of the box where you type in the amount you’re wanting to pay has changed – it’ll be 10% lower than it was. You can now type in that amount (or any other amount above that, though the discount code seems unnecessary in that case 😉 ) As you can see in the picture below:

So there you go!

Buying the whole set at this stage helps us to pay for the time it’s going to take to mix and master all the recordings and then to press the CDs and load up all the USB Sticks. It also means that you can get immediate access to the dropbox folder with the daily updates in it (there are three tracks from the 2nd gig of the set in there now), and/or each gig sent to you via a Bandcamp download code every time they’re finished being mixed.

How To Upgrade Your Purchase:

PLEASE NOTE – if you’ve already bought the download on it’s own and want to upgrade to either the CD or one of the ‘get the whole set’ versions, please just email me and we’ll sort that out. The full amount you’ve already paid will be credited against the upgrade. No problem.


Is This Unique? Every Note We’ve Ever Played Will Be Released

Here’s a list of facts about Daniel Berkman and I:

  • We met at the sound-check to our first gig together.
  • The idea to play only improvised duo music came about while setting up for that gig.
  • We’ve now done 10 shows together, resulting in somewhere around 11-12 hours of music (I think).
  • We’ve never played together NOT in front of an audience. Never “jammed”, never even properly sound-checked together.
  • Every note we’ve ever played together is recorded – multi-track proper hi-res recording of every gig we’ve done.
  • It will all be released soon. Every minute of it.

I’ve no idea if this is something that has ever happened before. I’ve certainly never come across a band that were able to commercially release every note they’d ever played together. These aren’t ‘board tapes’ that serial bootleggers are dumping on This properly mixed, mastered and released. Continue reading “Is This Unique? Every Note We’ve Ever Played Will Be Released”

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