All four solo albums up on iTunes

Finally, I’ve succumbed to the digital revolution and all of my four solo albums are now available on itunes. The following links work if you’ve got itunes already installed on your computer –

this goes to my artist page there, with links to all four album downloads

And Nothing But The Bass
Not Dancing For Chicken
Grace And Gratitude
Behind Every Word

I also found a handful of copies of And Nothing But The Bass on CD while I was in the US – if you want one of those, email me and we’ll sort it out. They are £10 each including worldwide P+P.

Digital sales – the way forward?

From The BBC news site –

Digital music sale revenue tripled in the first half of 2005 compared with 2004, figures have suggested.

This certainly tallies with my experience – of late, digital sales have been out running CD sales for quite a few months (not counting CD sales at gigs, which is still the place where most CDs are sold). I’m probably selling three downloads for every two CDs, with people seemingly opting for the instant nature of downloads, and the reduced price (and no shipping price).

Which is great for me – it’s nice being able to pass the savings onto the buyer with not having to sell a physical CD. I still can’t envisage a time when I was releasing download-only albums as my main release format, but it means that I can continue to do what I do now, which is to press a run of CDs, and then have them become download-only when the CDs sell out. At some point in the future I might press a double or triple-pack CD of the first two or three solo Cds, but I’d have to shift a lot of them for it to be worth my while…

The download thing also means that I’ll be able to do the extra disc with the next album (Lessons Learned.. vol III?) as a download, which will mean that those ordering the next album will get something to listen to as soon as they order the album, and I won’t have to pay pressing costs for a CD I’m not actually selling… and as soon as the CD release date arrives, the extra disc becomes available for sale.

I do love the way that OSCommerce handles web-sales, managing downloads, differing prices for concession gig tickets, options to choose t-shirt sizes etc… when I get enough web-space, I’ll even be able to start offering the download albums in a range of formats… It’s all good.

Oh, which reminds me, Don’t forget to get your tickets for the gig at Darbucka on the 13th…

Soundtrack – Duke Ellington, ‘Classic Tracks Of The 1940s’

another murky step into the digital realm for the music industry

OK, so follow Napster’s model, HMV and Virgin are starting to offer a subscription download service – basically you pay £14.99 and you get access to all the tunes you want. As long as you keep paying, the tunes stay active. If you stop, the tunes are disabled.

This SO doesn’t work for me at all. I don’t like the idea that you have a licence to play something, rather than buying it. I don’t even like the fact that iTunes MP3s are disabled for sharing. There need to be incentives for listeners to buy music, that we all know, and I’m not sure that crippling the digital formats is going to make people feel positively disposed towards them.

For one thing, it just gives software monkeys something else to target their energies into – beating the encryption. The easiest way is clearly going to be to re-record the audio off the track into another format. This can be done very easily if you have an external soundcard, and the software to do it internally is already readily available. If some little hacker-chimp comes up with a one click version of this, it’ll mess up the entire market in crippled files. Is it already out there? I’m guessing yes, and I just haven’t heard about it yet…

And how does it work for the artists? Someone downloads two hundred albums in a month, to add to their archive. how is their £14.99 divided? Is a set fee paid for each track? per album, a percentage of that person’s subs? All seems to be a really crap way of trying to put a stranglehold on downloads that isn’t going to work.

So what incentives work? A feeling of closeness with the artist? Cool packaging? Web-access that can be only got at through the enhanced CD? or just making downloads cheap and easy. And with that, I point you to the downloads page in my online store – three of the albums there are no longer available anywhere else.

Soundtrack – Andy Thornton, ‘The Healing Darkness’.

Is the world really in meltdown??

I dunno, it seems like just about everything has gone to shit of late… Here in the UK, the Police force has been exposed as full of racist scum, the postal service is full of credit card fraudsters, the houses of parliment is populated by the most extreme bunch of uber-losers this side of the white house, bnp euro-candidates are working as school teachers, social services departments fail to communicate and little kids get shot as a result, illegal music downloads are on the increase, 50% of all video file sharing online is now porn, murders in London are up 8%… is the world falling apart? has it always been this messed up, we’re just better informed now? Have I been taken in by the scare-mongering losers at the daily mail?

I mean, very little of this affects ‘me’ on a daily basis – how much of it is happening, how much is blown out of proportion to try and create a story to sell papers in order to get the advertising revenue in? We know most of the reporting on asylum/immigation has been utter bollocks of late (the BBC ran a great story the other day about the amount of people moving in the opposite direction into the new countries joining the EU – not something you’re likely to read about in the mail…), so how can we believe the rest of it. The Channel four doc last night about the postal service was pretty damning – very little staff vetting, crims working on the shop-floor, people with no training delivering letters to places they’ve never been, and up to a million letters a week going missing. Is this yet another example of just how screwed up the selling off of the royal mail has been, or has it always been this bad?

But anyway, at least I’ve got my new webcam to play with – check this out –

a very cool toy – I’ve already taken 200 pictures with it… er, maybe this narcisism is becoming slightly less benign and borderline obsessional… I’m sure it’ll wear off….

Soundtrack – in preparation for recording my new album, I’ve been listening through lots of my old unreleased stuff, as well as some things I recorded yesterday… more recording to happen this afternoon…

Too many downloads??

One of the uber-cool things about having this new webserver is that I’ve got a really excellent stats program that tells me all about who’s been visiting which pages they’ve been looking at, and what they’ve been downloading. I had no idea I was getting so many downloads!! hundreds of MP3 downloads a week, it’s remarkable.

Which begs the question, is there too much audio on the MP3s page? Is it stopping people from buying the CDs, cos the MP3s are enough? It’s a pretty bleedin’ selfish thing to do to download all the audio, burn it to CD and never buy the proper CDs, but maybe that’s what people are doing – I’ve made it too easy for people not to buy the CDs… I mean, I’m still selling CDs, but not in the quantities you’d expect given the amount of downloaded material there is off the site…

So, here’s the challenge. If you want more downloads, you gotta start buying more CDs! Lots of CD sales = lots more MP3s being made available. If you’ve not got all the CDs yet, then shame on you – go and get them now, via the paypal links etc…

And if you have got them, er, convince someone else to buy them…

What have I been up to? Well, on the music equipment front, I’ve bought a Mindprint Envoice preamp, which is absolutely lovely – really nice clean tube sound, with a great compressor and parametric EQ as well. I’m running it in the FX loop on my MPX-G2, and it just sounds delish.

I’m also in the process of negotiating a new amp deal, after finishing my working relationship with Ashdown – I’ve been using Ashdown stuff for about 5 years, and they make great amps, but a solo player doing what I do needs a certain kind of support from a company like that, and I wasn’t getting it. They seemed to have lost interest in helping to promote what I do, so it was time to head elsewhere. A shame in some ways, given the length of my time promoting their stuff (most of my students use ashdown amps, and I get about 15-20 emails a week asking questions about ashdown related stuff – BTW, from now on, it’s probably better to direct those questions through their website…) but also an exciting time, as I’m in the process of finalising a deal for a ‘signature’ powered cabinet – I’ve been after these for years, and Ashdown never made them. Finally, it looks like I’m going to get really hi quality full range powered speakers so I can start running in stereo. It should all be finalised by the end of the week, so I’ll post more about it then…

I’ve also spoken to Modulus, and my new bass should be ready in about a week! how exciting is that?????

Soundtrack – Zakir Hussain, ‘Making Music’; Three Prime, ‘Three Prime’.

Boo!!!! …no, really, I enjoyed it…

…I was just saying your name!!!

Last night went to see Boo Hewerdine play. You’ve probably not heard Boo play, but you’ll have more than likely heard his songs, him having written for Eddie Reader, KD Lang and others. I saw him play at Greenbelt this year, and really enjoyed it, and as the gig was part of Delicatessen, organised by sarda and the cheat, then I had to go. Add to that the presence of Rob Jackson, looping guitarist and very nice bloke, and you’ve got yourself a great evening.

Airstar opened the evening – it’s always odd watching them, having played with them before, but nice to hear the songs, which are really strong, and to see the cheat doing a remarkable unwitting impersonation of paul field

Then Boo came on – somewhere in a parallel universe, Boo’s old band, The Bible, are hailed as the savours of itellegent pop and selling hundreds of thousands of records, while Paddy McAloon is out touring arts centres playing gloriously miserable songs to 90 enthralled punters who feel like their in some secret society for knowing who he is…

…in this universe, it’s clearly the other way round. Boo’s between song banter is hilarious and provides the perfect counter-weight to his miserable unlucky-in-life songs. Rob Jackson’s guitar playing is a thing of great beauty and wonder, and fortunately Boo gets this and gives him some room to loop and layer is Frisell-esque Telecaster loveliness through a few of the tunes. And Rosalie Deighton’s BVs are a little quiet, but add yet another layer to a glorious live sound.

So now I’m sat listening to Rob’s album ‘Wire, Wood and Magnets’, and it’s fantastic – really really lovely. The missing link between Frisell’s country exploits and Phil Keaggy’s acoustic instrumentals. Great sounds, great playing, and some exquisite tunes. Hopefully Rob and I will be recording something or other together soon, so watch this space. We’re also thinking of doing a gig or two – maybe theo and I, with Rob as well… lots of possibilities, but for now, go and buy his CD – there are lots of downloads on his website, so have a listen, then get it. you can buy Rob’s CD at the Burning Shed shop, which also happens to stock loads of other really really cool music – lots of Theo Travis’ other albums (start with Heart Of The Sun, it’s a masterpiece), NoMan (another great miserable adult pop band), and Peter Chilver’s albums (soundscape stuff, lots of fine bass work and a very silly sense of humour just beneath the surface).

Soundtrack Rob Jackson’s album’s just finished, and I’m now listening to Boo’s live album.