Tag Archives: Spotify

Demo tapes to Dropping

We’ve just ‘dropped’ a track; right now people all over the world can listen to our brand new song ‘Take the Blindness From Your Eyes’. This is a far cry from our first ever recorded release. A three track demo tape recorded and released in 1996 on cassette tape. I remember to this day when we drove home from the studio putting the tape into the car stereo and being blown away at hearing our first record.

IMG_20171215_192943905 (1)
we were chuffed with our first sleeve for our first demo tape.

The Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon were recorded at Split level studios at Ingliston, Edinburgh, it was a great experience for a young band. The reel to reel tape spun at the back of the mixing room as we laid down our the tracks that we thought would break us into the music scene.

The tracks were all mixed down to a DAT tape master and we nervously took this small cassette (which we couldn’t play on normal cassette players) to a duplication service called Chow Productions. While they could print out several copies of the tape artwork and print on the cassette they couldn’t duplicate the music from the master; so they printed off a batch of blank cassettes with our artwork. We had to get the DAT onto a CD and manually recorded the three songs onto the printed cassettes. This was done by a specialist who was able to convert the master DAT to a CD.

IMG_20171215_193019237 (1)
can you spot the three songs that would appear on our first album!

Our first demos would be packed in padded envelopes with a typewritten letter explaining who we were (an early version of a bio I guess). There were computers around in 1996, it’s just we didn’t have any. I got some addresses for record companies out of the NME and Melody Maker listings and sent off the package envelopes with the demo tape and hoped for the best.

CDRs became mainstream around the late 90’s early 00’s. The studios we were now working with handed us a shiny disc with our new demos. The world of home studios and doing this for ourselves was still a couple of years away. We would get these CDs duplicated then, in a similar way to the tapes, we would package them in a padded envelope and send it off to record company addresses that we found in NME and Melody Maker however this time we had a PC that we could print of letters with pictures.

IMG_20171215_193109814 (1)
By 2004 we were regularly sending off demo CDs

As the 2000s surged into middle age we now had our own studio gear and were recording our own demos and albums. The first self recording was Cold Home Street which we burned to CDR. After this we upgraded to digital multi track but CDR was still the format to send stuff to the ever silent record companies.

By the time we were recording One More Solo the internet was screeching (kids won’t get this ) into existence and loading up at around 500k, MP3’s were creeping in and the ipod was taking off. Bebo arrived and we were now sharing our music in a more direct route to our followers. Back then it was customary to let listeners hear 30 second previews of the track and they would buy the full MP3 in a frenzy of rapid Weird Decibels anticipation. They didn’t. However some people were still buying music but there was no doubt that the free tier was on the way and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, pay what you want, strategy was an interesting experiment. To be fair bittorrent, the pirate bay and napster had already set (arguably illegally, but record companies were still in the stone age) new ground rules and while they were now being dismantled by the ever eager record companies (who were still not calling us) the music distribution models had been changed. Many listeners were no longer paying for music.

Riot Act and Quiet Act were never sent to record companies, they were uploaded to the internet however CDs were still very much important to print as we had a fanbase that wanted them, we still have some if your interested. Shop Bandcamp

After a lengthy pause between Quiet Act and Weird Decibels 1 the music industry was changing rapidly. Spotify had arrived 2008 to try and muscle in on iTunes. It did in spectacular style. We were slow to adapt.

Weird Decibels 1 was released in 2011, demo tapes were now a long way off however we were still printing limited batch CDs. We tried to make WdB1 more attractive by offering a tiered approach to our music. You could listen free on Bandcamp, buy the normal CD or order the limited edition CD with added an artwork booklet, which we sold out of.

We also had to consider a growing number of formats including WAV, FLAC and ACC. Streaming was now a growing force; downloads still made us money though. We finally made the jump to streaming via a digital distributor. We could now effectively be our own record company.

Roll forward to 2016 and Weird Decibels was printed on CD and sold less than WdB1 however most of our top stream tracks are from WdB2 . Now we could see who was listening to our music, a slight nod of pride arose when we saw significant activity in South America and other far off lands.

Of course we were still behind the times, many artists were now ‘dropping’ tracks, no hype no fanfare, just uploading songs for people to listen to. Vinyl had also made a massive comeback. This appears to be out of our reach at present. The mastering techniques involved and the cost of printing are out of reach. Hopefully this will change.

blindness
Take the Blindness From Your Eyes is the first song we have ever ‘dropped’. Its a new approach to releasing music for us. We tend to write and release albums every few years.

So here we are now, we’ve dropped a track but now it’s getting harder to reach audiences without paying for promoted posts given that we’re not paid in the first place! Facebook isn’t helping, people are fed up with it, so we need to find a new way to reach an audience. Until we figure that out feel free to enjoy our new song.

Just a wee note, when we sell a CD at a gig it’s a huge thing these days. The money made from that single purchase can takes us months to raise on streaming services, So if you like a local act buy a CD!

Dear fellow bands please let us know what your first demo was!

Pabs

Advertisements

My Music Collection… The Missing Years.

Last weekend I was about to head off for a camping trip with my family when I remembered that my Dad would have his Bose CD player; we always bring together our latest CD’s and over a few beers we play them. Problem was I had very few new CD’s to let him hear.

So I thought its OK I’ll skim through Spotify at the latest albums I’ve been listening and just connect my phone to the Bose. However when I scrolled down through my recent playlists I could only remember how a few of my recent music finds sounded.

My Spotify albums; some of which i can't remember listening to!
My Spotify albums; some of which i can’t remember listening to!

I went back upstairs to my CD collection that is quietly gathering dust in the spare room. As I looked through my records I could see very few new releases, I realised that my collection now has a massive gap thanks to the wonders of streaming.

Spotify is my weapon of choice; premium is a fantastic package that allows me to listen to a vast collection of music that ultimately is not mine. The sound quality is good as well I have the stream and download rate maxed but it is not a patch on a CD through a decent amp. As I write I am listening to a CD that I streamed constantly on Spotify and there is a depth of music that I had not heard previously.

CD's old and new. Sound great.
CD’s old and new. Sound great.

I’m an artist who has music on Spotify through Weird Decibels https://open.spotify.com/album/0RqqqJ6LnoqCjbPdGYuMxL  and Morningday https://open.spotify.com/album/15QpqO4q0wT1EP4qV3LnG4 I have another concern. CD’s are hard to sell because everyone loves streaming and downloading (not to mention BitTorrent) and I get that. However my recent cheque of $8 from digital distribution service CDbaby won’t cover the cost of the CD’s I printed!

The future of Spotify is slightly uncertain, it’s losing money at an alarming rate and it is ripe for a hostile takeover. Tidal has arrived at our shores and as much as I love HD streaming £20 a month seems steep; I’m going to wait and see how this pans out. There is something that doesn’t sit right with multi millionaire musicians starting up a service to challenge the likes of Spotify etc. Are they any better? Do they want to control the market? Are they really looking after us, the wee guys?

Ideally I want to own my collection (downloads don’t cut it…) and as an artist I want to be paid for the hours that I toil for music that I hope you enjoy. I’m also worried about the vast amount of bands that I have simply forgotten about and I’m sure the vast majority of music consumers now do the same. Listen. Like. Next. Repeat.

CD nights are great
CD nights are great

So have had made the decision to buy CD’s (or pay for unsigned downloads) again (my wife won’t be pleased); perhaps not in the volume I used to (I can’t afford that) and I will continue support music Spotify will remain a vital cog in my music set-up but perhaps I will use it as the ‘try before you buy’ like I used to. A physical format is a wonderful way of transporting you back to the time you bought the product and well the love of artwork has been well documented.

Perhaps my music collection won’t be so sparse if the cloud ever starts to rain…

https://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/ 

Music in 2014 will be…

…the year of writing Weird Decibels 2.

image

Weird Decibels 1 is actually a 2012 album, 2013 was the year we promoted it. Some of the songs were written back in 2009. So our thoughts turn to the next set of songs. We started writing last year but the writing was in fits and starts. Ms Asphyxia has been played live, a few others are holding on, Kill it! Kill it! Standing on a Viewpoint but its fair to say life got in the way and writing halted.
We’ve booked a weekend break in a lodge in Oakley. We’ll take the acoustics and a load of beer and wine, the studio and a dose of hope that inspiration will take hold and some songs will be born. I can see this being the way we write our songs in the future.

….when One More Solo turns ten.

image

Its hard to believe our ‘come back’ album is ten years old. This is the first album we recorded when Stu rejoined the band. The album was easy to write, we were invigorated, the 2 year break (myself, Derek and Greg joined Jon Shaw and formed the Seventeenth) helped refreshen our outlook. We recorded this album at Derek’s old flat on a Tascam 788. We had one or two mics the best of which was a Stagg condenser. We made a vocal booth from egg cups and it was mixed on my hi fi with two huge Celef speakers as monitors. I’ve learned a wee bit more about sound production. The album has been remastered, it sounds a bit better, more clarity and more dynamics and less guitar ringing! (Derek is gutted) Its a simple remaster, it will sound a lot better on its 20th anniversary when I finally work out how to use multi band compressors. The One More Solo remaster is out soon and will be free to download.

…. Weird Decibels playing live.

image

Derek is injured so we won’t be playing live until at least the spring. We hope to play new venues and new cities, maybe even new countries. Playing live made 2013 special for us and we met a lot of great new friends. I’d definitely like to re visit the 13th note I love that venue. Another gig in England would be nice…

….when music videos are once again all the range.

image

Wonder was great in 2013 but we left it too long to record its follow up so this year we’re going to have more content on YouTube. The Speak video will be first, then a video for Joker. We hope to have the film Making of Weird Decibels 1 finished and uploaded into episodes on YouTube. We’ll give video podcasts a shot as well.

…. a new Podcast series.

image

The podcasts have been popular. Thanks for listening. This year we will reminisce. We hope to have some friends from old Falkirk bands guesting in our pods, some live performances. A look at one more solo and general silliness. Look out for the podcast from the writing weekend where we’ll hopefully have a brand new song or two for you to hear in acoustic format.

…. social networking???

image

I’ve no idea where social networks are going. We’re signed up to all the major players. Updating them all is a pain in the arse. Engagement is the key… Is Facebook declining? Is MySpace back? Is reverbnation the hub? Is Bandcamp ever going to improve their search algorithm? There is a part of me that says word of mouth is best. I’m at a loss. Where is the best platform for our band? YouTube? See above.

….the solo album

image

I am writing a lot of songs at the moment. I trying to write my writers block to death! ( writing as much as you can kills block ) Some are for the band others are for me, mainly the tunes that wouldn’t work with the band but I don’t want to throw away. Seriously around early December I was staring at a blank page holding the guitar and nothing was coming. That thought. Is this it? Is this me finished? I played and played the guitar, staring out into the garden. Then stuff clicked and I recorded everything onto the tablet. I took the best ideas and have laid them down but its getting harder, so I have to work harder. Hopefully my 7th solo record will be out this year. However my priority remains Weird Decibels 8th!

…. I will expand ‘Pablo’s unsigned adventure’

image

Bandcamp, it was a random search and I stumbled upon the Spanish band 9M Lied. Loved their recordings and I decided to write about my favourite unsigned bands. Its not easy, there is so much content on the internet and its frustrating trying to find the hidden gems. The criteria? Unsigned. Not recommend by staff ( I don’t trust this). Not the most popular. I want the bands that are ignored or just starting out. Recommendations welcome. Hopefully I’ll get one new band a month.

…. Fail to hold back the stream

I love CD’s. Want to explore vinyl. You cannot match the sound quality of these physical formats…yet. But i cannot afford it. Bought 5 CDs last month, (still waiting for their arrival…) Cost me a small fortune. I have Spotify premium. ( another can of worms) For now its great but I feel weird using Spotify knowing how much we as artists get paid per stream. Anyway its feeding my music appetite this year as it did the last.

So enjoy your music in 2014 my big hope? Well we get signed, but seriously? A new scene, a fresh batch of new bands. Fingers crossed.

Pabs.