Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Sod it.

As I've mentioned on several occasions, I've been recording an album.  Actually, that bit was quick.  It's been sitting on my computer in pieces for weeks, only wanting one evening's work to pull it all together. And I've been avoiding it's insistent nudges and subtle throat-clearings.  My reluctance to finishing it stemmed from several different concerns:

  1. My squeamishness at becoming one of those people who spam friends on forums and social networks in order to monetise personal relationships for a few coppers, in a strange circle-jerk of 'I'll buy yours if you buy mine.'
  2. My sense of the hypocrisy of loudly criticising the fake bonhomie and the cynicism of screwing money out of people for artistic endeavours and vanity projects, only to then come out with "Hey, pals! I'm flogging an album!" (see Point 1)
  3. Having to finally get to grips with the technology required in order to actually sell things on the internet - websites, 'Buy' buttons, iTunes, making CDs, etc.
  4. The reluctance to sink a relatively large amount of money (it's all relative; I'm as poor as a church mouse) into a vanity project that would sit under my bed for the rest of time, unsold and unloved.
  5. A sense, rightly or wrongly, of loyalty towards the band. Being in a duo is very like being in a marriage, and a solo side-project can carry with it the sulphurous whiff of the extra-marital affair.  Although we have the musical equivalent of an open marriage, one can't help feeling a little awkward about these things. Even when the partner is totally cool with it, you worry there'll be speculation among observers, clicking of tongues, folding of arms and whispers of: "Ooh, trouble in Paradise." Announcing a side-project is akin to letting your Mother-in-law examine your internet browsing history.
  6. The knowledge that I'm always a little behind what is exciting me. Half of the songs on the album are songs I've done (and subsequently deleted) half-cocked versions of on YouTube, and even if they're new songs to some people, they're old songs to me. The thing that excites me more is the song I haven't quite finished writing yet. So going back to these songs is like going round to an ex-girlfriend's house to collect the last of your belongings.  For those of you who think that deleting the YouTube versions is a low blow, rest assured I will be putting up some new versions of them, solo uke & vox live performance versions, with access to a free audio of those versions.  Same songs as what's on the album, but they won't sound as good as the proper recordings, which aren't free. 
Well, addressing these concerns one at a time:

  1. I realised I was cutting my nose off to spite my face.  Nobody else gives a flying chuff,and the only loser by not putting stuff out there was me.  I recently saw someone playing and immediately went out and bought her entire back catalogue.  She didn't force me to do it, and I didn't begrudge paying for something I wanted.  
  2. I still feel a little weird about flogging to mates, but actually, mates aren't the main buyers. Yes, there's some crossover, and that's sweet in its own way, but it seems mates want to help you along the way, without necessarily feeling pressured to put their hand in their pocket.  I don't want a single person to buy anything from me out of a sense of duty, friendship, etc.  If they do though, that's their lookout, and certainly not something I demand or expect.  
  3. Technology is still a mystery, but I was pointed to a website that does it all very easily, as long as you're only going digital (more on this in a mo), where they don't charge until you've actually sold, and where buyers have the product as soon as they've parted with the cash - no 'donations' or 'crowdsourcing' - just a straightforward transaction.  
  4. This digital method also means I've had very little initial outlay. If I wanted to create a physical CD, the outlay would increase dramatically.  If the digital version sells enough to cover the cost of producing a very soviet-style basic physical product, I'll do that.  If not, nothing lost.  First, the only costs I have to recoup are for some instruments I bought specifically to record with.  If they don't pay their way, they will be banished to eBay. If certain sales targets are reached, instruments will be allowed to stay and be used on subsequent recordings.
  5. There is no trouble in Paradise. The band is functioning in tickety-boo fashion. For me, songwriting predates the band, and it's something I've always done throughout. The band is massive fun, and we intend to carry on for as long as we want to play and people want to listen.  Only a fool, however, would assume it was a career for life.  New bands jump onto what they perceive to be The Ukulele Covers Gravy Express week upon week, and, like any train, if too many people jump on board, it'll derail, and we'll all end up lying bloodied in a cutting.  Also, I don't think my body or mind would cope well with singing Ace of Spades, week in, week out, for the next 20 years.  Although the end is nowhere in sight for hopefully a good long while, it'll turn up eventually.  One must be prepared.   
  6. The problem of being a little behind is exacerbated by not getting the material out there. The only solution is to release it and keep moving forward.


Release the album as a digital download. See if anyone buys it.

If they don't buy it, sell the instruments I bought specifically for the purpose of making albums. Watch TV.
If they do, keep the instruments and start working on another album; put some money aside to make a small run of a really cheap, soviet-style, 'economy-range' Physical CD.
If sales continue, laugh.

Here's a link to the album:



  1. Replies
    1. Good point. Will put into main body of the blog. It's also all over FB.

  2. Please make a physical cd Ian, it actually feels like you've got a proper album, rather than these digital downloads. Loving it anyway !!

  3. If I do,it'll be proper 'Happy Shopper' stuff. I have thoughts about that.