A Plan Comes Together

A picture of me playing my usual red guitar at the party

Singing at OggCamp11 - Photo by Hannah Greer

Hello again everyone, I hope your 2012 has kicked off well. It seems to have brought with it ridiculously strong winds in the UK, and many other parts of the world. So watch out for flying debris if you’re out and about. I’m writing today to share a plan that’s recently formed in my brain and also ask for your feedback.

In my recap of 2011 I talked about my desire to do more music this year, and also find a way of generating income from it. I don’t want or expect to get rich from music but I am considering ways to make a modest sustainable income. I’ve thought about this a lot in relation to my band 20lb Sounds over the last 18 months. I came up with very rough plans for subscription fan clubs, crowd-sourced tours, merchandise and much more. None of them have yet come to fruition but hopefully they still will. Leaving the band to one side for now though the new plan is fairly simple.

I’ve long threatened to complete a full length album but as yet I’ve failed to do so. Since I was about 16 I’ve made vague promises (to myself and others) to record and release more songs. There’s one problem with this though, I am a TOTAL perfectionist. Ridiculously so. Getting material together that I am both confident in and happy with hasn’t been easy. No longer though. The new idea is to record an acoustic album using just my Zoom H4 portable recorder and a couple of microphones. No overdubs, no extensive mixing, no effects, just live performances. If you’ve heard my acoustic tunes on Rathole Radio then you’ll get the idea. I might bring in a piano and my harmonicas but crucially it has to be stuff I can perform on my own, in one take. That’s the golden rule.

A piece of paper propped up on my black mixing desk

The song list, all 22 of them.

I have a list of 22 songs, only one of which is a cover. It’s a good base of material so if I can’t get 10 or 12 decent songs together there’s no hope for me. I plan to get this recording done in the next week or so and I’m actually rehearsing for it now. The burning question is what to do with it once it’s completed.

In the past I’ve released everything free (in both senses) and I still intend to do that wherever possible. I will use Creative Commons licensing but I might invoke the non-commercial clause, which has long been a dilemma for me. I can’t help feeling that if I really want to make some money out these tunes I will have to keep at least some of them paid only. All this pre-amble leads me to some discussion points I’d like to get your thoughts on:

1. Firstly, would you be interested in this live acoustic album?

2. How would you feel about me using a non-commercial license? I’m thinking CC BY-NC-SA which is common for music. I know some people have idealogical objections to this but it seems the most viable approach.

3. A redesigning of danlynch.org because it’s never really grown the way I envisaged. The blog is about the only thing I use so maybe it should be the heart of the site. I could then out-source the music stuff to Bandcamp. A lot of my favourite independent artists have already done this.

4. I’d like to make physical versions of this album. CD’s are easy but I’d also like to investigate vinyl pressing. Would anyone be interested in those things? If so, what do you think is a reasonable price? I’m guessing some kind of pledge bank scheme will be needed for the vinyl to get it up and running.

5. I’m looking at using CD Baby to get my music onto iTunes, Amazon and other places. Does anyone have experience with this or perhaps a better solution? I’ll also look at Google Music if I can sell stuff outside the US.

Anything else you want to comment on or suggest please go for it. Use the comments on this post to keep it all central. Thanks!

That’s enough for now I think. I have a lot of rehearsing and arrangement to do on these songs. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Speak to you soon,

Dan

 

Posted in Music
14 comments on “A Plan Comes Together
  1. Steve says:

    Not directly relevant but , worth a read.
    http://andrewdubber.com/2012/01/why-my-book-is-free-and-why-it-costs-money/

    Also this site, and its associated podcast and ebook have a few thoughts and ideas about the questions you’re asking. http://newmusicstrategies.com/

    Does the list of 22 songs include ‘sudo modprobe’ ? An acoustic version of that would be some thing 🙂

    • Dan says:

      @Steve – It doesn’t include Sudo Modprobe no, I could add it but it wouldn’t really work with just one acoustic guitar track on it’s own. It has to be stuff I can do live, no overdubs. I could see if I can work a harmonica bit in there. Then I can play it all in one go. I have a Bob Dylan style neckbrace. I’ll give it a try and see.

      P.S – Thanks for the link, I’ve listening to the New Music Strategies podcast but not read their blog. Must do that.

  2. Good luck with the recording sessions, Dan. I look forward to hearing the finished product.

  3. Cor says:

    Great plans for the new year. Looking forward to the recordings, and other makings. Very interesting to hear about views on independent music publishing, because I’m trying to help out someone with getting feet of the ground with music (, writing, etc). Think the whole way things are evolving, causes artist to think of creative ways to publish (and obtain some financial support would even be better). And something like kickstarter is one of those interesting approaches.
    Anyway… I’m rambling. Hope you have a good and fruitful (musical) year!

    • Dan says:

      @Cor – I’ve long said that artists should represent themselves these days. There are still some benefits to traditional record contracts but increasingly they’re going away. You can sometimes get a cash advance from a record company that’s really useful but it’s not a gift as some people mistakenly think. It’s a loan just like any other, and they can be pretty aggressive about repayment. I would warn any young artists to take that into account when considering deals. With all my blabbing about this I guess it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is. Who’s rambling now? 😛

  4. Muel Kiel says:

    I would buy that album, especially if it was on Amazon (I use it for all of my music).

  5. ashley says:

    Hi Dan,

    I would definitely be interested in an acoustic album…in vinyl. What about Jamendo? I’ve noticed alot of bands, when you download, ask for a donation. Maybe that might work.

    • Dan says:

      @ashley – I’m sure I’ll use Jamendo in some way but making money from it is not easy for artists. What a lot of people don’t realise is when you donate money 50% of it goes straight to Jamendo. Only half goes to the actual artist. They don’t say this on the donation page and there have been some high profile disagreements with artists. I suspect a smaller sampler would go on Jamendo.

  6. Ian says:

    Yes, I would be interested in hearing this. If recording this way helps to get the material out faster, then it’s worth a try.
    As far as the licensing goes, I’m no expert, but I certainly don’t have a problem with paying for the content, and if licensing in the way you mentioned means it’s easier for you to make a few quid out of your work, that’s got to be a good thing.
    I very rarely buy physical media for music these days, and live a long way away, so downloadable media works best for me. That may not be the case for others, though. As long as there is some album art included with the download, I,m happy.

    • Dan says:

      @Ian – Thanks for the feedback. I hope doing things this way will allow people the choice of physical or digital version. What I’ll do is send people a digital copy immediately when they buy a CD or LP I think. A lot of artists work that way.

  7. gamerchick02 says:

    Dan, I’d be interested in CDs and downloads.

    The CC-BY-NC-SA would allow copying and distribution, though not paid, correct? I’d like to send some of it off to my (not so much) local NPR station and have it played on The Eclectic Chair (http://www.radiochair.com).

    What are you looking to charge for CDs and shipping? I’d be willing to pay up to $20 + shipping (I know shipping to the US is expensive).

    Amy

    • Dan says:

      @gamerchick02 – CC BY-NC-SA would enable remixing, redistribution and sharing of the material yes. Just not for cash, unless I agreed to it. It reserves me the right to stop people selling my music in places I don’t like. The main reason I’m considering it is the likes of I Am Not Lefthanded and their success in generating income from licensing music for adverts. They were able to do this and still keep it under a CC license because of the NC clause. An mainstream TV advert is clearly a commercial use. It also means you can register for royalties from commercial radio play etc. I might discuss it with the Creative Commons folks and see what they think. I’d like to understand the NC clause better. I know CC BY-SA is the content equivalent of the GPL which appeals to me. But program code and pure consumable art content are different beasts I think.

      As for shipping I would always charge it at cost. I don’t know how much it is to the US but a CD can’t cost that much, vinyl may be more expensive. I’ll have to work all this out in advance.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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