The Self Release - Artist services, options, successes, expectations

This is coming off of the latest Ariel's Attic thread, which touched on something that's been in the back of my mind as of late. First off, this isn't really meant to come off as a whiny thing, but it's no secret that releasing music is worlds different now than it was even ten years ago. There are more options for distribution, more places where people are getting music, and apparently a whole lot more places to download it for free. 

As I think pretty much everybody knows, I did a digital-only self release of Echoes in the Dark via CD Baby right at the beginning of January. The digital-only thing hurts sales a little bit, but not as much as a duplication bill hits the bottom line. I liked that they handled putting it on the streaming and digital services automatically...to a point. I didn't expect the "Travis Woyen - Topic" to have the whole thing on YouTube, with no real way to tie that account into my "official" account. Granted, if I monetize YouTube I still get paid, but it's not like those videos are getting a lot of action anyway. 

Since I have that "out", and will drive myself insane if I continually press and press on promotion without mixing it up with something else, I've returned to finishing off the Rule 17 album. Unlike the solo thing, there's a bit of a following already there. Since CD Baby is a known quantity, how have things been with using Bandcamp? What other services have any of you used? 
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Comments

  • BytorBytor Posts: 1,547
    We use everything we can..  From our own website to bandcamp to cdBaby.. Physical cds don't sell all that much anymore.. We had two versions made.. The 6 panel retail version and the dumbed down promotional version we send to people in the business.. We're under no illusions. We aren't going to get rich but we do receive royalty checks pretty much monthly.. Enough that I had to create an "Ariel's Attic" business entity.. Just what I needed, another business. :(
      Reading over the book keeping that came with last weeks check I see 2 physical cds sold.. The rest is all digital DL's and streams with Spotify and Deezer pretty much carrying the load. I don't see us doing another run on physical cds.. The 6 panel are just too expensive to manufacture. And moving forward I doubt we do another physical cd.. Our best tool is seeking out djs and sending them either a physical promotional copy or a radio friendly digital DJ version (all software broadcast software in NOT created equal) that really like, and play, thus creating more fans that generally buy digital or stream us a lot. It's a shame streams pay so bad.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 976
    Shortly after posting this, I saw that I've been paid $.02 for Youtube streaming in Jan. I'm quitting my day job today. 

    My main thing is that after I'm done with the Rule 17 album, I don't think I'll do a full LP-length project all at once again. While I have LPs worth of material, I'd like to release track-by-track, then have the whole collection available at the end. CD Baby pretty much pushes you into either "Album" or "Single". Does Bandcamp allow a bit more flexibility on that? 
  • EugenicScumEugenicScum Posts: 5,321
    Yes, bandcamp is single friendly. 

    I don't think there's any future in recorded audio-only music anymore. This is the era of youtube cover artists and entertainers. Musicians need to find ways to make interesting videos, and then market the content. I'm beginning to work on the third Bevar Sea album and we've never made a video before. It was never top priority like geeking out in the studio and figuring out mic placement etc and as a result I think promotion for the 2015 album suffered, and it never got the airplay it deserved even among our core audience. I think it's time to wake up to the current reality of the industry and really plan this video strategy out.
    Check out my band: Bevar Sea
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,805
    edited February 2018
     

    Expectations...my own expectations in terms of real world return$ are extraordinarily LOW. Sometimes I put things on youtube and my big Facebook page and my blog...I put it up for me these days. I just like the feeling of having finished something, even just a piece, so I put it up. I usually don't leave it up long, because it's a personal victory. You had to be there. My girl was there. That's what's really important. Everything else is just..."nice" (meant in a George Carlin way).

    When I'm confident Lv2 is acceptable to be released, I'll probably put it up on CD Baby, same with 1 as a reissue, because at least with CD Baby you know what's going to happen, and for Dino music that pretty much means very little financial gain (I'm betting you're quite aware of that already, as you have a pretty darn mature attitude in general).

    I have all my music in my name, copyrighted right out the yee-haw, and (after the final mix and release of Vols. 1 and 2) I have the joy of deciding if and when people can listen to what I do. I like that a lot better than the rat race. If I did this for money I'd have stopped six years ago (though I did stop playing guitar in 2014, it was because of both a good hefty helping of Facebook Burn-Out , plus a general disinterest in the instrument after studying traditional symphony orchestration).

    I should mention, the fact that you are staying with your guns and releasing and appreciating music (publicly) within a specific genre does give you one heck of an edge on people who turned the page like me. You haven't polarized your audience, and especially with an older audience (as I've learned) such polarization doesn't usually bode well as far as future lucrativity (I think I just made that word up hurrah!). Your audience hasn't been given an opportunity to get alienated, and that's a good thing in terms of prospects.

    I could be wrong about any and/or all of this.



    Post edited by Haffner on
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 976
    Haffner said:

    Expectations...my own expectations in terms of real world return$ are extraordinarily LOW. Sometimes I put things on youtube and my big Facebook page and my blog...I put it up for me these days. I just like the feeling of having finished something, even just a piece, so I put it up. I usually don't leave it up long, because it's a personal victory. You had to be there. My girl was there. That's what's really important. Everything else is just..."nice" (meant in a George Carlin way).

    When I'm confident Lv2 is acceptable to be released, I'll probably put it up on CD Baby, same with 1 as a reissue, because at least with CD Baby you know what's going to happen, and for Dino music that pretty much means very little financial gain (I'm betting you're quite aware of that already, as you have a pretty darn mature attitude in general).

    I have all my music in my name, copyrighted right out the yee-haw, and (after the final mix and release of Vols. 1 and 2) I have the joy of deciding if and when people can listen to what I do. I like that a lot better than the rat race. If I did this for money I'd have stopped six years ago (though I did stop playing guitar in 2014, it was because of both a good hefty helping of Facebook Burn-Out , plus a general disinterest in the instrument after studying traditional symphony orchestration).

    I should mention, the fact that you are staying with your guns and releasing and appreciating music (publicly) within a specific genre does give you one heck of an edge on people who turned the page like me. You haven't polarized your audience, and especially with an older audience (as I've learned) such polarization doesn't usually bode well as far as future lucrativity (I think I just made that word up hurrah!). Your audience hasn't been given an opportunity to get alienated, and that's a good thing in terms of prospects.

    I could be wrong about any and/or all of this.



    Knowing your expectations up front is really important, I think, especially if you don't have a huge support system to lean back on. For example, I hate self-promotion. HATE. I recognize it as something of a necessary evil, and can hack it to a certain point - probably a point well below that which is required to successfully sell things. I also really burn out on my own material after a certain point. I'm just finally making the last push on the Rule 17 album, and coming on the heels of the Echoes in the Dark stuff, I came to the realization that it makes no sense for me to work in full-length album time frames when I'm the only guy working on it. Especially since what I enjoy the most is writing, arranging, and moving forward with a tune while it's fresh in my mind. 
  • BytorBytor Posts: 1,547
    edited February 2018
    Reasonable expectations.. Yeah, we know we're not getting rich off of our project but we still do our best..

    Haffner, I don't know if I've  ever heard your stuff.. Would like to  B)

    With "The Show" we/I wanted to do something different.. Because of logistics, we will never gig  on our material.. And we employ every tool we can find that is useful..  With "The Show" I wanted us to do a "JUST US" track, no strings, no choirs, no synths.. We could do "The Show" live easily :)

    Travis, I like bandcamp. We're new there but alot of the DJs I've dealt with started telling me that's where they mine for show material.. Our entire cd is up along with two singles.. Not just samples, the entire tracks.. I like that they want wav files too as opposed to mp3s.. Better sound quality.  And, they allow people to pay what that want above the set price and believe it or not, people do  :o  A DJ in Europe paid over $2 for "The Show" the other day  for her library.. 
    Post edited by Bytor on
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,805
    TravisW said:
     

    Knowing your expectations up front is really important, I think, especially if you don't have a huge support system to lean back on. For example, I hate self-promotion. HATE. I recognize it as something of a necessary evil, and can hack it to a certain point - probably a point well below that which is required to successfully sell things. I also really burn out on my own material after a certain point. I'm just finally making the last push on the Rule 17 album, and coming on the heels of the Echoes in the Dark stuff, I came to the realization that it makes no sense for me to work in full-length album time frames when I'm the only guy working on it. Especially since what I enjoy the most is writing, arranging, and moving forward with a tune while it's fresh in my mind. 

    I got mega-burned out during my first shot at engineering Lv2, I just couldn't stand to listen to the music after awhile. But it just got me back to writing, and eventually I went back to the Lv2 stuff with a much better outlook. I'm still being extremely harsh on myself as an engineer (and it's quite likely I need someone to help me finish it even now). But it was definitely an enriching experience. I wish I'd put away Lv1 for a month before finalizing and mastering it.

    I noticed...when I stopped writing for others, so many things improved. On multiple levels.

    As far as my music goes, thanks so much for your kind interest Bytor, but you wouldn't be missing much not hearing it.  I imagine Travis and you have more interesting music planned.

  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 976
    I can say from where I am, I've gotten something from pretty much everybody's projects on here, even just on Echoes, which is scope-wise probably somewhere between Lyraka and Garden of the Gods, but musically touches base with a lot of stuff members of this site have done. 
  • All we did with FEINTS is Bandcamp.  Anything else, we figured was expense and overhead we didn't need. No need (until there was some demand) to press/store x-hundred burned CDs, requiring artwork, jewel cases, etc. Even with a label footing the bill, that seemed kind of pointless to us.

    Put it this way: Janne Stark -- with all of his products, presses physical media. Including vinyl. And however cool that might seem, it doesn't add up to enough money to quit your day job.
    I ain't falling for no banana in the tailpipe.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 976
    edited February 2018
    You hit it right there - the overhead is a killer, and the only situation I can think of where physical copies make really good sense is if you play live and can actually move copies at shows. 
    Post edited by TravisW on
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,805
    TravisW said:
    You hit it right there - the overhead is a killer, and the only situation I can think of where physical copies make really good sense is if you play live and can actually move copies at shows. 


    Yeah but...I love CDs, have a huge collection, and listen to them over three quarters of the time over any other audio form. I only listen to streaming and mp3s when I'm checking something out and washing the dishes (don't exactly need particularly high definition audio when one is scrubbing the pots).

    But I'm also super weird in a way: I mostly listen through my Sennheiser headphones, rarely through loudspeakers of any sort. For mixing that doesn't apply of course, I have to listen to multiple sources.

  • BytorBytor Posts: 1,547
    Guys, keep in mind Bandcamp takes 23% off the top on digital sales. cdBaby takes 33% on physical cds including shipping.  And about 11% on digital sales. But cdBaby charges an upfront fee to list your music.
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,805
    TravisW said:
    I can say from where I am, I've gotten something from pretty much everybody's projects on here, even just on Echoes, which is scope-wise probably somewhere between Lyraka and Garden of the Gods, but musically touches base with a lot of stuff members of this site have done. 


    The title track from Echoes is really cool. The beginning actually sounds a bit like a band you might not be familiar with: Solitude Aeternus (check the first three albums, all acknowledged Doooom classics). The rest of the piece is quite the nice jam, with a monster tone solo and...well geez, just a really good song! I sure like it.

    Your comments regarding my music/project are kind. What you're doing is interesting on its own, my friend.

  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 976
    Thanks Andy!  

    Based on this thread, I signed up for Bandcamp last night. Can't hurt! 
  • BytorBytor Posts: 1,547
    edited February 2018
    Absolutely Travis.. And I can't stress enough how many DJs have told me they mine for tracks on bandcamp.  I did internet radio for a couple outlets for over three yrs and I played the hell out of everyone here I could.       Nick(Firewolfe)Layton, Curt's cd,  Bevar Sea, Mark's Bedowyn (still haven't gotten my copy of "Blood of the Fall" ;) ) band. FEINTS and others I'm sure I've forgotten :3 And I got to slot these tracks next to the big boys to show they belonged.. I loved that :) 
       My point is every time a new DJ or station picks us up we get a bump in sales and every time we do an interview like we did last night we see a bump as well..  We went as far to do a radio friendly master and I don't remember how many digital copies of "Garden of the Gods" I've sent to people and stations.. Some don't even acknowledge receipt. But most do and are grateful to have them and actually play them..  Two or three have played the Gods trilogy locked together that's just shy of 30 minutes long  =) With the station manager's permission of course ;)
    Post edited by Bytor on
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