One of the Out of the Bedroom singers, in the discussion board, raises a question I’ve struggled with from time to time:
‘The whole project of "releasing" a CD seems more trouble than it’s worth in financial and promotional reward. ‘
The CD is still the most effective and understood way to get people to
take your music home and to express the next level of interest up from
clapping their hands.
There are two alternatives:
1) don’t record. Your live experience is all you offer. If it’s good
enough people will make the effort and treasure the memory enough to
want to do it again.
2) put your recordings online only.
I won’t comment on (1) save to say that it is a valid proposition. (2) offers the advantage of being cheap, easy and potentially
reaching a wider audience. But it’s a ‘pull’ medium which relies on the
fan making the effort to find you. There are more mp3 download sites on
the web than cigarette butts in the Waverley at the end of a Thursday
night. Which ones to put your stuff on? How to stand out? How to tell
people where it is? How many people will accidentally chance on you and
become fans? Some, but very few.
If recording gets your songs nearer to what you hear in your head than
live, you are compelled to record. If you record you want to get people
to hear it. People are more likely to want to hear it at the end of a
good gig. If they then have to go through the extra step of remembering
when they get home to find a certain web address, typing it in
accurately, then finding EWB in the hundreds of artists, then you will
lose some people along the way. It’s easier for the fan to take a CD
from you and put it in the player. Plus they get a tangible reminder
and, if you’re savvy, a nice-looking package.
You needn’t follow the music biz model of ‘releasing’ a CD. You can
give them away, as you say. Why not? You can press unique CDs for a
given night as CBQ does. You might want to charge enough to recoup the
cost of blank CDs and artwork. It’s only if you believe the myths of
the music biz we grew up with that any of these can be described as
‘pretending you’ve made and released an album’ and that album being
your ‘product’ for this year, this year’s entry in your discography,
the ‘blue period’ when they come to write the retrospectives on your
career. All myth. Step outside that frame of reference and you’re just
choosing to make your recordings available to people. Or not.
Back to work yesterday, enjoying having Madame and Pestilence back in my life. In the evening, had fun working out Robert Fripp’s ‘Inductive Resonance’, a recording with his short-lived League of Gentlemen band from about 1980. I’ve always found it baffling to imagine what he’s playing, but it’s one of the admittedly few Fripp pieces that’s full of humour and playfulness. And if there are any guitarists reading, I can only play the first bit and that at half the speed!