So much music – so little time

It may not look like it from the frequency of my posts, but I actually stay pretty busy doing music stuff.  I play frequently at church, and play classic oldies about once a month with a local band.  But I’m also a husband and a father with a pretty demanding day job, which I guess makes me a pretty typical unknown gigging musician.:-)  That’s why there aren’t any new recordings or written music at bobbucymusic.com.

Although there isn’t any new music on the site right now, I continue to get good responses from the EP that I released last October.  It remains very low distribution, and I am solidly in the ~94% of projects released every year that sell less than 1,000 copies.  However, the roughly 150 that have been sold have impacted friends, acquaintances, and many other folks at my local church.  It is humbling when people tell me stories of how they listened to the music in the car, on the treadmill, etc., and especially when they tell me about friends who don’t normally attend church or listen to Christian music but enjoy the EP anyway.  And an additional message from many of these people is that they wish that there was more than 5 songs.

As I understand it in my limited knowledge of the music business, the purpose of an EP is to introduce an upcoming album.  That being said, there are many artists who release an EP but never maintain the momentum to follow it up with a full length album.  I have a limited amount of discretionary time in my life, and coming up with at least 5 more good pieces to turn this project into a full length album is a daunting task.  But the message from my friends and acquaintances is clear, so I will do everything in my power to make it happen.

I appreciate the encouragement and support that I have received from my friends about this project.  I am especially gratified when other musicians take notice of my work and follow me on social media.  We’ll see if I can find the time soon to start cranking out some more music.

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Sharing vs. selling music

The big news in music this week is that Taylor Swift pulled all of her albums off of Spotify. This has caused great consternation in the music community, particularly for Spotify, but also for many music fans who enjoyed listening to Taylor Swift’s music without having to actually buy any of her music. The sticking point is with Spotify’s free ad supported plan which allows Spotify users to listen to music for free, and therefore does not pay any royalties to musical artists. Taylor Swift’s response is that music is valuable, and valuable things should be paid for.

It is difficult to dispute her response. Back in the day, musicians showcased their music on stage or through scarce radio airplay. And if you liked what you heard and wanted to listen to it around the house, you bought the album. The rise of the internet and digital distribution provides musicians with more avenues to showcase their work, but creates additional challenges in controlling distribution. While the music industry continues to change and evolve, creating good music still requires significant time, talent, and money, and the laborer is certainly worthy of their wage. This is especially true of those for whom music is their livelihood.

While I have often wished that I could make music my livelihood, I recognize the challenges of making a living in music. I have been blessed with a good job that has allowed me to provide for my family while pursuing music as a hobby and a ministry. I originally built my website for the purpose of sharing my music with other church musicians, and I intend to keep doing that. I do need to recoup as much of the expense of producing my EP as possible, so I hope that some folks will enjoy the music enough to buy it. But for other church musicians who may be working on playing one of my written arrangements, I don’t want them to be forced to buy the music to see what it sounds like. So the CD Baby music player on my site is set to allow preview of the entire EP, and yes, you can listen to it on Spotify.

I respect Taylor Swift’s decision, and am honored by those who choose to support my efforts by purchasing my music. But even if you don’t want to spend the money, you are welcome to stop by bobbucymusic.com and have a listen.

Psalms, Hymns, and Other Forms of Praise – It’s a wrap

AIK5110 J100~PrntOption_p001The initial shipment of CDs arrived on Monday of this week, and this EP is now available for download at CD Baby and iTunes.  It will continue filtering out to many other digital musical sites over the coming days and weeks, but basically, this project is done.  I have put forth my best effort and am pretty happy with the outcome.  It remains to be seen how well the music resonates with the rest of the world, but regardless of the response, I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.

I obviously want to continue to dream up new stuff, but I feel like my next task is to finish writing out notes for all of the arrangements on this EP.  I want to continue to make my website a resource for other church musicians, and I have gotten requests for sheet music for the other arrangements.  I’ll be starting with What a Friend We Have in Jesus because that is the most straightforward of the remaining pieces.  I’m not going to promise a date for completion, because I have to fit this work in with my day job, but I’ll post updates as I make progress.

I definitely want to put in a plug for Discmakers and CD Baby who are excellent “one stop shops” for independent musicians.  Both were very patient with this newbie as I navigated the process, and I’m very happy with the finished product.

I just want to wrap up with a thank you to the many friends who have encouraged and supported me during this project, beginning with my fabulous wife Teresa who has been encouraging me to do this for years.

Psalms, Hymns, and Other Forms of Praise – Update

AIK5110 J100~PrntOption_p001The initial order of CDs arrived on Monday, and a number of folks have asked me how to get a copy, when it will be online, etc. I appreciate the interest from my friends and wanted to give everyone an update.

This is a 5 song EP, and I wanted to keep the price as simple and reasonable as possible.  So I’m asking $5 for a physical CD, and am trying to mostly distribute them locally to friends in the Raleigh area.  I initially ordered 100 because I have no idea how much interest there will be in this music, and I don’t need boxes of unsold CDs piled up in the garage.:-)  But at that order quantity, it costs a few bucks for each CD, so I’m trying to keep it simple and avoid shipping.

The album is being distributed through CD Baby, and they will have a page up for the album by the end of next week.  It will be possible to order an actual CD from CD Baby, but it will cost more because of shipping and because they need something for handling the transaction.  My intention was to distribute the EP electronically as much as possible, and it is eventually going to be available at about any music site that you can imagine.  This will include CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Rhapsody, and a whole bunch of others that I had never heard of before.  You will also be able to listen to it on Spotify, which is also pretty cool.  Electronic distribution really is where the music business is at right now, but I also realize that within the demographics of the folks who are most likely to be interested in this music, that a lot of them aren’t going to have an iTunes account.  I’ll definitely order more CDs if necessary, but need to first see how much interest there is going to be.

For now, the raw studio recordings are still up on Noisetrade and available for download.  I set that up first and foremost to use Noisetrade as the music player on my website at bobbucymusic.com.  It was also a way to share the music with people.  And while the actual number of downloads hasn’t been that large, the music has been downloaded by people on 5 continents.  Noisetrade is just one of many places for independent musicians to share their music, but we can pretty much thank Steve Jobs for reinventing the music business and making it possible for a guy in Apex, North Carolina to make some music and share it with people in places like Cameroon.

As soon as CD Baby has the album posted and available next week, I’ll be replacing the Noisetrade music player on my website with a CD Baby music player.  At that point, I’ll be taking the music off of Noisetrade and start working on recouping the cost of the album.  The sound quality on the final mastered album is certainly better than what is currently posted on Noisetrade, and download pricing will be the usual 99 cents per song.  The complete album will be $4.95 on CD Baby and a little less on iTunes.  One of Apple’s many rules is that the album price must be less than the combined price of all of the tracks on the album.  So expect to see a nice round figure on iTunes of something like $4.91.:-)

This has been a fun project, and I appreciate the interest and support of my many friends.  I’ll post more updates as the EP becomes more widely available.

Psalms, Hymns, and Other Forms of Praise – how to (or not to) launch an album

AIK5110 J100~PrntOption_p001I approved the final artwork on my album cover yesterday, which is pretty much the last step in the process.  The order for physical CDs has been released to production, and the initial batch should be in my hands around October 15.  Electronic distribution will follow shortly thereafter, and I understand that I have a little bit of setup to do on that.  The art department at Discmakers took my initial brainstorming and the stock image that I provided and executed a really cool design.  I’m very happy with the outcome.  And while I hope that the music is well accepted by as many people as possible, at least I have a very cool album cover:-)

Some of my friends have thrown launch parties when their albums were released.  While this has been an interesting project and I’m excited to see it finished, I’m not sure that a launch party is in order.  Maybe my family and I will do dinner at Red Robin.  That’s always a special event around our house.  At any rate, while there are all sorts of ways to create and launch an album, there are a couple of things that I specifically decided NOT to do:

1) Kickstarter (or other crowd funding) – Note that I have no particular objection to the Kickstarter/crowd funding concept.  But in my case, I have a good day job, and it just didn’t feel right to ask people for money to pay for this project.  Besides, I just didn’t have the time or interest in the usual approach to this, i.e., “Donate $20 and I’ll send you an autographed CD.  Donate $50 and I’ll clean your windows and mow your yard.  Donate $100 and I’ll do a concert in your garage.”  Note that if you feel that you really MUST have a concert in your garage, contact me and we’ll talk about it:-)

2) Manic social media push – You’ve seen this.  It’s a Facebook or Twitter posting that looks something like this – “Hey everybody, I’m at #1742 on iTunes!  I need a big push from my fans to get to #1741!”.  Note that I’m not passing judgement here.  If you’ve done that then that’s cool.  I just don’t want to be that guy.

My “launch” is likely going to consist of an announcement on Facebook and Twitter and probably a blog post or two.  This is a very narrow genre of music, and my fan base is rather small (at least the fans that I know about).  This is just an opportunity to share some music that I care about with the world, and we’ll see where it goes.  It has already exceeded my initial expectations.

Psalms, Hymns, and Other Forms of Praise – home stretch

Front Cover MockupThe idea for this project started a few years ago, and begin really picking up speed earlier this year.  The actual work began a couple of months ago and is hopefully nearing completion.  The art files were uploaded to Discmakers this morning, and I should have something to approve around the end of this week.  Once that is approved, I should have physical CDs by mid October, and the EP should be available in electronic format probably a week or so after that.  The image in this post is a mock up of the cover, and the final design should be better after the design department at Discmakers gets done with it (hopefully so – that’s what I paid them to do).

This has been an interesting experience.  I’m glad that I did it, but am not sure yet if I would do it again.  That’s probably the topic of another post:-)

Psalms, Hymns, and Other Forms of Praise – details, details, details

I started this project without really knowing where I was going.  Yea, I did some research and tried to be as informed as possible, but didn’t have very many details.  I’ve just been learning as I go, and it’s been an interesting process.  I envisioned the recording of the music itself as the most challenging part of the process, and that assumption was pretty accurate.  But I completely underestimated the album cover.  I had some ideas, and knew that I would need some help with it, but I had no idea of the technical details involved in the creation of cover art.  At this point, the recording files have been submitted for mastering and production, and the artwork is the last piece of the puzzle.  Thankfully, I have been blessed with some very artistic friends in the church that I attend, and one of them is working with me on this project.

I also want to thank those who have taken the time to listen to and download the music that I have shared thus far on Noisetrade.  My download numbers are obviously very small compared to most well known mainstream bands, but I continue to be amazed by the way that music can now be shared around the world.  While my total download numbers are very small, I find it really cool that the music has been downloaded recently by folks in Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Cameroon.  And I just received my first tip on Noisetrade, which is very exciting.  I’ll have to give some careful thought to how I’m going to spend that $5.70:-)