Social media for independent musicians ?
Been mulling over this recently and my thoughts are, for an independent, ambient musician such as myself (i.e. not in any kind of major league !), I don’t really see the value of spending the time on social media to try to ‘raise my profile’. I should say I’m speaking here as an individual artist – I can’t speak for bands and the like.
I do have a YouTube channel and an Instagram account * (see links), as I have made a lot of videos to accompany some of my music and I am a keen ‘out and about’ photographer. I very selectively follow / subscribe / comment on these two. I did have a Twitter account for a week (couldn’t really see the point) and have never had a Facebook account (on principle !). I do have a Soundcloud page, but I use that as just a place to post tracks.
The time required to subscribe / follow / like people and posts is just not worth the effort in my opinion – bearing in mind the reciprocal and disingenuous ‘back slapping’ thing going on, which is not my thing at all. I do wonder how much real ‘connection’ is made on these social media sites ? I used to have a Myspace account and spent some time ‘curating’ that and did make some meaningful connections there through private messages, but I gave up on it as it started to lose it’s way somewhat and I realised that I had spent too much time on the networking side of it and now all of that is lost as it has long gone – which could happen to the current sites too.
Out of the blue, I get emails from people who say very complimentary things about my music, which encourages me significantly, this was also the case before social media existed too.
In conclusion, my view is that I would rather spend my time on my music. It may seem an obvious point, but that really is the primary thing – without good work, all manner of promotion is pretty pointless. I do do a bit of a ‘press release’ thing when I have a new album out, but don’t go overboard on it. My goal is to improve and release the best material I can. I have been releasing since 2003 and am very pleased that more people than ever are listening to my music.
(* Instagram seems to me to be a social media site using images (and videos) instead of words. Maybe that’s a simplistic view on it, I originally thought it was more akin to ‘flickr’, but on my short time there it seems much more ‘socially’ orientated than that)
An ebow is a great combination with a fretless guitar. It’s not easy to play but it has a unique sound – almost like a ‘pseudo slide guitar’. it allows for non-chromatic slides, which isn’t possible on a regular fretted guitar. I’m hoping to use it as something of a ‘signature sound’ on my upcoming ambient guitar project (to be released at the end of 2018). It has made me learn some new things, as I can’t play the usual ‘licks and riffs’ on it (as I tend to on a regular guitar), which is somewhat refreshing !
Regarding non-ebow playing, a fretless guitar doesn’t sustain like a regular guitar does and playing with spot on intonation gets tricky (particularly higher up the fingerboard) All round, I find it’s a challenge to play, but very interesting nonetheless. With fretless in general, legato lines become very fluid and vibrato becomes much more of a musical parameter.
Here’s my Samick / Greg Bennett guitar, now converted to fretless. It had fret issues and I was about to ditch it, but before I did, I thought I’d have a go at converting it to fretless. I bought a dedicated fret pulling tool, which took the frets our pretty cleanly, then applied five coats (or so) of super glue to thew fingerboard, then a radiused sanding block to sand down the super glue flat (going through a few grit grades of wet and dry). Lastly, a rub down with a polishing compound. It’s not perfect (I think the neck may be slightly warped), but it’s now functional.
In the spirit of striving to continually create, I have two musical projects which I plan to finish and release in 2018.
One, is based around sequences and semi-generative pieces, with more overt guitar playing (than I’m used to including in my ambient work) and an element of rhythmic (sequenced) interplay.
The other, is a darker affair, based around spatial field recordings with a significant amount of spatial processing. I’d like to see it as a development of my 2010 album ‘Orcus’ – with a more modern production.
I have already worked on these projects quite a lot and have a substantial work-in-progress pool of material for them, but (currently) they are still at an earlier stage. More developments will follow.
All the best for the new year !
After a recent update, the Zoom h2.n recorder can now record ambisonic files. I had one of these units some time ago, but got rid of it as I felt it’s mics were a tad noisy, but for field recordings that’s less of an issue (well for sources at a reasonable level, anyway) I have just bought another unit and have started experimenting with recordings and processing them in Reaper. After a bit of jiggery-pokery with formats, I’m getting some interesting results. I think this may be interesting in conjunction with some binaural recordings. I intend to incorporate some things ambisonic in my upcoming albums.
The Zoom isn’t brilliant quality by any means, but it does allow me to experiment with Ambisonics, without breaking the bank having to buy a Soundfield (or similiar) mic. Also, there’s a lot of freeware ambisonic tools now available. It looks like the Youtube 360 VR thing, has finally brought ambisonics to the masses !
Anyway, here’s a montage of ambisonic recordings I made of a stream, converted to binaural (best for headphone listening)
Here’s an image of the woods on the way to the stream that I recorded.
Garlic Woods 1
Here’s an image of the Zoom (out in the field !) with the Zoom WSU-1 windshield on:
We’ve had Ruby now for almost a month. She came from a local rescue centre (the Blue Cross). she’s still quite a handful as she is young, boisterous and rather lacking in manners – human or canine ! However, she’s a lovely lass and everyone who’s met her has been taken with her unusual colourings and puppy dog face (she’s only a year and a half old)
She’s quite a character and is very affectionate. We hope she carries on settling in over time with us (she had a bit of a rough start to life).
She’s quite difficult to photograph as she’s pretty dark, but here’s some images of her nonetheless:
Some new, more representative pics of Ruby
From a musical point of view, I’m hoping 2016 will be a bit more productive than 2015 was for me. I currently have ongoing projects which may or may not see the light of day, I hope these things come together more so in the first half of the year. I’m planning on spending more time working with the ipad – using Auria Pro, Korg Gadget, Tonestack etc.
On a wider orbit, I hope for change in the future.
Real change is on the way methinks. Our politicians (almost exclusively) are not representing us, they seem to be more answerable to corporate influence than they are to us. The media is presenting us with their very skewed version of the world. It seems to me that there are a lot of people in the worlds of politics and the media who are hell-bent on trying to make us believe in what they want us to be believe in. Personally, I don’t think that real change will come from the world of politics anymore, I think it may well be more of a generational thing – something that will happen more gradually.
The current overall view on things from the ‘powers that be’ (who very much influence politics and the media) is increasingly myopic and they certainly don’t appear to be considering things in any kind of longer term, which will be damaging for all of us in many ways, I feel.
Anyway, enough of my ‘rant-let’, happy new year !
We had to put our beautiful dog, Maxa to sleep on Tuesday (22/9). She was 15 and a half years old and physically, she was worn out.
Maxa was a very strong spirit – stubborn, dominating and yes, rather difficult ! To be fair, she was difficult all throughout her life, yet her companionship far outweighed this.
We got her in 2001 from the NCDL (National Canine Defence League), now called the ‘Dogs Trust’, from their old centre in Leeds. As a young dog, she was incredibly energetic and could run like the clappers. The combination of this and being bright as a button, very independent and a prolific hunter caused us a fair few problems. She would run off regularly (sometime for hours), ‘on the chase’, only coming back when she was ready. She certainly used up at least seven of her nine lives that way !
She was always very affectionate with us and loved meeting people and dogs she liked. She was a great companion dog and lay in her bed in my studio every day for the greater part of her life. She was a huge focus in our lives, for the fourteen and a half years that we had with her. We’ll miss her so very much, the house now feels very empty.
Finally, I’d like to say that I feel the experience of having Maxa, has improved me as a person.
Here’s a selection of photos of her taken over the years (in no particular order). It’s a nice way to remember her – as the strong, spirited creature she was, not just the physically and mentally (to a lesser degree) worn out dog who needed full-time care in her final years.
Goodbye Maxa, our beloved canine friend.