Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Instrumentality Project

As I reported a few days ago in my status update, I have signed up with an online distributor to make my music available in major online stores, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, YouTube, etc. as a somewhat inevitable step in trying to make a living as a working artist. To do this, I am using DistroKid, a service recommended to me by BandCamp that targeted me with a "special" offer that I'll admit was the deciding factor to move forward. With an investor on hand and a deal I feel I would have been an idiot to refuse, I signed up and decided to separate these efforts somewhat from my career as an Internet busker. The EPs, my Snail Tunes page, and this blog have all been their own little world for me where I reach out on a more personal level and offer my music and writings for free while asking for tips and donations. To be perfectly honest, the tips and donations request hasn't generated much of anything with my financial supporters being extremely few compared to the hundreds of people who have become my audience. Don't get me wrong: I love my audience and would have given up this line of work already if I wasn't doing this for the art and the purposes of having my art reach people. In that, I have been a modest success, and I have found it a thrilling and extraordinary journey.

That is why I am, for now, keeping my world of Snail Tunes and Snail Tales as it is while offering up a different release to the rest of the world through the more traditional means of putting a price on my art and selling it at stores. Though, honestly, I wasn't asked to name a price in the publishing process, which I find kind of odd. It seems as though the stores have named their own price and have determined what percentage I will get without me having any say. I don't even know what that percentage is. I don't know if this would have been different if I were being distributed and represented by a record label (I'm guessing so), but I'm not going to whine too much about it. This is, after all, a new experiment and a new experience in my journey. As such, it's one more reason I'm glad that I created a new release, separate from my Internet busking efforts from Bandcamp.com, for these efforts.

And that is how Instrumentality was begun. Originally, I was working on a project I was calling Era, as in it would encompass an entire era of my music and wound up having around twenty tracks, but it was getting a bit ridiculous with too many versions of the same songs on it while trying to space them apart with songs that have so far been resolutely unchanged. It was a convoluted mess. An early idea had been to just release Instrumental to online stores, but I did want this release to be different from any of my Bandcamp releases, partly to keep the two worlds separate but also so people would not not just discover that they can, or could have, downloaded the exact same item for free. Plus, as my regular audience has probably figured out, I like putting out new releases. Assembling new track lists is one of the funner parts of the job, somewhat like creating a mix tape.

So an alternate version of Instrumental was another consideration and one that I returned to after Era was proving difficult. I also had to ask myself if I really wanted to put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. As it is now, I could probably put together one or two relatively "fresh" EPs for the in-stores audience market, but let's stay focused on "an alternate version of Instrumental," which began as a playlist titled Instrumental 2.0 in my iTunes that was being shuffled around restlessly for days, even as I've been shuffling around other ideas in the forms of playlists that have become what will be the next Snail Tunes release from Bandcamp.com. One question was, to include or not to include new songs? Well, new songs are a great way to advertise, and not only to people who are already familiar with your work. I believe that when some random person encounters, for example, "The Ground Down" through any means of social media, and sees that it's a "new song to be included" on an upcoming release, it will catch their attention. And so "The Ground Down" has been included on this project, as have songs from post-Instrumental releases that I believe are some of the best representations of my work. After all, if I'm reaching out to a wider audience, I do want to put my best foot, and therefore some of my best material, forward. This includes some of the songs from Progress Report that have remained favorites of myself and my audience since my debut, as well as some of the newer songs that we're all excited about. So the tracklist for Instrumental 2.0 evolved to not only be an alternate version of Instrumental, but to be almost as if I were redoing Instrumental. A new, more present compilation. And as a compilation, this would include less "never-before-heard" songs than I had originally planned...which would also save more new material for my beloved Snail Tunes audience.

When finally putting together the cover for Instrumental 2.0 and not having any new artwork to work with, except for a bunch of new downloads of the work of John Jude Palencar who has personally scolded me for using his work to "sell" my art (I don't think I have used any of it to "sell" my art, technically, and I've only used images that are already posted all over the Internet, so I'm not sure of how much trouble I could actually get into), I set to only putting a new title on the original concept of the cover. I've been hoping people haven't noticed, but the artwork for The Collection playlist didn't transfer very well when I had to switch from using Photoshop to GIMP, so the cover of Instrumental hasn't looked exactly as I had hoped. I've learned since to use GIMP somewhat better, and still have the original file for the cover of The Collection, so I started at an earlier stage of the cover for Instrumental and played around with it before applying the new title. I hope it looks better to everyone. I'm honestly not sure which I prefer, but I do like that they're different in more than just title.

Speaking of the title, the change from 2.0 was about as last-minute as you can get. As in, I had already chosen the file to upload and was inputting the tracklist when I thought, yet again, of the "Human Instrumentality Project" from the Evangelion anime series, as the title of Instrumental often influences me to do. Evangelion has already influenced my title decisions in the form of "They Delving 1.11" (a reference to the series of movies re-adapting the original anime series), so I quickly pulled up the GIMP file, removed "Instrumental 2.0" from the image, changed the font, and typed in "Instrumentality," then saved it to my inputting of the album without looking back.

And so, Instrumentality was sent forth in its current incarnation to be distributed to stores
with the tracklist:
1. Introducing... (Alternate II)
2. The Ground Down
3. The Snail Plays Piano
4. Dusk Devils
5. Winter's Salve (Alternate Spin)
6. The Manic Widow
7. Momentum
8. Glory and Wrath
9. A Determined Snail / A Minor Distraction
10. Waltz With Lilith (So Glad You Came)
11. To The Grind
12. Vainglorious Wrath
13. They Delving 1.0
14. Trip-Hop Thing
15. Waltz For Giger (Delusions of Empathy)
16. Dusk Devils (Nocturnal Dervish Mix)
and should be made available at all major online music stores throughout the week.

So far, Instrumentality can be found at (click the link to go to the item in the store):
Google Play
and can be streamed on SpotifyRdioTIDAL, Apple Music, MS Groove, and YouTube. If you'd like to know about another store specifically, please don't hesitate to ask and I'll check with my distributor.

Please wish me the best of luck in this new step in my adventures, and you can look forward to a new Snail Tunes release later this week, to be posted on this blog within the next few days.

Thank you all for your positive energy and generous support! May all our inner snails remain resilient and determined.