Thursday, July 30, 2015

UPDATED Nearing Occultation - A Preview

I'll try to keep this short and sweet. So far this summer, not only have posts to this blog been few and far between. After an initial flurry of activity at the beginning of June for the creation of my Patreon page there was a long silence between musical releases until Nefelibata, and now there has been a long silence following that release as well. There are two factors at work here, I believe: one is that I'm not pressuring myself as much as I was initially to constantly be releasing new material out of the fear that people will forget my existence if I have a period of silence. That I'm able to do this is partly self discipline, but also partly because I'm getting the sense that I have begun to establish myself, and the numbers I've been seeing and the interactions I've been having have helped to support that.

The second factor is that I'm not recycling material as often, so there is no longer a new seven-track EP being released for every two new songs. I'm hoping that this makes the wait between releases more worthwhile and also helps give my audience a sense of anticipation. And speaking of building anticipation, I'm also getting pretty good about not releasing every song to the public as soon as I've finished writing and recording it. Partly, I have Patreon as an outlet for that now, as well as the League of Extraordinary Snails membership club and Apple Music Connect. So if I feel like sharing everything as I'm doing it, there are special places for that where my paying supporters can have the "privilege" of that bombardment. But I'm also practicing keeping a few things secret and extra-special for them as well so that they have something to anticipate when a release occurs, so those patrons on Patreon still have a couple surprises waiting for them when a special edition of Occultation arrives as an exclusive for them... For the rest of you, don't worry: Occultation will be available for free streaming through various sites, and a new free EP is also on the way, to be released shortly after I'm done with the promoting circus for the new album.

And speaking of promoting the new album: the main reason for this post today is to share here, at the hub of my artistic endeavors, what has already been being spread through social media. Two new songs from Occultation have gone online during this past week. First, "An Arcane Son," a song I was initially collaborating with Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia on before we turned our attentions in a different direction, was released for streaming on Apple Music Connect, and I posted it through my main social media outlets (being Facebook, Google Plus, and Tsu). Today, instead of my usual Jukebox post (for those who are unfamiliar, it's a daily social media post of one of my songs) I decided to release "A Most Determined Snail" - being a fusion of "A Determined Snail" and "The Snail Plays Piano" with added instrumentation - as a pre-album release single.

When I realized I was being shamefully negligent of my blog in all of this - as this is supposed to be the hub of my artistic activities and should be one of the first places (if not the first place) that I post new content and news - I had to gather both songs onto a Bandcamp single for this post. So here it is! In anticipation of the new album, here's a single containing both songs that have been publicly previewed for y'all to stream and download freely and at your leisure.

May your inner snails remain resilient and determined, me folken.

UPDATE: The following single has been updated with material that reflects the finished product of Occultation and has also become an official part of the Snail Tunes discography rather than just a teaser for the commercial album, as the current plan is to not include these two songs on the upcoming EP.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Seriously? Douchebaggery?

I regret to notice that my posts here are becoming farther apart as the Snail's network expands. While I still consider this blog to be the epicenter of my artistic activities, the Snail now has so many other homes on the Web that's it becoming harder to distribute my energy among them and keep them all up to date. When all of this started on February 19th earlier this year, I only had a Facebook artist page for The Lady anoNYMous, my page for my records, and this blog to keep up with. Since then, we've (and we all know when I say that it's really "I" and I alone) have become active on SoundCloud, Google Plus, Twitter (I always said, "I'd be fucked if I ever...", so I guess I'm fucked), NoiseTrade, Jamendo, tsÅ«, Patreon, the communities and groups that come with some of these social networks, and I have a commercially-distributed album to try and keep in mind while I'm creating and promoting all of my main works. I hate to sound like I'm whining or making excuses (which I totally am), but I'm ONLY HUMAN, for fuck's sake! I thought briefly upon posting that link for tsu in the above list that, oh, I should make a link out of all of those, because I'm always in promotion mode it seems, and the mental image of seeing all of that underlined blue clustered together like that in one paragraph almost made me feel physically ill.

It makes me a little sad, and also like I should be working harder instead of focusing on loosening up a bit like I have been. I can't even keep my Patreon page up to date, and the responsibilities of spreading the word and promoting keep on growing as I try to spread my reach wider. I'm really beginning to understand how partnering with a label could be advantageous. I really could use someone, or an entire team, to take on the burden of promoting and keeping all of my social media up to date while I focus on creating. Even my releases are getting further apart. I should have already had a few new songs finished by now and inserted into my second commercially-distributed album, said album should be being distributed, and I should be at work on my next Snail Tunes EP which would be over half-finished. I feel like I'm so far behind. Yes, these are self-imposed deadlines and I am perhaps the only person who expects me to churn out records as often as I have in the past, but I'm used to that level of creative output. With my releases this far apart, I should at least be feeling more relaxed, and while I have kept having a more relaxed approach in mind, I always have the nagging feeling that I should be promoting or that I'm failing at my job by not keeping at least my Patreon and this blog up to date! Those are two things I care about very passionately, and it's distressing to feel like I've let down my patrons or my readers. And I have noticed that readership of this blog has dropped off a bit now that I'm not posting at least once a week...and that is fucking distressing! This blog is very important to me, and so are you, dear readers, so please just know that and bear with me! There's really only one label I'd feel good about partnering with, and every day I pray that they'll get back to me. I email them every month and have yet to get any kind of response. Is anyone from Fluttery Records reading this, by any chance?

I really didn't approach this post with explaining myself and describing my difficulties and stressors in mind. The intention of this post is supposed to be to just get this blog, and all who read it, up to date. And to go on one HUGE promotional spiel...but this blog has always been intended to be the space where I am the most honest and direct with my audience. Where I share my journey with you. Certainly part of the very nature of it is promotional and part of sharing is letting y'all know what I'm up to, what I create, and how you can support me in doing so. But this is also journaling, and as such, it is also a place to vent. I'm glad that y'all let me do that here (ha! as if you have a choice) and seem to be entertained by it and keep coming back for it. I really am! Part of my artist aspect is an entertainer, and having an audience is important to an entertainer. I don't get to see your faces and hear your chuckles, unfortunately, but the stats in my dashboard at least tell me that some people seem to eat this shit up. And that's fucking awesome.

So. Onto updates and promoting and such. Well, I guess the biggest thing is that I've added yet another way to support my cyber-busking efforts. One that I'm very enthusiastic about. I mean, I just couldn't believe that...well, I have to back up and describe how I happened upon this, I guess. You see, the other morning I went to check on the stats at Snail Tunes for the first time in over a week. I'd been making a point of it to ignore those stats for a week after the release of Nefelibata to discipline myself against obsessing over numbers. It can be hard sometimes when numbers are your primary relationship with your audience (read: y'all need to comment more) and to not let those numbers affect your attitude toward your art and your mood in general. Like, if y'all don't download my records immediately after I release them or there's not a tidal wave of readers right after I publish a post, I have to fight feelings of depression and hopelessness. I'm not kidding, I'm really that fragile.

So aside from discovering that in its first week Nefelibata surpassed Instrumental as the most-downloaded record at the Snail Tunes store (!!!) but there was a curious new link about subscribing or something at the top of the page that I almost missed. I decided to check it out. Turns out, has made a new subscription service available in response to the surge in popularity of crowdfunding platforms. To integrate their own version of crowdfunding into the site, Bandcamp now lets its artists offer customers a subscription very similar to what they might offer through Patreon. That is, for a fee (on Patreon it's a pledge, either per creation or per month, in this case it's a per-month or per-year subscription fee) people who actively support the artist receive immediate access to everything the artist creates, plus exclusive rewards and whatever else the artist might dream up.
I thought this was the coolest thing I'd heard of since Patreon. Like I began to say earlier, I can't believe Bandcamp has yet to send out a blanket email to all of the artists who use their services about this. Personally, if I were the consumer, I would be totally stoked about supporting an artist in this way, especially an artist such as myself who has a habit of frequently and regularly putting out new material. Patreon is wonderful for this in its own way, but I elected to make my Patreon service a "per-creation" avenue of support and to include writings in the art that people would support. I don't know how many fans of my music want to choose to be charged when I put out a short story if they don't read my short stories. I also know that, personally, I've always been wary of the idea of being charged per-creation because, well, what if an artist suddenly starts charging per-song or puts out a ton of poor-quality crap in a month that I would feel gypped over. While I can assure people that I'm putting all of my integrity into this and there's no way in hell I'd pull stunts like this, there's a certain artist who uses Patreon for their salary that I'm a huge fan of and have held in the highest regard and who I was going to support through Patreon...but they're doing those very things that I've just expressed being wary of. They're putting out next to no product, but when they do, it's a single song for which some people have pledged ridiculous sums of money, and it's a poor recording of a song that they've already released a better version of... But I guess you're just not always going to get everything you could have ever hoped for from any artist you support by any means, not even the old-fashioned way of buying a CD. I mean, who hasn't bought an album by an artist they loved and been disappointed?

Anyway, swinging the focus back onto the point: I think this new subscription service, which I'm calling membership in the League of Extraordinary Snails, is going to be a really sweet deal, and I urge y'all to consider it. Because for $5 a month (or more, if you're feeling generous and can afford it; it's your choice) you'll have immediate notification and access to high-quality downloads (with multiple formats to choose from) of every record that I put out, plus access to unlimited high-quality streaming of these records from Bandcamp through their website or their totally kick-ass mobile app, which has awesome features that have allowed me to discover several artists that I love. Seriously, I love this app, and I even use it to listen to my own music even though I have my music available to me through iTunes and Google's Music Manager as well. You can carry your whole Bandcamp collection with you wherever you go, and there are a ton of awesome, unique, obscure, and well-known artists on Bandcamp.

And the perks certainly don't stop there (yup, I'm totally swinging into promotion mode right now). This subscription includes five records from my back catalog, including Nefelibata, Pentacental Overdrive, A Waltz For Giger, Instrumental, and Progress Report: Alternate Tracks, along with all of the extras (the JPEGs and PDFs and such) that accompany each. To sum it up: very nearly every song I have ever recorded, including the elusive original version of "Winter's Salve" that has faded into total obscurity at this point (seriously, does anyone even remember what that sounds like anymore?).

Topping it all off are membership exclusives, very similar to the $5 pledger perks at Patreon at the moment, though the Patreon and League exclusives will differ in the future. Right now, League members will have immediate access to Era as well as two released songs, same as the $5 patrons. These will probably continue to parallel each other quite often, but in an effort to continue honoring my patrons, especially those in the $10 and above tier, some exclusives will remain exclusively Patreon exclusives (gods, that felt absurdly good to write just because of the ridiculous nature of, and the improper use of "exclusive" in, that sentence). For example - and this a piece of news for y'all - my second commercially-distributed album, the follow up to Instrumentality, is on the way, and as as reward to my $10 tier of patrons they will have access to free downloads of a special edition of this record. Unlike Era, this will remain entirely exclusive to patrons.

This is all because, as a person who's attempting a music career in an unheard-of-as-far-as-I-know way, I'm feeling out every avenue of support that I find and I'm trying to tailor-make them to and make them as enticing to as diverse an array of supporters as I can. And for each avenue I have to offer, I want to make something about it special to try and and hook y'all. Let's face it: I'm marketing myself as a commodity and I do have to think of my art as a product and y'all as consumers in this regard. I'd like to blow rainbow smoke up y'all's bums and go on and on about how much I do this for the art and the appreciation of my art by y'all is the only thing I need to keep going, but like I said before, this is my space to be honest with (shit I'm saying) y'all (too often) and I think that's part of what makes this blog attractive to people... (deep breath) And the bald-ass honest truth of it all is I'm trying to make money in the most circuitously self-deceivingly non-capitalistic way possible by a means that will most likely fail, but in my efforts to do so I still have to practice the douchebaggery of marketing. Hold on a second: can anyone who's reading this possibly believe that "douchebaggery" didn't trigger the spellchecker? HA!

Okay, enough about marketing and crowdfunding. There's one last bit of news I'd like to share with y'all, though I'm not sure if it's okay or if I'll jinx it, and I certainly can't make any promises... But what the hell! Through the avenues of social media I've become acquainted with the music and the singer/songwriter/guitarist of a band called The Arcane Insignia. They're a prog-rock/wood metal band, and yes, I'm aware of how pretentious that sounds (not to mention the band name), but there is serious talent here that makes it work. I'm talking about acoustic guitar played in both metal and flamenco styles accompanied by violin, viola, and quiet-but-rapid percussion, and a guy with a fantastic voice melodically singing some beautiful lyrics. Anyway, this singer/songwriter/guitarist for The Arcane Insignia, Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle, was impressed by Nefelibata just as I was impressed with Insignia's music, and we've been chatting about collaborating. And not only chatting: the collaboration progress has already begun. So, fingers crossed that us flaky artist-types will actually make this come together and pull off something beautiful in the near future. At present, I am ridiculously excited about this.

So...that's all of the news I can think of for now, and I think that's everything I was hoping to write about and express. Thank you all yet again for reading. It really does do a bit to feed my soul and my artistic energies, so know that even in just reading this because you enjoy it (or whatever) you're supporting me and my art. But, you know, consider that subscription thing, or making a donation through that button on this blog. Because money helps feed my belly, among other things.

May your journeys be safe, your days be fulfilling, your nights be contented and sweet...and may your inner snails remain resilient and determined!