Monday, December 7, 2015

Jade & Co.

Man, I haven't felt this grateful to be working as a musician in a while now. What has changed, you may ask? Absolutely nothing. I'm still piss poor and facing all the usual discouraging factors, but I've felt a resurgence in inspiration hitting me out of nowhere that has me excited to be working again - and yes, it is work, and it's like any other job where you have days where you feel like you just can't face it - and I've been having moments are I appreciate the enormity of the little things. Like earlier today, I came into the house after freezing my ass off to smoke a cigarette, then poured a fresh cup of coffee and returned to my little work set-up on the couch...and it smacked me hard in the face that, while this may not last and this adventure might not be successful, right then I was going to settle onto that couch with a hot beverage, cozy up under a blanket that's been in my life as long as I can remember, and work from home doing something that I wanted to be doing then and there. And if that can't provide a little extra motivation to get my ass in gear and work as hard as I can to be successful at what I'm doing, I don't know what can.

I can't really put my finger on where this post-Thanksgiving gratitude or fresh creativity has come from (it really might be Abilify - you've undoubtedly seen the commercials - and yes, I'm really on this anti-psychotic mood stabilizer now, and no, you won't ever hear it called that in the commercials, just the friggin' psychiatrist's office) but since releasing Wisps of Reason, I've been on a roll. Remember how I said (in the release article) that my goal of releasing the next commercial record by the end of the year might be pushing it? Well, if I let my impatience get the best of me, I could put it out now. I've been working nonstop, only taking a break to eat and catch a couple hours of sleep here and there, just like in the early days when I had myself working in feverish delirium all the time, except that I know better how to pace myself and care for myself now. There's just no dragging ass, which I had been admittedly prone to lately.

It's really kind of hard not to put the album out already. There's so much new music that I want to share! And I'm not even done promoting the new music from Wisps yet! So I guess it's kind of a good thing that I asked my rock star friends (yeah, I really call them that in my head) Matt Warface of (IAM)WARFACE and Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia to consider offering their vocal talents to a couple of my songs and told them they had until the end of the month before I move  forward with the album. I already have vocals recorded for the specific songs I've asked for their assistance with, and they're not half-bad at all, but I think these songs could be considerably improved with their abilities. For example, "The Between" is already released on Wisps of Reason with my vocals, but I think the more melodic bits (but I'm keeping my screaming on there, dammit! I'm just too proud of it!) would suit Alejandro's beautifully clear warbling better. And I have a con palabras recording of "Darkest Dreams" retitled "Sublime Like Swine," but I think Matt would sound fantastic on it, and he's been offering for a while now.

So I'm being forced to spend more time with these songs, which really can't hurt, as I get the inspiration to tweak them every now and then. Even if Matt ends up not having time to record vocals for me before the end of the month, I've already gone and remastered the vocals on "Sublime Like Swine" with a different compressor, which has made a hell of a difference from the recording I sent off to him, which happens to be the same recording I've already released to Patrons and Leaguers on a new reward titled Jade and Co.

Jade and Co. is a new four-track mini-EP (I learned today that, according to Distrokid, it would technically be considered an EP because it's more than three tracks, while all of my seven-track "EPs" would be considered albums because they're over thirty minutes in length, but I make my own rules, so whatever) offering a preview of the new album, which I'm confirming is going to be called Jaded - there's already a cover, I've always wanted to name a record after her...yep, it's Jaded. And Jade will be arriving with some friends; new characters to add to the Snail Tunes/Tales mythology. But more on that later. The mini-EP offers two all-new original songs bookended by two new renditions of familiar tunes, all of which are exclusive to the new album, for a track list that looks like this:

1. The Ground Up (Rebuild)
2. Sublime Like Swine
3. The Seventh Swan
4. Jade's Theme (Van Gogh Reprise)

"The Seventh Swan" sounding like this:

There, that should help with my almost overpowering need to share my music! I hope y'all enjoy it. I love this song. It was almost effortless in the writing and recording process, and then it tapped me on the shoulder and said, "By the way, I'm the Seventh Swan." To which I replied, "What the fuck?" but it was gone on invisible wings before I could get any clarification on the matter. This song has been with me for a good while now, and I've listened to it more times than I can count and have already tweaked it quite a bit, so I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this song will appear on the album as it is now. Just so you know. And yes, that's a sample of the working cover for the album. It's simple, elegant, and I didn't have to pester an artist to donate their work because I can't pay them anything.

This leads me to touch on the taboo subject of reaching out for funds. You know that old adage "You have to spend money to make money?" Well, it happens to be true in the music industry. One problem I've encountered is that collecting royalties is not nearly as simple as it should be. Sure, Distrokid will collect royalties for me from sources they've distributed my music to...for as long as I pay them. Then there's royalties from sources they didn't distribute to. For example, I now have four songs playing on Darkwave Radio, earning me income, but the royalties just get set aside in some nether world that no one can really explain to me and if they're not collected within a certain amount of time that nobody will specify, then they just dissipate. Also, YouTube sets aside funds for royalties for music played in all monetized videos, but again, they have to be collected. Anyone can be using my music in YouTube videos without my even realizing it, and YouTube might have money waiting for me, but I have no easy way of knowing it's there and the task of collecting isn't an easy one. Turns out there's different kinds of royalties and you have to jump through all sorts of bureaucracy for all manner of types and different districts to collect, which is why companies exist that will deal with all that shit and collect your earnings for you...for a price. The best I've found is a one-time payment of $75 to a company called Symphonic Distribution. I don't have $75. Right now, my earnings (mainly through Patreon) pay for my music addiction with an Apple Music subscription and tipping hard-to-find artists who offer their music for pay-what-you-will on Bandcamp. I don't even pay rent, because I don't have my own place.

You see, I have this theory: when you offer a service or product on a "pay what you can, when you can" basis - offering to work for tips/donations - people will undoubtedly figure, "Well, I'm sure if they're doing that, then they must be able to afford to work for free" or they'll think, "I'm sure someone else is tipping them, and what good is $1 going to do them anyway" or they think (and this is the kind of person I don't even want listening to my music) "Well, I'm not made of money, why should they get to do something they love." That last is such a loveless attitude and doesn't recognize that I offer is a service and a product, and I've had a hard time coming round to this stance myself, but I do deserve to get paid for it, because I work damn hard at it.

But man, if you listen to someone's music and you pass up on an opportunity to make a donation to them because you figure they're getting paid by someone else...please don't. Because I'm being totally straightforward and honest with you here: I don't make shit and the only way I'm able to do this right now is because I've taught myself to use free resources and because I'm disabled from a failed suicide. I can never manage touring, much less even a live performance, because of my physical handicaps. If it weren't for modern tools, I wouldn't be able to make music. This isn't a pity party. This is to make you understand that I'm in a unique situation and I'm a unique person, to be able to do what I'm doing. Most musicians have day jobs and they absolutely have to demand recompense for the entertainment/mental health services they provide.

So I can be absolutely piss poor and make music. But what I'd like is to be able to afford to better my tools, resources, and living circumstances. I'd like to be able to afford to collect my own earnings. I'd like to be able to feature a real theremin on my recordings. I'd like to be able to get in some studio time for decent vocal recordings; to have my music professionally mastered; to pay contributing musicians and artists... I'd like to be able to afford to finally put together a real physical product - an album called Nothing Left To Lose - that I can share with those who have been supporting me.

And part of my job is working my ass off to reward those who do support me. Financially, I mean. I am incredibly grateful to all those who offer their support just by Liking and Sharing on social media, and to those who simply listen and/or read. I mean, let's just take a moment to appreciate that over 2,200 individuals have given this blog a +1 on Google. Not, this blog has been +1'd 2,200 times, but that's 2,200 individuals who gave the blog itself, not just one of the articles, a +1. Now, I don't know how many of those people are regular visitors. But if just seventy-five people decided to click the "Support Cyber-Busking" button on this blog and donated $1 and didn't just figure that someone else would donate, then I'd be able to collect royalties on my music from all sources that I can think of all over the world. But why just donate that $1 when you could click the Patreon button and pledge $1 and the reap all the rewards that come with such a pledge, such as The Occultation Sessions, A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection, and single downloads of "The Ground Up" and the sin palabras versions of "Lily White" and "The Between"? And if you have $5 to spare, you just opened up two more options. There's buying stock in either Occultation or Jade & Co. on MIME, or there's getting a month's subscription to The League of Extraordinary Snails. Feeling like getting a lot more than one album's worth for $10? Then you can choose from buying stock in both items on MIME, or getting a ton of rewards on Patreon.

See, I not only work hard at making the music itself, but on promoting the music and making it worthwhile in other ways for people to support my making the music. It's a very demanding job. It really sucks ass sometimes. It's only that I love making the music itself and that it's something I happen to think I'm good at that drives me. And I need your support. So I'll break down what you can get for it. This is currently what a subscription to the League has to offer:

All of that is yours, instantly available for DMR-free, high-quality download in a format of your choosing and available for unlimited streaming on the free Bandcamp app. Plus, if you don't have one already, you'll gain a Bandcamp member Feed that you can stream and explore music from, similar to the app.

Now on Patreon - The $1 and up pledges gain access to:

The Occultation Sessions; A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection; and the singles "The Between (Sin Palabras)," "The Seventh Swan," "The Ground Up," and "Lily White (Sin Palabras)."

The $5 and up pledges gain access to:

The above rewards, plus Jade & Co, An Abbreviated Era, and the Artist's Edition of Instrumentality.

The $10 and up pledges gain access to:

All the above rewards, plus the epic 21-track compilation A New Era, the Artist's Edition of Occultation, and - because it's the next release - an Artist's Edition of the new album, Jaded, on or before its release to the public.

Finally there's the MIME stock exchange, where you can buy stock in artists and get rewarded by the artists themselves, as well as gain interest in your stock, for which I'm offering Jade and Co. for $3 and Occultation for $5. So there's plenty of ways to offer financial support - and not for much money (even I pay a buck or two for music that's offered for free on Bandcamp much of the time) - and get a hell of a lot back for giving. Shit, I think that's called an exchange of goods and services, or something. The thing is, I'm an unconventional artist, and I offer a lot of unconventional ways to give your support when you can. Just please, don't always figure someone else is doing it, so why should you? That's the kind of thinking that leads to a whole lot of nothing going on.

As always, thanks for your support and your consideration. You guys do absolutely rock for even just reading all this nonsense. May your inner snails remain resilient and determined.