I spent a large part of October just chilling out. I think I needed to, as my health is not that great at the moment. As a result I reached my goal of reading at least sixty books this year more than two months ahead of schedule. The creative activity of the summer ebbed away for a week or so, but I don't stop making music for very long and by the end of the month I'd got most of an album of instrumental ambient music done and dusted ready for November's Bandcamp Friday.
I make music. These days, I make lots of music. Last summer, for instance, I wrote 117 pieces of music between July 4th and October 1st. So many people asked me, "Why?" or "What on Earth were you thinking?" that I decided I'd write a book about it. The book will also introduce you to the delights of setting up a recording studio of your own, so you can do this sort of thing, too. It's called A Grand Adventure. The album features twenty tracks—most of them not previously released—that were recorded during those crazy three months. The book is included as both a .pdf file for your computer and as an .epub file for your eBook reader. I hope you'll find it interesting. It's taken me the best part of a year to write, so I hope you'll understand why this is a paid release.
The clocks went back an hour last night and this morning is one of the two occasions during the year when all of the clocks in the house show the correct time to within a minute of each other. Weirdly, the radio by my bed has to be manually set between Daylight Saving Time and "normal" time, even though it gets the current time from its internet connection and knows which time zone I am in. Once again I can celebrate not having to edit the site's RSS feed until the end of March because the RFC for such things doesn't recognise the existence of British Summer Time (BST).
I spent the extra hour fast asleep, which in my opinion is making the best possible use of it. It may also have helped to dispose of any hangover I might possibly have developed earlier this morning. I had an oddly maudlin evening; I wasn't quite at the stage of moping around the house sighing, but I wasn't far off it. I attempted to self-medicate with some chocolate biscuits, a gin and tonic, and a couple of glasses of Malbec which didn't help matters at all. Will I learn from this? Probably not.
Other than the general state of the wider world these days I've no idea why I suddenly felt as down as I did last night. There's little point in being performatively morose when you live on your own, after all. But I got well and truly walloped by something. Whatever triggered it, I probably didn't help matters by deciding I could distract myself by finally getting round to watching Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which was a much more emotional experience than any of the other Marvel movies in their current phase. There were a few lighter moments; I know for a fact that nobody had told Adrian Belew beforehand about what happens in one of the end credits scenes, and that he was chuffed to bits to be made a canonical part of the MCU, for example—but the central themes of loss and mourning and how to deal with the end of relationships didn't exactly make for this to be a fun romp across the stars. When it had finished I just switched off the home entertainment system because I couldn't face being "entertained" any more. Instead, I felt so empty and sad that all I could think of doing was retiring to bed, so that's what I did.
This morning there's bright sunshine streaming through the windows once again, but I still feel off. I think I need to disconnect from the world for a day or two, make some more music, and lose myself inside a few books.
Apart from venturing out earlier this week to do the shopping (and the big priority there was to acquire a bunch of different toppings for my waffle making activities, which I'm enjoying a lot) I've spent this week at home, indoors. It's been lovely. I've been working on an album of new ambient music, playing video games, reading books, and doing several loads of laundry. But I've been doing all of this at a very relaxed pace. Work on music has been progressing in a series of leisurely strolls taking an hour or two at a time rather than the intense six- or seven-hour stints that have been my process for most of the last decade. I hardly had any mammoth composing sessions like that during this year's Fifty/Ninety—not in comparison to last year's craziness, at least—but all the same I've definitely felt like I needed to ease up a bit this month. I've not been pushing myself at all and if it felt like I wasn't getting anywhere with the piece I was working on, I simply powered everything down and left it for another day. After a couple of hours of working on a piece of music in the studio these days, I'm ready to disconnect for a while and make a cup of tea while I decide what I might do next with it. When I take part in the songwriting challenges of FAWM and Fifty/Ninety, I don't allow myself the luxury of letting a piece sit and steep untouched for day or two so it's been a learning experience discovering what happens when I do. I've found myself making radical changes to pieces as a result, and I don't usually do things like that. However, judging by the results I've ended up with, that was the correct strategy to take.
Earlier this afternoon I was enjoying sitting reading in bright sunshine as it streamed through the windows; right now it's tipping it down. This month has been an extremely wet one so far, and it's also been a very warm one. So far this autumn there have only been a couple of occasions when I've felt the need to blip the house's central heating system on for half an an hour or so. Outside temperatures are still in double figures on most days (it's 12°C or 53°F outside right now), and after the overnight frost a couple of weeks ago, the minimum overnight temperatures have been relatively mild (last night the temperature in the back garden only dropped to 7°C). For the tail end of October around here, that's most unusual. Looking at the longer range forecast on the Met Office's website, it seems likely that I won't have to switch the central heating back to automatic until the new boiler has been installed (which happens the week after next).
I do like keeping a weather eye (aha!) on the temperature and I love my gadgets—but I'm sure you already know that as a reader of this blog. I could never resist a weather station for tracking maxima and minima and keeping an eye on the humidity. On Monday I noticed that the "battery low" indicator had come on on the one which is attached to the wall in the conservatory so that was another thing that I needed to stock up on at the shops this week. But why is it that buying two packets of eight AAA batteries (with all of the concomitant extra cardboard packaging) worked out as a considerably better deal than buying one pack of a dozen? Batteries aren't cheap, but buying sixteen batteries split over two packs cost me just fifty pence more than buying one pack of twelve. I thought buying the largest size pack was supposed to be the most cost effective solution?
Despite the weather's continuing mildness, I retired my summer duvet for the year yesterday and switched back to the much thicker winter one. I have never tried weighted blankets as a means of alleviating anxiety or stress, but the weight of a higher-tog duvet has much the same heft as one and it appears to do the trick just as well for me; last night, I slept like a log.
Earlier this week I reached my target of reading and reviewing at least sixty books this year, and the clocks haven't even gone back yet (that happens for the UK in the early hours of Sunday morning). As I mentioned just now spent a comfortable hour or so this afternoon sitting in an armchair in the living room catching up on more reading: a fascinating collection of essays by the Russian film director Andrey Tarkovsky. I'm also about half-way through Stanislaw Lem's classic science fiction novel Solaris which is my current bath-time reading; I remember seeing Tarkovsky's 1972 film adaptation on TV when I was a teenager and being largely baffled by it, but I will be watching it again when I've finished both books. I'll probably work my way through the rest of my Tarkovsky box-set after that (my interest in his work, and my recent rewatch of Stalker was prompted by my reading of Geoff Dyer's excellent book Zona, which I reviewed as #10 on my books page). I have Steven Soderburgh's 2002 remake, but I might leave a repeat viewing of that for a later date...
I had the car serviced and MOT'd this week. It all went well (which was hardly surprising, since I've only driven a thousand miles or so in it since last October) and it gave me an excuse to mooch around the Mall at Cribbs Causeway and do a bit of shopping while I waited. That was a productive session of retail therapy, too; I picked up a bunch of new paperbacks from Waterstones and a pair of slippers from Marks & Spencer. (I'm picky about slippers. I hate the fur-lined things that seem to be the default option stocked in most places. I'm much more of a leather moccasin kinda person, it seems. They don't end up as smelly and they're far more likely to stay on my feet if I have to clamber up into the loft for any reason, and I do that more often than you'd think!)
But it was when I visited a kitchen equipment shop that was when I really struck gold. I picked up a very nice set of chef's knives for £10 and a stove-top waffle iron for £20. I've been looking for a decent waffle maker for years but much the same with guitars, a waffle maker is not something you buy off the Internet without getting to hold it in your hands first and see if it's hefty enough to survive becoming part of your setup. This one was, and once I'd got it back home and I'd seasoned it with oil, I was delighted to discover that it makes extremely good waffles in just three minutes. Perfect, golden brown waffles with sliced banana and drizzled with maple syrup are now part of my kitchen routine; the recipe that is printed on the box that the iron came in makes a dozen of them so that's how many I've eaten so far this week.
The rest of my time this week has largely been spent either lounging about reading books or sitting in my home recording studio, working on music. And I'm extremely happy with that state of affairs, to be honest. Negotiating the rush hour traffic on Tuesday morning as I made my way to the garage reminded me that I really don't miss the daily commute at all; it was horrendous. I have no desire at all to return to that sort of routine. I hadn't realised just how stressful that life was until I didn't have that sort of life any more. Who needs that kind of hassle if they have the option to do without it?
Instead, I can sit in an armchair with ambient music playing quietly in the background and lose myself inside a book for as long as I want. I've always known how pleasurable reading is as a pastime but over the last few years the amount of time that passes while I read has increased significantly. Not because I'm reading more slowly, but because my appetite for books has grown (and it was prodigious to start with, if I'm honest). I can easily quantify it, too: for the last five or six years I've set myself the target to read and review sixty books every year. I used to post my reviews on Goodreads, but I don't do Amazon any more (given stories like this, are you surprised?) Instead I post them right here on this site. A few years ago it would have been the end of December before I reached my goal of reading sixty books but this year I just posted my review of book 59 and I'm well of the way through reading books 60, 61, and 62 as well. The act of reviewing each of them has been an interesting learning experience. It has kept my analytical skills relatively sharp, and it's made me examine how I respond to the written word in much the same way as I comment on other songwriters' work during the FAWM and Fifty/Ninety challenges that have become such a rewarding part of my life. I think that doing so has improved my own abilities as a writer (and I can tie this narrative together nicely by reminding you that if you haven't already done so, you can still get a copy of the book I wrote about my own creative experiences as a musician taking part in them by clicking on the link at the top of the page. I've been told by more than one reader that it's pretty good.)
And so now I follow my own creative path, and I do so at my own pace and on my own terms. I might not ever be a financially successful recording artist (and let's face it, the recent sale of Bandcamp to Songtradr doesn't exactly bode well for the small income stream that I currently get from releasing music to the wider world) but that's not the reason that I make music, and it never has been. I make music because I love making music. I compose music in lots of different genres because I'm curious to find out what that style of music would sound like if it was me making it. It turns out that I still sound like me. I have somehow developed my own voice as a musician. And it's not just me saying that.
This week one of my friends sent me a link to someone's work on Bandcamp with the comment "This guy sounds like you." That seemingly innocuous sentence has become a turning point for me, because of the subtle shift in the wording. In the past, people would send me links and tell me "You sound like this guy." The direction of implied influence has reversed, and that makes me very happy.
It's just 15°C (59°F) here at my desk this morning. Last night the back garden got its first frost of the winter as the temperature dropped to -1°C (30°F). I've been thinking about my energy usage a lot since last winter, when electricity and gas suppliers cashed in on supply uncertainties thanks to both Russia's invasion of the Ukraine and general post-Brexit chaos and prices went through the roof. I decided that I need to reduce my potential for being screwed over in the same fashion ever again, and I can't write about climate change in the blog as regularly as I do without trying to do something about it, so I'm going to be making a few changes to things in the next few months.
I'm not dropping my gas usage entirely, but I'm getting the house's boiler replaced in a couple of weeks. The boiler I have at the moment is the original one that was installed when the house was built back in 1990 and with just two settings (it's either off or roaring away at full tilt) it has a woeful energy efficiency of just 65%. Its replacement will have an efficiency of around 94%, according to the brochure which should put a considerable dent in my energy usage and (it says in the marketing materials) reduce emissions by up to 30%. I'm also switching to a pressurised hot water system, so I'm looking forward to taking showers with a decent water pressure for the first time since I moved here back in the dim and distant past of 1995.
But I'm taking rather more extensive steps to cover my electricity usage throughout the year and I'm going to cover the south-facing roofs of both the house and the garage with solar panels. I also looked into installing a roof-top wind turbine as well, but they only start to work when the wind speed gets above four metres per second or so and need a wind speed above 11 metres per second to hit maximum efficiency. In the small village where I live which is nestled at the foot of the Cotswolds, that doesn't happen often enough to make it worth my while getting one installed; the energy I'd get from it would put the payback period for it close to two decades. Solar PV pays for itself much faster. I'm also thinking that rather than heating the whole house with the central heating system every day and pay for gas, I can just heat the room I'm working in with a small electrical fan heater during the day, running it off the panels or from battery storage (which can be topped up overnight with off-peak electricity, should the panels not produce all the electricity I need). But if I'm working on music in my bedroom studio, the heat produced by all my gear is more than sufficient to keep me comfortably warm without needing a heater at all.
This will be the biggest work I've had done on the house since the conservatory was built ten years ago. There will be a fair bit of disruption involved, but it'll be worth it.
It's the twins' birthdays today. Happy birthday, Ruth and Rob!
I'm feeling better than I was last week. Yesterday I decided that I felt robust enough to tackle an afternoon of gardening—mainly because the Virginia creeper on the house was well past due for pruning: it was growing across the upstairs windows and had reached the gutters at the front of the house. After sorting that out, I moved on to getting the grass cut. My health has been so poor over the last couple of months that I don't think I'd touched the back lawn since August, and it badly needed a session with my Flymo.
Now I no longer wince when I look out of the kitchen window. Everything still needs more work to bring things back to its former, manageable state, but at least it looks like somebody actually lives here again. I'm glad I made the effort yesterday, because today the weather has reverted to what it was like for most of September: being grey and damp.
Back in July I was writing in the blog about how the Atlantic Meriodional Overturning Current, which drives the Gulf Stream, was showing significant signs of weakening. This current, which is normally referred to as AMOC, is what's responsible for the British climate being so mild as it transports heat to northern Europe from the Caribbean. Without the Gulf Stream, UK weather would be more like that of somewhere like Maine, which lies at the same latitude on the other side of the Atlantic: it would be a lot colder. Since that research was published, the British Government's record on climate action has been perverse, to say the least. Instead of calling for immediate action on climate change, Rishi Sunak and his venal chums have not just stepped back from their existing commitments (which has even managed to alarm members of their own party, and that's quite an achievement), they've announced the granting of 100 new licences for oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, criticised the Mayor of London's expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zones, and tried very hard to block the introduction of 20 mph speed limits in parts of Wales (in this, at least, they failed). Last month they blew a billion quid of taxpayers' money on a green energy auction that was so mismanaged it didn't attract a single bid. It's almost as if the Tories know that they're going to lose the next election and lose it hard, so like the spoiled little overprivileged brats that they are, they're going to make it as hard as possible for their successors to stand any chance of taking meaningful action...
This is not the time for pettiness, even if the Conservative Party thinks otherwise. A new paper in Geophysical Research Letters reports strong evidence that the AMOC has seen significant weakening over the last four decades. The report concludes that the flow of the Gulf Stream past Florida has slowed down by 4% in the last forty years. The probability that this is happening as a result of anthropogenic climate change is estimated at 99%. The economic fallout from the Gulf Stream failing would be astronomical, particularly for the UK. The world's climate is changing so rapidly that it looks to me like we've reached the much discussed tipping point well ahead of when we were told it would occur, and if you don't find stories like this one absolutely terrifying, I'd argue that you don't know enough about what is going on or about what is likely to happen over the next fifty years and you need to do something about that. Meanwhile, the big energy companies—who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo going for as long as they possibly can because they make more money that way—will quite happily bid for Sunak's new oil and gas licenses and damn the consequences. It's like discovering your house is on fire, throwing petrol into the flames, and then telling your kids that it'll be up to them to sort things out.
We need action, and we need action now.
As I said in my last blog post, in previous years after Fifty/Ninety has drawn to a close I have spent a day or two reflecting on the experience before sitting down and compiling a list of things "what I learned this year" from taking part. If you're reading the blog for the first time, I should explain that Fifty/Ninety is an Internet-based challenge where musicians and lyricists attempt to create fifty new works in the ninety days between July 4th and October 1st. Last year was the first time in a while that I had taken the time to write a list of the things which I thought stood out as worth remembering for future challenges, but last year was not a normal year for my songwriting adventures and by October 1st I had ended up with not just fifty songs, but one hundred and seventeen of the things. I had a lot of points to make and many things worth remembering for later, so the intended simple blog post grew and grew and became the album and e-book which I've linked to on Bandcamp at the top of this page. The book is a detailed, comprehensive and personal account of how and why that came about. I think it's an interesting read even if you're not a lyricist or a musician, and people have been saying nice things about it.
I'm not going to write a sequel this year. Instead, I'm just going to make a list of the five most significant things which I think have made a difference to the results I was getting (and possibly to the audience that those pieces of music reached). Here they are, in the traditional order counting down from number five to number one:
#5: PRESENTATION MATTERS
This is related to one of the golden rules of FAWMing which is that
you should never knock your own work (don't put yourself down). How
you present your latest endeavour to the community will make a
considerable difference to how it is received. The Fifty/Ninety site
allows (and encourages) songwriters to write liner notes explaining
what the point of the song is, or where its inspiration came from, or
anything else that the composer thinks is relevant. The site will also
track any hashtags used in these notes which might describe the genre
to which the composer thinks their work belongs, and a few well-chosen
tags definitely help to draw listeners in. Clicking on a particular
hashtag on any page on the Fifty/Ninety site will display a page
showing every song that has been tagged with it, and that means that if
you add the
#ambient tag to a piece for example, fans of
that particular genre—who will all be potential listeners—can
find your contribution easily. A funny or unexpected hashtag will get
people to give your song a listen, because they'll be wondering why you
chose that particular weird descriptor.
Writing out a song's lyrics helps the listener (this demonstrates that you're valuing their attention) and prevents your listeners suffering from Mondegreens, where what the listener hears bears little or no resemblance to what the singer really sang; Hendrix's notorious "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" is probably the most famous and funniest example of a misheard lyric (he actually sings "kiss the sky").
Where a song that's been posted to Fifty/Ninety lacks any liner notes at all or has no transcription of the lyrics (obviously an instrumental won't have any lyrics) I can pretty much guarantee that it will get far fewer comments than a similar song which provides both. A good title will also attract more listens and comments, and anything that can raise a smile there or in your liner notes will pay off handsomely. At the heart of things is the simple point that people want to be entertained without it seeming like homework, so if you can make the listening and commenting process easy, then make sure that you do so.
#4: LONG TRACKS CAN PUT PEOPLE OFF LISTENING
You may be proud of your twenty-five-minute ambient masterpiece, but the embedded player on the Fifty/Ninety site shows how long a track lasts (and so do the Bandcamp and Soundcloud players, which can also be used on a song's page) and people will use that to judge whether they've got time to give your work a listen from start to finish. Anything over ten minutes tends to garner much fewer listens and comments than shorter works, no matter How good it might be, or who it is who made it.
If you've donated in support of the challenge (good for you!) and are using the site's built-in file hosting function, you'll have noticed that each upload is limited to a maximum file size of 10 Megabytes; this is partly to control site running costs, but it also acts as a soft limit on the average duration of songs that are posted; depending on how much file compression you use, the maximum duration of a 10MB file works out at around ten minutes.
To test the thesis that shorter songs get proportionally more attention, I wrote a song called People Don't Like Long Songs which lasted for just thirty-four seconds (and the last four seconds were just the reverberation applied to the guitars decaying away to silence). In the first hour after I'd posted it, five people had left comments about it when my next track (which was more than five minutes long) only received a couple of comments in the same amount of elapsed time. Deciding whether this is a commentary on declining attention spans or not is left as an exercise for the reader.
#3: PUSH THOSE TRACK VOLUMES DOWN
I say this every year and it continues to be the case: when I put a mix together by lowering the volumes of individual mix components, I always get much better results than when I increase the volume of something. Balancing a mix by reducing levels will always work better than trying to boost things, but where in the past I would cut something that I thought was too loud in the mix by 3dB, I am now regularly dropping volumes by 9dB, 12dB, or even more. And they still sit fine in the resulting mix once it's been mastered. Where in the past I was leaving 6dB of headroom on recordings, I'm now often leaving 12dB. Some of the individual tracks of audio in my mixes are now pushed down by 20dB or more. I can still hear them doing what I want to hear them doing. Once it's been mastered, everything just sounds more coherent as a result.
#2: IT'S OKAY TO BAIL ON SOMETHING
A few times this summer I started work on something and after a couple of hours I realised that what I was doing wasn't leading me anywhere. In previous years I'd just have gritted my teeth and ploughed on with things regardless, but this year I took the step—an extraordinary one, for me—of deleting the file I was working on completely and going downstairs to the kitchen and making a cup of tea instead.
When I returned to the studio, having to start again from scratch always led to a better piece of finished work. As I listen back to the tracks I have ended up recording this summer, there's a striking absence of any that make me wince with embarrassment in the way that a few isolated tracks have always somehow managed to do in all the previous years I've taken part.
Incidentally, the process of taking a break and making a cup of tea will also work wonders if you're struggling to get the balance of a mix right. You're giving your body a much-needed break but more importantly you're letting your ears take some time off. Your hearing gets tired just like the rest of you does, and the louder the volume levels you're working at, the faster that will happen. Look after yourself!
#1: UNDERSTAND WHAT A TRACK NEEDS BY LISTENING TO IT
Last year I upgraded my near-field monitors from KRK Rokit 5s to Focal Shape 65s and once I'd run the Focals in (which took about ten days) and they had fully opened up, I realised I was hearing details in what I was doing which I'd never noticed before. Last year I also switched my MOTU M4 audio interface so that it was recording at 48,000 Hz in 24-bit, and that also lets me hear much finer detail in my mixes. I never thought that either of these things would have had such a profound effect on what I do until I started working in that environment. After all, a fair chunk of the frequency range that the Focals reproduce (they can handle everything from 40 Hz up to 35 kHz) is well outside the range of human hearing even if you don't have a pair of ears as heavily used as mine are. And most of the music I listen to is stored at 44.1 kHz and 16-bit on CDs, and I'd been happily working at that resolution for more than a decade without noticing anything lacking. But once you start to hear how much more detailed recordings become at the higher resolution, you start paying more attention to the details and a positive feedback loop kicks in so that your ears get more accustomed to working this way. I realise this all sounds a bit like airy-fairy, audio woo but trust me: when you hear it, it's a pretty darn revelatory experience.
Just sitting and listening to what you're doing might sound like a daft thing to learn after you've been doing this sort of thing for as long as I have, but it's true. Sitting and listening to what's going on as a process which requires active effort and attention is a very different activity to pressing the playback button and giving the track a cursory listen while you're checking that the bass guitar comes in on the beat like it's supposed to or that you haven't accidentally hit the microphone stand while you were recording the vocals. You need to know how to listen as much as you need to know what it is you're listening for. Then you can decide how noticeable you want any given feature of a track to be. That will affect where you're going to position it in the sound field of your mix, both left to right and front to back.
So this year I've been trying to cultivate the habit of what Pauline Oliveros termed Deep Listening, of trying to fully understand what the sounds I was making were doing and how I was responding to them. If there was something that I was responding to negatively, I got rid of it. If there was something I responded to positively, I would try to build on it and take steps to make it stand out. This is an effortful technique, and there were days when tiredness stopped my focusing as intensely as I would have liked, but by and large I was able to work this way on almost every track I recorded this summer for at least part of the time. I think the results speak for themselves.
HONORARY MENTION: BEING COMFORTABLE IS IMPORTANT
At the beginning of the challenge, the office chair which I had been using in the studio since the grand refit of 2020 disintegrated on me so I replaced it with a Herman Miller Aeron Chair, because for the first time in several years I could afford such an extravagant item of furniture.
Except that it turned out not to be extravagant at all, of course. The comfort and support that it provides is light years away from the old chair I'd been sitting in. When you're sitting at a desk for hours at a time (remember to take those breaks!) the difference in comfort levels becomes incredibly important and when you're as old and decrepit as I am these days, realising that you've just bounced out of your chair, fresh as a daisy after more than four hours of recording and mixing, it brings home just how important good posture is for your health.
Now that I'm no longer writing material for Fifty/Ninety every day, my mind is no longer in full-on creative mode. It took it a couple of days, but it looks like my subconscious has finally noticed that it's not constantly being given ideas to mull over any more. So last night it celebrated having free time again by throwing a particularly upsetting set of PTSD flashbacks at me before embarking on a mammoth rumination session that started at 3 am and lasted a couple of hours. The standard method of dealing with this that I learned a few years ago in cognitive behavioural therapy of recognising what was going on and letting it flow over me didn't work, because the emotional content of the flashbacks had disturbed me too much. I only fell asleep because by 5 am I was too exhausted by it all to think straight any more. This morning I turned the alarm off with extreme prejudice and retreated back under the duvet. I only surfaced again at 10:30 am.
I hate nights like that. They leave me feeling drained and worthless. It will take several days for me to recover my sense of equilibrium.
Sanity is a very fragile thing, folks.
And just like that, it's October and suddenly Christmas and the New Year don't seem anywhere like as far off as they did a few weeks ago. The Fifty/Ninety songwriting challenge has drawn to a close and I ended up with a grand total of sixty songs written and recorded since July 4th. It wasn't my most prolific performance, no—but it certainly wasn't my worst. I think I did some good work this summer, and I have really enjoyed listening to all the music that my fellow participants created over the last three months. As of right now, I've left comments on 1,020 songs from other participants and the quality this year has been really good. It's so much fun to hear how much better my friends get every year. I need to make sure I'm keeping up!
After I've put together my customary list of things "what I learned this year" from taking part, I'll switch to devoting my spare time to doing things other than making music; I always find it difficult to adjust to this after spending most of the last three months shut away in my bedroom studio. The garden needs attention, for a start. And I have a pile of ironing to do...
So, Epic didn't hang on to Bandcamp for very long at all, did they? It looks like their acquisition of it was part of an extremely ill-judged expansion plan, and it hasn't turned out well for them at all; they've just laid off 18% of their staff and sold Bandcamp to SongTradr. Although I already have accounts with both companies, I must admit to feeling concerned at this development. Songtradr's core business is in music licensing to television and radio, and I suspect they'll want to leverage the extensive catalog of music that Bandcamp users have created; I can see subscription charges for membership appearing on the horizon before long, because that's the way Songtradr do things. And the warnings from more than one source for people to back up their music collections to their own systems rather than leaving them in the cloud are a good idea, too.
I suspect that we'll soon see the end of Bandcamp Fridays as well. It's sad, but we have to be thankful for what the company has done for musicians since Covid; compared to the breadcrumbs offered by the big hitters in the world of online music, they've made significant efforts to support the creators on which they depend for business.
Will I be releasing anything on Friday for this month's event? Probably not; I don't want to release another album of demos, although if you've listened to my stuff you'll know my initial attempts at any given track are pretty much full production numbers anyway. I might change my mind between now and Friday, but I suspect that I won't. I'm pretty much musicked out today.