…Oh My Ghad Itza March Already…

So uhh here’s the thing. Occasionally a project comes in (okay never) where in exchange for giving up your independent rebel cred and autonomy you get to work on exactly ONE thing while a bunch of other people slave over stuff that you would otherwise also have to do yourself in the large majority of familiar scenarios. That sounds absolutely horrible doesn’t it (wincing now) ? Now to make things worse there are these other rules regarding social media (like it not being a thing for the duration) that are absolutely draconian (hard time breathing now) and then of course there is the possibility of being incredibly busy for the rest of one’s life afterwards (is carried out on stretcher)…

Coincidentally I’d just finished a surmise of possible social media strategies for marketing new music. As much as I love Mastodon there are certain difficulties with respect to streaming and the statistics of user base that come into play. To put it bluntly Mastodon is still short of the magnitudes and distributions required to have considerable impact in terms of new releases. There is a lot to like about Mastodon- it may actually be the best up and coming network not held in sway of forces otherwise on the dark side.

But the biggest players have that certain statistical reality in play in terms of user base versus amplification. The inherent conflict can be circumscribed thus: streaming platforms will only support your music via income when your hitting quite high streaming frequencies. Personally I’d rather release vinyl and CDs on my own label and tell it all with a rebel yell for streaming platforms to go fark themselves. Theoretically you want to establish that base first so you have the bargaining power to negotiate a better deal with the big platforms later on (someone mentioned that sounded like pulling a Taylor Swift but she was already way huge when she went there). I honestly don’t know if you can formulate an optimized strategy when the current music industry resembles nothing of the past. It’s not for want of trying


Well….That was fast. The weather here finally decided to resemble something reasonably seasonal about two weeks into December before popping back into 70ish range. The holiday season has been a blast regardless , probably more so than usual just because up against a backdrop of a world moving from one petulant tantrum to another the push-back is mostly about enjoying the season and just saying no to all the negativity, anhedoniacs and other assorted varieties of grumpenthropes…seems to be working.

A few months back I’d started to reconsider the long held desire to have the live rig and the recording rig be the same rig. Overcoming the technical hurdles for that becoming a viable reality for gigging musicians creates a whole range of opportunities for making music without needing a semi to haul your gear around. The problem is having a command central that is flexible enough to adapt and cover all that ground via a workflow that most musicians will be familiar with. There are good solutions that cover bits and pieces – like Mainstage and GigPerformer , but they require juggling and trading one asset and workflow for another, not to mention having to reprogram things like complicated synth multis every time you move between them – and that takes a lot of time. I’d been watching the revs and updates for Presonus Studio One with interest for a good long while. They’ve been upping their game and advancing the feature set at rapid pace year after year. This last 6.5 update added Dolby Atmos integration and updated many of the native plugins for multichannel work in the Atmos workflow. It’s an absolute beast of a DAW, so if any of this sounds familiar to you and you’ve already been through all those other gyrations it may be time to check out Studio One. The view from here is that she’s the one. We’ll be talking about features and progress as we go.

The other thing of course is the Youtube channel for DailyTracks . That is one can that keeps getting kicked down the road in lieu of one thing or another. I’m not one for resolutions but this is after all a brand new year and so of course the optimism that goes with is notably present and in accordance with mentions that came before. Give us a cadence…

The Challenge Of A Social Media Interregnum For Musicians

Sampling on eve of 04/02/23

It’s remarkable how quickly the situation described below is changing:

There are several factors contributing to this , the most persistent being the continual degradation of user experience and safety at Twitter. But also the spreading word that #Mastodon supplies ample tools for crafting individual and purpose built feeds- no coding required. With the now rapidly expanding user base of music fans will come that desired influx of musos, bands and supporting orgs. Things that originally looked to be a couple of years out (see below) may be in evidence in about four to six months or so . That folks…is huge.

We had no problem leaving Twitter for Mastodon. The problem now with Mastodon for musicians is that there is literally no one there. As much as I like Mastodon – and I really do , it’s not a ready made communication channel for musicians or those looking to be plugged into the studio or touring scene. If your a journo or in the sciences the situation is rapidly improving , but for working musicians it’s an empty room. From the general vantage point of Mastodon admins engagement on the platform is excellent, but the more highly specified your subgroup is the more quickly that engagement falls off to zero. The potential for an engaging vibrant community of musicians and fans to grow and thrive on the platform is excellent given proper time – that being two or three years.

For anyone truly concerned about the life of their democracy leaving Twitter is/was easy. Ownership went full fascist and there is nothing to be done. The problem is that if you wanted a pro democracy snow white to go to Mastodon is it. Every other platform has at least one fascist/racist billionaire leader in the wings looking for a way to get more fascists/racists elected to Congress while paying no taxes. Facebook/Meta/Instagram are just below Twitter on that list. YouTube (a Google property) is a bit laggard in the fascism department. No one knows how long that will hold up but right now your going to do better utilizing YouTube resources to grow and extend your messaging. That’s probably true whether it be production , songwriting, touring or general messaging.

I say this with a grimace , but Instagram may be the necessary second half of that duo. Have never been on there but the music community is there in the large. So when you are actually working on projects the pool is just much larger. What we’re after is viable mediums with inbuilt working populations of both musicians and fans.

For a brief flicker there was hope that the light bulb would go on in the large regarding the importance of decentralized platforms and federated infrastructures that are inherently immune to things like a Twitter-Musk bomb. YouTube and Instagram are definitely not that. They are highly centralized and thus vulnerable. It’s a puzzle most of us have to solve literally right now , not two years from now.

Happy New Year 2023 !

The year is 2023. The future is here. Have yet to witness any literal flying cars yet but must say down South at least this can only be a good thing. These folks are definitely not ready for that particular wrinkle on the Z axis. In other news we’ve probably got some explaining to do as there hasn’t been much in the way of news and updates of late…

Here’s the deal: Late 2022 We did the math (and then re-did it multiple times) for music release timing and found the situation wanting. A big part of that is the way platforms like Spotify and YouTube try to maximize their advertising revenue really isn’t very compatible with new artists attempting to maximize revenue from a new release. You’d think it would be thrilling to put the thing out there and hit 50,000 to 100,000 streams in several months but the truth is that particular result won’t pay any bills much less cover your overhead.

We need a more comprehensive approach approximating what major labels used to do for major artists- but only completely in the absence of what those labels would do when signing artists that A&R folks judged to be up and coming because hello, that doesn’t even exist anymore ! Is there some optimal approach out there in light of the current situation ?

Maybe , But whatever that may turn out to be it’s going to be entirely up to you (the artist) to foot those costs going forward. If your timing goes south and a COVID surge or some other catastrophe knocks out your support dates (or a band member that can’t be replaced) that’s just tough luck. The only insurance policy you have is whatever else you have going on to pay the bills. Still, in spite of those challenges there are always reasons for hope.First of all, we as musicians are all propelled by love of music and performance – a thing by itself mostly petulent and unreasonable but stubborn in persistence. Secondly , there are signs that some kind of rebalance is going on down there beneath the surface. The music industry , after all and as a whole must want to survive at least as much as everyone else. If sustainability doesn’t include artists then what survives…isn’t music. If your ready to imagine a world without live music your obviously not a working musician.

It’s a safe bet that most folks that enjoy live music are not professional musicians. The underlying statistics for a robust music industry that includes thriving new artists, in spite of all the recent disasters, have not changed because we as humans love hitting the high notes.

In that regard music isn’t any more on the ropes than our major sports are – that passion is immutable. So what do we do ? It’s about getting better at noticing where the opportunities are and at understanding what the hell is going on out there. Sometimes it’s about working on the next big thing while waiting for yet another storm to pass.