A very good friend, and very talented composer colleague posed this to me just the other day. He said quite simply, “why do we even upload our music?”
And you know what?, what a great question.
Why bother. What is it you are trying to achieve when you upload a bunch of new songs or cues to a set on Sound Cloud or Hear his? What is that objective and do you really even possess a goal?
It did make me walk in a few circles weighing up the goodness versus the repercussions, so i have broken it down into sections and it is food for thought. Whether you see yourself as a recording artist, or a beat maker, producer, film or game composer, session player. Their are without doubt a myriad of avenues to have come from but we all arrive in the same places so what are the ups and downs of showing the world your wares?
Archiving and retrospective:
This is foremost for me personally, something i truly cherish and adore. Anyone whos familiar with my sonic ramblings will attest to the fact i love love to write music and maybe fair to say on a prolific basis. Its something ive done since my early teens when i was learning to play and compose.Id collect dozens of tapes, then CD’s of work. Collect EVERYTHING. Every idea, every experimental afternoon, every weird and wonderful new direction you attempted.
Archiving your work is for me, a big big must. Some will say looking back isn’t healthy, but i strongly disagree with that. I See it as an opportunity to reboot and re discover things you once did that you simply stopped doing. Some of the experimental risk “takes” from years back, herald some long forgotten gems.
The retrospective aspect is a big deal. It shows a line of growth in your choice of sound, identifying how your creative voice is blossoming and understanding how your engineering and production techniques are shaping. Sometimes you actually sub develop into a person you didn’t realise you could be, sometimes you have shed ideas and techniques personal to you like a skin. Not all growth is beneficial so its always good to look back say 6 months or a couple of years and sift through some tracks.
Vanity and Ego:
When you speak of this little combo, you are always going to incite feelings from creatives. Its the natural state of play to accept that with a passionate voice, their follows a few steps behind, your ego in some shape or form. To simply state you dont have one, is perhaps not only completely ridiculous but possibly points to the fact you know you do and its not in check. Or put it another way, you haven’t found a comfortable way to meter compliments versus critique.
Everyone, and i dont care who you are, from a successful film composer to the guy or girl bedroom producing and pencil sketching, has an emotional attachment to what they create and what you are trying to say. No amount of big production samples and boom and whooshes, cliche mechanisms and cop outs will cover a good composer from a not so good one. We upload our music because we also appreciate the power of connection.
The critique, but lets be honest, when its actually constructive, you’re all ears, when its from a source that just wants to beat you down, its not only unreliable, but fueled by something that isnt a concern for your growth as a composer, we find it hard to listen.
But it is a wonderful feeling when someone out there loves what you do. For us to sit and say, it bothers me not a single jot whether you like it or not, i think is a bare faced lie.
When you have spent a life loving music, and a life expressing it yourself, the thing you crave is a personal connection.
I know a fair few people out their who, when they have submitted their music to the universe, their has been a reaction. A positive and rewarding series of events from, “i just listened to a track you posted, we have a project we are gearing into for a new season, i think this is exactly what the tone of that show is, id like to ask if you would be interested in writing with me”
That exact paraphrased sentence is something ive received in my inbox a few times over the last 4-5 years now. It happens. And it is a wonderful thing to see happen. You are sending out tracks showing the world at large what you can do, and among the critique, the back slapping, their is some fantastic moments where your work now has purpose.
From a promotional point of view, would you prefer to be aloof and post nothing, or show your best work? Use a reel, or a very nicely built site to invite people to your front door and check out who you are?
Online promotion is now a very hard thing to get right. So many very clever marketing types, smaller labels and entrepreneurial upstarts have reined in the power of media promotion, cascading links to generate traffic and interest. Harvesting followers from one medium to exploit the other, other followers sub traffic flows into yours. Its a constant maelstrom of interest if you get it right, if what you have to say hits the right notes.
The saturation effect is what is now making it harder and harder to be heard. Right now, all platforms are at bursting point with play lists upon playlists, urging you for ‘likes’, a passing generic comment on a track you wrote that they didnt play so they can simply say “wicked track, some visit my page and like me”.
Its like all the dJ’s on the planet agreed to do this……..
Their are so many drawbacks of being an online chatty presence.If you send out a lot of chatter, music, comments, opinions, you are inherently exposed to someones mood that day and not all of it will be rational or ‘fair’.
The one thing the internet doesn’t care too much about, is fairness and equality .Ive had some serious reactions to some of my blogs via email or private message. Musically i do post a lot of tracks so by sheer volume, the ratio between music and ‘getting a strongly worded email’, is a high and unsettling number.
When i had failed to link up a couple of people via FB to my contacts in the industry, the heavens opened up and i was public enemy number 1, albeit for a day or so and then im pretty sure they got bored of me and found someone else to blame for their awful music, attitude and passive aggressive ‘im safe behind my computer’ warfare.
The simple fact is, the more of you their is out their in the 1’s and 0’s, the more you have to be very mindful of that content. The replies in music groups and forums, if you actually use them at all. You are always under scrutiny. Far from painting a 1984 Orwellian world, no it isnt that bad at all. But what you do, how you act, your offerings in any form to the world, will always receive judgement for better or worse, so being ‘seen’ is sometimes a fulltime occupational hazzard.
Just think on occasion, when you giving your god given rightful rant(much like this one), anyone can see it. A future client, your peers, people you might be working with right now, and if they think your an arsehole, thats not great is it?
This is maybe a bit left field in the scheme of things but community is a huge deal now.In the space of say 10 years, the inter linked community at large knows everyone. If you live in a genre or part of an industry, you get to know pretty much everyone out there. Having your music online has been a wonderful and deeply rewarding exercise when you hook up with like minded people. It spurns new ideas, you dont feel so isolated as someone walking into a room you call the studio, firing it all up “on your own”< coffee in hand and facebook fueled procrastinations abound. Being able to speak to anyone, anywhere and exchange ideas, is the biggest most relevant development in the online world.
For collabs, it means you can effortlessly send over stems of your tracks, have remote session work halfway across the globe, revise, rinse and repeat until you forge this new brilliant piece of music.
Its hard to imagine the way things were. Perhaps its not a concern at all if you were born in the last 18 years and dont know any different. We forget the world is brimming with people who haven’t suffered dial up and AOL online. Not everyone remembers sending out unsolicited tapes and promo packs to labels, arriving unannounced to leap upon an exec to listen to your work, hassling for airplay on a small local station spot, only reaching people via an endless stream of pay to play gigs in grotty venues and selling half a dozen CD’s at the door for giveaway money.
What we have now is an unprecedented open source, no rules platform. And its funny to then say, those who weren’t around for the hardships have embraced this freedom better than most . They simply see the opportunity in getting it right. Being seen and heard.
It makes me wonder, dropping some history to one side, the hang ups and fears, could we be using all of this more intelligently? Do our old habits and fears die hard?