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Tone Def Robot!

So, the new Def Robot album is out and you can hear it on Spotify et al.

Here’s one of the tracks. 102 seconds of me singing……with attempted harmonies!

By the way, that’s not me in the video!

NEW SINGLE!!!!!

It’s my bid to one day get picked up by the Spotify algorithm, with that in mind, here is a link to Def Robot’s new single. It’s 1min 48 seconds of your time. Have a listen if you can and get a big hug from the Robot!

That’s My Voice, That Is!!

So, the 6th Def Robot is now out. Yes, that’s 6 in 6 months! We are now your instant party playlist!

Anyway, one thing I didn’t realise, is that when you sign up with Distrokid (who put your music onto Spotify, iTunes etc..), you also get all your tracks uploaded onto YouTube. OK, so there’s no video to watch but at least people can get to hear them without signing up to Spotify (though if you are on Spotify can you start to ‘follow’ us and occasionally listen to a song, please!!). This means I can share with you one of the songs I actually sing on this one. Normally, I leave this kind of thing up to Paul (one of the other Robots) but hey, I was always a wannabe crooner……

Watch, leave a comment if you’re feeling brave……

…Oh, nearly forgot. I even managed to coax TheWife into singing in the chorus!!!

The Spotify Playlist

It’s all about the Spotify algorithm apparently. If you can get picked out by that you’re on your way…….Hmmm, I’m not convinced. I’m currently reading David Byrne’s lovely book, ‘How Music Works’ and he spells out how little money he receives from streaming (in particular from Spotify), in particular how some of the big Talking Heads songs get huge amounts of streams and yet they receive a relatively small amount of income. 

But we are told, it’s not all about the money, you get exposure, you get to share your music, you get to…..what exactly. Exposure? Exposure for what? Nobody is buying music. They are going to continue streaming your tracks. Not that many people go to live music anymore, so it doesn’t really increase the likelihood of people coming to the local gig. I suppose, I could just share my music on Soundcloud (and that’s another story). 

But the thing is, we still do it!! We ,carry on paying  Distrokid or whoever to put our music up there. I guess we are suckers that still crave the satisfaction of getting our art out there, that feeling we are ‘releasing’ a work, with the hope it will be discovered, respected and hey, might even earn us a little bit of money. But those diminishing returns, my friends……

But I’m running ahead of myself, time to get back on topic. How do you get picked up by the Spotify algorithm in the first place. The honest answer is, buggered if I know – because I’ve never managed it. But the advice is:

  1. Get all your friends to listen to the track when it comes out – It’s tough. I’ve used up all my favours, dragged them out to shitty gigs on wet November evenings, made them listen to the last album etc.
  2. Promote it on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter et al – but it’s just the same friends get to see the same adverts/videos.
  3. Get your song on as many playlists as possible. Share playlists with other bands –  Yep, tried this. The problem is there are now an infinite amount of unlistened to playlists out there. The idea is that you and your friends listen to the whole of the playlist – which rarely happens, who wants to listen to other bands when you’re a musician and your music’s the best!!
  4. You could pay influencers……isn’t that the new word for wankers????

Anyway, I’ll stop here before my cynicism completely takes over.

I couldn’t end without at least one playlist recommend. This one comes Wayne Carey at Louder Than War magazine. He put together this rather ‘cool as…’ collection of songs. It has lots of good stuff on this one (and I’m not just saying it cos I appear a couple of times!!!). If you fancy hearing some new stuff , then check it out!!

Remember to listen to the Kerosene and Def Robot songs all the way through. I’ve heard the algorithm doesn’t like songs that get abruptly ended.

Who needs music anymore??

Every month, for the last 6 months, Def Robot has released an album (see last week’s entry to see what is meant by ‘release’ these days). So far that’s 60 songs written and recorded in half a year. Why? Well, I can I only speak for myself – my other better half can answer for himself – but for me there are 2 main reasons. The first is the mental health side of things. I need something to focus on, something that I enjoy and occasionally, when things get really bad,  something that gives me a reason to get up the next day. But the other reason is it’s part of a quasi-experiment which hasn’t really got a name or for that matter a definite question that I’m trying to answer. At the moment, running through my head are thoughts such as: Do we actually need more music? What  relationship do people have to music these days and how do they listen to it? How do you get your music out there? How do you promote it? How is music and social media connected? Living intros age of renting not owning, what do musicians actually sell? Etc, etc, etc or as the Germans say usw……Obviously, there’s a 3rd reason – but hey, we all lover the fantasy that our ego gets stroked once in a while!!!

There is just so much content out there. Never before has it been so easy for people to make music and to make it available. At the same time there is less money to be made from music. So more and more people are fighting over less and less. I am also starting to believe that in reality less music is being listened to. It’s definitely not the focal point of entertainment it once was.

One thing that is definitely on the increase are the amount of YouTube videos explaining to you have to be successful I.e. how to get Instagram followers, YouTube views or Spotify plays. I am sure by now all musicians have learnt the same things tricks, some even going so far as paying to get extra likes, views and plays (just like the old days of bands buying their own records on release day). These Youtube self-help videos have more views than any of the musicians that watch them – Def Robot’s videos have around 200-700 while the great Damian Keyes channel…..

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClrhxNaER0deCFHNA1zK49A

….will often get 60000 views. By the way, I am not criticising the makers of these videos – many do a great job (especially Damian and also AdamIvy ).

…and here’s the link to Adam’s Youtube channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdWdS4LAtv0HvnyLUs0GrKg

I am currently experimenting  on how to increase our Spotify streams. Just to reiterate, it’s just for fun, I’m not doing this for the money – because there isn’t any! You really have to treat this as a hobby, as you spend more than you receive –  by a long way! I recently received a payment  from the PRS, who collect money when a song of mine is used/played. I got €3…….and that’s for the last 9 months. My ego didn’t even get to feel a slight tickle………

We have a new song we are trying to push. Go one give it a whirl.

Next time, I’ll see what research I’ve found on how to get spotted by the mighty Spotify playlist algorithm

Album Release? What’s that then?

What does ‘releasing an album’ actually mean these days? I get the feeling it’s not so easy to define as it once was.

When I was at school, my first band would assemble our tiny practice amps around a cassette recorder and play through our latest repertoire of wannabe hits, moving our amps around so that the balance between the instruments was OK (“Can somebody put the guitar amp next door!”…fight ensues). We’d fill a side of a TDK. The best artist amongst us would design a cover and the kid with the best stereo copied the tapes. We’d maybe give a copy to a friend. To us, that was releasing an album!!

OK, we got older and things got more serious. Our bands had started to play gigs (pointless shows in dismal places) and had made a recoding on a dodgy 4-track, shipping them out in order to receive the customary rejection letters (wow, I guess they don’t even exist anymore…rejection text message, anyone??). We’d dream of getting signed to a label, going in a recording studio and cutting a record (vinyl, of course!! Although later on CDs were deemed acceptable). This seemed to be what releasing an album really means. Money spent on recording –  but importantly, not our money – and some sort of physical product at the end of it that people could ignore in the local record store.

That’s how it was during my ‘music’ hey day, which is some 20-30 years ago! I then gave up on bands for a while. I didn’t even list to stuff that much but during the last few years (and I’m 48 now) I’ve got back into the idea of being in a band, making music and even releasing albums. Wait! Sorry, releasing CONTENT (shiver goes down spine!). Things have certainly changed! First of all, the means of production. The days of cassette recorder, 4 track tape machines, DAT (remember DAT!), guitar amps, drum kits and even assembling together as a band in the same room have long since gone. My bands Kerosene and Def Robot have recorded plenty of materiel this year and we haven’t even met! A half decent computer or even an iPad and you can do it all – though I suspect that everyone is doing the same thing and using similar software – why else does all modern music have a similar ring to it. OK, so you knock out some songs. Well, that’s an album , all ready to go, but to ‘keep it real’ it needs to be made available to the public. Who is going to invest thousands to get all the product out there. No one. It doesn’t exist anymore. So what do you do? Do you print some cds, or some nostalgia vinyl – who buys that anymore? Do you open up a Bandcamp page and shove the album up there for download? The trouble is most people stream these days and are not prepared to pay for downloads when they can get it for ‘free’. So perhaps it’s best to get it on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon et al? Somehow, getting it on Spotify has become the new ‘record store’. When people see it on there it makes you appear like a ‘proper’ band, but, at the end of the day, it costs just €20-30 to get your music on there. Nobody has to believe in you, there is no record company behind you. You’ve proved yourselves to no one. And no one listens to it anyway!

Pop and rock music has always been a disposable form of art – here today, ‘who are you?’ tomorrow and these days there is just so much of it out there (I’ve not even mentioned soundcloud, mixcloud or YouTube). There are positives and negatives to all of this. I think it’s great that technology has made the means of production so much easier – we can all be creative. I think it’s great that it’s even easier to get your songs out there. So what’s the problem? Well, there is lees peer review, we are all chucking our stuff out without a pause for thought (yes, I am more guilty than most!!!) And it’s getting harder for artists to heard above the noise  – allowing those carefully cultivated industry plants to rise above the noise(but more of that another time). In generations to come , music lovers will think that there wasn’t much music around before the year 2000 – they’d be wrong – it’s just the idea of how you release it that’s changed and the floodgates will never be closed again……..

Hey look, here’s a new album by Def Robot!!!!!! That’s 5 in 5 months (pot, kettle, noir….)

Circadian

It’s been a while since the last musical update. Although anyone unfortunate enough to be my friend on social media knows when the post bombardment that there is plenty going on.

For example the third Kerosene album has just been released. Yes, you can hear it on Spotify, Bandcamp, ITunes, even buy a cd (and if you’re quick you can get some rather fancy badges and plectrums!)

It was a bit of an experiment. The 4 of us put it together without ever meeting and, actually, without much discussion – which, for someone with my social anxiety/OCD tendencies is absolutely perfect. It was put together using family computers, iPads, old guitars and an electronic drum kit. All home-made with a budget of next to nothing – we had to have a whip around to raise the money to get the cd printed.

At this point, I’ll give you a link to our bandcamp page, so you can see the merch…… https://keroseneofficial.bandcamp.com/album/circadian

You can also have a listen on Spotify. This would make me very happy, as I love to delve into the word of the Spotify statistics!!

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There are 12 songs on there for you to discover. Some of the riffs/ideas date back to the Kerosene halcyon days and would have no doubt ended up in our repertoire 25 years ago. A few of mine were written at a time when I really needed a distraction from life – ‘They Shoot Horses’ in particular is really about my health issues, I even have thewife saying “It’ll be OK” as part of the bridge…Actually she’s now on 2 albums of mine, quite the rockstar!

We also have 2 cost-free, labour intensive videos (respect forever to James for the work) that you can find on our YouTube page.

We’ve had a couple of top reviews so far. So go on, live a little, put a bit of the old Kerosene on!!

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