Saturday, July 26, 2014

Statistics

Since the launch of the album I've been keeping track of all metrics, statistics, and information as to the efficacy of various advertising.

Here are some interesting statistics from the date range April 1 through July 26, 2014 regarding visits, downloads, and sales from my Bandcamp page as a result of some ad campaigns I've been running.

Visitors (non-unique) who listened to music: 42.5%

Customers per all visits (non-unique visitors): 1.09%

Customers per unique visitors: 2.79%

Customers who also paid for music: 16.75%
(Customers who did not pay for the download: 83.25%)

Increase in the quantity of downloads of NMFOB when price was set to "pay what you want": 25.8%

Sales that were for a "Bundle" rather than a single CD: 33%

A "customer" is defined as someone who either downloads or purchases music from the page. The music can be any one of the releases on offer; as long as the person arrived at my page via one of the ads live at the time, they count.

"NMFOB" is "New Metal From Old Boxes", my most recent album that is available in both digital and physical format.

The goal of my advertising campaigns has been to reach the "right" audience -- music lovers of the progressive rock, heavy rock, instrumental rock and rock/fusion genres.   Some of my music is available for "pay what you want" and starting at $0.  Some of my music is on sale for a fair price, and all of my back catalog is available for free download & "Pay what you want".


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Walking On Hot Sand

The first single of the summer!

This is "Walking On Hot Sand", written by my friend & drummer Tom Hipskind.

Tom plays drums, Shawn Sommer is on bass and Brian Kahanek is on guitar.  I played piano, Moog synthesizer, a screamin' B3 organ, and some synth pads.

This is a bit different from the heavy work of my album; it's still heavy, but it's much more lighthearted. Brian and Tom kick ass on this, and Shawn and I hold down the foundation all the way down to the bottom of the granite.

I love this. I hope you do as well.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Real Musicians and Boxed Musicians

I prefer to hire musicians for productions. Real, live, creative guitarists, bassists, drummers.

Hire someone brilliant, and then get out of their way. They'll be brilliant.

But - when I was creating New Metal From Old Boxes (and This Is Not A Love Letter), the musicians I wanted to hire were busy.  They're professionals! And professionals work.

And so, what to do? I needed to get this music out of my system, and out into the world, as quickly as possible. It'd been too long since my last production, and it was much more important to me to get a great album of music created and shipped than it was to wait until all of the stars aligned and I could get the perfect group of people on the thing.

And so, just me. I had to rely mostly on my technical and programming chops to create tracks that sounded cool. I didn't have a guitarist? Great - that created an opportunity for me to get creative with creating "guitar-like" sounds for the arrangement.  And so, after creating a stack in the Native Instruments amp simulator (Guitar Rig 5 Pro), I dialed-up a few sounds: a sampled guitar, a sampled English Lute, a tone generated by a Korg Mono/Poly.   The solos I played are unlike anything a guitarist would play (which was the point, right?) - they're evocative of a monophonic, distorted solo but very rooted in keyboard technique.

No bass player? Keyboard bass. Sounded good to me, and still does, and the performances are rooted in keyboards.

The drums required a lot of technical work. The software I used creates procedurally-generated drum sections: patterns and fills based on tempo, time signature, and so on. I hand-edited some sections and fills, depending on what I needed, but most of the parts are generated and then played through a sampled, huge drum kit in a beautiful room (Native Instruments again, Abbey Road Modern Drummer).

Although I didn't have access to the source code of the drummer software, I was able to take some educated guesses as to the input parameters I could tweak to get the performance I wanted. I've been around procedural generation of music before (in C and in Python programming languages), and had an idea of how tempo, time signature and key signature would effect the output of the program.

Here's a good example: if I handed a chart to a drummer that had alternating 5/4 and 6/4 measures, the drummer would create a part that fit the feel of 11/4, or 11/8 depending on the overall style of the song. But the software would produce wildly different outcomes based on whether I set the DAW to (5/4, 6/4), or (5/8. 6/8), or 11/8, or 11/4, or even (4/4, 4/4, 3/4).

In the end, I wanted to great music that I loved, and I did that. Would the album be better with live musicians? No.  It would be different, but not better.


And what now? Well, for my next productions, I've hired some incredibly talented musicians. I can't wait until it's ready for the world, and I can't wait for everyone to hear these people.  I'm sure I'll create more music that 100% "me", but it's much more interesting to get a bunch of musicians together and see what happens.