Album Release Day

London Road and No Expectations are now released and out in the wild and available to listen to on this website, in both wav file and mp3 formats, depending on your available bandwidth. They should also be downloadable too.

This draws the creation stage of this project to a close and it is almost time to start the next one which I am looking to get going around early June; there are some other production tracks which I have been recording and working on for friends for some time but have been on the back burner while this project has been in gestation. These can now be brought back to life before the next KOAS album project starts.

I’ll start a new series of blog pages as the new tracks are all being recorded and in some cases written and the journey will begin all over again.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for these songs to be brought to life; it was a long old road, but the objective has been reached; a musical legacy to the important people in my life which immortalises their contribution to who and what and how I am.

I hope you like them and are also going to join me on the next musical journey when it comes along.

KOAS Album News

I’ve just returned from Florida in the last 36 hours and there was a lot of time not only for contemplating the subject of what to do with the KOAS album/EP releases but also to discuss the matter with two experienced professionals who have been there, bought the T-shirt and much more on many occasions and also to examine some options.

Previously, I had looked at both TuneCore and CDBaby as possible outlets for a formal release of both London Road and No Expectations and I’ve also considered doing a small print run of CD’s. All these options are still in the background and may be taken up on but a number of conversations and reactions while I was in the US have led me to the decision that I have taken today. The first was one that I already knew anyway, but was confirmed by a highly reputable US Producer and Mix Engineer re-emphasising how challenging it is to get songs cut these days by professional artists (and theres no reason to believe that the US and UK are any different in that respect); the second was that given the strongest part of my suit is that of lyricism – and I was aware of this anyway and had been reminded of it before – the words are largely lost on those who were listening. Part of that comes of them being very personal, which I was aware of anyway and proceeded with full knowledge of that fact; and lastly that I never set out to make either of these offerings to make money. That was never a factor. The intention in the case of London Road was for it to be a calling card for collaborative writing, like an actors showreel. The intention of No Expectations was for it to be a cathartic musical legacy to four important people in my life.

So, the decision that was taken was that the albums will be released on here and will be free to download by anyone who wants them, whenever they want them. No need for any registration, no pricing – just simple downloads of either Apple m4a tracks or .wav files at 16bit/44.1khz, which despite being several times the size, are also more open and sound much better as they have more dynamic range. If anyone wishes to donate anything when they download the music, they can do, and if they dont want to, they dont have to. The key thing is that the songs are listened to, regardless. The only person who puts any real financial value on these songs as memories (yet), is me. But their emotional value to me is obviously, much higher than what it cost to record and release them.

Over the next week or so, I will finalise the artwork and the mastering output levels for the files and add the appropriate buttons on this site to enable easy access to the albums. As it stands at this precise moment, everything has been mastered with the requirements of iTunes and the two aforementioned aggregators in mind which are to put it politely, quite conservative – nothing peaks louder than -8.2db, so it never gets really loud at all and if anything for domestic consumption, they’re probably a tad too quiet and can be boosted a bit (this was the main question I had for the Producer/Mix Engineer as he has vast experience of finishing mixes prior to mastering and his Maximizer plugin is permanently glued into the red). These tweaks are minor ones which will take only a few short hours to accomplish, so I’m targeting the May Bank Holiday as a release date for both offerings. I can then close this particular project and then move on to the next one over the summer, which I have to admit, I’m quite upbeat about. I’ll be able to apply all the many lessons I’ve learned during the gestation of these two which should  – hopefully –  mean the time to releasing the difficult second album should be shorter (famous last words, no doubt, LOL).

So.. in closing… watch this space. The release date for both London Road and No Expectations is imminent.

Latest News on Project KOAS

You are far
I’m never gonna be your star
I’ll pick up the pieces and mend my heart
Maybe I’ll be strong enough
I don’t know where to start
But I’ll never find peace of mind,
While I listen to my heart
People…
You can never change the way they feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will…. If you let them….” 
© George Michael, Kissing A Fool, 1988

Well… its 9.45 in the evening in the UK and as it stands right now…. the mastering work on the albums is now finished.

Its been quite challenging and educational for someone who has largely been a hands-off engineer and aspiring Producer  – when it comes to putting together demos of both my own work and those for others, at least… I’ve had the ideas but there has always been someone who makes a living from engineering or mastering or producing to put that final fairy dust on the finished product.

When it comes to putting together something in your own name though, the goal was always to make it as good as I could with the experience that I had. And…. as I’m the closest one to the project, I can hear all the lumps and bumps and imperfections and things that make me think “… yeah, I should really go back and fix that…” So, it’ll never be perfect. Such things very rarely are. Indeed, some figure that all the lumps and bumps make it a bit more honest and… real. FWIW, I think the jury is out on that.

But, with respect to the other old adage which goes along the lines of  “there are never any finished mixes, only abandoned ones”, I can honestly, hand on heart, listen back to the final 2 track masters and be glad of what I have and I’m happy for them to be let loose on the world as they are… They are as good as I can get them to be (and believe me, I’ve tried, LOL), with my level of expertise as a player, a singer, a writer and a producer… at this stage of my career, that is. Next time… now that might be different. But more of that later.

There certainly were some interesting challenges along the way in trying to get the completed .wav files to sound as good as I could when mastering them into “lossy”/compressed formats like m4a, MP3 and so on. That took quite a lot of test pressings to get right and finally getting hold of Mastered For iTunes tools from Apple as well. Once that particular hurdle was out of the way, the rest of it was pretty much a downhill run to the finish line although it did take quite a few late nights, which I think have started to catch up with me recently!

As per the last blog update, the albums have been sequenced, they have all been put through a good mastering package (Izotope Ozone 7) and then treated with another very handy vst, Waves Abbey Road Vinyl which gives them that kind of old vinyl warmth and fuzzyness around the edges, taking off some of the harshness.  They were all recorded, mixed and mastered on headphones (Beyer DT770 Pro) –  the intended listening medium for these songs has always been headphones, never monitors and I would venture that a lot of people who may well listen to this music will do so over earbuds or headphones; it has been mastered with them in mind. I’ve also very consciously made sure I’m on the right side of the loudness wars as well and everything has been mastered very conservatively, peaking at no more than -8.2db, to ensure that if it gets submitted to the likes of iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc that the songs can make sure they’re within the loudness restrictions that these providers have stipulated.

Ah yes, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. There comes the big final question and the one that I have not yet decided to answer: After having waved my own flags so hard for the last two years on this project, its not lost on me that I have to make a decision (always a bad thing, LOL) about what to do with these songs now I’ve given them life. Do I keep them locked up in the proverbial basement on a diet of bread and water (obviously not, I’m not that creepy) or do I let them fly with the best chance they’ve got of reaching new shores, but charge them a Club Class ticket price for doing so?

Or…. to be less cryptic/obtuse…. “Do I give them away for free, or do I sell them?”

I’m kinda torn where this is concerned. London Road is and always has been a calling card, almost like a demo album to advertise my ability to to other musicians, writers, producers, etc as a marker of my ability as a songwriter and lyricist, proving that I can play nicely with others, LOL. No Expectations was always a musical legacy to not only my late father (who kept on sending me damned jazz music to write, from the other realm… I used to hate jazz. You’ve no idea how much, hahaha…), but also to three very, very important women in my life who came into it and when they left it, they left leaving huge footprints on my heart that no rainstorms will ever wash away. It was never, ever going to be about money. It was about doing something that I hoped would be remembered, so that neither they nor what I thought of them would ever be forgotten. It is much more thematically coherent than London Road and that was always the intention.

So, I’m in a bit of a quandary. Part of me wants to go the Radiohead way and just put it out there and invite people to just take it and if they want to make a donation, they can, but if they dont, then so long as they give the material a listen, I dont mind. In the most recent distribution from PRS4Music that I’ve had, songs that I have co-written are starting to earn me some royalties, which is great. It’ll never be enough for me to retire on, but I never expected it to. All of the material is registered and if it ever pops up anywhere and gets played where the collection societies get to know about it, a few cents will roll into my hat. And thats fine. I’m happy with that. Limousines, the devils dandruff and private jets are all so passe anyway, LOL. 

The other part of me says that if I’m to put the material where it has the best chance of being heard by not only the wider public – ie, aggregators like Tunecore, CDBaby and so on – there has to be some kind of concept as to how much it is going to cost. So, I have to bring money into it, whether I like it or not. I can distribute it myself via this site or a similar one, but the reach is not going to be as good as what it would be through an aggregator.

Lots of food for thought then, while I go to Florida on holiday to see the family for a week…

Ultimately, what it boils down to is that both albums, regardless of which way they walk out of the front door of my life, to find their place in the world, should be released digitally in early May 2018.

And then onto the next project. I’ve already got half an idea as to what I’m going to call it (but thats for another post) and I’ve already got some tracks that are in gestation that I would like to feature on it and the overall musical direction it will go in. And this will be something that I will record with the motivation of selling it, as opposed to being so open to the idea of giving it away.

The big difference this time, I’m not going to be so dumb as to chain myself to a timescale. It’ll be ready when its ready. When I’ve returned from Florida and that final decision regarding distribution has been made, then I’ll put up another post announcing what it is, and where the material will be available from and so on and so on…