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
You can never change the way they feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will…. If you let them….”
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…