20+ years making music and I look back on what I have done and I understand why others don’t believe its all my work as I have spent all my life covering it all up so well, I could make music like Mac Donald’s makes hamburgers, i’m a music junkie, I live for music in ways I can’t explain but while my music making is my way of breathing its also for me become almost impossible to breath anymore in this new world where music has no value or support.
In the past I could knock up a tune and take it straight to the mastering room (where my mate did the cutting) and get the dub plate cut for cash and within 1 week would have fresh pressed vinyl manufactured by the pressing plant (10 mins up the road from my house) and it would be shipped to my distributor (20 miles up the road) to sell around the world.
This was a great way to just make music and put it out and once I knew the right few people in my chain to retail then I was sorted! it was easy and almost all my time went into making music. I would live in my studio every day only doing only music things that helped my music and the scene I love so much. (uk underground music scene)
For me this was a simple route with no clutter and no distractions all artwork I drew myself all artists were actually me under different names it was a 1 man factory with a global outlet ‘Strictly Underground Records’, I had a handful of friends (under ten) over my whole life of running Strictly underground they came and went and all stayed friends most of them helping in the studio on various music we made together some were mc’s some were other passionate producers and all got paid for their help which I could structure based on what money was coming in from my record sales.
It was all my music so I had total control of how I could spend the money, which allowed me to build my own little bubble of an underground music scene.
My team of friends was a really tight team of friends all who loved the scene and the vibe like me but maybe only had one great skill and wanted to use that with me on my massive mission.
People used to moan back then on how hard it was to get up the ladder in music and how you needed a deal with an advance to get anywhere and to some extent that was true especially if you were so unique or looking at the main stream industry ,then you needed a lot of promotion for people to get into you and buy into your music vibe.
I built strictly underground up just from the music and the parts that were musically driven (pirate radio/ raves) it was a real scene and it was independent from the world of the music business and the pop culture of music.
I created my own vibe and life style via my label, parties, and radio and music it was driven by the passion of the UK underground and making money was something that just grew and grew over time and allowed me to grow also with what I was doing (better studio, bigger parties, more pirates radio stations always about the music and the raving ..
My little bubble just got bigger and bigger but to me it was still a totally ‘non music biz’ bubble and everyone in it was passionate about the scene and the vibe we created.
NOW all Those things have all been reset.
The Internet and the MP3 has made getting music to the world very easy and with programs that make the music for you just clicking the randomiser button makes you an instant reording artist.
It’s very easy to make music and get it spread around the world. So being an artist has never been any easier than it is now and that’s a good thing for people who want to express them selves through music making, but the downside is that now music seems so disposable and worthless.
This new way has many drawbacks and now with so much music it’s not easy to make any impact as everything sound and looks the same and nothing really sticks out.
I never made music to be and ‘Artist’ my music was a specific expression and it evolved around a scene which I help to expand and create because my passion to enjoy the music was as important as the music I made which also came from the scene i loved.
I had a bubble that was the UK Underground Dance Music scene but I don’t see any scene’s growing in the real world or any serious cultural niche’s anymore there are some but its not like before, its all just music and its very disposable to people, its good that more people like more music but no one seems to be passionate about any music now.
So how do I create a following and captivate an audience to get them into what I’m doing and how can I be different and standout as more than just a 5min track that’s just like every other 5 min track out there?
I have had to start again right from the beginning almost re-running my life all over again from the first day I made my first ever record and got knocked back by every single distributor and could not get my music plaid on any radio stations or get anyone to promote it.
I’m back at this point like a start up having to find all the new points of contact in this new computer programmed world of music and finding those computer people who can help me on my specific music mission… This i have found is almost impossible.
I have been Trying to regroup a new network like the one I used to have in the old model of music but this time its not about music lovers its more about programming and computers and money.
My music is now part of a bigger set of tools that are expected with the music in today’s world, I need to program for iTunes LP and that needs videos pictures all sorts of in direct music things. I found that I never needed to create this stuff my bubble in the old days but now, in this new digital virtual world of music I need to create a scene for my music with all these different tools.
My new world distributor is Apple inc. and that contact alone took 5 years to get locked down, they are like the secret service when it comes to communications (at least I could call my old distributor and tell him my plans and see how it would or if fit with his network), yeah I know i’m an ant in the scheme of Apple but that’s the problem and what makes being an artist now almost impossible beyond just releasing stuff blindly.
As small as I am I still have to jump though the same hoops as the major record companies (like I did in the past) but the challenges now are not as easy as finding the mastering room and pressing plant
Its now all about finding the right programmers and designers and all things computers and very tons of other non-music but also very specialised technically challenging and mind bending things that a normal artist would never know (me included) .
These people in the know are extremely hard to find and also very very expensive to use (if they have the time to even deal with you)
Making my underground music compete in this new worlds is now almost impossible unless you have bags of money. In the past my record could sit next to the major releases because they we both records (vinyl or cd) and both had gone to the retailer who decided what to rack up.
As much as my music was an underground style it could still site with the most commercial release that week if the retailer liked the product and knew it had a market that wanted it.
Now you need serious money just to get to the product stage (its no longer a record it’s a specialized file format)
Yes I know anyone can upload an mp3 release and it’s for sale but what’s the point in being the billionth release that week if no one knows? and single MP3? that’s not my format I want to sell a ‘trip’ an ‘adventure’ a ‘scene’ and ‘escape’ i’m making albums not 5min tracks
ITLP the format that’s could release me or ruin me in my plans to stand up again
You need now more than ever all the computer geeks to make your product rich in content and special, even deserving to be shown and seen and I’m not afraid to make, grow and improve.
I have spent the last 5 years doing just that on this new set of six albums that are a massive journey incorporating all the new media parts, but its been so hard and costly and the music is just one part in this new media format
I have to play this game like its going to me a massively popular major release just so I can stand out from the crowd.
That might not sound like a bad thing but remember these programmer designers and stuff are really expensive and that’s if you can even find a good one.
I’m all for competition but when the door (to iTunes lp) is so small and almost always closed its not really a fair game trying to get in and the entrance fee is so ridiculously steep
As much as I’m potentially accessible around the world i’m also now locked out from having the chance to compete side by side with the big companies like I could before. I’m frustrated by ITLP (iTunes LP) because its the format I want to use but its so expensive to get anything done on this format!
I feel locked out and the challenges are daily for me on all levels of this new media world because i’m doing almost everything myself and the only thing i’m building up is a nice fat dept mountain in this process.
I have found people who can offer some help here and there and those I currently have are the bomb for what they do for me and while also realising I don’t have a money tree in my garden im just getting by so far..
This is so much like when I first started Strictly Underground, it was always driven by passion and determination to succeed and the debts to pay were just as high for an unemployed youth back then
But now 20years on with a family to feed and still my mission to complete I wish I could say it was easier or even the same but its now almost impossible as the challenges now are enormous and even if you had money you might not find the right people to fit with Apples strict and secretive rules of acceptance for your product.
Its not easy anymore to be a serious indpendent artist unless you have all these things in place and it all costs a ton of cash, Yes I can still do underground but if there is no underground scene how can I plug in?
Now like in the old days I have to start again and try and create a scene but without spending thousands and losing my house and sanity
I suppose what frustrates me the most is not the challenge because I believe in what i’m doing. It’s really the fact that most of the challenges have nothing to do with the music but more about the programming and Apple geekness.
My music and plan was done ages ago but i’m still trying to get it ported to this very expensive and frustrating media so it will work right and this is not the same as smelling the vinyl I made and selling it to the shops or making posters for a little rave and handing out flyers to clubbers, as you could feel the excitement and passion in doing all those things.
Now its just computer code and huge bills to pay all held together by my 18-hour days I spend in front of the computer for the last how many years?..where did the music and enjoyment go?.
(To those who are now thinking ‘that’s life shut up and get on with it’ I would agree with you I don’t blog to always make points I sometimes blog because i’m so frustrated and need to reference my own thoughts later on and right now i’m trapped and just thinking out what’s been happening and what’s changed.I know there will be loads of other artist who also need to get their music out but find its behind a list of computer things that have to be done first.)
And dont get me started about release date and all the pirating on my music thats another whole worrie on if i can keep going..