High Time for A Dad Update

As I write this, I’m at my parents’ house, waiting for a delivery. It’s to replace a mobility aid which was already delivered for Dad, but my sister tried to demonstrate how it would fold down to fit in the car and one of the plastic levers broke off in her hand. Dad’s still in hospital but could be home by the time you read this, it’s that close.

The last week or so has been chaotic, including Dad having an operation and then a false alarm late last week when the hospital staff briefly forgot that they hadn’t finished the job off. Dad was looking too well to still be in hospital a couple of days after going under the knife and they were so pleased with his recovery they told him he could go home later that day. I got a somewhat jumbled message which sounded like Dad might be taking French leave and trying to make his own way home (with no money or house key), and had to make an unexpected hospital dash to track him down because his phone was going straight through to voicemail every time. By the time I got there, he’d been told it was an error and everything looked normal apart from the bed looking like it had been made up already for the next patient.

There are still a few loose ends to tie up, but moves are now underway to sort out the final details after Dad escapes. I’m half expecting him to do a little dance when he gets here; he has had his bags packed and ready to go for several days already after last week’s near-miss.

The plan earlier this afternoon was that when the replacement kit arrived, I would phone someone from the hospital, and that would be the trigger to finally allow Dad’s escape from the hospital. I’m still waiting, but the goalposts have moved and they are going to allow Dad to go home this evening, as soon as his meds have been dispensed. Sensible decision: it’s only a lever for folding the mobility aid down that broke off.

It seems like every time Dad has been moved to a new place during the 4 months+ that he’s been in hospital, it has snowed this winter.  So it’s fitting that today we’ve had a few blasts of heavy snow – interspersed with bright sunny weather.

Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/9)

This week’s POTW is another one from Atom Collector Records, who are doing a great job of championing musicians who release music independently of any record label via their site, Soundcloud and Spotify in particular.

This playlist is from their ‘the 100’ series, where they put together 100 tracks (or thereabouts) from lesser-known musicians, and it features classical and ambient tracks. It is still being compiled as I write, as there are much less than 100 tracks currently. That means you’ll have to come back later and listen again if you want to get the full ambient goodness of it.

Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/8)

Today’s POTW, Girls Who Can, is compiled by CeCe Hemmingway, one half of British electronic act Hemmingway.  Based in Chelmsford, Essex, the band have a big, contemporary, sound bridging the gap between electronica and guitar based rock, with David Moriaty’s cutting solos.

It’s worth pointing out that CeCe not only provides the vocals, she’s also a skilled music producer, as you will hear on tracks such as Rise Again. In fact, all the tracks on this playlist are produced by women: let’s hear it for the girls!

Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/7)

This week’s POTW comes from artist The Transient Creep of Olivine, from Texas, who has kindly included Savannah and Spiralesque in their Instrumentals playlist. Again, this playlist features artists that would mostly fall under the radar, so it’s another great one for music discovery.

The Transient Creep’s own music is magical and ever so slightly dystopian – I recommend With the Rabbit, Down the Hole, which conjures up that whole feeling of Alice in Wonderland, which is presumably an intentional reference in the track’s title.

What alternatives are there to Soundcloud? (Part 4: Bandcamp)

There were various articles last summer predicting doom and gloom for Soundcloud before they were rescued. With that in mind, I did a little research into what alternatives independent musicians have to Soundcloud.

This is part 4 of the series aimed at independent artists. Comments relate to the free version of Bandcamp: there is a Pro subscription available allowing more advanced features like uploading videos and customising your bandcamp domain name, but it costs $10 per month, beyond the budget for many small artists.

Bandcamp's welcome page

Bandcamp’s front page

Bandcamp

Bandcamp is a well-established site for indie artists, geared up around selling downloads. Musicians can also allow listeners to stream their material, so they can decide if they will like it before they buy. Posting music here is a way of releasing material, but Bandcamp do not offer distribution services beyond their site, so this doesn’t get you onto Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify and so on: you will need to release your work through an additional distribution service if you want to get into those outlets.

Bandcamp is not a particularly suitable place for sharing rough mixes or material you’re not sure about to get feedback – listeners can’t leave comments and it may cause confusion if you post unfinished material in your store. That said, you can post tracks for free, allowing people to download for ‘£0 or more’, so that does give an option to differentiate between work in progress and finished items that you charge for. Anyone doing that would need to make sure it was well communicated, however, and there are possible reputation issues if you post work before it is really listenable.

There are some social aspects to Bandcamp, but it’s somewhat limited:  You can ‘like’ tracks via Facebook or tweet them directly from inside the site; music fans have their own pages and can follow each other as well as their favourite artists. Bandcamp encourage you to follow other fans with similar taste and check out their ‘collection’, to aid music discovery.  There’s also a music discovery page with features and which shows which albums or tracks are being bought right now, with the option to click through and listen. When you follow an artist, they can email to let you know when they have a new track available.

Pros:
Great for showing off albums.
Try-before-you-buy feature
You can limit the number of free streams of each track you allow listeners if you wish
You control the download price (unlike some online stores), and can offer free downloads on tracks you wish to share but not sell.
Fans can add a tip for the music they like best, when downloading.
Fans can follow artists they like, and artists can subsequently email them.
You can link your gig information to Bandcamp via the Songkick app.

Cons:
This site is not really suitable for getting feedback for work in progress.
The social dimension of the site is quite limited.
Music discovery is also fairly limited: users have to be actively seeking out new music.
Downloading is already on the wane – streaming is growing fast, but is not the focus of this site. This could affect the site’s relevance within just a few years, if the site does not adapt accordingly.

Verdict:
Where Bandcamp works best is as a well known online store, especially if you don’t provide music downloads direct from your own website. Because this site is very well known, it’s still a standard place for indie artists to be – at least for now.  You can use Bandcamp alongside your distribution deal (e.g. through CDBaby) providing that the distribution contract is non-exclusive, so that you get the benefit of being on both platforms.