TrickJazz Kickstarter: Update

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 03.03.12.pngWith the Kickstarter sitting at 72% of its funding target, and 5 full days to go, I’ve received the news from TrickJazz that the Kickstarter is going to be cancelled, because a new source of funding has emerged which will set the project on a stronger footing going forward.

What happened?

Last month, after the Kickstarter had begun and a significant proportion of its funding had been raised, TrickJazz (aka Christian Facey) took part in a hackathon organised by IATA, and unexpectedly won one of the major prizes, for an idea unconnected to the mobile games Kickstarter. This win has brought him into contact with a group of software engineers, who want to progress both the chillout games and the idea that won the hackathon prize.  This will mean the Kickstarter campaign is now no longer needed to bring the chillout games to market.

The chillout games are still going to be made, and my music and those of the other artists that have been featured will still be included.

The games are actually going to be available sooner than previously, as the team will be able to concentrate fully on these rather than generating Kickstarter rewards. The first game, “Way of the Bubble”, should become available either later this month or early in July, and the games will now be available as free downloads, so anyone can access them.

As soon as I’ve got more news about this and the Dreamwalker game’s release, which is scheduled to have my Sunset Landscape in, I’ll let you know.

The announcement from TrickJazz can be seen on their Kickstarter updates page.

Kickstarter update – it’s off the blocks.

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I’ve spent quite a bit of my time the last week or so trying to raise awareness of the TrickJazz Kickstarter campaign I already mentioned.  Nearly a week in, and the Kickstarter is at almost 25%, with 30 backers, which looks fairly healthy at this stage of the campaign, but by no means ensures success – the way Kickstarter works is all or nothing. You have to get to 100%+ by the deadline (8th June), otherwise all the pledges made so far become meaningless.

Why would I spend so much time working for free? Well, this is an opportunity for me to have one of my best tunes used in an actual mobile game which will be downloadable from the App store (for iOS devices) and Google play (for android devices). That is a good thing of itself (especially as I haven’t had to devise and write a game to do it).

On top of that, the TrickJazz Chillout Series games are designed to help players find the music in them. My tune is scheduled to go on the Dreamwalker menu screen, which means that it should be played for a short while every time a player starts the game. So, if the Kickstarter fundraising is successful and the game gets launched, this could mean I find some more people who appreciate what I’m making.

I’m also finding that there are other benefits to putting the effort in promoting the Dreamwalker Kickstarter.  As well as learning more about how Kickstarter campaigns work, I’m discovering the existence of a lot of other game developers, so my knowledge and understanding of the sector is improving, too, which could, potentially, be useful in the future.

Dreamwalker Kickstarter

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 21.12.56.pngToday the TrickJazz Mobile App Kickstarter campaign, um, started. There are three games in the chillout series that are part of this Kickstarter campaign, but Dreamwalker is the game that my tune is going to feature in, on the menu screen. All of the games are aimed at being relaxing for the players and feature chilled out hiphop triphop and jazz music with a beat. One game involves popping on-screen bubbles, another is a colour-changing game where you have to change the colour of a ball at the right moment to match the moving ‘glass portals’. Dreamwalker is all about doing parkour (aka ‘freerunning’ – running and jumping your way through an obstacle course) in a dreamy environment.

TrickJazz have already got a simple game out called Chicken!, but that one is really not about relaxation – it’s more likely to wind you up, in fact… But perhaps that’s where the idea for making relaxation games came from!

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If you’re not familiar with this whole Kickstarter-ing business, the idea is that a lot of people get together and pool resources to make something happen, with the people that contribute normally getting some kind of reward in return – aka Crowdfunding. It’s important to note that, with Kickstarter campaigns, unlike some other Crowdfunding initiatives, it’s all or nothing: the fundraisers have to hit their target amount by the deadline, or the project gets nothing and it’s all been in vain.

In this Kickstarter, the goal is the launch of the three initial games in the TrickJazz games series, and they are looking to raise £10k to get these launched. That sounds like quite a lot, but the aim is that this will be made up of lots of very small pledges from a large number of supporters.  The deadline for reaching the £10k target is on 8 June – the same day as the UK General Election.

If you would like to know more about the game series and the Kickstarter, there’s a page with ALL the details on, including a better description of the games and rewards, and you can also have a look at this video which explains what it’s all about.

 

Putting my Business Hat on (Part 2)

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Still not a business hat, but I don’t have a bowler hat… this is probably the nearest I’ve got!

In my previous post, I explained how I’ve been in contact with TrickJazz studios, a company making games, and how I had put together a kind of business case for them to use my tune.

Christian Facey, the company’s founder, got back to me at the end of last week to confirm that he wants to go ahead with using my tune Sunset Landscape in one of their new games that they are putting together, called Dreamwalker. (Funny coincidence, that, with it being one of the tracks on my Sleepwalker album!)

The track is scheduled to be on the game’s menu page, which will mean that it is heard many times, so it’s a great opportunity for me. The difference with the series of games that TrickJazz wants to develop is that they plan to include information within the games about which artist’s work you can hear. The games will launch subject to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

I should also mention that at the same time this has been going on, I have been working on some backing vocals for a track by Manipulant, an electronic artist in Pennsylvania, USA.  The track is called Run, and will be on his upcoming album. He’s got another track on the album which features Dr Fiorella Terenzi, who sounds like she is the US/Italian equivalent of the UK’s Dr Brian Cox from her Wikipedia entry. Run is already nearly complete, with just a few adjustments to go with the mix, which Manipulant is doing himself.

If you would like to check out some of Manipulant’s music ahead of the album launch, he already has an album, “Méthode de Narration”, on Bandcamp.

 

Putting my Business Hat on (Part 1)

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Er no, that’s not a business hat. More like a thinking cap. Or a beehive.

 

One of the things I’d really like to do is write music for computer games, or have tunes I’ve written placed in a game.

A few weeks back, I was in touch with an app developer, TrickJazz Studios, who are planning to make some games to aid relaxation. We had a couple of emails back and forth, then I didn’t hear anything for a bit.

We had a follow-up phone call this week, to discuss whether we could work together on the project.  TrickJazz are a start-up venture and have been looking to recruit independent artists. They are aiming to get some big underground artists on board, or at least up-and-coming ones who are active on social media, as that makes it easier for them to get the games known about. I was asked to put together an email to describe what I could bring to the table, as that would influence whether my tune would be chosen.

On the back of that conversation, I had a pretty late night, pulling together relevant information on my ‘audience demographics’. In fact, I was up until after my resident blackbird had sung his morning song, as social sites like YouTube and Twitter can tell ‘content creators’ quite a lot about their audience.

The business side of being a musician doesn’t get talked about a lot, but it’s actually just as important as making good music, and understanding your audience is part of that.

Social media sites can tell you things like whether people watch your videos on their computer or on their phones, what countries you are getting views from, and what proportion of your audience is male/female. Obviously, none of the details given are personal, just general statistics about the overall audience. The data can help with understanding whether you’re communicating well with the people you’re in touch with, and whether you’re reaching the same people you expected to.

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Whilst there weren’t many surprises, one thing I discovered this week was that the male:female ratio of people watching my Youtube videos is completely different in the US to the UK.  This really surprised me, as I would have expected the distributions to be quite similar.

If you have any ideas why this might be, I’d be interested to know what you think in the comments, as I’m currently a bit puzzled!  

Oh *$&@, it’s got swearing on it!

This post is purely personal opinion.  I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about why I don’t typically like songs with swearing in. I don’t think I’m a huge snob… I’m not terribly bothered when people use the occasional swear in normal speech. Well, I might be a bit shocked if it was the vicar doing it, I suppose, or my mother. But normally if I hear something when I’m out and about, I’d just think of the swear words as being part of the person’s everyday vocabulary and mentally translate, without considering the words’ literal meaning.

 

I get the argument that art needs to reflect life, and in real life lots of people swear. Most, maybe, in the UK, where I live. It’s not like I never use any swears myself for emphasis either, when I want to make a point and underline how something makes me feel. I’m not ruling out ever using strong words for making a point in my music, even. I just don’t like there to be swears in the music I listen to, as a general rule… it seems unnecessary, usually.

Part of the issue is that listening to music creates a kind of personal space. Swears in music can feel like a violation of that boundary. Another reason is that I pick up language and absorb it like anything. If I surround myself with foul language, it’s bound to seep into my mental vocabulary, even if I don’t verbalise it. I’d prefer for the strongest language to not get in that far, even, and with music I have an abundance of choice about what I can listen to. Why choose something with swears in?

Music, to me, is a beautiful form of art, as well as being a means of expression. I feel that some swear words are particularly ugly, especially the f-bomb. Given the choice, I prefer to listen to something that reflects my idea of beauty… I don’t automatically reach for the off button the instant there is a swear, but will do if there are lots of them in a short space of time.  If a song is littered with swearing, if it is intended for the swearing to help get a message across, in my view, the song loses impact.

Some songs seem to get away with having the odd swear in. I can’t think of a good example off the top of my head, but, like film violence, if it’s not gratuitous, if it makes sense in the context of the story that is being told, or is done in a humorous way, I can stomach it. I was thinking Fairy Tale of New York might be a good example, but when I checked the lyrics, I found the Pogues hovering over the fine line of using strong insults and coarser language without actually swearing. You might disagree and conclude that they cross the line with some words. It’s a close call.

On the other hand, I object somewhat to cleaned-up versions of songs for the radio, if a version that is available to buy is not going to have the expletives deleted, e.g. if it’s going to be the version on the album. I heard and liked the Ce-Lo Green song Forget You on the radio, but was disappointed when I heard that it was a clean version of the song and discovered what the ‘real words’ were. Some people got caught out buying the ‘non-clean’ version on the basis of radio-play, as well, and were even more disappointed than I was, as I understand it from the grapevine.  I’m not sure what Ce-Lo Green did with his album, but I would feel cheated if I bought an album based on liking a cleaned-up single and then the version on the album was a different version of the song I liked, with expletive non-deleted lyrics. It would mean they were a different artist to who I thought they were. It would almost be a betrayal.

Apparently there is already technology available that would allow you to bleep out offending words, when it works.  Apple also have a patent on software with a similar aim. No problems of course with instrumental music…

Code Like A Girl

The last week has been a bit bonkers, as I’ve been trying to fit work around helping a good friend with a family crisis. I haven’t got as much done as I would have liked, but some things are just more important, and I’ve still been able to make a little progress.

Over last weekend, I wrote an article for an online publication called Code Like A Girl, which you may possibly have heard of if you’re interested in encouraging more girls to do STEM subjects, or you’re a bit of a computer geek. During the week, there has been communication with the editorial team, minor changes made, and they have published it this evening.  The article is a bit of a mashup of a couple of the articles in this blog, and describes how I made the video for Sunrise but I thought I’d share it here anyway as I’m feeling somewhat chuffed to have been included on their writing team and had an article published about my work.  I anticipate writing at least another article about a different video I’ve made with a similar technique, maybe going into a little more depth about the code this time.