I released my first solo project into the world back in 2008. At the time, I lived in Nashville, TN, and was touring/performing about 200-150 days a year. I published an album where I did 99% of the entire project, including the compositions, performance, engineering, mixing, mastering, and artwork. I even released the album on my own independent record label. It was… fun.
And I am going to do it again within the next three weeks.
My project is the Daily Thumbprint Collection.
In actuality, there are a couple albums in the works, but one of them is ready to be released. Daily Thumbprint Collection is an ongoing project that’s centered around my compulsive, hyper-edited electronic and acoustic compositions. Most of the songs I write for these albums take at least 3-5 years to complete. I mention that because time is actually a big part of my process.
In addition, I have been working on a side project at Tunepatch.com. It’s a website that is built to offer alternative ways of distributing music. It provides a way to link printed merch items directly to cloud-hosted music files. I think my new album is a good opportunity to try it out.
As I get ready to release these albums, I can’t help but try and figure out a “smarter” way to publish them. There’s the traditional route like printing CDs, but the more I think about that, the less I feel it’s a good idea. As a touring musician, I am used to promoting albums by traveling around on a tight budget with my bandmates to play concerts and then attempting to sell a couple of shirts or CDs after the show. It’s a grueling process sometimes, but it over an extended time it works.
That’s not going to work this time.
Daily Thumbprint Collection is a unique project because it’s not a touring band that can build a fan base through performance. These albums are not intended for any kind of live performance, and sadly, it’s not really possible. This is really only meant to be shared as recorded music. The landscape ahead of me is full of online streaming, Facebook likes, YouTube plays, and other saturated online outlets that will probably never generate functional income. And while this project has never been about making money, I do want it to have value.
This leads me in the direction of rethinking what kind of music merchandise I want to create. It’s safe to say that I have a lot of thoughts to share on the topic. In my opinion, the models for releasing independent albums are already fruitless…. and the last thing I want is more unsold merchandise under my bed (there’s already too much down there).
This means it’s time to experiment, and solo albums are perfect candidates. What do I want? I want to sell my album and themed merchandise, but I don’t want to order any excess stock. Instead, I’m leaning towards only creating merchandise that people actually want to buy, so I might use crowdfunding as a merchandising tool.
Of course, it will eventually be online, but physical copies will exist only in limited, special edition quantities.
We’ll see what happens. For anyone that’s interested, I’ve started writing essays on Medium.com about music and will continue posting thoughts going forward.