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Independent alliance – working together makes us all stronger

(This blog talks about a collaborative spotify playlist which you can find here)

stop collaborate and listenI’ve long been an advocate of musicians working together for mutual benefit. At a grass roots level it just makes sense as everyone has a limited sphere of experience and influence, and by sharing those things with others you never lose them, but you do stand to gain an awful lot.

When I was in my early 20s, I set up a local music alliance called MUSCIT (MUsic SCene In Trowbridge – Trowbridge being my town of birth). This started life as a free print magazine, with a cover CD featuring bands from the area. Trowbridge was a small town but there WAS talent there, and a fair amount of it given the population.

That first magazine was a huge success (mainly due to the popularity of the cover CD) and all of a sudden, bands that didn’t really know each other before started working together. They were arranging shared gigs (and even booking shared UK tours!), and this lead to a massive swell in interest in the “local scene”. Friends of bands became aware of other bands and saw that *shock horror* they actually really enjoyed them.

While I’m enjoying this moment of reminiscence, the point of bringing this up is that the need for collaboration of this kind is as pressing today as it has ever been.

The internet has been both a blessing and a curse to the independent/unsigned musician.

On the one hand it puts you firmly in charge and allows you to communicate quickly and easily with fans and venues, as well as the multitude of bloggers/magazines that provide such a valuable service to bands and fans alike.

On the other hand, it has become increasingly hard to stand out from the vast crowd of bands, all vying for attention.

And yet, if those hands came together, it could benefit everyone. Each musical act out there has an audience of friends/fans that are already aware of them, and thanks to the world wide web, it’s really easy to find similar acts to yourself. So what I’m suggesting is that similar musicians come together, and share each other’s music with their own fans, and everyone stands to win.

  1. You will gain fans who would otherwise have never heard of you.
  2. You won’t lose your fans by doing this, in fact, some will be grateful that you have shared something you like with them, and will become a stronger fan because of it
  3. The fans win because they get to discover even more music to love.

So what have I done about this? As well as working closely with local musicians (such as After Aura and Jamie R Hawkins) I have set up a collaborative spotify playlist (and soundcloud group), that allows musicians to add their music, play it regularly, and share it with their fans.

This has dual benefits of increasing your spotify play count and the revenue it generates (although spotify revenue is another topic entirely!), as well as introducing you to new people and potential new fans.

You don’t need to use my playlist if you don’t want, in fact, why not start one up yourself with bands you meet on the road and enjoy gigging with (a sort of spotify address book of contacts)?

The important thing is to share, since word of mouth is the only way to resuscitate a scene which is in many ways suffering at the moment.

Get sharing people, and start today!


Find my spotify playlist here

If spotify isn’t your thing, there’s a soundcloud group for the same purpose here

Talk to me on twitter about your own playlists, and I’ll give them a shout out

All I Need For A Good Time

UPDATE: please read this

Some exciting news to start my journey. I’ve been asking to provided a song for a compilation album of “unheard” artists. The album is called (album title removed) and is being released internationally in February.

The album contains 60 brand new artists and I’m delighted to have a track featured. I’ve recorded this song especially for the project and I’ve got no plans to include “All I Need For A Good Time” on any other release (Note: my plans changed after this compilation album came to nothing).

The song has a bit more of a chilled vibe than my normal recordings, but I like it, and I hope you do too.

End of year report 2015

“Just a year in a life”

So, end of year report 2015. In short, it’s been a year of hope and fresh optimism. Many things have happened, both personally and professionally, which have reinvigorated my love for life and for music.

Obviously I’m just about to leap in to the unknown and 2016 is likely to be a very different beast, but this is a look back at 2015, so here’s the key moments (in chronological order)…

  1. Holiday to Barbados
    The best holiday I’ve ever had, even if I was on my own. I was able to completely relax for the first time in years, and the Bajan way of life had a calming influence on me, which I brought home with me (not just in the form of Rum).
  2. Meeting someone wonderful
    I’m not going to get gushing and personal here, but it will suffice to say that I’ve met someone amazing, who supports me in a way I’ve never known before, and brings out the best in me. I feel I can achieve so much more than I ever thought possible, and a lot of that is because of her.
  3. My first Glastonbury
    I know it’s hard to believe, but I’d never been to Glasto before 2015, and this year I finally went, and it was beyond anything I could have imagined. Something you can only experience, and can’t describe. Playing there is a definite future goal.
  4. Village Pump Folk Festival
    I was lucky enough to able to step in at late notice and play on the White Horse Stage this year, which was a great experience, and one I hope to recreate many times in the future.
  5. Making *that* decision
    I’ve said so much about this before that I don’t want to dwell too much on it, but it was a life changing decision and time will tell if I’m right or not.

Aside from those key things there were so many little things that had a profound effect on me, every gig I’ve played this year, all the people I’ve met, every one of them convinces me that this year has been building me up towards something very exciting indeed. I’m looking forward to 2016 with enthusiasm, and feel I’m completely in control of my own destiny.

See you on the other side!

A very special reason to pre-order the new album

The Notice Period EP

About six weeks ago I announce my intention to go professional and I’m now half way through my notice period, before I take on the life of a full time singer-songwriter,

The fact that I’m still working at the moment doesn’t stop me creating music in my spare time of course, and what I’m going to do with that time is record a special, very limited edition EP, which will only be available to people who pre-order my new album before the end of my notice period. That means you’ve got until 1st January 2016 (inclusive) to get your order in. After that it will be gone!

“The Notice Period EP” will contain 4 brand new songs, and will be sent out digitally on Christmas Eve for those that order it before then, or will be available immediately if you order after that. The CD will follow swiftly after. If you choose one of the physical options (there’s a few special options to choose), your EP artwork will be personalized with your name and how long before the end of my notice period you placed the order.

Not only do you get a warm glow of satisfaction that you’re helping me take those first terrifying steps, you also get some very special music to enjoy along the way, and who knows, you might be showing the EP off in years to come to prove your support when I still had x days left to work!

Pre-Order "Things I'll Never Say" before 2nd January 2016 and get a copy of "The Notice Period EP"
Pre-Order “Things I’ll Never Say” before 2nd January 2016 and get a copy of “The Notice Period EP”

People who pre-order will regularly be kept up to date along the way with the progress of both the album and the EP. In fact I’ve sent out a video of one of the songs today to people who’ve ordered already.

About the new album

  • The new album is called “Things I’ll Never Say”
  • It’s due for release in February
  • It’s being recorded with The Slight Band
  • It will also feature quite a few other talented musicians
  • You’ve already heard “Sweetness No More” and “I Don’t Have A Voice” – both of which are on the album

Pre-order today and make my day

Priceless or worthless? The value of music is in the ear of the beholder

Pay what you want for Half Live

For quite some time I’ve been selling my CDs at gigs using a “pay what you want” price structure.  People often ask me why, or tell me that by doing that I’m underselling myself, so I thought it would be a sensible idea to try and explain exactly why I don’t just put a set price on my music and say “take it or leave it”.

My music is incredibly valuable to me personally, and over the years I’ve paid substantial amounts of money for equipment (guitars, microphones, computers etc as well as sundry items like strings, leads, plectrums) to help me write and record music. But that’s my choice – that’s what my music is worth to me – I would never presume to try and pass these costs on to anyone else.  I am not owed anything by anyone for my investment in my own enjoyment.

That said, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that there are a growing number of people who really enjoy what I do, and have an emotional interest in me continuing to make music. Those people also have a choice, based on how much my music is worth to them personally, and only the individual knows how much that is. Who am I to tell someone to pay £10 for a CD when they only think it’s worth £5? On the flip side, why would I charge someone £5, if they think the album is worth more?

Music itself has no inherent financial value, and the ease of digital distribution has meant that it’s not subject to a normal supply and demand type arrangement, most music is now available for “free” (I’m not talking about piracy here, I’m talking about the rise of Spotify, YouTube and the like). Its value is solely based on what it means to the person listening.

The reason that I’m not going to worry overly about the rise of “legally free” music (besides that fact that it’s futile to do so) is that I know for sure that there are people out there for whom music means something.  People who would so hate to live in a world without it that they are willing to pay money to an artist, simply so that they can live in a world where that artist’s work exists.

Up until recently, I only used the “pay what you want” thing for physical CDs bought at gigs, but now I’ve done the same for online sales. You can get Half Live from here – press “buy now” and enter your own price.  I’ve only set a base price of £1.50 on the physical CD to cover manufacturing and postage costs, you can add however much you want to.

5 small ways you can help

I’ve been very touched by the amount of support I’ve received since announcing my plans for the future, although in many ways it didn’t surprise me because I know what an amazing bunch of people I have supporting me. I had a feeling that people would want to know how they could support me, so I’ve been thinking about ways people can help me that are simple and free. I will come on to ways that are not so free (although still simple) somewhen else.

I’ve kept these simple because they are things you can do, little and often.

 

1) Keep up to date

I use various different platforms on the internet to keep people up to date, but with the fast pace of todays social media it’s really easy to miss information you want to see. In amongst the hoardes of cat pictures, shared news stories, casual biogoty etc – all of which have their place, apart from bigotry – are little nuggets from people like me, that you’ve taken the time to like/follow/subscribe/etc.

By making sure you connect with me on all the social media you use, you decrease the chance of missing something you’d rather know about, such as new songs/videos or when I’m playing a gig near you. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and you can subscribe to my email mailinglist here.

By the way, you can now tell facebook you want to see my posts by hovering over the word “Liked” and then clicking “See First” (or if you’re really keen, “Get Notifications”)

facebook-notifications

2) Be friendly and talk to me regularly

Tied in to the first point, but deserving of it’s own explanation, simply communicating with me on a regular basis lets me know you’re interested in what I do, which (a) inspires me to keep at it and (b) helps me know who to tell about certain things.

It can be a real minefield keeping people informed, whilst not boring people with incessant updates, and it’s something that in my opinion most musicians get wrong one way or another. I’d much rather know I’m talking to people who are genuinely interested, and post things that people people actually want, which I’ll be able to find out from what you comment on and conversations we have.

Another reason to communicate regularly is that I’ve become acutely aware that everyone has a talent, but that most people are loathed to shout about it, and some people don’t even know about it. When I talk to people about their talent it inspires me, and sometimes I end up working with that person on something or other!

3) Listen to my music often

This seems a pretty obvious one, but by listening to my songs, you can really help. Of course the ideal for me is that you buy my music, but even if you use spotify (here’s a handy link to Half Live), or YouTube I’ll get a little bit of money in royalties (emphasis on “little”, but that’s a whole other blog post). If you use a service that shares what you’re listening to with your friends on facebook/twitter etc, I’ll get some much appreciated exposure. without you doing anything other than enjoying the music!

4) Be enthusiastic and share me with your friends

I’ve mentioned in the past about how a recommendation from a friend is the best way to discover new things, and nowhere is that more evident than in the world of music. Without the opinions of my friends I would never have discovered many of the bands I absolutely love now. I appreciate it every time anyone shares anything I do, but those times when someone adds their own bit of enthusiasm to the recommendation are the BEST! Unexpected “out of the blue” recommendations are also most welcome indeed!

5) Do my bidding!

OK so that sounds a bit sinister, but I’ve set up a facebook group called Phil’s Social Media Team – the idea being that whenever I want something given an extra push, I post in the group and you get a notification which you can either act on or ignore, but at least you’ll get notified, which is half the problem with Facebook these days! If that sounds like something you could do, please join the group.

 

And there we have it, 5 completely painless ways that you can help. Next time I’ll blog about some more in depth ways you can help, but in the mean time, thank you for even being interested enough to read this.

Phil vs The Future

12109192_10153224516002507_5048657569294981297_nFriends, I have some exciting and terrifying news.  When 2016 starts there will be one more professional musician in the world.

Yep, I’ve decided to take the plunge, remove myself from the day to day office-job world and concentrate solely on bringing my musical offerings to the nation (and then the world!).

The last 18 months, since releasing “Half Live” have been incredible, I’ve had more fun than you can shake an egg at, and I’ve learned so much about myself and this business we call music.

The future starts with a new album, which is currently being recorded. After that there will be touring aplenty, but I have plans for my time to include making exclusive content for “fans”. The content will be things like videos, exclusive recordings, web-streamed concerts and things like that. There will be more info coming soon on how that will work, but make sure you’re on my mailing list for a start!

I know a lot of you will be keen to help me out (because I only associate with amazing and lovely people), and I will be following this blog up with 5 simple ways you can help (edit: this blog is now here). However, you all have your unique talents, so please speak to me if you want to help support me, even if you don’t yet know how you could do it (I’m sure I’ll have some ideas!).

I’ll also be pimping out my mixing/production skills, so if you’re a musician yourself, get in touch.

It’s better to regret taking a chance at something than to regret things you wanted to do, but didn’t.

The time has come, the Walrus said…

It’s been just over a year since I released “Half Live”, and in that time I’ve gigged aplenty, but I’ve also been writing a whole load of new songs (you’ve heard some of them such as “Sweetness No More” and “To The Unknown Loves of My Life“).  Tonight I’ll begin to record these for a new album, for release early 2016.

I absolutely love everything about the recording process. There’s something about piecing together the elements of a song that ticks every “happiness” box in my head and heart. I’ve long said that I can always hear more going on in my head than I can play live, and this time I’m going all out. I’m lucky enough to have a whole host of talented friends who can add so much to my songs, so I’m going to get them involved and make this album the biggest sounding record I’ve ever made.

I’m not going to put too many spoilers here, but you will hear a lot more than just the Slight Band line up (although of course, Ellis and Jack will be heavily involved). That’s not to say I’m moving away completely from the “singer-songwriter” genre (whatever that means), and there will of course be some songs that are more “intimate”, but the album as a whole will be bigger and sound epic.

Basically, I have plans and I’m excited 🙂

 


 

Here’s one of the new album songs being performed in “the caravan” at the Village Pump Folk Festival.