Become an Immoral Supporter! – Bandcamp subscriptions now open

I am rather excited to announce that I’ve just opened up subscriptions on bandcamp. I have christened (and was that word ever used more inaccurately?) the group ‘The Immoral Supporters Club‘.

As I blathered on about in my last blog post, “Musicians haven’t done a good enough job of communicating the costs involved and making listeners feel like patrons. I firmly believe it is our job to do that.” And you know what? I really do. This music that I make isn’t a business. Art doesn’t make sense from a business point of view. It doesn’t need customers, it needs patrons.

And that’s just a slightly pretentious way of saying if you like it and would like to hear more, why not bung me a few quid a join a club where you get lots of my silly songs for relatively little money? It means I’m more likely to have the time and resources to make more.

Here’s the link to subscribe!

Here’s my sales pitch from the bandcamp site:

Do you want to provide immoral support to my mad songwriting schemes? Do you think the world needs more songs about death, alien outbreaks, death, replacing one’s own body parts with mechanical alternatives and death?

Well if you do this is the best way to make it happen.

Their are two tiers.

£10 a year:

-A download of the subscriber only EP ‘Still Happy’.

-My digital back catalogue of 5 solo albums, one instrumental album and two eps.

-All the new music I release in digital form, ready to pipe straight into your ears. This will include at a minimum, another 2 EPs this year and the next full length album which will be released in Spring 2019. It will. Honest. On time and everything*.

-Immoral-Supporter-exclusive releases. This will include some obscure back catalogue stuff and live bootlegs of significant gigs, acoustic demos of new songs.

-“Back stage” whitterings. Want to know what evil record label boss David Elephant’s latest threatening missive says? Want to know what I’m planning for the next full length album? Want to hear some of the demos as I work on that.

All this will be yours.

£15 a year:

All of the above, plus the Tom Slatter Indoctrination Kit, which includes:

 

– A physical CD of Still Happy, the Immoral Supporters Exclusive EP
– The Tom Slatter Indoctrination Guide, a booklet full of lies
-A badge and sticker. Cos badges and stickers are cool

Also, no matter which tier you pick, you get a 40% discounts on physical stuff: cds and what have you. Cos you’re only really interested in saving money aren’t you? You materialistic scum.

Sorry, I didn’t type that. I love you really. Thank you for reading so far. It would be great if you subscribed, honest it would. This is the best way to help support my music.

*’On time’ is a relative concept. Can anything really be said to be on time? Is time real, or just an illusion? And anyway, from a geological perspective any time in the next 10,000 years would be ‘one time’.

 

Why Bandcamp is best

As Spotify has been making the news of late, I thought I’d have a look at streaming revenue and my music revenue in general.

Music is not the way I make a living. At present my music pretty much covers costs, which is great. However, that’s with lots of favours being pulled in and mates helping out. I’d rather be able to pay those lovely people who help out, and maybe be able to afford to put more time in than I can at the moment.

Most of the money I have made from music has been via Bandcamp. Bandcamp allows streaming, as well as the sale of downloads and physical merch. The streaming is free – it’s the shop window that gets people in and encourages them to buy – but the paid stuff is right there next to it.

I also have some of my music on Spotify which is just about streaming and nothing else.

How do Bandcamp and Spotify compare?

Spotify pays 0.004 dollars per play.

If I divide the amount of streaming plays I’ve had on bandcamp by the amount of money I’ve made from it, what is the equivalent per stream rate?

0.166 dollars per play.

0.004 dollars compared to 0.166 dollars.

Bandcamp is better financially, by a long, long way.

Bandcamp doesn’t actually pay per stream. The figures are a comparison. What it shows is that the bandcamp model of allowing streams for free right next to the downloads and physical merch is a better bet for an artist like me than Spotify’s micro-payments per stream.

Is this what every musician should do?

I don’t know! I’m not an expert. The musicians I’ve read about doing well out of Spotify are either those with mass appeal or those writing what seems essentially to be library music designed to get on to soundtrack playlists.

If that’s your thing and you think you’re likely to get the sort of figures that make it worthwhile go for it.

But Spotify isn’t for music fans is it? Spotify is the radio. It’s the soundtrack, the background. Spotify is the sound equivalent of wallpaper. You can’t poor over the album art, see the pictures, read the credits, by the merch, make a donation, show your support for your favourite artist.

If you have a Spotify subscription, no matter what you listen to some of your money is going to Ed Sheeran.

My music doesn’t really work that way. You have to pay attention if you want to get the most out of it. And I’d much rather cater to a smaller band of nutters who are properly into it than try and build an audience of hundreds of thousands. I don’t think that’s realistic for me, but Bandcamp has made it so that I don’t need to worry.

Sticking with bandcamp then? 

Yes. In fact I’ll be experimenting with their subscription model soon to see if there are some nutters out there who want to support in that way.

It makes me ponder the wider issues though. I’ve heard some say that people don’t value music as much as they used to. I think the people who say that have mistaken having to pay a certain price for wanting to pay it. As soon as music could be acquired cheaper and more conveniently lots of listeners took advantage of that.

In previous eras people had no choice. They had to buy. They couldn’t choose what value to give your music. As soon as they had the choice they switched.

Musicians haven’t done a good enough job of communicating the costs involved and making listeners feel like patrons. I firmly believe it is our job to do that. People who listen to our music are our allies, the recording industry – as exemplified by Spotify – is at best indifferent to music, and at worst actively hostile.

So for the time being I’ll be sticking to Bandcamp. There isn’t an audience of hundreds of thousands for my music, but there probably are a couple of thousand people out there who might like it, and it looks like Bandcamp is still the best way to share it with the world.

Murder and Parliament Track by Track

I’ve completed my track by track blog series for my instrumental album. Here are the final three parts:

Track 6: Embers

Embers seems to have become the stand-out track. Several reviews have mentioned it as a favourite, and to be honest it’s one of mine too.

Do I say every track is my favourite? I think I do, but you’d expect me to be biased, right?

The score for Embers is half prose, half music…

Read more.

Track 7: Clamour

As with Embers, this track contains a bit I really like because I didn’t play it – Alun’s bass line in the middle is great. One of those instances where you just tell a player ‘put a solo there’ and they provide something perfect.

This track was put here to provide a change from Embers. The early tracks on the album are pretty upbeat, Embers brings us down, so Clamour needs to up the energy so the final two tracks take us out on a high.

Read more.

Track 8: The Broadcast My Birthday On A Numbers Station

Several years ago I wrote a songwriting blog. It no longer exists. But one of the things I created for it was a little melody writing exercise for which I used the lines:

“They broadcast my birthday on a numbers station
I still don’t know what it means”

I thought for years that is was too good a tune (and lyric) to just be an exercise in a songwriting blog…

Read More.

I wrote a review! Mothertongue Mothertongue Mothertongue Mothertongue!

“This is great. A big dollop of proper pop. A slice of singalong hooks, followed by the rest of the cake. The earworms you didn’t know you needed until they wiggled down your eustachian tube and wrapped their little bodies round your cochlea….”

Here’s the review.

Where songs go to die

Recently I was at Jordan’s, recording his bass parts to an ep of Murder Ballads.

It was lots of fun, and very productive. We got bass parts down to three songs that will definitely be on the record. The whole point of the project is that it’s supposed to be a bit rough and ready, a bit weird. Jordan was really up for that and played some creative, odd stuff.

But one of the songs didn’t work.

‘A bloody way to find yourself some peace’ it’s called and lyrically it does fit with the other songs for the EP. It’s all about killing someone as an act of revenge, and how that actually feels quite warm and right (according to the character in the song. I wouldn’t know. Honest.).

But musically, it didn’t quite. The chords are a bit too 80’s ballad, the melody a bit too straightforward, the structure a bit too simple.

It was written several years before the others and I wasn’t entirely confident with the whole thing going in, but thematically it seemed to fit, so I through it into the mix. It was only as Jordan gave it a go that we realised that the double bass didn’t really work – and the reason it didn’t work was that the song doesn’t belong on this EP.

Is the song really dead forever? Maybe, I’m not sure. but for now, this isn’t a song I’m going ahead with.

Is there nothing salvageable from it? Yes. I really like the opening section with the arpeggios and pedal E note, so maybe that section survives in another piece further down the line.

Here’s an MP3 of the guide vocal and guitar lines, plus Jordan’s double bass. Rough and ready, but you get the idea.

I think it’s a perfectly competent song, but not one of my best and not for this murder ballads project. What do you reckon? Did I make the right call?

Murder on video! Well not actual murder. Songs about murders. Fictional ones.

As you know (unless you don’t. You probably do. I assume it’s only people who like my music who read this. One or two of you. Hi! It’s probably Andy. Hi Andy. Thanks for reading) I’ve been working on an EP of murder ballads. Here is video proof.

Ashes:

This video is the first run-through. It’s a nice cheery tale about a bloke who murdered his wife, regrets doing so and now is trying to contact her using a spirit box.

 

Butcher Boy

Another first run through.’Butcher Boy’ is about a butcher who turns his talents with a knife on some of his customers.

Trombass

I headed over to Jordan’s to record his double bass. This proved a little more difficult than I was expecting…

Dancing about Architecture – Murder and Parliament album commentary

Here’s a thing to listen to. Alun and I recorded a little chat about the Murder and Parliament album. So if you like hearing musicians whitter on about music they made, you might want to click on this. Also includes a ‘bonus’ track in the form of an song from Alun‘s latest album Humankind (or just kind of Human).

FAWM! + Murder and Parliament Track by Track

FAWM lyrics in my scrawly, scribbley, terrible handwriting

It is February again (as usual. January then February every year. Why must we always stick with the same routine. Dull) so I’m doing February Album Writing Month for something like the 11th year.

At the time of writing I’ve got three new tracks up, all of them nice cheery murder ballads.

 

  • Butcher Boy is about about a butcher who decides to kills some of his customers.
  • Ashes is about a guy who killed his wife and is now trying to contact her ghost through use of a spirit box.
  • A Bloody Way To Find Yourself Some Peace is about how lovely revenge is.

You can hear all my FAWM demos over on this page.

Murder and Parliament Track by Track blog series

Over on my Murder and Parliament site I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about each track. You can read the first few by heading over the murderandparliament.com

There will be more FAWM tracks, and more rambling about Murder and Parliament over the next couple of weeks, so either stay tuned or avoid my site and social media, depending on what you think of all that.

Gig diary – Masquerade II and Nice ‘n’ Sleazy

The winter period contained two relatively last minute gigs for Gareth and I.

Masquerade II

On the 3rd of December 2017 we played a set at Masquerade II, a one day festival organised by The Gift’s chief luvvie, head crooner, and good egg, Mike Morton.

It was a bit last minute. We were stand ins for a band called Preacher who had had to pull out at short notice. David Elephant, my label boss, vehemently denied that there was any foul play involved in getting us onto the bill, although it was him who suggested us to Mike (David, is that vague enough to keep you in the clear while maintaining your air of menace? Don’t worry, I’ll take this comment out in the edit).

Graham, the indefatigable stage manager told us to get there at 10am. Being an ex-teacher, I took that to mean we should get there at 10am. What a fool I was. In the end, by the time doors opened in the early afternoon only one act had sound checked and it wasn’t us.

I Am The Manic Whale played a blinding set, and then we were on with just a line check that didn’t identify the slightly dodgy guitar lead I had picked up.

Our set, while generally good and well received, did involve some slight technical issues which I find slightly annoying.

But thankfully there was a very appreciative audience who could forgive a few crackles and we got away with it in the end.

Here’s a review of our set, which is very nice given the reviewer admits to my stuff not necessarily being his cup of tea:

“Self Made Man stands out and particularly shows Gareth Cole’s skill on guitar. Tom Slatter also displays a surprisingly soulful voice … and they deservedly received a very positive response…” Read more.

Here’s the penultimate episode of my silly podcast, which is all about what happened after the gig. It also contains a recording from the gig which includes Tony Colvill’s rather interesting intro, and a track from our set. Every word I say is true.

Nice ‘n’ Sleazy

Also at Masquerade were the quite awesomely awesome Big Hogg. Big Hogg can groove, which isn’t the sort of thing you expect at a prog event to be honest. They played a great set and turned out to be lovely people as well. A few days after the gig, Justin, Big Hogg’s head honcho (actually I have no idea if he’s the head honcho in that band. He’s one of the honchos certainly. Why do you only ever hear about head honchos? Why not Second Honcho? Minor Honcho? Co-Honcho?) asked us to come and play a set in Glasgow on Jan 6th.

Travelling most of the length of the UK to play a gig with people we barely knew, in a city we’d never played, on the off-chance of possibly breaking even? Of course we said yes.

Turns out Glasgow is still one of my favourite cities in the UK. We watched the rather fabulous singer-songwriter Marcus Doo perform a set of confessional, honest songs of the sort that I never could, and then we played our own set.

I’m rather annoyed that I forgot to change the batteries in my trusty old zoom recorder because I have no evidence of the fact that this was our best gig yet. We played well, but that was surely down to the energy of an engaged and receptive crowd.

The best gigs aren’t the ones where you get all the notes right and remember the words. That bit of it is a given really. The best gigs are ones where you act and the audience responds. You make a joke and they laugh, you play the quiet song and they shut up and listen, you finish a song and they burst into applause, rather than just clapping politely.

This was like that. It was good.

Orion’s Belt were the headliner. They’re a bit folk-rock, a bit psychedelic, and a lot good. They played a set that was a mixture of songs and improv. It went down well with the crowd and I really loved it.

The Glasgow trip was great fun and we’re already thinking about how we can get up there again. Justin and Julia’s cats were great hosts (the humans were really cool too) and Gareth not only played a blinder, but did a ton of driving for which I am very grateful.

So, so far this acoustic rock duo thing has been a great success. We’ve got to the point where we can play some songs without messing up too badly and played some great gigs.

Next step is to get some more in the diary and have more live-music-related fun.

Erm…. do you want us to play a gig? We will. Almost anywhere.