Tom Slatter’s Tournament Of Perfectly Adequate Demo Songs

I have written quite a lot of songs. There are plenty already recorded and released, but lots more just exist as rough demos.

Lots of those just aren’t good enough to bother recording properly, but plenty are actually pretty good songs that just haven’t found a place on an album.

I want to record some as singles, but there are lots to choose from. Therefore it seems sensible to have a demo song tournament to decide which I will record ‘properly’ and release as a single.

Introducing Tom Slatter’s Tournament Of Perfectly Adequate Demo Songs.

Here are the rules:

  • There are 8 songs. Loser in each bout will be eliminated. Most votes wins.
  • Anyone can vote and you do so by commenting under this post, or the facebook post, or the bandcamp post.
  • Votes from the members of the Immoral Supporters Club on bandcamp are worth twice anyone elses. I know who they are.
  • I can’t be bothered setting up a proper poll – I’ll just count the comments manually. Any mistakes I make are irrelevant – this is my competition. I am the referee. I reserve the right to make arbitrary and unfair decisions.

The eventual winner will become a properly recorded single, rather than a rough demo.

Want a double vote? You need to be an immoral subscriber then. Here’s a link for that.

First up: ‘Mysteries and Monsters’, a very old song lamenting the death of magic, and ‘Anything to Make you Mine’, an extremely creepy ‘love’ song.

Of course they are demos, not the finished article, so don’t expect perfect recordings or performances.

Have a listen to the video and let me know which you prefer.

Songwriting – Run

There’s a fictional band in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called Disaster Area. Douglas Adams wrote that ‘Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.’

I obviously took that idea to heart, at least subconsciously because I’ve got several songs that follow a similar story. Set Light to the Sky is one of them, so is Satellites – Love songs set to a backdrop of apocalyptic goings on.

My new song Run is similar.

It’s a love song about two people holding each other’s hands and running from the end of the world.

It is also a pretty straight ahead rock song – verse chorus verse chorus, singalong bits, nothing complicated and nerdy.

Or is it?

Run was written in about twenty minutes when I was attempting to complete February Album Writing Month in 2017. I started at 9 o’ clock with the intention of having an entirely new song. Some time before ten I had recorded this:

The verses are in 7/8, the verses 4/4 and the verse has an augmented chord in it: F#minor D Bb Augmented, C#minor – so there are enough unusual elements in there to keep the nerdy muso side of me happy.

Did I decide at the start to use funny time signatures? No, not at all. These things are just part my palette now, I find them as natural as more common rhythms.

The song was pretty much an improvisation and it hasn’t changed a whole lot between demo and the finished version, except that it is now well played and has the guitars turned up.

It is part of a ‘double a-side’ because I don’t have an album for it to go on. You can have the two songs for whatever price you want, including free.

Thanks for listening!

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 pore over the album art, see the pictures, read the credits, buy 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.