Last week I released my first full length record
[at least of recordings that I don’t consider to be demos]
called Sparse. To quote the press-release that I wrote:
Sparse features twelve original songs, each building from a base of acoustic guitar and voice, layering additional instruments to build a soundscape of both intimacy and strength.
Sparse was released in download form on my birthday, 6th February. And physical CDs will be available in a couple of weeks’ time – once I finish the full cover artwork.
I love this record. I’ve made music of which I’m proud and that, from others’ reactions, resonates.
The first tracking, at Dirt Floor Recording Studio, Chester, CT took place on the Thursday in October right before hurricane Sandy hit the area – two days recording before the hurricane and a third a week or so later, once power was restored. 15 tracks were recorded. Then, over the next month, here at home in my basement studio, I re-tracked the quitar and voice where the Dirt Floor recordings had enough fluffs to be annoying/distracting. I also set about adding a small number of additional instrumental tracks – all the time staying as close as possible to my intent to keep things, well, sparse
[a sister release, Dense, will be out later this year]
[who also engineered the Dirt Floor sessions]
all of whom brought just the right things in just the right places.
December was spent mixing and refining tracks and, by our Christmas trip back to the UK, I had a pretty much close-to-done record. Friends and family listened, gave me feedback and a final running order began to take shape. In early January, the tracks went off for mastering with Mike Burke at Specialized. Barring a final recut and master of Blaze here at home, the music was done.
My attention turned to release. The quite awesome Robert Edmonds agreed to do some work on the cover and, just as he did with the cover of my last novel, Escalation, he really came in with something. His work inspired me to get some images from here, and the cover of Sparse quickly came together.
And, with the music done, and the cover done, I went ahead and released the digital version at Bandcamp.
And I wrote a press release.
And I announced the record on Facebook.
And reminded people it was available.
And asked whether they’d be interested in buying the record bundled with signed copies of my books
And some people listened
[though many clicked on before the song had got even 10% of the way through]
And a few people bought download copies
[with the promise that they’d also receive signed physical copies]
And they let me know they liked the songs.
Then another musician, in the guise of humour, took a jab with three words:
and just for a moment, I saw so much red that it was painful.
Not only did I know how few people had downloaded the record, but I also knew how few had listened. I also knew how few have ever bought one of my books, let alone read one. I also knew that I’ve spent nearly $1500 to make and release a record I love – a figure that I, like many musicians, have little chance of ever recouping in this world where Everything is Free. I knew that I had invested months of my life in creating art that I want to see in the world.
So, yes, I saw red. Even though I knew my friend was kidding, I saw red. Because how the fuck else is anyone going to find out about our art if we don’t tell people about it? And if we take shots at our own, how the hell are we meant to build a community of music that actually keeps going?
I took a decision. I am not apologizing for daring to promote my work.
Because self-promotion isn’t the Shameful choice. It’s the ONLY choice we have.
Besides, it’s not like I’m promising that this record will help you lose weight, or get whiter teeth, or remove unsightly stains, or protect you from harmful bacteria or…
[you get my drift]
Self-promotion is to the independent artist, what marketing is to the brand manager. Just without the same budget.
[with 3 bonus tracks for download only]
and will be available soon on physical CD, which I’ll be bundling with my books in special signed packages.
I’m available for solo gigs or, with enough notice, a full band.
My name is Vincent Tuckwood, and I am a story-teller working in fiction, song and verse.
Get over it
[and, please, buy a record or a book]