As you may have gathered, the new album Ambush has been an independently released venture. Without the juggernaut of the mainstream music publication industry behind us, this has been quite a daunting and intimidating task accompanied by as many sarcastic “good luck” type remarks as there was genuine encouragement. There has been quite a trend towards independent and artist self-released material in recent years and less reliance on getting that record deal. This has been somewhat at the expense of traditional record labels leaving them to reinvent themselves and expand their role. The reasons for this are many. Artist can have more control over their material, receive more of the royalty cuts but they must do all the promotion and marketing themselves, or employ someone to do this work for them. This has all been made possible by the digital revolution and the internet. We have a Facebook page, Twitter profile and this website that I created (based on a purchased theme) such things were not possible before. All this in the name of creating a following and getting our art out there.
The digital revolution has revealed many pros and cons with many mourning the ‘good ol’ days’ where artists got more readily paid for their work, however the music mafia were already at work then with many more artists and session musicians being exploited than were getting paid their dues. One of the cons is the rubbish mp3 compressed audio that has come to be accepted as the norm and a whole generation is growing up with so much access to vast music catalogues at their fingertips yet so deprived of quality audio. Also in the old days, bands performed live only and then only recorded once recognised and signed so that the real competition was in the live performance, the act and the sound. This bred the incredibly high level of the orchestras and bands across all genres such as from the 50s through to the 90s (not that there aren’t any good bands around now). On the other hand, something I learned at the AME in Cape Verde from Damon Forbes from Sheer was that he embraces the digital age because of the potential for such a huge audience. After release we were anxious about the exposure of our music on SoundCloud and our website, knowing that such a high percentage of music is ripped, burned, streamed, bootlegged and illegally downloaded and that less and less people are buying CDs let alone music. After much contemplation and research, I decided not to be tight with our music. Those who like to support artists and buy CDs will still buy CDs, those who like to buy digital will still do so. Those who do not buy music, preferring to rip, will never be changed. I’m not endorsing these practices but I can’t prevent them either. By having our music available to hear online in full, our audience reach is worldwide and if our songs are good enough to be worth the effort of ripping or even better still, bootlegging, then more people will hear it, thus exposing it to more potential buyers and fans. Hell, some people can’t afford to buy music, let alone food, so if our music will help make you feel good and have a positive impact in this world then why not? Its not all about money, you know. Swings and roundabouts, I say.