It’s been an interesting ride, for sure. The official release date for my album was January 14th, but it wasn’t available for people online until that Friday, January 17th. I would not get physical CDs until Wednesday the 22nd, but folks we’re already buying the album online as it came available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon and wherever. At the same time I was waiting for the accompanying guitar method book to arrive, which was also supposed to arrive around the 22nd. My big concern was that they be here for the annual Winter NAMM convention, which I have the good fortune of being local to (it’s held 4 miles down the road from my studio) and it is the one time a year where I see lots of my online friends and acquaintances in person. I also host clinics and jams and whatnot in my teaching studio Premier Music. It was the perfect time to have new music to share (or to launch a book).
Over the weekend of the 17th I started getting some interesting emails as people got to hear some of the music online and I was pretty excited with the response. On Tuesday the 21st I received an email from a DJ in Buenos Aires asking for a copy of the CD to play on the air. I was ecstatic to get some unsolicited attention and immediately put the package together for him. Later in the day I did my now daily Googling of myself and the album title and discovered that even before I had physical CD’s in my possession the album in all of the high quality files with the artwork and other information was now being posted for free on dozens of torrent sites in countries all over the world. Stolen before I even had gotten a copy for myself or had made a dollar from a sale. I was angry to say the least.
The reality is that no one was waiting to steal my music as if it were the new U2 album. This is an automated theft of intellectual property that is a consequence of our relationships with technology and the internet. Everything new that gets released apparently gets automatically scraped or leaked and posted somewhere regardless of who the artist is or how big they are. It took me most of the day to get over that fact and realize that once I got Google to translate some of the pages the comments were very positive about the music and folks were even taking the time to rate the album on their sites (7.5 out of 10 stars in Russia thank you very much). There is no getting past the fact that the music was stolen but I decided to look at it like free marketing. For the next couple of weeks I started getting requests from DJs around Europe asking for actual copies of the album to play on the air (they must have rules about broadcasting from a physical copy or something like that). Traffic on my various websites and YouTube channel started increasing and I actually WAS selling CDs and digital copies of the album without any real marketing other than what I was able to do via social media. A week or so after the show I played a gig with my cover band and the guys surprised me by learning their favorite song from the album (Roar) and making me play it with them that night. I hadn’t actually worked it up to play live yet with my own band (we didn’t play it for the NAMM show) but luckily I remembered it enough to play it
Most of the last 4-6 weeks has been spent working on getting the book out there for distribution online mailing out packages of books and CDs and finishing up the online portion of my book, which entailed another recording session where 11 backing tracks were recorded for folks to play with while learning from the book. There are also “Music Minus Mark” versions of all of the songs as well as instrumental versions of the whole album as well. In the next couple of weeks I should have the backing track stuff finished to the point where I can sell it online as a separate package if folks don’t want or need the other part of my book. What started as just a demo CD to get out playing something other that cover gigs has turned into a great album of music that I love, and instructional book and possibly a blues styles lesson package.
The next step is to get the music out for review and airplay. Since I am one person and have no record label, management or publicist it is a matter of daily research online and trips to the post office. I did get my first review online from my good friend Jeff Garvin on his blog RockPaperLife.com. He might have spoiled me for future reviews… Another upcoming part of the program is getting out and playing live. We already have a couple of gigs lined up but I have to figure out a way of playing regularly and still bringing out a crowd of people when we are all middle aged. This was much easier in my 20s…. If you want to hear the album streaming or would like information on where to buy it or “Expanded Blues Guitar” please check it out on my website!