It’s been a small lifetime since I last wrote one of these. How are you?
To accompany our email updates and forthcoming videos, I thought it’d be more human to write a few blog posts, so here's the first.
As I hope you’ll have noticed, Clock Opera have begun to return. On Thursday we launched a crowdfunding mission to record our new album, to which we’ve had an amazing response so far. We are humbled and will be buying a job lot of stamps to send packages across the world in due course. After being away for longer than expected, it’s genuinely moving to know people are still out there and interested. Thank you to everyone who’s contributed so far. If you'd like to get involved, click this button:
Since launching, we've received quite a few questions and comments about why we're crowdfunding - and why we're doing it ourselves. So let's start with that.
As music becomes ever more financially devalued, which is the best way to make and sell an album? This infographic makes some pretty stark points. How artists negotiate their own way through this question is more important than ever.
A few years ago I was at a record label party (I've been to a total of three), when Mick Jagger turned up. I collared him and asked him what he thought music was worth. He asked me how much my band had signed for. I told him and he laughed in my face, saying "I got more than that for a Bran Flakes advert in 1965". I looked it up and I think it was Rice Krispies, but you get the point.
We recorded and produced our first album Ways To Forget ourselves. Then we made a lot of our own videos, artwork, designed our website and self-managed all our tours. After releasing singles through four smaller labels, we signed to a major for the album release in the UK (and another four labels for other parts of the world) which helped us pay for some mixing, a couple of videos and to play shows further afield. But it's a strange feeling to not hold your own purse strings.
A good friend at a very well respected larger indie label told me the amount that they were currently offering for record deals: £5,000. For that amount they were asking artists to provide a finished album and accompanying videos and, crucially, give up a lot of ownership rights (and therefore future income from the record). In that model, the artist subsidises the label, in the beginning at least.
But that's not to say we don't think labels have an important role. We love labels. Many of them are excellent curators and can help you reach an audience that you wouldn't on your own. But are they good banks? Once our album is made, we’re going to need help spreading the word. But we think it's right to question what you give up, for how much and when.
Everyone knows the music industry is in a huge state of flux; labels, like artists, are struggling to find a workable model in a new economic landscape. On both sides, some are forging their own paths that have helped set them apart. For the moment, this is where we feel we fit in.
Whilst writing our new album, we've watched the rise of crowdfunding platforms bring about an interesting new dynamic in the music industry. With a high success rate, PledgeMusic are helping support and sustain artists that otherwise might not continue to make and share their music. However, an inherent tendency towards control freakery, fuelled by the lessons we have learned along the way, has forged in us an instinct to do things our own way. For us, this is an opportunity to define ourselves in a different, more direct way that allows us to retain greater ownership and control of our music and how we present it to the world.
So we've designed this site and are running it ourselves. There is nothing in between us and you, the people we ask for support. So if you want something, ask for it, one of us will respond. Every time someone buys something, a giant red bell chimes in our collective brains and we release a virtual dove into the sky.
We recognise that this model relies on your support and goodwill. We deeply appreciate every penny and pound. But more than that, we're really excited to be in as close touch with you at this stage of the process, as we are when we stand in the same room at a live show, stare at each other, sing songs and make a load of noise.
Later this week, we’ll release further insights into how we're gearing up to recording our album, with some snippets of new music.
Our love and gratitude