Music streaming - pennies for my thoughts

The music industry has changed at a staggering rate over the last 10 years. We have never been at an age where music has been more accessible than it is today. This is both a brilliant and a tragic thing. Here’s why.

As a musician it is very useful to have instant access to almost any piece of music that has been ever written. In my lessons I can think of a piece of music that might be suitable for somebody to sing and right then and there, using my iPad (other tablets are available) type it into YouTube or Spotify and there it is, instantly. One more quick search will usually find the lyrics and chords (but it is advisable to check these first). 

Using platforms such as Spotify, it has been very easy to create playlists to share with your friends and family. The good old fashioned mix tape can now live on with the slushy and sentimental ‘we met to this song’, ‘we made out to this song’ or ‘you were made to this song’ selection. Just this morning I enjoyed running to a specially curated 180 bpm ‘Fast Pop Run’ to get my legs pumping on the treadmill. I recently heard of a family that created and shared a Spotify playlist of music that their recently deceased Grandmother used to love to play. What a lovely way to be remembered.

My musical knowledge has been afflicted by this accessibility. I have not grown up appreciating the art of the album. If I have heard a song that I like I will search for that one song and listen to it. That’s it. I don’t have to listen to what came before it or after it, or to the complete soundscape that it emerged from. I think that my musical appreciation and depth of knowledge might have suffered because of this.

Perhaps this ’single’ lifestyle might have attributed something towards the resurgence in vinyl. There is something very special about putting on a record. The theatrics of the artwork, the sound the case makes when you open it, the tension that builds as you carefully position the needle onto the grooves and after the initial crackle, wait for that magical introduction. It’s wonderful! And you can be safe in the knowledge that nobody will be harvesting your listening choices. You can play Lionel Richie as many times as you like and nobody will judge you. It won’t be carved into the vast data vaults that are quickly becoming the new oil. Your secret is safe with me.

We distribute our music online using TuneCore. At the time of our first release I did some reading about which service to use as there are many to choose from and this came out favourable from a few different sources. It distributes to all the online streaming platforms you know of and many more that you don't. It costs an initial fee of around £25 to post an album and then a £40 annual subscription to keep the album distributed thereafter. Once our Christmas album was released I was very excited to see the rewards of the online streaming. We had created quite a buzz on our social media and also at the many concerts that we had performed that month. I could hardly wait. Unfortunately that was all I could do as there is a two month wait for the data and funds to reach your account. But on the 23rd of February the day I had been waiting for finally arrived. I had found out that on Spotify in the UK our songs had been streamed 709 times! 709!! I was chuffed to bits. If you average each song at three minutes each then that’s 2,127 minutes or nearly 36 hours of continuous music! Then I rubbed my hands together as I read along to see what my reward for all of this music would be. Hours of hard work, love, tears, breakdowns….

It was… a grand total of…

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£3.00.

Three whole English pounds.

That’s 0.42 pence per song. 

The analytics of TuneCore allow me to see that during that same month our music was heard in another 21 countries that used Spotify. I had to look up what some of the abbreviated letters were to find out which countries had listened to our music! This gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling of great satisfaction. This then took our staggering total to £3.73. Woah there. Let’s not rush to spend this all at once.

Most of our music revenue has come from selling our CDs at performances and also online but these are becoming rapidly extinct. Cars are no longer being made with them as standard. Computers don’t come with a built in CD drive. When was the last time you bought a CD? And even If you did what would you play it on? Your walkman?! Due to music streaming, artists are now having to come up with more creative ways to make money at their gigs. I was lucky enough to see Grant Sharkey perform and was mightily impressed at his candles that he had for sale on his merchandise table!

For our online distribution, the way to ensure we (the artists) receive the most money from your sale is to download the album from Bandcamp or from iTunes (we receive around £4.30 per album downloaded or 50p per track). At present I am delighted if our TuneCore balance stays cost neutral and allows us to keep our music streamed for years to come. Not costing us any money but equally not making any. This begs the question, what is the point? Maybe it is to let our songs resonate all over the world and into the halls of eternity. You can decide for yourself. In the meantime, we'll just keep doing our thing and hope that someone out there wants to listen to it!

Louisa
x

Venice and The VSOE

It’s been just over a week since we boarded our flight to Venice and began a trip of a lifetime.

After we landed in Venice, having raided the duty free make up counters and fallen asleep on our fellow passengers (That was me. I did that.), the lovely Frederico picked us up and took us to our hotel, which was stunning. We decided to take advantage of the time we had in Venice and walked for miles around the city, before deciding to stop for a drink in one of the beautiful sun-filled squares.

A couple of Aperol Spritz’s later, and we’re off to explore some more. Louisa and Steve got very involved in the Venetian Masks on offer on every street, while Anna took some serious photographs - she’s always updating our instagram with her beautiful shots so check it out here, or have a look at her website here.

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We got a relatively early night and woke up in time for a hearty hotel buffet breakfast before spending some serious time getting appropriately glammed up for the adventure ahead of us.

I think it’s fair to say we didn’t really believe that we would be travelling on the VSOE until we got to the platform to check in. It was an incredibly surreal experience; the train is magnificent and you can feel the history surrounding it. We were shown to our two cabins with an adjoining door (slumber party!), with a glass of something sparkly waiting for us. We met Rory, our lovely steward who took amazing care of us, and took a moment to appreciate how lucky we were to be experiencing the VSOE in person.

 A warm welcome!

A warm welcome!

 Rory, our cabin steward

Rory, our cabin steward

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We performed four sets for the wonderful guests on the train. For two of those sets we played saxophone, and let me tell you, playing a saxophone in an evening dress and high heels in a confined space on a moving train is a WORK OUT. Steve showed the piano a rip-roaring time and it was an honour performing our own songs as well as some classics on board the historical carriage.

We ate a ridiculous number of delicious meals on board; Lunch, Afternoon Tea in our cabin, Dinner, Breakfast in our cabin and then Brunch. Eating amazing food while watching the beautiful views pass by our window was unbelievable! Our dinner on Wednesday night was eaten while going through Austria, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. How often can you say that?! The bar manager, Ignazio, was a true gentleman and made us The Guilty 12, a signature cocktail of the VSOE. He couldn’t tell us what was in it (trade secrets), but trust me, it was great.

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For someone who falls asleep on moving trains as often as I do, falling asleep on the VSOE in our cosy bunks was one of the best feelings in the world. Waking up to a delicious breakfast served in our cabin and enjoying the rest of the journey was magical.

Sitting on the floor of our South West Train from Victoria back to Winchester just reminded us even more how lucky we are! We certainly don't take this job for granted. The whole experience felt like a dream, and we hope that we can return one day soon to perform for the VSOE and all it’s wonderful guests!