The Last Year in Music by the Numbers

I’ve experimented a lot over the past year with how to get my music heard. I offered “Freebies of the Week.” I had different pricing tiers on my records. Then I made everything name-your-price. When friends said they couldn’t find me on iTunes or Spotify, I paid TuneCore to list more songs with iTunes and Spotify. I sent an email with the subject line “OK, Fine. Do Nothing” which had more clicks that the ones called “Do 3 Things” and “Do 1 Thing.”

In December of 2012, I sent my song “He’s A Cop With An Axe” with a free download code to 43 people and had 21 downloads. “Faster than Bullets” went to 74 people and had 12 downloads. December 2013’s “I Survived the Dogstorm” has only had 7 downloads so far despite going to 86 people. (And of course, I’m tweeting those out to almost 600 people now.)

In the past year, I’ve played a deli, a hotel pool party, rock clubs, coffee shops, a wine bar, restaurants, open mics and wherever else will have me.

When I put out an all acoustic EP several years ago, I got the feedback that people didn’t respond to it because it was all acoustic. Since then, I’ve released plenty of music with bands or electronic instruments yet none is downloaded more.

I’m told I just need to get linked somewhere by some big blog or tweeted about by some famous person to accelerate things. But when Boing Boing embedded a video of mine, it received 6700 views and produced only 4 downloads. Recently, John Hodgman retweeted me to his 900,000 followers which led to 0 downloads.

So I go forth into 2014 with a more informed outlook. I know the people who care about my music will make the effort to download it so I don’t think I’m going to bother listing with iTunes, Google Play, and all those others anymore. I’m going to stick with Bandcamp where anyone can pay anything he or she likes to download my music.

It’s always been easy to confuse “who cares about my music” with “who cares about me” and take a lack of response personally. But as I drove home from an open mic a couple of weeks ago and pondered the strategy of listing my music on iTunes or trying to find a new outlet that would work better, I thought (speaking to an imaginary audience member): “I’m not doing this for you.”

I’m making better music than I ever have. I’m a more confident performer than I have ever been. If you agree or if you just want a guy who’s been writing songs for 25 years to make a little scratch doing it, then please friend, follow, download, join and share. If not, that’s fine too. I’ll keep making music.