Chapter 34 – Indie Music
The melody and lyrics deep in his head were never forgotten, and after the memories were reawakened, the song poured out unrestrainedly, but then Renly froze, because the recording software on his computer didn’t record anything at all, and he had to temporarily stop playing and seriously start studying the recording software.
Maybe he shouldn’t have gone to all that trouble and just record a video and post it directly to the Tube, why bother recording a digital soundtrack now?
But this was supposed to be a gift, and not him recording a debut song. Thinking about it, Renly got rid of his lazy thoughts, and started fumbling with the recording software while looking for recording techniques, he started to figure it out once again. When the sky turned white, a little over three minutes of “Cleopatra” was finally recorded.
Sure enough, recording music was an unbelievable hassle, and Renly found his back to be aching. He needed a break.
He left the computer and went to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, the rich aroma saved Renly’s drowsy soul. However, since he was already half done, it was not wise to give up in the middle of the process, because Renly knew that once he gave up, then he really would give up on this matter for good, and he would not even bother to work on it afterwards. So, this gift must be completed in one go.
After pouring a second cup of coffee and thinking about it, he ultimately did not add sugar nor milk, and returned to the computer with his coffee, recalling the website Neil introduced to him earlier, SongCast.
A few years ago, a musician wanted to release his own single as well as an album, which was a very difficult thing to do, because the distribution channels are in the hands of large record companies, and large distribution companies, not to mention the rare availability of publicity and promotion resources.
To give the simplest example, the United States is the country on the wheel, the car radios are the most efficient way to promote music, but the music played every day on major radio stations has all been arranged beforehand, and even detailed down to the list of twenty-five songs played this week, as well as the frequency requirements, all specified in detail, and more than ninety percent of the radio music playlist has been in the hands of large companies.
That’s a big reason why it’s almost impossible for independent musicians to make a name for themselves.
But now, thanks to the new model of online music, the YouTube and Facebook are one way, iTunes and Spotify are another, but both ways are similar, mainly in that they provide a platform for independent musicians to showcase themselves. Although the limitations of publicity and promotion resources still limit their development, but at least it has opened a window for them, like Justin Bieber who achieved a remarkable success after the transformation of the new era of music format.
Renly had very limited knowledge about these aspects of music, but after reading the website protocol of the SongCast, he felt enlightened.
Although independent musicians can now skip the distribution companies and directly release their music on online sites such as iTunes or Spotify, offering it for purchase and download, the procedure is very cumbersome and not only has all-round requirements for music format, music duration, recording quality and other details, but also has rigid requirements for the quantity of music – Apple, for example, requires an artist to have at least fifty registered songs under their name before being able to upload to iTunes, and such restrictions have scared off countless independent musicians.
Not to mention that iTunes is a truly large company, and the complicated legal regulations are enough to give people a headache. Even if Renly is not a law student, he knows that there is almost no room for independent individuals to survive when dealing with large companies, their interests will be crushed to the very bottom line, and there are many hidden clauses in the contracts of large companies that further exploit the interests of independent individuals. Of course, the advantage is that they are large companies, so there is no foul play, everything is transparent!
In such a situation, SongCast gives independent musicians another platform, or more accurately, a possibility.
For most independent musicians, they may simply want to test the waters and see if their music can be successful; or they may simply want to find a platform to get the attention of the music companies by selling their music.
In the age of the Internet, the traditional ways of self-promotion no longer work. For example, sending a tape to a record company, performing in a warm-up show for a big-name artist, or participating in the “American Idol” talent show. They are replaced by videos from the YouTube, digital audio from iTunes, and other online methods.
Of course, it’s certainly more appealing to sell music online and still earn some revenue than uploading a free video to the YouTube.
SongCast is the website that was born as a result of this.
It is actually an online music seller, somewhat similar to a traditional distribution company, where independent artists upload their music to the site for distribution, and then the site will create a system of file format conversion, illustration formatting, and other finishing touches, and then complete the distribution to various online music sales sites, including all major sites such as Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, etc., so, just a one-time upload is all that is needed, and it can all be done easily.
Not only that, the SongCast is also an important showcase platform, many big-name producers or record companies will use such a platform to find potential artists and cast a wide net to explore new talent. Although the decline of the music industry is very obvious after entering the twenty-first century, the industry’s demand for new talent has never dipped.
SongCast is not the only company that offers music distribution, but it is one of the most established and successful companies currently operating.
This does eliminate a lot of cumbersome procedures for Renly and no wonder Neil said earlier that everything has become easier now.
After setting up the account, uploading the music, writing down the song title and description ……, Renly noticed that he had to upload the cover for his song – which meant he had to make a temporary cover by himself, which was a real hassle for Renly.
After falling back with his back on the bed, the soft covers were so comfortable that sleepiness swept over him once again, and Renly almost wanted to give up, thinking he was better off sleeping under the covers, as recording the music, designing the cover, uploading the audio, and so on, was too tedious. He would rather spend five hours watching the Off-Broadway rehearsal than sitting in front of the computer tinkering with the recording.
Exhaling a long breath, Renly told himself: this was just a one-time thing, this was just a special gift, so it was better for him to finish it with a bang.
Even if Renly was not reborn, he understood clearly that the modern music industry is in a very bad shape, and it is the same worldwide, not to mention the golden age of the seventies and eighties, and in the most commercialized nineties, the music market was still blossoming. But now, not only are album sales in decline, but the current year-end sales champions may not even be among the top ten in the year-end charts of a decade ago, and the entire market has transitioned from album as a king to the singles era – everyone is selling singles; and the quality of music has also declined significantly.
There was a time when jazz, blues, soul, pop, rock, rap, country, folk …… all kinds of music dazzled people, and in each particular era there was a specific type of music that emerged strongly, such as folk in the sixties, rock in the seventies, and disco in the eighties, in addition to them, countless other music genres emerged to the delight of listeners, and almost everyone could find music that was unique to them.
Now, however, the music industry has narrowed down to pop and rap, with the quality of music declining so much that there is little room for other genres to survive. This is also the case with folk music.
In the 1960s, folk music was popular enough to change politics and culture, and folk singers like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Joan Baez, the artists who started the civil rights movement as well as altered the course of history, and they literally changed the world with their music.
In 2016, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, awakening people’s curiosity and interest in folk music. But the fact is that in the past twenty or thirty years, the existence of folk music has been reduced to the limit, although it has not been eliminated by the time like disco was. In Billboard’s singles and albums charts, it’s hard to find folk music even in the top 50, let alone the top 10.
Renly was reborn, and he knew that the future belonged to the world of electric-dance music, and that the position of folk music had not only not improved but had fallen even further into the abyss.
So, the recording of “Cleopatra” was purely a gift to Stanley – the reason why Pioneer Village has survived in Manhattan, with even Woody Allen and the New Yorker magazine praising it, is because of Stanley’s sincerity and persistence, and the fact that he has spent his life trying to preserve a trace of music genres like jazz, rock, folk, and bluegrass.
Renly doesn’t think that there will be a next time. This is the state of indie music, cruel and cold, but it’s nevertheless a fact.
With this in mind, Renly sat up straight again, thought seriously, and searched through his computer albums, and finally found a very special photo – the gates of the Pioneer Village, that rustic somewhat dilapidated gates, low-key and quiet, with the clean and sparse afternoon sun spilling down, and a kind of washed-out cleanness and clarity, yet also flooded with historical traces.
A “Cleopatra” banner was posted on the right side of the window, and a “Renly Hall” byline was posted on the left side, without intentionally highlighting it, as if it had been part of the window.
In this way, the cover of the single was completed.
After returning to the SongCast and adding all the information, he clicked upload and after watching the progress bar reach 100 percent, Renly shut down his computer and then rolled straight to his bed, finally being able to sleep.
T/N – Just a heads up to all the readers – Because of my university I couldn’t upload any chapters last week and this week also I will upload chapters when I find time. I have a important test next week so I just don’t have time. I am going to return to my regular schedule after the test. Thank you for your understanding.