My Aural Portfolio: Writing Songs To Expand A Body Of Work, Not To Create Albums

redguitar

Here’s a bold statement to start things off with…

From now on, I am not going to write albums anymore, instead, I’m going to create and maintain an ever-changing and constantly evolving body of work.

An aural portfolio as it were.

Photographers have a visual portfolio available for their clients so why shouldn’t I, as a songwriter, have an aural portfolio of my songs available online?

I came to this conclusion after my experiences firstly, with the writing, recording and releasing of my first CD “Seeing Stars” which took an extraordinarily long time to create and secondly, with my self imposed songwriting challenge of writing, recording and releasing six online albums by the end of 2014.

I learnt the hard way that creating an album takes a lot of effort, money and some time off the live music circuit to actually produce the thing. Then there’s this huge stressful build-up to the release of the CD and once released, it’s so very easy to lose momentum with the result being the old “boxes of CDs under the bed” routine.

Personally, I found that writing for an album of 12 – 15 songs seemed too limiting in its scope to me.

In creating my first CD I put together an initial list of 30 songs which was whittled down to 25 then 15 with 12 songs being the final number.

What was I going to do with the other songs? I created a “Bonus CD” out of it however, these songs still had value and should not be discarded onto some scrap-heap. They should be included into a body of work to be re-purposed in some way.

More on re-purposing my music later.

The more I look into this paradigm shift from creating albums to maintaining an aural portfolio I’ve become more a fan of the “record and release often” concept.

Putting together a body of work by recording and releasing one song at a time will allow me a constant flow of momentum while still playing live and doing all of the other necessary activities an independent musician needs to be doing at the same time.

But don’t get me wrong though… The concept of carrying physical CDs purely for sale at gigs still rings true for me but for the online world, the CD (and even downloads for that matter) are becoming less and less relevant.

Another part of this shift in thinking is that I’ve decided to give away my music for free and devote all my energies on finding ways to be found online, re-purpose my music and build my mailing list based on my aural portfolio rather than trying to sell individual downloads online.

I am taking my lead from a San Franciscan songwriter guy by the name of Dave Hahn. He’s set up his own aural portfolio at songwriter.fm

David gives his music for free for two main reasons which he explains on his website. He says…

“First, I really want people to hear the music I’ve written. The only thing better than creating something exciting is sharing that something with others. For me, writing songs is about connecting with people, telling a story, and sharing a common experience. Writing a song is, then, only half of the thrill of being a songwriter. I also want people to hear it!

Second, I want to build a career as a songwriter. As a Broadway conductor, I worked with some of history’s best songsmiths. I’ve seen what it takes to write a great song and to make a career out of it. What it takes is this: People need to hear your songs, like your songs, and give you the resources to make more of them. That could come in the form of a Kickstarter donation, a TV or film placement, a commission, a publishing deal – or any kind of songwriting project. I want to work on those projects.”

In giving his music away for free, David Hahn is concentrating on the other ways that a songwriter can make some money out of their music rather than the old buy/sell downloads model. I know that there are plenty of artists that have adopted a “pay what you want” model but me, I want to start giving away my music for free.

Doing this is not an exercise in devaluing my music. I’m looking at this as increasing my chances of getting found, increasing my chances of exploring the other options for monetising my music.

On songwriter.fm you can sign up to David’s mailing list where you get a free song each week plus, you can browse his site and listen to all of his other songs. Each of his songs have their own page with lyrics, sheet music downloadable as a PDF, a YouTube video of the song and a Soundcloud version of it too.

I really like the idea of each and every song being a focal point of music discovery for somebody and utilising social media at the same time.

The site layout is extremely simple and specifically designed to facilitate some sort of dialogue between client and songwriter. For me, stumbling upon David’s website was a real game-changer for me. Very inspiring indeed.

Through studying songwriter.fm I realised that there are many ways that a song can be re-purposed for discovery or monetary purposes. My job as a songwriter (besides writing songs) is to find the many different way that my songs can be re-purposed such as:

  • To be performed by me
  • For others to perform
  • To get a publishing contract
  • To be licensed in film/TV/theatre
  • As a stepping stone to my next song
  • To collaborate/network with other songwriters/musicians
  • To self promote via social media
    • YouTube
    • Facebook
    • SoundCloud
    • Twitter
    • Google+

My belief is that as a songwriter I shouldn’t have to worry about genres, trends and fads because what I write, what I create and the output of my creation should be anything that I want it to be.

Not to suit some arbitrary collection of songs

If I write something that can be turned into something with a country twinge then so be it. If I write a song that has a strong leaning towards rock then so be it.

I always thought that to be truly a liberated songwriter is to create without prejudice to the outcome and the aural portfolio approach I’ll be adapting in 2015 is something that will take me one step closer to it. I’ll keep you posted.

Peace,

Corey :)

Hi There… Remember Me… It’s Been A While Hasn’t It?

dontforget

Since my last post on July 8th, there have been some events which I’ve allowed to get in the way of my blogging and overall online activities hence there has been not much activity online of late.

I’m not looking to make any excuses for my absence or to gain any sympathy from you all, I’m just getting you all up to speed with what’s been going on.

Firstly, I’ve been having an ongoing issue since March with one particular freelance client of mine which has almost bankrupted me financially.

Now, this issue will hopefully be resolved by Xmas but for all of that time I’ve been severely restricted in my ability to make an income and this has taken a huge toll on my mental and physical health.

People that know me know that my health mentally and physically can go up and down from time to time but this year has been the worst for it. I don’t ever want to go through something like that ever again.

At the same time through all this I’ve allowed my music business to become neglected to such an extent that my income from my gigs has dropped off to almost zero which doesn’t help things either.

Secondly, I’ve decided to bring to a close my 2014 Songwriting Project a little earlier than planned.

Even though I didn’t reach my target of six completed online releases I did achieve the following…

One online release (Ross Hood – 15 songs), two completed sets of unreleased recordings (Jeff Smith – 12 songs / Geoffrey Stapleton – 12 songs) and one set of pre-produced demos awaiting final recording (Adrian Miller – 15 songs) a total of 54 songs in various stages of online release.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to record the solo album and the covers album as planned but my experiences with this self imposed songwriting challenge has taught me one thing…

I don’t write songs to fill an album, I write songs to expand a constantly evolving body of work.

Looking at my creative output in this way has lead me to make some decisions about how I promote myself and my music but I’ll write more about that in the very near future.

Thirdly, I (along with Alec Gheude and Adelaide music publishing icon Robert Dunstan) have started Adelaide’s only music street press called BSide Magazine which as you could imagine has taken up a lot of my time of late.

BSide Magazine started off as a website and social media presence on July 31st and the very first printed issue of BSide came out on October 2nd and in that time it’s established itself as an essential part of the Adelaide Music Community.

For me personally it’s been a welcome distraction from all the other stresses I mentioned previously.

Fourthly (if there’s such a word), I finally got married to my long time partner Mara on December 6th.

The wedding was held in Mara’s home town of Millicent and it was definitely the highlight of my 2014. It was a small and intimate ceremony and the reception was everything both Mara and I wanted it to be.

Phew, there you have it, you’re now up to speed with wha has been going on.

Thankfully I’m in a much better place now which means I’ll start putting up content again on here and my other blogs but in the meantime though, I hope that your 2014 has been a good year and that 2015 will be a year that is everything you want it to be.

I’m certainly hoping that my 2015 will be just that.

Peace,

Corey :)

While You’re Here, Check Out My Other Blogs

I love to write and while activity on this particular site has been a little lean of late I have been preparing and writing posts for my other two blogs…

Thankfully, I still get that feeling of satisfaction from releasing what is in my heart and mind into the ether through the simple act of writing.

For me, writing is also about learning as I tend to retain and assimilate information more effectively if I write it down.

If I post something to this site, I’m learning more about myself.

If I post anything to All About Songwriting or All About Music Business I am opening myself up to learn more about songwriting and the music business.

While you’re here you should check out my other blogs and let me know what you think.

Peace,

Corey :)

A Welcome Blast From The Past

A few days ago I got an email from an old bandmate of mine Colin Pasfield letting me know that he recently bought a cassette to MP3 converter and that one of the cassettes he’s converted to MP3 was our six song demo we did at Zen Studios in 1997.

(Just to give you some idea on the background to this email, Colin and I were in a three piece power trio called “Hot Fridge” when I lived in Sydney from 1994-1999)

He went on to say that after putting the converted MP3’s through some Cubase treatment I was able to download the re-mastered tracks from his Dropbox account.

I was excited, I hadn’t heard the songs in years. I have a couple of copies of the cassette in my archive but not on MP3.

Once downloaded I started listening to the songs and immediately I was flooded with some really great memories. We had a lot of good times and played a few gigs along the way but what I remember the most was Colin, his family and the rehearsals we’d have under his house.

To this day, Colin is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and he’s also a damn fine guitarist too.

Here are the songs for you to listen to. I certainly don’t mind sharing a little piece of my history with you but for me, this demo gives me a good indication of how far I’ve come as a player, performer and songwriter.

Brand Spanking New

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I’ve Got You

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It’s Alright

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Realised

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Time Of A Day

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Why Do People Dream?

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Peace,

Corey :)

Wanted: Images For “Happy Mothers Day” Video

Recently I put up a post about a songwriting project I’m undertaking with collaborator Ross Hood in which one of the songs featured is a tribute to his late Mother called “Happy Mothers Day.”

Here is the official video of the song to refresh your memory…

Now as you can see, the above video is something that Ross put together himself and while it is an intensely personal and beautifully heartfelt tribute to his late Mother, I’ve always felt a little bit awkward sharing a video as personal as this around.

I’ve always felt that the song “Happy Mothers Day” could quite easily be used as a tribute to all Mothers past, present and future.

For that purpose, I wanted to create a video that runs along the same lines as the official video but have more general images of Mothers doing what they do best (I’ve spoken about this concept with Ross and he is totally fine with it).

With that in mind, I had to answer a simple question… “Where am I going to get the images from?”

I tried experimenting with free stock photo libraries such as FreeImages or FreeFoto but to me there was something missing, something impersonal from acquiring the images and putting them onto a video in this way.

Then it hit me… Why don’t I crowdsource the images?  Well, this is where you come in.

Why don’t YOU send me your favourite picture of your Mum for me to put on the video and for your trouble I’ll put your name on the end credits as my way of saying THANK YOU!

How does that sound?

I’m looking for a total of 60 images for the video and all you need to do is to email me your full name and attach your favourite image of your Mum to corey[at]coreystewartonline[dot]com.

Ideally I’m looking for one image per person to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to have a go at this so the first 60 people to email me their favourite image of their Mum will get the image on the video and their name on the end credits.

It’s as easy as that, your Mum can be doing anything in the picture just as long as she is in it. Once I get all the images I need I’ll put together the video, post it onto YouTube, embed it on my website and send you a link to it.

I look forward to putting this video together. I do hope you can be involved.

Peace,

Corey :)

Video: State Of Play 2 (FULL)

On May 5th, I posted a video preview of the second part of Jethro Heller’s “State Of Play” documentary series about the present state of the South Australian Music Industry plus some details of the video launch at The Gov that night.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the launch myself however, I heard that it was a huge success.

I also promised in the earlier post that when “State Of Play 2″ was available to the general public I would post it on this site. Here it is below… The full version of “State Of Play 2 – Truth, Youth, Beauty and all that Jazz” for your enjoyment.

Whereas the first part dealt with Open Mics and the Blues scene, the second part of the State Of Play series delves more into the Jazz scene in Adelaide and interviews some of the main protagonists such as The Foenander Brothers and newcomer Jo-Anne Stutley.

Let me know what you think of it. What’s your opinion on the Adelaide (live) Music Industry these days?

Peace,

Corey :)

Songwriting Project #1 – Ross Hood “Childhood Memories”

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve embarked on a series of songwriting projects in which I’ll have written, recorded, produced and released online six albums worth of material by the end of 2014.

This works out to be one album for each of the four collaborators I’m working with currently plus an album of my own plus a covers album thrown in for good measure.

In order to keep you in the loop as to my progress, here is a summary of my first songwriting project which is in fact the very thing that inspired me to take on this songwriting challenge in the first place.

It’s called “Childhood Memories” by Ross Hood

I met Ross a couple of years ago through a mutual friend and straight away I was impressed with his drive and determination to get things done even with a disability.

You see, Ross has cerebral palsy but that doesn’t stop him running an internet radio station a registered charity and doing stuff like raising money for the Starlight Foundation by riding a gopher from Adelaide to Pt Augusta.

As I grew to know Ross I found out that he wrote poetry and he told me once that he wanted to write his autobiography. I suggested that he should instead write song lyrics with me fleshing out his writing with music as a way of writing his autobiography through song.

He loved the idea and “Childhood Memories” was born

The first song he submitted was about his Mother (who had passed away 10 years ago) called “For My Mum” and it outlined her life story. His second song was another tribute to his Mother called “Happy Mothers Day” in which Ross also made a video for the song so it could be unleashed onto the world on Mothers Day.

Here are the two songs for you to listen to…

For My Mum

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Happy Mothers Day

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Those two songs plus the rest of the album (13 more songs) were all written in the same way. Ross would provide me with some longhand and then it would be up to me to shape the longhand into a completed song.

Once we both committed to the album idea Ross suggested that we create a limited run of 200 CD’s and with the help of the City of Charles Sturt, put together a CD launch to raise funds for the Australian Melanoma Research Foundation.

From one little idea this concept has grown into something much larger and as you can gather, Ross is not someone who does things by halves.

As of right now, “Childhood Memories” is about 50% complete. The final recordings of the 15 songs have now started with 4 being fully finished so far and it’s all been done in my home recording studio.

This whole journey so far has been one of self discovery and inspiration. I’ve learnt that I can find my way around the intricacies of Logic Pro X and come up with a really good sound. Other things I’ve learnt during this writing and recording process include:

  • Working with a longhand lyricist
  • Producing a project to a deadline
  • Trying my hand writing in different genres (eg Country)
  • Utilising cloud computing in the songwriting process (eg Dropbox)

No matter what happens, I am enjoying putting this album together and I hope that Ross and I can work on other stuff in the future. Here is the video of “Happy Mothers Day” for you to check out. Let me know what you think.

Happy Mothers Day VIDEO

I’ll keep you posted as to how I’m going…

Peace,

Corey :)

My New Songwriting/Recording Challenge For 2014

acoustic-guitarI reckon that no matter what you do, life is a balancing act between doing the things that you want to do and the things that you don’t and right now, I’m happy to be writing songs. That’s it! That’s all I really want to be doing.

At the moment, I’m working with four song collaborators plus, I’m really getting stuck into learning the in’s and out’s of my home recording setup.

I’m really enjoying just immersing myself in all the home studio information that I’m finding online. It excites me just as much as playing live does.

Now, all of this excitement has got me thinking about what the next part of my musical journey is going to look and sound like. One of the questions I’m already asking myself is about how I do my next CD.

Do I go down the traditional path of using an external recording studio or, do I do everything in-house using my own home recording setup?

I mean, I’ve got everything at my fingertips waiting for me to use it, so with that in mind, I’m going to set myself a challenge that will really push me to my creative limits. A challenge that both scares me a little but excites me a lot.

So… As of right now, I’m publically declaring that by the end of 2014, I will have recorded a total of six albums worth of material for online release.

Now, for me an album is defined as a group of 12 to 15 songs but why six albums?

Well, I’ll be doing one album for every collaborator I’m currently working with (remember, there’s four of them), one that I will do myself plus, a covers album thrown in for good measure.

As I’m writing this I can hear the little voice inside my head asking “Why?”

Well, besides the obligatory “why not” answer, I thought a challenge such as this would really sharpen up my songwriting processes plus, it would increase my knowledge, proficiency and confidence in operating my home recording studio setup.

What better way to learn something than to throw yourself in the deep end, right? I’ll keep you posted as to my progress… Wish me luck.

Peace,

Corey :)