Music composition

New album released into the great wide somewhere…

storybookalbum-cover-small

Yesterday I released my new album, Storybook Overture, into the wild, where it can be free and roam the mountains and valleys of magical [monetary] possibilities. It’s on bandcamp here. (You might see that I changed the cover ever so slightly, giving the background a bit of a gradient so it’s not so flat. I’m no great artist.)

At first a bandcamp release was all I had planned for, but on their uploading page they recommended DistroKid (that’s a referral link; you get 7% off, and I get a few bucks!) for getting into digital stores like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, etc. It looks like DistroKid has been around for a few years, but I had somehow never heard of them. I had used CD Baby for Voyage of the Dream Maker. CD Baby charges you a fee for each album you want to release and takes a small royalty on any income you make, the trade-off being that you never have to pay them again after the album’s set-up fee.

DistroKid, on the other hand, charges you $20 per year (for a single artist), takes no royalty at all, and allows you to upload as many albums as you want in that year. The trade-off here is that if you don’t pay another $20 next year (assuming they don’t bump up the price), your albums might be removed from the online stores. Granted, if you’re not making at least $20 a year from your releases, that’s not much of a loss. And $20 is cheaper than CD Baby’s set-up fee for a single album (and TuneCore’s prices are just awful; I’m not sure why anyone uses them).

So I decided DistroKid would be worth a try, especially since the $20 also allowed me to upload my 2014 EP, A Dream Half Lost, for no extra cost. I also hope to release at least one album in 2017. So I’ll just have to see if I can recoup that $20 within a year… and every year following, I guess, at least until I’m not so broke that it matters. This will mainly depend on people actually buying the album through iTunes or Amazon or wherever; streams make such little money, I’ll be lucky to make a few dollars. For comparison, in the last year I’ve made almost $18 through CD Baby for Voyage of the Dream Maker. That’s one half from one full album purchase and two single track purchases, and the other half from a bunch of little streams. So, if CD Baby didn’t take a small percentage, a year’s worth of revenue might just barely cover my DistroKid cost. Of course, that’s for a six year old album that’s also on bandcamp, so maybe not the best comparison. Point is, at my current level with my sort of music, paying $20 a year is still a significant cost to consider.

Anyway, if you search for them, you’ll find the album is already on iTunes and Amazon! That’s some fast distribution. (Still waiting on Spotify.)

Also, I uploaded the tracks and artwork to CreateSpace to try their CD-R service. Still awaiting approval for now. They’re a bit more expensive than Kunaki, but I think their CD-Rs also look nicer, plus they handle all distribution through Amazon themselves, so no need to worry about that. And anyway, all those expenses are passed on to whomever buys the CD. I think I listed the price at $10.99. If anyone buys the CD through Amazon, my share would only be $1.09. All the rest goes to CreateSpace and Amazon. (CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, but they’re still a separate company, so when you buy through Amazon, Amazon takes a fee on top of CreateSpace’s production costs.) Terrible margins. But better than nothing at all. Anyway, I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

So… that’s that! Feels great to finally have released a new album.

Patreon has helped a lot; knowing there are people out there not just looking forward to new material but willing to actually part with some money to support it has been very encouraging. A huge thank you to my Patreon supporters!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music

Second full-length album coming soon!

Storybook Overture

I hope to release my second full-length album next Friday, December 2nd, 2016. A digital version will be available through my bandcamp page, and I also hope to try releasing an audio CD through Amazon’s CreateSpace. I’ve never tried their CD service before, so I’ll be interested in how it turns out. (That might take a little longer as I don’t know how long it will take for them to send a “proof” copy… we’ll see.)

STORYBOOK OVERTURE, the title of one of the tracks, seemed like an appropriate album title, as many of the tracks were inspired by my book series, Insane Fantasy. You’ll also see I’m reusing the artwork I did for the book on the album cover.

Here’s the track list:

  1. The Storm Cometh
  2. Storybook Overture
  3. A Stargazer’s Lullaby
  4. The Stormbringer’s Apprentice
  5. Broken Wings and Distant Things
  6. Journey by Moonlight
  7. Lullaby of the Westwind Woods
  8. Secrets of the Ancient Seas
  9. September Ends
  10. Lullaby for a Quiet Village
  11. Fairytale’s End

As you can see, I’ve already released all but tracks 9 and 10 to YouTube (and track 10 will probably be my next YouTube upload). The total playtime of these tracks comes out to about 70 minutes, so it’s a pretty full album.

It’ll probably be a while before I get the album on iTunes, Spotify, etc., as it’s not really worth the cost with the amount of listens I get (less than 1,000), but I’d like it to be on iTunes and Spotify eventually. It’ll just have to wait for a bit.

Also, I’ll try to email free bandcamp download codes to any Patreon supporters I have at that time. (They can already download most of the tracks on Patreon anyway.)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music

More new music and what happened to the melody generator

I uploaded a new piece of music to YouTube earlier today called The Stormbringer’s Apprentice:

I write in the description:

This piece provides the themes for a villain called Stormov, from my book Insane Fantasy. He’s an apprentice for the mysterious “Stormbringer”, and helps to entice new recruits for his master’s evil plans. His themes are mostly dark, but there is a hint of adventure in there as well, as he lures potential helpers with temptations of worldly power.

Also, this is my first video to feature my own attempt at programming my own custom “music animation machine” programmed in Java with jMonkeyEngine. The frame rate is not as smooth as I’d like it to be (I’m still screen-capturing it), but it’s not horrible at least. Anyway, I think I’ll enjoy playing around with it. Obviously it’s inspired by Stephen Malinowski’s work, as I’ve been using his decade-old “Music Animation Machine” program for a long time now.

As mentioned above, this piece is animated with my own custom “music animation machine.” I may release the source code for it at some point for anyone who’s interested in it, but you’d have to download jMonkeyEngine to compile it and run it yourself; I’m not really interested in making into a standalone program right now, as I hope to continue fooling around with the code. The code is also sloppy and contains features I never finished programming, as it’s all part of an ongoing MIDI sequencer project. Also, it doesn’t actually even play MIDI files… it only makes the shapes and animations based on a MIDI file, which is all I need it to do as I sync videos with tracks recorded from Overture in Windows Movie Maker before adding titles and uploading to YouTube.

In case you missed it, last week I posted this track called Storybook Overture:

So that makes five tracks completed so for my upcoming album (which I have no idea what I’ll name yet): Lullaby of the Westwind Woods, The Storm Cometh, A Stargazer’s Lullaby, Storybook Overture, and The Stormbringer’s Apprentice. Together they amount to over 20 minutes, so I’m over 1/3rd finished the album!


In other news, I’ve had several people email me over the last few months asking about whatever happened to the melody generator. Well, I was contacted by a shady underground group that secretly controls the world, and they warned me that the world simply is not ready for something so powerful.

Actually, the project just got to be too frustrating. It was getting enough interest that people were thirsty to learn how it worked, yet not enough interest to fund a Kickstarter, and I just didn’t (and don’t) have the time to give it the attention it needs. I of course haven’t given up on it, but it’s on the back-burner for now until I can get my life sorted a bit more. In the meantime, I’d just rather spend my free time writing music and books and programming games, as those projects tend to actually generate some income. Not much, but something. So I have absolutely no idea when I’ll be able to get back to working on the melody generator. Could be later this year, could be two or three years down the road.

I have an email list here if you’d like to be updated when I actually return to the project: Melody Generator News.

By S P Hannifin, ago