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Release and Distribution
#1
Before I say anything about the release, I want to avoid raising any false expectations - let me re-iterate not to expect significant sales. Even so,  you can look at this as an introduction of what a label experience can be like. If you've ever self-published (CDBaby, Tunecore etc.) you may find this a little different.  

The release will go out to 300+ different digital destinations. That takes time, and as some of them are curated; we have to allow additional time for a human to actually listen and approve them as appropriate for those channels.  Its our preference to coordinate the release date such that its available simultaneously across all outlets.  What that means is that the release date for public availability will be set about 3 weeks from the time that I clear the final release with distributor.   

The reason we do that - you all know how social trending works, and the boost you get from a coordinated release is a key part of that.  The intent is to get as many people as you can listening to the song on Spotify etc., all a once on its first day.  That means it moves up a little in rankings.  And THAT means some of its songs are more likely to come up on an semi auto-curated feed like Pandora, which means it gets listened to a little more, which means it might be ranked a little higher…etc.  The cool think about Spotify type links is that there isn't a cost…you're not guilting any friends or family into a purchase, just for a click and at least 30 seconds of listening.    

It's my hope that you all will become, quite intentionally, the beginnings of a street team where members of CSN, their friends and family would help each other generate that first spark for any project that they believe in; to help create that initial buzz that every release needs.  I hope that this team grows WITH OR WITHOUT involving Secondfork.  I would love to see CSN as a community that helps each other in every way they can.   

And I'm extremely sorry if I'm sounding like Captain Obvious or assuming that you don't know something - I'm just trying to make sure a diverse group of people are all on the same page here.

-----------------
Promotion for this release

I created a facebook page "WhetstoneIronAndOak".  The page is unfinished at the moment, but I'd like to be able to generate content there by having each of you friend it, and once I see you I'll ask you questions about how you wrote the songs, sang or mixed, what the process was like, etc.  Please don't like or share it until release day though - for the same reason of generating the biggest spike we can on that day and the days just after.  THEN, by all means lets use that day to put it on your facebook wall, share with your friends, etc.   If you have twitter accounts, please follow @2ndfork, and we'll do something similar there on release day that I would ask you to comment on and re-tweet.

It also serves as a place to receive comments beyond the people here at CSN, and it gets those comments out to some industry people who do follow @2ndfork and will sign up to follow a label when they won't follow every individual artist. And again I'm sorry if I'm coming across as captain obvious. 

I deferred a question from Marty about putting links on your own websites, etc.   I would suggest you use Spotify or similar stream links, as in addition to trending, those generate a tiny fraction of income to everyone when they are listened to for at least thirty seconds.  Links to iTunes or whatever are good too. The buzz and the stats are worth more IMO at these low beginning numbers - not gonna get excited about royalites that MIGHT buy a pizza are you?       
-------------
Physical Copies

Just to answer another potential question - yes, Secondfork does have a business relationship with the option to at least discuss with our distributor putting physical copies of the release in Target, Best Buy, Barnes and Nobles, and a few non-traditional outlets like Guitar Center. We are choosing NOT to attempt any of that this time around though. 

We can do very small quantities of CD's if you want them, but I don't feel justified in creating a glass master (the minimum order would be 1000) unless a band is out playing and selling them at merch tables and such.  We can provide one-off vinyls for those that want,  but those are crazy expensive.  The issue with getting quality CD's and Vinyl FYI is in the time and effort required (and therefore extra cost) for decent quality assurance.  When you go with the on-demand one-off type production that a lot of self-publishing uses,  there really isn't any QA or at least not much of it.  How much time can they spend on one CD at a time? So it can be sort of a "life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get from one copy of a CD (or vinyl especially) to another. Whereas at a certain minimum quantity, you go through test pressings and adjustments and approvals, and then fathers/mothers/stampers are used which are not just high quality but tough enough to retain that quality from run to run. 

Sorry, for the digression… I thought I should share why physical copies were not a focus this time.   Vinyl in particular can be a two-edged sword - sending it to a cutter these days who is really good at, who will be picky about your mastering and likely involve back-and-forth drafts - is not going to be cheap, and not something you'll get from, ahem, some online "buy one copy at a time of vinyl" distributors.  People who buy vinyl are generally into quality, so bad vinyl is a quick way to turn them away from your music. 

Again, Captain Obvious, me sorry.

----------------

Diversity

 We chose to make Whetstone a more open incubator project which we're all hopefully using to grow in different ways.  It will be promoted to a reasonable degree - yes.  And all the songs will be available on the major outlests like iTunes, Google play, Spotify, etc.  But there are some consequences of a diverse multi-artist release like this.  

Not all of the songs will be accepted by all of the curated outlets that we send them to.  Please don't take it personally if one song is accepted by an outlet but another is not.  It is more a question of some outlets deciding that listeners of style "A", didn't tune in to listen to songs of style "B" and the listeners might even get pretty mad about it if they tried.  Which kind of leads in a way into the distrubutor and branding discussion below.

-----------------
Distributor choice and additional thoughts

I ask your patience with my explanation: Listeners may not care overly which label an artist chooses - or if they choose a label at all.  But IMO marketing is the difference between dumping songs into a vast digital sea, and giving songs a chance to be heard. You can go to a cheap distributor intended for self pubishing by Indie artists and you will get exactly what you paid for - a downloadable song but little else.  

Some distributors though invest a degree of their time and energy in promoting the material of the small labels that they agree to accept.  It's a mutually beneficial relationship, and the distributor tends to know people: tastemakers, reviewers or D.J's  for example that have a certain audience and a certain taste.  This is why we'll be paying a somewhat higher percentage to work with a distributer this time around than you might see elsewhere.  Though higher, that percentage may be offset to a degree by receiving a higher amount for each track from certain outlets. That happens because distributers which are part of the Merlin network use their collective bargaining power to get a better deal.   

BUT those relationships depend on the label creating a brand for itself. The label has to be known for a certain kind of product for that kind of matchmaking to succeed.  The label's goal is to build industry relationships where they will always listen if you send them something - which of course benefits their artists. And you have to guard that jealously. 

Which means we can't undermine or confuse the brand we're trying to build.  Hopefully we'll all want to do something like this again, but expect to see the focus of the brand begin to tighten.  That's all that I think I should say about that without (hopefully) straying too far over the self promotion line.  I just don't want to sow any seeds of resentment should we decide after Whetstone to pursue a relationship with one artist but not another - it doesn't mean we don't appreciate your music, but could be a question of branding, style, and focus.

Comments are welcome (especially any that say you don't hate me) but I'll take whatever is appropriately my due. Smile  We cool?

Greg
Reply
#2
Greg,Thanks for explaining this part of the process for us because it is confusing enough to do things by ones self but being on a project with multiple people and a label that knows all the in and out's is a BIG relief for us.
When you mentioned brand what if the artist writes different types of music.I write rock with the youth in mind country or bluegrass for older audiences but all are christian songs that talk about Christ and salvation along with everyday situations.

Chris
Reply
#3
thanks for explaining everything Greg
I think it's all cool here! can't wait!
Reply
#4
(06-24-2016, 05:57 PM)gdball Wrote: Before I say anything about the release, I want to avoid raising any false expectations - let me re-iterate not to expect significant sales. Even so,  you can look at this as an introduction of what a label experience can be like. If you've ever self-published (CDBaby, Tunecore etc.) you may find this a little different.  

The release will go out to 300+ different digital destinations. That takes time, and as some of them are curated; we have to allow additional time for a human to actually listen and approve them as appropriate for those channels.  Its our preference to coordinate the release date such that its available simultaneously across all outlets.  What that means is that the release date for public availability will be set about 3 weeks from the time that I clear the final release with distributor.   

The reason we do that - you all know how social trending works, and the boost you get from a coordinated release is a key part of that.  The intent is to get as many people as you can listening to the song on Spotify etc., all a once on its first day.  That means it moves up a little in rankings.  And THAT means some of its songs are more likely to come up on an semi auto-curated feed like Pandora, which means it gets listened to a little more, which means it might be ranked a little higher…etc.  The cool think about Spotify type links is that there isn't a cost…you're not guilting any friends or family into a purchase, just for a click and at least 30 seconds of listening.    

It's my hope that you all will become, quite intentionally, the beginnings of a street team where members of CSN, their friends and family would help each other generate that first spark for any project that they believe in; to help create that initial buzz that every release needs.  I hope that this team grows WITH OR WITHOUT involving Secondfork.  I would love to see CSN as a community that helps each other in every way they can.   

And I'm extremely sorry if I'm sounding like Captain Obvious or assuming that you don't know something - I'm just trying to make sure a diverse group of people are all on the same page here.

-----------------
Promotion for this release

I created a facebook page "WhetstoneIronAndOak".  The page is unfinished at the moment, but I'd like to be able to generate content there by having each of you friend it, and once I see you I'll ask you questions about how you wrote the songs, sang or mixed, what the process was like, etc.  Please don't like or share it until release day though - for the same reason of generating the biggest spike we can on that day and the days just after.  THEN, by all means lets use that day to put it on your facebook wall, share with your friends, etc.   If you have twitter accounts, please follow @2ndfork, and we'll do something similar there on release day that I would ask you to comment on and re-tweet.

It also serves as a place to receive comments beyond the people here at CSN, and it gets those comments out to some industry people who do follow @2ndfork and will sign up to follow a label when they won't follow every individual artist. And again I'm sorry if I'm coming across as captain obvious. 

I deferred a question from Marty about putting links on your own websites, etc.   I would suggest you use Spotify or similar stream links, as in addition to trending, those generate a tiny fraction of income to everyone when they are listened to for at least thirty seconds.  Links to iTunes or whatever are good too. The buzz and the stats are worth more IMO at these low beginning numbers - not gonna get excited about royalites that MIGHT buy a pizza are you?       
-------------
Physical Copies

Just to answer another potential question - yes, Secondfork does have a business relationship with the option to at least discuss with our distributor putting physical copies of the release in Target, Best Buy, Barnes and Nobles, and a few non-traditional outlets like Guitar Center. We are choosing NOT to attempt any of that this time around though. 

We can do very small quantities of CD's if you want them, but I don't feel justified in creating a glass master (the minimum order would be 1000) unless a band is out playing and selling them at merch tables and such.  We can provide one-off vinyls for those that want,  but those are crazy expensive.  The issue with getting quality CD's and Vinyl FYI is in the time and effort required (and therefore extra cost) for decent quality assurance.  When you go with the on-demand one-off type production that a lot of self-publishing uses,  there really isn't any QA or at least not much of it.  How much time can they spend on one CD at a time? So it can be sort of a "life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get from one copy of a CD (or vinyl especially) to another. Whereas at a certain minimum quantity, you go through test pressings and adjustments and approvals, and then fathers/mothers/stampers are used which are not just high quality but tough enough to retain that quality from run to run. 

Sorry, for the digression… I thought I should share why physical copies were not a focus this time.   Vinyl in particular can be a two-edged sword - sending it to a cutter these days who is really good at, who will be picky about your mastering and likely involve back-and-forth drafts - is not going to be cheap, and not something you'll get from, ahem, some online "buy one copy at a time of vinyl" distributors.  People who buy vinyl are generally into quality, so bad vinyl is a quick way to turn them away from your music. 

Again, Captain Obvious, me sorry.

----------------

Diversity

 We chose to make Whetstone a more open incubator project which we're all hopefully using to grow in different ways.  It will be promoted to a reasonable degree - yes.  And all the songs will be available on the major outlests like iTunes, Google play, Spotify, etc.  But there are some consequences of a diverse multi-artist release like this.  

Not all of the songs will be accepted by all of the curated outlets that we send them to.  Please don't take it personally if one song is accepted by an outlet but another is not.  It is more a question of some outlets deciding that listeners of style "A", didn't tune in to listen to songs of style "B" and the listeners might even get pretty mad about it if they tried.  Which kind of leads in a way into the distrubutor and branding discussion below.

-----------------
Distributor choice and additional thoughts

I ask your patience with my explanation: Listeners may not care overly which label an artist chooses - or if they choose a label at all.  But IMO marketing is the difference between dumping songs into a vast digital sea, and giving songs a chance to be heard. You can go to a cheap distributor intended for self pubishing by Indie artists and you will get exactly what you paid for - a downloadable song but little else.  

Some distributors though invest a degree of their time and energy in promoting the material of the small labels that they agree to accept.  It's a mutually beneficial relationship, and the distributor tends to know people: tastemakers, reviewers or D.J's  for example that have a certain audience and a certain taste.  This is why we'll be paying a somewhat higher percentage to work with a distributer this time around than you might see elsewhere.  Though higher, that percentage may be offset to a degree by receiving a higher amount for each track from certain outlets. That happens because distributers which are part of the Merlin network use their collective bargaining power to get a better deal.   

BUT those relationships depend on the label creating a brand for itself. The label has to be known for a certain kind of product for that kind of matchmaking to succeed.  The label's goal is to build industry relationships where they will always listen if you send them something - which of course benefits their artists. And you have to guard that jealously. 

Which means we can't undermine or confuse the brand we're trying to build.  Hopefully we'll all want to do something like this again, but expect to see the focus of the brand begin to tighten.  That's all that I think I should say about that without (hopefully) straying too far over the self promotion line.  I just don't want to sow any seeds of resentment should we decide after Whetstone to pursue a relationship with one artist but not another - it doesn't mean we don't appreciate your music, but could be a question of branding, style, and focus.

Comments are welcome (especially any that say you don't hate me) but I'll take whatever is appropriately my due. Smile  We cool?

Greg

We cool Greg...  Cool   Angel
Reply
#5
(06-24-2016, 05:57 PM)gdball Wrote: Before I say anything about the release, I want to avoid raising any false expectations - let me re-iterate not to expect significant sales. Even so,  you can look at this as an introduction of what a label experience can be like. If you've ever self-published (CDBaby, Tunecore etc.) you may find this a little different.  

The release will go out to 300+ different digital destinations. That takes time, and as some of them are curated; we have to allow additional time for a human to actually listen and approve them as appropriate for those channels.  Its our preference to coordinate the release date such that its available simultaneously across all outlets.  What that means is that the release date for public availability will be set about 3 weeks from the time that I clear the final release with distributor.   

The reason we do that - you all know how social trending works, and the boost you get from a coordinated release is a key part of that.  The intent is to get as many people as you can listening to the song on Spotify etc., all a once on its first day.  That means it moves up a little in rankings.  And THAT means some of its songs are more likely to come up on an semi auto-curated feed like Pandora, which means it gets listened to a little more, which means it might be ranked a little higher…etc.  The cool think about Spotify type links is that there isn't a cost…you're not guilting any friends or family into a purchase, just for a click and at least 30 seconds of listening.    

It's my hope that you all will become, quite intentionally, the beginnings of a street team where members of CSN, their friends and family would help each other generate that first spark for any project that they believe in; to help create that initial buzz that every release needs.  I hope that this team grows WITH OR WITHOUT involving Secondfork.  I would love to see CSN as a community that helps each other in every way they can.   

And I'm extremely sorry if I'm sounding like Captain Obvious or assuming that you don't know something - I'm just trying to make sure a diverse group of people are all on the same page here.

-----------------
Promotion for this release

I created a facebook page "WhetstoneIronAndOak".  The page is unfinished at the moment, but I'd like to be able to generate content there by having each of you friend it, and once I see you I'll ask you questions about how you wrote the songs, sang or mixed, what the process was like, etc.  Please don't like or share it until release day though - for the same reason of generating the biggest spike we can on that day and the days just after.  THEN, by all means lets use that day to put it on your facebook wall, share with your friends, etc.   If you have twitter accounts, please follow @2ndfork, and we'll do something similar there on release day that I would ask you to comment on and re-tweet.

It also serves as a place to receive comments beyond the people here at CSN, and it gets those comments out to some industry people who do follow @2ndfork and will sign up to follow a label when they won't follow every individual artist. And again I'm sorry if I'm coming across as captain obvious. 

I deferred a question from Marty about putting links on your own websites, etc.   I would suggest you use Spotify or similar stream links, as in addition to trending, those generate a tiny fraction of income to everyone when they are listened to for at least thirty seconds.  Links to iTunes or whatever are good too. The buzz and the stats are worth more IMO at these low beginning numbers - not gonna get excited about royalites that MIGHT buy a pizza are you?       
-------------
Physical Copies

Just to answer another potential question - yes, Secondfork does have a business relationship with the option to at least discuss with our distributor putting physical copies of the release in Target, Best Buy, Barnes and Nobles, and a few non-traditional outlets like Guitar Center. We are choosing NOT to attempt any of that this time around though. 

We can do very small quantities of CD's if you want them, but I don't feel justified in creating a glass master (the minimum order would be 1000) unless a band is out playing and selling them at merch tables and such.  We can provide one-off vinyls for those that want,  but those are crazy expensive.  The issue with getting quality CD's and Vinyl FYI is in the time and effort required (and therefore extra cost) for decent quality assurance.  When you go with the on-demand one-off type production that a lot of self-publishing uses,  there really isn't any QA or at least not much of it.  How much time can they spend on one CD at a time? So it can be sort of a "life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get from one copy of a CD (or vinyl especially) to another. Whereas at a certain minimum quantity, you go through test pressings and adjustments and approvals, and then fathers/mothers/stampers are used which are not just high quality but tough enough to retain that quality from run to run. 

Sorry, for the digression… I thought I should share why physical copies were not a focus this time.   Vinyl in particular can be a two-edged sword - sending it to a cutter these days who is really good at, who will be picky about your mastering and likely involve back-and-forth drafts - is not going to be cheap, and not something you'll get from, ahem, some online "buy one copy at a time of vinyl" distributors.  People who buy vinyl are generally into quality, so bad vinyl is a quick way to turn them away from your music. 

Again, Captain Obvious, me sorry.

----------------

Diversity

 We chose to make Whetstone a more open incubator project which we're all hopefully using to grow in different ways.  It will be promoted to a reasonable degree - yes.  And all the songs will be available on the major outlests like iTunes, Google play, Spotify, etc.  But there are some consequences of a diverse multi-artist release like this.  

Not all of the songs will be accepted by all of the curated outlets that we send them to.  Please don't take it personally if one song is accepted by an outlet but another is not.  It is more a question of some outlets deciding that listeners of style "A", didn't tune in to listen to songs of style "B" and the listeners might even get pretty mad about it if they tried.  Which kind of leads in a way into the distrubutor and branding discussion below.

-----------------
Distributor choice and additional thoughts

I ask your patience with my explanation: Listeners may not care overly which label an artist chooses - or if they choose a label at all.  But IMO marketing is the difference between dumping songs into a vast digital sea, and giving songs a chance to be heard. You can go to a cheap distributor intended for self pubishing by Indie artists and you will get exactly what you paid for - a downloadable song but little else.  

Some distributors though invest a degree of their time and energy in promoting the material of the small labels that they agree to accept.  It's a mutually beneficial relationship, and the distributor tends to know people: tastemakers, reviewers or D.J's  for example that have a certain audience and a certain taste.  This is why we'll be paying a somewhat higher percentage to work with a distributer this time around than you might see elsewhere.  Though higher, that percentage may be offset to a degree by receiving a higher amount for each track from certain outlets. That happens because distributers which are part of the Merlin network use their collective bargaining power to get a better deal.   

BUT those relationships depend on the label creating a brand for itself. The label has to be known for a certain kind of product for that kind of matchmaking to succeed.  The label's goal is to build industry relationships where they will always listen if you send them something - which of course benefits their artists. And you have to guard that jealously. 

Which means we can't undermine or confuse the brand we're trying to build.  Hopefully we'll all want to do something like this again, but expect to see the focus of the brand begin to tighten.  That's all that I think I should say about that without (hopefully) straying too far over the self promotion line.  I just don't want to sow any seeds of resentment should we decide after Whetstone to pursue a relationship with one artist but not another - it doesn't mean we don't appreciate your music, but could be a question of branding, style, and focus.

Comments are welcome (especially any that say you don't hate me) but I'll take whatever is appropriately my due. Smile  We cool?

Greg
Hey all... re: what Greg was talking about regarding vinyl and CD Pressing...
If you really want to get a bird's eye view of what actually goes on as far as mass producing a "Vinyl" Record (and CD's) here's an excellent link from Warren Huart of Produce Like A Pro where he takes us on a tour of one of the few remaining (and profitable by the way) vinyl production companies in LA.  As Greg says it's quite an enormous process. (a side note: Linda's brother worked for CBS Records many years back in New Jersey before they got swallowed up by Sony and relocated.)  Here's the link...quite something to watch and see how a "Record" is actually created.

https://youtu.be/j4nltdIWNK4
Reply
#6
Hello Greg,
This was explained very well! Please don't worry, from the comments of everyone involved in this project, we are all very grateful for everything you're are doing and everything you've done so far. I'm just beginning to see how much work is involved to do this project successfully. You are an artist in the studio taking what we've given you to make it the best it can be. I look forward to your future posts and updates. Thanks so much for starting us here at CSN on what could be a great adventure. God bless!

Hey Marty,
I will check out the link. That sounds pretty cool.

Jordan
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