It's just over three months since Not What We Call Love was released (feels like a lot longer!) so I thought it was high-time I reflected on it.
Releasing music into the world as an unknown, independent unsigned artist is a funny old thing. Before I say any more about the experience I should start by saying, the fact that I can distribute an album worldwide for $65 is almost unbelievable to me; my 17 year old self for sure would have thought it an impossible dream. If you are a young artist reading this, never take that for granted - it's an incredible thing to be so easily able to make your music available to be heard by anyone... anywhere!
That said, there are of course pros and cons to everything! However prepared you are for your lovingly crafted opus to be lost in the evermore rapidly swelling ocean of new music that the digital revolution has created... nothing can really fully prepare you for the levels of disinterest that you will face! Particularly (as I am sure I am not alone in experiencing) amongst your closest friends!
Fortunately I was at least somewhat prepared as I had gone into this project under no illusions! My philosophy on releasing this music was all about honouring the creative energy and process that had allowed me to make the album in the first place. I simply wanted to honour it by putting the music out with as much conviction as I could; to be courageous enough to say 'This is my music, and I think it is good enough to warrant your time.' In that respect I can say the album has been a great success.
What a generally low key release does mean though, is that when someone does listen and then even take time to be generous with their words - it is a joy of increased measure! It means exponentially more to me now! It has become something to greatly treasure, like anything rare, its value increases! I really feel the compliment of someone taking time to listen, let alone say anything nice. As one of my favourites, Brené Brown, is fond of saying 'Time is a non-renewable resource', I appreciate how valuable time is and the honour that is bestowed when people give it to listening to my songs.
As far as any other measures of 'success' goes... I don't even know what they are, for someone in my position. I mean I set a very vague goal of trying to 'get as many people as possible to hear the album' but I had no real frame of reference or yardstick! I worked out quickly that it is a pointless exercise to compare your own streaming figures to others! So all I have in the end is the phenomenon I speak of above... every single listen becoming a treasure! So from within that paradigm, to say that the number of streams that the songs from the album have collectively accumulated is close to 6000 on Spotify alone means a lot!
To be fair, that number is mostly made up from the singles - which collectively made it on to many Spotify playlists, including, admittedly, some bewilderingly random ones! This is to say that many many of those listen will have been entirely unconscious as people played the playlists while they did their chores, or as the playlist played in the hairdressers or whatever... but still .. I'll take those listens! In all likelihood the truer number of people that have gone out of their way to listen to the album or a single is in the hundreds - but every single one of those hundreds is a gift of someone's time and is a treasure to me.