Thursday, May 31, 2012

To CD... or not to CD. That is the question.

If "Ashes and Dreams" were a CD,
perhaps this would beThe Cover Art

While waiting for Lexie to come back to the active duty roster, I thought I would share conversation topic we've been kicking around the basement for a while.

Should we make a actual CD of our upcoming project “Ashes and Dreams”?

On May 1st of 2011, we released our debut CD, “Wartzinall”. It was available as both a down loadable collection of MP3s, and a physical CD. The cost of the CD was covered by some of our supporters or frankly we could not attempt this. But we have learned a lot from the experience. We sell a whole lot more downloads then CDs.

The CDs where manufactured as a short run of 100 units, and we still have over half of them in the box. While this sounds a bit grim, considering the profit margin on CDs, had we paid out of pocket to make them, we would have broken even. At this point when we give a copy away to a radio station the benefit outweighs the cost... even when they don't play it.

But do people really play CDs anymore? I'm sure we've all got some CDs we love, but haven't you “Ripped” them and put them on your personal MP3 player by now?

CD baby, a website that charges people a fee to sell their CDs for them, insist physical CDs are a necessity for artist credibility. But one could argue they are a bit bias.

We do have a comment section on this Blog. If you have an opinion please feel free to post it. I feel I should mention the comment section is moderated. Not because we are editing out content, but because some people on an un-moderated forum post some horrible things.

We don't have a metaphorical “Dog in this fight”, so feel free to post “Pro”, “Con”, or “On the fence” posts without editorial reprisal.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kinagree Smith Comic art

I couldn't sleep last night. I tried my best. Since I was up anyway I thought I would experiment with some comic style art. Yes, it's doesn't make sense, it may not be funny. But as far as how it looks. I'm good with it.
click to make it bigger

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

1 day of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

The 12th of 12.
The last day.
This is the face of
a man that wants
 to go home,
 and has no
home to go to.

Some would think
he's stressed,
or sad.
But he is

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

This is he story of
my life in a graphic.
Things look grim
but the umbrella is

Everything is going
to be okay. But why
am I still falling?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

4 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

perturbed, upset,
cross, fuming, furious,
indignant, disgusted,
off the chain,
 around the bend,
over the hill and
ass deep in stupid.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

5 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

The Stoic man. There seems to be no emotion here, but if you look into the eyes you can see the loss.

Friday, May 18, 2012

6 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

The material,
Spiritual and
Sexual, all blend in this image.

There seems to be a debate on what the central figure is doing. Is she pleasuring herself or is she signaling the pitcher to throw a curve ball.

I guess as with all great art (snicker) the interpretation is up to the viewer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

7 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

A man crying in public. Says a lot about his state of mind.

The world fades and all that is present it grief.  Nothing but burning tears and a sense of hopelessness.

The thin veneer of masculinity stripped away, leaving only raw emotions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

8 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

This image represents to me, Noise.

We are  living in a noisy world full of flashy images, meaning sound bites, and static.

Thoughts have been
replaced by talking
Stories have a
 and end,
but no storytelling in them.
 Music is
constantly heard,
 but never
listened to.

We exist in a world of personal desolation., and sacrifice self on the alter of banality.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

9 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

The curios thing about this cover is people's reaction to the emotional state of the girl in the image. I've been told she is everything from melancholic to wistful to suicidal to blissful.

I didn't see any of these things when I created the image. What I saw was a dreamer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

10 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

Fire, fire, fire, things are getting out of hand. This image is all about chaos and taking futile action.

We scream, thrash about, flailing desperately to gain control. For a moment we consider the thought all security is an illusion and we are all just one heartbeat away from disaster. Then we shrug and start propping up our security fantasies with more futile actions.

I'm not endorsing fatalism, but sometimes things do go horribly wrong.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

11 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

The death of someone close to us brings us to realize our own mortality. We howl, we scream we lose our minds. We are helpless. People tell you, "Life goes on" and at the moment of loss, you can't even imagine it. I've seen people not recover from the death of a loved one. They are never the same.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

12 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

My Grandfather use to say, if a man was down on his luck (hit rock bottom) he was nothing but, "Ashes and Dreams". Meaning whatever he may lack because of his situation he made up for in his optimistic outlook  or Dreams.

The guy on this cover looks as if he's had a bit of a rough go of things. But he sees something. He stares off to the horizon. Perhaps it's his vision.  Perhaps it's his destiny. Perhaps his redemption is at hand. Or maybe... there is a train coming right at him.

Friday, May 11, 2012

13 days of "Ashes and Dreams" Art work

Day 1, The Back Cover
There are 12 songs in the four suits. But there is an Epilog song and this is reflected in the artwork for the back cover of "Ashes and Dreams". While the art work is set, the details might change. Yes, the art work is done, but the actual recording hasn't even started. Yes we do everything differently.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breaking News, “Ashes and Dreams” breaks out of Pre-Production Limbo

It's been over a year since the release of Kinagree Smiths Debut recording “Wartzinall”. Almost immediately after the launch of the first recording a second recording was proposed. The Project was titled “Ashes and Dreams” and it posed a bit of a challenge.

The concept was to perform three suits of songs based on the themes of loss and redemption. All three suits would be performed live and recorded. In other words, we were creating an artistic work that we could perform live, no studio trickery.

This proved to be a greater challenge then ever anticipated. Each song not only had to fit the theme, but work in conjunction with the song before it.

We've had the first two suits figured out for a while and have even performed them live in concert several times. But the third suit was the rub. It had to be the climax of the work, and had to straddle the line between optimistic and sappy. It had to be different, but still fit in to the work as a whole.

After months of trying to figure out what songs would make up the third suit, we finally broke the code last night. After month of getting it wrong, we finally got it right.

We are officially out of Pre-Production Limbo and into the rehearsal stage.

In relatively short order we should be in the studio. At this point, there is nothing to it, but to do it.

Of course I won't hazard a release date at this point. You never know what sniggles will pop up during the recording, and since we are doing this live, is we mess up at any point we have to start all over. And not just one song, but there are four songs in each suit.

This could prove challenging, and with a lesser group of musicians I might even call it impossible. But I know what Kinagree Smith can do when they get their mojo working.

This recording will be patterned on the “Hobson's Choice” Model. An amazing audiophile recording of a breathtaking performance.

In other “Ashes and Dreams” new, the cover package is done. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this on the blog before, but “Ashes and Dreams” doesn't have just one piece of cover art, but 12 different covers. One for each song on the recording. Three suits with four songs each means 12 covers.

But... there are more then 12 songs on “Ashes and Dreams” because we are providing a Epilog song bringing the total to 13 songs. Dose this 13th song have it's own cover art? Yes, the back cover is for the 13th song.

This is an exciting, challenging, and unique project. I'm confident when I encourage you to expect great things.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Older but wiser in the information age

Fook I-Tunes

I've come up with a hypothesis about the music business based on scientific observation. Any entity that places itself between the musician and listener is most likely going to exploit one or both parties.

Permit me to submit this story to support the opinion, I-tunes sucks ass.

A little over a year ago, we released “Wartzinall”, our debut CD. We sold copies of this collection of song via our web page, in-world via Second Life, and buy selling physical CDs during our live performances.

In each of the aforementioned methods, the link between the musician and the listener was direct. We own our web page, we own our sales portals in Second Life and we had paid for the CDs we sold. In each case the customer got what they paid for, and we, the artist got compensated for our labors.

Then a couple of “Experts” told us, if we really wanted to move product we had to be on I-tunes. I'm sure these experts meant well, but they could not be more wrong. While each sale using our standard method of distribution did incur an overhead cost, the profit was always greater then cost.

The cost of running our website is about 10$ per-month. We sell more then 10$ worth of MP3s per-month so that is profit.

The cost of selling in-world on Second life is 10L$ to upload the vendor graphic (that comes to about 0.04 $ American), and after Linden Labs usurious exchange rate, we still make profit from sales in-world.

The most questionable arm of our marketing octopus has to be CD sales. But while the most expensive method to undertake, still draws an amazing profit margin. Even when we drop the price, like we did at our first and so far only headlining show, we still had a 100% profit margin.

But when we set up our “Digital Distribution package” with Reverb Nation. The upfront cost was 35$. per-year. We figured we would try it for a year and if it didn't work out we would just let the service expire after that.

But it wasn't that simple and that is why I'm upset.

We made 26.30 in sale over the year, that makes for a 8.70 loss. While that might not seem like a lot, we don't like to lose money while a third party vendor is making money. Keep in mind, every 1.00 $ of product we sell, I-tunes keeps 0.30$ Even if you are not good at math, that is a 30% cut.

We very much wanted the “Digital Distribution Package” service to just expire. But it doesn't work that way and the way it does work is insanely messed up.

We are offered two options. To either pay 35$ to extend the service, or pay the 15$ Take down fee.

If you have trouble understanding that, they want us to pay them to sell our music for us, or pay them NOT to sell our music.

As messed up as that is, it gets even more messed up. If we don't pay the 15$ take down fee, we will have “Abandoned” our release and the third party vendors (while I-tunes is only one of four vendors, it's the only one we sold anything on) would continue to sell our music, and not pay us for it.

While we did try to pay our way out, it seems Reverb Nation will only allow you to pay this “Take down fee” via automated payment. My PayPal account has a spending limit of 0.00 $ so they can't take the money out of that. We tried to get them to take the money out of our “Reverb Nation Bank” but they seem to have trouble doing that.

In effect they are stealing “Wartzinall” from us. In effect the service they sell is valueless.

I'm not saying that Reverb Nation is EVIL. When reading the details of the distribution package I did see they charged a “Take down fee”. But I imagined this was for premature cancellation of the digital distribution package and NOT for after it's expiration. Had I known this they were going to charge me to continue the service or cancel the service after the term of one year, I would have never dipped my toe into the cold murky waters of third party vendors.

The music business changes and stays the same. Yes, now there are more opportunities to get herd, and anybody can... and does make records now. That is the part that has changed. But the guys in the suits are still selling us a bill of goods that profits them primarily. You do the work, I-tune risks nothing and profits off your work at a per sale rate of 30% while charging you to just post your work in their dodgy propriety system.

Modern musicians must adopt the mantra, “Do it yourself”.

Wow, I'm amazed at the lack of profanity in this post.

Keep expecting great things, and expect us to do it ourselves, with a little help from you.