Hi! Pleased to meet you. In case we haven’t met before, my name is Daniel and I am the singer, guitarist and songwriter who goes out under the name, Laish (lie-shh). I’ve been kicking around in Brighton and now London for a wee while, bandying this rather awkward band name about on posters in large, bold fonts. I’ve released a couple of albums, a few music videos, and played a hundred odd gigs, both solo and with a tremendous band. And all of the music I have created, I have just set as a free download on Bandcamp.
Well, here’s the thing. The most recent album, Obituaries, was released in March. There was a huge spike of interest during the release campaign as I did all the things a switched-on, modern musician does for his/her baby. I spent a load of money getting it professionally mixed and mastered. I involved a small record label to help distribute the album into record shops and online retailers. I invested some serious cash into a press and a radio campaign. I organised release parties in London and Brighton. I organised a UK tour. I arranged for a couple of wonderful music videos to be created. I Tweeted and Facebooked to my heart’s content….
I coordinated this whole military operation because it was my job to do so and because it feels great to do all these things. It is hard labour, but it is a labour of love. It is very satisfying watching all this work lead to something. People were finally listening to my music and enjoying it and the reviewers were writing very positive reviews. And some people were buying the CD and paying for the download. Hurrah!
But a release has a life span. The sales have stopped. Flatlined. I am still yet to recoup the costs I spent on producing and marketing the album. And now the album is old (where’s the NEW one?!). And now as people discover the songs from that album they can stream it all for free on Bandcamp. You can stream it all for free on Spotify. You can watch all the videos on Youtube for free. It’s all for free! Everything is free!
So I set them as free download on Bandcamp four days ago and did a few tweets about it. Here’s a stat. A third of every copy of the Obituaries album that has ever been downloaded from my Bandcamp page happened in the last four days.
If people don’t want to pay for it, why fight it? Will those people invest later on in the Laish fund? Maybe. It’s a risk. Perhaps they will fall in love with the Obituaries album and come and see my next show. Or perhaps they will be ready to spend £8-10 on the next NEW album.
I decided that I would rather someone download my music from my own outstretched arm than do it sneakily from a torrent. I would rather they did it as a high quality download and gave me their email address so I can tell them about the next gig and new release than listening to it on Spotify, as an anonymous and passive listener.
The reverse option would be to remove my albums from as many free services as possible. Take down all the Youtube videos. Remove it from Spotify. Set the Bandcamp album so that only a couple of tracks are streamable and you must buy it to hear the rest. Well I could do that. But doing so would be to fly in the face of the internet. I would only further encourage the torrenters and I would simply reduce any online presence the name Laish would have. We would be invisible.
We live in the internet age. As musicians or content creators we are all simply contributing to a congested and noisy cloud. Increasingly people don’t want the physical product of the cd. They just want the music, silly. So we’re asking people to pay for something essentially invisible that they can legally get for free. No wonder there are a few teething problems with this arrangement.
So instead I scream loudly from my desk: “Take it, take it all!”
It would be my honour and pleasure to freely contribute to your iTunes library. Add Laish to a playlist. Find a suitable time to listen to it. It’s definitely not party music, perhaps it’s too intense to listen to when you’re making love. Maybe it’s driving music. You could definitely clean a mean kitchen to it. Why not send one of our videos to that guy on Tinder you want to impress. Or do a Tweet about the varying lengths of my hair on Google images. Come see me at a show and tell me what you think. Buy the cd as a Christmas present for that uncle who still has a cd player.
Lend us a tenner.
Just don’t ever ask me to play a gig for free. Unless you like emails that contain only one line and are 60% swear word.
Daniel Green, Laish
You can download all of Laish’s back catalogue from their bandcamp page laish.bandcamp.com on a pay-what-you-like basis.