Indie Music Observation

At the beginning of the week, I had the good fortune to get my Wilton Said… music, visuals, and brand critiqued by an owner of a promotion company. My music and live show sales are pretty hit and miss so I was interested in finding a way to increase my fan base and therefore increase these sales. This company was a possibility and had gotten many good reviews and comments from their clients. I even contacted these bands myself and they all raved about the great job that was done in getting their music reviewed and out there in the music press. So I emailed this promotions company an introduction along with some links to my website and music.

A few days later I got a nice critique which basically mentioned that while my music and vocals were good and interesting, my visual presentation (Website, CD Covers, Video) was poor. He also mentioned that production on the songs was dated. To him, Wilton Said… seemed more like a hobbiest project rather then a professional one. (He's not totally wrong) He did mention that it was only HIS (one persons) opinion but nonetheless he would not work with me.

I was gutted, and mildly depressed (only for a day) but thought over his comments. But then I realized the first thing I needed to do was to look at and listen to some of the bands which he had worked with. So I did….

The first thing that struck me was that half the bands didn't even have their own website. Links were either right to their generic Band Camp, Reverb Nation or a Facebook page. Is this considered good online visual presentation?

Looking at the CD Artwork for some bands reminded me of Clip Art. Others seemed just a little cheesy.

As for the music, soooo much of it was sooo heavily compressed. I had heard of Brick Wall compression in Mastering where the signal is boosted so loud that any dynamics are eliminated, but I hadn't heard it to the extent that I heard it with many of these Indie bands. The production of these bands made Rush's Vapor Trails and Clockwork Angels sound dynamic. The actual mix itself wasn't great, just loud. In some cases the drums were so compressed and quantized that the music was lifeless. The vocals were also perfect. I don't mean sung perfectly, I mean pitch-corrected perfect. Again, lifeless and lacking any realism. So I suppose that if my production volume is quieter, more dynamic, more lively, then I guess my production is dated compared to much of the indie bands today.

I guess my main point is that like any business, to really succeed you need to play the game to a certain degree. And I guess I'm not prepared to play the game to the extent that some of these Indie bands have. I will not have my music coming across lifeless, quantized, pitch corrected, and brick walled all for the sake of a small chance of getting ahead. I will however look into redoing my website.

All in all, the critique was a positive experience as it did open my eyes to what the industry professionals (at least one of them) are expecting. Whether I can or should deliver to those expectations is another matter.


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