Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms

July 31st, 2005

That is the title of the soundtrack for the September issue of Popular Science magazine, which I have just now finished. Still too close to it to know how much it does or does not kick ass, but it’s safe to say I’m pretty proud of what I was able to do in such a short time. And there are some pretty good ones in there – it’s funny, the ones I hated the most while I was writing actually turned out to be my favorites. Stockholm syndrome. Or else they’re just better because they were difficult (and vice versa). Should be posted on the PopSci site sometime soon, I will let you know.

I had a moment this afternoon when I was just finishing up the mix for DNA in which I decided maybe I should just look up the names of the base pairs to make sure I was remembering them right from high school biology. What do you know, I wasn’t. I was saying “cystine” when I really meant “cytosine.” Idiot! Cystine isn’t a nitrogenous base, it’s an amino acid! Jesus! Thank goodness I caught it in time. I’m still smarting from the mathematician who told me he would have said “If the sequence of Z’s…” instead of “If the series of Z’s…” in “Mandelbrot Set.”

Anyway, done. NEXT PROJECT!

Whew

July 30th, 2005

Take that, muse! Finished “Womb with a View” on Thursday night in an incredible speed round, and just got done with “Better.” Everything’s recorded, now it’s just a question of mixing. Horrible, all-consuming, interminable mixing. Luckily I have a deadline, otherwise these songs wouldn’t see the light of day until several weeks of small adjustments that nobody cares about but me.

I have a secret for you – I cannot play the guitar. Really, I suck. I bit off a little more than I could chew in one of the solos, and it took me a long, long time to painstakingly comp it together from a thousand three-note sections. Somehow I missed the teenage boy phase where you sit in your room obsessively running scales and patterns. I think I may have wasted that time playing strummy folk songs for chicks, or maybe drinking beer at the sand pits. Either way, I’ve got to take some lessons because this is embarassing.

Now I am off to eat some eggs, and then to go see the Brooklyn Cyclones play “baseball.”

Babies Loving Babies

July 28th, 2005

Ask for a song about artificial wombs, and I’ll give you a song about two fetuses falling in love. Song #5 for the Popular Science soundtrack is, yes, you guessed it, a breakup song. I don’t know what’s wrong with me either.

So that’s it. I’ve got a few blank spots that need lyrics, but aside from that I’m ready to record these mo-fo’s this weekend. I can’t believe I wrote them so fast. We’ll see if they suck, I usually need a bit of distance before I can figure that out, and I have no time for distance. I barely have time for my cat.

Freeloaders vs. Payloaders

July 26th, 2005

So as threatened, I have run the numbers. How cheap ARE you people? I added up all donations, digital sales and CD sales for each month, and divided that by the total downloads per month to come up with $/download (T-shirt sales are so far not a factor). This is not totally accurate, I’m just using the total bandwidth per month as my number, which is obviously not all song downloads. But since the average page view is orders of magnitude smaller than a single song download, I’m going to guess that more accurate numbers wouldn’t make much of a difference. Are you ready? Everyone should take a guess before reading on – how much per song do you think I get?

These numbers are in cents. The first one is gross, the second one is net (after iTunes, PayPal and Amazon get their cut).

Jan: 3.3/1.9
Feb: 1.4/0.8
Mar: 4.3/2.5
Apr: 3.0/1.8
May: 5.4/3.8
Jun: 3.2/1.5

Average: 3.4/2.1

So what do you think – more or less than you expected? I’m actually surprised how big those numbers are, I didn’t think I was going to be able to express these in cents. At current traffic levels, this doesn’t make me wealthy, or even offset all my expenses. And it’s a far cry from the $.99 everyone so happily spends at iTunes and elsewhere. But it’s more than I thought it was going to be considering how much I give away.

And now we will speak of money no more…

Well Now I Feel Bad

July 25th, 2005

I seem to have touched a nerve – all you lurkers got busy with the comment button. Thank you all for your thoughtful suggestions and purchases and oaths of fealty. Obviously guilt works. Just a few hours after my last post, I got some donations from a few people. It was not my intent to generate cash through sympathy (although I am certainly not going to return those donations). I was just venting. In public. On the internet. So distasteful. Sorry about that. But it’s funny how it works, some months really hum along, and then sometimes it just seems to dry up for no reason. I never really push myself out there, I mostly just wait hopefully for a HamsterDance-like wave of instant fame, so it’s no surprise that there’s a little ebb and flow.

As my last post makes clear, this music-on-the-internet thing still confuses me. I am certain that you can’t stop people from sharing mp3s. I’m pretty sure that DRM is a waste of time. There’s no question that the way we all buy and think about music has changed and is still changing. And I do have faith that musicians will continue to be able to make money by making music. But I don’t know how exactly. Thinking about this the past few days has made it clearer to me just what I think I’m doing when I give all this stuff away. In a way I’m testing the theory that it’s OK to have lots of freeloaders as long as some people donate or purchase enough to make up for them.

So the question is, how’s it going? Who knows! I’ve never run the numbers. I can tell you that I can’t currently make a living doing this alone. But it should be easy to figure out the possibilities – add up all the money that comes in, divide that by the number of downloads, and that will give me the effective $$ per download ratio. This is going to be a small number, but that’s fine if it stays consistent when the volume gets bigger – one million half-pennies is a pretty big number, maybe almost a hundred dollars.

I’m going to crank up the old Excel spreadsheet-o-matic and see what comes out. If it’s not too embarassing I will post the ratio here, and then we can all figure out how to increase my traffic by 10,000%. In the meantime, please enjoy this real-life smoking monkey brought to my attention by commenter Ryan.