Monday, March 16, 2020

CD Lazy

I went to update my website the other night so I could plug my latest single, Contagious (have a listen at BandCamp: https://greggkoval.bandcamp.com/releases).  I noticed that the CD Baby Player wasn't displaying.  I thought it was the browser that wasn't loading the plugin but the "more info" link brought me to a page on CD Baby's webpage (https://support.cdbaby.com/hc/en-us/articles/360039108471) What Happened To My Music Player.  They should have had something that said "Surprise" in brackets.

The CD Baby music player is no longer supported. I know this is a bummer but here are some things to keep in mind.

If you are looking for ways to promote your music, use HearNow for more robust analytics and features. HearNow connects to your releases inside your CD Baby account, provides direct links to other platforms and fans can listen to your music from there as well.


Bummer, how professional.  It made it worse that there was absolutely no heads-up this was happening.  Then I'm wondering what else has changed unexpectedly.  Somehow, I found the page https://support.cdbaby.com/hc/en-us/articles/360039018232-What-you-should-know-about-the-retirement-of-CD-Baby-s-retail-store- .  I'll tell you what I should have known: that this was happening.  There is no mention, at all, on their homepage that they'll be stopping the online store at the end of the month.  There is a link to go to the Store though.  Call me old fashioned, but this is something fairly important to draw users' attention to.  When I went to find the article the next day for this Blog entry, I ended up having to Google "CD Baby online store" to find the page.  Terrible.



The reason I'm a little ticked about this is that I first started using CD Baby back in 2003, when Derek Sivers was still running things and I've been using them regularly (1 release a year) ever since.  They were the only game in town at that point and I was happy to give them my money.  Over the years, some things have gotten better and some things not but this is pretty awful.  I should have known things were taking a turn for the worst when I couldn't get download cards made for Bright Ideas Vol 6 last September.

CD Baby's mission is to help artists monetize and promote their music in the best ways possible. In order to provide the tools and services you need to succeed in an evolving music ecosystem, we’ve made the decision to retire the CD Baby retail store on March 31st, 2020.

We’re going to focus on what is making a difference for musicians today: our distribution, monetization, and promotion services. There are some exciting developments in process, and we’re delighted to be able to launch new tools and expand existing services, more quickly in the coming years.


I think what's lost on them is that the best tool they had "to help artists monetize and promote their music" was with the online store.  All my links to songs pointed here and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  I think what else is lost on them is the help artists monetize part.  They should have been focusing on sales, not streams.  An artist always gets more money from a sale than a stream.  And CD Baby would take a percentage of your sale so why would they not promote sales?  And for promotion services, I already mentioned they dropped the ball on Download Cards.

CD Baby's idea to replace the store is to use HearNow instead.

What is HearNow?

HearNow is a one-page promotion tool exclusively for CD Baby artists because it’s built with the information and audio you have already provided.  Creating your promo page is inexpensive and simple and you have the option to add digital and physical links.


In other words, it's the same shit they used to do only they're off-loading it to someone else (probably a family member).  It's pretty shady.  They just admitted the artist does all work, now it costs more.  And their promo is $12 for the first year per page, and then up to $24 a year after that.  Currently, I have 13 items up for sale (CDs, EPs, and singles).  Does HearNow expect me to pay $156 for the first year and $312 after that?  They'd be out of their goddamn minds if they did.  That may be good for CD Baby to get a cut of that but it's not good for anyone else.  And that was the tipping point where I said to myself, "You guys suck, I'm going to go somewhere else."

Thankfully, they're still doing physical distribution (LPs, CDs).  That was sarcasm since this should have been the area to be cut first, and I have CDs still in their warehouse.  So, I guess it's better to hang on to something that's not cost effective (warehousing/shipping) rather than keep up something that costs pennies to maintain like an online store.  The Where should I send fans to buy my CDs and Vinyl? could have just been answered with "anywhere else but here."  The focus is now on streams and they still want to warehouse LPs.  Clever.

Tried to login to the website that I've been on for almost 20 years to check off that No, this article didn't help.


The last FAQ question was Why did CD Baby retire its retail store?

20 years ago, when CD Baby launched the online store, it was revolutionary to help independent musicians gain direct access to their fans and the market. By 2009, sales through our store accounted for only 27% of the total revenue we paid to artists every week. By 2019, sales on our store comprised less than 3% of our clients’ total earnings. With a few exceptions, the store is no longer a money-maker for most of our artists.

So, we’re going to focus on what is making a difference for musicians today: our distribution, monetization, and promotion services. We WILL continue our physical distribution program because the majority of orders we ship are coming through Amazon and other retailers. If you’ve stocked us with CDs and vinyl, we’ll still warehouse your product and fulfill those orders for you. We’re just retiring OUR store.


They posted this in mid February - not even a two month notice.  In short, they should have just said, "Uh, we, like, ummm don't care anymore or something?  This wasn't our company anyways.  Even though everything's pretty much automated and cost next to nothing to keep running, and we're, like, still going to tell people to stream instead of sell, so like, every one can make less money.  LOL."

I have no idea what's going on with the YouTube videos anymore.  They used to make them for you and I thought that was a pretty cool thing to do since it saved me some time (even though I couldn't edit my own YouTube CD Band Page).  I guess it's time to get reacquainted with Windows MovieMaker.

Thankfully, there's other options out there now.  I wanted to put out my final physical CD out this year but it's looking like I did that 4 years ago with Dutch Oven.  After this last CD Baby fiasco, I finally set up a Bandcamp account and I remembered I had setup a SoundCloud account too.  I'm tempted to go back to ReverbNation but I don't really feel like getting Update emails twice a day.  And maybe I'll go back to some old favourites like SoundClick and RadioIndy.  I'll look at the Digital Distribution options from other sites because honestly, I probably won't be returning to CD Baby.  If they can't advertise on their website that a major, useful portion of it will be unavailable, why would I stick with these guys?  The company looks like it's now run by a bunch 20-somethings.  If Derek Sivers was dead, he'd be rolling over in his grave.

At the time of this entry, CD Baby still hasn't completely processed my order that I set up about a week and a half ago, even though it's already on their website (https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/greggkoval18) and I already got a sale from there.  My "new release" was buried 5 pages in and that's if I filtered for bands Ontario, Canada.  Frustrating.

Now that I can't recommend CD Baby to anyone anymore, have a listen to the new, catchy single, Contagious... at BandCamp: https://greggkoval.bandcamp.com/releases

Friday, February 7, 2020

Bad Advertising for Love


Stuck for a Valentine's Day gift?  Try writing an erotic poem.  Windsor, Ont. writer Vanessa Shields offers tips to sensual writing.
(https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-author-erotic-writing-1.5455558?cmp=rss)


Oh, boy.  Where to begin?

At first I thought it was a parody piece, after reading lines like "Stuck for a Valentine's Day...", "Vanessa Shields offers tips.." just the tip and "take a crack at some erotic writing".  But it's the CBC so that's enough to leave anyone dry and my out-of-context quotes are the most stimulating thing about that article.

If you're not familiar with the songs I come up with, they used to be innudeno-ish/funny type lyrics with titles like Landing Strip, Esther's In Town, Drive You Home, etc.  Double Entendre Potty Humour was my specialty.  Obviously, as I've gotten older and more mature, I now come up with songs like Suspicious Package, Beach Whistle and Taking It On The Chin.

"We're going to be thinking about trying to write about pleasure and sensuality," said Shields. "I'm going to be giving people things to write about based on the five senses — so sensuality and senses really will guide the workshop."

Not that I like to stereotype people's appearances (even though it's a great time saver), looking at the photo of Ms Shields, I know exactly what type of crowd she'll attract: over-60ers who might think this is still something wild and taboo and/or blush at episodes of Three's Company.  From the other side of the spectrum, expect awkward, progressives in their 20s that still ask for consent from their socks.  It'll be the most G-rated erotica ever put to paper.  Which isn't very erotic.

"It can be explicit but for the purpose of our workshop we're not going to be really reaching into those realms," she said. "We're going to be writing using central words and thinking about sensuality more than sex."

Again, I was almost fooled with the "really reaching into those realms".  And then came the worst advertisement for an event I've ever read: she posted a poem of hers. 

Intrigue

It wasn't the way the black dress fit her full body like a love song
It wasn't the way the red lipstick clung to her plump mouth like a poem
It wasn't the way the silver stilettos embraced her slender feet like a promise
No
It was the unfinished story in her eyes
The yearning blue dappled with specks of yellow hope
It was the soft sounds of my name creating themselves in her heart
I went to her


To counter that, here's the first two verses of an old ditty that I had on one of my older CDs:

The Case of the Missing Finger

Whoa no, where did it go?  It was here just a moment ago
It was right here beside me; now it's gone into hiding
By the way have you seen it?  I just can't figure
Maybe you can help me solve the case of the missing finger.

Ah hah, I just found it, I knew that you were around it
How the heck did it get up there?  I think this thing needs some air
I know that you like the feel of it and that smell may linger
I'm glad that you could help me solve the case of the missing finger.

(c)2003 Greggkoval.com

Anyways, if you live near Windsor and you pee when you laugh, this might be something that's right up your alley - no pun intended.  The erotic writing workshop will be held Saturday at Gertrude's Writing Room, located in the Coach House at Willistead Park.  Good luck and Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Needless Things

I'm not a huge Stephen King fan, and I do find it annoying when he has a Trump tantrum only because adults aren't really supposed to cry like little girls, at anytime but still, he was the swamp creature in Creepshow.  I'm kidding, he was but what I meant to say is he is a pretty huge talent.

So I had a good laugh when he Tweeted "...I would never consider diversity in matters of art.  Only quality.  It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong."  He's absolutely correct but why I laughed is I love to see when I see a group eat its own, in this case, the far-lefties/SJWs/NPCs.  The sheep that commented on his tweet were priceless, probably because the flock probably didn't understand what he was trying to say.  All they saw was something negative because someone used the word diversity without their permission.

It's pretty simple: good is good and it doesn't matter where or who it comes from.  At least that's what I got out of it.  Maybe that's me being normal.  But the thread devolved into a bunch of whining from anything-boys-can-do-girls-can-do-better to White Privilege.  If you actually believe there's such a thing as White Privilege, you'll probably believe anything.

Here's an example of Quality vs Not Very Good.  Pretty simple.



The most recent comment in the thread was pretty ridiculous.  It's an SJW sheep named @NotNikyatu, a self-described Filmmaker+Asst. Professor / #SuicideBySunlight=Black Vampires protected by Melanin day-walk among us. She/Her. 

Pronouns in the profile.  That's a good sign not to take that person seriously.  Anyways, she's another one who's ego is bigger than her talent:

"To imply quality and diversity are mutually exclusive tells us quite loudly how threatened you are by the potential of a level artistic playing field in which said ‘diverse’ stories are exponentially more compelling, vast, resonant, poignant than your own...Difficult as creative industries are to penetrate, you KNOW us women and poc who make it past myriad obstacles stacked against us ARE QUALITY. We‘ve had to excel & eclipse our white male peers all our lives just to sit at their mediocre tables.

Stop with your willful ignorance."


The funny thing is I thought it was going to be a comment on what makes quality art, but she went somewhere else saying that the artists are quality people.  Maybe they are but that's not the point.  A lot of shitty people can make great art, and shitty art isn't made better because you're a nice person.  But sometimes you can be shit at both, like Rosie O'Donnell. 

And when someone goes straight to the race card, they know they don't have a legit argument.  Diverse stories are compelling, and they're already grouped into what's know as "genres", which all SJWs should love since they're always putting things (like people) into groups.  And then she rambles on about how unfair things are to a negative person, so somebody is sour grapes.  I'll be honest, I have no interest in seeing her vampire movie that doesn't seem to have a plot.  It just seems to be they're just black vampires.  Even Blacula had a plot.  I hardly think Mr King would be threatened by her work.

How's this: I've put out 15 CDs over the years and I'm barely known.  I'm not bitter.  Maybe my stuff isn't for the mainstream.  OK, I know it isn't but that's not my thing.  And guess what?  I have had the same amount of barriers as anyone else.  What I don't do is sing the blues about it.  So @NotNikyatu should give her mouth a rest and try being creative.  And you know someone with this kind of attitude doesn't get far because of their attitude.  It's off-putting.  Now, if I saw her name on anything, I wouldn't be inclined to go see it no matter how it good it was because she's a racist weirdo.

Then there was some Nancy Boy that did a bit of virtue signaling.  I want to tell all Male Feminists right now that virtue signaling won't get you laid.  Then one guy tried to shame Mr King about his "privilege" until someone corrected him.  Maybe it's easy to forget how many thousands of hours Mr King put into writing books when the person making the comment was born 20 years after Stephen's first book.

Speaking of bitching, @chrisiousity seems like she's had practice:

"I would have thought you were smarter than this, honestly.  The first problem here is that most of the people deciding what counts as "quality" art are and have been white dudes. The subjective nature of art means that what resonates with them and their experience tends to be stuff produced by or with an eye to pandering to people just like them.
To say that this has had a deleterious effect on quality would be an understatement. It has caused a narrowing and hardening of what is possible in art, assumptions about what is and isn't "viable", and 2/"


This is coming from someone who describes themselves as Agnostic but Spiritual, Youtube Feminista, slightly used bisexual seeking justice.  So that made her nonsensical two-tweet rant even more baseless.  Good thing there wasn't a third Tweet like she led on.  It's funny to see someone with no credibility try and shame Stephen King.

Another one was "Damn, Stephen. Damn. I thought you were better than this. It should be obvious that diversity and quality *aren't separate qualities,* or in opposition to each other -- except in the minds of bigots."  That came from N. K. Jemisin who is a self-described "Hugo & Nebula-winning bestselling SFF writer & reviewer. I use robust autoblockers due to harassment. They catch some friendlies. Unavoidable; sorry. She/her". 

People only use blockers if they're in the habit of saying something stupid online.  But Diversity and Quality are two different things.  That's just how words work.  They're both not qualities though; that didn't make any sense.  Quality is about how good something is and Diversity is about variety.  I'm a dumb guitar player and I know the difference.  Actually, there were quite a few sheep that bleated out how could Mr King think that diversity and quality are two different things.  Well, they are.  The two can intersect from time to time but they are two separate words with two different meanings.

A doozy from @Gabino_Iglesias was: "Every writer of color reading this, including me, has had to work ten times harder to get the same recognition/opportunities straight white male authors get from the start. Same goes for women, LGBTQIA writers, & other underrepresented voices. Diversity matters. It matters a lot."

Enjoy Gabino's tweet where says "Sometimes the best way to sell a book is to let the words in it do the talking"



I think sometimes the best way to sell a book would for it to have a cool cover, because after I read that paragraph of word salad, I decided right there and then that I'd never buy his book.  Yes, someone will have to work harder when you're aiming at a niche market.  These aren't the people that say, "I want to reach the largest amount of people as I can" so they don't, and then they're broke and think everyone's against them.  And another reason Gabino fails is that he uses art to get recognition.  That's not how art works.  Using art for recognition is as weak as someone saying they learned to play the guitar to meet girls.  You might meet girls but you'll never be a great guitar player.

I loved the guy who asked Gabino, "Can I ask why you work 10 times harder?" and then didn't get a reply.  It seems Work is just as subjective as Art to SJWs.

OK, second-last example.  This one's from @acraftyarab

"But you say this from #WhitePrivilage

I wrote a quality children's book on #IlhanOmar last summer & the struggle to get it published was painful & ultimately it didn't happen

You have zero idea how to live in my world, where I can't even find one book like this for my child."


The obvious: who the hell would buy a children's book about Ilhan Omar?  This does not seem remotely interesting, and couldn't possibly contain anything that resembles quality.  Kids, along with most people, hate politics.  She struggled to make a book that no one wanted and wondered why it couldn't get published.

The best tweet that I saw that dismantled everyone else's arguments/comments was: "I could wallpaper my home with rejection letters. Probably Stephen King's too. And I'm a white male. Finally got published, not as great as you might think, very difficult road, 1% of authors sell 90% of the books."

That's because any job in the Arts doesn't pay unless (ready for this?) you're lucky.  The term Starving Artist didn't just appear out of nowhere one day.  It's been like that forever.  There aren't a lot of day jobs where oil painting is an asset.  You'd be a fool to think having a career solely in the Arts is a good idea.  Not everyone that lacks talent can get free ride to celebrity status like Taylor Swift.

These Stephen King comments relate to something I was going to Blog about the other day about how a Native lady got picked to write a Star Wars book only because she's Native.  Or Indigenous.  Or whatever they're called this year.  She was quite happy about that fact that it was only because of her heritage that she got the offer.  Even better, she admitted to not being a Star Wars fan.  So how would I get a quality product with of credentials like that?  Simple, you wouldn't.  Actually, you couldn't.

And I couldn't believe how many comments mistakenly try to tie movie-making with the Arts.  You can tell people with those kinds of comments did nothing with their life except binge-watch Netflix.  Movies are on the lower end of the art scale, just like photography.  It's not painting or music when you can create something aesthetically pleasing out of using a few mediums and your hands.

So, I started off with the intention of pointing out how quick the far-left eats itself, but I ended up reading a bunch of comments from a bunch of no-talents that are obviously jealous of Mr King's talent, hard work and success.  And a word of advice to the naysayers in the comments: if you want to get by through life, try being polite.  The only barriers you face are the ones you put up yourself with your terrible attitude.