Fresh, brand new, just for us

Okay, two weeks in a row of this stuff?

Another Bandcamp Roulette, and I’m so made this one today because I found this album from Brendan Byrnes – and it came out yesterday.

I’m as shocked as anyone that I go from geeking out on that sort of music to making another Goodnight, Metal Friend mix, with some of the darkest, grimmest, foreboding tunes on Bandcamp. But I tell you what – they put me right to sleep, and that’s the point.

And I don’t know… these two things aren’t for everyone, and that’s by design. Think ‘1,000 True Fans,’ or “minimum viable audience,” as Seth Godin says:

Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

In search of the minimum viable audience

Will either of these things get a million subscribers anytime soon? Probably not, and that’s okay, because I know if I had “just” 1,000 people who were really into either of them, it’d be cool.

And the best part is this; I’m doing it anyways. I’m making sleep mixes for me first, to fall asleep to. Sourcing the music, arranging the mix, making the mix, crafting the artwork – it’s all meditative to me which helps me (wait for it)… sleep.

And the Bandcamp Roulette? I legit do this several times a day when I work, now I just take some extra steps and make them into videos.

I dunno… I just geek out to this stuff, and I’m stoked I finally slowed down enough to realize it.

Making Some Content During the Pandemic

Haven’t really made much “content” since shutting down Skull Toaster back in 2018. Got nearly 40 episodes into making a thing called “Later” in 2019 (archive of the audio available on SoundCloud), but that fizzled.

Now, though, I feel some good momentum.

Got a jolt to get working on Metal Bandcamp Gift Club again late last year. Moved the whole thing to an email list, redid the website as a hand-coded HTML site. The subscriber count is going up! Yay!

Started watching DJ sets on YouTube, you know, to sort of stay sane and experience people doing things besides just my cat yelling at birds. That inspired me to try my hand at the process, which led to making my own metal-leaning sleep mix called Goodnight, Metal Friend.

And now “Bandcamp Roulette” (at the top of this post) is a thing now, maybe?! I just really enjoy digging for and finding music, and it’s not that hard to set up. Two video shots:

  1. The initial Selling Right Now scroll, and the actual clicking around to listen to the individual band pages are captured with ScreenFlow.
  2. iPhone Xr on a tripod, which I then sync with the video captured using ScreenFlow.

I don’t have to prepare or research anything, as I’m picking stuff on the fly. I guess I might recognize some of the releases from time to time, but I’ve been writing about music since 2001, so I’ll be able to draw from that experience, and I love the free wheeling, spontaneous nature of this format. I guess it could even be live-streamed, maybe too? HMMMM.

These three things – running Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, making sleepy time metal mixes, and Bandcamp roulette have just been something nice to rattle my brain, and keep things fresh, and keep the curiosity stoked.

Cosmic Lips by Momocurly

Found via Bandcamp’s scrolling “purchased music” feed on their front page – that album art caught my eye! The music is stunning – so clean and minimal, filled with good vibes and lush dreamscapes.

Goodnight, Metal Friend

I love falling asleep to music, and for the past year or so I’ve been using the Headspace app for that very purpose.

When listening to radio (like NTS), I never know what might come on at 3am. And with playlists, songs stop and start, so there’s never a consistent volume.

And while I love the Headspace offerings, they’re very robotic. As someone who works in music, I really like to know who’s making the music. I feel like music needs some humanity to it.

My initial thoguth was to create my own music. I have Abelton Live, a bass, and a MIDI keyboard – how hard can it be? Well, it’s hard. And I want some music to fall asleep to sooner rather than later.

That meant finding music made by humans, and arranged as a “mix.” I’ve been watching a bunch of DJ sets on YouTube recently, and I’m sort of intrigued.

So, I knew I was going to need some DJ software for this project. The first program I downloaded is the one I’ve been using; Serato DJ Lite. It’s free, and does the big important thing I need: fade into and out of separate tracks in real time.

So then I hit Bandcamp for some suitable tracks. I searched by tags and mostly dug through ambient drone, sorted by recent arrivals. I found about 6-10 tracks, paid for and downloaded each one, and threw them into Serato.

Learning how and when to fade out of tracks, and into others – IN REAL TIME – is exciting. Even though the music is quiet and peaceful, the process keeps me on my toes. By the time I settled on my playlist, and practiced a few times, I had a 25-ish minute “set” ready to go.

To record my mix, I used Rouge Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, capturing the audio from Serato, and recording it as an MP3 file in real time.

Again, you have to pay attention during this entire process, because if you mess up the transition between songs five and six, you gotta scrap it and do it again.

I uploaded to Mixcloud, because they’re artist friendly; “We also make sure that the artists, songwriters and rightsholders played in the shows receive their fair royalties.” I have a three month trial, and after that’s up it’s $15/mo, which seems fair.

I did my final mix after a day of work. Being that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic right now, this was the mental break I needed on a Monday night.

It’s not perfect, but it’s done. Hopefully I make nine more of these, and the tenth will be better than my first. Hope you like it.

Getting the Band Back Together

http://www.metalbandcampgift.club/

My day job has me working in WordPress and Square Space a lot. Hours every week. So when it comes to my personal projects, logging into these services is just… a bummer. And a bit of overkill.

WordPress just has so many options and features and choices. Square Space is the same. And really, I just need to update some text and links for my Metal Bandcamp Gift Club project.

Inspiration arose from randomly finding the Web Design Museum, and the late 90s / early 00s versions of the Yahoo homepage.

That’s where I got my start, back in 1995. Hitting View > Source, saving the contents to a text editor, and then messing around (and learning) HTML by saving and refreshing a local file over and over again.

The Metal Bandcamp Gift Club website was using WordPress.com, and I really didn’t need a full blown new post every time someone had a birthday, especially when all I wanted to do was link directly to their Bandcamp wishlist.

Sure, I probably could have done all this with WordPress.org, and lots of work, but I honestly love hand coding static HTML sites. It’s something I miss. It’s honestly like picking up a musical instrument and playing a few riffs and songs from years ago. The concepts and ideas are still in the brain, and it’s fun to let them loose.

I had a blast hand coding the new Metal Bandcamp Gift Club website. It’s a bunch of ugly tables, and it doesn’t look great on a phone, but oh well – it looks okay in a browser, and that’ll do.

The whole site is less than 900KB, and it’s hosted on my Dropbox account and served via Site44. I use TextMate as my text editor.

UPDATE: I ditched the Dropbox / Site44 set up and moved to a real webhost (I Heart Blank) that my buddy runs. I then use Mountain Duck to mount the server, update the HTML files, and save directly in my Finder window. I love it.

Again, this was meditative for me. It goes back to how I got started on the internet, how I began my career. I know there are all sorts of other programming languages to use, and even CSS (HAH!), but really I just had a lot of fun with this. The hours flew by, and before I realized it was midnight! That’s when you know you’re having fun.

Music is Still Needed

SOURCE

Here’s a post I made for some limited edition High On Fire records that we put out on 4/20 (of course), one of which sold out in less than 24 hours or so.

Facebook ain’t my favorite by any means, but damn if they don’t drive traffic still if you do it right.

If you want to take a look: the eOne Heavy online store, the Bandcamp merch page.

Music, art, video, stories – all of it is more needed than ever, as we’re all sitting at home waiting for things to get back to normal. Humbled and blessed to be working with some of the best people in helping make that happen.

Full Attention

Today was day 20 of my 4 mile-a-day run streak. Feeling a little spent after a speedy point to point 5.5 run on Sunday, but got it done regardless.

So much of all this, of anything during a global pandemic, is about being in the moment. If I think too much about all the miles before today, or how many more I have to go, it won’t do me any good. I believe there’s tremendous value in focusing on each step – literally – and counting breaths. I don’t do this 100% of the time, but when I find myself getting too lost in my head, I’ll bring it back.

Same goes for work; too many notification from email, Slack, texts… shut ’em all off, and focus on the one task at hand. Not only will it get done quicker, but it will be done better, because it had my full attention.

Taste for Racing

Running in the rain is the best, so long as you’re prepared for it. Thankfully I’ve got my sweet Patagonia rain jacket, which is bomb proof, and pretty much my winter running jacket. Keeps the wind and rain out, and keeps the body heat wrapped up nice inside.

Today I continued my four-miles per day run streak, making it 17 days into April, and almost 70 miles for the month. Just 13 more days to go.

Had a nice talk with my coach today, wrapping up the marathon training cycle that we started way back in December of 2019. Like Morpheus said, what was said was for me, and for me alone, but dammit if I’m not stoked to pick back up later this year and work on some speed. I turn 44 next month, and I’m stoked to keep building towards rad shit.

To be honest I’ve gotten a taste for races, for competition. The fun part about running is you don’t have to be a professional to kick butt. Races vary in size, distance, and the line ups are always varied. That I came in 2nd at a 5K last summer really jolted me. A top 10 finish and 1st in my age group a month later at another 5K.

Like, I can do this.

Again, I’m not thinking of turning pro, but the thought of getting good enough at something like running is thrilling. To show up at a local race – whenever we might able to do that again – and out run other people? Pass other runners? Fend off attacks?

Like, at 44 how else am I gonna experience that?