2011 has been a very eventful year for Tree Records. First The Orchard cancelled our Distribution Contract and CD Baby's Staff were neither helpful or professional in their conduct so we looked around and stumbled upon a Texas based Company called Catapult and they are proving very efficent and fast, so, with only a few months left, we are finally back up at iTunes and releasing new material again.
Clearly the Distributor you choose is a very important one. You need a professional attitude, reasonable Charge Rates and effective Sales Reporting. Whatever happened to the plain old $0.70 pricing? Well it's now something like this: $0.063918380025 - Hmm, one needs to be a Rocket Scientist to figure it out, right? You actually made $0.64 USD on that one.
Another thing to study is if the proposed new Distributor specialises in Downloads or Cellphone Streamings. There will always be "Streamings" but the percentages vary greatly. Part of our frustrations with The Orchard was the fact they moved more towards Streamings than Downloadings. This meant sometimes you get just 24c USD for 2459 Streamings (Advertising Assisted). You don't have to be brainy to figure 2459 Downloads will earn you far more than 24c, right?
So from Tree's recent experiences, we highly recommend you look very deeply into who you choose to be your Distributor. They are not all equal by a long shot and some are tops whilst others fall into the 'dodgy' basket. It costs a bit to release a Title and it can take up to 2 years for sales to really start moving into the higher Income bracket so you don't want to end up spending what you made from Distributor #1 on re-listing with Distributors #2 or even #3.
This tip is going to sound strange but I'm not pulling anyone's leg here because what I'm about to say is TRUE.
To gain a better vocal performance, remember to smile all the time you are singing. Crazy? No! The act of smiling changes the position of your facial muscles which in turn changes the shape of the Chamber within your mouth, thus resonating a better, warmer vocal sound.
Facial expressions while singing is a very effective tool in delivering a warmer, more emotional delivery, thus enhancing the vocal performance over-all. When singing a powerfully emotional song, most successful Performers have all sorts of twisted and tortured expressions on their faces. Joe Cocker is a perfect example. How did he deliver such powerful vocal performances? He did it by changing the facial shape so the muscles contorted and re-shaped the inside of his mouth where the sound is amplified. Those changes in the shape of his vocal chamber delivered the right levels of 'emotion' required to deliver a very convincing performance.
So if the song you are singing has an over-all 'happy' feel to it, smile, smile, smile .. and don't stop smiling til the song is done. The changes may not be noticable to you but they are noticed by the Listener, who is the person(s) you want to convince.
If the song is a story of woe and despair, feel that despair. Mentally 'suffer' that angst, and it will translate into the final vocal delivery heard by your audiences.
So remember: Smiling re-shapes the inside of your mouth which is where your vocal sounds resonate before leaving your mouth. Change the shape of that chamber and you change the sound and feel of your vocal delivery. Fact! This tip works on both 'live' performances and (even more importantly) when making a 'recording'.
When you are recording a new song or tune, don't forget that the Stereo, or spliting of Sound Tracks between two tracks, can be used effectively as an Instrument in itself to enhance the over-all sound you create. The 'classic' effect was used by The Moody Blues who moved a sound around the clock, or more technically speaking, ping-ponged it between Left, Centre and Right then back to Centre and on to Left.. and the sound appeared to the listener to be going in an orbit around their head.
The most effective way to use Stereo is to separate Instruments, placing them on the Left Channel, the Right Channel and placing the vocalist evenly on both sides which results on the voice coming from the Middle. The Lead Guitar, for example, could be channelled to the Left and the Saxaphone to the Right. Now we have the Singer in Centre stage, the Lead Guitarist on the Left of the stage and the Saxaphone Player on the Right of the stage.
The end result is a rich, room filling sound or a Head Filling Sound when listened to on Headphones. Instead of your song being a flat Canvas of Sound, it has become an curved screen which surrounds and embraces the listener. Much more exciting. Much more vibrant and it effectively pulls the listener right into the middle of everything instead of being a distant observer.
There are endless way Stereo can be used to create that special magic you are looking for. The Drums for instance, could be recorded with three Mics - one on the left Drum, one on the Right Drum and a third on the floor, close to the Bass Drum. By switching from a tightly compressed sound on the Left to a fully Echoing on the Right, you can get some very dramatic moments, depending on what the Drummer is actually doing at the time. The same Mic configuration will also allow a Drummer's 'Roll' back and forth from Left to Right and back, sound bigger, stronger and more dramatic as well as just plain, old-fashioned Exciting!
Vocally, this spliting of sounds between the two Channels allows you to separate the Lead Singer from the Backing Vocalists. Place the Lead Vocal Centred and the Backing Vocals, lightly echoed, on the Right Channel only and Left Channel only. Now the Singer is surrounded with a softer, echoed chorus of Voices which do not appear to befighting for the Listeners' attention with the main Vocalist.
So the rule is, Stereo is an Instrument too. It plays Effects and produces Depth.
Already another year has ended and 2010 was a hard year for the Music Business with record low levels of CD items sold per Month, the demise of EMI, the Iconic Label that has been around since the invention of the Grammophone Record and the closure of several On-Line Digital Retail Outlets like Lala and Limewire.
But it hasn't been all bad news either. Here at Tree Records we released new titles by Mauriberto in Spain, Randy Joe Galloway in America, Chris Adams' new Album "Night At The Oasis" which featured more International Vocalists than ever before, like America's Jim Carter and Randy Joe Galloway and Sweden's Sam H, and finally the long awaited first Single Release "Electric Dreams" by Britain's Andy Hearn.
The Industry as a whole had many issues to grapple with like the CD Sales slump and the buying pattern of Digital Music changing. Today more revenue is being made from Streamings rather than file Downloads and whilst this is easier on the Music Lovers' pockets, it has brought about a slimmer return to Artists for their efforts.
The new Spotify store specializes in Streamings and it's growing in popularity in Europe and will spread to the rest of the Music World in 2011. The other new Player due to arrive in 2011 is Google's planned Paid Subscription Music Service and this will clearly appeal to many Music Lovers and take off very quickly when launched.
Tree Records has had a good year with our top artists, Haystack, Chris Adams and Jim Carter making solid gains and New Zealand Blues Man Laurence Cooper has finally been 'discovered' outside of New Zealand and sales of his music have rocketed since the issue of his EP "56 Coopers Lane". Even Bob Keeton has started gaining traction thanks to his vocal and piano performance with Chris Adams on "Dust In The Wind" and "Grasshoppers" from his "Perfection" Album.
So on behalf of all the artists here at Tree Records, I would like to say thank you for your continued support in 2010. We look forward to entertaining you well in 2011 so, until then, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.