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It’s Not About Gun Control & Immigration: Why CD Baby Is Refusing To Distribute My Album (and why I’m quitting Facebook)

Preparing music for digital distribution is one long succession of emails and error messages: “your artwork is in the wrong format”, “WAV files must be 16-bit”, “you need to add publisher info.” But you don’t expect to be told “you must change the titles of tracks 1 and 13.” What?

CD Baby are refusing to distribute my new album Fifty Five Stories Down unless I rename John Lennon Blues and Refugee With An iPhone because “digital partners (Spotify, Apple Music etc) won’t accept songs with celebrities or brands in the title.”

That’s heartbreaking news for a songwriter but it sounds plausible. Until you check out those digital partners. Spotify currently has over 120 songs (playlist here) with titles like

  • I Killed John Lennon
  • You Think You’re (John F**king Lennon)
  • iPhone Therefore I Am
  • Got My Mac On With An iPhone 3G

Big Men In Tights, Sex Clark Five and KC Rebell (ft. Moe) all got their songs through somehow. I mean, who the heck put ‘Shaving John Lennon’ on Spotify and Apple Music?

CD Baby did – that’s who.

Am I being singled-out? Most of my songs are personal, humorous or humorously personal. But three are political and two of those were flagged. ‘John Lennon’ is pro-gun control and ‘Refugee’ is pro-immigration. Is CD Baby engaging in right-wing political censorship?

Honestly? I don’t think so. So how should I respond? And what’s Facebook got to do with this?

As an independent musician who promotes his music by telling his story, conflict sells. What would get me the most clicks? “CD Baby refuses to release my gun control song!” But I’m not gonna do it, cos I don’t believe it’s true.

I think the truth is ‘Big Dumb Company refuses to ask other Big Dumb Company to do something in case third Big Dumb Company sues second Big Dumb Company’. Which, as a narrative, has a lot less juice. Especially on Facebook.

Mayor Zuckerberg loves it when all us little zuckers get angry, pick fights and square off into opposing teams. Because Facebook can make lots of money targeting ads, selling red hats to one team and blue hats to the other. It’s much harder to make a sales pitch when interrupting a friendly, nuanced discussion.

In the last year I’ve noticed I’m becoming more angry, more reactive and more intolerant as I spend more time online, to say nothing of how my everyday narcissism is growing fat on likes and shares. I don’t want to be that guy.

So one week after my album launch I’m quitting Facebook completely. As an individual AND an artist. I’m deleting everything, so even if I ‘come to my senses’ I’ll have to start from scratch with a new URL. I wonder if ‘career-suicide music’ is taken?

I love the stories of artists of old –standing up to all-powerful record companies or radio stations, wealthy patrons or the PMRC, refusing to compromise, even though they had so much to lose. When did music stop being something worth fighting for? I’d rather risk no audience and no online presence than be moulded into something I don’t want to be. So I’m leaving Facebook and I’m not going to destroy CD Baby’s reputation for some cheap publicity.

And I’m not going to rename my songs.

Fifty Five Stories Down is out Feb 1st on Bandcamp.

If you’d like to be informed when it’s out everywhere (or just want to stay in touch) sign up to my mailing list right here.

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Big changes to First Tuesday.

Since starting First Tuesday in 2012 I’ve seen a lot of writers and heard a lot (over 300!) of songs. I’ve learnt a massive amount from the experience, as well as building up a collection of songs of my own that I’m really happy with. But the time has come for me to call it day.

However the good news is Daudi Matsiko has agreed to take over the running and hosting of the group. So from next month the group will meet at his house – 112 Stanley Road, Forest Fields, NG7 6HP on Thursday the 6th of June.

Daudi is a thoughtful and gifted singer/songwriter and I’m so happy he’s up for taking the group forward.

The new contact details for the group will be

first.tuesday.songwriters@gmail.com

Thank you all for your involvement and I wish you all very the best in your songwriting, in the months and years to come

Matt

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Set List: Golden Fleece Nottingham (11/08/16)

1) Advice Regarding The Treatment Of Bullet Wounds no. 2
2) Refugee With An iPhone
3) Sweet Baby Hand Grenade

Hosted by Martin Ison. Enjoyed listening to Strange Currencies and The Edi Johnston Bit 

Click on the titles to hear the songs – go here to get a free copy of Let’s Build An Airport and sign up for my mailing list

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The Armando Media Manifesto

I’ve been reading an article where The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci describes the ‘strange liberation’ of admitting he’s never going to get round to watching The Sopranos on DVD.

It’s actually freeing to realise you’re never going to catch up with everything you could, or should watch, listen to or do. Here some thoughts…

1) I will never hear/watch/read everything on my ‘to do’ lists

So there is no point knocking myself out trying. The only real purpose that these lists serve is to stop me being aimless when I AM looking for something to read, watch or listen to.

2) I already have too much

If I add no more music to my collection, I will not be alive long enough to listen to all the music I have already – CD Baby President, Brian Felsen

Check your Media Player. Here’s mine.

46:00:26:03? What does that number even mean! AND this is only a fraction of the music that I have (most of it is on a different hard-drive).

If we dedicate our lives to trawling through our music we’ll still only listen to everything a few times. Armando talks about “the strange feeling of depression [of iPod users] – having all music in their pocket, they find it more difficult to be entirely satisfied with the track they’ve chosen to listen to….because logic dictates there has to be something even better somewhere else”. To heavily paraphrase C.S. Lewis, we don’t need to listen to a lot of music as much as listen to a small amount of great music a lot of times.

3) Life is too short

There’s a season of life where you should try everything and persevere with it if you don’t like it or understand it at first. Hopefully you have older people in your life to encourage you in that way. But I am 46. And while I see the merit in them, I am never going to like Miles Davis, Mozart, Eric Clapton, Opera, Frank Zappa’s guitar solos, DC Comics, Incubus or Pink Floyd. I don’t have the time to commit to a sprawling TV series in the hope it will get going by season 4. We all have a finite amount of time on this blob of spit and sand and my time is becoming finiter as we speak. So, dammit, I am never going to read an 800 page book about the Beatles that ends in 1962, no matter how definitive it is. And I feel good about that.

As Armando puts it –

Faced with an infinity of choice, I’ve discovered there is still hope. It boils down to simple mathematics. Anything we watch or read or listen to can’t possibly make the slightest dent in our backlog, since our backlog is infinite. Far from causing despair, this knowledge should liberate us to abandon the quest and revel even longer in what we have immediately to hand.

To put it another way, whether you choose to re-read Great Expectations or read the latest Margaret Drabble makes not the slightest bit of difference. You’ll be no nearer completion, so you might as well settle for whichever you really prefer.

If you are put off reading Don Quixote because you think you simply don’t have the time, think again: the dozen paperbacks or videos you would consume over the same period will bring you no nearer to total cultural fulfilment.

I especially liked this

If you go to see a film and really like it, the following week you can go back and see it again. It’s really up to you.

So here’s my action points

  • Enjoy what you reading/watching/listening to right now. Really enjoy it. As if there is nothing else waiting in the queue.
  • If you’re not enjoying it – get rid of it. Someone said the you should perservere with any new book ‘100 pages minus your age’. That’s a good rule of thumb.
  • If you’re familiar with an musician, and you didn’t like their previous work or they no longer move you, you should be able to judge a new album by skipping through it. Doesn’t grab you? Move on! Same with genres. The more familiar you are, the quicker you can decide whether it’s worth your time.
  • If you really enjoyed something, feel free to listen to it, watch it, read it again – straight away or very soon. It’s allowed!
  • Try a ratio of how many favourite old books/albums/films to new ones you consume (I used to read 3 new books, then reread an old one).
  • Try giving away one book/dvd/cd per week to the charity shop.
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Welcome – again

Hey there – if this pops up in your feedreader it means I have successfully transferred your feed to my new blog over at Matt Blick.com. If I haven’t…then you won’t be reading this anyway!

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Let’s Build An Airport – Live @The Folk Thing

Here’s a little snippet of my gig at the Ye Olde Salutation Inn in Nottingham last month.

There’s also an earlier video of me playing at the Fawn-over party @ Vauxhall Griffin in London last year and you can download the demo for free right here

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Music In Simian Motion

Working with me (on drums) requires an unreasonable tolerance for chaos. Strange how that contrasts with my composer gig, which is autistically meticulous. When I get on my drums I’m not the urbane but brisk professional anymore. I’m a hairy-assed silverback swinging through the trees.

Stewart Copeland: Strange Things Happen p. 262

Stewart Copeland puts the cause of drummer equality back a hundred years by comparing percussionists to gorillas.

Seriously though, I just finished reading Stewart’s book and found it very entertaining. He has a way with words and a great store of anecdotes. Playing in school fundraiser supergroup The Grateful Dads with Gene Simmons and Steve Stills, drumming inside a lion cage and getting Rage Against The Machine to group hug while singing Kumbaya, it’s never boring!

Here’s some classic Copeland

Other free songs by Matt Blick

[If you’re subscribed to this blog via email, you will have to click on the post’s title to watch any video content (the link will take you my site).

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The Weight of Glory – Live In The Studio

It’s been a long time since I last blogged – I’ve been playing with Balkan Gypsy Wedding Band Aistaguca (imagine if Kool & The Gang came from Serbia) and I’ve also started recording an EP!

I did preproduction on 7 tracks with a view to narrowing it down, and here’s one that didn’t fit in with the mood of the record but still turned out OK – The Weight Of Glory

You can download a live version recorded at Grace Church a few years ago, get the chord sheet or find out what inspired the song

Other free songs by Matt Blick

[If you’re subscribed to this blog via email, you will have to click on the post’s title to watch any video content (the link will take you my site).

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Phone

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Day 313: Looking In A Box For Boxes

Sorting through old ideas, digitising cassettes, hoping to work on two more songs one called ‘Silver’ which is from Judas’ point of view, and another provisionally called ‘Boxes’.

I’m really being grown upon by Jonathan Coulton’s new album Artificial Heart. And Nemeses is probably my favourite song. Only geek-laureate JoCo would duet with someone via iPhone.

And this is also cool, and if you play Portal apparently it will make even more sense!

Blogging Muses has an interesting post called Five Ways To Finish the Song You’ve Been Working on Forever

Free download: Never Be Silent
Other free songs by Matt Blick

[If you’re subscribed to this blog via email, you will have to click on the post’s title to watch any video content (the link will take you my site).