Monday, November 2, 2009


I thought I'd share a couple of major milestones that happened within the past few hours.

At about 9:00am today, there was a knock at my door. It was Mister FedEx Guy, and in his hands was the priority overnight delivery that was due on Saturday. Yes, it's Monday. Apparently, bad weather attempted to halt the delivery of the master of the Zak Claxton album to my door, but it got here nonetheless, just a couple of days late. And better late than never!

There's probably not much question about the first thing I did when it arrived, apart from delicately opening the package and pulling out the discs. I listened! Ooh, did I listen. See, my main reference for hearing my own music has been the rough-mixed MP3 files that Engineer Phil has provided to me as we've created the album. While the MP3 is an amazing achievement in convenience for music, it's still an inferior listening medium with a lossy compression format, so just getting those nice, uncompressed WAV files off the CD was like, ha ha, music to my ears.

More Listening
I wasn't just listening to the disc to hear myself. Trust me, I've heard enough of myself to last a long time. But this was the final quality control check to make sure the mastered album sounded every bit as good as I was expecting.

Well, it didn't sound as good.

It sounded better. Seriously better. The only time I've heard my stuff sounding this good was while we were at the studio doing the final mixes, but you expect everything to sound great in a studio. Here, at home on my personal system, was the first chance I had to really experience the fully uncompressed CD audio of my album, and let me tell you, Bill Plummer did a simply amazing job on the mastering. Granted, the final mixes that Phil O'Keefe provided to him were terrific, but Bill managed to give everything an amazing level of cohesiveness in volume and tone, and an overall sheen that only a pro mastering guy can seem to impart. Hats off to Bill.

Riding the WAVs
So, I spent a good hour listening to the album. It was a happy hour that spent mostly with my eyes closed, concentrating on the music. The next step was to prepare the songs for digital distribution. If you're a big record label, you probably have a direct relationship with all kinds of music retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar stores. But little indie artists like me don't. Fortunately, there are services now that work as intermediaries between artists like me and places like iTunes. I chose to work with a company called ReverbNation. As you may have noted, I've been using ReverbNation for promotion of my music for quite a long time. They offer a good number of tools, like widgets and banners and so on, to get your music out there on web sites, blogs, and places around the 'Net. Within the past few months, ReverbNation added digital distribution to their list of available services. What this means is that they act as a liaison to the online music stores, and for a pretty modest annual fee, they get your music to a good number of retailers. My album will be available at the following stores:

• iTunes (Austrailia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States)

• Rhapsody (US Only)

• eMusic (United States, Canada, Europe)

• Amazon (US Only)

• Napster (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Union)

Before you rush out to buy the songs, keep in mind that it will take somewhere in the range of 6-8 weeks before the album is actually available through ll of these retailers. They all have their own quality control process to make sure that the album and the artwork meets their standards. I'm pretty confident mine will, but I still have to wait along with everyone else. Trust me in that if you're reading this blog, you'll know when you can purchase my stuff. Let's just assume this.

The Well Traveled CD
A couple of days ago, my CD masters were in Maryland, and then they spent a night in Tennessee before arriving early this morning in California. Well, as soon as I finished grabbing my tracks to prep them for upload, the next thing I did was add to my discs' travel schedule. They are, at this moment, being picked up to travel to Texas, where my replication firm is located. As I've probably mentioned in previous posts, we are doing a great-looking 6-panel Digipak CD package for the Zak Claxton album, and since we have our release party planned for 12/11/09, there wasn't a moment to lose in getting the master out for replication. So the masters have once again left the building, folks.

We did cross a couple of big bridges today. Again, it will still be weeks before the album is actually available for sale, but we're one step closer. Just so you know, one of the next steps we have in getting the album ready for sale might not tickle your fancy so much. We're redesigning the entire site (yes, again), and as that redesign wraps up, we're going to be removing all of the rough mixes from the album you've seen floating around the web. It's time for the real stuff to be heard, so we're close to saying goodbye to the roughs. Never fear; we will still have samples of the songs available for listening, but pretty soon here, listening to all the songs will involve purchasing them.

There are other tasks to accomplish, but suffice it to say that what we got done today marks a huge step in the direction of getting the album out there. I'd like to take just a moment to thank my partner in crime, Kat Claxton, whose organization skills and optimism have been crucial toward getting us to where we are now. I'll be needing Kat's skills a lot more as we continue down the road to succeeding with our little record label.

No comments: