Figuring out an enigma…

Finally cracked it...!
Recently I have been out of the live music loop so to speak [see Live Music Loop].
Carly Dee and I have been busy with a new baby girl for nearly a year now and it’s been really hard for us to find time to write / create / record etc.
Lately I have turned to my trusty smartphone for a minor creative outlet [See “Propellerhead Figure” blog post]. I started a SoundCloud account so that I could share the sounds from my iPhone in one place.

Figure Interface

It’s only tinkering but hey, it’s an outlet and the creative product belongs to me.

Last week I logged on with the intention of updating some info / graphics on the Prolific/Figure account. To my astonishment I had received 42 downloads from my SoundCloud stream. “Amazing!” I thought.. but is it?!?! …

I love creating music.. I love listening to it.. Love performing. Everything about it. My dream job is somewhere in that industry..but I have no idea where I fit. There are so many musicians out there that would love a career in music and now there’s less and less chance of getting a “lucky break” / “way in” to make a living in music if you’re not a touring musician.
Survival is a must and it’s sad how most are forced to put that day-job before a passion.

Anyway – back to those free downloads (with a little more context.. I hope)
I know it’s nothing to write home about.. I mean 42 downloads is nothing in the ocean of free downloads (legal AND illegal) that are out there – where even HUGE bands are giving away free music so that they can stay in the spotlight and keep fans engaged (everybody loves free stuff!!)..
Figure InterfaceSo these downloads are telling me that people are interested in what I’m doing. That’s a logical reaction isn’t it? Anyone who has a desire for a career in music would think “This could be the start of ‘SOMETHING'” but (there’s always a ‘but’) these tiny loops from Figure are 30 seconds long! There is VERY little use in downloading them. They are ideas. A demonstration of ‘potential’ really.. unless (I thought – diving into my paranoia) they are being downloaded for people to build on, copy or sample?
I was unaware of the ‘Downloadable by default’ setting for a while and, at first I DID think it was good but now I see it can be pretty soul-destroying for people who actually crave a career in music / music production. After we create something, however small, the only return on that product is a little number next to a download icon and a country of origin (if you pay for SoundCloud!).
Why should we be encouraged to give away our creativity for others to own without even making a decision? By defaulting to ‘download’ it immediately enters a creative act (no matter how small or casual) into this new world where nothing has value and everything is shared and obtained for little or no charge?
That should be a choice.
Figure InterfaceIt’s hard to understand why people have downloaded so many sounds, though it is a huge compliment. It means someone has heard the potential, liked / respected what I created (enough to want download). Then they moved on without even a ‘Hello’ or a ‘Thx for the DL’ (which cost nothing). There are ‘likes’ / comments on these sounds from fellow Figure addicts and I ‘like’ and comment on other Figure sounds too.. to be honest it’s a great little creative bubble we have over there on the Figure Addicted page. Those guys are great!
I posted this thought over there and the response was confusing cos people seem to think that ‘sharing’ for free is completely normal now ‘that’s the culture unless you’re a pro’ .. but how do you get to BE a ‘pro’ unless you tell the world ‘Listen to this .. It’s my craft and it’s NOT free’???
If you want a copy, want to use a sample or take an idea further, talk to me and we’ll work together.. Collaboration IS the future and it’s easier than ever now. The internet is awesome but it’s a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to protecting your ideas and being successful. My sounds(?), well, if I try to imagine where those recordings went I might go insane, so I’m not going do delve into that bottomless pit. I just know that I am not the only person who owns a copy and I never made that choice. I’m guilty for not turning downloads off and making this stand when I found out the first time, but, now I feel inspired to make something bigger and better with every fibre (there’s a video below)!
Figure InterfaceI guess as a musician I’m going to have to raise my game. Try to resist the tempting enigma that Figure presents (easy and free social music in my pocket) and bring some projects forward that are complete. Sounds that I am truly proud of that can stand up and be counted (not just by free download numbers). I would encourage any other musically creative person to do the same thing.
Know your worth and don’t let the ‘new norm’ rob you of your creations from the start.
That, in turn, will help to make the industry a better place for all musicians / producers and promote fairness and value across the industry. Don’t be afraid to start protecting even your smallest ideas!

I’ve decided to disable downloads (unless requested) on future Figure sounds and focus on finished products .. New PC arrived today and Reason 7 on its way for my birthday; A goal to finish and polish ideas before they are worthy of downloading on the World Wide Web. It’ll be great to be producing with Carly again too!
I don’t think the figure sounds will stop coming though…. I’m addicted. 🙂
I need to finish by saying that this is in no way a crusade against either SoundCloud or Propellerhead. They are both amazing institutions with a great future. I love Figure and what Propellerhead are doing with mobile music.. I would encourage anyone to try it!
It’s US as creators that need to make the stand and support the industry, by showing the world that art is NOT free!

One of my friends (a fellow Administrator on Figure Addicted) posted a video a few days ago that made me sit up and pay attention (See Below!). It also puts this blog post into perspective so please watch if you have time. 🙂

If you’ve read all of this, Thank You! 🙂 I may have come across as pathetic, aloof, stupid, unreasonable but this is where I am. I may be being short-sighted though?
Please comment and add feedback or tweet me I’d love to know what you think and carry this on.

VIDEO LINK: Unsound: extended trailer rough cut from Count Eldridge on Vimeo.