Why I Almost Deleted This Website and My Evolving Attitude On Music
Earlier this year, I almost got rid of this website. I was running low on money and couldn't really afford to renew the domain name on top of all the other expenses that I had. It also didn't help that I wasn't using it for anything other than an extension of my Instagram feed. Despite all this, I eventually convinced myself to renew it, a decision that required me to heavily reflect on why I made this site in the first place, why I eventually stopped making music afterwards, and how I should continue to pursue music in the future.
This website came to be shortly after I decided to change my stage name at the end of 2016. I was still working on Origins, having just released "Midnight Metropolis" and was in the process of writing "2084." I mainly viewed this website as a means of sharing everything I do musically and to serve as a directory to all of my various social media and distribution platforms. It did just that until I temporarily called it quits on music in 2018.
Why did I call it quits? It was a combination of financial factors and the disillusioning circumstances that I found myself in. Basically, after putting a shit ton of time and effort into making Origins, it was completely ignored upon its release by pretty much everyone. It wasn't because it was a bad album, the few people who spent time with it and listened to the entire thing ended up really enjoying it. I believe it was because Origins is a challenging album that you need to spend time with before it can be fully appreciated. Unfortunately, most people these days no longer listen to entire albums and it's normal for an entire work to be judged off of one song. So, as a result, most of the people who "listened" to Origins only played part of the first track and then moved on with their lives.
I thought that the remedy to this issue was to simply find the correct audience for this album. Since Origins was inspired by albums that were themselves pretty niche (mainly Homogenic by Björk and Kid A by Radiohead), it made sense that your average person stumbling across it on the internet probably wouldn't like it. I did not know where to begin with marketing this album to the right audience though so I took a bit of a risk and hired a manager to help with this task.
I imagined that my manager would do two things: 1) send my album to various media outlets who could expose it to the right people, and 2) help me find appropriate events and venues that I could perform at. The price for this help was definitely not desirable to me (it was a few hundred dollars per month, which would require me to really budget and stretch my paychecks), but since I had already saved a ton of money by recording and mixing the entire album myself, I figured that this would be a good investment that could take my music career to the next level. Unfortunately, this is not what happened at all.
About 9 months and a few thousand dollars later, pretty much nothing had changed. When I signed the contract with my manager, I was promised assistance with marketing in the form of graphic designs, social media campaigns, and media exposure. Those promises all ended up being complete bull. When I was preparing to promote my track "Live In Fear," my manager's repeated failure to deliver the expected promotional images were accompanied by various excuses until I was finally given some completely half-assed shit that completely disregarded my original vision. It was so bad that I ended up making the promotion images myself with PowerPoint and iMovie, which is what I was doing before I shelled out a ton of money for a manager. Then, when it came time to actually promote the single, there was no promotion on any of the numerous platforms that my manager ran and I ended up doing all of the promotion myself (which is, again, exactly what I was doing before I shelled out a ton of money for a manager). I was also told to pay for advertisements on Instagram and Facebook, which did bring a lot more attention than organic posts. Unfortunately, most of this attention was unwanted trolling from white male high schoolers, which definitely isn't the "right" audience that I was trying to get my music to. Promoting "Bacon" ended up being even worse and I eventually decided to not promote "Midnight Metropolis" as originally planned.
On top of the massive promotional shortcomings, my thousands of dollars yielded zero performances and two radio interviews, one in which the radio host didn't bother learning anything about me beforehand and resorted to reading information from my website's bio while we were on air. I don't know if it was because my manager was straight up not doing their job or if their connections just weren't feeling my music. Either way, months had gone by, I had spent thousands of dollars, and got nothing out of it except for two radio interviews. As a result, I eventually ended my contract with my manager and pulled the plug on all attempts to market Origins to more people.
While all of this was going down, I was working on a much more aggressive and accessible album that I hoped would get more recognition. I was stressing out so much about its accessibility and expenses though that eventually, working on music just wasn't enjoyable anymore. So, I quit music and put all of my energy into something that made me happy: rock climbing. I climbed my ass off during my last months in Boston and first months in Los Angeles, climbing the hardest grades I ever climbed in my life, meeting some of the coolest people I've ever met (including my current girlfriend), and forgetting about the massive amount of time and money that I just wasted on my music career. I also completely neglecting my website in the process.
So why then did I renew this website earlier this year? Well, one reason is that I've started working on music again. After the whole Origins marketing fiasco, I decided that making music should be an enjoyable process that allows me to make the best songs possible. Furthermore, I decided that the amount of recognition and listeners that my music receives should not have an impact on my creative process or the end result of anything that I make. With this in mind, I started work on a new album and so far, the process has been much more enjoyable than anything that I made in Boston.
More importantly though, I believe that my music should not be the only thing that I highlight on this website. I am much more than my music and I believe that other aspects of my life are worth sharing too. So yes, I am going to continue to make music (I don't think I can ever fully quit to be honest) but I'm no longer going to let plays, downloads, or other arbitrary measures of success influence it or anything else that I do. I don't need a bunch of attention and recognition to continue making good music and I don't need my music to be popular and well known in order to enjoy my life.