Thursday, January 29, 2015

Important question about my "Monthlies" music series

TL;DR version: I'm considering stopping my "Monthlies" series and instead using that time to work on higher-quality, polished songs for other, "real" album releases.  How would you feel about that?

Okay, so here's the deal:

I've been maintaining 11 years of "Monthlies" albums over on my Bandcamp site as a way of organizing, cataloguing, and sharing my freely available music.  This includes all the random stuff I wrote 5+ years ago as well as all of my One Hour Compo entries.  I definitely wanted to make all of my OHC entries available because they're already available for download on the OHC site itself, and I hate it when you need to go to multiple sources in order to get an artist's entire music discography--it's much easier if everything is definitively available in one place.

This has worked fine so far--I make something for OHC every Thursday, so I get to release 4 or so songs every month as a Monthlies album, like this one.  Now, these are songs made in an hour each, so some of them turn out great but others are definitely more random or mediocre.

Starting this month, however, I've been trying a different approach to OHC: instead of trying to rush out a song each OHC, I've been using my OHC time across the entire month to make incremental progress on a single song.  This lets me focus on detail and polish in an attempt to make a better song rather than something that is rushed out in an hour.

So far this has worked out great: here is the current version of "Fortitude", which shows my progress over 3 weeks.  This song is fantastic, amazing even, compared to the quality of one of my usual OHC entries.  Now of course the downside is that it's taken 3 times as long so far, and still isn't finished yet.  Here is the version that I had after one hour--it's only 38 seconds long!

Despite that, I think this is a workflow that's worth pursuing: take my OHC time and use it towards completing higher quality songs instead of one hour "throwaway" sessions.  Usually a full polished song takes me around 3-4 hours to complete anyways (plus some more time for mixing and extra polish), so theoretically I can finish up one high quality song per month using this flow instead of 3 or 4 regular OHC entries.  And I'm all on board with spending time on higher quality songs, I think.  OHC entries are more "disposable" and I don't really think I actually need to use OHC as practice sessions anymore.  I'd like to find time during the week to work on "real" music but nowadays I often find that I'm spending more time on OHC than my other if I just work on "real" music every Thursday that problem goes away.

The question is, what happens to the Monthlies series now?

Option A:
Keep monthlies as they are, but instead of releasing 4 songs each month, it'll be more like 1 song per month.
- Lets me keep the Monthlies series going
- You guys still get free music every month.
- I could make a few experimental throwaway OHC entries like before and just stick them in with no problem.
- A bit silly to have albums with only one song in them.
- If I ever take more than a month to make a song, I'll have a month without a Monthlies album, which is ugly.
- Releasing the songs in my Monthlies series means that they are less meaningful when put into other full album releases.

Option B:
Stop monthlies completely.  Use OHC as work time for whatever high quality music I want, and release them as part of "real" albums.
- No more monthlies, no more free music every month for you guys.
- However, I already have 11 years worth of monthlies, so maybe it isn't really necessary to have more.
- Lets me concentrate more on developing full albums, which is something I'd like.  I still have not actually released a "real" original artist album! (All in a Day's Work doesn't count since it's just a collection of songs from OHCs)
- If I stop releasing Monthlies albums, now is the best time since it's the beginning of the new year.
- If I ever decide to just make a throwaway song in an hour I don't have an easy venue for releasing it since there are no more Monthlies.  I'd have to release a separate album.
- A little awkward since there's a discrepancy between what's available on the OHC site vs what's available on my Bandcamp (i.e. my Bandcamp becomes less "definitive").
- "All in a Day's Work" is no longer really a thing. =(  Also awkward because I have about 12 songs that are slated to be in All in a Day's Work 4 already...

Option C:
Keep monthlies as they are.  Go back to just working on one song per OHC like always, and work on high quality songs some other time.  Maybe from time to time I can work on a song across multiple OHCs, but not always.
- Monthlies keep going as always.  Still making 3-4 songs a month.
- More free songs for all of you guys.  If you guys enjoy the quantity of music that I output every month, this option is for you.
- I still get to participate in OHC as it's meant to be.
- All in a Day's Work is still a thing ;)
- "Wasting" time on throwaway OHC songs when I could be making more polished work.

Option D:
Stop doing OHC altogether because I'm not gaining that much from it anymore and I don't necessarily need to have a set time each week to work on music.  I don't really like this option because OHC is still a fun community and it actually is very nice to have a scheduled time for music every week to "force" me to get in the creative flow and make sure I'm making forward progress on music.

So far, option B seems to make the most sense to me.  However, I'd like to hear thoughts from others, particularly those of you who are fans of my music since it would be nice to know what you guys like and prefer in terms of Monthlies vs real albums, more songs vs less songs, etc.

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