Tuesday, May 10, 2016

GENERAL : On Self Promotion

There are videos aplenty on youtube of helpful souls releasing animals back into the wild only for a predator (like a hawk) to swoop down (like a hawk) and devour the poor victim infront of the good samaritans' aghast faces. When you are an indie musician releasing a new album or EP the situation feels similar, except instead of anything dramatic happening the newly freed captive just sits there staring at you, being ignored by the world at large.

I hate self promotion.

Now before I go further, some caveats. With my various releases under my various artist names, I have been blessed with a small following of seemingly eccentric bilionaire fans - it's the only explanation I can give for why people will routinely spend much more on my music than I ask. I am eternally grateful to them for their far-too-generous support. Similarly, I am in no way ignored by the world at large - to give you some idea, none of my releases has broken triple figures in sales count, but neither have they failed to break double figures. I have a day job and so I can't complain about this modest success I have found from what is basically my hobby.

So please don't take this piece as a moan about deserving to be more famous. My intention is to examine the push and pull of wanting to reach more people, with the fear of being annoying.

Of the few messages and comments my work receives online, a common sentiment is that people are surprised I am not more well known. I expect this is true of many other artists, and in a perverse way I quite like the idea of someone stumbling unprompted on my music like Lara Croft finding the Atlantean Scion (though with less tiger murder on the way). But the point stands - how does one become more well known?

As I see it, there are a number of options available - get a facebook page, get a twitter account, get on reddit, get on twitch, with doubtless more I am forgetting. I have done all these things, to a point. I have around 140 facebook likes, 700 twitter followers, my music is available to streamers and youtubers (with a few notable examples such as Super BunnyHop and BananaRex generously highlighting my music to their fanbases).

But this is where I hit a bit of a wall. I don't know how to push these numbers further. Often the advice is 'Be shameless! Tell the world!' That's a great sentiment, but at what point does being shameless and telling the world become repellent behaviour?

This is probably quaintly British of me - don't want to cause a fuss and all that. And yet more caveats here - if I have sent you a tweet or a DM asking you to listen to my music and you haven't responded, this is not a jab - lord knows I find it hard enough to reply to the once-a-year emails I get from fans, let alone how much unsolicited contact the people I badger must receive. But how do I balance wanting to tell the world with not wanting to be a nuisance? I send a message to someone I admire, to someone I think would be interested in what I do, and they respond saying thanks and they'll listen to it soon - is it right to send them a reminder? Is that too far, too annoying?

Facebook seems a write off now - of those 140 followers I routinely receive... zero likes on posts. Twitter seems much better for ambient promotion (thanks in great part to the lovely bunch who follow me on twitter, and their larger count) but 700 followers is hardly walkin-around numbers. How do you grow that number, Without spamming the same tweet endlessly (New EP! Please RT!)? Or is it that simple? It certainly doesn't feel right - whenever I start to compose another variation on the same 'please rt' tweet, my spirit drops as I imagine everyone who follows me getting one step closer to unfollowing.

Is repeated self promotion on twitter as bad as I imagine? Do you hate reading 'Please Retweet!' as much as I hate writing it? Maybe not. Maybe I should keep tweeting until I notice my follower count drop, instead of fearing something that may not happen anyway. It just doesn't feel right. I feel like I'm making people hate me.

As for music blogs... An anecdote - a good while back, when I had just released a new EP, I sent a tweet to a music blog I enjoyed reading asking if they'd be interested in listening to my music. They didn't reply, but they did tweet out minutes later "Format least likely to be listened to by us = EP". That seemed like one heck of a confidence killing subtweet to me. Perhaps that's why I find it so hard to self promote - the fear that the world will look at my work and not even have the interest to rip it to shreds.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

COMMUNITY : SuperByte Festival 2015 was predictably incredible

That was one heck of a weekend.

From the open mic madness on Thursday evening to the impromptu 3am chiptune street party on Sunday morning, SuperByte Festival was an experience I'll never forget.

I met so many of my idols from the world of bit music, I put so many faces to names from my archive of listened-to-death MP3s, I made so many new friends.

Without exception, every act who performed over the weekend was a treat. Each successive live set brought something new and they all left the stage to a cheering crowd hungry for more. SuperByte was a nineteen course banquet of chips.

I thank Adi and everyone at SuperByte for allowing me to set the bar as the opening act, and it was a pleasure to see everyone else clear that bar with such ease.

My memories of the weekend include :

Story time with Mega Ran as the audience sat on the floor in reverence
Gasman on the open stage and his blistering keytar version of Run With Us from the Raccoons
Oliotronix' cat-head astronaut based shenanigans
Trinity Lo Fi's frankly terrifying monkey competition
Rymdkraft reducing grown men to tears with his Gummi Bears cover
Mizkai's stage invasion
cTrix's SNES versus Genesis - a war in which everybody wins
Futurist-political discussions with Trinity Lo Fi and Galaxy Wolf over boiled duck eggs
4am burger hunting with Danimal Cannon, cTrix and 2xAA

But most of all my memories are of a community of the nicest, most supportive and friendly people I have ever met. This scene is one of harmony, and I'm not just talking square waves.

I look forward to seeing you all again at future events!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

SITE : New front page

If you're reading this, you've probably already seen it and found the 'B' button to bring you back to this blog, but anyway.

I've made a new front page for the site. It features all my music releases, with links to their bandcamp pages (by clicking on the album artwork) and to places like iTunes, Amazon and Spotify where applicable.

Right now, it's only Quixotica which is up on other sites. Soon, though... Well. There's a few 'coming soon' images on that there front page... I wonder what they could be teasing?..

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Friday, April 24, 2015

NONSENSE : The Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 Timeline Diagram

I should probably link to this here. It was on reddit, and it was getting lots of comments and upvotes before it was removed...

Behold, the stupid timeline diagram for Paul Blart Mall Cop 2! (Click to expand)

This was inspired by legitimate timeline diagrams for complex films like Primer and Interstellar. It also got linked by Kermode and Mayo on facebook. It was getting all the views before it got removed from reddit... just imagine what could have been...

No, I'm not bitter.

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

LIVE : SuperByte Festival September 10th - 13th

It's live music o'clock!

Well, it will be in a few months. I shall be playing the excellent Manchester based Chiptune festival, Superbyte!

The other artists announced so far include Rymdkraft, Galaxy Wolf, Ctrix and Cambridge's own unfortunately-named Mr Spastic (He's American, it's not his fault) among others. It's sure to be an excellent weekend!

In other news, I accidentally released a new free download synthwave thingy. I will hopefully add more tracks to the echoHeart compilation in due course.

For now though, enjoy these two retro treats :

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Monday, September 15, 2014

LIVE : .mpegasus at JoyPadBar 2014

I did a live gig!

My first in two years, and my first ever playing .mpegasus chiptune tracks. It went really well! I am now itching to play live again - hopefully next time I'll have more than three days to prepare and will therefore be able to let you all know the when and the where.

I recorded the gig on my headmounted GoPro, and _ensnare_ provided roving cameraman support from the crowd. Here's a needlessly convoluted video for those of you who survived watching The Blair Witch Project without vomiting through motion sickness.

Here's the audio recording of the gig, in both "As if you were really there in the room, but also wearing headphones connected to the mixing desk output" and "As if you were in a quiet room somewhere else, listening via telepathy to the soundcard in my laptop" editions, depending on your tolerance of people shouting at retrogames in the background.

Fingers crossed I get to play live again soon!

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Monday, June 30, 2014

MIXSET : "It's VideoGame Music!" Mixset 2014

It's been a while since the last one, so here's a new mixset!

This one is an .mpegasus mix, so it's primarily bleepy and videogamey (as opposed to 'normal' Binster mixes), although there's plenty of orchestral and 'real' instrument stuff in there too. It's two hours long, so get comfortable.

"It's VideoGame Music!" Mixset 2014 by Binster / .Mpegasus on Mixcloud

MP3 Download link
Cue SheetDownload link

Here's the tracklist :

01) Ben Rear Introduction - Inspector Vector & _ensnare_ (Defend Your Ramp)
...featuring "It's Videogame Music!"

This mix is dedicated to everyone who feels the same excitement as the woman in the video when they hear chiptunes.
02) Ben Rear With the Gear - Inspector Vector (Defend Your Ramp)
Inspector Vector's debut material is powerful and melodic, just the way I like my chiptunes.
03) Daybreak - Mitch Murder (Selection One)
Mitch Murder is possibly outside of .mpegasus' mixset remit, but it's too smooth not to include.
04) No Party Like a Mojang Party - Big Giant Circles (The Glory Days)
Big Giant Circles new album is crammed with this kind of intricate melodic treat. Snaffle it!
05) Door - C418 (Minecraft Volume Alpha)
Having lost countless hours in the early days of Minecraft, this piece takes me right back to my own private cavern...
06) Pressure Cooker - SoulEye (VVVVVV Soundtrack)
The ever bouncy VVVVVV soundtrack serves up more magic.
07) I Said Yes - Chris Remo (Gone Home)
If you've not played Gone Home, do so. It made me feel like a teenager in love, in a good way.
08) Metaphysics - Carlo Castellano (The Swapper)
If you've also not played The Swapper, get stuck in. An incredible marriage of story, theme and game mechanics.
09) Ballad Of Hillys - Christophe Héral (Beyond Good And Evil)
Beyond Good And Evil gets rightful praise, but not enough of that praise is for its wonderful soundtrack.
10) Indolence (Renovation Mix) - Kubbi (Original on Circuithead)
Strong melodic work on this one - particularly the lovely lead harmonies.
11) The Whirling Infinite - Jim Guthrie (Sword & Sworcery LP)
I didn't really get on with the game, but the soundtrack is great.
12) Flow - Disasterpeace (FEZ)
FEZ is wonderful - so elegant in its puzzley ways. The soundtrack is superbly fuzzy, like it was made in an alternate retro universe.
13) Rockmen (Battle) - Ben Prunty (FTL)
The 'bom bom bom bom bom bom bommmmmmm' bassline in this track tickles my pickle massively.
14) Adventure Jingle / Mines B - Eirik Suhrke (Spelunky)
...featuring Bananasaurus Rex

The Spelunky soundtrack scratches a curious itch - the nostalgic tones of the PC Adlib Soundcard of days gone by. Also featuring the pained scream of a man who I can confidently say was the first to single handedly throw an eggplant at Yama.
15) Configurate - _ensnare_ (No Carrier Rush)
Some early _ensnare_ with a rougher sound and some indecipherable but probably quite powerful lyrics.
16) Instanced - .mpegasus (Quixotica)
When I'd finished writing this track I realised it fit Regulate pretty well. This was not intentional...
17) Missing You - Trash80 (Icarus)
Trash80 has a distinctive sound and seems to nail the kind of chord progression that makes me very happy.
18) Atmegatronic - DREAMTRAK (Atmegatron Demo)
DREAMTRAK goes above and beyond on this track, written to showcase the fantastic new AtMegatron Synthesiser by Paul Soulsby. Check it out!
19) Rolling Down The Street, In My Katamari - Fear Of Dark (Motorway)
Fear Of Dark is simply the most melodic scene musician around. Everything he writes is overflowing with music.
20) Time Trax Music 01 - Tim Follin (Time Trax Genesis OST)
A rare treat - an unreleased Tim Follin soundtrack! Go listen to the whole thing in 50Hz, as it was meant to be heard.
21) Jamn - George & Jonathan (George & Jonathan III)
This is about as laidback and summery as it gets - not quite chiptune, more like an Amiga module.
22) The Machinery Pt. Two - Simon Stålenhag (Operation Smash)
An amazing track by Simon Stålenhag (who I first learned of through his excellent paintings) for a game by Steve Olofsson (who I first learned of through his excellent music). I think there's something creative in the water in Sweden.
23) Courtesy - Chipzel (Super Hexagon)
Gameboy fiend Chipzel nailed the essence of Super Hexagon with her soundtrack. Her new album is also available!
24) Houston - Big Giant Circles (The Glory Days)
I have a feeling this track is somewhat of a Chipzel shout-out... more brilliance from BGC.
25) Rounding Error - _ensnare_ & .mpegasus (Binary Opposition)
A special track for me this - I made it round at _ensnare_'s house over a weekend. He and his now wife cooked me a delicious stir fry, too.
26) Long Past Gone - Jami Sieber (Braid)
Superb cello music featured in (though not written for) Braid.
27) Broken Age / March in the Clouds - Peter McConnell (Broken Age)
I'm very happy that Broken Age turned out as well as it did (which is to say, excellent). I have strong affection for Lucasarts Adventures (Day Of The Tentacle in particular - bonus excellent Laverne cosplay!).
28) The Deluge - Joel Corelitz (The Unfinished Swan)
A wonderful and evocative soundtrack - this is a particularly up-tempo track.
29) Clockwork - .mpegasus (Quixotica)
Tooting my own trumpet here, really. Expect more .mpegasus music soon! (Although there'll probably be a Binster release first.)
30) U n ME - Anamanaguchi (Endless Fantasy)
Endless Fantasy is a mammoth album, and this track feels a little different from the rest.
31) Neon Mines - Module (Shatter)
Shatter's soundtrack sounded nostalgic on release 5 years ago - it has only improved with age.
32) There Is Always Love - _ensnare_ (Defend Your Ramp)
This is vintage _ensnare_ - the pounding bassline, the elegant melody. Dude's got skills.
33) Pop It - Anamanaguchi
This is probably the most marmite track in this list, but I love it. I'm a sucker for the fluffy tones and up-pitched vocals.
34) Crabs On The Rampage - Inspector Vector (Defend Your Ramp Deluxe Edition)
And finally, what is this I don't even. Inspector Vector's dnb tribute to some weird pulpy scifi novel of the same name is clearly the only way one can end a mixset in style.

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