Happy Holidays, and apologies in advance for the length of this missive! It has been a long time since my last one…
If you don’t mind, I thought I’d bring those of you who don’t follow me on social media up to date with what’s been happening over the course of this very strange year.
My touring was cancelled in March. The last show was a lovely one in Hamburg. My next show is – I don’t know when. There are concerts booked for the UK in April, but those are looking less and less likely with each passing news story.
Most of you know that musicians like me, since streaming subscription services have become the norm, make almost nothing from making and selling recorded music anymore. Live performances have become more and more critical to survival, and I would estimate, over the last decade, that 75% of my income has come from touring. Feeding my family and keeping a roof over our heads on 25% income isn’t sustainable.
I started work on a new album in April, but in June, when it was clear that there would be no touring in 2020, I started to look into alternative income streams. I had no choice. 6 months later, I feel rather silly that it took a pandemic to get me to think ‘outside the box’.
If there has been a positive from Covid, it has been that being starved of live music, many people have been forced to address the value of the music in their lives, and many are concluding that if the subscription model is to be the future, then maybe we need to look into also subcribing to the artists we love, too, so that they can continue to create. I started a thing called a Patreon Page. https://www.patreon.com/lloydcole
It’s a sort of insider’s club to give fans access to memorabilia, songwriting insight, rare recordings, etc. That was the original plan. Then I started making guitar lesson videos, then mini-concert videos, all from my basement.
A couple of days ago I took stock of what’s been uploaded since July –
Memorabilia – 23 posts
Notebook Project – 38 post
Lyric Sheets – 20 posts
Cassette Project – 7 posts
Mini-Concerts – 11 posts (3 actual concerts + 1 outtake)
Guitar Lessons – 21 posts
Chord Charts – 23 posts
Audio (live recordings, outtakes, etc) – 46 posts
Electronic Audio/Video – 15 posts
My 3rd & most recent Patreon mini-concert was Music in a Foreign Language in its entirety. There are already 2 guitar lessons posted from the album, the remaining 8 will appear, over the next 8 weeks, starting tomorrow & ending on my 60th birthday.
And you know what? It’s working. I’m trying to keep the subscripion charges low, and I’m trying to build a large community. If this can maintain and maybe continue to grow through and after the pandemic, my options will be very different to the last decade. I want to tour, I enjoy it, but I must tell you I don’t like having to do so, or knowing that if I got seriously sick, I could be in serious economic difficulties. Patreon subscriptions are currently paying a significant portion of my domestic bills, and if they continue to do so I will have more options – I might be in a position to no longer need to optimise tour profit, which means I might be able to tour with a small band again from time to time. I’m making no promises, but I know I’d like this and I know Neil Clark wants to do it…
I would encourage you to have a look and maybe try a month. I think it would take more than a month to look and listen to everything that is posted there.
On top of the Patreon thing, my wife and I have expanded our webshop by partnering with a fullfilment company, and an independent artist, we have t-shirts, tote bags, cell phone covers, and even pulp fiction styles post cards.
I also started offering hadwritten lyrics, and I can’t keep up with the demand. I released a batch of 25 and they sold in a minute or two. Then a hundred sold in a day, as did the next two batches of a hundred. There will be more released in the new year.
Pareon subscribers get advance notice on the release of these sorts of things. Which seems only fair. They also have a 10% discount code at our shop. https://loydcole.myshopify.com/
I haven’t stopped writing and creating new music, but the time and energy taken by Patreon and the handwriting didn’t leave me with much. That said I’ve now learnt how to stagger the post release scheudle, so I can now spend a day or half a day creating content, which will then cover several weeks of posts.
I did find time, in the Summer, to create my first didgital only release. Dunst. It’s a fairly experimental electronic project, and I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I was lucky enough that my friend Samantha Keely Smith, allowed me to adapt her wonderful art for the virtual sleeve. https://lloydcole.bandcamp.com/album/dunst
Producer Chris Hughes and I have started another electronic project. It’s too early to tell you much, but Chris is working as editor and collaborator on raw modular and other synth recordings I’ve made over the last 15 years. Chris is truly the smartest person I’ve ever worked with and always a great challenge to try to keep up with his intellect!
I’ve been working with Edel in Germany on the re-release of several albums which had fallen out of print. Antidepressant is done, and we’ll be working on Music in a Foreign Language after Christmas. Both should be ready for the Spring. Both will be available digitally, on CD and vinyl.
I created my first two remixes, for Tapete Records. Not something I ever saw myself doing, but since I’ve become more fluent with synthesizers, I can see angles and directions for songs and recordings that maybe I couldn’t when I was younger. I very much enjoyed it and hope I will be asked to do more.
I created my first soundtrack composition for an audiobook. The first time anyone ever asked me, and my submission was enthusiastically accepted. More on that when the book is released.
Yesterday and today I was recording synthesizer for a lovely song Dave Derby and I wrote together a few years ago – Yesterday’s Girl. It will be on the next Gramercy Arms album.
Which just about brought me up to date with all of the side projects, and so this week I will resume work on my new album which I hope to release in the early Summer. The songwriting is slow, but good. I’m excited, I’m working on tunes by Blair Cowan and Neil Clark, with Chris Hughes and I overseeing, so it’s not quite a Commotions reunion, but almost.
Speaking of which, we have, on Lawrence’s initial suggestion, agreed that we will play a few festivals sometime soon as Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Thanks to my cycling I’m slimmer and fitter than I was in 2004, so why not? I am a lot greyer, though…
I hope to see you all as soon as it is safe to be flying around and singing in rooms filled with people. I’ll be sure to write, when we know for certain that we’re going out again. Until then, be safe.