Ageing With Attitude is my fifth album and (as you’d expect me to say) my best to date. In February I reassembled my core crew and got to work in Black Mountain Studios in the Cooley Peninsula where we laid the foundations with drum, bass, guitar and piano tracks (and some unreal harmonies from Thomas Walsh). By early March we were in the middle of tracking the lead vocals, sax, guitar solos and backing vocals in Mick Heffernan’s studio in Lennox St, Dublin when the world shut down around us and everything had to go on hold for a few months. Finally, in June and July, we were able to complete the work, with the final session on July 31st in Hellfire Studios, Dublin, seeing the addition of strings to eight of the tracks.
August saw Mick Heffernan doing the final mixes, Fergal Davis completing the mastering, Ken Drakeford putting the final touches to the artwork, and finally I could hand all the files to Neville Wright of All Write Media for CD production. In early September I could finally hold the finished product in my hand and have that great sense of satisfaction when a project is wrapped up and the result is there to be seen.
I’m very old school when it comes to packaging. I’ve collected music all my life and I treasure the vinyl LPs and CDs I’ve amassed over many decades. When I’m listening to one, I really want to have the sleeve and liner notes, the lyrics and the credits, even the strange musings that often found their way in there…. it’s all part of the complete package and, for me at any rate, they enhance the experience of listening to the music. So each of my albums has come complete with an old-style booklet and it’s a shame that I’m close to being the last of a dying breed in that regard!
The work, of course, it’s far from wrapped up – it just moves on to a different phase. These days, most musicians, including many household names, are independents, and it falls to them to do all the things that used to be done by the record companies. That includes getting stock to the record stores who stock my albums, getting the album out to journalists who may review it, and of course getting it to the radio stations who may play it.
There’s an ongoing debate about whether it’s better to get your music to radio stations digitally or on CD, and you’ll find some radio people who prefer one and some who prefer the other. Of course, sometimes it’s quite straightforward because the music only exists digitally. For example, a single is rarely released in any physical form these days, and many albums are digital only. Given what I said earlier about my preference for the entire package, you can imagine my feelings about that, and I can’t envisage that I’ll ever release an album that isn’t available on a properly packaged CD. Of course, all my releases are also available for download.
This time I’m using a service called Yangaroo to distribute the album digitally to radio stations. Most of the key people in the stations have a Yangaroo inbox, to which the service sends the tracks and the publicity material (for a fee, of course). That seems to be better than jamming up their e-mail by sending them files of all the songs.
However, I’m also making a point of sending a copy of the CD to the stations because I know there are definitely still people in radioland who prefer to have their music that way.
Musicians also use what’s called an aggregator to get their music onto the digital platforms, such as iTunes, Apple Play, Google Play, Amazon and of course Spotify. The one I use is called Distrokid. I send them the digital files and they do the rest, including getting the tracks onto the platforms and collecting whatever revenue they earn, which is then passed on to me. I also upload my songs onto a service called Bandcamp which is another option for those wishing to download the music and also gives an option to get the CD as well as the download.
And I have finally taken the leap and added a Shop to this website so. If you wish, you can now buy the new album, or any of my CDs, directly from me.
All in all, it’s a busy time, but the work has to be done. The whole point of recording music is so that people get to hear it and you have to keep plugging away to make that happen!
Part of the ritual of releasing an album is the launch gig. The Sugar Club has been booked since the start of the year for a big gig on Monday October 12, which is the official release date of the album, and I had intended to have all the musicians onstage. It would have been the biggest gig I have ever done. Sadly, in present circumstances I’ve had to accept that’s not going to happen. But I’m determined that, whenever normal life returns and it’s possible to play to packed venues again, I’ll assemble everyone and make that gig a reality.