When we released XUK's debut album "Love Hits ...like a cricket bat-out-of-hell" I had unrealistically high hopes for it. I had hoped that I might at least recoup what it cost me to put it out and that I'd make enough to pay all the people who helped me promote it by playing live. That didn't happen and, unless the new album stimulates some interest in the old album, probably never will. But I'm fine with that.
With this release I'm a little more realistic. I've done all the work myself, and the music is too intricate to play with a small band. Of course, I'd like to recoup the costs but I mainly see the process of making this album as my way of expressing ideas and sharing the work with anyone who will listen. Although I know my friends and family will be proud of the result - like discovering your dog can talk would be amazing not for what it says, but for the fact that it can talk at all - but how unbiased listeners will judge the music is much more of a mystery.
I expect at least a couple of dozen people will pay $9.99 to own the album soon after it is released. Beyond that, I don't know. Is there something new or unique in this album that will bring in more people and enable me to cover the costs? It's impossible to tell. This time around I'm planning to keep the tracks off streaming services (other than the XUK website) in the hope that more people will get the album so they can keep listening.
Even though streaming the songs could promote album sales, that's a trade-off that probably only works for established artists. For the rest of us, getting a cent or two per streaming play means you've given virtually free, unlimited access to your music. People have to really "connect" with the music to want to own it.
The reason people truly connect with music is complicated. Musical tastes are often based upon the music to which a person was exposed during their formative years. Those connections are very much influenced by friends and family. That's why personal recommendations are so important in popular music, even for established artists. Record labels pour huge amounts of money into publicity and promotions for their acts to make them as pervasive in the culture as possible. Popularity is infectious. The ubiquity of an artist with a fan base (real or manufactured) makes it more likely that people will recommend the artist to their friends. Musical acts and record companies battle for the public's attention, and as a result independent artists find it impossible to compete with that machinery.
So, with that in mind... If you decide to purchase "U", and if you really like it, please recommend the music to your friends and family like you have in the past. I was very happy that people took the time to post reviews of the first album on iTunes and other outlets, so if you are so inclined this time around I'll very much appreciate your contributions. Of course, it's almost Christmas and, if there's someone you know who is open discovering new music, the CD is a pretty inexpensive gift. You could buy two of them for a $20 "secret Santa" gift for someone in the office - one to keep and one to give away! No pressure though.
So... the labour pains are almost over... time to think about where the kid's going to college.