2021 has been quite a year and a record year for writing new material. I currently have 48 tracks “in the vault” and 34 tracks already to go for a very different project. The main focus has been on the Heartache material as well as releasing the first track with Towse. I also set up Green Eyed Records which is an expansion of the Music for The Head and Heart idea which promotes “creativity through collaboration.
Special thanks to Sylvie Simmons for a great interview on GER and a series of terrific conversations about the music industry and to all those who have posted on the GER FB page, which is growing at an amazing rate. 2022 will see the emergence of a Music for The Head and Heart live showcase on a much bigger scale with some fantastic artists. There will also be a major MHH showcase in 2023 as we have already agreed to host a major performer to head up a great showcase. Thanks also to Jen Geering for great behind the scenes work to keep GER on track, Carl Rosamond for amazing sound production, Neil at KimWaves for radio promotion, Rob at Fans for Bands, Frank at Kycker for great advice and everyone who has been involved in creating such great music.
Special thanks also to all the radio plays from Andy Coote, Nick Field, Shelly Morgan, Mike Evans, Daz and many others
Lack of attention to detail and social media misconceptions
I was recently looking for an artist online I know as a possible act for a future live music showcase. In doing a Google search her main site was offline as well as her SoundCloud account! This is of course not unusual and I can only imagine how many opportunities are missed by such a lack of attention to detail. Another misconception is to only use social media as a platform for online communication and not have a central website which you then have control over. Its not just artists that miss “the elusive obvious” of course.
Earlier this year I had an extensive conversation with a music promotor who also did “mentoring” for artists. I offered to pay for her time and booked two hours with a series of questions I had in mind. It was an enjoyable conversation but when I looked at her main site for her company, over 40% of the links for artists simply didn’t work, not the best advert for somebody working as a promotor. I come from a business background and have been teaching communication skills to business and groups across USA, UK, Asia and Europe for the last two decades. I’m amazed that in “the music business” many artists and promoters make a lot of basic mistakes. Yes, we are all learning, but these are basic errors that will directly limit the ability to communicate to a wider audience and/or artists.
Both artists and the public often don’t appreciate that with platforms like Facebook, the “customers” are those who pay for advertising, the rest of us are users of the service. Being on Facebook and complaining how the platform doesn’t meet your personal needs is a bit rich considering that its a free service for users. The benefits of this and other social media platforms is that they can potentially drive traffic to your main site (which of course you can frame in whatever way you want), rather than become subject to the latest algorithm from big tech. Some artists adopt the “I’m not commercial” stance, but then literally endlessly plead to a small fanbase to underwrite and support their creative plans. Nothing wrong with that, but this can be a pretty myopic way of working,
The Green Eyed Records platform and social media
In April this year I set up Green Eyed Records platform to promote discussion and debate. The central idea is “creativity through collaboration” and I talked about this at length with Sylvie Simmons here. As well as running the main site, a small team of us have being exploring using various social media platforms to reach a wider audience and generate more interest for the platform. I’ve been massively surprised by some of the findings. Having never been a fan of graphics with quotes and artist one liners, I have to admit that some of these can generate an extraordinary amount of interest. One of these posts created 6.6k likes, 497 comments and 1.5k shares. This added a huge number of followers and likes for the page, far beyond my wildest expectations.
Its early days for GER, but its become clear that with social media there’s a tipping point that is needed to generate interest and that means an investment of time and money on an ongoing basis. This also means paying attention on a daily basis to how many people are engaging online and what generates attention. I am working with a few artists who value the “creativity through collaboration” ethos and sharing everything I am finding useful in reaching a larger audience. In 2022 GER will also start assisting selective artists with promotional music campaigns to help them develop greater audience reach. We will also start running some live showcases in conjunction with the Music for The Head and Heart platform on a substantially bigger scale than in days gone by!
Maintaining focus and productive messaging online
Another common mistake in developing a good presence online is to lose focus in maintaining a consistent message. Sometimes artists veer off into making all manner of posts that in my view really don’t help promote their image in a positive manner. Two examples of this are Eric Clapton and Van Morrison with their anti vax proclamations. I have no issue with whatever they want to believe in putting their own opinions about health specialists, but having once greatly admired this artists I now think of them as total dicks. Its a real shame as both in days gone by have produced some exceptional music.
Of course there is no right or wrong way to creative a presence online and people can have radically different ideas about this. One thing is certain in recent times which is that more and more people are looking for music via the internet and that social media is increasingly a major factor in reaching a wider audience.
In recent times I’ve semi jokingly posted that “I swear people are getting crazier” and one sign of this is the increasing emergence of the angry emoji nit jobs on social media platforms. These are almost always guys who have FB and other pages with very few friends who don’t seem to understand the social media medium and how it works. For the purpose of this blog I’ll refer to the angry emoji nut jobs as the “AENJs”
The “elusive obvious”, the nut jobs don’t get…
Many of the AENJs don’t get that if a person sponsors a post on a social media platform, then the platform decides where it appears, NOT the person paying for the advert. Of course many people don’t appreciate than many using platforms like FB are “users” as opposed to “customers” The social media platforms, like any business are there to make money and are not a free charitable concern for the wider public. Despite this simple fact many users on these platforms endlessly moan about the very platform they are using for free!
At Green Eyed Records FB platform we regularly run sponsored ads to bring the FB page and the main site to a wider public. Of course we can denote to a degree where adverts appear according to the audience we can to reach. As with any advert some with enjoy it, some will be indifferent and some with not like it. Recently we ran a promotion for a great article from a world renowned music journalist Sylvie Simmons on the whole GER philosophy. Over 100 people “liked” the post, but I noticed a few angry emojis appear, which to me seemed a bit odd. Even stranger was one character complaining that we were spamming his FB page.
I politely pointed out that FB decides where adverts appear and not ourselves. FB also gives any platform user the option not to see any specific advert if for some reason they don’t like it. Its a simple two second click of a button and the ad disappears from the user’s FB page. It takes far longer to work up a graphic and write up a long post complaining about the very platform that they are using for free! What seems odd to me is that the ad was to a great article, there was no sales pitch for any product or service or attempt for data capture. Perhaps unusually GER exists simply to help artists to reach a wider audience and there’s no charge for this help. One of the AENJs describes himself as “Professor at Department of Conspiracy”, make of that what you will! Another is a massive fan of Joan of Arc…
A closer look into this AENJ behaviour reveals that all these characters are from a certain part of the USA, nearly all guys, and in every case they have a very small number of “friends” on their pages. I’m a fan of discussion and debate as that’s how we all learn and of course if anyone actually points out a few simple truths about social media mediums and how they work, there’s never any interest or ability to engage in any discussion. Fortunately these characters are a tiny minority in the scheme of things and I’m really pleased at the positive response to GER showing the latest stats on engagement –
1,114 people like this page 1,234 people follow this page
Creativity through collaboration
The central philosophy of Green Eyed Records is “creativity through collaboration. This is of course explained in the Simmons article here for all those interested in such matters. In my non musical life I teach about human behaviour and problem solving. When I first started out in music I was mystified as to how any artist could could earn a living from music, when there were so many potential hurdles to any form of success. I’m lucky to know a number of artists personally at local level all the way to those playing international stadiums headlining major festivals. I’m convinced that with the reduction of live opportunities due to covid 19 and streaming services which have killed past earnings potential from product sales, a new way of thinking and a new model is greatly needed. We lean and evolve through discussion and debate. We can agree to disagree on matters, but simply posting an angry emoji is IMO pure lazy behaviour that seems to me to be not the best use of time and energy, but each to their own and such actions do make for great stories about human behaviour!
After two years of not playing any live gigs I finally got to play live with the Heartache all electric ensemble. This was a challenge for a variety of reasons including minimal practice time. Fortunately we managed to play a great concise set and Karen Turner took some great photos of the night.
A rare but welcome addition to my instrument family
I had never heard about the Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Telecaster until my bass player Fergus Quill brought his tenor to one of the rehearsals. I thought “Yes it looks cute, but I can’t imagine that its going to sound that great” and how wrong I was. To my great surprise, the pickups sounded great and it played really well. I immediately started looking for one online and found the above placid blue version left in the UK. Aside from somebody asking a truly bonkers price for all three colours on Reverb, these simply don’t exist. Fender did one run and I suspect some players bought them out of curiosity and at a retail price of 429 its not a big financial risk. These are made in Mexico and once I changed the strings for a better gauge and got my tech guy to set it up properly, its a really great guitar.
I have a great acoustic Collings tenor, so I have some familiarity with playing tenors, but the Fender is a very different beast. My years of hanging out with Martin Simpson have alerted me to the terrific possibilities of using non standard tunings and of course the tenor’s standard tuning is essentially two thirds of a standard guitar tuning without the low E and A. With this Fender tenor guitar I am finding that open C is working really well and two songs have already emerged in the first two weeks of playing it.
I also learned from Martin Simpson to experiment with different amps and currently I am a big Supro fan and have been playing through the Supro Comet and the bigger Royal Reverb which has two ten inch speakers. Most of my other amps have twelve inch speakers, so this has been a new exploration for me and I’m pleased to report that the Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Tele sounds superb through the Supro amps and I already have one track recorded, ready for BVs and mixing.
Nick Cody & The Heartache live sound
I’m looking at using the tenor live with the all electric Heartache ensemble and we are rehearsing every two weeks up until our first gig on Oct 2nd supporting Captain of the lost waves. I like the idea of a short 30 minute set to test out the new material and new gear. So when you see me pulling out what looks like a tiny telecaster, you’ll know its one of these rare Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Telecasters!
I have always been a fan of high end recording gear in terms of amps and have to date been a big fan of Ear Trumpet mics, so I was interested to hear what all the fuss was about in the recording sector about this Austrian audio OC818 mic
For those interested in the technical aspects, check the link above.
I’ve used a number of microphones in studios and never really paid a great amount of attention to makes in the same way that I have done to audio interfaces, guitars and amps. Within the first hour of using the Austrian audio OC818, its crystal clear to me that this unit is very different to anything else to date. The responsiveness is quite extraordinary and the initial recordings sound so good that I’m going to re do some parts I had already recorded. To my ears everything sounds like a perfect representation of the vocal take. Many reviewers had made this exact same point and commented on the lack of a need for any post production. I’ve yet to try it out on instruments, but I suspect it will also impress in the same way.
The last nine months have been unusual to say the least with the covid 19 lockdowns and travel restrictions. Fortunately, just before all this happened I was smart enough to upgrade my home studio, not knowing how long this period would last for. Usually I would by now have travelled to Europe, USA and Asia, but of course none of this has been posible.
Recording strategies in the studio
One of the benefits of having a home recording studio is that it can be permanently set up for work. I record on a daily basis, often to sketch out initial ideas. I’ve realised the value of letting ideas develop and not to engage in editing too soon. Sometimes some musical ideas will appear and the key is just to get these sketches down as soon as possible. This is one of the tips I learned from my good friend Tim Booth the lead singer in the band James who talked about his writing and recording strategy in the studio. As a signed artist he would have to deliver material to deadlines set by the record company. If I ever had any aspirations to be a signed artist, these soon disappeared when hearing about record company demands!
Sometimes a song will develop from a set of lyrics that inspire a melody. Since March most of the material has been inspired by musical sketches that often come from just letting ideas appear. In the great songwriting tradition I look for a main verse, a chorus and a middle eight. I never really know what will appear, during this sonic explorations. The Dr Rhythm unit has been invaluable in setting up percussion loops that can be developed into full fledged songs.
The sonic tool kit, guitars and pedals
I’m a massive fan of UAD equipment and plugins. I initially bought a UAD Arrow unit which has been terrific. I recently added a UAD quad satellite which has massively increased the processing power available during the recording process. I have found the UAD plugins to be of the highest quality and the unison plugins which are unique to UAD are described as
“Unison™ technology is an audio processing breakthrough that starts right at the source — the input stage — allowing UA audio interface mic preamps to sound and behave like the world’s most sought-after tube and solid-state designs.”
These plugins used in combination with the ear trumpet mics are really excellent sonically.
One of the benefits of having more time than usual is that I have time to explore instrument and pedal options in some detail. I’ve already blogged about the superb Zen Drive 2 pedal that I have used on many tracks. I have recently added two Jetter pedals to my go to units and am especially pleased with the Jetter 124 Gold unit which is one of the best sounding overdrives I have heard to date. There are hundreds of guitar pedals on the market, but in my experience only a very few really excellent ones.
In terms of guitars I am using my Dan Ranson custom telecaster with Tom Holmes pickups, my Warmoth strat with a Moses carbon fiber neck and my Collings I35 deluxe which is also fitted with Tom Holmes paf pickups. Tom’s pickups are in my view the very best and he’s now at the age of 72 doing his last run. These are all made by hand and are hugely in demand by many guitarists with a nine month back order! Its been quite an experience switching from mostly acoustic instruments in recent years to all electric instruments.
This material will be released across four different projects, each with a different style of music
Tomorrow sees the release of a series of tracks I am recording with Emily Mercer and a host of other excellent artists. I’ve known Emily for a couple of years when we booked her as a support for The Caravan of Dreams ensemble as well as featuring as an artist for Music for the Head and Heart. Emily Mercer is an excellent singer songwriter in her own right and I was lucky to catch her EP launch and see her in action. This is one of five songs I’ve sent over for collaboration, the first being “Wait until the pain is gone” which is currently unreleased. Both myself and my producer Carl Rosamond were so impressed we sent over additional tracks.
“All is fine until the world goes pop” has already been recorded three times, including a brilliant remix by Black Star Liner with a superb video by Nick Bloomfield, which is a terrific but very different interpretation of the track to the Emily Mercer collaboration
The new video tomorrow is also by Nick Bloomfield and will premiere at 9am here