Long story short, I released an album in November. I have only a very small (but much appreciated) following, so I knew that I wouldn't be selling the thing like hotcakes. I knew I would never make much money off the release, in fact, I knew that I would LOSE money on it, I knew it wasn't going to be the next big thing, and yet I worked though it, spent months arranging and mixing, figured out what needed to be done with distribution, how to get it on iTunes and everywhere else it needed to be so that people could find me, learned all the different ways I needed to be signed up with PRO X and Aggregate Z... and I did it. I finished it, I distributed it, real people out in the world bought it, a few nice people reviewed it, and I was proud of myself.
And then, 17 weeks after my album's release, I hit the first major snag in my plan.
I wanted to be on Pandora. I wanted to be on Pandora so very badly. Understand that I am a heavy Pandora user who has discovered oh-so-many new things using the service, and I'm a big fan of the way they categorize musical elements to create personalized stations. Honestly, I think the whole "Musical Genome Project" thing works very well. I like that about Pandora.
So, I (of course) thought that being on Pandora would offer me exposure to people who would otherwise never hear of me-- because the sad truth is that I spend my days and nights at home with my children, and not out playing the clubs, shilling merch and my music. I make music while my kids are at school, and ONLY while my kids are a school, since my living room is also my studio, and, bottom line, 8 and 12 year olds can make a hell of a racket (also, I don't like them hearing me sing lyrics that may be taken the wrong way, given artistic liberties and any truth bending I may or may not be doing with any particular song.... not to give away any major musical secrets or anything).
I knew my LP was strong enough to be on Pandora... I produced it well, I sent it to an Actual Engineering Legend for mastering, and I got a few very nice reviews from people whose opinions I trust implicitly... but... it turns out that I was wrong about thinking I was good enough for Pandora.
After 17 loooong weeks of waiting, when it was only supposed to be 6-8 weeks, I might add, Pandora denied me entrance to the club.
Now... Just to get this bit out of the way... as an independent artist I have a true love-hate relationship with Pandora and Spotify (I *am* on Spotify as an artist, though, and as a listener, I do pay for the Premium Service. I'd also be super-happy to pay even more for Premium if it meant that artists would be compensated better than they are now, just so you know. Truth). See, Thom Yorke of Radiohead is one of my absolute idols, and I know what he thinks about Spotify and Pandora. And, in my opinion, he's right about it all, generally speaking.
However, I am not Thom Yorke. I am a 41 year-old suburban mother of two that Thom Yorke will never even lay ears on. And, as much as I would love to sing just one song with him, (me, the slightly overweight, middle-aged backing singer, hunched over a mic in some dark corner of the stage), I know that this will never happen. Thom Yorke is right about Pandora and Spotify, but I can't afford to be right. If anyone is ever going to hear me - and I am driven by the need to be heard, not by money, obviously - I need exposure.
But Pandora said, no. And, I'm sort of really, really bummed about it all and sort of giving them the finger and also sort of rejoicing because I didn't have to make Thom Yorke think any less of me... you know... just in case he DOES ever lay ears on me...
Still, it was a painful experience to say the least.
The day after the great Pandora-made-me-cry debacle, my husband was fiddling with one of our Sonos players (I heart my Sonos Players, btw), looking for something new. Neither of us had ever clicked on "Shuffler.fm" before, and we didn't really know what it was. However, when I saw a category called "LoFi", I was like, SO THERE, dude. Clicked it. Put it on. Haven't turned it off, since.
A quick flurry of hands-a-googling and I find out that Shuffler actually digs through music blogs for music that no one has ever heard of.
Wait... What? Because that's pretty much ex-ACT-ly what I need. Eureka! Watson come here, I need you!
I immediately signed up for Shuffler and started researching how it works. I found out that I needed to have my music actually embedded in a blog (not just on my Bandcamp site, or on Soundcloud), and the blog validated by their little botty-bots for my music to appear on the site. I also needed to have it nicely catalogued and tagged on Last.fm (hey! I already have that!).
Ok. I've blogged before, I can very easily do it again (seriously, look how long this post is, already). Let's just see if we can get on Shuffler, then, hmmm?
And so here we are. A music blog. MY music blog. Full of MY music, because ain't nobody else going to put it up there.
And yet.... and yet... OMG, I have so many musician friends in the very same boat.
As I was creating and designing this site, I kept going back to the idea that *I* could be my own damn music blogger, and I could even do the same for my friends. Maybe even let it grow into something bigger, who knows?
I certainly have the experience. Tom Yorke may not know who I am, but my whole life has revolved around music... from singing in community theater as a little kid, to being that weird girl in black who didn't listen to what every one else was listening to in high school, to performing Puccini at the state level of Ohio's Jr. Miss Scholarship program (and WINNING the talent portion of the program, thankyouverrrrymuch), to AAA Baseball games and singing the National Anthem, to hosting my own New Music and Techno radio shows in college, to working at the record store in the mall for a hundred and fifty thousand years or so, to singing my own lullabies to my kids, to learning how in the HELL to use all this crazy digital audio software, learning how to mix, how to create, how to write, how to record, how to produce... and eventually even navigating the exceedingly treacherous waters of music distribution.
And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm having a little trouble with the validation code from Shuffler, but the ball is rolling, and as soon as someone from Shuffler answers my emails, I'm on my way.
Hells yes, I can do this. The question is: WHO ELSE wants in? We can review music, we can talk about products, software and sound design, we can make videos, network, DO STUFF...
Honest to Pete, I am sick and tired of waiting for someone else to help me.
*Side note: I do have a rather lengthy email written to Mr. Yorke about all of this somewhere on my cloud... but, I've never sent it. Maybe some day I will. Maybe someday I'll post THAT, because, why not? It's my damn blog.
"Queen of Somewhere... A beautifully produced, lushly detailed sound banquet built around Julianna McDuffie’s nuanced lyrics, which explore themes of discovery, loss and longing... McDuffie delivers her songs in a rich and compelling, closely miked voice, at a measured pace that largely tracks the rhythm of the heartbeat. She is not shy to explore sound in the service of her voice, and listeners who appreciate attention to aural detail will find a lot to like here—vocal treatments spiral and eddy, trailing their way though a sonic landscape that is recorded with a fine sense of spatial possibility..."
-iTunes Review, by edgemitchell