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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Is a Dumpster Fire worse than a Shit Show?

Herein I attempt to answer the question, but I must first caution you that you will be subjected to repetition of a swear word, poor taste, bad judgment, and further, a song that includes cursing, swearing, and otherwise expletive language that is impolite, rude, disrespectful, disgusting, offensive, and yet arguably funny.


Is a Dumpster Fire worse than a Shit Show?


“shit show”:  a situation or event marked by chaos or controversy.

“dumpster fire”:  a chaotic or disastrously mishandled situation.


Let’s look at what they have in common:


Both are situations.


“situation”:  a set of circumstances in which one finds oneself; a state of affairs.


Both involve chaos.


“chaos”:  complete disorder and confusion


I might sum up those two by saying both are confusing situations in which things are not in order.


Let’s look at what each has that’s unique:


A shit show involves controversy.


“controversy”:  disagreement, typically when prolonged, public, and heated.


A shit show then involves the public strongly not agreeing with the confusing situation for a long time.


A dumpster fire involves a mishandled disaster.


“disaster”:  a sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.


A dumpster fire then is a confusing situation involving sudden, serious damage caused by one or more mistakes.


You might say a key difference is that a shit show is public, whereas a dumpster fire can be kept private.


You might also say a key difference is that a shit show may not involve damage, whereas a dumpster fire does.


You might also say a key difference is that a shit show may not be someone’s fault, whereas a dumpster fire involves at least one person making a mistake.


A shit show might damage your reputation, but a dumpster fire causes great damage, possibly even loss of life, and someone is to blame.


Therefore, I conclude that a dumpster fire must be worse than a shit show.


So, there you have it.  


This begs the questions:  Can a dumpster fire become a shit show?  Can a shit show become a dumpster fire?  Maybe I’ll attempt tackling these in a future post.


For now, I’ll leave you with a related original song I wrote entitled “Shit Show,” which may arguably become a dumpster fire, particularly now that I’ve made you aware of it.

Contains questionable, inappropriate profanity unsuitable for children.  Now that you’ve been warned, if you’re not a minor, the explicit lyrics (and chords) that I’m not particularly proud of are nonetheless available below the video:




Shit Show

By Scott Cooley, lyrics on 2-27-20, revised further on 4-25-20, music on 4-27-20


G                           D                                  Em                         C

Life is just one display of waste after another until you die

       G                                                D                      Em.                              C

The world’s a stage, a chocolate fudge parade flashing before your eyes

G                                            D                                   Em           C

When you’re dead you’re flushed down a toilet to rot in hell

     G                             D                    Em                     C

Forevermore you’re filthy as you fester in a foul smell

D                                                                                        C                                                G

You’ve been schooled in a cesspool of stools, it’s disaster no matter where you go

               D                                                                       C                                           D

When it comes to feculence, you’re so intelligent, nothing’s gonna stop the flow

                             G

Welcome to the shit show


G                        D                                         Em                           C

Life is just one dung performance after another until you die

        G                                        D                                           Em                                  C

It’s already hit the fan, fecal matter has scattered and now it’s covered with flies

       G                  D                           Em.                                C

The only future you foresee has brown corn logs that stink

             G                                D                                    Em                    C

For the rest of time, you’ll dine on peanuts with yellow piss to drink

D                                                                                     C                                              G

You’ve become fluent in bowel movement, total chaos is the only thing you know

                    D                                                                                 C                                       D

There’s no cure for the manure, your vision’s blurred with turds everywhere you go

                             G

Welcome to the shit show


G                           D                                         Em                         C

Life is just one excretion exhibition after another until you die

            G                                             D                 Em                       C

You’re about to snap, and all you see is crap flyin’ across the sky

          G                              D                                                  Em                          C

Everyone’s a bad actor, there’s a cringe factor there’s no more poop excuses

      G                              D                                               Em                                  C

Diarrhea gets deeper, life’s a grim reeker, floatin’ muskies and droppin’ deuces

               D                                                                                C                                   G

A septic tank of excrement and defecation, there’s nowhere for your life to go

       D                                                                                        C                              D

An eternal sewer’s your permanent vacation from the world you used to know

                             G

Welcome to the shit show


Friday, August 13, 2021

Dreams Just Out Of Reach


I got a check in the mail from CD Baby the other day.  Forty-eight dollars and thirty-three cents.  Can't remember what I paid them to distribute my last album over a year ago now, but it was a little less than that.  My music is in all the places people go to find music these days, and the checks have been few and far between, but it's always a pleasant surprise to get an unexpected gift to keep on dreaming of the day when I'll turn an actual profit.  Needless to say, I'm not worried about being in trouble with the IRS if I don't report a few dollars of "profit" as income, considering the money I forked out for minor upgrades to my music recording tools over the years.  

They're still woefully old-school, but you get what you can afford for any hobby.  I intentionally like a low fidelity, analog, minimalist type of sound with my recordings.  I've got a neighbor with at least six sets of premium golf clubs, and by all accounts, he's a terrible golfer.  As a skier, I’ve always made fun of the people who had all the latest gear and looked really good but couldn’t ski very well.  Don’t want to be that person.  On the other hand, I like knowing that people buy what makes them happy, whether it makes them better or not.  I have a fairly expensive Martin guitar, which you could argue I don't deserve, but it makes me happy.

I do feel sorry for people who take it too far though.  Sometimes the dream far outweighs the reality.  People get caught up in acquiring the finest equipment to be more professional-sounding out of passion and believe they can beat the odds and succeed despite an overwhelming amount of competition.  Sometimes the equipment doesn’t help you sound or get any better.

I'd rather be the guy with modest equipment who is pretty good, rather than be the guy who has all the latest, greatest, most expensive stuff and still be mediocre at best.  Some go so far as to really believe they can turn their passion into a legitimate profession, and I applaud them for following their dream, but know they have a tough road ahead.  As an example, just because there are way too many lawyers in the world, doesn't mean there won't always be room for new good ones.  It's just that if you have kids contemplating careers, it might be realistically good advice to steer them clear of law as a career.

I'm at once jealous and surprised at the audacity passionate people have for music when I hear they think they can actually build their own recording studio and get artists to pay them to come there to record.  Some go so far as to invest in a commercial building for such a thing, pay for fancy mixing boards and acoustic treatment and expensive preamps and microphones.  Ambitious to be sure, but very likely to result in disappointment due to a lack of demand.  That said, there’s always the field of dreams hope that if you build it, they will come, or at the very least, you’ll have better quality recordings of your own music.

I was among the first wave of amateurs who put their music in online music stores like iTunes when such a thing became possible via TuneCore, the first aggregator/distributor I used.  The reason I switched to CD Baby for the same service was a very easy choice:  they offered a one-time fee to distribute indefinitely, whereas TuneCore began demanding an annual renewal fee to keep the previously-released albums available in the stores year after year.

Anyone with an instrument, microphone, computer, and internet connection can reach a global audience with their music now.  The vast majority have little or no realistic prospect of meaningful income.  A part of that majority for a couple of decades now, I've never made the jump from "amateur enthusiast" to "middle class" as a self-contained DIY independent solo recording artist, despite having my music available in all the same places as professional artists.  

You can find my ten albums on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and YouTube just like you can find a major-league artist like Bob Dylan's.  It gives the impression I'm playing in the same league, with the same potential as anyone else.  Having the possibility of income makes for great dreams, but the reality is I'm not even close to playing AAA ball.  I could go on with another baseball analogy that all I need are some hits to hang with the big boys, but let's face it, I'm in the same ballgame as millions of other amateurs.  The dream seems close, but realistically, it's far out of reach.

This type of situation could cause resentment or at least frustration.  If you've read any of my other previous posts on this blog, you know I've experienced some frustration, particularly in the beginning.  The potential for discovery, appreciation, and income remains, and that's why I keep releasing new music every couple of years.  Even without any income, the nominal fee is the equivalent of buying a lottery ticket.  You can't win if you don't play, and the fantasy stays alive until you check the winning numbers.  The "what if" daydreaming is worth the price.

Just like a kind compliment from someone, a small royalty payment goes a long way toward keeping the dream of a growing audience alive.  My music is not for everyone, I know that.  There’s a lot of it to enjoy, once you get hooked on it.  Discovering an artist you like and then checking out all of their back catalog in your free time can be a lot of fun.  I do it all the time, and in this day and age, the convenience of asking google to play any song by any artist any time, whether from a home smart speaker, smart phone, car stereo, or computer makes it easy.  Then you can check out the videos on YouTube, read about the artist on their website, read their blog, etc.  

My catalog is out there for you to comb through, start developing a mental list of the ones you like best, eventually listening to them all, having that list evolve with time, and knowing there are more on the way.  I love knowing that’s possible, and I love making it possible for you, whomever you are.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Open Mic Night: Learn Guitar In Front Of A Real Audience

Embarrassment.  We’ve all experienced it.  I’ve embarrassed myself in front of live audiences.  I’ve also witnessed others embarrassing themselves in front of live audiences, whether they knew it or not.  If you’ve been to a typical open microphone night, you know they can at times be cringeworthy.  People who arguably have no business being on a stage get up anyway and try to play cover songs after barely learning a few guitar chords.  In my case, it was the singing.  I’ve always known I’m not an awesome singer, but I’ve always done it anyway.


From a Tenacious D episode
From a Tenacious D episode

As a songwriter and recording artist, I’ve released some embarrassing recordings of embarrassing original songs.  Looking back on my catalog, there have always been one or two songs on each of my albums that I wish I’d left off.  I released them anyway for whatever reason I had at the time.  There are no artists who don’t have a few bad songs on their albums, and it’s well documented that even the greats have regrets.  Let’s just say I have quite a few that would not be worthy of consideration for a best-of album.


Here’s a quick list of a few cross-offs that in my own opinion don’t add much to my repertoire:

From the 2004 Moon Dreams album:

  • Better Days

From the 2006 Lakeside Landing album:

  • Against the Tide

From the 2008 Drive Time Companion album:

  • Cooley’s Rap
  • The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

From the 2010 Sense Of Belonging album:

  • Stay
  • Homesick

From the 2012 Cherchez La Femme album:

  • Forever In Shame
  • With All Of My Heart

From the 2014 Used To Be Good Looking album:

  • Goin’ Up To Leadville

From the 2016 Rest Assured album:

  • None

From the 2018 Missing The Boat album:

  • Got It Made
  • Sink Or Swim

From the 2020 Bluebird Days album:

  • None


When you wish you could take something back, there can be a lot of reasons:  out of tune, bad mix, too much of a novelty song, stereotyping, contrived rhyming, too-personal subject matter, too sappy, unclear meaning, too whimsical, contains altered state reference, too monotonous, contains mistakes, has sexual connotations, too hokey, contains swearing, etc.  When you wish you could edit something, there can be a lot of reasons too:  rearrange sections, revise lyrics, change key to suit vocal better, change chords, fix minor imperfections in the recordings, etc.


Sometimes in retrospect, you wish you would’ve weeded out certain songs and left them off the album and never released them just because there’s something about each of them that is annoying.  Somehow, your thinking at the time was that they were good enough based on the new song recordings you had available.  For certain songs, being excited about them while they’re new gets in the way of giving them time for later reflection that would reveal they were not as good as you once thought.


When you choose to put new music out into the world, it's a risky proposition because you open your vulnerability for public praise or criticism.  Who doesn’t look back on decisions with regret once in a while?  It happens to the best of us.  The important lesson is to practice patience, and give new creations time before re-evaluating their worthiness of inclusion in a new release.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Trust, Safety & Buckets

I thought I would let the imaginary blog readers and website visitors out there know that I've recently updated both this blog and scottcooley.com with improved security, because I care about your safety.  Hopefully this will entice you to visit and read more often, and maybe even recommend reading the words I type and sing to some of your friends.  I've always had imaginary friends, and I'd like to have more.  

One way I've set myself up to attract more of you is to make you feel safe and confident with your reading and listening during your visitations.  I've done this by implementing the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which you can identify by these letters at the beginning of the web address displayed at the top of your web browser.  Even if you don't type it to navigate here, it redirects automatically, so for example, if you only remember the domain because you know my name, and you type blog.scottcooley.com, or just scottcooley.com, it will load the content, but the actual URL will be https://blog.scottcooley.com or https://www.scottcooley.com.  

This communications protocol encrypts exchanged data between your client browser and my server via third-party trust certificates and prevents eavesdropping and tampering while keeping your browsing private.  The technical details can be intimidating, but rest assured, its safer for you and me.  It can also improve the website ranking, which could result in even more friends, imaginary or real.  

If you couldn't already tell, I like to joke that I write all these songs and web content and blog posts that no one ever becomes aware of, and I question both the point of it all and my own sanity at times, but I do it anyway because I like it, and I maintain sincere hope for a larger audience.  For those of you who are reading this long after I type it, I'm glad you discovered it.  It is out of a desire for people like you to have a good experience when interacting with and consuming content I've created that I have implemented these measures to build your trust to come back for more.  

It may be of interest the odd coincidence that my new job title is Trust and Safety Content Analyst at LinkedIn, a professional social network that I work to keep professional and safe for its users in my day job.  On these pages I've also enjoyed in the past joking about the fact that I've wisely not given up my day job in pursuit of a songwriting career, and that is still the case.  After an extended period of unemployment during the pandemic, I feel fortunate to have a paycheck again, particularly due to the fact that my streaming royalties for the music I've released were a drop in the bucket to sustain me during a challenging time.  

Less than that even, since the fractions of a penny don't come close to adding up to even one single penny to drop into said bucket.  On LinkedIn every day I read of people who are much worse off than me, who are struggling to find work, and who have resorted to asking for financial support to tide them over from the kindness of strangers.  I understand hitting that type of low point, having similarly made public a method to accept donations in this recent post (https://blog.scottcooley.com/2021/01/asking-for-support-backwards-proposition.html  -  note the https at the beginning of that URL), and although I did not receive any response -probably due to the fact that no one became aware of it due to a lack of actual readers and/or fans- I'm happy to report things have improved.  

Yes, as a writer of many sad songs, and as someone who has had my share of hard times, I can relate to the pain in the world right now.  It's the stuff of great songs, it's healthy to talk about your troubles I think, and misery loves company.  Sometimes hearing about the difficulties of others can make you feel better about your own, as is the case with the reason people love blues music and sad country songs.  

And this reminds me of a great way to both sum and wrap up this post - two versions of the great song "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" one by Hank Williams, the other by Jimmy Page & Robert Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=045__ojHb_g


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYj2J6RMivk



Enjoy, and hope you'll be back for more words & music.  If not, that's cool too, hope your life improves too as we get back to easier living in the year ahead.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

"coversbycooley" YouTube channel features new epic acoustic Neil Young jam w/ mashed up lyrics from SNL comedy skit

Especially in times like these, when everyone has cabin fever, you can lose your music mojo.  Here's a little scenario of one example of what you can do in such a situation to get back into a groove again.


If you’re like me, you and at least one other dude have jammed a 10-minute epic acoustic-only cover version of Down By The River by Neil Young in a basement or living room at least a few times in your life, and loved it.  I’ve recreated such a jam session in my home studio with me playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals.  However, I mashed up lyrical content I culled from a Saturday Night Live skit, supposedly written by Bob Odenkirk (known for acting as character Saul Goodman) believe it or not, with the music and chorus of that song.  The result is the following YouTube video of “Down By The River (In A Van)” for your enjoyment:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EHXJ32WlQo




It’s on the "coversbycooley" channel I put together a while back on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/coversbycooley/videos), which contains many acoustic multitrack recordings I’ve made of songs I like by other artists, ranging from the cringeworthy to the mediocre.  This is the first time I’ve made anyone aware of it on this blog, so now you know about it, and I hope you find time to enjoy the other 67 songs on there.


This is what happens when you’re a songwriter in a drought.  You make up lyrics from the dialogue of a famous comedy skit, like these:


Down By The River (In A Van)

Em  Em7  A    Em  Em7  A

       Em7                                              A

My name is Matt Foley and I’m a motivational speaker

              Em7                                                                        A

For the last four hours I’ve been downstairs drinkin’ coffee with your dad

    Em7                                          A

Before I begin let me tell a scenario about myself

      Em7                                                   A                         Cmaj7   Bm

I’m thirty-five, thrice divorced, and I live in a van, oh yeah, ooh  ooh yeah

      Cmaj7                               Bm                      C                                               Bm           D

I’m gettin’ my gear and I’m movin’ in here, ‘cause I’m sick and tired of livin’ in a van


G        D         D A     G D           D  A

Down by the river, I shot my baby

G        D          D A    Em7    A      Em7        A

Down by the river, dead, ooh, shot her dead


Gonna tell you a little story about a boy who liked to throw things

Started out throwin’ eggs, then he threw the big game, yeah!

Threw back a shot of whiskey, and then he threw up

Got thrown out of the house, and moved into a van     oh yeah  oooh yeah

I’m gettin’ my gear and I’m bunkin’ here with you kids, ‘cause I’m sick and tired of livin’ in a van


You won’t amount to jack squat, on a steady diet of government cheese

From what I’ve heard, you wanna be a writer someday young man

You’re using your paper not for writin’,  but for rollin’ doobies

Gonna be doin’ a lot of doobie rollin’ when you’re livin’ in a van      ooh   la la la yeah

I’m gettin’ my gear and movin’ in here, ‘cause I’m sick and tired of livin’ in a van


Then you feel the urge to play, and you’re alone, so you record yourself as Crazy Horse unplugged in your home studio with a couple microphones playing all the parts.  You insist on making it last at least 10 minutes, of course.  🤘 It’s what you do.  


Helps you get back into a creative mindset sometimes, too.  Until next time, party on campers.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Asking for Support – A Backwards Proposition?

I’ve been unemployed for a long time now and due to the pandemic, have had a tough time finding a new day job.  With all the free time on my hands, I have of course written a few new songs, but it’s a bittersweet situation and not as ideal for a songwriter as it sounds.  I’ve always wondered if the song quantity and quality would improve if I didn’t have to work, but needing income is a constant worry, and I’m actually more prolific when more busy, as odd as that may sound.

When not applying for jobs, I’ve wondered if I could figure out ways to earn more money with my music, how to make the music more commercial and competitive in the marketplace.  Since I’ve always been more of a songwriter than a singer or instrumentalist, practice aside, the one thing I might theoretically have control over is the quality of the recordings.  Although I’m satisfied with my low fidelity homegrown approach, I’ve wondered about professional studio time and the related equipment, techniques and costs.

Through surfing the Web recently in an attempt to try to learn what other, more successful musical artists have that I don’t (other than more talent), I’ve learned a few things and want to share with you my key takeaways.  The biggest takeaway, and focus of this post, is that I’m dumbfounded by the number of seemingly well-established artists signed to real record labels who engage in shameless fundraising to record and release new albums.  

My immediate reaction is to ask “shouldn’t the record companies pay for this?”  Isn’t that what record labels do?  I thought they advance expenses related to recording and promotion, then recoup with sales percentages as their basic function.  It is confusing.  I won’t name names, but there are countless examples out there of popular artists currently signed to popular labels with multiple released albums who are asking people to donate money for their next recording project.  Let me get back to my motivation a bit first to give a proper background to my confusion.

Sound quality

To get the obvious out of the way, there are countless artists out there who can sing way better than me and play instruments way better than me, so it makes sense they’d be more successful than me.  More practice in those areas aside, I’ve wondered what else could I be doing?  One is to get a better sound quality, like the kind you can get when you pay for time in a real recording studio with a real engineer and maybe even a real producer.  Another is to pay professional session musicians play a lot of the parts on the recordings.  Presumably, you’d end up with everything quantized and automatically tuned perfectly, with tastefully appropriate effects, proper eq, compression, mastering and all that stuff.  The end result would still have my melodies and lyrics and substandard voice, but paying a bunch of money would get me a modern, professional, radio-ready level of sound quality.

As a do-everything-myself home recording artist, I do the best I can with what I’ve got.  I can’t afford anything else.  Admittedly, there’s no accounting for people’s taste in music, and anything I’ve ever written about myself has an undercurrent theme that I think my songs are pretty good, despite not being able to deliver them all that well.  I dream of hearing mainstream artists recording versions of my songs that would make people realize they are as good as I think they are.  I dream of my own recordings gaining massive popularity long after I’ve given up.  Pipe dreams.  However, I would never dream of asking the few fans I have to just give me some of their hard-earned money so they could hear what a new Scott Cooley album would sound like with pro-level sound quality.  

As a matter of fact, I’m told part of my appeal is the “lo-fi” sound my recordings have.  My vocals are “pitchy,” my percussion is slightly off-beat at times, my tempos vary slightly throughout each song, my guitars can be slightly ahead of or behind the beat, parts aren’t perfectly synchronized, instruments can be slightly out of tune, etc.  I use a little effect like reverb here and there, but don’t know how to use it correctly, as a pro would, and when I do, it arguably sounds worse than it did before, which is why I leave all of the tracks fairly clean.  People have told me they like it that way.  They like the fact that I record everything live with microphones and all acoustic instruments.  They like the amateur quality.

Exposure

Nonetheless, better sound quality is something an infusion of cash could help with, no doubt.  Another is that I do absolutely nothing to make people aware that my music exists at all, other than post a tweet to my few followers and announce it on my website hardly anyone visits, let alone is aware of.  That’s the other thing it seems you get when you’re signed to a record deal – they actually pay for ads, they actively get people who write about music to write about yours.  That costs a lot of money, I am assuming.  

Word-of-mouth without any of that is what I’ve been hoping for.  Just as it feels wrong to ask for money to record a higher-quality sounding album, it feels wrong to ask for money to get exposure.  Truth be told, I don’t want fame at all, I don’t want to be a celebrity, I don’t want to be a public figure in any way.  All that would be terrible, from what I can tell.  I want organic popularity without any of that.  Without paying for fake follows and likes, and without any grandiose gimmicks to get attention, I’d like to have an increasing fanbase through real recommendation.  Accidentally going viral, yet somehow remaining mysteriously anonymous as a person.  These are Catch-22’s, I’m aware.  

Streaming, touring and merchandise

Streaming offers fractions of pennies as compared with CDs or vinyl.  The best way to support me as an artist currently would be to buy one of my CDs that are still currently available, rather than streaming.  I could pretend to be more professional than I am and offer t-shirts, but that would be embarassing because I don't play live gigs.  It wouldn't be possible anyway due to the pandemic.  

A record company and most individual patrons want a return on investment, and that means touring and merchandise.  Realistically, although I’m capable of practicing enough to memorize my own songs and play live gigs and get applause and enjoy it, despite knowing that would help with exposure and record sales, it doesn’t sound fun to me to do that all the time.  To constantly travel and perform to make money isn’t the type of life I want.  I’m a homebody, not a live performer.  

If I hit the lotto, and then decided to sink a ton of it into advertising, and also to hire pro music PR people or whatever they’re called to get me press and media exposure, it would certainly help.  Would any of my current fans enjoy having a t-shirt with my name and picture on it?  Possibly a couple, but even with increased exposure and popularity, I just don’t see much of a demand there.  I’m not much to look at anyway.  I know the appearance of popularity begets actual popularity, so they could certainly help with that.  I wouldn’t mind doing interviews for publications, but public appearances would need to limited to only a few per year.  Currently, I don’t do any, and frankly, I like it that way.  

The Bob Dylan / Nick Drake dreams

I’m happiest to have my little modest home studio where I can put on my mad scientist cap from time to time and write and record songs.  I like everything about my current level of involvement in music, except I’d like it to reach a larger audience.  To make it more appealing, I guess money would help with sound quality and exposure and thus popularity and sales.  I’m not going to ask people for it though.  It doesn’t feel right to me.  

They say people realize what a great songwriter Bob Dylan is after hearing other artists’ covers of his songs.  I’m content daydreaming that someday, great and popular recording artists will discover and record cover versions of my songs that are better than my own versions.  They say obscure artists can become popular and appreciated long after they’re gone like Nick Drake, and never got to enjoy it in their lifetimes.  Maybe after I’m dead, I’ll gain popularity without having to deal with the downside of experiencing it myself.  Chances are slim, but the potential is there.  

It would be neat if there’s an afterlife in which you can enjoy looking down on living world as they wonder why you never got the appreciation and mass appeal while alive.  They’d wonder if you were ahead of your time, and conclude the world just wasn’t yet ready for it during your lifetime.  Either the Dylan or Drake scenarios are appealing.  Potential without the trappings of fame, that’s where I comfortably sit I guess.  Submitting my next album to a record company who says they’d like to give me a bunch of money to re-record it with pros and get ready to tour and sell t-shirts?  Nah, no thanks.  

Aggregator distribution and tax avoidance

Thankfully, the whole CD Baby thing happened, allowing amateur artists like me to have that potential.  I’ve never made enough to actually report income to speak of, so it’s like our president’s companies that constantly lose money.  It costs me more to distribute than I get back from people purchasing my music, but it’s a nominal cost that is like buying a lotto ticket:  you can’t win if you don’t play.  It’s a license to fantasize.  Losing well and keeping up appearances.  I’m guilty of it as a songwriter and recording artist, representing myself in the most favorable light, but I have morals, and though imperfect as we all are, I draw the line and like to think I have integrity.  

I have great pride that my music is completely self-made, like it or not.  I acknowledge my wife has helped me with some accordion and editing suggestions here and there, but otherwise, love doing it all myself.  The appearance of success can get you elected president of a big country.  There are a lot of people who pretend they’re self-made, forgetting to acknowledge the help they got along the way, and hiring tax avoidance strategists who provide them with advantages in maintaining this situation, and seemingly live well with themselves.

Crowdfunding and liner note acknowledgment

So maybe the way it works now is that even if you are on a record label’s roster, you have to fund your own album recording costs somehow, then submit your high-quality pro music to the record company, and then maybe they still pay for the hype in exchange for a cut of the sales.  They probably have a tough time turning a profit these days, I would think.  It’s surprising that they keep signing new artists consistently though, year after year.  

If they rely on patrons of the arts to contribute, anonymously or otherwise, it helps everyone stay afloat perhaps.  Anyone can have a donate button on their website that anyone can use to send money into an artist’s account, no strings attached.  If I was a music appreciator with a lot of money, maybe I’d like to help a friend, but not a random stranger.  Just to see them do well, or better, might be satisfying in and of itself.  I’m no philanthropy expert, but I would imagine that a lot of people want acknowledgement in the liner notes, just like they want the building named after them that they donated to their alma mater, or getting their name on a plaque at a local theatre or whatever.  

They want credit, recognition, and the supposed community prominence that comes with their charity.  It could be that since it seems to work some of the time, the labels said do your own crowdfunding, record the highest-quality album you can, then send it to us, and maybe we’ll release it if we like it, maybe not.  Maybe that’s replaced advances for recording.  It remains confusing to me, and a bit sad.  

It takes audacity I simply don’t have.  You can go to the indie label websites that list artist rosters, then go to those artists’ websites, where you can then see their posts of them asking their fans for support to finance the recording of their new batch of songs.  Seems like a backwards proposition to me.

Making potential donors aware of the ability to accept

All that being said, at one time I did in fact set up a Donate page on my personal web site, with some language I brainstormed about what would be in it for the giver and the receiver, and even went so far as to set up a PayPal account to make it quick and easy should anyone ever want to contribute to my quest for improved recording quality.  It's similar to this venmo thing the kids use these days.  I never made anyone aware of it though, and this post rationalizes that reluctance.  It just so happens that I have in my lifetime become acquainted with many a trust-funder type who would probably never admit they feel guilt for not deserving or earning their wealth, but it occurred to me that some of them may just be odd and twisted (and generous and kind) enough to part with some of it and send me a giant payment anonymously, no questions asked, and without expectations.  If you’re one of them, I can honestly say it would be cool if you did.  

Would I use it for improved sound quality and exposure?  Absolutely.  Is it possible you’d later learn that I bought a large trimaran sailboat and ski-in/ski-out mountain home with your money instead?  Yes.  Would I feel embarrassed or ashamed about it?  A little, but I predict I’d get over it quickly, just like you have managed to learn to get enjoyment out of your standard of living, whether you had to work hard for it or not.  This might add to that enjoyment immensely.  You won’t know ‘till you try.  The grand experiment, unproven to this point in time, may finally have an outcome!  You could know if a cash infusion could show what I’ve always suspected myself:  that my songs are indeed better than my recordings of them reveal.  

Songs as unique investment opportunities

It's actually a hot topic in the music business news lately - famous people like Dylan, members of Fleetwood Mac, and Neil Young selling their back catalog of song rights to investment companies.

If you're interested in some sort of investment in my potential future recording or back catalog earnings, I'd of course be willing to talk to you about it, but realistically I don't see any such potential without marketing and exploitation and a lot of luck.

Shameful random songwriter support benefactor solicitation

What I could benefit from instead is direct, no-strings-attached contributions from either people I know or kind strangers who prefer to remain anonymous.  Well, what the heck, I’ve now talked (blogged) myself into deciding to make people aware that I do have in place the capability to receive donations.  I can only gain from it. So here's the shameless pitch with handy button you can click to send me money (now also at the bottom of my Contact page):

Stand With Scott - No independent solo artist, even a do-it-all-yourselfer like Scott, is capable of developing a great music career alone. Aside from buying the CDs, or volunteering some free time to help promote the music, if you'd like to reach out by way of donating directly (either anonymously or to get a free future CD with your name in the liner notes), we now offer that ability.  You should probably be an adult U.S. citizen using your own funds with a personal credit card issued to you in order to contribute, and you should be aware that your gift is probably not deductible as a charitable contribution for Federal income tax purposes.  To be one of the first to help Scott get off to a strong start making his next batch of new songs into a future album release of higher quality than ever before (and to help offset associated expenses with recording and marketing), click the button below:
paypal.me/scottrichardcooley

In case that button doesn't work for you, here’s the direct link for good measure:

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/scottrichardcooley