Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Scott Cooley Music Videos

 Many if not most people out there in the world have surely noticed by now that because of cheap music recording equipment, the internet, and social media, there are now millions of amateur musicians who put recordings of themselves performing music online for the world to potentially discover and enjoy.  Like it or not, I am one of them.  It's great that this is possible, and yet, because there are no gatekeepers, there is no quality control.  The masses stream music now anyway as the preferred method of consumption.  Increasingly, people also like to enjoy music that has accompanying video content.  YouTube Music gives you both streamable audio and video (the service I recommend), but even the Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music users still go to YouTube to find videos associated with the music they like.  There are still record labels and radio stations that perform a gatekeeping/quality control function, but they are easily bypassed. 

I'm not sure if I've ever announced the existence of my live video channel on on this blog or elsewhere on, but in case I have not, here is the link:  It features me playing songs I've written live into a webcam from my home computer.  They are much worse than the studio versions of my songs on the records I've released for two main reasons:  1) I'm not a good live performer, and 2) My physical appearance detracts from enjoyment of the music.  So, with that warning in mind, you can now feel free to hit play on them, knowing I don't think you'll be particularly impressed.  Recently, I took the opportunity to add new intro lyrics to a live version of my song "One More Mile to McDonald's" while attempting to use my friend Rich's mandolin - an instrument I have no idea how to play.

Hope it's not too disappointing, and although it goes without saying, I'll point out the obvious differences between live Scott Cooley and recorded Scott Cooley anyway:  You'll only hear a single instrument being played with a single vocal, I don't look good or have impressive playing skills, I'm a bad singer, and there's no fixing of errors in a live performance.  I know that even if you're only a casual music fan and not a musician or recording artist yourself, you understand that home studio recordings offer the blending of multiple instrumental and vocal tracks to achieve the sound of a band consisting of multiple people, and further, that they offer the ability for "do-overs" for mistake correction.  I wish I was the type of solo guitar player who could do some fingerpicked instrumental breaks, but I'm not, so you won't hear the solo lead guitar riffing present in my recordings.  Nor will you hear any of the other instruments (bass, keyboards, drums, marimba, harmonica, etc.) or backing vocals I play and blend into my multitrack studio albums.  I also know that you know that a part of the appeal of enjoying live music is how the performer looks - their stage presence, style, the way they're dressed, the way they move, etc.  There is a reason popular performing artists are typically young and attractive and energetic, and I'm none of those.  

You'll get immediate confirmation of the reasons I don't play live shows.  As I've explained throughout my blogging about my hobby herein, I only enjoy writing songs and recording them.  I do this process quickly and without practice, then move on to the next song.  I get the recordings close to what I imagined they should sound like, and then I write and record more, never spending more than about an hour on a single song.  Sometimes I write one in 5 minutes, and finish the recording in about a half hour, some a little longer.  I never intend to memorize them and play them live in front of people, let alone record videos of me playing them live.  Nevertheless, I've done a few of them anyway, because I thought some people might find it interesting.  It might also be helpful for you to understand that the vast majority of my recorded output are songs that I only play once or twice all the way through prior to recording them, and then I never play them again.  I put the typed lyrics in front of me on my computer screen out of necessity because I have not ever memorized any of my own songs, and you can see me squinting to read them as I sing, which I know is annoying, so I am hereby acknowledging I'm aware of that.

I take full responsibility for contributing to the increasing amount of low-quality music online.  Like millions of others, I know I'm not good, but I do it anyway.  The kind/polite encouragement of family and friends is also a contributing factor, and again, I take responsibility for allowing it to spur me on to continue with a hobby I know I'm not good at.  You can't have great, good and mediocre artists without some bad ones too for comparison's sake, and that's a service I happily provide.  Despite the ability to fix imperfections, my studio recordings are the result of a hasty warts-and-all approach, yet they still offer the ability to make myself slightly better than I really am.  Live performance captured on video, however, offers no such ability, and takes that approach to another level of being naked and raw.  It takes bravery, a combination of false and real confidence, and a willingness to be vulnerable.  This risk-taking behavior I've engaged comes with a certain level of shame and embarrassment that is offset by the virtual barrier of the internet - the same type of anonymity people experience in dark movie theatres in which they are less afraid to get vocal.

The aforementioned live video music content is what I would consider "The Ugly" - meaning the least palatable.

The Bad

On a semi-related note, there is also a place on YouTube where you can listen to my attempts at home recording multi-track cover songs of songs I like by other artists here:

The Good

Lastly, I plan to up my video game on my "official" YouTube channel here in the coming months as well:, so stay tuned to my tube for music videos in which I combine my home studio-recorded audio of songs from my released albums with free video footage I've found online.  For the same reasons people cringed when hearing their own voice on outgoing answering machine or voice mail greetings, and for the same reasons people cringe when seeing themselves in photos and videos, all but one of my music videos do not contain footage of me lip-syching to my own recorded audio.   Coincidentally, I wrote, recorded, and released a song titled "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" many years ago that does not yet have a video associated with it.  It would've been cool if I had produced one and included it in a post with this title, but I did not.  Oh well.

If you're an amateur songwriter who has been bold enough to record your songs and put them on the web, then go so far as to also have a blog, website, and social media presence thinking this would somehow improve the discovery/appreciation chances, you then eventually and logically decide that having music videos might also help you improve those chances.  It's what you do.