Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to make your Album art take on a life of its own. (Mobile Music Factory)

I hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are.

I recently have been putting together art for my lasted Album release Honey Dipped. This is my second album release that I've put on iTunes, but the first full band recording I've done. The art for the last Album Zeus's Woodshed  was done by me as well. With this album I'm touring a lot more and I'll be selling Honey Dipped were ever I go. So I had this Idea to give the album art itself a little more depth by adding concept.  Let me explain.

Here is the Honey Dipped album cover.

This is a working draft, I might change the honey spoon to resemble a musical note better.

As I go on tour, for the city's I play shows in I am going to place a post card from that city on the table. In this way as I sell these albums moving on down the highway adding postcards as I go, they reflect the journey I am on. This gives the art itself life. As if the table in the picture is home and I'm sending the postcards back there as I'm on my journey. I make each of these Cd's by hand the same as the Album art. So each time I make a set of them it will be it's own unique printing, and I sign and date each batch I produce, 

 these are being made at a Panera Bread co.
(I will post a blog about producing CD's in small affordable batches later as a chapter in the Mobile Music Factory including templates to use.)

People in each city will see there home town postcards or neighbors on the album and feel more of a connection to the art and hopefully the music. What I truly like about this concept is that it has life because the growing postcards will display a proof of history on the table. Showing that things have happened and are still happening. 

But wait there is more, I like art that has multiple layers to it. Outside the Window is my last albums art for Zues's Woodshed 

As the background in the new art it takes on several representations itself by holding visual information. Its represents the outside world as black and white were everything is yes and no, right or wrong with plenty of the grey areas between what defines were the edge is. The formidable mountain is displaying a sense of grandeur by looming in the distance . The road outside the window is leading away over the horizon. The lines of the road are actually made of a sentence in cursive. It say "May the western winds memory always be felt upon my skin...." You then see a road on the smaller mountain with a small building and stairs to the temple on the big mountain giving a sense of a destination. The tree is bare and shows the sign of the season giving the viewer an idea of what time in the year it is. Then you have the night sky in the back ground showing consolations in the sky. Orion the hunter is predominant in the sky giving a metaphor of hunting for what you desire in the outside world. This is subtle and won't be noticed by most people, maybe only those familiar with the stars. They might also then have the knowledge that Orion is to the West in the Fall and Winter when it comes over the horizon at night. This will give the picture and actual idea of direction.  All these visual cues are waiting to be discovered by the curious viewer. 

When I was submitting the Album art to Itunes/CD Baby I came across an "opportunity". The Art needed to be 1400 pixels and my art was only at 800 pixels. This is a pretty big difference in size so  what I did is added a frame to it. This opportunity gives me the ability to put the art in the background of later albums by just adding a framed picture somewhere.

But wait there's more, The tiny Dragon holding the honey spoon, or as I like to call it a DragonFly, is is another concept in itself.  I have a outside of the box advertising campaign that  will involve Geocaching. If you don't know what geocaching is its a global scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. When I'm on tour I like to go hiking on the off days. The concept for the campaign is to mark special places with my geocache marker which is a dragonfly made out of colorful wire (cat-5 data wire or telephone wire have lots of colors to pick from). This wire Dragonfly will mark the location for a log book container that I will leave free download cards inside of. Leaving things with the log books is a custom for those that participate, they leave something and take something. On the laminated Tongue of the dragonfly is This will speak to the curiosity of people, especially a few miles deep in the woods at the end of a sweet trail, or a hidden away area in a popular city park. This concept is really Advertising for a tiny niche of people and will most likely be discovered by those who are not looking for it. However, I think its cool and defiantly unique. 
I also am planning to use this concept as a type of logo, and a recurring underlying theme or mascot through out my albums and promotion materials. The logo below is a base concept. I plan to make it resemble a dragon more but keep the shape of a dragonfly.

logo created by Jeremy Smith

So as you might be able to tell at this point, I like to put a lot of thought in the things I do. The reason for that is to reward those who like to look a little deeper into things. I'm guilty of taking a long look at creative efforts to see if anything is beneath the surface. If someone feels like looking into something I've created, then I want there to be something for them to see. There is a effect of showing a depth to your art that it gives enough space for people to add there own meanings to it.  In this way they can have a special connection to you and your music that you could of never imagined when producing it.

To some people this can seem to be more effort then what its worth. The question is what its worth to you. To me its worth creating the best that I can with what I have the ability to imagine. In the world me live in today the things that attract peoples attention are the things that are outside of the box. On average peoples attention span has been shaped by the instant gratification we are use to. We don't like waiting for anything, and patience is now a even more valuable virtue. What I find funny about creating art with depth is that it is not a new concept, much to the alternative. Art has always been layered full of depth. Before the invention of TV they had pictures, and paintings, and cartoons, all of which wouldn't be worth their weight in salt if they didn't have depth to hold someones attention. 

Are all these things in which I have done necessary?  No they are not, but why not make things better than they can be.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a good day.

Josh Gilton

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mobile Music Factory

Plato's once said that
 "A man should stand upright and not be held upright by others." This states the need for us to be able to support ourselves. However, he could be referring to how his friends might of drank to much an that he was tired of helping them back home. The statement is open to interpretation. The role of being a independent musician is open to interpretation as well. You have to be able to hold your liquor and your drive of ambition. The real kick in the pants is that you must always keep striving for progress even without much reward. I am guilty myself of not keeping the ambition needed to stay productive. So in an tempt to better myself and continue in the quest to share what I can with the receptive. This will be a place I will gather my thoughts and share them in the most intelligible way I can muster. When you are starting out you are going to be responsible for all sides and aspects of making things happen. You create the Songs, the Art, the CD's, the performance, and the money. You will have to act as your own booking agent, promoter, Public Relations, Webmaster, Blogger, and Street canvasing email getting smiling billboard for you and your music. Well it takes not only drive and ability but it also takes the right tools to accomplish your goals. I put together something that I have been using for a little while now,  I refer to it as a  "Mobile Music Factory" business platform.

Sometimes you need to be able to travel at absolute minimum and for this reason comes necessity of light travel and adaptability.
 My main components: *Instrument and case *Backpack *Laptop/Flashdrive *Smartphone/Camera
 Each one of these will play important roles for me when going on tour if I need to get around using public transportation, or air travel. I have put together a tool kit to allow me to adapt to needs on the road. The smartphone will play very important roles on the bushiness side of things. I will use apps on the smartphone to maintain contacts, emails, navigate and putt out quick content for fans. Having a camera, (especially and HD) is needed to get your YouTube videos out there. You tube itself has made many independent artist serious money by gathering fans on a international level. The flashdrive picks up were the smartphone leaves off. It will contain all the flyers, cd sleaves, or audio for printing and promo. The press kits would be kept here along with full library of original recordings and unreleased demos. Having a laptop that can burn CD's is a powerful advantage because the greater your ability to create product, from Video to Recording to Social Media anytime you want. The main use of the flashdrive beside transporting files to the printer, studio, or who ever  will be loading it with portable apps that can be used on other computers. You should always have a back up plan,(or maybe you don't have a laptop) with this you will be able to create new content while on the move but you are limited to finding a computer to use. With the flashdrive you will be  able to do everything from updating a website to making custom flyers, handouts and other graphics. Most library's and collage campuses have computers that are free to use, and since you run the programz off the flash drive there is no administrator restrictions. In more dire situations you can also use the display models at a Best Buy or Walmart type store. However, complications can arise so use cation and late hours. You got to work with what you got, so its important to remember keep your best promo saved to your phone to be able to send emails with the files in a place in between city's were cell phone reception is you only link to society. It also gives you the ability for direct bluetooth to any tech savvy fan.
 The backpack will have to contain all the things to maintain myself like hygiene, clothing,and important accessories. Minimalism is the key here. I plan on walking a fair amount during my travels. So light weight and multi-functional items will be necessary. Last but not least will be the guitar and hard case. This will be the simplest yet most essential piece of gear. Its the money maker and will hold the guitar and its accessories. The case will be what people throw tips into at a show or in the street. After busking for years now I've used hats, pitchers, vases, beer buckets, you name it. I have come to a belief that people have a physiological preference for the open guitar case. This is the reason I'm electing not to use a gig bag. The complication from this is carrying the guitar. After a mile or two it can become a pain to carry. But I say screw it, a little hardship can grow a lot of character, and a serious amount of strength in your grip.

I will explain more of these items in greater detail. I will add links from this blog to them as they are created and I will also put it in the title of any future post that about using the Mobile Music Factory,
Thanks for reading, I hope this will be as helpful for your as it is for me.

Today's blog brought to you from a library and my backpack (AKA the Mobile Music Factory), as well as this live track from the recorder in my backpack.

Have a good day!