While most of my living over the past few years has been based on proofreading, writing and record label consultancy (on archive projects), music creation has also been a part of the picture. I’ve been making recordings, often with myriad guests from the fully professional music game and from the local music community in NI, for 30 years. I’ve been fortunate enough that it’s been a hobby or side-line that has more or less paid for itself, with between £1,000 and £2,000 a year from airplay and sales (CD & DL) in recent years… up to a cliff-edge in 2019. I suppose the rise of streaming is a big part of that (and yes, you can find two CH albums, an EP and a couple of singles from 2015-2020 on Spotify et al. – the music might as well be heard, but the rewards are in pennies).
I had a handful of compositions I wanted to record this year, with fabulous mid-Ulster singer Breige Devlin, and thought I might as well try crowdfunding – selling in advance – to cover the studio costs. We’ll have a few guests on the eventual mini-album. In the photo with the Fundrazr campaign link, for example, are Celtic-rock legends Barry Devlin and Jim Lockhart from Horslips (who will guest on one number) and sensational producer/engineer Cormac O’Kane, at whose RedBox Studios, Belfast we’ll record. I’ve never used crowdfunding before for a personal music project – only for one self-published book and for a couple of charity appeals. It took a bit of ruminating to accept the notion – but ultimately, art costs money. I’ve happily supported many similar crowdfunding campaigns by other musicians and friends myself and I suppose, in the absence of sales / airplay revenues from the old model, the kind of patronage-with-rewards model is just the way it is now.
Every penny raised, whether that turns out to be 20 quid or the full £1,400 sought (which equals four days studio time with the right studio), will be going into Belfast’s professional arts economy. Aside from that, I’ll personally be paying fees to several fully professional musicians. Not so much the old slogan ‘keep music live’ as ‘keep music alive’… however one can.