Bare Wood 2

Bare Wood 2 has been on Bandcamp since last November and as of today it is also available from all of the usual streaming services. I am really happy with the cover of the album. Starting with Fete I designed every cover on an iPad and really enjoyed the process. Bare Wood 2 is the last album that will be distributed or manufactured in any form. The next album, which doesn’t have a title yet and which I believe will be ready sometime next year, will only be available through this website and as an individually made and signed CD. It may be a Don Quixote-like move I am making – windmills, wave of progress etc. – but I feel good about it and will be okay with however the chips will fall.

Made a CD

The top image shows a CD that contains the music of the album Fete. I made it to see whether my software was up to date and whether the CD Burner worked with the new cable I got today. The second image shows the first and only existing CD of Bare Wood 2, complete with an error: I wrote Bare Woo2 and then changed the 2 to a D. I am listening to the CD now. “Uma Dança” just ended and I really enjoyed the last section of that song. I haven’t needed to actually burn a CD in a number of years. Files are uploaded and somebody in a factory somewhere manufactures a few thousand of them. It’s as soulless as any modern mass manufacturing. It was nice actually making this. Perhaps I should find some blank paper labels I can stick on the top of the CD…

4th Bare Wood 2 single

Uma Dança
Today I uploaded the fourth single from the album Bare Wood 2 to my digital distributor. It will be available on 2 September. Why am I releasing these singles, you might ask. It seems to me that, in this time of short attention spans, a single receives about the same attention as an album and this way I can stretch that attention out of over several months. People who follow a “new release playlist” will see multiple notices of a new single rather than just one notice of an album. And the second and frankly more important reason is that I enjoy making the cover art. :-)
I am not sure why, after playing with different ideas for several weeks, I chose this image. Among the different designs I was working on this was the one that grabbed my attention every time. It’s the color, of course, but it’s also the mysterious combination of a photo of the head of a conga with the drummer’s hand resting on it and a photo taken in a restaurant in Chinatown, San Francisco, probably the Great Eastern Restaurant on Jackson street–a long time favorite. In my mind the two images combine to create the performance of a Cuban band inside a Chinese restaurant. Big Trouble in Little China meets Bona Vista Social Club? Food and music… nothing better than that.
What do you think of when you look at this cover?

Digital Distribution

This is a true tale about music distribution, help desks, upload limits, and file quality, with a happy ending.

Last week, in Lisbon, I wanted to upload the next single for digital distribution. The upload was ended by the warning File size limit 100MB. This was odd, I thought, because just last month I had uploaded Saudade, which was a little over 100MB in size. I sent a note to the help desk asking whether the 100MB was a newly imposed limit and wouldn’t 150 or even 200MB be a more reasonable limit in order to encourage high quality files. A couple of days later I received this reply:

We strongly recommend uploading 16-bit, 44.1kHz stereo .wav files, as this is the distribution standard across streaming and download platforms. Please note that if you upload .flac, .mp3, or .m4a files, we will convert them to 16-bit stereo .wav files to meet requirements, which may have an impact on sound quality.

Strange, I was pretty sure Apple Music claimed that “Saudade” was Hi Res… I checked and found this:
Screen 2022 07 29 at 05 44 07
I had uploaded a 24/88.2 FLAC file which Apple Music converted to their proprietary ALAC format. That was to be expected and it was still 24/88.2!!Good.

It occurred to me that United Masters might have, with one fell swoop, not only limited uploads to 100MB but also limited distribution to only 16/44.1. This didn’t sit well with me because Tidal subscribers want to get hi res files… that’s why they pay a higher subscription rate. I would want them to get the highest possible quality.

When I thought about this some more, I decided maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if streaming was limited to 16/44.1 because it meant that in order to play higher quality files one would have to buy the album on Bandcamp. Modern music distribution is complicated, which is why I came up with the crazy idea to make music valuable and somewhat exclusive again by ONLY delivering it to members of my Backstage subscription. (Link to that post)

Meanwhile I received another email in response to my request for clarity:

Please note that we are not delivering your files as described above. Apple Music is working through the content that is available on their platform and converting them to ‘Lossless’.
Our product team is always making updates to better suit the files/content we receive, however, at this time, we advise uploading 16-bit, 44.1kHz stereo .wav files, since it’s the distribution standard. That said if you upload .flac, .mp3, or .m4a files, we will convert them to 16-bit stereo .wav files to meet requirements
Our platform is mostly geared towards Rap/Hip-Hop artists rather then Jazz musicians, therefore, these are the guidelines we are asking artists to follow at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Wow, this was getting even stranger. It sounded as if they had never accepted hi-res files, never distributed them, and that Apple Music hadn’t used them. We are geared towards Rap and Hip Hop rather than Jazz musicians. Well, Hip Hop is a lot more popular than Jazz… but Jazz, or World, or Classical music can have a longer shelf life…

I asked whether these were new requirements that were put in place within the last few weeks. And then I received a reply from another person, who clearly know more:

I checked our delivery platform and, as you say, the audio file that was delivered to music services for your most recent release, “Saudade (Bare Version)”, was 24 bit/88.2 kHz (and it looks like it was a little more than 100 MB in size).

That is correct.

My understanding from our engineering team is that they did impose a 100 MB limit on audio file uploads, but this doesn’t mean that anything was automatically downscaled, just that users who tried to upload a file greater than 100 MB in size got an error message (as you did).
And we asked the engineering team to bump that limit up to 150 MB, so you should no longer be having an issue uploading a file up to that size

Nice. 150MB will work for nearly all individual song files.

Re: the standard recommendation to upload 16 bit/44.1kHz files – that is actually meant for users who are trying to upload files with quality that is too low (which is much, much more common than users uploading files with quality that is too high), so apologies for any confusion there.

Ah, the first help desk person was probably following a script and didn’t actually know much about the workings. That happens.

Today I uploaded the next single and had no problems. Release date is 26 August.

Moka + Saudade

I am sitting at my table, next to a fan because we have a heatwave, and am having my morning coffee. I followed Matt’s suggestion (in the comment section of this post) and boiled the water before adding it to the Moka pot. I think the purpose of this may be to make the extraction happen more quickly. What it made me realize is why the original design has those edges. I believe they make the pot more grippy. What I found was that I could not tighten my round pot enough while holding it with a towel and when pressure started to build up vapor escaped where the top and the bottom are screwed together. It is interesting that the designers of newer and stainless Moka pots didn’t figure this out! The coffee was good though and maybe I’ll try again with a silicon hot pad that affords more grip. For now I will switch back to adding room temp water.

Today the second single from “Bare Wood 2” was released on all streaming services and digital outlets. I use UnitedMasters for the digital distribution of my music. For each album or single UM autogenerate what they call a Master Link, which is supposed to make it easy for people to click on the logo of service they subscribe to and listen to the music right away. I guess it is considered too labor and time intensive to use the search function of any streaming service to find the piece. Okay. This is the master link for the new single “Saudade”. You will notice that there is a pop up that declares “I wanna get to know my fans better. Shoot me your info and I’ll add you to my contacts.”

Pause. Well, that’s not something I would ever say, is it. And I can’t figure out whether I can kill the pop-up altogether. It’s the reason I have never used the master link before. I did figure out that I can change the wording of the pop-up – but what should it say? (It’s probably also why I am not good at social media or promotion… most of the tools make me cringe…)

Let me know what you think of the master link. Useful? Bogus? Honestly, I don’t even know where that info goes, should you add your name and email to the pop-up. UnitedMasters database? Go ahead, I dare you! Also cookies… don’t you hate THOSE pop-ups? We don’t use them on this website. However, we will have to use them to make a subscription platform work better… so you don’t have to sign in every time you visit the page.


The first day of the rest of my life. That’s from a movie, isn’t it?

Yesterday “guitar + pipe” arrived on digital vendors, streaming and otherwise. It’s the first track I distributed through a different company. They were fast, with a turnaround of only 10 days. I made a mistake in the spelling of the title (“guitar +pipe” – without the space before “pipe”) to see how quickly they will be able to correct the mistake. I uploaded a second single, “Dance 4 Me” from “vision 2020 (Lockdown Version)”, which will become available on the 21st.

I worked on a video about incense smoke. The first footage didn’t look spectacular. This morning I woke up wondering whether the light needed to hit the smoke from below in order for the smoke to stand out. I found the tiny LED light that a friend gave me. It’s meant to be glued or taped to a drone. It did the job perfectly. Sadly it doesn’t put out constant light and so there is some slow strobing going on. But the look is great. You can check out the work in progress here. This afternoon I found another LED light that doesn’t flash and tomorrow I will work on a less “flashy” version.

Got my first vaccine jab this afternoon. Feels like a momentous step. I honestly do not understand anti-vaxers. My dad’s uncle co-invented one of the several polio vaccines that became available in the Fifties. A big deal that was. Vaccines have saved so many lives.