The Inexorable Forward March of Bandcamp Friday

Yes, poor readers, here it is again: another Bandcamp Friday.  Other than one of the earliest times I posted about this glorious monthly holiday—during which Bandcamp waives its usual commission on sales through its site—I don’t know that I’ve ever made a sale hawking my musical wares via the blog.

Well, if at first you do not succeed, pester, pester again (alternatively, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, but all musicians are a bit crazy… right?).  Also, with my lovely new readers from the British Isles, it’s never been a better time to bilk them out of their hard-earned pounds sterling.

Fortunately for them—and you, my fellow countrymen!—my entire discography (seven albums!) is just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount (just £14.50 as of 1 September 2021, according to Bing).  That’s $2.85 (£2.07) per release, the kind of deal you only get on cassette tapes at the gas station (or from yours portly!).

Read More »

The Return of Bandcamp Friday

After taking off during the long summer months, Bandcamp is bringing back Bandcamp Friday today, and continuing it the first Friday of every month through the end of 2021.

For those that have forgotten—or steadfastly ignored my many, many, many, manymany posts about it—Bandcamp Friday is when Bandcamp waives the 15% commission they usually take on sales through the site.  So, if you buy, say, Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse for $4, I get almost the full $4 (PayPal takes a small cut still), instead of $4 minus $0.60 to Bandcamp.

Another, more dramatic example:  if you buy my full discography at $19.98, Bandcamp doesn’t take their $3 cut, so most of that goes directly to me (again, minus the transaction fee PayPal assesses).

Bandcamp began doing Bandcamp Fridays during The Age of The Virus, when most musicians (myself included) witnessed a catastrophic drop in their revenue.  Venues closed or stopped live music; parents withdrew students from one-on-one lessons; and private parties were cancelled, meaning fewer of those lucrative gigs.  Also, fewer live performances meant fewer royalties for songwriters.

Fortunately, that situation is improving, and people are eager to get out and hear live music again.  Still, pitching in a few bucks helps immensely—and you get some good music in the process, too!

So, on with the sales pitch!  Here are my seven releases, in chronological order:

  • Electrock Music (2006, $5) – Twelve tracks from my senior year of college, all instrumental MIDI tunes.  I gave physical copies to my Fiction Writing Workshop class; I wonder if they still have those little homemade copies.
  • Electrock II: Space Rock (2007, $7) – I’m obsessed with the idea of the sci-fi rock opera (I actually tried to write one for piano and vocals back in 2012-2013, but never finished it)—it’s the most decadent, self-indulgent form of musical expression.  That was the driving spirit behind this rockin’ collection of out-of-this-world jams.
  • Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse (2012, $4) – My younger brother introduced me to a song call “Biomachinery” by some melodic death metal band, and the rhythm of that word inspired the lead-off track of this four-song cycle, “Cyborg Unicorn.”  Of course, the instrumental chorus of that track is basically Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so it’s true what they say:  composers swipe from each other all the time.
  • Electrock Retrospective, Volume I: Dance Party (2013, $3.60) – I had a number of tracks stored up for a never-completed Electrock III, so I thought I would begin dribbling them out as part of repackaged “retrospectives.”  This first one, Dance Party, features “Robobop,” which is also a perk for $5 subscribers to my SubscribeStar page.
  • Electrock Retrospective, Volume II: Technological Romance (2013, $2.14) – Technological Romance features “Pwrblld (Ballad II)“—with apologies to Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.”
  • Contest Winner EP (2015, $5) – This album is my tour de force.  I recorded it in a real-life studio, overdubbing my vocals with my piano part.  It was an amazing experience, and these tunes are staples of my live shows (especially fan favorites “Hipster Girl Next Door” and “Greek Fair“).
  • The Lo-Fi Hymnal (2020, $4) – I started playing piano at my little Free Will Baptist Church a couple of years ago, and I began taking little recordings of offertory, invitational, etc.  I compiled the four very lo-fi recordings into a short compilation.  I’m hoping to record a second volume at some point.

An easy (and free) way to support me is to “follow” my Bandcamp page and my Amazon author page.  I post updates about new merchandise, new music, and other interesting offers about once a month to the Bandcamp page, and new books will pop up on my Amazon page as they’re published.  It’s a good way to keep up with the latest news on my musical adventures.

Another free way to support me is to turn off your ad-blocker.  The site delivers several thousand ad impressions monthly, but most of those are blocked, which means they don’t pay out.  You can usually find the ad-blocker as a little widget or icon in the upper-right-hand side of your browser; click on it and it will usually give you the option to “pause” or stop the blocker from running on this site.  I know ads are annoying, but seeing a few DuckDuckGo ads helps out in an incremental way.

Even if none of that entices you, no worries!  I’m just glad to have you here, reading my self-indulgent garbage and my lengthy advertisement posts.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Supporting Friends Friday: The Music of Frederick Ingram

Last Friday’s very first Supporting Friends Friday, which featured the release of Jeremy Miles‘s (read his blog) latest book of poetryHindsight: Poetry in 2020, was quite fun, and at the very least brought delight to Jeremy, and at the most hopefully helped sell a couple of copies of his book.

In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate this second installment to the music of my musician buddy Frederick Ingram.  Frederick is a gifted and skilled guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, and we have played together or on the same bill on a number of occasions.  Frederick also recently made a surprise appearance to the inaugural TJC Spring Jam, and treated us to a three-song set.

Recently, Frederick released the “Funky Margarita Mix” of his ode to open mic nights, “Fish Bowl.”  Frederik wrote “Fish Bowl” some years ago, inspired by a (I believe) now-defunct open mic night once hosted at a groovy little joint in Columbia, South Carolina.  The story, as I recall, is that the venue’s stage had an aquarium as a backdrop, which surely made for any intriguing performance experience.

Read More »

Gig Day V: TJC Spring Jam

After seven long months, it’s time for another front porch concert!  Following the success of Spooktacular II, I decided I should try the format twice a year:  the classic Halloween event, and a springtime one.  Thus, the TJC Spring Jam is born!

Halloween is easy, because it comes packaged with all sorts of fun activities:  Halloween songs, costume contests, spooky décor, etc.  A generic springtime theme is a bit more vague, and with it already feeling like summer here in South Carolina, the theme presented some initial problems.

Read More »

SubscribeStar Saturday: Making Music, Part II

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

This school year I began transitioning from teaching a blend of history and music classes towards focusing almost entirely on music.  While I still teach a couple of sections of American History, my teaching duties these days consist primarily music classes.

One of the real joys of teaching music—besides the fact that it’s just plain fun—is to see students inspired to create their own music.  I have been blessed over the years to witness the musical development of many students, and to hear some of their creations.

During our remote learning rehearsal day earlier this week, I pulled out some old concert footage to show my HS Music Ensemble class, a course that is entirely performance based.  That class does not port well to a fully online format, especially to a livestreamed one, as latency is so intense that it makes ensemble performance impossible.  Indeed, if that class goes to a fully online format, we’ll have to focus more on solo work and and music theory, which is what we did during distance learning earlier in the spring.

In watching that old concert footage, I was reminded of some wonderful moments in my school’s unorthodox music program’s history.  It also reminded me of the power of teaching music to inspire the creation of new works.

To hear my own musical works, visit https://tjcookmusic.bandcamp.com/ or www.tjcookmusic.com.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Donate to The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

5.00 $

Thanks for Supporting Indie Musicians

Back on 1 May 2020, Bandcamp waived its commission on musicians’ sales for the day.  A number of you dug deep and picked up my discography, which was a big help at a time when musicians are running low on funds.

Bandcamp repeated that commission-free day in June, and is doing so again today, Friday, 3 July 2020.  It’s a great time to pick up my discography.  If you’ve already done so, and enjoyed my music, consider forwarding this post to friends and family that might enjoy my work.

If you didn’t enjoy my music, well, that’s fine, too—go ahead and forward this post anyway!

Regular readers will recognize most of the information below from that 1 May 2020 post.  My apologies for another extended solicitation, but I do appreciate your support (and your patience with reading lengthy ad copy).

One other note:  next week marks #MAGAWeek2020, in which I will post daily about an American (or concept) who has, in his or her own way, made America great.  But those posts are SubscribeStar exclusives for $1 or higher subs.

Thanks again for all of your support!

—TPP

The TL;DR takeaway of today’s post:  times are tough for musicians, and you can help.  You can purchase my music on Bandcamp today (Friday, 3 July 2020) without Bandcamp taking their 15% commission.  You can also tip me directly via PayPal.  Finally, you can always support the blog—and enjoy exclusive weekly content—by subscribing to my SubscribeStar Page.

Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 3 July 2020.  You can pick up my entire discography for $15.75 (or more, if you feel so inclined).  To purchase the full discographyseven releases in total—you can view any of my albums (like Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse) and find a button/link that reads “Buy Digital Discography” (unfortunately, there’s no way to supply that link directly).

You can also send a digital tip to me directly, if you’re so inclined, via PayPal.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday LX: Music, Part II – Gigging

The past week was largely dedicated to music, as Bandcamp waived the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work on Friday, 1 May 2020.  All of those posts—which were essentially extended ad copy—may have helped remind folks to pick up my full discography (still just $15.75), so I appreciate your patience.

Even more than your patience, I appreciate your support.  As of this morning, ten of you—and I know every single one of you (thanks, family and friends)—purchased tunes, nine of those being the full discography.  At a time when the traditional avenues for musicians to earn money, like gigs and private lessons, have pretty much dried up, your support means a great deal.

Those ten sales are, I won’t hesitate to admit, the first I’ve made in a decade on Bandcamp.  Perhaps I could have twisted arms more tightly in the past, or my music is, ultimately, more forgettable (or, even worse, bad) than I care to admit.  But I’m listening to Electrock II: Space Rock again for the first time in a few years while writing this post, and it’s pretty dang good!

Regardless, given the momentum, I figured today I’d look back wistfully at past “Gig Days”:

  • Gig Day!” (and “TBT: Gig Day!“) – I wrote this post the day of a comeback gig at Crema Coffee Bar, a coffee shop in Hartsville, South Carolina in summer 2018.  I’d broken my wrist the prior Thanksgiving Week, and had largely let my music lapse, other than some occasional open mic appearances.  That summer, I arose like a phoenix, and began playing (and writing) again regularly for the first time in a loooong year.  This post covers my elaborate pre-show rituals in detail.
  • Gig Day II” (and “TBT: Gig Day II“) – This post was about my first big road gig since my broken wrist:  heading up to The Juggling Gypsy in Wilmington, North Carolina.  That gig came amid a great deal of chaos in my life, as my old apartment had flooded—again—and I was living (temporarily, thankfully) in a sleazy motel near I-95.  Talk about living the musicians’ life, eh?
  • Gig Day III” – I love Halloween.  October always seems to shoot by in a blur of busyness, so each October I try to slow down and appreciate the month (which, if we’re lucky, will occasionally feel autumnal).  To that end, I try to put on some kind of Halloween-themed show.  In 2019, that was my “Halloween Spooktacular” at The Purple Fish Coffee Company in Darlington, South Carolina.  It was (contrary to expectations) very well-attended, and my buddy John (twelve-string Takamine guitar) and my student Trystan (drums) sat in with me; it might for quite a show (including a lengthy cover of “Thriller” complete with jammy sax solo).

Well, hopefully live will return to normal-ish soon, and I can get back on the road.  I love playing gigs, from singing pop tunes in the background of an engagement party to standing on coffee tables singing “Delilah.”  Sometimes, I even get paid to do it!

Anyway, I’m off to play piano at church.  They’re broadcasting the service to people’s cars, so I will (apparently) be one of three people in the actual sanctuary, playing hymns from the digital keyboard as people pull up.  Sounds fun to me!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Making Music

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.  NEW TIER: $3 a month gets one edition of Sunday Doodles every month!

The past few days I’ve really been pushing my music (see here and here), mainly because Bandcamp waived the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work yesterday (1 May 2020).  They’re foregoing their cut again the first Friday of June 2020, so I’ll likely be pimping out my electronic ditties again in a month (although, of course, feel free to pick up tunes any time).

I’ve maintained that Bandcamp site the better part of a decade, and until this week, I hadn’t made a single sale.  Perhaps the poor-mouthing about the impact of The Virus on musicians opened hearts and wallets.  To those of you that did purchase my work—I sold seven copies of my full discography (seven releases available now for $15.75), with many buyers paying more than the minimum—I offer a big and hearty THANK YOU.  Seriously, you have no idea what a morale boost it is to have your support.

As for the poor-mouthing, one of the lessons I’ve learned about music is that fans aren’t buying the music, per se, although that does have to be good; rather, they’re buying you and your story.  It’s a frustration for many artistic types that they labor over their art, putting all of their heart, soul, sweat, and blood into it, only to see people more interested in their personal lives than their music.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Support Indie Musicians

The TL;DR takeaway of today’s post:  times are tough for musicians, and you can help.  You can purchase my music on Bandcamp today (Friday, 1 May 2020) without Bandcamp taking their 15% commission.  You can also tip me directly via PayPal.  Finally, you can always support the blog—and enjoy exclusive weekly content—by subscribing to my SubscribeStar Page.

Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 1 May 2020You can pick up my entire discography for $15.75 (or more, if you feel so inclined).  To purchase the full discographyseven releases in total—you can view any of my albums (like Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse) and find a button/link that reads “Buy Digital Discography” (unfortunately, there’s no way to supply that link directly).

You can also send a digital tip to me directly, if you’re so inclined, via PayPal.

You can also purchase albums individually, either at their listed price or higher.  Here are my seven releases, in chronological order:

So, again, today Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work.  That means every purchase made on the site from midnight to midnight Pacific Standard Time TODAY goes completely to the musicians (other than PayPal processing fees)—another 15% in our pockets.

The Age of the Virus has really taken its toll on musicians.  As I wrote last Thursday, a substantial portion of my income in 2019 came from music lessons and gigs—nearly 17% of my gross income for the year.  And as I wrote yesterday, we can’t really gig anymore, at least not in the traditional sense, due to shutdowns.

With The Virus holding full sway over us, shutting everything down, there are far fewer opportunities for musicians to earn a living—except by way of online album sales.

As such, Bandcamp sacrificing that 15% commission is a huge act of charity for its users.  It also means that it’s the best time to support musicians you lovelike me!

Bandcamp gives musicians the opportunity to sell their music in high-quality digital formats directly to fans.  One nifty feature is that artists can offer their entire discography in one go, often at a discount.

To that end, my discography—seven albums, EPs, and retrospectives, spanning fourteen years of artistic development—is on sale for $15.75.  All of it.

Another fun feature is that Bandcamp allows fans to pay more if they so choose.  Indeed, when I announced on my Facebook artist page that the full discography was up for grabs, two fans paid $20 for it.  Some artists have reported fans paying as much as $100 for a single album.  I don’t expect that kind of generosity, but, hey—dig deep.

Regardless, there’s never been a better—or more necessary–time to support indie musicians.  We can’t play gigs.  We can barely teach lessons (some folks are doing so online, but it’s just not the same).

So, any support you can offer is always welcome.  To purchase the full discography, you can view any of my albums (like The Lo-Fi Hymanl) and find a button/link that reads “Buy Digital Discography” (unfortunately, there’s no way to supply that link directly).

Of course, you don’t have to buy all seven albums—it’s just a good deal.  You can also buy individual releases, like 2006’s Electrock Music (ludicrously cheap at $1 for twelve tracks!) or 2007’s Electrock II: Space Rock (just $5!).

To recap, here is my full discography, which is only $15.75 if you buy it together:

And, remember, you can always tip me directly, or via my SubscribeStar page.

Thank you for your support!

—TPP