Today [8 November 2020] is the anniversary of our first release in a cycle of six songs. We’ve collated each single into a streaming/download package, “Vol. I,” for your convenience. It's available on Bandcamp right now and everywhere else.
At the outset, we had a hypothesis around distributing individual songs over roughly one year instead of a “big bang” release to create more awareness. While the idea had some merit and people agreed with the premise, the most engaged segment of our audience noted preferences for:
- The simplicity of an album/EP playback in whatever listening context
- Applications with music libraries designed for those formats over singles
- Not having to dutifully build playlists [because unless you do on some platforms, it's hard to binge on singles]
With this in mind, I nevertheless consider one of the key benefits of our initial market/release strategy became the storytelling mechanism. Without the prompt to reflect on what makes each track unique, much of my recent personal enjoyment of the record would have been lost. We would not have had this lovely, extended experience that allowed us to reconnect somewhat frequently with what has felt like a “living” project.
After you release an album/EP, there are few instances permitting you to mediate deeply on your work and think critically about what you learnt. For example, what you as a group were trying to achieve, whether that took you to anticipated or unexpected places and how you carry that personal development and new creative insights forward. As it turns out, our approach wasn’t an entirely selfish experience. Nick Hudson wrote in The Progressive Aspect:
The idea of a musical odyssey on which all followers have been journeying with the band, has been incredibly brought to life by the running commentary. There has been no chance to ask “are we there yet?”, as detailed promotional drops have come with regularity. For those who’ve not been there from the beginning, many of these can be found in the Blog section of the Domes website. Between social media, podcasts, a mailing list, and playlists, both from the band and followers, the journey towards the completion of this debut release from Domes has been the most interactive campaign I’ve ever known. I admit to initially not being totally onboard with the idea of the EP being released song-by-song, but I was soon swept along in the wave of enthusiasm.
A traditional campaign may prioritise just a couple of songs. My experience was that the there is little scope in reviews, interviews or even owned channels to have meaningful conversations about the other songs. That seems a shame given the artistic effort, nuance and standalone value of any one “album track.” Moreover, this may contribute to the unhelpful, subjective A/B side or killer/filler dichotomy that a time-poor listener may broadly apply. That is, unless the album track example speaks to a particular zeitgeist or lands a synchonisation license (sync) that reframes the song and affords more examination. To clarify, I’m describing an experiential value versus the critical value. The implication of the “single” format is that song is most representative, the best or of some other high order—though this definition may be changing with music consumption behaviours. To us, it’s just meant “song.”
A song cycle like this, as in a carefully curated tracklisting, is trying to tell a story where each chapter builds strength along the way. It’s funny to imagine whether any of these songs would have been marketable as traditional singles—notwithstanding our industry niche and song construction. The point is: we didn’t have to choose any of them in that manner. Through a sequential release, they were all presented—and perhaps accepted—in a generative way. That led to unanticipated and rewarding adjacent projects like our newsletter or the developing the “R” video.
In a sense, releasing “Vol. I” is about serving our customers’ needs. It’s making good on a promise to those took the time to message us with thoughtful feedback on and support for our project in whatever form it might eventually take. The work has it’s own visual identity because it was suggested in another thread that this would be more compelling than any collage of the previous artwork. The Bandcamp exclusive comes with digital booklet including lyrics and mobile wallpaper of all the single cover designs again because of another request from our followers [a great idea]. On balance, I’ve found the roadmap of singles-to-collection fulfilling as a means of reflection and would do it again as it seems to meet everyone’s needs.
The liner notes contain inadequate thanks to people who directly supported the lifecycle of our project. I’d like to add here that:
- Dave Holmes was an equal contributor to this initiative. Without him, our ambitions would never have been realised. I was pleased to discuss our years of friendship and collaboration on our podcast—check it out. His kindness, commitment and competence is imbued in this record.
- Jared Kahi is the creative director behind our visual identity. His discernment, patience, humility and enthusiasm helped us to expand the experience in a sometimes surprising and always delightful way.
- Lisa Jones of Muzic.net.nz and her team of writers have grown and protected a platform where new and niche acts can find validation and support. It’s also one of few outlets (I can’t easily name others) that reviews singles which arguably gives artists easier and earlier access to press in their careers. We’re grateful for the generous, incisive reviews that helped us to share our story.
Enjoy, everyone — and thank you! If you like it, please tell a few friends. And do keep in touch on the next phase of our journey.
Until next time,