Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The 10 Mile Radius Tour ~ Review

Well, I played the last show on my tour tonight, so I thought I would give you a run down on how I felt the whole thing went. I'm prepared to be completely honest, so I'd love to hear what you make of this. Get in touch in the comments below, on Facebook or by any other way you know how :)
So has the tour been a success? Sort of. Before I started I set myself a list of goals I wanted to achieve by the end of the tour, and some of them have been met. For example, due to a great showing at Coven Beer Festival on Friday night the tour has ended up in the black financially, as a lot of people bought CDs and merchandise. This is a goal that frankly I didn't expect to achieve, so I'm really happy about that. I know it's not all about money, but as a quantifiable way to gauge how the whole thing has gone, it's great to be able to tot-up my total ins and outs and come out with a positive number.

I also discovered two great new places to play that I can definitely visit in the future in Pelsall Folk Club and Bloxwich Bookmark open mic. There is even a chance of me returning to Pelsall as a featured host for an evening in the new year, which would be really nice.
There were, however, some failings to this tour. Firstly and least significantly I wasn't really able to attract people to come to watch me perform in gigs I had included in the tour. I say that this is least significant because getting people to shows was not one of the goals of this tour, it was more about getting me exposed to new audiences rather than trying to attract people who already know about my music. That said, a number of people at Coven Beer Festival on Friday night did say that they had come specifically to see me perform, having either been recommended by the brewery running the night, or seen the posters advertising my performance around the village.

More importantly in terms of my own goals, I did not achieve the increase in exposure to new fans online that I had targeted. I had set myself what I thought were achievable goals for increase in online activity and mailing list sign-ups for the duration of the tour, but these were not met. I have considered that this may be due to the following factors, but if you have other ideas, you know how and where to get in touch;

  • Cancelled Shows - Unfortunately for a variety of reasons I had to cancel four of the gigs I had planned for the tour, three of which were venues I had not visited before and therefore would likely have contained people who have not heard my music. 
  • Open Mic Nights - another potential reason why I might not have met certain goals was due to only really playing at open mic nights. I host open mic nights on a regular basis and have been to great number of them in my time, so I know how it feels to attend one. It's not really somewhere where a lot of people go to discover new music (in my experience). It's often more about musicians having somewhere to try out new things and the players there, while listening and being respectful, are usually busy planning their own set and 'sizing up' the competition. As great and necessary a tool as they are, they are therefore not really suited to a tour where the main goal is to increase exposure.
  • Online Goals - I think (or at least part of me hopes) that one of the problems with the goals I set was that I based the fanbase related ones around online services like Facebook, Twitter and my mailing list. It's safe to say that not all fans of musicians interact with them online. There are hundreds of bands that I love, but I don't subscribe to all of their mailing lists, tweets and Facebook updates, for example. I know that the reason I did this was so that I could easily quantify them, but it gives something of a singular view on my exposure during the tour, especially when you consider that one of the most successful tour gigs was at a folk club, where the demographic was slightly older and possibly less prone to using social media, at least in that way. The fact is I cannot begin to put a number or word to the level of exposure I gained throughout the tour or the number of 'fans' I gained. But then, who can?
  • Proximity - Yes, the final possible reason why the 10 mile radius tour was not as successful as it could have been could in fact be because it all happened within 10 miles! There is a reason why acts on a UK tour only play one show in each city or region, because the more gigs in close proximity they do, the more they spread out their fanbase. I put this one last because although it's potentially a valid reason as to why some shows were not too well supported, it doesn't effect the goals relating to exposure to new audiences.
So to conclude, the tour succeeded where I expected it to fail and failed where I had hoped it might succeed. So what do you call it overall? Considering that the visiting gigs I played were all very well received and a number of musicians expressed an interest in attending some of my open mic nights, I would call it a tentative success. If I were to do it again, I would look to book more gigs rather than just visiting open mic nights and set myself separate goals for the differing types of shows, concentrating on promoting my own nights while at open mic nights, and myself while at booked gigs. I'd also like to try and create more content to go up online, such as videos, photos and recordings, to try and bridge the gap between real life tour and virtual tour.

So that's it. Brutally honest maybe, but those are my thoughts. I'd like to hear yours on the subject, should you choose to share them. The 10 miles radius tour is over, but let's be honest with ourselves. The tour never really stops, does it? ;)
See you soon!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Spotify ~ Hero or Villain?

There have been a lot of blogs, articles and the like flying around recently about streaming services such as Spotify and whether they are dangerous to musicians due to their low royalty payouts. I read a lot of arguments from both sides of the fence, and thought I would share my views with you guys. Leave a comment with your thoughts at the bottom of this post, I'd love to hear what you think about the whole thing.

As an independent musician, I don't think Spotify is ever going to make me any money. That doesn't mean, however, that I think it is a bad model. The idea of the royalty payouts by Spotify is that you get paid a tiny amount of money every time one person listens to one of your songs. For me as an independent musician without ties to a record label who has a deal in place to collect 100% of my royalties, I get about a third of a penny per track play, so if someone listens to 'The List' from start to finish (12 tracks), I'd make about one and a third pence!

It sounds like nothing, but I'll put it another way. Imagine how many times around the world in different people's personal stereos, car radios and MP3 players 'Dark Side of the Moon' has been played. Millions? Hundreds of millions? More? Now imagine if all of those plays had been on Spotify, which in the future will be possible as they branch their service out to mobile devices so you can take it with you wherever you go. You are looking at millions and millions of plays, each being paid a third of a penny or more as the music is so popular. At a third of a penny per play you would need just 334 million plays of individual songs to make a million pounds. For 'Dark Side of the Moon' as a whole, it would be under 33.5 million plays. Considering sales of that album are estimated at 50 million worldwide and not many people listen to an album just once, you can see how it mounts up. And it would be growing all the time.

So Spotify is just another service that's good for the guys at the top and rubbish for the guys at the bottom?

Well, sort of. I use Spotify's player to play the music on my Facebook page and on this blog. I don't think of it as a way to make money, but rather a way to advertise my music to anyone and everyone that wants to hear it, for free, through a trusted medium. And if they like it, they might just go and buy it. Or at least it might get them interested in my music enough to come and watch me play.

So that's my view on Spotify. If you write a great song or album that people keep going back to, it will pay you in the long run. However, if someone decided to listen to my album 'The List' solely on Spotify rather than buying it, they would have to listen to the whole thing over 385 times before I got the £5 for the CD!

That is why I don't use it for financial gain, but rather treat it as an advertising expense. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know :)

Monday, 12 November 2012

The journey so far.

I thought that after completing my first week on tour, I would write a little update for you about how things are going so far.

The warm up gig at Katie Fitzgerald's on Wednesday was good fun. It was quite quiet, but the people who were there seemed to enjoy my set, and the other musicians (Luke Turner and Rhiannon) were both very good. I really like playing in the venue. For those who haven't been before, it's a little Irish themed music pub with a venue downstairs, though I've only ever played at the acoustic nights in the bar. Add to that the fact that this was the night that Celtic beat Barcelona! I good night to be in an Irish pub!

Thursday the tour really kicked off as I visited Pelsall Folk Club. I'd never been to a folk club before, having always been rebuffed or put off by the attitude towards my enquiries with members in the past. I've always been given the impression that 'I'm not 'Folk' enough', or even just plain not good enough. I've let this get to me in the past, but I thought for this tour, I'd give it one more go. I'm really glad I did.

I doubt I could have picked a more accommodating club for my first time. The room was quiet during performances but not intimidating, and the music from other performers in the first half was varied enough to settle me into thinking that I might be ok. I did, however, still have to decided what cover I was going to play.

I decided to open with 'Where We Came From', my protest song that comes as close to traditional 'Folk' as I think any of my songs do. But what cover to choose? A number of options floated through my mind as they drew the raffle in the interval and ate sandwiches (I know, they laid on food at half time! Something I could think about for my open nights?!) Eventually I decided upon 'The Boxer' by Paul Simon, a crowd favourite and someone who even devoted 'Folkies' seem to admire.

My set went down really well. The audience even joined in for 'The Boxer'. My worries about militant folk fans were eased, and the congratulations I received from fellow players and members of the audience helped even more. I have been invited back, and I will be returning when I have a free Thursday night. I advise anyone who likes a relaxed atmosphere and good acoustic music to do the same.

Then on Friday I went down to Bloxwich Bookmark Theatre for open mic night. I had no idea what to expect, especially after I arrived and saw that it was also a library, but after bypassing the man on the front desk, I was directed to a small theatre room complete with stage where a few guitarists and poets were sitting. I went on first, played 20 minutes of my tunes and again was very well received. I then sat and was entertained by an eclectic mix of poetry, instrumental and comedy music, with some pop songs thrown in for good measure. The whole night was really good fun, and again, I'm glad I went. I was asked to go back up at the end and play a couple, so I did 'The Sound of Silence' by Simon and Garfunkel and 'The Blower's Daughter' by Damien Rice. Once again, these were really well received, and I would definitely like to go back there should I get stuck for something to do on a Friday.

With Saturday my night off, I headed out again on Sunday night for open mic at The Albion. I usually don't get to play many of my own songs here, it's just not that sort of gig. I'm not getting many performers there at the moment, and the people who come to watch would rather listen to music they know. That said, my friend and fellow singer/songwriter David Young (https://twitter.com/DYOfficial) decided to join me, so I had at least a small section of the audience who might enjoy my tunes. I decided that as this was a tour show, I would do my own songs for my first set, and I thought they actually went down pretty well. Something to think about in the future! I went back up after David's brilliant set and a cameo from Bill the local harmonica player to play some covers to finish the night off.

So that's the update for now, I'll do another one after this week's escapades. My next stop is Sandpiper Folk Club at The Pigot Arms in Pattingham on Wednesday. It's a local one for me, so I hope you can come and say hi.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ready for launch?!

Today is the day, in many respects. Firstly, my album 'Anthology' launched today on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. You can listen to both of my albums now by using the Spotify widget on the right hand side of this blog page. Isn't that cool?! If you like what you hear (I wouldn't expect you to buy it without listening first!) you can download it from iTunes here. If you don't like downloads, you can always come and visit me tonight and buy a CD copy :)

And that leads me nicely onto the second launch of the day. After a really nice gig last night at one of my favourite venues, Katie Fitzgerald's in Stourbridge, I kick off 'The 10 Mile Radius Tour' tonight at Common Folk in Pelsall. It's at Pelsall Cricket Club. I've never been to a folk club before and to be honest, whenever I've enquired in the past, the people who run them have been very stand-off-ish. But I thought I would take the plunge for this tour and so I emailed ahead and for the first time they didn't seem like elitist 'folkies'. I might be wrong, but I'm hopeful all the same :)

If you are from Pesall or know anyone that is, why not give them a nudge tonight and come down and say hi. Would be great to see you :)

See you on the road!


Friday, 2 November 2012

Anthology Online!

To coincide with my '10 mile radius tour' that I blogged about before, I'm very happy to announce that I will be releasing my album 'Anthology' online to all good retailers! It will launch the same day as the tour's first gig, so you can get it just in time to come and see me in Pelsall!

Is iTunes your thing? Do you prefer Amazon? maybe you like streaming on Spotify? Or maybe you use a provider from your phone like Nokia OVI or Orange SFR? However you get your music, wherever you are, there will be a way for you to get hold of it from the 8th.

And of course, if downloading isn't your thing, you can still have a CD!

See you on the road!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The 10 Mile Radius Tour

I've been reminded by a number of people recently just how important it is for an independent musician to have a dedicated local following in this day and age. I have therefore decided to make my first ever tour 'The 10 Mile Radius Tour'. The premise is that I will spend just over two weeks playing strictly in venues that are 10 miles or less from my house. I see this as an opportunity both to gain new fans in my local area, and also to give those who live locally and have supported me so well over the years a chance to see on tour. I'm visiting a load of local open mic and folk club singer nights as part of my tour, so if you play and fancy joining me, it would be great to see you. In fact, it would be great to see you anyway! :)

'Official' tour poster is below. See you on the road!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Tour update and mailing list

I promised to blog more, and so here I am!

I've had a few positive words from people when talking about the idea of this tour, with some fellow musicians offering some friendly advice on where to play in my local area, and Gigvine magazine (https://www.facebook.com/pages/GigVine/265593736816683?fref=ts) offering to advertise it on their Facebook page. I've listed all the villages and towns in the 'green circle', and am currently making a list of all the venues and open mic nights contained therein. Again, if anyone has any ideas for places for me to play, I'd love to hear them :)

I've also started using my mailing list again, sending out information about upcoming gigs and open mic nights as well as other news and stories. With my phone still playing up, This might just be the best way to stay up to date with all my open mic goings on outside of Facebook, so why not sign up today?

Just put your email address in the box and hit 'Subscribe'. It's that simple!

I'll post another update when I have some dates confirmed. For now, I'm planning on visiting some open mic nights this week to get back into the swing of it and to promote the tour. I'll keep posting them to Facebook when I decide where I'm going, so keep your eyes peeled over there.

Speak soon,


Thursday, 11 October 2012

10 mile radius tour

I realise its been quite a while since I wrote a blog, but a day of productivity coupled with the return of my repaired phone from the network formerly known as t-mobile has inspired me.

So the main thing to talk about is my new tour plans! I'm calling it 'the 10th mile radius tour'. That may not sound very adventurous, but establishing a local fanbase is really important to independent musicians, and also very important to me.

I've included a map with this blog. Basically, I'll play at any venue that falls within the green circle! I'm open to suggestions for gigs, promoters and open mic nights, so get in touch however you can :) it would be great if I could play at least one show in each town in the green! (dont worry, I'm contacting people already!).

Finally, I'll have some new YouTube videos up later today. Check them out if you get 5.

See you soon,


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Friday, 3 August 2012

Manchester Tattoo Show

I just found this on the Manchester Tattoo Show website. I know it's a bit late, but as I'm really excited about it, I thought I would post it anyway! I'll be performing at the show 3 times this weekend, at 1:15 and 5:15 tomorrow and at 2pm on Sunday. If you are planning on going, make sure you come over and say hi :)

Manchester Tattoo Show 2012

Enjoy your weekend. I know I'll enjoy mine!


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Launch date and Competition update

I can officially announce that I will be launching my new album 'Anthology' on Sunday the 29th of July, where I will be playing at The Fox & Anchor, Coven with some great guests and friends. Below is the official launch poster.

I am also pleased to announce that, as the first track on the album is '7 Days a Week', I will be holding 7 days of competitions from the 14th to the 20th of July in order to get you excited about the album. Some of the competitions will be based online, some at the gigs I have booked over those days, and I won't announce them until that day. Make sure you keep up to date with my blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages as well as visiting some of my shows during that week to be in with a chance to win. I might even run more than one competition some days, so don't tune out just because a winner is announced!

I'm excited about this now. It won't be long before you will be able to get the album from my online store, direct from me at a show or online via download. Roll on the 29th!


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

New album and new sessions!

I've not posted for a while, but I've busy planning away all sorts of things for you, so I hope you can forgive me.

First off, I will be announcing the release date of my new album this week! It won't be far away, but I won't be releasing it straight away as I want to build some momentum and put on some crazy competitions for you all leading up to it! I get hold of the CDs tomorrow. It's an exciting day!

Also, I have a busy extended weekend of great gigs lined up. Im heading to Village Coffee on Saturday afternoon for my usual 2-4 chilled out slot, before driving down to Chesterfield in the evening for the first ever 'Sam Draisey Sessions' on tour at The Commercial Inn in Pilsley. Joining me will be Alex Vann, Elliott Burton, Natch and Brains for Breakfast, some of my favourite acoustic players from the midlands who I have shared a stage with many times. I'm really excited about the whole thing! Then from there I head to Sunday night and my brand new open mic at The Albion in Wednesfield. Last Sunday was the first one, and even though no-one else played it still went down really well and had a good audience. If you want to play in front of them, just turn up on Sunday for an 8:30 start. Then on Monday it's my stalwart open mic at The Hartley Arms in Wheaton Aston, which apparently is getting some advertising on Kic.FM in the lead up. Again, all welcome for a 9pm start. Finally on Tuesday we have my 'Sam Draisey Session' at The Robin 2 in Bilston. I'm really excited about this as the confirmed acts are Moseley based band 'SYLVIA', Punk Ukulele player Dan 'Salty' Salt,  the lap steel and Americana stylings of Pete Boddis and the frankly excellent Dominic Malin. I can honestly say that these guys are some of my favourite artists from around the Midlands (there is so much talent in this region. it's amazing!) so don't miss it. It's free, and again, if you want to share a stage with them, it's open mic too. Get there from about 8 to avoid disappointment!

So that's it for now, but it won't be long before more posts appear with details of my new album, competitions and gigs coming up for you to enjoy. I always want to make it worth your while reading this blog, so I might even have a competition just for blog readers!

See you over the weekend, I hope!


Friday, 1 June 2012

the final moment.

As any engineer worth his salt will tell you, there comes a time in a recording project when you have to sit back and say 'you know what, I can't do any more to this. I'm just messing, fretting over tiny little nuances and sounds. I'm starting to make the record sound worse than it did yesterday!'

Well, I'm finally at that point. I've mastered, listened, tweaked, listened, tweaked again listened again and then tweaked some more and now I'm finished. Finished I tell you! I'd be working on the artwork if my laptop hadn't died, but I've got a few ideas for it. The long wait is over. I can confirm, I WILL be releasing a new record soon! Yeah, I know, they are all old songs. But they are new recordings, new arrangements and new ideas. And by Jove I'm excited about it!

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Narrow Escape

My open mic nights have been suffering a little recently. As you know, I lost the night at The Woodman a few months back, but to add to that The Three Stirrups in Brewood closed just before we were set to put another night on there. I only heard about it because the landlord at The Hartley Arms told me. Still, I bare no grudges. I know the pub was really struggling and the boss there would have had much more on his mind than letting me know about the closure.

But then last week's Robin 2 open mic, my newest and most exciting venture, had a relatively poor turnout too. The standard of musicianship on show was very high, as usual, but the attendance was not as good as previous months, and all of the events so far have not yielded huge profit margins for the venue. So when Mike from The Robin phoned on Wednesday, I was fearing the worst, and I was even more fearful after the conversation, where I was given 2 days collect my thoughts and promotional ideas before making a judgement on whether to take the night forward.

I am, however, pleased to say that after some pleasant negotiation and compromise, 'The Sam Draisey Sessions' at The Robin 2 are safe for the time being. Moving forward, I am going to need to try and get more people in to the nights, possibly to perform but more-so to watch. But that is the fun in promotions, is it not?

A nice, relatively happy little story for you there. I'm back at work and returning to normal after Easter now, so I should hopefully be back in the studio soon. I've given myself until the next Robin open mic to finish the album mixing. Wish me luck!

Hope you are well, and to see you at a gig soon :)


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Ilfracombe Incident

I've not been in the studio this half term week, instead I've been off on a few different excursions, some music related, some not.

As a side note, I went to play at the open mic on The Sabrina Boat in Shrewsbury on Tuesday night. though it was pretty cold, I'd recommend it to anyone when the weather gets warmer. Open mic on a boat is great fun!

Onto Friday and we see the main purpose for this blog. I had agreed to play some live music at an old football friend's wedding in Ilfracombe, Devon at a place called Tunnels Beaches. The place is amazing by the way, but that's not the point of this story. It's a 400 mile round trip, and I was looking forward to getting out on the road and feeling like a 'proper' musician again. Having Kayla with me only made this an even more pleasant experience :)

As the car was going to do a lot of miles, my dad gave it a once over before we left, making sure it wasn't going to run out of oil or water or anything else that could be prevented by a simple 5 minutes with the bonnet up. We then set off on our long jaunt down the M5.

Unfortunately for us, the M5 is a very popular motorway for people wanting to head to the south coast for the bank holiday weekend. So about two hours into our four hour trip we got stuck in  crawling traffic for a hour or so. That's where the fun started.

It seems my little car, recently topped up with just too much oil, does not like traffic (who does??) and began to get a bit impatient. And by impatient I mean warm. Very warm. So warm in fact that it cut out on the outside lane of the motorway just before Bristol, approximately 100 miles from where we were going, and indeed the same distance from home. A quick phone call to my dad, the AA and then the police followed before the 40 minute wait with only my worrying about not being able to fulfil both a musical contract and a favour for a friend and the unsavoury jeers and taunts of passing motorists for entertainment.

In typical defiant style, I decided to try the ignition 'one more time', and a with a choke and a rumble Zigfried (Ziggy, for short) jumped into life. I managed to manoeuvre myself onto the hard shoulder, where a further call to the police cancelled our rescue and we made the decision to continue on our journey. The next 100 miles left us unscathed and we arrived with just enough time left over to set up and get changed before hitting the stage. I don't remember much about the performance other than an overwhelming sense of relief for getting there at all! Most musicians would announce upon their arrival that it was 'a pleasure to be there'. I felt like that on a number of levels!

The journey from Bilbrook to Ilfracombe took six long hours during which I thought my only mode of transport had been irreparably destroyed 100 miles from home. Was it worth it?

You're damn right it was.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Studio Diary Three - The Arduous Task

Sorry it's been a while. I'll level with you, I've been out enjoying the sunshine. I hope you have too :)

Today I finished tracking for my re-release album. All that's left is a spot of guest vocals on one track and the microphones can go back in the box! Though I won't speak too soon. The only reason I hadn't finished sooner is because I had to go back and correct a juvenile mistake.

Without boring you with software related details, I set up 4 microphones to record my guitar, made 4 tracks for them on the computer, then told all of those tracks to record the signal from THE SAME MICROPHONE! So I ended up with 4 identical tracks of guitar sound that wasn't a true or even remotely palatable depiction of my guitar on it's own. I had to go back in and re-record the guitar parts for the two songs I did this on (yes, I made the same mistake twice!) and record the vocals on said tracks today before I could move on to the next stage of the process.

Then another technical hitch happened. My computer's disk drive refused to have any CDs anywhere near it. I mean literally. It was like trying to spoon-feed a full child. I even tried the 'here comes the aeroplane' trick. It wasn't having any of it! It's rejection meant I couldn't listen to any reference tracks easily, and also incurred a painstaking CD ripping and file transferring afternoon.

But after all that, these are the albums I have chosen to go through at first before I start the mixing process, just to get my ears used to the style of music I'm dealing with and maybe to pinch a few techniques from and tip a few hats to more established artists who do what I do. This won't be the last of them, but for now, see if you can name them all from their CD labels. Then let me know who you think is missing!

Anyway, that's enough for now. I'll hopefully be able to get down to mixing in the next few days, and update you accordingly.

See you soon.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Studio Diary Two - The Overwhelming Hand-Cramp

Today was my second big stint in the studio (I was in for about an hour yesterday and got another two guitar tracks down). I spent all afternoon finishing off the guitar parts before going back to the first song to start to add in extra sounds and instruments. These included some kick drum, snare and cymbals, though not all together, as that would make me a drummer! It also included some extra lead guitar, so I dusted off the old Epiphone Sheritan from its place decorating the bedroom wall and plugged it in.

When I moved on to ukulele was when the hand cramping started! I've chosen to add uke to a song that's in Bb, and so all the chords are either barre or have strings being covered by one finger. This requires extra squeezing and, coupled with my inability to overlook minor mistakes and fret buzzes, left me to abandon the instrument halfway through take 8 (ish). Oh well, I'll get back on it tomorrow!

One of the coolest things that happened today was finding the 'missing' sounds in some of the songs. That is, some of the songs felt like they were just going through the motions, like they didn't have that extra something to make them different or special. It could be something seemingly small like a shaker of me tapping my fingers on a snare drum or cymbal, but when I add it to the rest of the track it just adds something and seems to bring the whole thing together somehow. It's one of the most exciting parts of tracking in the studio.

I'll hopefully be back in tomorrow and with a good stint I might just finish most of the tracking. Depends how long the uke part takes to nail! I'm sure you'll hear all about it!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Studio Diary 1 - The Miraculous Radiator!

Today was the big day. Today I started recording the guitar parts for my upcoming 'back catalogue' album. This involved breaking down all my current recording setup, moving next door into Ed's music room and setting it back up again. This actually took longer than I thought it would, but once it was finished, it looked ace! in fact, I took a photo.

Once it was all set up and ready to go, I then changed my guitar strings and cleaned my guitar in preparation. Once that final part was finished, I started the meticulous process of recording guitar parts for my songs.

When I'm doing my own production, I'm a stickler for perfection. That is, my performance has to be perfect. A bum note, a buzzing string, picking the wrong string at the wrong time or an over-zealous strum can easily lead me to re-do a take. This was a problem today as it is really cold in there, and cold hand (and arm!) lead to more mistakes, especially with added dynamics, like strumming too hard to catching the wrong strings. However, I found the perfect solution, one that I used to use when I recorded in my loft, and had forgotten about...

My portable heater! Ironically that bad boy was with me for the original recording process for some of the songs that are going to be included on the new album! It's pretty old and can click and creak from time to time, but it helps to save more takes than it ruins!

So, aided by the heater, I managed to get guitar parts down for four songs today, two of which had two different parts, so six in total. I'll be working tomorrow in the middle of the day, so hopefully get some more recording done after that. I'll keep you posted :)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

End of an era?

This past week I have potentially waved goodbye to my most long-standing of open mic institutions, the monthly open mic at The Woodman in Bilbrook. Due to lack of funds in the entertainment kitty, I performed what looks like being my last gig there last week without being paid.
I have nothing but happy memories of the place, the people and the nights we put on, including some memorable impromptu performances and collaborations at Christmas special open mics that I will never forget. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who ever came and played, watched, sang along of just turned up and made the nights what they were.
Thank you everyone. It was a wonderful journey :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

I never wanted to be a teacher!

I'm aware that just lately my blog posts have become more like lectures than updates, and that's not what I started this for. I realise that I may well have been alienating people who want to know what I'm up to and where I am with certain projects (basically, what a musicians blog should be!) so for now I'm going to stop the lecturing for a while and keep on with the updates.

That said, any musicians who would like some advice from me only need ask :) I'm more than willing to help out where I can.

Anyway, on to the update. Today I finished recording the bass parts for the songs for my upcoming 'back-catalogue' album. I'm not releasing the track listing yet, I'll probably do that when the recording is all sorted and a release date is set. What I will tell you is that today I recorded bass parts for two popular songs from 'The Rumour Mill' and one from 'Bard Song', the latter taking a grand total of 20 takes! (I was starting to feel like I was nitpicking a little, but I nailed it just before I gave up all hope!). From here I have a decision to make.

Pretty much everything else I am going to put into the songs needs to be mic'ed, and for this I would like to record in a room different to my bedroom! It just doesn't sound great in there, and it's not isolated enough so not only do I worry about doors slamming downstairs ruining a good take, but also I feel like I can't really let rip with the vocals with other people in the house.

When I recorded 'The List' this wasn't an issue. I was recording onto a laptop, so taking the recording to a different location, which turned out to be either my conservatory in the dead of night or my next door neighbour's music room in his garden was easy. Now I'm working on a desktop PC, so moving it around is a bit of a headache. I think maybe I will need to camp in Ed's music room again (if he lets me!) or find somewhere to set up shop away from outside interferences.

These problems aside, the more I play and record parts for this album, the more excited I get about it. I'm still not totally sold that it's going to be a huge success, but it's a project I'm committed to and I'm starting to come around to the idea of it. What I like about it is that the songs that I have chosen have all, at some point, been big songs in my live sets, but recordings of them have never really done them justice. Since then I have improved as a musician, performer and engineer, so I'm hoping to give better representations of them this time around. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they come out.

Recording aside, I'm back on the gigging trail again, finding out new open mic nights, getting back in touch with promoters and finding new open mic nights for me to run, the latter starting tonight with a new night at The Stirrups in Brewood. Come down if you have the night off, it should be good fun. I'd also love to hear from anyone who has any suggestions about places I should play or people I should get in touch with about playing :)

So that's it for updates. Next time I'll hopefully be further along the album road, have had some gigs to tell you about and maybe even have some new merchandise and competitions to get you in on! Keep you posted :)


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Guitar Chords - Thunder Road (Cover of Bruce Springsteen)

I recently had a video of me performing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’ reviewed in PC World magazine, of all places! It was picked up by an American guy on YouTube who write reviews for them for videos of songs that apparently put the message of the song across better than the original! A bold statement, but you can read his reasoning for yourself here –

After that the video got a spurt in publicity, and a lot of people have been asking me to write the tab on how to play it. So here it is, written in my blog. Hope you enjoy learning to play it.
The original is in the key of F, but I play it in E. I play it like this to get the inversions of the chords that I want. The top E and B strings are left open throughout the whole piece (pretty much).

Intro – E Asus2 E
E Emaj7 (The Emaj7 is a G#m shape on the 4th fret with the top E and B open) Asus2 (played in the same position as an A barre chord (5th fret) but with the top E and B open) B add11 (again, this chord is the B barre shape (7th fret) with the top B and E left open)

For the rest of the chords I will follow the lyrics.

During the verse I play the Asus2 and the Badd11 at the bottom of the guitar neck. I only play the barre versions in the run ups in the intro and chorus.

               E                           Asus2                            E
Well, the screen door slams,                       as Mary's dress waves
                                      Badd11                       Asus2
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
        E              Asus2
Hey that's me and I want you only

Don't send me home again
  E  Badd11
I just can't face myself alone again

         E               Asus2  E (start strumming here)
Don't run back inside, darling you know what I'm here for
 Badd11             Asus2
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore
Well show a little faith, there's magic in the night
         E   Asus2
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
            E   Badd11
Oh and that's alright with me

E                        C#m7 (play as a C#m barre (9th fret)with B and E strings open again)
You can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
          E                    Asus2 E
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
  Emaj7 Asus2             Badd11
Waste your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets
        E         C#m7
Well I'm no hero, no that's understood
        E              Asus2 E
Only redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
        Asus2           Badd11
Hey what else can we do now
            E Asus2       E
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Badd11       Asus2
This night's bustin' open, these two lanes can take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
E         Asus2
To trade in these wings on some wheels
      E             Badd11
So climb in back, heaven's waiting down on the tracks

E             C#m7
Oh oh come take my hand
E                 Asus2 E
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Emaj7     Asus2         Badd11
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road
E                 C#m7
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
E                    Asus2 E
Hey I know it's late, we can make it if we run
Emaj7       Asus2      Badd11        E 
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit back, take hold, Thunder Road

           Asus2         Badd11             E
Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
             C#m7                   Asus2 Badd11
And my car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
        Asus2             Badd11
From your front porch to my front seat
 Emaj7                   C#m7 (play 4th fret of the A string for convenience)
The car's open but the ride it ain't free
And I know you're worried 'bout words I ain't spoken
but tonight we'll be free, all the promises' be broken
          E                  Asus2  E
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
Badd11        Asus2
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They call your name at night in the street
E               Asus2
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
        Emaj7 (slow down now)
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You can hear their engines roaring on
              F#m11          Badd11       Asus2             F#m11
But when you get to the porch they're gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
        Asus2 Badd11           E
It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win

Finish with the same chords as the intro again.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Open Mic Story - Part Two

So, to continue from where I left off...

Around the time when the guys from Manchester came down to open mic was about the busiest I had been. But it wouldn't last. Soon pubs started closing and changing hands in 'the great public house depression' that has been going on in the last few years, seeing pubs close all over the UK every week. The Crown changed hands, and though we tried to keep the night going under new owners, they weren't keen. The New Inns experiment turned out to be a failure, and The Bird in Hand also cancelled the open mic nights due to poor attendance. It seems that the reputations of the places I was putting nights on in was finally catching up with me.

So for a while we only had The Woodman, which had changed over the summer to running twice a month, and was getting a decent reputation. With this came new performers and friends, and they in turn opened new opportunities. I started running a new open mic just before Christmas at The Harrows in Coven, and although popular, it also fell foul of the depression. I moved to The Rainbow, but we didn't have much luck there either.

It was then that I was introduced into The Hartley Arms, a canalside pub in Wheaton Aston, which now runs a fortnightly open mic with me on a Monday night. This night stops and starts in terms of attendance, but has build a small loyal community following of a couple of young artists and fans, which is integral to any open mic night. As my own pool of musician friends improve and move on to bigger and better things, they tend to frequent my open mic nights less, as their 'touring' circle becomes larger and larger.

My own solo gigs had started to improve too, and I was now getting preferential treatment at the famous Robin 2 in Bilston. I became known as their 'go-to support', as I live 20 minutes away, take 2 minutes to sound check and am happy with being called in the afternoon for a gig that evening. I started off with warm up slots for large tribute acts which, although was in front of audiences of over 400 people, it wasn't the kind of crowd that were into my music. However, in a great case of mutual back-scratching, I was also let in on support slots I could choose, so I could pick artists (and projected audiences) that would fit in with my style. This led to me supporting Ian Parker, Edgar Broughton, The Sounds of Simon and Edwina Hayes, gigs where I could really showcase my music to an audience that were 'into it'.

In my search for a 'day job' I sent a CV to The Robin 2 detailing my accomplishments, including a list of my open mic night ventures. Off the back of this I was offered the opportunity to host a monthly open mic at the venue, which I jumped at. I also get to run the sound and geek myself silly on the amount of control I have.

So that's where we are. I now run nights at The Woodman and The Robin 2 once a month and The Hartley Arms fortnightly. I also have a brand new open mic lined up at The Stirrups in Brewood for this month.

As promised, I'd like to end this blog by naming some of the people (and linking them) who have helped me along with their performances at my open mic nights. Some have since moved on to bigger and better things, musical and otherwise, but we still see them all from time to time. Here we go;

Pink Ukulele Guy - https://www.facebook.com/Pinkukuleleguy - I met Jamie before his alter-ego was even fuelled at the open mic night at Alchemy in Wolverhampton. A truly unique artist, Jamie is an excellent songwriter and the single greatest example of independent branding I have ever seen! People all over the Midlands know him due to his relentless open mic visiting and memorable stage show. Many also have a t-shirt!

Lottie Phazey - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lottie-Phazey/110538252339985 - Lottie first appeared as a 14 year old at The Bird in Hand open mic night when I started going, playing covers of Kate Nash and The Script. She has since progressed as a guitarist, singer and lyricist and has in her set now some frankly outstanding songs. I'd never say an artist needs to 'get discovered', but if anyone needs to get herself an EP/album recorded it's Lottie. I'd buy it!

Matt Dooner - http://matt486gigs.blogspot.com/ - Matt is one third of 'The Travelling Fools', a touring set of artists including myself that we are trying to put together this year. I met him, along with the third artist, at a memorable gig at The Varsity in Wolverhampton. He has since become a close friend. I recorded his EP for him recently, so you will have to keep your eyes out for that sometime this year. Matt is an excellent lyricist who writes some of the most relatable songs I have ever heard!

Elliot Burton - https://www.facebook.com/pages/ElliottJBurton/242492439128915 - Elliot is the third part of 'The Travelling Fools'. A close friend and fantastic performer, Elliot is known for his extreme performances of great classics, as well as his eclectic covers and songwriting that ranges from tongue in cheek to Dylan-esque. Look out for Psych Killer, Nessun Dorma and Jerusalem, as well his own songs 'Cannock Girls' and the magnum opus, 'Sound of a Chord'

Lydia Jones - Winner of Beacon Radio's Young Musician award last year, Lydia is well known throughout the Midlands due to her high profile performances and constant open mic gigging. She has a CD of covers that she recorded with me, and is getting better and better with every performance. If you attend an open mic anywhere enough, you will see her eventually!

So that's it. I'll write again at the weekend. If you are in the area, come down to Village Coffee in Codsall on Saturday to see me playing some chilled out acoustic classics.

See you soon,


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Open Mic Story - Part One

Maybe it's because I've been teaching all day, but I've come home and decided to write a history blog. Don't worry, it's not the Tudors or Stewarts, and there won't be a test, but I just thought I'd take you on a little trip down memory lane and talk about how I first got into that staple of my gigging diet over the past four or five years, hosting open mic nights.

As I said above, I started about four and a half years ago. Truthfully, the only way I remember how long it's been is to try and count up the amount of Christmas Special open mic nights I've done at The Woodman. I think it's four.
Though The Woodman in Bilbrook is my longest running venture, and the first venue I had all to myself, it wasn't my first ever taste of hosting. That came at The Bird in Hand, Tettenhall, where I took over a fortnightly slot filling in for Andy Turner, who wouldn't commit to weekly events, after attending a few times and deciding it didn't look 'that' difficult. I can't take all the credit though, it was mainly my dad's idea. As we both played in bands at the time, and as such knew at least a small amount about buying and setting up a PA system, we at least had some insider knowledge, and so we both invested (half each, as I recall) in a simple Carlsbro vocal PA, costing around £400 for two powered 12" speakers, a four track desk and the cables to connect it all together. Over the years I have added to my collection of sound re-enforcement equipment, but I still use these speakers on a regular basis.
Not long after that I approached The Crown in Codsall, then named Butler's Bistro, about putting on a music night there. The first night on my own terms was a success, with friends and fellow musicians coming down to help me out and see what all the fuss was about. We didn't get chance to do many more before the manager left and the pub closed once more.
Not to be discouraged, I moved on to The Woodman in Bilbrook, a pub just 2 minutes walk from my house (though longer when carrying speakers, a fate I encountered only once after falling out with dad and him refusing to take me!). This has become a fixture of my open mic diary, and a relatively well supported night with a loyal local clientèle. I started off here playing for nothing more than a free meal and a stage to showcase my songs, as well as those of a growing list of friends and musicians. The Woodman has always been on the last Thursday of every month (except December, when we usually move the night to make it into a Christmas party) and I believe that this regularity has helped the night survive above other nights I have hosted.
I started back at The Crown when it was taken over by a new landlord, who turned it back into a pub. The first open mic back there was a roaring success, with many people coming to perform in the bar area. The night before I was attending a friend's gig at The Little Civic in Wolverhampton when I got a call about the open mic, asking if I was providing a drum kit. I don't own one, so obviously that was a no, but the gentleman asked if he could bring one. I agreed and the next night we had two local lads turn up and rock the place! It all finished with an impromptu performance of 'Summer of 69' with about eight people on stage, and me on lead vocals. The whole place was bouncing. I'll never forget it.
Thus started the most fruitful chapter of my open mic career. Hosting monthly nights at The Woodman (now paid), The Crown and The New Inns in Brewood, an ill-fated venture into a pub that didn't want to advertise the fact that an open mic was there in case someone came who wasn't very good, and a fortnightly open mic at The Bird in Hand, my calendar was filling with music events and as part time jobs go, it was the best I could possibly wish for. I;d only ever had a paper round before that!
I'll finish off this part of the open mic story by talking about one of my most successful nights to date, a night that is still talked about by music aficionados of the Codsall area. As the open mic at The Crown really started to take off, we moved the stage setup from the bar area into the main function room, which came complete with a stage. I would book a band to finish the night's entertainment, and had applicants from far and wide. On one occasion I had a message on MySpace (showing my age there!) from one Kev Fox, a solo singer/songwriter from Manchester who was looking for gigs to complete a touring circuit of the Midlands. I invited him down to The Crown after listening to and enjoying his haunting music.
The night came and so did the Manchester touring act, Kev Fox and his support. And to my delight so did the people of Codsall! For a mere open mic night we suddenly had acts from a different county and over 100 people crammed into the function room at the back of The Crown. I still keep in touch with Kev, now playing frequently in Poland and Germany, and he remembers the night fondly.
Thus ends the first part of my open mic story. Keep an eye out for part two, which includes new songs, venues, ventures and a list of some of my favourite acts from across the years.
See you in a day or two,

Saturday, 28 January 2012

From The Vault

As some of you are probably aware ( at least I hope you are!), 'The List' was not my first album, but rather, my third. My first two albums were called 'Bard Song' and 'The Rumour Mill' respectively. I produced them myself  at home and burned the CDs as and when people wanted them. These albums were accurate depictions both of my songwriting and performance ability at the time of recording and my ability behind the desk and mixing.

But now I feel I have improved. My own knowledge in the studio, and my collection of gear has grown substantially in the last few years thanks to college training and frugal upgrading, and with many of the people who are fans of the music I have made recently having never heard my older material, I think that now is a good time to revisit it. I am therefore happy to tell you that I've started work on an album of tracks taken from the first two albums, as well as tracks from other EPs and even a track I played live a handful of times but never recorded.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! I'm also taking this opportunity to name the track from 'The Rumour Mill' that has until now remained 'Untitled'. I'm not announcing the new title until the album comes out, but rest assured and after much deliberation, I have finally come up with something I'm pleased with. It's only been four years coming!

Like I said before, I've not just improved behind the desk, but in front of the microphone as well, and that's why I'm reworking and re-recording all the old songs, so even the people who have heard them all before will find something new in there to enjoy.

I'll be interspersing my blog posts with studio diaries from the making of this album, so keep reading the updates if you want to know about how I'm getting on. For now, I've chosen the songs, recorded guide tracks and started on some percussion and bass parts. I'm also running through a few different ideas for album titles and artwork designs at the moment, so I should hopefully be able to announce the album title soon!

Until then, I'll say my farewells. I'm hosting open mic at The Hartley arms in Wheaton Aston, Stafford on Monday night (30th) so if you would like to see me play or fancy playing yourself, come on down for a 9pm start. I've also got an exciting meeting with a friend booked to talk about merchandise next week, and I'm performing at Village Coffee in Codsall, Wolverhampton on Saturday afternoon from 2. I'll keep you in the loop.

Thanks for reading. I'll catch you again in a few days.


Thursday, 26 January 2012

No frills - getting my music online.

Being independent in the music industry has always been seen as being either for small bands who can't get a record deal or artists who fall out with their major label partners. In these cases the small bands were just seen to be making excuses and the large band either being greedy or righteous, depending on the public's perspective of them.

Nowadays, with the decline in major label dominance, it has become important for an emerging artist to know how to run their own show. Labels no longer sign artists to development deals like they did in the 50's and 60's, but instead wait to see if they come to fruition on their own or within a smaller label, then either buy them out or envelope the label they are signed to within their own company. But do not despair. With a decline in huge label contracts comes the decline in price for, well, pretty much everything you need to release your own record on your own label.

I say your own label, but I use the term loosely. I am not signed to a record label, even one I have created myself, by name. However, to date I have released 3 studio albums and number of EPs and have plans for a further two albums this year. I record, produce and mix the albums myself, complete all the artwork and send them off to a duplication company to have them pressed and when they are finished they come back to me and I sell them at gigs and on my online store. I could make up a label name and stick it on there, but the fact is it's just me making the arrangements, so I don't see the need for it. I could pretend to be a label when sending the album out to radio or promoters, but that just involves making yourself some interesting looking letter-headed paper, which is easy to do.

So what did I do? Who did I use? I get a lot of people asking we where I got my CDs made or how I got my music on the fabled iTunes. It's actually a lot easier than you might think.

I'll start with iTunes. The thing that people don't understand about iTunes is that it has no quality control. None. Anyone could record three minutes of garbled gibberish and put it up on iTunes through an aggregator if they had £20 to waste. All you need is an aggregator, or a company that provides the service of getting your music to online stores. There are hundreds out there, all offering slightly different deals in terms of what percentages you get from your sales and what you get back for your money. I;ll tell you about 2 in this blog, the one I use, and another I have heard good reports about.

The company I use is called Zimbalam. Their deal is simple. You pay £30 for an album (£20 for a single) and for one year it goes EVERYWHERE. That means all the online stores, from the famous ones like iTunes , Spotify and Amazon downloads right through to some I've never heard of, in every territory in the world. That's right Burkina Faso, you can buy my album online! At the end of the year you either pay £30 to renew the subscription for another year, or you pay £30 to take it down. The take-down charge is a drawback, but  it's a good deal if you want something that's all encompassing and no hassle, and the statistics they give back to you on where and when your tracks were bought or streamed are quite insightful and thorough.

The other company I have often pointed people towards is called Ditto Music. They have a range of bespoke packages depending on what you want, from a comparatively cheap 'get a single on iTunes and Spotify' packages, to a full works with everything including starting a label for you, getting your songs chart registered and using a sister company to collect performance royalties on your behalf (I'd advise against this, I'll talk about collecting your own PRS royalties in another post). The benefit of this is that if you have done your research about where and on what platform you want to release in order to have the most impact (so you have decided Burkina Faso isn't for you!) you can save yourself some money. Another main benefit is that, to my knowledge, they don't have a take down fee, so that's something to consider.

As I said, there are hundreds of other companies offering hundreds of other deals, so shop around. The perfect deal for you could be out there. Leave some links as a comment at the bottom of this blog if you like, I'd be interested to see some more deals.

I'm going to sign off now. Thanks for reading my blog, and for those of you who aren't musicians like me and are not interested in all this, I promise to rotate my content as much as possible, so the next blog either tomorrow or at the weekend will be about something different. Maybe a competition, if I come up with something cool for you to do before then!

Thanks again,


Tuesday, 24 January 2012


So this is my first blog post, and for the benefit of anyone who has stumbled across this by accident, I should introduce myself. Hi, My name is Sam Draisey and I'm an independent singer/songwriter from the West Midlands in England.

You can hear all my music and see my various online presences by clicking on the buttons at the top of this blogs home page. I won't inundate you with links to check them all out, but I won't discourage you from having a nose either!

So what's this blog going to be about? Firstly I'll be talking about my gigs, my recording projects and my general pursuit of work within the music industry. I'll be posting any reviews I get for you to read, and would welcome any comments you may have about anything I do. I'll also be talking about the different ideas and schemes I have for promoting myself, my shows, my merchandise and my overall 'brand'. Those of you in a similar boat to me might find this interesting and even helpful, and again can feel free to share any insight you might have into the subjects of marketing and promotion by commenting on such threads. I'll use the blog to post 'blog only' content for you guys, like guitar tabs, videos, sound clips and photos.

I'll also be using this blog to run and advertise competitions for free stuff to do with my music, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

And finally, like with any blog, I'll be using it to give you an insight into my day to day life and thoughts.

So that's pretty much what it's about, with probably a load of other stuff thrown in that I haven't thought about yet.

I'll post again in the next day or two, but for now, welcome to my blog.