Friday, 4 September 2015

Refugees Welcome Here!! Stones Throw Video and The Refugee Crisis in Europe

Its been an emotional few weeks here... personally we said goodbye and laid flowers in grave of a dear friend last Wednesday... A woman who among her many wonderful and generous traits worked with and supported refugees here in Wales...
The refugee crisis here in Europe has been very much on my mind and heart these last 3 years.
I also released my Stone's Throw Video (premiered on Folk Radio UK) last week.
The song and the video explore themes connected with the emotions of being a refugee.
Below is the description I wrote to accompany the video...

Stone’s Throw is the title track from my new album Stone’s Throw, Lament of The Selkie. I’d been exploring the character and persona of Selkie a shape-shifting seal-woman re-imagined from Orkney Folklore, as she struggled to live her life on land away from her natural habitat of the ocean. More and more Selkie’s internal turbulence seemed to echo the real life struggles of people both in the news headlines and that I met personally. These were the stories of refugees and displaced people, far from home with all the loneliness and chaos, grief and loss that comes with enforced migration. In the legends, in order to marry a Selkie woman her sealskin had to be captured while she was in human form and kept hidden from her unless she find it and take the opportunity to return to her home in the sea. The woman of the legends, taken out of her natural environment, longing for home, misunderstood by those around her that did not understand her culture or her grief and who knew nothing of her life before she lived on land became synonymous in my mind with these real time stories of refugees of the last few years. The video was filmed by my artist husband Bill Taylor-Beales and features Isla Horton who achingly portrays a displaced mother separated from home and family. 

I am personally disgusted at the British government's response to this crisis- I'm saddened and sickened to the core that it's reached the awful extremes of innocent children washing up on Europe's beaches and I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way... My daughter turns 3 next week... and I like so many other parents keep thinking... What if it was her?

There will be a national day of action calling for our government to support and allow refugees asylum in Britain on September 12 with protests scheduled all over the UK-
We will be at our local Cardiff one... with banners reading REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE!
Come and join us (or find your local demonstration) to send a message to our government and the world that we care, that we stand in solidarity with our fellow humans and citizens of earth...

I'll leave with a link to some other practical ways folks can help if they want to make a difference to this situation...

If you have children at school who would also like to reach out to children who are refugees please consider becoming involved in The Paddington Project- an initiative set up by my friend Joy French encouraging children to send teddy bears with their own written personal messages of love and support to be distributed among refugee children and families... link here

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Stone's Throw Lament Of The Selkie Review and Feature on Folk Radio UK

Delighted to announce a that the new album has received a wonderful review on Folk Radio UK from David Kidman... see below

Rachel Taylor-Beales is one of the true originals in the singer-songwriter world, a doggedly and proudly independent spirit whose extraordinary life-experiences thus far have undoubtedly shaped and defined her talents. Her early years involved a bewildering succession of relocations between Australia and the UK: a situation which any child would find unsettling. By the age of 12, she’d lived in 13 different homes, and the difficulty of coming to terms with this somewhat nomadic existence must have made quite a mark on her psyche, giving her a high degree of resilience and no doubt subconsciously encouraging her to forge a distinctive creative personality. This would also likely have stemmed from the presence of several artists in her family, for, always finding a spare guitar to hand in the household, Rachel started writing songs very early on. The Nottingham folk scene of her late teens was both her proving ground and the venue for a fortuitous meeting with her future husband Bill, a visual artist with whom she was to relocate back to Australia, where, forming a dedicated arts company, they spent four years touring and performing in all manner of venues and situations. Since 2000, however, Rachel and Bill have been based in Cardiff, setting up their own record label, with Rachel rapidly establishing herself as a solo performer with a strongly individual character, along the way greatly impressing master s/s Martyn Joseph and gaining an increasing number of critical plaudits through the production of a series of richly inventive studio albums firmly grounded in her own songwriting. These albums – 2004’s Brilliant Blue, 2008’s Red Tree and 2011’s Dust And Gold – together formed a fantastic “colour trilogy”, over the course of which Rachel’s narratives uncompromisingly recounted her own experiences and ongoing emotional journeys, linking these literately within the context of the universal life struggle and common spiritual quest.
Stone’s Throw, Lament of the Selkie engages directly with these themes too, taking the form of a kind of song-cycle. Some three years in the making, its creation both accompanied and was informed by a series of life-struggles that Rachel had personally undergone, including the effects of injuries sustained from a serious fall from stage, her fears of its impact on her then unborn child and the long and painful period of recovery. And it has turned out a tremendous achievement. Rachel herself describes Stone’s Throw as a dark folklore concept tale based around Selkie (Seal-Folk) mythology from the Orkney Isles, and here – following the scene-setting device of the cycle’s initial song (Seaside), with its wonderful, playfully wry observational character-study of the Selkie and what she has had to become in trying to fit into land-based society – the tragic narrative is related almost exclusively from the first-person viewpoint, addressing the listener directly from the mind of the Selkie herself and its inconsolable reflection, wherein every recalled and experienced emotion draws her back to her unavoidable loss. For her dream of living a life on land with her land-bound partner had become unsustainable, due, she realised, to their incompatible lifestyles, leaving her with no option but to return to the sea whence she came and in doing so leave that partner similarly grief-stricken. Rachel’s unique vocal personality beguiles and mesmerises; its cadences connive and convince, drawing us deep into the Selkie’s character through a timbre that’s breathy but tough and yet betokening a seductive, careful enunciation that lingers and caresses for its natural expressive effect and entices us into full sympathy with her plight while invoking the shifting-quicksand nature of her mental state.
Rachel begins the cycle in a state of relative calm and solace, with the Selkie’s body drifting and glistening in the sun, lazing almost carefree in the pursuit of summer Somersaults (nice wordplay here) when it’s Summer Again and the landscape is beguiling and dreamy. At this point, we sense, the Selkie can almost cope with her landlocked situation – until, that is, the call of the sea is too strong and she cannot but surrender plaintively to its siren-song, its sinuous beckoning reel (which neatly links the track onward into the cycle’s postlude). And May It Be signals the Selkie’s more abrupt recognition of her loss, with the first instance of the cycle’s depiction of her wandering mind. Uneasy string arabesques form a telling counterpart to piano chords that threaten to anchor her thoughts. The “voiceless voice” of the (hitherto unvoiced word) Restless takes over for the next song, adopting that very word as its title in a torrent of suffocating imagery and rumbling keyboards invoking the protagonist’s powerlessness in the face of her situation. Stone’s Throw (the title song itself) seems to bring this situation into sharp focus, a desperate perception of rootlessness and an all-too-abundantly-clear realisation for the Selkie that “this beach I sit upon I can’t call home”, a beach that even then is being submerged by the sweeping tides. Her acute desolation may up to this point have been partly assuaged by the sharing of a common experience through a mutual identity with her struggle and loss.
Yes, the initial effect of the Selkie’s intimate confessional may be therapeutic, but by the time we cross over past the cycle’s central point, into the heart-rendingly sensuous, kantele-dappled plea of Selkie’s Song with its wholly inevitable realisation that “the skin won’t fit like it used to, these bones won’t hold it so well”, there is infinitely more pain than gain in the process, and thereafter, things are never quite the same for the Selkie. The strangely warmly glacial winter-scenario In The Cold depicts the defeated Selkie left emotionally out in the bitter, cruel climate with hackles and voices “raised, like banners”. In a masterstroke of emotional seesawing, the Selkie’s vulnerability is conveyed in the ensuing would-be-comforting hymnal of Fall Into You, enveloping and cocooning her delicate voice in a veritable sea of voices and violins. Its uncontrollable ecstasy is short-lived however, as it almost suffocates before the mournful Until The Snow brings a step back into a fresh perspective of detachment in the Selkie’s necessary separation from her partner. This freshness is cleverly conveyed by the introduction of the limpid, crystalline-clear tones of harp into the texture, before the forward-driven chorus section takes over with its determined mantra of “we’ll play and we’ll play And we’ll play these chords Until the snow, until the snow”. After which, Turning The Day is a kind of summation and epilogue, a wishful, outward-probing prayer that chases the light and eventually, via a cathartic chord-change, turns the corner into the fearless resolve of its final section, declaring the Selkie’s deeply-harboured desire to bend space and time just to see her partner’s face again. On the brief instrumental reprise-cum-postlude (Ghost Of A Reel), we hear the fiddler playing for the dance at the end of time, fading from our consciousness as if to signify the cycle beginning over again perhaps? It’s a powerful yet transient image, that’s for sure.
Throughout the album (as indeed had been the case with its predecessors), Rachel’s music commendably refuses to acknowledge specific allegiance to any defined genre or sub-genre but is undoubtedly influenced and inspired by many: among them folk, roots, indie, blues, jazz and even (I’d venture to suggest) a pronounced element of pop-psych from the late-60s/early-70s. Rachel’s highly-developed singing, writing and multi-instrumental talents both seem to know no bounds and observe no boundaries, as she shape-shifts with consummate ease between modes and idioms. And yet, while this tendency renders her music indescribable in the absolute, literal sense, her vision is invariably as clear-sighted as her bewitching vocal delivery. The mildly unconventional (at least by recognised genre standards) structures of the songs may be deceptive in this regard, for there’s always a clear sense of direction to Rachel’s writing, and her imagery is both precise and tantalising in its expression.
On a purely musical (production) basis, Stone’s Throw often exhibits a partly elusive, slightly opaque quality in its rich and aromatic mixdown, imparting an engaging aura of other-worldliness, a feeling of inhabiting a slightly off-kilter alternate universe. This brilliantly mirrors the slightly queasy collation between the worlds of the everyday, Rachel’s own life-story and the time-honoured folklore of the central Selkie legend, and the nature of the lyrics, which are replete with joyously inventive wordplay, as rewarding as they are successful in conveying the essential magic and mystery of the tale. The distinctive conjured soundscapes come courtesy of Rachel’s trusty eclectic collective group of musicians, with a special tonal signature that’s largely characterised by the weaving, keening, almost spectral lines of Lucy River’s violin and the burnished embellishments of Rachel’s own electric guitar and some atmospheric guitar playing from Dylan Fowler and Bill Taylor-Beales, with further important contributions from Rosy Robinson (cello), Paul Gray (bass) and guest appearances from Rachel’s brother Shane (percussion) and Angharad Evans (backing vocals). I’d swear you can hear and feel those Orkney seascapes, the rushing and foaming and ebbing of the waves. Ethereal yet very much present; masterfully conceived and presented, and (is it fanciful to suggest?) this is very probably the sound of space and time bending (if only?… but hey now, be careful what you wish for, Rachel…).
Review byDavid Kidman
See link below to view on Folk Radio UK

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Note's On My New Album, Stone's Throw - Lament Of The Selkie

Selkie is the Orcadian word for ‘seal’ and many stories surrounding shape shifting seal people exist within Orkney folklore. In order to take on human form a Selkie had to shed their sealskin. The Selkie men in these stories are often seducers and unfaithful in their relationships, while the Selkie women are usually entrapped by a human stealing and hiding their skin. The Selkie women are generally faithful in their relationships with humans for many years but ultimately their love for the sea and own kind always wins out as they leave their human homes when they rediscover and reclaim their sealskins. Some Selkies have families on land and in sea, for others their children are born on land with webbed feet and hands and in one account the Selkie’s children cannot survive on land and have to be set back into the ocean.

Stone’s Throw ~ Lament Of The Selkie released on Hushland Records 2015 is a reimagining of these traditional Orkney Selkie stories.

Notes On Stone’s Throw, Lament Of The Selkie
Back in the winter of 2011, I was working on a musical collaboration with my friend Gillian Stevens. The project was called ‘Counting The Waves’ and was an exploration of sonic palette involving ancient medieval instruments and modern loop making technology and electric guitar. During this process Gill introduced me to selkie mythology of the Orkney Isles. I had never come across these stories before and found myself captured by their muse. Counting the Waves began to take on a narrative based on the amalgamation of the various selkie myths taking the ancient legends and transposing them into a modern context. I started writing songs from a female selkie perspective and our project was due to premier in the early summer 2012. During our collaboration I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter Polly and so plotted our dates to work inline with my own due date and maternity leave. It was an exciting time, but sadly this specific project was not to be.

Three years ago in early May when 5 months pregnant I had a bad accident. I was on tour in Italy and fell from a high (approx 1.5 metre) stage onto ceramic tiled flooring. Fortunately my daughter was unharmed, but I sustained injuries that left me virtually immobile for the duration of my pregnancy and caused further complications for the birthing process. It was to be a full year and 2 months before I would be signed off by the physio and the implications of it all had a further impact on my singing as my core strength had vastly diminished in this time and so I began a long process of rebuilding the atrophied muscles to enable me to be able to carry a song again.

With my musical projects stalled indefinitely by the logistics of my situation, Bill and I decided to invest in our own recording studio which would enable me to work on a much more adhoc basis as and when I was able to. Slowly I began to work on my songs again and found that the selkie muse was stronger than ever, more and more tracks to her life were being completed.  

Aside from the birth and joyful presence of our daughter Polly for which words can’t adequately express the wonder, over these last years life around me has held much loss and lament. During my pregnancy and the subsequent few years, several of my closest friends have had miscarriages. We experienced the tragic loss of a friends and family both through natural causes and suicide. Marriages have broken down around us… Globally the wars in Gaza and Syria and the outrageous killings of so many innocent young civilians, the endless rise in refugees of war and economic circumstance…. have all played heavily in my heart and mind. As I sought to process these experiences I found that Selkie became a vehicle to filter all these internal laments as I continued combining elements of the tales into an arc narrative.

With the title track Stone’s Throw, I imagined her as a refugee in a foreign land, a beautiful exotic being now working in a seafront kiosk, selling seaside tat and chips and tea. To me she was a refugee both in circumstance and in spirit. Having read reports of a baby seal being found hiding under a car on the streets of California earlier this year as a result of the warming oceans and as a consequence of the changing availability of food sources, this image of the seal-woman refugee has solidified in my mind. In my narrative, the break down of her relationship with a local man followed on from her extreme heartache that their children could not survive on land. This became a way of expressing my sadness and pain for the situations of my own friends going through hard times in their relationships and with their own loss of children. Her restlessness and longing to feel comfortable in her own skin resonated with my own struggles of trying to rebuild my battered body and as I wrote I realized to my surprise that I was working on a full length concept album.

 I must admit to being afraid that it would all be just too depressing, the tale of a seal-woman, who’s life and loves break down to the point where she falls back into the sea leaving a devastated partner to grieve her… and I wrestled with the urges to lighten the content, but in the end the muse won out. To be authentic in this process I had to surrender to the fact that it was a dark and tragic folklore that I was working on and to the belief that there is a need for lament in art that can enable us to find expression of our own stories within in it, just as Selkie myths had done for me.

Ultimately it is the Selkie’s need to be true to herself that wins out as she returns to the place where she is unfettered and truly her own person as the refugee in spirit and in circumstance finds a way back home. In some ways I think this was a driving force these last years, the pursuit of authenticity in the face of ever changing circumstances, some tragic, some joyous and through it all this new album Stone’s Throw ~ Lament of the Selkie has found its place and been created.

The album features an eclectic bunch of brilliant musicians, who have been great to work with.
Paul Gray (formerly of The Damned/Eddie and The Hot Rods /UFO) makes a guest appearance on bass for a few tracks. Lucy Rivers has provided beautiful violin throughout with additional cello strings from Rosy Robinson. Dylan Fowler has contributed slide guitars and sonic textures with his unique sound and Angharad Evans has sung additional backing vocals on many tracks. My brother Shane Beales guests on percussion and Bill Taylor-Beales (aka Sir Silence and my husband!) plays more bass, assorted guitars, percussion and a bit of organ- leaving me with main electric/acoustic guitar, piano, organ, ukulele, and lots of vocals...

I very much hope that folks will enjoy the finished product that will be coming very soon...

Below a few pics of the journey along the way!

(pic left working with Gill Stevens and her amazing medieval instruments in 2011, I hope to be able to revisit a collaboration in the future!)

(Pic below the stage I fell from in Italy 6th May 2012!)

(Pics below Pregnant and Polly 2012!)

(Raising a glass of sparkling wine to the wall of sound!)

                                                   (Recording Begins 2013- 2015)


(Future Recording Artist?! Polly, January 2015 aged 2)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

While On Maternity Leave

Just a quick update...

It's been a great privilege to be involved with Polly on the Roots Of Empathy course being piloted here in Cardiff since November last year, here's a link with more info

Pleased to say that I'm almost fully recovered from fall injuries (see Italy blog a few posts ago) and birth complications- a couple of things still sorting but we are confident that these will continue to improve with time (and a bit more physio!!)

Looking forward to beginning work on new album in the next fortnight here at Hushland HQ!
Will post more on this in the weeks to follow!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

New Hushland EP

Live Ep from Sir Silence and Rachel Taylor-Beales BBC Radio Wales sessions now available to download for free on band camp!

Monday, 30 July 2012


Rachel Taylor-Beales And Her Extraordinary Collective Live At Newport University 2012

Hi Folks,
Hope you’re all managing to track down some sun during this um ‘Great British Summer?!’

It’s been an eventful year full of change and challenges in the Taylor-Beales camp. Both Bill and I have experienced several months of limited mobility since May, me due to injury after falling from stage during a sound check while on tour in Italy and Bill from major reconstructive surgery in his right hand.
All this during second and third trimester pregnancy for me! We are thrilled at the prospect of the somewhat imminent arrival of Baby Taylor-Beales and are hopeful (with the help of our medical teams) that both Bill and I will also be much more physically able post birth in these coming weeks and months!

Anyway in light of all this and the various projects that I’ve had to postpone and rearrange this year I’ve decided to release an 8 track 'Live Album' of songs that I performed at a gig in Newport University earlier this year.  The songs feature members of my ‘extraordinary collective’ Catrin Angharad (aka Angharad Evans), Rosy Robinson and Dylan Fowler.

I’m actually really pleased to have captured these moments live as the arrangements of the songs including additional welsh lyrics and harmonies are very much reflective of my live performances in the last 12 months.  I plan to take official maternity leave from now until May, but will be back with a brand new studio album to release in 2013 as well as my Counting The Waves collaborative project!

In the meantime please do download this offering from Bandcamp, and yes it is free! (Well almost- I’m collecting your emails in return to create a new database after my previous one crashed and burned with my old computer!) So please do go forth and download it and pass on and spread de word etc…

I’ll be checking into my twitter and face-book pages and emails (and no doubt posting a picture or two of baby T-B) sporadically so do feel free to drop a line if you are ever inclined these next months…
Huge thanks to you all for your ongoing support of my music,
See you sometime in 2013!


visit the the Hushland News Blog for the Official Press Release

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Everything Is Free Now (more reflections on David Lowry's letter to Emily White)

(For the letter that originally sparked these thoughts please follow the link below)

Back in 2001 alt-country/americana artist Gillian Welch released a song on her 3rd album Time (The Revelator) album called 'Everything Is Free' with the lines 'Someone hit the big score they figured it out, that we're gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn't pay' 
Sadly this is all too true and has been the case for artists for centuries really (the whole artist starving in the garret scenario is because for so many artists the need to create art is so much more than a whim or hobby but a vital and essential part of living, breathing and being part of the planet )

In his response to NPR DJ Emily White stating that of her 11,000 strong catalogue of music she actually only bought 15 of them David Lowry made the point that this ever growing demand to access 'Music for Free' culture is a moral and ethical issue that needs to be addressed...

As a self employed musician and singer songer-songwriter with my own label imprint Hushland I feel compelled to add my own thoughts here as this is an issue that is not in the least bit theoretical but current and relevant to me on a daily basis.

I've spent the last week or so trawling through many responses to this debate from both sides.
Many folks make the point that there is nothing new about Emily having music for free as she's a DJ and for as long as the music industry has been operating DJ's have been recipients of music for free as part of an overall promotional campaign to get the music heard. Folks have also been saying that David Lowry needs to 'Get with the Program' that he's talking about days gone by and not focussing on the fact that internet has made music accessible and directly available to so many more folks than it ever could have reached. That the internet gives power directly back to the artists to create and market in ways that bypass traditional routes and is an empowering resource in favour of the artist in comparison to the old style record label calling all the shots and dictating creative strategies etc... These are things I agree with. I love the internet and the entrepreneurial and innovative ways to market and create products and involve fans in ways that both refreshing and exciting. None of these things are the main issues of the debate as far as I'm concerned. There are both good and bad working practices in both the new and old systems, and the fact that artists have so often been exploited by major labels and at the raw end of a bad deal is not news at all...

To me the crux of the debate is the financial value of a music and whether it is acceptable that artists be required and expected to make their products 'free' and just accept and put up with the fact that folks will be able to access it without paying for it regardless of whether this is what the artist has intended for their product.

These are the questions that I want to raise here...

What does being a copyright owner of something you have created actually mean today?

Does the consumer based demand that products be at available for free mean loss of excellence?

How does it effect the artist on a day to day basis? 

You don't walk into a restaurant and eat a freshly prepared meal and expect to get it for free
You don't go to a shop to get an ornament you like for your home and expect it to be free
You don't go to a designer clothing label (or any clothes label) and expect to walk out and wear their product for free

I could go on and on... of those 3 examples in order to create the products lots of expenses have been incurred to make them and usually more than one person involved in realising the finished product. Farmers are required to grow food for our meals, factory workers to create materials and fabrics for clothes/ ornaments, then staff are employed to sell the products. No one in this picture will be doing it as a favour or at mates rates, at the lowest acceptable rate they will be doing it for minimum wages. It would be immoral and ethically wrong not to pay a fee for these things...

So here's the parallels to that picture and more regarding my own creating of a music product.

I have self funded and released 3 of my own full length albums as well as being involved in the releasing of more. I have called in many favours and mates rates to do all this and still have had huge outgoings, all of this has been done in my own unpaid time...

Here's a breakdown of how I've made and created my trilogy of albums so far...
There are many ways to create products, I'm not saying this is the best way etc but this is how I've done it...
I am not including time that it took to rehearse and write and create the songs in the first place.
I'm creating a lowest type rate budget for this example...

Personally the longest I've ever booked a studio for recording is 7 days... usually 4 - 5 days recording and 2- 3 days mixing. These are always decisions based on budget.

The average day in the studio with and engineer costs a minimum of £200.00 so for one weeks recording/mixing you're looking at looking at a minimum of approx. £1400.00

Minimum Wage for a session musician at musicians union rates (and I've spent much more on session musicians rates than this!) is £40 per hour with £120 for a minimum 3 hour session.
So for the sake of argument say I use 3 other musicians for a days 7.5 (basically 1 days recording) hours recording time each thats £300 per day for them... so an extra £900
(just for the record I have paid a single session musician the sum of £350 for a 3 hour session on one of my albums- and rightly so as they are a top class musician with huge amounts of training and expertise and I would not expect to pay an expert at the top of their field a minimum wage for their time anyway)

Mastering (the thing you do after mixing an album getting it ready to be pressed) can sometimes be done in same studio you record in or can send it off to a specialist- this can be anything from £150- £500...

Working with a producer- an agreed daily rate minimum (could be anything from £100- £350) per day though mainstream producers can charge 10x that much per day etc!!)
nb: You don't need to work with a producer to create an album, personally its something that I've found incredibly helpful as they have brought an objectivity and further ideas to the overall product that I've been creating and helped me realise my own artistic vision in ways I couldn't have achieved on my own. Again if I'm employing someone who is an expert I don't expect to pay a minimum wage for them!!

Thats just recording part of an album...

Then there's artwork for the album, design and layout paying somebody to do that could be anything from 1- 5 days work minimum, £200 per day is again a low wage for a self employed graphic designer daily rate... so for arguments sake lets say a budget of 2.5 days a further £500

Printing and pressing 1000 physical copies of a product- with jewel cases (the plastic cases) costs around £800- digi- packs £1200- £1500/ usually recycled materials cost more so that could be up to £ 2000 if you want to do it ethically.... 1000 copies is a standard minimum print/press run

Then there's PR and marketing for the product...
over the years I've done it myself/ I've spent £500 using a good local PR person and I've spent £3000 (at a discounted rate from £5000 for a national agency as I was still going to do a fair bit of my own PR) Despite the payment all PR its still a huge gamble as there is zero guarantee that you will actually be reviewed or get the television/ radio time you pay the PR person to pitch on your behalf...
(There are of course further advertising costs if you wish to place an advert for the product in a any magazine... mainstream mags can cost in the £1000's )

So looking at just recording a physical album without any PR- looking at a bare minimum of between £2000- £5000

Then there's website and webpage maintenance and design which you of course can do yourself or pay someone else to do for you.... I haven't included budgets for official photo shoots or making music video either...

So in order to make and market an album these costs can easily add up to around £10,000 on expenses and believe me this an extremely modest budget!! (So many artists have to scrape, scrimp call on favours from friends not pay other musicians/ artists a fair wage for being involved in creating a album)

So lets say I am have my shiny new product and I'm now in debt somewhere between £5000- £10,000
I need to start selling my product to begin get myself out of debt and here's where the issue begins...

Doing the math: if I have pressed 1000 copies and I'm £5000.00 in debt I need to sell 500 at £10 each before I can think of making a profit. Now in the past that was an incredibly viable option.

Traditional means of selling CDs was in shops and at gigs and more recently through a website...
The problem is that free culture is demanding I release my product of free or at least let the fans name the price, and if I use any sort of digital distribution within in days of my product release the technology is available to make it downloadable for free from other sites...

Any touring artist will tell you that physical CD sales at gigs are down due to products now being more available and cheaper online and aside from the fact that logistics and finances from petrol costs to paying musicians to what you can get from a venue re any form of payment in order to actually tour often requires making a further loss as Chris TT has eloquently put in his blog)

Back in 2004 I could pretty much guarantee that I would sell CD's to at least 10% of what ever audience I had.
At my level of touring that can mean performing in venues with audience numbers averaging anything between 10 people in a bar to 200 in a club or theatre (sometimes at festivals /on tour support slots etc its many more but this is an average). So depending on the night that could mean sales of 1- 20 CD's. So in theory if I put together 3x 10-14 day tours a year I could pretty much guarantee that I would have at least broken even on album costs within 12 months. 
(Not making a loss on tour is completely different scenario!)

Nowadays people just don't buy CD's at gigs like they used to. I often get emails from folks telling me how much they enjoyed my live set and that they've just got my album, but they haven't bought it from me though and so I see much, much less of an income from CD sales yet get far more feed back and response on all my music than ever before... Also folks see £10 as too expensive for a CD even if they are going to pay for one, so are now looking at paying under that price for a CD more like £7.50 or less...  

There are other ways to make a product sure... and more and more artists are choosing to release entirely digital products. 

One of the problems for an indie artist such as myself at this time is being caught in the middle. The new guard and ways are not yet fully established and the old guard and ways still hold a lot of power.
Mainstream and Major labels and industry folks still demand that in order to be taken seriously you have to release both physical and digital copies of your music with a push for vinyl releases becoming more and more popular as well. I'm not a fan of any mainstream music awards etc but just as an example a prize like Britain's Mercury music prize requires that in order to enter an artist has to be on a label, have a physical distribution deal (not just digital) and pay a fee of £500- thats just to submit your music.

I could record a digital only release product (and many artists are forced to) I could just record this product myself in my own home studio (and have done- though expenses for mic and computers and programs are still incurred in order to do this)
I can do all the artwork/ press promotion etc myself and be completely self contained unit (and there are lots of talented artists who do this successfully and I take my hat off to them for doing so! I am glad that the technology is available for them to do this also!) It is a model that works very well for some folks and I'm glad it does.

However why should I be limited to this?

I believe in the pursuit of creative excellence and diversity in the art that I make and therefore employ folks around me who can help to deliver this.
My personal skills are in my own songwriting and musicianship. I am not a wonderful recording engineer. I am not brilliant at computer tech. I am not a whizz at PR. Though I am  multi-instrumentalist there are times when I would rather employ a session musician who will run rings round me both technically and creatively.
I try to diversify and am continually adding to my skill set but there are plenty of people out there who will do a far better job on the various tasks than me and personally I believe my product is better for it etc...

So why should I now be under pressure to give my music away when I have personally invested time and hired experts to work with me on it?  Or not to mind if folks download it illegally as to quote a phrase I've heard frequently "at least its getting it out there" 
Please explain to me why is it a problem for folks to buy the product if they like it and would like to own it for themselves and listen to it?
Many companies and buisnesses use freebies as a marketing tool and it can be a helpful one, but that is always in order ultimately to sell something. Why should a music products be any different why should the products all be free? Does this not devalue both the artists and the work and the material?

In all other vocational trades, training, experience and expertise is reflected in wages.
Not so for musicians. Gig fees are minimal and usually at rates that were acceptable in the 80's or 90's no pay rise with the cost of inflation etc... Recession has effected festivals who were once open to taking risks on lesser known artists which once meant festivals were a great way to gain exposure (even though most wouldn't offer any fee to a lesser know artist to play) Now festival organisers have to ensure that they will sell tickets and so are pretty much booking the name drawing acts- with a few offering a competition to unknown acts in order to play them. Festivals and gig venues are also using submission sites like Sonic Bids for their applications a site which requires a subscription membership fee as well as fees to submit an application to each event. Arts grants and funding are being cut across the UK. It is a tricky time to work in the creative industries and be self employed.

Fair trade is an issue here.

So why not use crowd funding to source the funds for the product?

I'm actually a big fan of crowd funding and think it a great innovative idea however it has proven most successful for folks with an already big existing network of fans, in order to generate those fans touring etc has to be a viable option and for a band just starting out it is a huge catch 22, without the gigs you can't get the product out there to generate fans etc and so it becomes yet another loss leader...
I may well try this in the future and am open push all sorts of doors to create music...

But ultimately regardless of where the funds to make the product come from the question is still "does artist themselves not deserve to be paid for what they have created?"

The internet does have many ways to get music out there and distributed, youtube, CD Baby, Bandcamp  and more etc... These are all wonderful, helpful tools and do a great job at putting the power back into artists hands- however in my mind that still doesn't mean that an artist shouldn't be paid if folks want to own the product they have created!

Ultimately as a musician I need a wage as it is my job. My wages are broken up into various factors. There's gig/ performance/ session fees.
Any royalty I can gain from air play, performance and licensing from being a member of PRS/ MCPS and Revenue from any product I have released.
In order to scrape a living I need each of these avenues of revenue to be working for me and at present each one is undergoing major cuts and losses due to the changing times and culture.
I have bills to pay and very soon with the birth of my first child, mouths other than my own to feed. I have personally invested in my career and this is what I know and am most qualified to do.
I have a been a working musician for 17 years and I can honestly say that the impact of download free culture is huge on me as an individual. I have seen a dramatic loss as to the income that I was able to make from sales of my product even just 5 years ago. It doesn't seem to make sense alongside the upward trajectory that my exposure, radio play, mainstream positive reviews/ features in press and venues that I am playing that I should be struggling more now to make a living as a musician than I ever have been! I know I am not alone in my experience of this.
I want to pay the musicians in my band and folks who are involved in making and marketing my products a fair wage for their time. I want to be able to continue in the job that I'm most suited and qualified to do and not have to push it out to hobby status.

So to round up, personally as a self employed an indie artist, who is passionate and committed to continuing to try and create works of quality, I would ask that if you'd like to own it and listen to it please pay the small one off fee that comes with either the download or CD or vinyl that is being sold.

If you value something or someone, treat it/them with respect. Models and modes of communication and technology change all the time and rightly so. However principals are entirely transferable.

If I have made something it belongs to me. This is a basic principle.
If someone else would like to have that product for themselves they need to have my permission to take/use it. Sometimes that will be for a fee, sometimes I will be happy to give it to them for free and say yes pass it on to whoever... The less stressed and struggling to make ends meet the more likely I am to be able to generate more free products and fan led payment of products.

As an independent artist in these changing times I want to say that yes lets shape a future that finally favours the artist. Lets challenge the growing apathy among consumers and try and inform folks that what they do does have direct impact on the individual independent labels and musicians at grass roots level. I have never been willing to go along with anything just because of popular opinion. I believe a worker is worth their pay.

Rant over and out!!!

Everything is free now
That's what they say
Everything I ever done
Gonna give it away.
Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
That we're gonna do it anyway
Even if doesn't pay.

I can get a tip jar
Gas up the car
Try to make a little change
Down at the bar.
Or I can get a straight job
I've done it before
Never minded working hard
It's who I'm working for.

Everything is free now
That's what they say
Everything I ever done
Gotta give it away.
Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
That we're gonna do it anyway
Even if doesn't pay.

Every day I wake up
Humming a song
But I don't need to run around
I just stay home.
Sing a little love song
My love and myself
If there's something that you want to hear
You can sing it yourself.

'Cause everything is free now
That's what I said
No one's got to listen to
The words in my head.
Someone hit the big score
And I figured it out
That I'm gonna do it anyway
Even if doesn't pay.