My Pathway

Creating music has always been a… well, not a dream, but an itch. Over the years, I’ve been able to scratch it on occasion, creating a song or two.

Back in early 2016, thanks to a bittersweet gift, I was able to afford to build up a home music studio. The next several months of learning and experimenting saw me create a few recordings… and I realized I had enough to call it an “album”. So I looked into what it would take to actually release it myself, and invested about $700 in doing the digital and CD production of “Life Is Something”.

That album was basically a collection of experiments. Once it was out, I started creating more music. By then I was no longer learning my tools – I was able to take an idea to completion deliberately. After three songs, “Being With You”, “Traveling”, and “Cities”, I realized I had a cohesive sound and theme. We were doing some traveling at the time, and I was thinking a lot about how traveling connects people, how music connects thoughts, about what brings people and ideas and experiences together, and my wife came up with the word “Pathways”. I loved it – it captures all of those ideas.

I wanted 10 songs total, so I kept creating. During this time, my wife wanted to share the song “Beautiful Lonely One” with our church, and I wanted it to be better – so I re-did the production, changing the instruments and taking what I’d learned to make it sound better. The result is “Beautiful Lonely One – Redux”. I created a full-length video for it and released that on YouTube, and decided that I liked it so much it would be on the new album as well.

Over the next few months I spent many hours working on more tracks until I had 10. I contacted my normal graphic artist who created some beautiful artwork for the album, and it is now done and on its way to the world.

I ordered 20 “Life Is Something” when I published it, and 15 of those sold… mostly to friends and family. There are 4 left to order online, and I have 1 more myself available. At $10 each, that’s $150 of sales. About 4 copies sold digitally for another $35, and streaming revenue for the last year has been under $10. (Streaming sucks for small artists like me – you’d have to listen to my album 200+ times on Spotify for me to get $10!) So, I spent $700 and got less than $200 back in revenue. Oh, and that doesn’t include the $70 or so I spent on Facebook advertising (not sure it was worth it).

The music and production on “Pathways” is so much better than my first album, and I think it is really enjoyable to listen to. It is different than “Life Is Something”. My publication costs will come in at around $350 because this time I did more of the work myself, and I am going to order 30 physical CDs. I need to sell a total of 35-40 albums to break even on this. And that’s assuming that the 450-500 hours I spent on the music and production I did for free! Ah the life of a “starving” artist! (Not really starving – I have a day job.)

I probably have enough friends and family to get 20 albums sold. I’m hoping that another 20 people out there take a chance, drop $10, and hopefully enjoy this album. It’s 55 minutes, it covers several genres, styles, and moods. There’s dance/club music, orchestral/piano, dramatic cinema trailer, electronica, and more. (I really hope 200 people out there take a chance!).

Thanks for reading – please visit my music website: http://music.dudehook.com and my Facebook page “Music By David Hooker”. And buy my album(s)!!!

-David-

 

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Next album: Pathways

Seven songs done!  Well, almost.  One of them needs to be finished up, but it’s minor stuff, so it’s really almost done.

So, starting with “Traveling“, all of the songs (to me at least) convey a sense of movement and making connections.  Moving… to connection.  Moving, in the sense of travel, visiting cities, being with someone special, connecting.  For the album theme, I worked through the idea of moving through the space that connects people… and my wife came up with the word: Pathway.  So, the album has a name: Pathways.  Yay!

Here’s the track list as of now, not in any order:

  • Being With You
  • Cities
  • Connections
  • Dreaming of You
  • One Night
  • Traveling
  • Beautiful Lonely One – Redux

For those of you that have heard my first album, you will recognize the last song.  I wasn’t really thrilled with the final version of BLO, so I re-did the production and am releasing the redux version on this album.  It is so much better – almost a different sounding song.  You can listen to the entirety of this track already, for free, here on YouTube.

Most of the songs have short preview videos up on vimeo and my music website, so you can get an early taste of the songs.  In addition, you can listen to all of the songs now, if you become a Patron of my work!

After about 3 more tracks, I’ll be ready to compile and publish the album… hopefully sooner than later!  Stay tuned!

 

New Songs and Studio Move

Over the last month or more I have not done much at all in my studio… because we moved.  It took a lot of time and energy, but we are finally in our new home, and my studio is set up again.  Here’s what it looks like now…

Using some gift cards I received for Christmas, I was able to fully license VEPro 6, so now my studio is in full functional order.  You can see the “VEPro rig” (the two PCs under that desk), which is connected to the Mac via a dedicated wired gigabit Ethernet network.

The next item I’m looking forward to acquiring is Steinberg Absolute 3, which will significantly expand the sonic capabilities at my disposal – so much so, in fact, that I probably won’t need to acquire any more instruments for quite some time.  Using Halion 6 (part of Absolute 3, once I can get it) will allow me to start working deeply in real sound design.  My birthday is next month – maybe I’ll get more cash (hint hint – I accept PayPal).

New music

So I’ve finished all of the work on 5 tracks, including mastering:

  • Traveling (already released as a single)
  • Beautiful Lonely One – Redux (released as a video)
  • Cities
  • One Night
  • Being With You

I have one more almost complete, “Dreaming of You”, which is an EDM track.  In addition, I have a number of concepts already started, so I should have no trouble having a full album ready by summer.  Some of the songs have preview video clips, available on my music website.

This album will definitely be better than my first – I’m very happy with the direction this is taking and being able to apply all that I’ve learned and am learning.  The quality of the music and production work as well as the cohesive nature of the music will make this more like a “real” album, instead of a collection of songs like the last one.

 

One Night

Just wrapped up the composition, recording, and mixing of a new track I’m calling “One Night”.  I’m very excited about this track – it is a 7 1/2 minutes dramatic film-score organic/electronic journey… complete with epic drums, electric guitars, and even a flute.  I’ll be posting an excerpt, maybe with a video, sometime soon.

This track is so involved, my iMac wasn’t up to the task of handling all of the processing involved.  I was able to off-load most of the instruments to one of my VEPro slave machines, and the setup is working out very well.  Here’s a clip of me working with VEPro on another potential new track:

 

New single and more studio

My new single, “Traveling“, is released today!  I liked Conor’s work on the art for Life Is Something so much, I asked him to do me a cover for this single and it’s great.  I’m going to have him do all my art from now on.

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I’m really happy with the track.  I wrote it a couple of weeks before our Italy vacation, and listened to it a lot while traveling on the high speed trains across the country.  The song really fit the feel and vibe of the trains and of traveling in general… so that’s what I named it.  Please head on over and grab your copy!

I did my own mastering on this track.  I went for the bx_XL V2 mid/side mastering limiter for getting the loudness to a good level without squashing any sound and for keeping the stereo wideness sounding great.  Very happy with the result.

I’m setting up my new VEPro rig now as well.  Finally starting to install all my instruments and plugins on the new machines.  I’ve ordered the Vienna Key’s which hold the licenses for VEPro, and once they come in I’ll get VEPro and start setting up my templates.  This whole setup will allow me to offload a lot of the processing from my iMac, giving me the ability to use more instruments and sounds on each song.  I am starting to run into the limits of my iMac with a new track I’m working on which has a very movie score / cinematic sound.  Here’s a shot of my studio today…

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It’s a bit of a mess at the moment.  I have a new wide-screen monitor (the left one) attached to the iMac (the right monitor).  The VEPro rig is the two PC’s on the right on the floor, with monitors for them on the table above.  I’m actually not using the attached monitors and keyboards, since I am using Remote Desktop to work with the PCs from the Mac…

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In other studio news, I have acquired over the last several months a little Alesis Vmini 25-key keyboard.  I use it to play live at church while I’m also running the sound board for the band.  I also have some new plugins… the bx_XL V2, Vocalise 2, Addictive Keys, Xpand!2, Movement, SynthMaster One and 2.8, Arpology, and some sample packs.  I’m considering adding Serum to the mix… not sure if I want/need that one right now.  I pretty much only buy when these things are on sale.  Oh, and I’m also looking at all of TDR’s stuff for mastering, based on the recommendations of Chris at Unlock Your Sound (who mastered my first album).  Quick plug for Chris: he and his team are awesome!  Go check them out!

Last thing, I’ve set up a Patreon page.  This is to allow fans access to my music before anyone else, including work-in-progress and hopefully other insider stuff.  It is a monthly subscription service for my fans, which will help offset the costs of my studio.  I don’t spend a lot of money on my gear – almost always buy software on sale.  The new computers cost me a total of less than $500, which included the memory upgrades to 20GB each.  If you like my music and want to chip in a little and get some back stage access, please become a Patron!

Studio and new work updates

Howdy folks!

I’m in the process of adding a little gear to the studio.  A friend gave me two computers, which I am going to set up as slave machines to my main music workstation computer.  Using software such as VEPro, I can then use all three computers as if they were one, greatly expanding the capabilities of my studio.  With this, I hope to start doing some work with orchestral compositions and larger and more exciting pieces.  My hope is that by next summer that I’ll have another album ready!

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In the meantime, I’m trying to get more active with my Facebook music page and I’ve started a mailing list for fans to get exposure to new music.  I’m also thinking of starting a Patreon page where fans can support my efforts with a very low monthly subscription, so that I can offset some of the costs of my studio.  For me this is a hobby, and I love doing it, and I love sharing it with people… but it does take money, and I ain’t rich!

Anyway, I have a new song done as well, which I will share with mailing list members.  If you sign up, you can get access to the new song.  There’s a sign up form at http://music.dudehook.com.

 

Life Is Something

Well, the album is done and released to the public.

I had 20 CD’s made and shipped to me.  I sent 5 of them to the warehouse for online orders, and of the other 15 I have directly sold 13 to friends.  I kept one, and gave one to Christy (the collaborator on one of the tracks).  The album is available on almost all online outlets.  So far, only one digital download has sold.  Well, I suppose I should be patient.

I’ve kept up promoting the album myself via my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  I created a mailing list which has 10 subscribers.  I did not do this album release in order to really make any money, but I’d need about 80 album sales to break even on the publication/production costs.  Maybe someday it will hit that number 🙂

Anyway, I’ve created a first version of a new song, part of which is on my Soundcloud account.  I need to do a little more work on it, then I’m going to send it to all my email list subscribers.  I’ve decided to keep going and probably release another album of all new music sometime next year.  This new song will be on there, but will be updated.  I hope to do more collaborations with vocalists and hopefully a guitarist or two as well.

Please go check out my website for the album details and links to listen/buy: http://music.dudehook.com.

And let me know what you think of the music!