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A cellarful of noise.

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What’s it like being a rock n’ roll star?

Well, I can’t tell you firsthand. But I can tell you what it’s like being a legend in one’s own basement … and tonight, I think I will.

Two years ago this week I set up my Bandcamp account as a precursor to releasing my “first solo album” — a project I’d bullshat about for years. It was a fun stretch and an interesting challenge for me, even if it didn’t do much for anybody else.

I’ve now released four EPs — each one weirder than the last — which you can read about here, here, here and here. And on the two-year anniversary of the whole trip, I thought I’d lift the curtain on Bandcamp’s stats feature and write about how my oeuvre has performed.

I know. Blogging about one’s Bandcamp page is the 21st-century equivalent of showing people slides from your vacation in Worcester. No one gives a damn about what I’m about to tell them.

Still, I think a case study of 21st-century amateur music-making might be of interest to someone out there. If you declare yourself a genius, hang out your shingle, and salt the Interwebs with a few examples of your vision, how much — or how little — can you expect to happen?

Well, about this much …

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Plays: The 30 songs on my four EPs have racked up a total of 314 plays — not quite one every other day over the past two years.

Of those plays, 77, or 25 percent, are considered complete, which means the listener got at least 90 percent of the way through. 160 plays, or 50 percent, were partial, which means the listener got more than 10 percent of the way in but less than 90 percent.

And the remaining 77 listens are classed as skips, which means the listener failed to get 10 percent of the way into the song. (Needed more cowbell, I guess.)

Four of the 10 most-played songs came from the first EP, Summer Games, which is also the most conventional of the four.

And Number One on the Kurt Blumenau hit parade by a solid margin is “Art Thief,” the featured song from that EP.

(As for the least popular … well, there are 30 songs, but Bandcamp says only 28 of them have been played at least once. So there are two songs out there that no one’s ever dared to listen to. I think they are two songs from the most recent EP, The Midnight Loneliness of the Sunflower, which feature fire sirens overdubbed loudly over the music.)

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Buzz: This is Bandcamp’s term for the number of visits to my site. And wouldn’t you know it: I’m at precisely 1,000 visits as of this writing. If I’d known I would have iced some champagne, or thrown the TV out the hotel-room window.

I suspect a vast majority of these come from ‘bots of some sort, because it’s common for me to get visits but no plays.

It always seems weird to me that a human being would navigate to a Bandcamp site and then not listen to any of the music. That’s kinda like figuring out how to get to a restaurant across town and then not going in. So, I figure something other than sentient humans accounts for most of my traffic.

A few other random tidbits about my buzz, y’all:

29 visitors came to my site from the various blog posts I’ve written about my EPs.

26 visitors found my music by searching for tags I used (things like “Allentown,” “Stamford,” “avant-garde,” “french” and “diddley bow.”)

Five visitors got there from Bandcamp’s Best Sellers feature. (As you’ll see in a moment, nothing I’ve done can be called a “best seller” in any sense of the phrase. I think the feature can be filtered to show what’s hot in the preceding day or week; and when my EPs were brand-new and had moved a copy or two, they might have qualified for such a page.)

Three visitors reached me through Bandcamp’s New Releases feature, which is kinda cool. It seems like the digital equivalent of pulling an unfamiliar but intriguing record out of the New Releases bin at a vinyl store.

– Finally, one visitor got there by searching Bandcamp for “Kurt Blumenau.” Not sure who they were, but it’s nice to know that somebody out there accepts no substitute.

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¬†Sales/Downloads: Doesn’t matter how brilliant you are if you don’t move the units. Just ask Big Star, right?

Well, I’m still waiting for my first platinum record. As of tonight, I have drawn 16 downloads, of which seven were actual sales. (All four of my EPs can be downloaded for free, that being what they’re really worth.)

In the City of Churches and Cannons and Hope’s Treat sit atop the hit parade with five downloads each.

None of them are stronger in commercial appeal than the others, though: Three of my four EPs have two paid downloads each. (In last place, with only one paid download: Churches and Cannons.)

I can account for about 10 of those downloads. My dad downloads a copy of everything I do, or at least he has so far. A former college buddy accounts for one or two, and the guys in my former high school band account for three or four more.

But there are probably five or six that I have no idea where they went … which is maybe what I dig the most.

I like to think of my Bandcamp page as a modern version of throwing a bottle into the ocean for someone random to pick up.

Even if they throw it back in again, I’ve still reached them; and who knows but maybe they liked it?

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Finally: The Map function on all these graphs is only for those who buy the fancy Bandcamp package, which ain’t me, so I can’t report on that.

But, you might have noticed an option called Defender on the Plays graph, maybe eight hundred words or so ago.

It is exactly what it promises: Click it, and it turns your Plays chart into a playable version of the classic video game Defender.

I might never attract much of a musical audience … but I’m getting pretty good at zapping the aliens.

defender

I don’t hear a single.

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It looks like I’ve finally made my Satanic Majesties Request, or maybe my Self Portrait — the album that makes people shake their heads and say, “He’s lost the plot.”

My latest Bandcamp effort, The Midnight Loneliness of the Sunflower, has stalled out with fewer downloads — and, I think, fewer listens — than any of its three predecessors.

Apparently, fire sirens and machine-translated French lyrics just ain’t what the music-loving public wants in the year 2015.

(Give it time, I say. By the year — oh, let’s say 2037 — I will be regarded as a genius, ahead of my time in my ambitious fusion of otherwise unrelated elements.)

Bandcamp’s inscrutable popularity rankings currently list The Midnight Loneliness as the eighth-most-popular recording with the tag “Allentown.”

Which says little, really, except that the music-listening public doesn’t seem to like recordings tagged “Allentown” any more than it does fire sirens.

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The Midnight Loneliness is also currently the 80th-most-popular Bandcamp recording with the tag “french.” I can only assume that sound I hear is Vercingetorix weeping from beyond the grave.

The good news? Well, you won’t get to listen ’til late in the year, but I’m already working on tracks for a second recording of atonal diddley-bow solos.

Yeah, next time around I’m gonna give the people what they want.

The sunflower.

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Today’s post, in two-part summary:

1.) I do not speak French.

2.) I invite you to hear and enjoy my new album, The Midnight Loneliness of the Sunflower, which was recorded entirely in French.

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A little more context, perhaps.

Over the past year-plus I have been confronted by a gradual slipping of my communications skills. This is a concern, as these skills are at the heart of both my job and my leisure hobbies.

– I don’t think my writing and other communication at work is as sharp as it used to be. It still gets the job done, but not very imaginatively.

– My inspiration for this blog and my other blog has very much dwindled. I don’t write for fun nearly as often as I used to, and when I do, I don’t do it well. (I have continued to write the other blog on a weekly basis, but only because that’s the pace I promised the readers … and in any event, that blog’s going bye-bye in a few weeks.)

– I feel less and less interested in sharing my opinions on anything with the world. I am not culturally deep enough to have much of interest to say; my perspective is lacking. Plus, no one gives a damn, really.

– I find that my ability to remember words and facts is not what it used to be. I can’t always find stuff on the tip of my tongue. (It’s not sliding enough to make me worry. And in some ways it might be healthy: I’m consciously trying not to be a know-it-all any more. Still, I find it mildly frustrating, and at times it poses a minor block to my ability to communicate.)

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Faced with these assembled setbacks, the idea of recording an album in a language I do not speak seemed oddly appropriate, appealing and potentially therapeutic.

It summoned new kinds of inspiration, while allowing me to throw conventional forms of inspiration out the window. It took hold of my imagination and lifted my spirits, which in and of itself was worth the effort.

The original idea was for a group of lulling, lilting bossa nova tunes with lyrics whispered in French — a language I took a quarter-century ago, vaguely remember, but have never used.

Real bossa nova guitar requires chops I can only dream of. So the project mutated. Some of it is Latin-influenced; some of it is not.

Midway through the project, I also decided to spice up the gentler acoustic tunes with a brassy layer of fire alarm. These alternative presentations appear at the end of The Midnight Loneliness, and I hope my listeners will enjoy them as much as, if not more than, the originals.

MidnightLoneliness1

I recognize that¬†The Midnight Loneliness will not be amusing to anyone who actually speaks French. They will find any number of mispronunciations, not to mention lines where Google Translate — yup — handed me phrasings no real speaker of the language would use.

I am not bothered, and I hope they can find a way around their expectations and not be bothered either.

It was not my goal to pass for an authentic French speaker (or lyricist). If I had wanted that, I would have taken the necessary steps to pursue it, like taking a refresher course in the language and finding a more trustworthy translator.

Being an amateur, with all that entails, was more fun — and much more in tune with the curious spark that led to this recording in the first place.

The Midnight Loneliness of the Sunflower, like my earlier recordings, is available as a free Bandcamp download. The lyrics, in French and English, can be read on the home page if you want to know what’s (more or less) going on.

So check it out. Consider downloading it, even. That’ll make me happy, and downloading doesn’t obligate you to actually listen.

(I thought about offering a prize to anyone who emails me a screenshot showing a Midnight Loneliness track playing on their iPod, iPhone, iTunes or other audio player. I don’t really have any prizes beyond gratitude … but if you listen, send me a snapshot anyway.)

Thanks.

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