Long time no write, right?

It’s been a hectic time recently, and there’s plenty of news to get through, so here goes:

Last month, I graduated from Southampton University, having completed my Bachelor’s in Music with a First. In addition, I was awarded the Hazel Muras-Osborn Composition Prize, for “the best achievement overall as a composer on the course”. This prize took me totally by surprise, and an achievement I am very proud of. No doubt it will be a fantastic thing to have moving forwards.

Furthermore, it has been suggested to me by one of my lecturer’s that I submit an essay that I wrote for my final year to an Academic blog, before reworking it and submitting it to a full Academic Journal. Needless to say, I will be taking up this opportunity eagerly.

Following on from all that, next month I will be starting my Master’s in Music Composition, once again at Southampton University, lasting for a whole year. I’m very excited to start it, to focus more closely on my composition after three successful years of a wonderfully broad musical education. I’m especially looking forward to working more closely with the composers there – in particular, Matthew Shlomowitz, who I have already had much success in working with.

In addition to this, I am on the committee for SUStrings, the Southampton University String Orchestra, for 2015-16 in the role of Librarian. I hope to bring a new spin to the role and orchestra, by placing an emphasis on playing student works – either composed, or arranged. And in keeping with a tradition started last year, I hope to make the final concert of the year a soundtrack concert, for which I, as well as other members, have already started arranging a number of pieces.

Perhaps most excitingly though, I have been brought onto a game development team as lead composer. They have already begun work on the game, with a demo of some sort expected next year but a full development time of at least two years, meaning I have time to work on the soundtrack once my Master’s is completed. This is obviously a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to bringing you all more news as I get it.

In addition to all of this, I have a flat all to myself for this next year, and I am in the process of building a new PC (my poor old laptop is getting on a bit and I need the extra grunt of a desktop). With the privacy and extra processing power this gives me, I should be able to return to streaming composition on a more regular basis – and in higher quality! I’ll let you guys know as soon as everything on that end is sorted out.

If you’ve got this far, thanks so much for reading all of this! I promise the next update will not be as slow in coming along as this one was. Given everything that’s happened to me recently and is going to happen, I’m very excited for my future in composition.

For now, I’m just enjoying a sweet Disaronno on the rocks after a hard day’s arranging…

Disaronno on the rocks

Much love to you all,


A Final Reflection…

A Final Video To Round Off The Module!

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Addendum: Spotify

I wrote a comment on Anna’s blog about Spotify, and originally wanted to post this in full. However, I felt it best to cut down my comment into a much smaller, streamlined one. I wanted to keep my original post, so here it is in full:

Hi Anna,

I love that you’ve raised the topic of Spotify, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with your conclusions. Whenever an artist decides to pull music from Spotify or refuses to let their music be put on there, the response from Spotify is always the same “If people are listening on Spotify, at least they aren’t pirating it!”

Now, I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying this. It relies on three assumptions:

1) That pirating is necessarily a bad thing

2) That Spotify gives artists a liveable wage

3) That there are no better alternatives for artists

I find these to be severely misguided and I’ll tackle them one by one. Firstly, this article by Anthony Hill (http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/news/2013/05/piracy-downloads-130315 – seemingly my go-to article as of late) shows that piracy often leads to MORE album sales and not less. I know this from experience with friends and acquaintances who pirate as a way of “trying before they buy”. They are often those who spend the most on music, or if not, often say they would if they had more disposable income.

Secondly, Spotify still pays artists a ridiculously low rate per play. For the artists who are in the Top 40, that’s not a problem – the sheer number of plays on their hit singles mean they rake in the cash. However, take, for instance, the case of King Crimson – such a large, succesful and influential band must be able to make a lot off of Spotify, right? Well, Robert Fripp has never been a fan of Spotify, and thus only two tracks were ever made available on there. Between them, they garnered 618 plays, leading to Spotify sending a massive £1.61 (Yes, you read that right) to the record company (http://www.dgmlive.com/diaries.htm?entry=15629). The money then went through the company and had to be divided between the label and the band members. What was paid out to them is so little it’s not even worth calculating.

Honestly, if King Crimson can make so little money from their tracks, what hope do small, unheard-of bands have? 618 plays is probably about as many plays as such a band will acquire in a year, and that pittance can hardly be considered a liveable wage.

I did a little number crunching of my own to investigate. Even IGNORING the multiple £100+ collector’s boxes that I have bought from King Crimson, I have spent at least £100 if not £200 on King Crimson’s music. By comparison, I have listened to them over 5000 times in the last few years according to last.fm (and are my most played artist) which, after a few sums equates to about £13-14 paid to the label. In other words, I would have to listen to King Crimson for over 30 more years at the same rate to give King Crimson anywhere near how much I’ve paid for music (again, excluding the collector’s sets). And I will no doubt be buying more music from them as the years go on.

Spotify claim that people still buy CDs and downloads even when using Spotify, but I question this. From my own experience, a lot of people I know who once pirated and now use Spotify rarely, if ever, buy music any more. They believe that by enduring adverts or paying a subscription fee, they can sufficiently support the artists they listen to, because Spotify presents itself as an endgame and not as a stepping stone to further supporting the artist.

Now, there is no doubt that the playing field has changed. The old record industry model doesn’t work any more. But there are better platforms, in my opinion, than Spotify. I truly believe that Bandcamp, which I mentioned in my vlog this week, is a far better platform as it mostly cuts out the money-grabbing middle men, and allows artists to share music on their terms.

Sorry this is such a long rant but I hope it was at least interesting. I’d love to hear your thoughts!



The Curious Case of Cloudkicker (And Why It Should Matter To You)

UoSM2033 Topic 5: Explain the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online

This week’s blog post comes to you in the form of a vlog! Enjoy!

References & Bibliography

“Alex” (2010), Interview – CloudkickerThe Inevitable Nose.

“Benanne” (2010), Exclusive: Interview with Cloudkicker, got-djent.com.

Byrne, D. (2014), How Will The Wolf Survive: Can Musicians Make A Living In The Streaming Era?David Byrne

Crawford, D. (2012), Ben Sharp: ‘Music Has Become A Kind Of Diary For Me’UltimateGuitar.Com.

Hill, A. (2013). Illegal downloaders ‘try before they buy’. Broadbandchoices.

Kennelty, G. (2014), Cloudkicker Absolutely Okay With Label Printing Band’s “Unauthorized” Vinyl, Metal Injection.

Obstkrieg, D. (2013), On Isolation And Hopeful Loneliness: An Interview With Cloudkicker’s Ben Sharp, LastRites.

“OCR” (2012), Interview with Cloudkicker, Moosick.

Neilstein, V. (2010), Cloudkicker is back with Beacons, MetalSucks.

Sharp, B. (2010), Beacons, Cloudkicker.

“Wigg”, (2010), Wigg’s interview with Cloudkicker, MRU Forums.

On Youtube:

Interview with Ben Sharp aka Cloudkicker on Reostarter Youtube channel.

Cloudkicker Exclusive Interview | Metal Injection on MetalInInjection Youtube channel.

Useful Links:

Cloudkicker on Bandcamp

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported 



As we’re now reaching the end of November, people may have noticed my slightly more ragged appearance than normal. I have been taking part in No Shave November, but due to a lack of proactiveness I didn’t have my own donation page. So what can you do to help? Simple, find someone else who has taken part in No Shave November or Movember and donate to them! Perhaps think about donating a bit more for me, too 😉  I’d personally recommend donating to my good friend Scott Hunter, because his facial hair is magnificently glorious (http://uk.movember.com/mospace/9714465).

What A Delightfully Festive Time…

December Schedule

December is surely one of the most despised months for musicians. Between the learning and relearning of inane Christmas tunes (ugh), frequent and frantic rehearsals (always perfectly organised… not), and then all the concerts (so. many. concerts…), Christmas time is often one of the most stressful times of the year.

Thankfully for me, my schedule for the next couple of weeks is not too bad (as I have learned the all powerful, two letter phrase: no). However, in comparison with my schedule in previous years (or, indeed, the schedules of other musicians this year), this year’s schedule looks completely barren.

So, this holiday season, please spare a thought for the musicians. Whilst you’re excitedly looking forward to your Christmas holiday, they’re most likely rushing from rehearsal to rehearsal to concert to rehearsal so that you can have a soundtrack to your festivities…