Emma Swift updates us on her unconventional and successful album release

On the brink of her new album release “Blonde on the Tracks”, we spoke with Singer-songwriter and record label owner Emma Swift about her thoughtful plans for an unconventional and radical release. She lays out the challenges of the current industry landscape and the empowerment she’s found in circumventing those conventions. On the heels of much success, we caught up with via email, where she shared with us about her experience.

From Emma Swift: An update from the headquarters of Tiny Ghost Records (my kitchen): I am delighted to say that in the months following this chat with Erin and Chelsea, Blonde on the Tracks faired extremely well for an album that was released in the middle of a pandemic and only available as a physical release and a download. It charted in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. It has had a load of great press and radio play. And perhaps, most importantly, from a business perspective, it recouped (in two months) and has been keeping me fed and watered ever since. I am proud to have released the record my own way, despite working in an industry that more or less considers streaming “essential”. It has been rewarding and fun and it has definitely got people talking about big tech and its role in music. I am enormously grateful!

But each good experience has a shadow side, right? And what I would say here is that where this release strategy has been enormously challenging / frustrating has been that much of the white-collar side of the music business (the booking agents, the managers, the festival programmers, the sync agents, the publishers etc) more or less view an artist’s viability on their streaming stats, despite the fact that these services, convenient as they are, are vastly inadequate at fairly compensating musicians for their work. And so, the record (reluctantly) goes live to the DSPs on December 9. Hopefully, it will find more listeners, and even if their streams have little financial value to me, they might one day come and see a show or buy a t-shirt or hell, even head to Bandcamp and buy the LP.

As musicians, and realists, we know that streaming isn’t going anywhere, and unfortunately, we also know that Daniel Ek has no intention of giving us a pay raise out of the kindness of his barbed wire heart. I would encourage all artists to be candid with their fans about these platforms. If I have learned anything this year it is that music lovers will buy your music, if you let them.

Artist-run, non-profit advocating for musicians, performers, & songwriters in the digital landscape. (Formerly the Content Creators Coalition or “c3”)