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Josh Woodward: Creative Commons Music

Should I Post Demos?

poll Should I Post Demos?
Yes, I'm not patient.
Yes, but only to CD/FLAC purchasers
Yes, but only live versions on YouTube
No, I like to be surprised when the CD comes out
  113 Votes - 13 Posts

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· NEW ALBUM: "Ashes" Now Available!

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Should I Post Demos?

Posted on Thu, Dec 2, 2010

So, as usual, releasing a new album means one thing to me: that it's time to start working on the next one. 

I've traditionally posted demo versions of the songs I'm working on as I finish them. For "Ashes", I wrote and recorded the album in isolation, then released them all at once in their final form. That had one big advantage: I never felt overly attached to the rough mixes, because I took more time before I recorded them.

Another reason for not posting demos is that people download them (which is awesome), listen to them (also awesome), but might not know or choose to download the final versions when the CD comes out (not awesome). Every once in awhile, I'll see a YouTube video or something using a horrible rough demo of a song that's been out on CD for years, and I die a little inside. :) 

On the other hand, I just went a year without really posting any new material, and that makes me a sad panda. There are a couple of other options. I used to have a "preview club" where I'd post the stuff. I could set it up so that only people who have purchased CDs/FLACs could download stuff - this would keep the casual listeners away from the rough stuff, encourage sales, and also to give me peace of mind that they'll probably "upgrade" to the full versions when the come out. Another option is to just post live acoustic versions of the songs to YouTube, as I did this last time with "Already There". 

So what would you all like to see this time around?

   Discussion: Should I Post Demos?
tordeu · 5 years, 11 months ago
I have to say that working in isolation without putting out demos might be one of the things "Ashes" benefited from. I voted for "Yes, but only to CD/FLAC purchasers", because that seems like a good compromise. I completely understand the issues that arise when you put something rough out there and people embrace it as something almost final and might not find it easy to accept bigger changes to the song. So not putting demos out there will give you total freedom to change everything (Not that you don't have it either way, but there won't be "But it was better before"/"No, it's better now"-discussions). On the other hand, putting out demos to a limited number of people (like CD/FLAC purchasers), who will most likely download updated versions and the final one, will give you the opportunity to publish something, maybe even get some feedback, but without the perception of losing the freedom, because the masses can't get too attached to it. And finally, it will might convince some people to buy the CDs/FLACs, because not only will they get something real and support an artist, but they will get a little insight into the progress as well.
Jaret (anon) · 5 years, 11 months ago
Privacy is what I imagine made ashes so good. It feels more right than the Previous albums (though I sincerely love breadcrumbs). I said no. Perhaps you should release samples but not the entire song, kind of a trailer of sorts.
Jon (anon) · 5 years, 10 months ago
I think that the folks that have purchased the CD & FLAC versions of your albums are your biggest fans, and they should get to see the fruits of your labor as soon as they are in a state ready for semi-public consumption. You might get some good feedback that way, as well as not having horrible versions of songs used on videos and whatnot. I think that it's a perfect compromise between not releasing anything to anyone, and getting feedback that you value prior to the release of the album
scottandrew (anon) · 5 years, 10 months ago
I think sometimes the unstated purpose of posting demos is, well, to fill time between official releases :) We DIY mostly-online artists don't always have the luxury of a patient fanbase willing to endure a year or two of radio silence. So it's very tempting to "just post something." I think the live videos are a perfect replacement for demos. There's no expectation of perfection, and seeing a real person playing a tune they wrote is a powerful thing. But I love demos, myself :)
Wurfie (anon) · 5 years, 8 months ago
Hard pick, I wanna say Yes, I'm not patient because I want more Woodward NOW! I wanna say CD/FLAC so that only the people who already *know* you're awesome hear unfinished stuff, protecting you from people getting a bad first impression. I wanna say live YouTube versions, just 'cause *I'd* like to see them, however that would mean *loads* of people seeing unfinished stuff as their first exposure. I wanna say "Surprise me" because I don't want to lose any of the magic of finding your latest album and listening to it 20 times in a row to find which tracks gradually attach themselves into my psyche. I think really any of them except YouTube are probably near equally good. If pushed I think I'd have to say "Surprise me." After all, the thrill of discovering your music for the first time and then having it's perfection become an old friend is what I've always loved about your music. PS "Together on Our Own" is *stunning*. Heartbreaking, inspiring, melancholy and beautiful all at the same time. If space is what you need to create music as amazing as this, then sign me up.
Noura (anon) · 5 years, 7 months ago
I'm greedy and just want some more! The more Josh Woodward I listen to, the happier I am =)
Chris Sakkas (anon) · 5 years, 6 months ago
Hey Josh, What about charging for membership in the preview club? You could use a pay-what-you-want model like you do with your album, so that people can give as little or as much as they want. Even if they pay only a buck, they've made a buy in. Cheers, Chris
Advice_Guy (anon) · 5 years, 2 months ago
Hi there, I have JUST discovered you through through you soundtrack contributions for JesseTheJack, so I am coming into this with all of your stuff being new to me. That said, I get both sides of your dilemma, and the two best options, to me, seem to be the youtube demo, and the CD/FLAC options. Since it won't let me choose two options, I will just let this serve as a write-in vote if you don't mind. :-) One more thing, just in case it helps to know this isn't a musician-only problem: I have a rather expansive old website, with a ferocious and ever-growing pile of code behind it. Kinda like having as much material as you have here, except in code... ... Now, without fail, and I mean as in it never EVER fails, if I ASK a group of users about something I am thinking about doing with the site it turns into a disaster. I am at the point where, as much as I would like input from people, I just make the changes and see what happens. In my case, I eventually picked out a few ideal users to bounce things off of, and I ask them one at a time, NOT in a forum so as to avoid conflict, what they think. I take their input and make the final decision. Management by committee DOES NOT WORK. Wish I had believed that, instead of spending years thinking I just didn't have the right committee. ;-) So, if you have a few trusted long term users you could poll individually about this, it might be more fruitful than this poll. Just a thought. I don't know if any of that was helpful to you, but I hope the tiniest bit of it made some sense. I am loving what I have heard so far, and as soon as I get a better feel for all the tuneage you have offered, I will buy something.
Josh Woodward Back · 5 years, 2 months ago

Awesome, thanks!

And as a fellow geek, and one who coded his website from scratch as well (a CMS from the ground up), I definitely hear you. :D

barcode software (anon) · 5 years, 1 month ago

I think we you are saying that if you are having problem after releasing the demo version than you should not relase the demo version. Just release the final version of the song only.

barcode generator (anon) · 4 years, 11 months ago

You should release the final version as it will be more surprising.

Jesse (anon) · 4 years, 11 months ago
wuff! wuff! nah, seriously: the CD/FLAC version makes most sense.
music lover by nature (anon) · 4 years, 8 months ago

I happen to stumble on your song Coffee through a youtube vid and thought to check out your site. Good to see for your success so far. As for your poll question, I have been in the music industry for a very long time. You have a valid point as to what happens with the demos and then the final cd release. I would go for the live showvidss for a reason. #1, songs from live shows tend to differ from one day to the next. #2, with the live show, it can sound quite different than your demo, and other than yourself and the songwriters, who is to say what it should sound like. In the end, this leaves your audience with a bit of suspense but a slight taste as to what the new album is like.

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