Kyle here from Sweet Life Records! What an amazing past 4 months it has been working on this project. As some of you know, I work with Zach and Cody from the band "The Sweet Life".
Our goal is to explore web monetization for original music and video releases, specifically through the Cinnamon video platform. As with many things this last year, we have had to travel some roads we didn't quite anticipate, and are excited to keep exploring this new technological world.
Since receiving the Grant, we have released on Cinnamon 7 original music videos from the band, 1 visual collaboration with another top Cinnamon musician, and participated in two different podcasts.
Check them out here:
Our objective was rather simple. Promote the WM/ILP ecosystem with live streaming and video releases on Cinnamon. As with many things this year, we have had to take a hard look at the approach we have to not only achieve the means of the grant, but also maintaining the bands' existing fan base.
Pre pandemic, The Sweet Life was on a fast track to success in the electronic music scene. They had an entire year of touring lined up, festivals, recording artists coming to the studio...like many, all of that was taken away.
Around the same time we began posting our videos on Cinnamon, we were noticing a concerning trend -- a declining participation from our fan base. Posts were not receiving a significant amount of interaction as opposed to just months before. What used to be a minimum of 75-100 likes per Facebook post, we began to see a sharp decline starting November 2020.
Something we began to do to reach the fans was mass sharing through direct messaging. Some of our fans mentioned they just were becoming burned out with social media, others said they were not seeing our posts on their feed at all.
This did not come as a surprise to me. Throughout this year, there were 100s of methods that musicians were using to keep fans engaged. Live Streams, private shows, lessons, etc etc. It became overwhelming for me as a music fan to the point where I have gone days without listening to music simply because I felt like there were too many people grabbing for my attention.
Turning off the music was a good thing. It caused all of us at Sweet Life to really start thinking about what we would need to do to A) Continuing to move up the musician success ladder and B) Promote and utilize the ILP/WM technology in a truly intuitive and solution based manner.
During the week we went the hardest to promote Cinnamon to our existing follower base, a bug in Coil/Cinnamon caused new followers to not show up. Many people were frustrated and confused as to how to sign up in the first place and experienced bugs that made their user experience poor. We paused aggressively promoting Cinnamon during that time, and by the time we were ready to start again...we had some negative feedback about the Coil email leak - and felt it would be good to dial back once again. Although I am a firm believer in the technology, explaining why and convincing people to use Cinnamon became an arduous task.
To complicate matters even more, the band found themselves in a position where we had to move the entire studio and property to a new location. With studio renovations and a long moving process, we shifted gears this last couple months with a much more refined mindset looking forward.
Something I have noticed, smaller musicians (in the same tier as The Sweet Life) are actively losing interest from fans the longer live touring is shut down. Even bands that we looked up to have seen obvious declines in their viewership of live streams and virtual events. As I mentioned earlier, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Viewer/listener fatigue is a very real issue that many musicians and promoters haven't quite figured out in this new pandemic era we live in. After June 2020, paid virtual events and long format live streams really started to seem gimmicky and a desperate attempt for musicians' to stay relevant. I can't count how many live streams and virtual events I have been invited to this year.
There is one thing that has become a stark truth to me, virtual events simply CAN NOT recreate a live music experience. Until full sensory immersion technology is readily available, you can not recreate the sounds, smells, tastes, and feels of being surrounded by people and loud music. Without the live outlet, smaller musicians are going to struggle even more to break out and retain fans.
These struggles are important to mention, as a significant portion of our timeline revolved around live streams. From the beginning, we planned to use a LiDar Scanning device to projection map visuals into the studio to live stream. What we didn't plan, is how long it would take to learn how to do that. Sure, it is simple enough to use the stock effects our device included to get some interesting visuals, but we wanted the experience to be something viewers wouldn't just watch, but would return to and share as well. I've been spending hours/days/weeks learning Blender/Resolume/Lightform/HeavyM -- all new programs to me, to accomplish this goal. We are excited for the upcoming content that will be released
That leads us to this moment. Zach and Cody have been literally tearing down walls at the studio to open it up for not only projection mapping, but also green screening for upcoming videos and viewer immersive content. I am currently back in Hawaii (mentally and emotionally, I was not as prepared to deal with the east coast winter like I thought) working on original visuals to projection map and live stream with the Sweet Life music.
NETWORKING! We have gotten to chat with some amazing people while navigating this project. We have a great relationship with the team at Cinnamon. We have two other ILP/WM collaborators we can't mention right now that have been working with us to develop a fully interactive digital musical experience. Also would like to give a shout out to Coil, for generously gifting us with 500 3 month trial memberships to give out
LEARNING! The speed at which entertainment technology is changing is mind numbing. There is truly nothing we can't learn. Combining knowledge and teamwork is our route to success.
Check out the podcasts we did
Zach and Cody with Cinnamon
Kyle with PLAN
Finishing/releasing several music projects recorded at Sweet Life Records.
Releasing behind the scenes content
Going on a socially distanced and remote eco tour around the US -- live streaming each location.
Developing a visionary interactive virtual music platform
Listening to our music and following us on Cinnamon would be great! We are open to all kinds of collaboration.