What makes an artist good? Is it the label they are signed on? The amount of radio play they get? I personally couldn't care less about the radio, most of the songs they play are mediocre garbage and greedy music labels are continuing to ruin music. Skill obviously plays a factor in a good artist, but a combination of poor decisions and poor distribution can kill an artist's work in this increasingly digital age. This post will highlight a music distribution method that I think is genius and focus on a very talented artist who is utilizing this method.
Ever heard of Alessandro Cortini? That's him on the back cover of NON SONOIO. He is a part of Modwheelmood and the sole member of Blindoldfreak and SONOIO. I was first introduced to Alessandro's art while he toured with Trent Reznor's most famous art vehicle Nine Inch Nails. I've heard Nine Inch Nails described as two separate entities, the studio and the live versions. This makes sense as in the studio, Trent creates approximately 90% of the music. That is, he typically plays all the instruments, does all of the songwriting, and provides the vocals and backup with some exceptions (he doesn't play the drums). To tour, rather than have one dude up on stage playing a lot of samples, Trent opts to assemble a live band of the best musicians he can find and melds masterful performing with mind-blowing special effects. In 2005, Alessandro joined the live lineup of NIN. He primarily played the keyboard, and could be said to have brought a distinct sound to Nine Inch Nails. Following the completion of The Lights in the Sky 2008 tour, Alessandro departed from Nine Inch Nails to refocus on other projects, and in 2010 under his one-man project SONOIO released BLUE in limited physical copies with a simultaneous digital release.
If you visit his website you can begin to see the genius in his distribution. SONOIO is not signed. At all. No indie label at all. His primary focus is digital distribution. He has his music on amazon and iTunes, but the real genius comes from his site. BLUE was released in a limited run digipack limited to 1000 copies. When you purchase a copy of BLUE, be it physical or digital, the purchase always includes digital files in your choice of quality, be that MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, etc. This is a very nice touch, and satisfies people like me who love physical copies but also couldn't get by without their hundreds of GBs of digital music. He also allows anyone to download the first 4 tracks completely free, and I believe you can listen to the entire album through his site. Shortly after the release of BLUE, he released a remix album NON SONOIO, or NON BLUE on his website, and allowed anyone to download the entire album free of charge. Each song has it's own artwork, much like Reznor's The Slip. If you so desire, he gives you the option to "upgrade to hi-def" for a few bucks, and that allows you to get lossless copies of the album. He did not release a physical copy of NON SONOIO.
You may be scratching your head at this point, wondering what I'm talking about. If the pictures have fooled you, I'm proud. Pictured is a custom copy of NON SONOIO that I designed, printed, and assembled, using the artwork embedded in the audio files and the physical release of BLUE for reference. Pictured is copy 2 of 10, the second printing and first revision to my original design. I purchased the FLAC copies on SONOIO.org and recorded them to the CD pictured. This copy was given to my good friend Toral Coalt. As you can imagine, I am very proud of how well this came together.
Here's the contents of the booklet, its assembled from the embedded artwork in each song, with a page giving blurbs about each remixer.
Since this release, SONOIO has opened up the pre-orders for his next release RED. If you pre-order the physical release, you'll receive it signed. Pop over to SONOIO.org and check out NON SONOIO, since its available completely free, check out the first 4 songs of BLUE, or RED, and see if you like him. The best part of SONOIO's site is most of the money actually goes to Alessandro, so you can feel like you really are supporting this very unique and excellent artist.
If you are seriously interested in one of the other 8 copies, maybe we can work something out.