Update: Three Stars and the Truth (February 2015)
I’ve been meaning to write a summary of how the whole “release a Christmas single and never have to work again” project went. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that last summer David Graham and I recorded a song called A Perfect Christmas that we wrote together some years ago. We released it as a single via Tunecore, which meant it was available on pretty much every digital platform you can think of.
We made a bit of an effort – albeit unprofessional and scattergun – to promote it, concentrating on Ireland and Switzerland, plus a bit in the UK. Some young animators in Dublin, Lovely Toons, generously made a nice little video for the song, so we were all set.
Did we get rich?
In short, no. Not by a long shot. Recording the song at the excellent Orphan Recording in Dublin had already set us back €1,100, plus another €100 to realease it on Tunecore and have them take care of the publishing administration.
All told we sold 37 downloads, mostly on iTunes, with one each on Amazon MP3 and Google Play. The 35 downloads on iTunes, plus 11 streams, earned us $31.27. Amazon paid us $0.80 for the download, whereas Google Play only paid us $0.19.
185 streams on Spotify earned us $1.85, and the combined handful of streams on a few other random platforms earned us a further $0.21. Are you getting the picture?
So our total Tunecore earnings were $34.21. Clearly we weren’t in it for the money.
We also had about 450 streams on Bandcamp, which was the first place we made the song available. We sold a few copies there too, making another few quid. (There are links to the song on all of these platforms here.)
Did we become famous?
Um, not really. But I think we came close to being a little bit famous, in Ireland at least. We emailed a whole heap of contacts at local and national radio stations around Ireland, with a link to a free download of the single. I think just one of the downloads was actually activated, which tells me that you need to work much harder just to get the attention of those folks.
But we had more success with entering the song for the ChristmasFM song competition. We made it to the longlist of 20, but failed to make it to the final shortlist of six songs. I truly believe we deserved to be on that list; as a new Christmas song it was at least as good as most of the others that did make it. I don’t know what other factors came into play, but I believe we had at least one or two of the judging panel fighting our corner.
A site called RadioAirplay chose us out of over 1,000 songs as one of the top 20 new holiday songs for 2013; and we got some really nice support from Tony Johnston, a DJ on the local English language station here in Switzerland. He played the single quite a few times over Christmas and even had us into the studio to perform an acoustic version. That was lots of fun.
What about all those YouTube views?
As of today the video has more than 17,300 views on YouTube. Impressive, eh? Well not so much. Thanks to one member of Mulled having some YouTube advertising credit to spend on an ongoing basis – a dollar a day or so – we’ve racked up a huge number of views where the video is played automatically before or after some other content. 70% of those 17,400 views have come via this route, and mostly in countries that wouldn’t be all that interesting to us.
Still, the remaining 4,500 or so views came from other sources, including people finding us via search, social networks, suggested videos on YouTube, etc. And the biggest portion of those views were in Ireland, followed by the USA, Switzerland, the UK and France. So perhaps some of our promotional work did hit home.
We also made a little money from YouTube, with $2.83 coming our way for the advertising served up around our video. It all counts, right?
So you failed?
We failed to make money or to make much of an impact. But we succeeded when it came to having lots of fun making the record, working with Stephen and the boys at Lovely Tunes on the video, and playing the make-believe game of being one-hit-wonder popstars for a little while. The couple of gigs we did in Geneva were fun too – although we may have played the “hit” one or three times too many!
And we’ll be back. The thing about Christmas songs is they come back year after year. Perhaps some advertising exec will stumble on the song this summer when trying to pick the music for the next John Lewis advert; or some pop impresario will decide it’s the right song for his new act to record for Christmas 2014. Who knows?
What I can say for sure is that the people who hear the song seem to really like it. The reactions have been positive, and often very positive. Certainly our friends said nice things about the song, and many of them helped to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. But the ones that really counted for us were the people that owed us nothing, but still took the time to say nice things…like the poster on Digital Spy who said:
As someone who owns something near 100,000 Christmas songs (no – don’t ask), could I just say that this is one of the finest indie happy Christmas songs I have ever heard. It’s not destined to be a money making Christmas classic, yet it should be considered in Indie terms at least as good as the legendary Belle and Sebastian John Peel Christmas session. Don’t be modest. Just take a bow.
Or the user on reddit who said:
I love it! it’s catchy, full of hope, and it warms my heart. Good job!
Or on the MyMerryChristmas forums where one guy who runs a holiday-themed internet radio station said:
That’s a good analogy, “New song with a classic feel.” Definitely a catchy Christmas tune! Listen for “A Perfect Christmas” soon on Kringle Radio, but you don’t have to wait! Download from above link or purchase from most online music sources. I got it from iTunes.
To which another user responded:
I agree with RadioJonD, very catchy tune. I like the clever use of the rhymes joyfully with back to me and ridiculously with all I need. Good job!
And also on the Christmas forum:
I just listened to your song at Bandcamp. A very happy, bouncy, foot-tapping Christmas tune with excellent pop lyrics! I hope it goes big for you!
Was it worth it?
Yes. Totally. I’m very proud of the song, and I know David is too. It was genuinely heartwarming to watch peoples’ faces when they listened for the first time and see the smiles start to appear. If it can keep bringing that kind of happiness to friends and strangers alike around the festive season in the years ahead, then I’ll be happy.
And there’s always that tiny chance that somehow, someday, something more will come of it all.
I won’t embed the video this time…but you know where to find it in case you’re in need of a dash of out-of-season cheer.