What Did You Think Was Going to Happen: 2013 in Review

Every year I waste my time and your time, by writing one of these long things giving details of how things went here in the past year. Having said that, this is the one for 2013.

Let’s start with the usual suspect, posts here that got the most views:

Title Views
A Minimal Arduino Library for Processing Serial Commands 8,904
Modify an Arduino for DebugWIRE 7,799
Hardware Debugging the Arduino using Eclipse and the AVR Dragon 7,704
A Too-Simple Arduino Library for Handling the Seeeduino Relay Shield (and Generic Relays) 2,832
(Yet Another) Sparkfun SerLCD library for Arduino 1,560
On Soundcloud 1,377
An Arduino Library for the ADT7310 SPI Temperature Sensor 921
The Arduino Duemilanove with ATMega328 and that Reset Line 888
Using the Sparkfun Speakjet Voicebox Shield with an Arduino in Passthrough mode 682

The “do my homework for me post” remains at the top for all time (23,476), with the arduino serial command library next (13,369) followed by the Eclipse/Dragon post (13,253). Overall views are up (SerialCommand: 8,904 in 2013 vs. 3,871 in 2012. Eclipse: 7,704 vs. 5,606. Debugwire: 7,799 vs. 8,015)

Most visits were from the USA (11,926), Germany (3,996), and the UK (2,365). Down at the bottom of the list a single view from someone in Guam and Kyrgyzstan.

Most poopular link remains this one of a capacitor location.

That simplistic SerialCommand library I wrote is the most poopular thing I have on Github. At least, I think it is, since github doesn’t publish stats. SerialCommand is the thing I get the most email about. Some people are very nice and have suggestions they want, and lots of people complain it “doesn’t work.” I did make some changes to it this year, and I still get people asking me to add things it already does. I figure nobody actually knows how to use Github properly. All I can say is “it works for me, it works for others, you’re holding it wrong.” If you don’t like it, fork it and make your own, that’s the whole reason I moved to Github.

So, music. Let’s talk about music.

After Soundcloud’s pivot to become a new tumblr, and my general dissatisfaction with it, I didn’t pay €250 to renew. Consequently I ended up having to delete the resulting free account, as it was jammed up with the dozens of hours of music I’d previously uploaded and free accounts can’t manage any music that goes past the free account limits. A few days later Soundcloud came out with “Soundcloud Pro” for €99/year, but weren’t interested in winning me back (read: “renew for €250 and we’ll do something something”). I haven’t seen anything in the last year that would make me want to go back to Soundcloud. Stats that are severely broken, same old skrillex-with-fire-engine remixes, spammers, and other useless stuff. If you’re using Soundcloud and like it, good for you. It just wasn’t for me.

Interestingly, the post I wrote about leaving Soundcloud is way more poopular than all the music I’ve ever made combined. Probably because it hits all the keywords for people looking to game soundcloud (tl;dr: log out and hit the play button a lot, trick people into loading your page, randomly comment “HUGE DROP” on everything you can find).

I would have stayed with Soundcloud, if the alternative of Bandcamp hadn’t come up. Bandcamp was cheaper ($120/year instead of either €250 or €99), I liked the players, and people couldn’t crap up your posts with comments. So I moved everything over to Bandcamp.

One of the features of Bandcamp is that they want you to upload audio in a lossless format, both for quality reasons and so they can generate any of the formats someone may want when they download it. That’s a good idea. My only problem was that although I had recorded all the previous years’ stuff in a mix of Garageband and Logic 8/9, I had only been generating MP3 files – because that’s what Soundcloud/Wordpress took at the time. So I had to go back and re-generate output from all the previous years stuff. In the course of doing that, I ended up re-mixing all the old material and trying to fix the problems with some tracks. Some tracks I expanded out and recorded new parts for, and some I had to do a lot of re-recording because the original was corrupted. Also in the process, on a personal front I was able to go back and delete all the originals from my computer so I didn’t have them cluttering up my library. Good riddance.

The “re-mixing” job took a few weeks, and are all available on bandcamp (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). If you had an older one, maybe you’d want to see if it’s any better – it probably isn’t. Also 2010 got a new bonus track from an unfinished collaboration project, and 2012 got a few bonus tracks. The bonus tracks show up if you do the album download, they don’t appear in the regular track listings. Ooo, secrets.

In 2012’s roundup post I had only just started on bandcamp and so I didn’t have a lot of data to compare stats with Soundclound. Now we have an entire year of stats to work with, so let’s go over some of them.

Bandcamp tries to get a little finer grained with what “plays” mean than Soundcloud did. With Soundcloud, if someone hit play and then immediately stopped, that counted as a “play.” Soundcloud has also further complicated this since I left by making stuff automatically start playing when you hit the page, so just tricking people into going to your url will get you “plays”

Bandcamp classes things as “complete” (played 90% of a track), “partial” (played between 10% and 90%), and “skip” (played less than 10%). I think that’s a pretty good concept, as it shows how many people didn’t like listening to something and gave up.

So, for all time (which really is since Dec 2012) here are things sorted by complete plays:

Bandcamp Complete Plays 2013

222 total “complete” plays, with 301/311 partial/skips. Put differently, 37% of people who start playing a track stop almost immediately, and 26% actually get through it.

So as I expected Arduweeny is the most played track, by virtue of the fact that it’s embedded on the page of the most poopular post on this blawg. It’s short (sixteen seconds) so it’s pretty hard to get anything less than a “complete” play on it. People who want their homework done for them tend to arrive on that page and click every link. 138 total plays for 7,799 views – or about 1.7%.

Most poopular “legit” track is Xmas a the Chandrasekhar Limit, at six plays. Remember this is all tracks I uploaded for the year (same as all time), so that’s why Stolen by the Hermit from 2012 is #5 with four plays.

Here are things sorted by “skips” (i.e. the most skipped tracks)

Bandcamp Skip Plays 2013

Perchloric is the most skipped track partially because it was the default track that started playing when you clicked “play” on the album page for Pinched Loaf. Eleven of those skips are from the day of the album release, which was the day it got the most attention. Also nobody that day skipped to track #2 (no plays recorded), they just hit stop.

Also note the wild difference in the performance of Booze ‘n Snooze since moving over to Bandcamp. Back on Soundcloud it was the track with a strange poopularity that had no source nor rationale. Here the stats make sense. I suspect it gets the number of plays it does only because it’s linked on the big post I made about Soundcloud as an example.

Let’s look at downloads.

Downloads not sorting by Sales

That’s all downloads – free and paid (we’ll get to paid stuff momentarily), 78 in total for the year. Bandcamp tracks “visits” to pages which they call “Buzz”, and “Buzz” said I had 8,195 visits to the music pages for the year (same as all time). So that’s about 0.95% of the people who visit download something. By same token, 10.1% of visitors actually try to play something, and 2.7% of visitors actually finish listening to something – which says most “visits” are people not interested or here by accident.

The most-downloaded single track is The Next One is Fourteen with four downloads.

Here’s the new information that I can discuss this year: sales. Bandcamp lets me charge for stuff, but I usually either mark it “Free” or “Name Your Price” which actually also means free – but some people can’t figure out you can enter “0” for a price. Someone said to me “why don’t you charge for your music?” to which I reply “You won’t listen for free, why do I think anyone would pay?” which pretty much bears out. Any person could download everything from here for free, so anyone who pays is a sucker is just feeling charitable.

Yes yes, I know. You want me to finally admit that I’m just raking in the cash from this music thing and ripping you all off. Yes, I will divulge all the sales info to appease your pitchforks.

Here’s downloads, sorted by sales:

Bandcamp Downloads

The most “paid for” thing is a tie between 2010’s Crap Chute’s Sluice Juice (2012 reissue), 2012’s Crap Chute’s Lagrange Point, and 2013’s Crap Chute’s Pinched Loaf, all with two purchases.

Total revenue from all sales: $157.88 from sixteen discrete sales. All the sixteen sales were to three individuals. I won’t name them, because they’re silly people who paid for stuff they could have for free, but I will say thanks very much. $157.88 is my “net from Bandcamp” figure, because Bandcamp does “revenue sharing”, meaning they keep 15% of the sale price. Also there’s a little bit in paypal fees lost.

I paid $120 for the Bandcamp service for the past year. You can use Bandcamp for free, but I like the extra benefits of having the paid account. Also, I’m a firm believer in paying for things you find useful, since I would hope that helps keep companies in business. Hence my net revenue from Bandcamp for the year is $37.88. Hey, it’s not zero.

I didn’t spend the $37.88 all in one place, but I did spend money on a few things this year. When it went on sale, I finally bought Komplete 8, for US$699. Then UPS dickbags charged me an extra $170 for the privilege of having them give it to me, because that’s the sort of dickbag move UPS always does to Canadians receiving packages from the USA.

As I had feared for a couple of years, Apple finally pulled the wraps off Logic X which I think I waited about ten whole minutes to buy for $225.99. Much cheaper than what I’d paid for Logic 8 and 9, which I think were on the order of about $500 each. I like the new Logic X, starting with The Next One is Fourteen everything has been done with Logic X.

Unfortunately, some of the things I’d paid for in the past don’t work with Logic X. Principally being IK Multimedia’s Miroslav Philharmonik, which I really liked but isn’t 64-bit compatible. Logic 9 was 32- or 64-bit, but Logic X is only 64-bit plugin compatible. IK have had since 2009 to get Miroslav up to 64-bit, and hey some day they still might. The current plan seems to be you’ll be able to load Miroslav’s soundsets into the someday-coming Sampletank 3, which I’d have to pay for. Any day now. I’ve been using the NI orchestra stuff that comes with Kontact 5 instead, and resisting wanting to buy things like EWQL. I didn’t do any movie scoring work this year, so that was probably a good idea not spend more money on orchestral instruments.

I sat and made a little list of obvious things I spent money on directly for the music stuff here (on top of Bandcamp charges), and came up with a figure of $1239.49. So with this we can do some Hollywood Accounting and show my net for the year after sales as a loss of $1201.61.

Let’s have some useless stats fun:

Category BC Net Revenue Only Bandcamp Costs Only Overall Net (Hollywood Style)
Per Track Released $1.05 ($3.33) ($33.38)
Per Download $0.49 ($1.54) ($15.41)
Per Complete Play $0.17 ($0.54) ($5.41)
Per All Plays $0.05 ($0.14) ($1.44)

I calculated last year that my “cost per play” on Soundcloud was $0.14 and $0.15 on Bandcamp (counting skips), compared with this year’s $0.14 on Bandcamp (counting skips). Complete plays went from $1.11 last year to $0.54 on Bandcamp. I’m sure that means something. Playing with numbers means nothing; I don’t earn enough to quit my day job.

This year, more as a personal success goal than anything else, I worked through Philip Kaplan‘s service Distrokid to put stuff onto the iTunes music store. It also goes to Amazon MP3, Google Play Music, and Spotify but being a dirty Canadian, those aren’t available to me, and the last two I can’t even check to see if music is available. I put one track ( Eighteen Lashes Should Do It ) as a test just to get it to work. That worked, so I put all of Crap Chute’s Pinched Loaf onto iTunes through it. I didn’t include any Distrokid data above in sales because there weren’t any sales on any platform. Distrokid only costs $19.99/year though. Mr. Pud, you’ve done a good thing.

For interest’s sake, as of this writing Pinched Loaf is available on iTunes, Amazon MP3, Google Play (I think, Canada is geoblocked), and Spotify (can’t check, Canada is geoblocked). It hasn’t shown up on iTunes yet It was late showing up on iTunes, because iTunes changes were postponed for the holiday period.

I likely will not put any previous years’ stuff on iTunes, because of the hassle and expense I’ll have to go through over tracks that are cover tunes. You’re much better off getting the music through Bandcamp anyway, as you can get it for free and in whatever format you want. In 2013 I didn’t do any cover tunes, specifically to not have to worry about paying thousands of bucks a track for clearance. Besides, Dennis Miller once said “You know why Led Zeppelin recorded that song? So you didn’t have to.”

Let’s talk about music production. As I mentioned in the Pinched Loaf release, this was the year of least output in both number of tracks and total minutes. Even less than 2009, in which I only put music out for the last half of the year.

Music Output

Year Number of Tracks Total Minutes
2013 36 227
2012 57 331
2011 50 287
2010 85 432
2009 46 258

The longest track from this year is Five and Time, which was 9m 13s. Shortest was Twenny One Gallon Hahs, at 4m 11s.

Counting over 2009-2013, the average track length is 5m 36s. Longest track ever is A Flash of Internal Organs (12m 08s), shortest is Arduweeny (16s), or L4 (Lagrange Point Bonus Track, 52s) if you want something “legit.”

My personal play stats from iTunes say I played The Inside the most. Of course, it was earlier in the year so I’ve had more time to listen to it. I like the way Eighteen Lashes Should Do it turned out.

I worked on updated themes for shows I’d previously done themes for, including [The] Little Pod of Horrors, and Starbase 66.

As it was pretty obvious, I was not well motivated for producing music this year, partially due to 2012’s dicks everywhere. I also got really tired of trying to come up with titles (“The Cops Said I Was A New Age Yak”). Then I spent the rest of the year drawing out that stupid joke of having sequential numbers in the titles, which then got too difficult to think of stupid jokes about. Maybe I’d have been better off with my original idea of just naming everything random hex code strings like 0xA72739BE. Also, although unplanned, no ukulele music this year, as the ukulele’s got packed up for transport and never unpacked.

I still put out more material this year than Jonathan Coulton, but he toured quite a bit more than I did.