2016 in Review, or “Beating that Dead Horse”

Oh hi there. Yes, every year I’ve done one of these silly review pieces, so here is a silly review piece for the calendar year 2016.

These stats were collected about December 27th, 2016.

And now our usual list of “blawg posts views”

Post Views
Changing the Pickups in an Ibanez S420 Guitar (2014) 5,607
A Minimal Arduino Library for Processing Serial Commands (2011) 5,555
Modify an Arduino for DebugWIRE (2010) 5,407
Hardware Debugging the Arduino using Eclipse and the AVR Dragon (2012) 4,163

If you compare with last year, overall everything is in decline. The guitar pickup replacement article is now the top post, and my venerable “just remove this capacitor” post has gone down to third and dropped from 7,850 views to just 5,407. Overall views are 34,456 (down about 22% from 2015)

But, for the first time ever, the top clicked link is not the schematic for removing the capacitor, it’s actually the annotated guitar pickup chart, beating it by about five views.

The Sounds of Modern Industry

I’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible regarding music, so here’s some truly excruciating detail.

In 2016 I managed to put out not one, but two full length albums and a two-song EP of christmas music. As usual almost all the traffic is through my bandcamp site, so most of this data is from bandcamp except where I’ve stated otherwise.

Album 2016 Downloads 2016 Sales All-time Downloads All-time Sales
Blast from the Ass (2009) 4 0 13 3
Sluice Juice (2010) 5 1 12 4
Something or Other (2011) 5 0 11 3
Lagrange Point (2012) 5 0 11 4
Pinched Loaf (2013) 6 0 14 3
Box of Devils (2014) 5 0 25 6
Concentrated (2016) 16 6 16 6
Canal Route (2016) 11 5 11 5
Pander Doublet (2016 EP) 4 1 4 1
“Full Discography” 4 1

Here’s a chart. Maybe that will help.


I had one track that I started recording in 2014 but finally finished this year. I was constantly putting it off because it was a cover song. Cover licensing can be expensive, which is why I’ve avoided doing covers for a few years now. In this case, I tried to license it but couldn’t find any avenue to to actually accomplish it because the original was Creative Commons Noncommercial and not listed in the Hairy Faux. I’m a big fan of Creative Commons licenses, so I tried to contact the artist to see if they would let me publish the cover (since I do “cc-commercial” rather than non-commercial), but I never heard back from them. So that one remains in the vault.


Canal Route and Concentrated put together aren’t as long as the previous album Box of Devils. I did manage to cross the 31 hour mark in terms of total minutes of music, though, with 345 total tracks since 2009.

In 2016 overall there were 17 sales / 63 downloads. For reference, in 2015 I had 8 sales / 15 downloads, and 2014 had 6 sales / 28 downloads. Yes, 2016 is the “best year ever”, for what it’s worth.

So these statistics numbers are muddied a bit by a couple of factors. The first is the bandcamp feature to download the “full discography”, which is an option I really like. If someone gets the “full discography” it counts as it’s own line item in the bandcamp stats, so it doesn’t count towards individual album sales shown above. If they download the album though, that apparently does show up in the downloads. Since I started using the “full discography” option every new album I put out adds onto it, so some “full discography” downloads got everything up to Box of Devils, and some got everything up to Concentrated, and some got everything up to Canal Route. Also there are some sales which don’t have downloads associated with them, and I presume that either they forgot to download it, or more likely they access the music through the bandcamp app, which I don’t think counts in any of the stats.

All that really means is “Some of the numbers are fussy and might be slightly off, but I’m reporting what they tell me.”

Let’s talk about that other stat that never makes sense, “plays.” Before we get into that, let’s remind ourselves of the terminology from bandcamp itself:

“A “complete” play means the track was played past the 90% mark. A “partial” play means the track was played past the 10% mark, but stopped before the 90% mark. A “skip” means the track was stopped before the 10% mark.” In order to try and save space I’ll report numbers for tracks as “(total/complete/partials/skips).”

Once again, Arduweeny is my most “played” track (142/60/73/9), which is because it’s on the post about removing a capacitor and for some reason people click every single link on that page hoping it will do their assignments for them. It’s a short track, so it’s not hard for to get more “complete” plays than other things. Nice Day (99/24/40/35) is on the arduino serial control article. Throttle Body (113/13/39/61) is the track with the most plays that isn’t explicitly called out in an unrelated post.

In 2016, not counting Arduweeny, there are 1152 plays breaking down to 235 complete (20%), 419 partial (36%) and 498 skips (43%). Overall the numbers are higher than 2015 (up 63% from 708/128/240/340) but the breakdown percentages are still pretty close (18%/33%/48%). What does this say? Nothing, really.

The Fat Stacks of Cash

So yeah, what about all that money I allegedly rake in from all this? This is rumour control, and here are the facts. In 2016 from bandcamp my gross revenue was $175.50 (up 37% over 2015). I paid $10.45 in transaction fees to paypal. After bandcamp’s percentage my net was $138.72. I pay $10/month ($120/year) for the Bandcamp Pro service, so my net bandcamp profit for 2016 is $18.72. At least I didn’t lose money this year.

There’s essentially no pricing level I can set that will entice people to get the music. I’ve stuck on $5 per album for recent stuff (Box of Devils, Concentrated, and Canal Route) and the rest have always been free. I’ve tried charging more ($7), I’ve tried less ($3.14, $1). I’ve tried discounts ($0.94 for everything I’ve ever made). If I make it free people still won’t touch it.

I still use Distrokid to push my albums out to all those other services like iTunes, Google Play, Spotify etc.

Source 2016 Revenue
iTunes $7.72
Apple Music $2.10
Spotify $0.21
Amazon MP3 $0.62
All sources combined $10.90

iTunes revenue is from two sales (one album sale for Concentrated, one single song sale for Nice Day).

This year I upgraded the Distrokid account to the “Musician Plus” status ($35.99/year instead of $19.99/year), because I wanted to schedule the release of Canal Route to be the same date as the release on Bandcamp, and price it as low as possible ($5.99 on iTunes). So a net loss of $25.09 with Distrokid. That means between bandcamp and “everything else” I ran a net loss of $6.37 for 2016.

My “entire career” with Distrokid (from 2013 to 2016) has a gross revenue of $53.68. As usual, the only real reason I do it is the vanity statement of “yeah my stuff is on iTunes.” My total revenue for three years on Spotify is $0.78.

I shit you not, this year I had four whole plays on “Deezer” and one entire play on “Tidal”, which are all-time highs I’m sure.

I’ve given out lots of free download codes for all my albums that aren’t already free. In fact I have free codes all over this website that nobody uses. Things I have noticed but haven’t been surprised at: people will complain if your album costs anything more than free but won’t download it if you give them a free code, and some people will burn the code but not actually download the album.

Total codes people have redeemed to date: 19 for Box of Devils, 8 for Concentrated, and 3 for Canal Route.

A Life of Extravagance

So what did I spend money on this year? I didn’t buy any advertising at all in 2016, I can’t throw enough money at it to make it worthwhile and all I get is nothing but clickfarm garbage and spam as I’ve discussed in previous years’ review articles.

Okay hang on, I did buy a spot on The Morning Stream podcast. I don’t get any traffic from those, so that’s more like a public service.

Continuing my tradition of buying guitar picks made of weird stuff I bought picks made of wood and leather from Timber Tones. The leather ones are allegedly for ukulele but I still like my Dunlop 0.38mm better.

Late in 2016 I purchased Miroslav Philharmonik 2 CE. Long-time readers will recall back in the Logic 9 days I bought the original Miroslav Philharmonik, but because it was a 32-bit only plugin it does not work at all with Logic Pro X. I couldn’t afford the full set of Miroslav, but the CE edition had enough for now. I used it to do some of the orchestration on A Blue Shifted Xmas.

I also bought Morphoder (a vocoder) and Waves Tune (pitch correction) from Waves. I wanted the vocoder for a specific Night Attack track, and then used it on a couple of other ones. I bought Waves Tune primarily because it was on sale and I wanted an alternative to the Logic X flex pitch – which is good but sometimes has problems. Honestly I wanted to buy Celemony Melodyne but it was so expensive for the version I would need (us$499) that I gave up on that idea. I do a lot of pitch correction for tracks I make for Night Attack, but not so much for my own music.

My pride and joy, the Presonus Firestudio Mobile I’ve used for years up and died this year. “Probably the firewire interface chip” was the conclusion of Presonus support. The problem was that I live in Canada, so I can’t send it to Presonus to be fixed. In fact I have to send it to the Canadian Distributor (some other company) to fix it. Except I can’t send it to them directly, they won’t accept it. Their rule is I have to take it back “to the place I bought it” and have them return it. Since I actually bought it online from a USA vendor my only option was to take it to the local music store and see if they’d send it back. They would, but they were going to charge me something between $90 and $140 to send it back, and then the actual repair would be on top of that. I could have bought a new Firestudio for about $300-350. So I didn’t send it back, and so the distributor gets what they want – to not have to actually repair anything. I’ve been using an Audiobox USB that I actually purchased for someone else and got back when it didn’t work with their Windows laptop (I got them a Focusrite Scarlett instead).

Here’s what I have to say about the Audiobox USB: it’s a piece of junk. It’s powered over USB and is noisy as hell. Something I don’t want in my audio recordings is a constant “tick tick tick” that sounds like interference from a timing clock.

Also in the casualty pile was my venerable iMac (late 2008, core 2 duo machine) which I used to record almost everything before Canal Route. Nothing lasts forever sadly, and the display unit on it passed beyond the veil. I could spend money to try and fix it, but do I want to spend hundreds of dollars to repair an eight year old computer? I’ve been using my 2011 macbook pro instead. I’d like to buy a new iMac but hey they’re expensive as fuck (36% exchange rate doesn’t help) and the album sales aren’t cutting it.

Most of my other equipment remains the same. Most guitar parts are my Ibanez S420 with the crunchlab/liquifire pickups, with some being my old Ibanez EX350 because I have it tuned to the C-A-S-E-Y tuning with the 13 gauge strings.

Lo, the Night Attacks

I started doing music contributions to the show Night Attack in 2014, and I started doing them regularly (i.e. – every week or two) since 2015. I keep those right here on this web zone. This year I made about 60 tracks or so for Night Attack, and lots but not all have been played on the show itself. Night Attack tracks are short (“Only about as long as the joke remains funny”), so the output for this year is about 97 minutes. Overall in my list of completed stuff I have 89 tracks running 172 minutes. 28 I would consider “cover parodies” and 61 I call “original material.”

Not everything I’ve made for Night Attack gets played or similarly “publicized” as I call it (someone from the show publicly posts it somewhere like twitter or whatever). By December 2016 I had ten tracks in that category.

I keep the Night Attack stuff here on this lame-ass blawg so I can keep it free – and perceived as free. Consequently I don’t get the level of stats I get from my own stuff on Bandcamp. I can’t tell the number of plays because the wordpress audio player doesn’t give me that data. What I can see is page views (which may or may not be humans or bots who just follow all links on twitter), and “clicks” of the music track to download (which again, may or may not be truthful).

The most poopular in terms of views is easily “What’s Your (No) Agenda” (788 views), which I made for the “crossover” Night Attack episode where Adam Curry from No Agenda appeared as a guest. I also got to work in material I’d done for No Agenda back in 2010 and use it in the new bit, a fact of which nobody really cares. It’s probably the most viewed because Adam Curry himself posted the link on twitter and the No Agenda audience is motivated.

Of the things released in 2016, the second place would be “Election: A Night Attack Rock Opera” (317 views) which is a 21-minute spectacular recorded on Night Attack with MikeTV after the USA 2016 Presidential Election. MikeTV is a bonafide legit musician (support on patreon, on bandcamp, on twitch.tv), and although I’ve done tracks from things MikeTV has done on the show before I actually try to leave those alone and not cheapen his work. With the “Election” tracks I got specifically called out on the show to do it though, so I did actually turn those into something. I also set a new land speed record for it, getting nine tracks done in about a 24 hour period after I got the show. To complete it I went full-on pretentious prog rock and added an original track as an Overture for it a couple of days later. I also spent a couple of days doing little fixes on the set of ten tracks after they’d already been made public, so the collection went through four iterations before I stopped working on them. Some lucky people downloaded the earlier versions, and if you did I suggest you also download the final ones and you can see the differences.

After those two, the most popular things were Scarred (For Life)” (317 views) and “A Night Attack Christmas” (159 views). Total views across all Night Attack Songs for 2016 was about 3503, which if combined would still only be the fifth most viewed thing on this lame-ass blawg.

If you want to lie to yourself and believe the people who clicked on the download link for a Night Attack track actually downloaded it, then the top one would be “What’s Your (No) Agenda” (50), followed by the Election Rock Opera (49 across all the versions), and “Separate Bathtub Heavens” (16).

A couple of the songs got featured in Spearmint Nitrate “cold opens” for Night Attack. Spearmint Nitrate does good stuff and you can support him directly if you wish. Secrets or BS, Addicted to Trump, Here for the Party, and Justin’ all got animated in 2016.

The Questions that Burnination

You want to ask this question, so I’ll ask it for you. “Does the attention from Night Attack transfer to your other music?” and the answer is… sort of. Of the people who bought my music in 2016, three I’m sure were actual Night Attack fans since they used my secret Night Attack Discount Code “yoloswag420napjurychrist” when they bought it. Considering a total of twelve different people paid money for my stuff in 2016, and I know five of those aren’t Night Attack fans, I suppose that’s not insignificant.

There are a few people who download the albums for free because I give away free album codes. I was aggressive giving out codes for Box of Devils (posting it to the Night Attack subreddit) but for Concentrated and Canal Route I have them at the bottom of the Night Attack music page. Very few of those ever get used, I suspect split between the “not interested” crowd and the “I don’t know how to scroll web pages down” crowd.

I suppose some people don’t want me to have their email address. If you use one of the free download codes entering your email address is optional and not many people do it. I will say that I have never, ever emailed anyone for downloading any of my albums. The only email that gets sent are the ones directly from Bandcamp when I make a new release, and you can unsubscribe from those if they bug you. Apparently getting two notices in a year of a new album is considered me spamming them.

Not every Night Attack track gets received positively. A couple, like NASMR seemed to really garner negativity, despite being featured on a show that’s mostly horse apples and bs. Despite that the diamond club community are still better behaved than other shows’ fans.

I didn’t make any new themes for peoples’ shows or do any soundtrack work this year. I don’t think any of the shows I’ve done them for in the past are still going.

I think that we’re approaching – if we haven’t already reached – “Peak Patreon” where everyone and their dog appears to be using Patreon to raise money for every little thing they do. I personally support a few projects on Patreon, although money’s a lot tighter than it used to be so that list has been substantially reduced from where it was in the past. I’ve had a couple of suggestions that I should run Patreon and I’ve always stuck by my original assertion “I have a method of patron support now, it’s called buy my albums.” You get something tangible upfront (the music), and I don’t have to listen to people whine that if I don’t do something they want that they’ll “pull their patreon support.” I’ve got Patreon fatigue.

In retrospect, I probably should have picked a different title for the album than Crap Chute’s Canal Route, for the single reason that it’s virtually impossible to get Apple’s Siri to work with it. “Hey Siri, play the album crap chute’s canal route” will inexplicably prompt siri to change “canal route” to “canal road” and then complain there’s no album called “crap chute’s canal road.”

The “Chickenbone” story, briefly alluded to during the track on Canal Route, was a real incident in which I bought a sandwich that was supposed to be one of those chicken-finger things in a wrap, and I think someone thought they were being funny and put in a chicken wing instead.

My personal favourite track from Concentrated is easy to pick, Throttle Body. For Canal Route it’s probably Dude Your Boat. Of the Night Attack stuff from 2016 it’s probably a tossup between What’s Your (No) Agenda (Enter the White Castle Mix) and Balls Deep.

What Future Do the Secrets Hold

I said after Box of Devils came out that I was pretty much unmotivated to continue making music. I still feel the same way, despite somehow managing to crank out two more albums. 2016 was my “best year ever” and be honest, it was pretty terrible.

awtfy, 2016.