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What should we do with our new album?

April 16, 2010


Secret Archives of the Vatican have several tunes mixed and a few more in progress towards a new album. This is good. We think it’s going to be a good one.

However, some big decisions have to be made in light of the way the music industry is evolving and taking into account some financial and administrative practicalities.

Essentially, it boils down to the question of how to release the album. There are two main options and each has positive and negative arguments for being the choice we make.

The netlabel approach

We release the album as a freely available download, in various downloadable digital formats and including artwork.


  • It’s cheap to do
  • It’s free to fans
  • Can still earn radio royalties if we register tunes with PPL
  • We could release as many free downloads of alternative mixes or remixes as we like


  • We don’t earn any money from sales
  • It’s harder to promote to radio or magazines (print or online) if there’s no commercially available product
  • It’s not taken as seriously as a commercial release. It could be taken as a backwards step for us as we’ve had commercial releases previously
  • Not sure where to host it so it doesn’t cost us much money; multiple formats might require a fair amount of storage and bandwidth

The paid download approach


  • We earn some money from sales
  • It’s easier to market to radio and magazines – maybe with CDR copies for radio or DJs. We can earn radio royalties if we register the tunes with PPL
  • Having a presence on iTunes, Amazon etc gives credibility and opens up some opportunities
  • We could still release free downloads of alternative mixes or remixes; this would aid marketing
  • Sales would offset cost of paying an aggregator to send the album to all the usual download sites
  • An aggregator does all the work of getting it online for us


  • It costs money to host on the various download sites, although not much
  • Previously, we haven’t earned very much from sales, even after copious amounts of hard work marketing our releases. People do not seem to want to pay for our music.
  • We will sell far fewer copies than would be downloaded for free

So, it’s a difficult choice to make and I’ll be consulting with the rest of the Secret Archives crew to see what they think. If you have any thoughts, please comment on this post. Thanks!

SAotV 2

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2010 10:38 pm


    Would you consider a mixed bag?

    Put an EP out for free release on somewhere like bandcamp and have a fuller release (with perhaps different mixes of the free tracks) out as a paid release on iTunes.

    Host the free tracks on the libsyn podcast account and link back to other accounts. Free storage (as an AMP member) plus download stats.

    My 10p

  2. April 17, 2010 3:43 pm

    I think Codger is right about a hybrid approach.


  3. April 18, 2010 8:48 am

    Certainly teaser tracks are a great idea to get people listening. Might also be worth providing the GarageBand/logic files so that remixes can be done too similar to NIN. That increased interest.

  4. April 18, 2010 11:42 am

    Consensus so fare seems to be netlabel route…main issue with that is where to host the releases. Hosting on our own website massively increases bandwidth costs at the point where we’re deciding not to earn money from the tracks. Will need to look into alternatives. Rowley, we’ll certainly make files available for remixers but we don’t use Garageband or Logic – they’d be WAVs for quality. Issue again is storage/bandwidth.

  5. Phil permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:57 pm

    From a philosophical viewpoint, I think you should go for paid approach for the album, and then do free downloads of individual tracks/remixes as enticements to buy.

    You (the band) have invested time and money in making this music, and it clearly has value for you. You believe there is a market out there. That being so, those who appreciate quality will pay for it. The main challenge is figuring out how to reach that paying audience.

  6. April 19, 2010 1:26 pm

    Hi Phil – philosophically, I agree with you. Practically, i tried that with the last release, Remembering Machine, and sold an incredibly small number of albums despite a vast amount of promotion and advertising and a stream of free tunes and general net presence. So, I might try it the other way around… EPs and then maybe try to sell special extended mixes or remixes etc. Have chatted with half the band but still need more discussions, althouigh I’m almost decided now.

  7. April 19, 2010 4:17 pm

    It seems Bandcamp probably isn’t a hosting option:

  8. April 19, 2010 4:31 pm

    You could also do both. 😉

  9. April 19, 2010 8:41 pm

    Here’s the problem: netlabel approach seems fun but almost impossible to find easy and cheap way to host zip files. Best way is on our own website…BUT….bandwidth costs likely to be too high. Various suggested hosts too awkward to use, too slow and annoying for downloaders or won’t just host zip files indefinitely.

    Paid downloads is pretty much a waste of time because, as I’ve said, no-one wants to buy music. Have been trying this for a couple of years with literally hours every day online promoting it, also some advertising, leading to very small sales figures indeed.

  10. April 19, 2010 10:08 pm

    Great discussion.
    I think I can host the files for nothing. Or very cheap.

    I will cover the costs.

  11. May 1, 2010 9:58 pm

    Well, we went with the free option. Here it is!


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