Digital music sales account for over half of the music industry’s revenue. Online streaming at an estimated net worth of $1.03 billion, attracting and opening avenues for independent bands to steadily gain leverage from this evolving shift in the music industry. Allowing them to tap into an audience that are less reluctant to pay to subscribe to stream than purchase full albums. One of the benefits of this notable repositioning is that the opportunity to discover new artists that you may not necessarily have been looking for increases substantially. Similarly to how we came across this band. At the end of summer last year we caught up with Dan Snyder from Paper Lights (one independent band that has been able to use the digital shift to its advantage) and talked all things independent, music, movies and digital music.
Although 2015 had Paper Lights swamped with interview after interview and show after show and we were able to sit down with Snyder again as he reflected on the past years of growth and the year ahead. “It has been a crazy year for sure. I was touring several months with British artist Callaghan in the US and UK and had to write/produce this album during short stints at home. It was less collaboration this time around (just Josh and myself) so we really haven’t had much time to rest. Next year isn’t looking much slower either. My plan is to just work until my wife insists on a vacation.”
…I’ve always felt a pressure to make the next record better than the last. Great Escapes feels like miles away from where we started
– Dan Snyder
Paper Lights profound new album Great Escapes, is set to take the listener on an individual esoteric yet alluring journey through each single, tapping into the deeper emotional states of sound and sight, distinctly heard in ‘Half Made’ and ‘We’re a Lot Like Trees’. “It’s titled Great Escapes because a few songs into the writing process, a theme started to emerge. It’s about all the different kinds of escapes you can experience, good and bad, coping mechanisms and great life experiences. It was the most freedom I’ve ever felt to write about myself so honestly. Each song is about a different type of escape that I have experienced; work, forgiveness, technological, outdoors, sleep, relational and spiritual. The first EP was a less than serious attempt at making something people would want to hear. We just did it for fun and because it was somewhat of a relief from the ordinary jobs we did as musicians during that time. I feel like every record since then has been an improvement in some way. I’ve always felt a pressure to make the next record better than the last. Great Escapes feels like miles away from where we started in terms of quality, writing and production, almost in every way really. My wife actually sent me to a cabin in the mountains alone to get some rest for a couple of days. I wrote when I was completely exhausted and sitting under a bunch of trees in the woods. I had been reading a book by John Muir and one of the lines was “The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day.” That quote stuck in my head and it felt like a good line to form a restful song around. When I listen to it now it sounds almost as sleepy as I was at the time.”
…This was a chance to record about things that are really personal to me without any creative boundaries. The whole experience was a lot like a fresh start as well as a chance to be vulnerable in new ways.
– Dan Snyder
Considering how Paper Lights first began, built from collaborating artist to now a working band, Great Escapes establishes Dan Snyder as a sophisticated writer and producer as Paper Lights fan-base of followers increases. “Until recently Paper Lights has always been a revolving door of collaboration with different friends. And after the last record there were some big life changes for some of our people, leaving them with less time for the band. So by default this record became the first opportunity I’ve ever had to work at full speed and take the music in any direction. So I started producing and writing songs at the same time. Then I would take them to Josh to clean up and add his ideas. That workflow became the most authentic and exciting process we’ve ever done. Josh really put a lot of time and effort into the record.”
Streaming has also helped in that it assists in us gaining exposure to people who stumble across your music by accident. But it’s not like streaming services are fair to artists. But since that model is here to stay, they’ve become somewhat of a necessary evil for us. It makes sense that a Taylor Swift doesn’t need that kind of exposure anymore but the average indie artist can’t afford to take their music off streaming services or people might never find out about them. We’ve also done some free downloads before through NoiseTrade who do a good job of collecting emails in exchange for music. That has helped with exposure as well but we certainly can’t rely solely on album sales anymore. Touring and licensing have helped supplement for the hit we’ve all taken from streaming. We’re planning several tours across the US in more unconventional venues like breweries, parks, houses, pop up shows etc.. We would love to follow up with a UK tour sometime in the near future as well. It has been a lot of fun meeting people in the music industry over there this past year. The dates should be up on the calendar soon.
Completing three records in less than a year Paper LIghts are beginning to make their mark as an independent indie band with the ‘Great Escapes’ showcasing yet another dimension to the repertoire of the Paper Lights forte. ”This was a chance to record about things that are really personal to me without any creative boundaries. The whole experience was a lot like a fresh start as well as a chance to be vulnerable in new ways. For me the focus became about finding a balance between raw imperfection while maintaining a certain quality of production. And I hope that honesty in our music is something people can connect with.”