Hey there, internet. Haven’t seen you before. D’you come here often, or did you stumble across this site, as I did, whilst looking for something else? Perhaps you were after a bit of information on the Edinburgh music scene, or ways to help bands promote their music, and you thought “actually, I could grow to like it here. Maybe I’ll stick around.”
Assuming that’s the case, maybe you’d like to know a little bit more about Ten Tracks? Well, stay where you are and don your finest reading monocle; because I spoke to site founder Ed Stack to learn more about the site.
“Ten Tracks has been going for 2 years, 5 months and 7 days at time of answering this question (March 18th 2011, fact fans).
It is a platform for promoting and selling music online, and we also run live music events across Edinburgh and Glasgow.
I started the site because as a musician, there seemed no other way to sustainably, legally and honestly represent my music on-line. It seemed to me that a new, paid-for music service was needed. I also felt it would help people realize their part in a community of musicians.
The music industry of old thrived on dividing musical communities by selling a dream - signing people to labels, giving them lots of money, and separating them from their communities. This combined with the rivalry between different scenes to essentially remove the possibility of a collaborative, organic music community. And you couldn’t record radio-worthy songs in your bedroom back then, which meant bands really were dependent on labels to do things for them in a way they aren’t now.
In order to get things going, myself and flatmate Rupert Thomson (founding editor of The Skinny) researched and enquired with PRS about licensing our 10 track, non DRM, better-than-free, socially conscious, community-orientated online music retail model; and started a limited company. We felt partnering with a forward-looking magazine would be a good idea, and this worked for a while in terms of establishing a presence for the site among a certain demographic.
Eventually it became too much for one person to manage, and has now grown to incorporate a team of volunteers. I tend to say we have 10 people helping out, but it's probably between 5 and 15 at any one time. Still, it averages out to preserve what I sometimes refer to as the cult of ten.
It's not so much the number itself but the fact there is a number - a limit put on things, a 'good amount' decided upon as a starting point. Ten made sense in this context because it seemed a good number of tracks to put in each of our downloadable bundles - more than most EPs, less then most albums. It also has a known cultural implication, putting you in mind of ‘top ten’ charts.
The amount of music I've come across since starting Ten Tracks has humbled me into thinking my own music isn't that special. The sheer volume of grassroot quality on offer in Scotland means that bad demos can be a breath of fresh air… and often still contain seeds of greatness!
I think good music comes from an ability to observe and recognise spontaneity. After all life takes place in the present, and there's only so much control your songwriting can impose on the world around you. Those people who let the external world be, however bad or beautiful it is to them, are best at song-writing. Likewise, a lot of the best vocal melodies come from a one-off feeling, and sometimes the best riffs come after listening to your mistakes.
The nature of Ten Tracks is to try and represent many different enclaves of the music community, which means I say different acts almost every time I’m asked who to look out for on the Edinburgh scene. On this occasion, I would suggest keeping an eye out for Screen Kids, Blood Blood, Bwani Junction, Kung Fu Mother, Fur hood, and Trees.
Ed was speaking to Ali George, occasional internet user and newly appointed TT blogger.