I’m sitting in a room at my parents’ house right now, and I just finished a beat. I’m moving out soon and much of my stuff is packed. I’m listening to Tycho on headphones (Epoch). He’s been my go-to writing music ever since I started this blog in 2018. Since then, I’ve learned so much, and there’s a lot I want to accomplish. Here are my musical goals for 2021.
1) Be a singer-songwriter again. I started performing as a singer-songwriter in 2013, and because of the pandemic, I barely played in 2020. I found myself writing less for my singer-songwriter name and focusing more on beats and electronic music. I love writing electronically, but I want to come back to guitar and voice, too. There’s something personal and uniquely expressive about playing guitar and singing. In general, I want to sing more.
2) Collaborate with other artists. Working with people on Songs From Home was a really cool experience. I loved hearing my instrumentals come to life and the surprising directions they went. I haven’t worked with a rapper since 2014, and I really want to change that. I’ve been stockpiling rap beats and in February I’m going to start reaching out. I’m not trying to sell anything at first; I’ll be DMing talented locals with free beats and see if there’s any interest. In the future, I’d love to work with all kinds of singers and musicians.
3) Create consistent content. Every teacher, vlogger, YouTuber, and Gary V will tell you about the importance of content creation. I’ve done the random Instagram post, blog, or video, but it hasn’t been consistent in awhile. In 2018 I released a video and blog post every week for months and that was awesome; I want to return to that level of output. My goal now is to make a weekly YouTube video and take clips of it for microcontent on Instagram. I’m hoping to slowly build a following and get better at consistent creation.
4) Get an internship / volunteer. I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science in Music Industry, and now I’m ready to be rich! And by rich I mean gainfully employed (but first, an internship). In my projects class I focused on the licensing side of music, but recently I’ve been interested in non-profits like Musicians on Call and the Harmony Project. I’m also excited for volunteer opportunities like working at Big Turn Music Festival. There’s a lot of people that need help and endless ways to get involved.
Whichever way I go, I’m excited to learn more about these fields and be part of a world I love. Thanks for following my journey!
When compiling songs for this EP, I wasn’t only looking for songs I liked. I wanted the songs to have a central theme. I’ve said before that albums are like a time-stamp of when they’re made, and I wanted to document a lot of the positive change that’s been happening to me over the last two years. Together, these songs chronicle positive experiences and lessons from a specific time in my life.
Originally, I had a picture of just the piano and guitar for my album art, but for the final version I added the ferret. Why a ferret? Well, my previous CD had a picture of a dog on it, which was based on this picture of my friend’s dog smiling at the camera while I performed.
One of my other friends owns ferrets, and she always said I should put her ferret on an album. I wasn’t going to initially, but since she’s moved back to town, she’s been to just about every one of my shows, so she’s earned it. I’m actually really happy with how it turned out. Her ferrets are pretty photogenic, and they even have an Instagram.
My previous EP was professionally printed using Copycats, a media duplication company in Minneapolis, but this time around I decided to go the home-made route. I burned the CDs from my laptop, and for the artwork I used this company called Avery. They allow you to upload your design onto their template, and with their custom printing paper I made CD stickers and CD inserts. This was perfect for me because I knew that most people wouldn’t buy CDs, but a few people would love them. I could accommodate those few without having to order a lot of product I didn’t need, and I can always make more later.
This is my third independently released singer-songwriter EP, and I’m always trying to improve. I had these songs professionally mastered by a friend of mine, and distributed through CDBaby. That means they are available on Spotify and iTunes as well. I hope you enjoy this.
All songs written, produced, and performed by Luke Smith.
Mastered by Anssi Tenhunen.
Artwork by Phillip Lasfroh.
My first EP was released in 2015. I recorded it in my parents’ basement with affordable equipment and my own limited tracking skills. It’s not great, but I have a fondness for it. It’s a timestamp of my skill level at the time, both in writing and producing. The album art is a shot of me playing at the Contented Cow, a bar in Northfield I frequented. It’s a perfect cover because back then I was playing at the Cow about twice a month and the regulars were constantly subjected to my originals.
My second singer-songwriter release was in 2016. I wanted to expand on the sounds of the original so I added MIDI piano and strings. I also layered in electric guitar and harmonica. I was happy with the outcome and decided the artwork should be more professional. I got in touch with an artist I know and gave him a picture to work off.
I was very pleased with the outcome. High & Dry was sold on homemade CDs, but for Fade Away I got them professionally printed. I used CopyCats, a CD and DVD duplication company in Minneapolis. I opted for the cheaper, paper sleeves rather than jewel cases.
The sales have not been great. It took over a year for me to break even on the cost of printing and artwork, but I think it was worth it. The important part for me is that I created a piece of art I’m proud of and have a tangible way of sharing with others.
I’m currently working on a new EP and will be releasing it in two parts. Part one will be available digitally on January 18th, and part two later in March. It’s being recorded in my home studio, and I’m utilizing musical skills and production techniques I learned in school. Here is the first single:
If you’re looking to record and release your own music, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s incredibly gratifying, and it doesn’t matter if your first recordings aren’t great. You’ll get better as you practice, just like with your instrument. And it’s okay if the first song you publish song doesn’t get a lot of traction. Take it from someone who’s released albums on Facebook with only two likes, the joy is in the making.