This was a decidedly low-rent affair (though a huge deal for me), produced on a middle-of-the-line Dell desktop using Cakewalk Home Studio 2002, which I barely understood, and recording in the closet-nook room in my then-girlfriend’s bedroom in the theatre company’s actor housing. (I eventually got a Powerbook G4 12″, and did the last couple of tracks on Garageband version 1.) I had low-end Yamaha acoustic and electric guitars, a decent mandolin, an old-school (tiny) Tascam drum machine, and whatever else I could muddle together. I worked incredibly hard on it, and it was a true labor of love.
The result was a CD titled Paul is Making Me Nervous (a name drawn from the first line of a Toad the Wet Sprocket song), and was a huge point of pride for me. I remember how thrilled I was when the first box of 100 CDs arrived from the reproduction company, opening it up and seeing what, to me, validated my work, my creativity. It was real, tangible.
The album itself is, well, creaky. Listening to it today, it’s obviously a very amateur effort. But while it is wholly imperfect from a production standpoint (at all levels: mixing, vocal pitch screw-ups, something suddenly out of rhythm, etc.), I think it holds up rather well in terms of the songwriting and the earnestness of the performances.
I actually managed to sell around 300 or 400 copies, mostly sold while I was on tour with my theatre group, selling copies to folks at the merchandise table after shows, held mostly at colleges. A handful of tracks and albums were sold over iTunes (and I mean a literal handful), and, more to the point for this piece, a few were sold via CD Baby, the independent music seller.
Now, CD Baby is awesome. They are fair, affordable, encouraging, and sincere. I’ve never had a complaint about them, and I continue to distribute my music digitally through them, and happily so.
But today I got the following email that made me feel very small:
We have too many copies of Paul is Making Me Nervous based on our restock request history.
We can either return the excess stock to you at your expense or recycle it at no cost. . . .
We have too many copies of the following titles:
Artist: Paul Fidalgo, Album: Paul is Making Me Nervous as of 12/18/2012, you have 4 total, with excess stock of 3
CD Baby’s Inventory Management Wizards.
That’s right, my 4 remaining CDs in their stock is too much of a burden to them. Based on how my CD has sold, they can deign to allow the space for one solitary copy. CD Baby has determined that my album is a literal waste of space.
I bear them no ill will. I blame them not a jot. But, well, you know.