Andy Swan has decided he's no longer interested in making CDs. Maybe it was the New Year's Day move this year from long-time home of Toronto to Breadalbane, PEI, that did it. Or maybe it was just ten years of releasing music under so many different monikers (the Fling, Detective Kalita, Andy Swan and, his current act, the Michael Parks). Either way, Swan has taken the bold step of offering all his music for free on his website, no cash required.
"It probably grew out of all those times I had to move boxes and boxes of unsold CDs from home to home," Swan tells Exclaim! of his digital shift. "Then one day a friend commented that every time he makes a CD now, he just feels as though he's making a bunch of garbage. The simple truth is that most people who might want my music have access to computers and listen to MP3s."
Swan, who has released records on Ottawa's Kelp Records, says that he's not abandoning the CD format entirely, however, and that fans can still get the shiny little discs if they really want them.
"Those that want CDs can buy one off me directly," he says. "I'm lucky in that while I have never sold a lot of albums, I do have people in the press and radio who want to hear what I am doing. So by doing things this way, all the same people and more are hearing the music, yet I am saving on the costs of manufacturing and mailing. My website does have a spot where people can buy me a drink, and send me $5.25 towards a rye and soda. I joke that if one person buys me a drink, it will be my most profitable album ever."
The Michael Parks, which also features Greg Smith of the Weakerthans and Shayne Cox of Sports: The Band in its ranks, have the group's new album Try Try Again now up at Swan's site as a free download. Swan says that he absolutely loves having complete control to do things like release Try Try Again, the first in what he calls the Binary Series, by himself. And it sounds like there's a lot more to come.
"Releasing stuff for free online is really an extension of the punk rock DIY mentality of the stuff that inspired me when I was young, except that the Internet is way better than cassettes. I have a backlog of material and plan to release stuff at my leisure for free on my website over the coming months. I just figure that if enough people like the songs, I will see some benefit from that someday, somehow."