2012 feedback? 2013 suggestions?

Started by mgriffin, December 18, 2012, 04:50:36 PM

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I'd like to invite forum visitors, especially those familiar with the music Hypnos has released, to offer feedback about the year nearly past, and suggestions for what we might do in the future.

The environment for selling music is increasingly inhospitable. While Hypnos is still doing OK, and not in any danger of disappearing, I think it makes sense to check in with everyone, and get your ideas for what we might do better.

What could we do to make you want to support Hypnos in the coming year? What kinds of music could we carry in our store? Which recording artists should we release on our label?

Maybe we should have ambient music tryouts, create a reality TV show, and call it "Hypnos Got Talent."

OK, maybe not. Still, let us know what you think. We're not looking for praise, really. What can we do better? What should a label like ours do to make itself relevant in the current environment? Do you like the look of our recent CD releases, or should we be doing something different? Are there artists we're neglecting who would make a good fit for our label?

Any feedback appreciated, even from people who aren't customers of our store or listeners to our music. If you're interested, and have honest suggestions, we'd like to hear.

Thanks in advance.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

Dave Fulton

Don't go changing... To try and please me....


I would imagine that being a label that sticks to physical media only to release and sell on, Hypnos may well carry on a 'niche' outlet in the ambient world.

Out of interest, how many albums did Hypnos release last year and what's the release plan for the near future ?

Things are changing so fast and even established artists are giving their music away now. CD / CD-R runs are becoming rarer and are released in decreasingly smaller numbers. Saul Stokes made a good point recently, wher ehe refered to his recent 'pay what you like' album on Bandcamp, this could be where things are going.       


I agree with folks who have noted that the physical CD releases are a nice feature of Hypnos. Moreover, Hypnos has a great aesthetic identity.

My only constructive suggestion is that there may be some value in releasing digital downloads in addition to physical CDs. There are some Hypnos releases that I would have gladly paid $7 for as a download, but couldn't bring myself to pay $13 + S/H because I wasn't awestruck by the sound clips. (I don't have a lot of money available for music, so I try to resist the temptation to pick something up just to have it.) Occasionally I'll see a Hypnos release on iTunes, but I assume those albums are being released via the artist and not via Hypnos per se.

I think the secret sounds releases would be a particularly good testing ground for digital releases. A "pay what you want" model could produce unexpected interest that would feedback on itself to generate attention, new listeners, etc.

I realize you're jesting with the "Hypnos got Talent" idea, but, if you wanted to spice things up, something like that could be fun. Hypnos has a reputation for releasing excellent compilations. It might be fun to have a competition of sorts where artists submit tracks, those are rated by interested forum listeners, and then a "best of" compilation is released at the end of the year. (Perhaps digitally, to keep the costs down.)

Another off-the-wall idea (not really a suggestion--just a brainstorm): I know you're a writer and an active reader, Mike. It might be interesting to release a few stories along with a soundtrack designed or selected for the story. This isn't a novel idea; I recall Current 93 doing this for a Ligotti story about a decade ago. But I don't know if that idea has been fully exploited.

| broken harbour |

Quote from: chris23 on December 19, 2012, 05:57:00 AM
My only constructive suggestion is that there may be some value in releasing digital downloads in addition to physical CDs.

I think the secret sounds releases would be a particularly good testing ground for digital releases. A "pay what you want" model could produce unexpected interest that would feedback on itself to generate attention, new listeners, etc.

I think both of these ideas are great, I'm a physical media guy personally, but I will buy downloads of out of print albums if I have to.  Perhaps there would be value in digitally releasing out of print Hypnos albums?  Basically no up front cost...
(unless you already do that, I haven't really looked at the hypnos store for a little while...)

drone on

I hope (and I don't think this will happen) Hypnos doesn't get swayed by those who paint these negative pictures about how music is being given away for free and CD production is down.  If Hypnos is a niche then I want my niche in all its full glory!  It is labels like Hypnos who have total integrity when it comes to releasing music.  This is a rarity nowadays.  It should be treasured.  Compared to some of these other labels that feel really cold and corporate, shopping at Hypnos is like being part of a cool club that is really laid back.  It's like going to the old town record store where you know all the employees and you feel really welcome there.     

Physical product is just plain better; if you don't want it then don't buy it, and please stop coming on here trying to turn Hypnos into a netlabel.  This really bugs me.  I don't want to get into an argument about it with anyone here, I am just stating my opinion, and it's an opinion I feel passionately about.  HYPNOS IS A REAL RECORD LABEL THAT RELEASES CD'S, AND WE LIKE IT THAT WAY, OKAY??  8)

I thought this year's releases were excellent.  It was great to see some new artists to Hypnos like Bruno Sanfillippo.  As far as future releases, I would like to see the Oophoi/Seren followup to Martian Chronicles.  Dream releases would be by Thom Brennan, Oophoi (solo), Phobos, Broken Harbour, and reissues of some obscure ambient gems.  I think a reissue sublabel would be cool (again, just dreaming).   



Thanks, everybody, for the input so far. I definitely take these suggestions seriously.

I'll have more to add here soon, possibly to inspire or trigger additional discussion. Some quick notes:

First, there's no risk of Hypnos becoming a "netlabel" or switching to downloads-only or CDR-only any time soon. I still feel the proper CD format is a beautiful way to release music, particular in the new digipaks we've been doing. One change we'll probably make is to press editions of 500 rather than 1,000, except with artists like Robert Rich where the edition of 1,000 makes sense. We don't mind waiting a decade or so to sell off most of a CD batch, but I don't want to have a garage full of stuff when Lena and I are old and retired! Time to start doing slightly smaller quantities. Batches of 300 might even become our default at some point.

We'll likely start being more aggressive about cutting prices on CDs that have been out for several years. I'd like to hear input from people on whether they feel such price reductions make a difference -- in other words, if a given CD isn't worth buying for $12.99, does it become more appealing at $9.99 or $7.99 or eventually even $5.99, or is it a matter of the music being "worth having" or "not worth having" and the lower price not really convincing you to buy something you didn't want in the first place?

As for downloads, we do intend to have a more comprehensive solution for the digital availability of our music. That's been something I've worked on in fits and starts over the past few years, and though I made some good progress on that in the first half of 2012, I didn't get it quite ready for prime time. Then my "day job" schedule changed and I had less time to work on it. I still intend to block off some time in the new year to address this again. Most of the technical hurdles were solved, and I just have to re-address payment gateway issues, then do some testing. Currently my plan is to take a block of vacation in early 2013, and lock myself in the Hypnos studio and hammer away at this until the new store is ready to go.

I also like chris23's idea about doing a combined book/music release. This is actually something I've considered in the past. A surprising number of people who are into "weird" fiction, horror, dark fantasy, science fiction and the like are also into ambient and electronic music. I love the idea of commissioning a novella from an interesting writer and doing a special edition hardcover along with a "soundtrack" CD. Then after that limited edition, the writer could publish the novella elsewhere, separately, and the CD could be purchased in ordinary packaging, also separately. Something to think about. I've been secretly studying up on book design as I plan for something like this.

As I said, I'll have more to add to this topic soon. Thanks again, everybody, for caring enough to offer input.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions


I'm a little slow responding here, so some of my points have already been covered. I've always enjoyed the Secret Sounds releases where for a lower price I was able to check out artists that I probably wouldn't ordinarily buy. I prefer physical product, as well. I do, however, purchase downloads occasionally especially when money is tight. Secret Sounds might not be a bad place to pursue this option. All in all I think you do a great job with this label and would hate to see major changes.
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.


Its good to hear that Hypnos will contiue to release CD's, I am another person who does prefer the physical product, and the move to digipaks was great and maybe that could be expanded, possibly 6 panel digipaks if feasible? I think offering downloads as an option, not a replacement, would be a good idea. I don't think the price of the CD is the off putting factor, $12.99 for a pressed CD in a digipak is a pretty amazing price imho, but the ever increasing cost of shipping, when added to the cost of the CD probably contributes to the fall in CD sales, I know Hypnos try and keep the shipping costs low, but there is only so much you can absorb, before it starts to hurt you, so in that respect if some customers found the shipping cost too much, then an option of a download may be good for them, and may generate a sale which might be otherwise lost.

Future Hypnos releases, Oophoi/Seren FFordd follow up to the Martian Chronicles, yes please, and again with a solo Oophoi release, Mathias Grassow, Dahlia's Tear, Broken Harbour, Igneous Flame to name a few.
"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence."Leopold Stokowski


I like what Hypnos does very much.

I don't like downloads, but don't want my own prejudice to prevent Hypnos trying out anything that might increase interest and people buying music.

larger digipaks for better art sounds interesting - possibly DVD size another option...

HSS releasing more by newer or unknown artists sounds good too as does downloads of OOP releases.

Would podcasts be something Hypnos might consider as creating interest?

I'm just glad that Hypnos exists, maintains it's integrity and supports artists - keep going even if the world ends!!!!!!


Scott M2

I appreciated the change in the last couple of years to the DigiPaks with spines and have tried to support them with my orders.

I strongly disliked the spineless Secret Sound packaging and found myself disinclined to buy them after a while - despite the good intentions for keeping the prices lower.

More panels in the DigiPaks means little to me unless the artwork demands it. This customer is happy with your current "product".

How about Lyric Sheets?   ;)


Mike, you've talked about this Hypnos digital shop idea for some years now and it still hasn't manifested, is it really viable ?

As I said earlier, I'm interested to know what you have in mind for future Hypnos releases. Talking about different packagings and the like is interesting, but any ideas for your view on the Hypnos 'musical agenda' would be more relevant, I'd say.

As I said earlier, a 'physical releases only' venture may be sufficiently niche in these changing times, as everyone else makes a mad dash to downloads.

Julio Di Benedetto

Quote from: hdibrell on December 19, 2012, 12:57:49 PM
I've always enjoyed the Secret Sounds releases where for a lower price I was able to check out artists that I probably wouldn't ordinarily buy.

This is an interesting point Harry makes and one that suggests what a Hypnos digital shop might embrace.  With the very low production cost a digitally only release could allow Hypnos to expand its roster of artist and perhaps broaden its vision of ambient music.  In the same way that the Secret Sounds series brought new (new to me) artists to our attention for a reasonable price in a well made creative cdr format.  High quality digital releases would be a way to invest in artistic development without having the capital commitment required for cd & cdr's. Personally something like this would be exciting and increase / speed up the release schedule.  I don't suggest saturation.....just theres a lot of good music out there that Hypnos might consider releasing but for the economic factor of return and potential rooms full of boxes.

Over the last year and back a bit more I have felt a shift in the Hypnos sound.....its a hard thing to actual put a finger on but I sense a transition from the drone / sleep soundscapes towards a more musical / dynamic type of ambience. Certainly not to the exclusion of the drone soundscape.  This i just an observation and something I like if its at all true.

Not sure of the future of Binary......never really paid attention to it as a separate sub label. It was just part of Hypnos for me though a fair bit more electronic.  I would be happy to see this music included under the singular Hypnos label.

The future looks bright.....Thanks for asking Mike!

"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley