Songsmith moves to Nebraska, drops new 17-track record
IF SEEKING TO exemplify the seismic shift in the music industry, look no further than Matthew Sweet’s career. In 1985, he signed a development deal with Columbia Records, which contracted the making of his first album after six months. Thirty years later, he crowdfunded his new project, Tomorrow Forever, a 17-track CD/double album released on his new Honeycomb Hideout label and distributed by Sony/RED.
“It has changed very, very, very much,” he says. “For people not in the industry, it’s still hard for them to get their heads around just the difference in the amount of records sold. There’s so many less, one for every ten that used to go out back then. It’s not for the faint of heart, what happened in the music industry. The bright side is that it made it indie again, as far as people like me recording are commonly left with no one to try to tell them what to do or to be pushy in any way with them.”
Tomorrow Forever is Sweet’s first album since 2011’s Modern Art and his fourteenth overall. The material had its genesis three years ago, when he and his wife, along with their cats, left California and moved home to Nebraska. He set up a home studio and launched a Kickstarter program to fund the album, but was sidelined by the loss of his mother. Sweet spent months working through his grief and came out on the other side by writing and recording almost forty songs.
In the meantime, supporters donated and waited, creating a different and self-imposed pressure to deliver above and beyond expectations.
“Maybe some artists needed that push and pressure from a record label,” he says. “For myself, with this record, that pressure came from my wish to please the Kickstarter people, who not only put up money for me to make the record, but who also had to be incredibly patient for me to put it together as well as I felt it could be. It’s different; it’s hard to explain. There were somewhere around 800 people who did my Kickstarter, and the pressure of people who got impatient or didn’t believe I’d ever do it tended to come from a tiny, tiny percentage of those people. But I still felt the pressure. I felt I really needed to deliver, but it wasn’t the same as having a label pushing you to do something and they’re the only person there. The Kickstarter thing always had a big happy side to it, but I certainly sweated it over the years, wanting to bring it to fruition. It’s a huge relief to finally come through and deliver on all the rewards and get the records out there to people.”