The Greatest Taboo (The Secret of My Success)

In this post I am going to discuss something which is largely taboo in our culture.  Something generally left unsaid.  Something that I believe deserves a much greater degree of honesty and transparency.

This post also contains: an update, an offer, some staggeringly beautiful words (not of my making), and the real secret of my success as an independent artist.


Since it’s release, the #PresentReflections E.P. has been doing really well out in the world.  People are being very kind and have said some really incredible things about both: the music, and their experience of it.

Here are a few of them:

(This music is)…”Relentlessly honest, and ferociously, gorgeously, shattering.”

“This is the sound of a beauty that enfolds all darkness, and all light.”

“The perfect backdrop for a yoga or meditation practice.”

“If ever you doubt the sheer might of your soul, listen to this music.  It is faith in freedom.”

and my personal favourite:

(This E.P. is) “…not merely a listening and emotional experience, but an immersive journey into one’s own soul.”

Beautiful, right?

As well as the critical listener response, I want to share how #PresentReflections is doing in terms of sales.  This is the Grand Taboo I alluded to in the title of this piece.  The reticence and resistance in our culture to: sharing or discussing anything that touches on the financial aspects of our work.

The stark truth of the matter is: the number of sales I make each month is growing steadily, but  is still relatively small.  I want to be really upfront about that.  Were a decent size independent label to look over the number of sales I do in any given month they would, in all likelihood, come away entirely underwhelmed.

Yet I do this as a living.  So how is that possible, given what I have just fessed up to?

Well, when you buy my music thru Bandcamp (the main store I use) there is a set ‘minimum price’ but also an option to pay more should you so desire.  The principal reason I get to do this as my day job is: the vast majority of the people who buy my music choose to pay more than the minimum.  How much more?  Well, if we use #PresentReflections as an example: the minimum payment was set at £3, but over 90% of my sales came in between £5 – £100 (the majority of which were firmly in the upper half of that range.)

You may be thinking to yourself: why?  Why do people choose to pay more, even when they don’t have to?  I have been asking my paying listeners the same question and the answer I have been getting back is both clear and unequivocal.  The reasons that people give way more than they are asked to for my music are simply: they find value in my work, they want more of it, and they want to support me in what I do.

Now, at first glance this little truism may seem less than groundbreaking.  But personally, I find it incredibly heartening that there are people out there who really walk their talk and put their money where their mouth is in terms of supporting independent art.  And I want that little piece of information spread, as far, and as wide, as possible.

Because what it really means is: if you are an artist, or an independent of any kind, you really do not need to be afraid.

Old-school patronage is still with us people.  In fact, it never left.  And it is very alive, very well, and kicking like a motherfucker in the modern digital world. 😉


My Mailing List has a brand new home (and funky new sign up page) at:

The List is my inner circle.  It is where I break news first; where I give away the free things.  It is where you can access my best offers, and where you’ll find the most direct connection with me (if you are on the list you can email me – I read and reply to all of them).  I only mail when I have something cool to give or important to say and there is absolutely zero spam (because spamming people is rude, and sucks.)

If you like what I do and want a bit more sign up (if you do it today you’ll also get 3 free pieces of music).  You are free to unsubscribe at any time so, if you don’t like it, no hard feelings.

Thanks for reading this.  Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

I wish you well.



      1. Not many people have! Impressed. It might take an Artist mind to get through it. I’m having the pleasure of working with Native Americans at the moment, being absorbed into their culture. It’s certainly a different way of thinking about gifts/talents.

          1. Their’s is a culture steeped in storytelling, ceremony, and tradition. I’m being introduced experientially over time. The other day I was welcomed into a smudge ceremony. I’ve been to one before, but it doesn’t mean what it means until one understands the energy that goes into it. Maybe you know, when you compose or write- the end product is so much more than the end product.
            This particular organization serves their community and families by reconnecting their elders and youth through traditional ways and teachings.

            1. That’s beautiful.
              You are very right about the writing as well, there is so much more going on than meets the eye (or ear).
              Thanks for the reply – feel free to hit me up in return anytime.
              Have a good one,
              – J

    1. I believe the secret to your success in a nutshell is your willingness to give. You give more and receive more! Luke 6:38 says:
      Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” People think this scripture is all about giving money! No, it’s all about giving of yourself! God Bless and continue to multiply your giving!

  1. I literally just started following you (after you liked a post of mine. thanks for that!) and I have to say that this rings solidly for me, particularly in light of a recent book that I read: The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. If you haven’t read it, I heartily recommend it, particularly in relation to your pricing strategy.

  2. Totally captivating — I love your work (I’m a hypnotherapist, and ‘live in’ a place of resonance). Your music is powerful and beautiful – thank you for sharing, and for being very honest and vulnerable…great qualities. (Thank you for liking ‘My Gift’).

  3. What an inspiring and wonderful piece of writing. It is brilliant in setup many ways. It’s simplicity, honesty, and the clever way it draws your curiosity and delivers a message you would never have known you needed to hear had it been spelled out in the title.

    Most impressive is it’s delicate balance between well earned pride in a proven body of work and a humble excitement for the hope this message is bound to inspire in his readers.

    Thank you, this is what it is all about. I nearly forgot.

    1. Thankyou very much for this. I really appreciate comments from people, such as yourself, who have obviously read the articles thoroughly and absorbed what they are saying.
      Thankyou for your time and your attention. You are very kind and I hope you are having a good day,
      – J

  4. Hi James,
    I took a quick listen to the album and thought it was very good, Just one thing – if you click on the indivdual tracks, it takes you to a new page where the streaming doesnt seem to work. It streams fine if you run it from the album page. I’m guessing this is a Bandcamp ‘feature’ which you might want to take up with them.

    Thanks for visiting and liking one of my blogs. I will be looking forward to reading your stuff regularly. I am glad that the independant route is working for you.

  5. I love *non-accidental* accidental discoveries like these. Thanks for coming across my post so I could connect to your music. It has this poetic resonance of childhood memories and evokes my own feelings, for some reason, about the ocean I live next to. I will recommend for my yin classes. Thank you for sharing your gift 🙂 Mala

      1. Back atcha! I will download your tunes and listen to it on my way to the UK in June for 2 weeks. A 9 hour flight should be long enough to get familiar with your energy 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing. Whoever we are, there is no need to be afraid. This would be an amazing planet if we put more emphasis on the ‘value’ each of us individually brings to this world rather than ‘success’. Whatever that is.

    Thank you for reading my posts. xxx

  7. Great post James! Very inspiring! The internet is a beautiful thing in this digital age for many reasons, all related to SHARING (info, art, news, inspiration), CARING (about people, causes, to comfort those in need or suffering) & CONNECTION (to other like minded, individuals, to communities, to fans, to learning, spirituality). As content creators & creative artists, more of us can live out our dreams & passion, because of opportunities for exposure & support on a global level, via online sites, networks & social media. In the past, the starving artist would have to wait for a big break or beg, borrow & steal to get his/her content viewed, listened to or read by people outside his/her physical community. I’m sure many gave up due to financial hardship & transportation issues.
    I appreciate your honesty & enthusiasm. We all have to make a living, what better than to give 100% of ourselves doing what we love and getting financially compensated for our time, effort, talent, & content so that we can continue to share our gift with the world and live our passion?

    I am motivated & excited every day lately to share my writing & photo art, and now in my 40’s, I may actually make a niche for myself & create the life I always dreamed of. With my drive & passion along with the support of other like-minded artists, creators, visionaries & writers online, anything is possible!
    Stay humble always! When we are no longer humble, we lose that edge, that authenticity that we express through our art & creativity. That magic within us.
    Love & Light ~ Namasté

    1. Hey there Lisa 😉
      First, thanks for sharing my stuff, I really appreciate it and am glad that you liked it.
      I totally agree with you, the internet can be a beautiful place, I think that the main challenge people are facing is that the is a lot more noise, but that if you make work that is of quality, it can cut thru to the people that need to connect with it.
      Really glad to meet you, hope you are well, and good luck in all your endeavours. 😉
      – J

  8. Thanks for your honesty and sharing that James – excellent, so glad things are moving steadily for you and I think your integrity behind this choice is exactly what we need to encourage – you’re either worth it or not – simple! Love it 🙂

  9. Reblogged this and commented:
    Why fly when you can soar; I recommend “Present:Reflections”, new awesome music my James Radcliffe. A rare gift for yourself or someone you care about. Love the cello and guitar. Musically it is humble but pure and simple too. Hugs and peace.

  10. Thank you for your ‘truth in business’; a rarity at any place in time. And, as always, thank you for sharing your journey. Feeling blessed to be associated with you. I purchased “Invocation” on Amazon and love it. I truly believe that the world seeks out uplifting art and music and cherishes it for all time. James, your music not only lifts the soul but makes it soar; a rarity in today’s culture. Thank you for creating such beautiful music. I will definitely be adding “Present: Relections” to my music library. So excited its here. Hugs and peace to you. Kat.

    1. This is amazing. I am so happy to read it. Thankyou very, very much, both for the purchase and for your beautiful words.
      You have really brightened my day. 😉
      I hope it brings you joy for many years to come.
      – J

  11. Lovely post as always, James. I’m always so overwhelmed by the utter kindness and beauty of humans – and I must say, your music is gorgeous enough to deserve every penny. x

  12. So glad someone’s talking about the business side of being an artist. As a writer with my “product” officially for sale now, I appreciate the insights even though we’re different genres. Thanks for what you’re doing for music and for education, this is important too:)

    1. Hey there,
      Thanks a lot for the compliments and kind words. Really, I just tell the truth as much as possible. I think that a lot of artists feel the need to be obtuse about the business side of what they do but I’m much more on the side of ‘let’s all share where we’re at, so we can all learn from each other’s experience.’
      Best wishes with your thing, If I can be of any help – you know where to find me. 😉

  13. When Radiohead made that album downloadble, some 60% did not pay, and the rest did. Most people focused on the first number. Wrong. What’s truly amazing is that 40% paid for something they did not have to.

  14. So, someone liked the first post I’ve made on the internet, I click on his profile, and I discover the most inspiring, soothing music I could ever imagine. What a wonderful surprise, you are so inspiring and talented, and so down to earth reading that post.
    So thank you for liking my post and for your music. I wish you the best!

  15. James, I would suggest there are several reasons why people pay more than your minimum for your album. First, I appreciate the direct relationship that your service provides. When we see a price on music from a conventional source, we see all sorts of fees and legal and marketing and brand protection and reductions in what the artist actually receives. Second, the value we place in the work is a good deal greater than the mere cost of production. Third, we are rewarding you for your trust and your vulnerability. That is a gift you are giving us, a gesture inviting a gift response on our part. A commitment to such a gift in the current culture is an important statement and a brave risk to be taking. You take that risk for all of us in your own way, encouraging us to take a similar risk in some way that is accessible to us, even if it is only expressed in the form of giving you more than you ask or even more than we might think we can “afford.”

    1. Gary, thankyou so much for this.
      I don’t think I’ve ever seen this broken down and explained as clearly as you have here. You have seen right to the heart of the matter and that, is a rare gift indeed. I am truly humbled by it.
      Of course, I agree completely. The idea of art as gift is one that I have long held to be true, but it is people like your good self who reinforce, and support that idea for me.
      Thanks again, speak soon,
      – J

      1. James, the context you place yourself in by your trust and invitation to gift is much bigger than you might realize. It is not contained merely in the structure of your delivery system, although that helps, but lies mainly in the attitude that you convey about creation, about art, and about returning some of your benefit to others.

  16. Breaking away from the mainstream is difficult enough. Bypassing those who control the system is the real challenge. The internet and the opportunities it provides to make direct connections is how you will be able to succeed. Personally, I have cancelled my cable subscription, yet I now have access to a vast world of endless entertainment of my own choosing – without paying usurious ransoms to those that would control the media.

  17. I decided to mosey over to check out your blog after you left the like on my “Defined” post (many thanks, by the way!) and I am completely b l o w n away. I love the music and words you share, I am also very interested in the good work you do and would love to learn more.
    Thanks for being awesome!

  18. I have loved music since I was young, the future you can’t see, is like a song unsung, but with faith, music abounds, living with Fibro-M, your voice, your music, helps to soothe, my pain within. TY James!:-))

  19. The truth of why (personally) I appreciate your work is: throughout the art history (in my opinion), especially in plastic arts, has been developed more as a need to communicate a historic moment of humanity. Just from the post-impressionism you can see a clear need to establish a communication of the soul with the outside world, but that search has transformed into a exibicion of the individualism of the human being, a constant rather subjective exposure of the artist realities, leaving us just as a mere spectators. But you, my dear James, in a magical way you’ve managed to rediscover the essence, the art of connecting souls. It’s really beautiful to read and reread all these experiences of all people who enjoy your work, they are experiences almost upon humans the ones we all hear in the comments, the way how we admire and live your artistic expression, and that, my dear James is the most precious value of your Art.
    Thank you for this beautiful experience.
    With love,
    – D.

  20. know James, few days ago I read your blog, but remains strangely silent, I really do not know why, (not to say that I had a bad feeling or a bad reaction) simply I feelt my soul speechless.
    I think I can only say this: You must be very grateful to belong to this age of technology, in fact, not just you, we also should be thankful, because thanks to this, we know you, know your work and talent. How many artists and great masters of art history died poor and almost anonymous, with masterpieces wasted because they could not get a good dissemination or because they were simply different proposals to the consumer, conceptually independent artists (like you), many which and after many years and even analysis, we keep learning and understanding his work.
    Thank God we are children of this age, where we have the tools, doesn’t matter the distance, we can appreciate big jobs like yours. You’ve come far James, your work not only came out of your country and spread on your side of the planet, crossed the ocean and still reaching many other souls, because your work not only reaches people, your job James, connect souls, and that will continue to bring you personal, professional and financial remuneration. You have the most important thing in your favor, you have the talent and we see it, also perform a great job of diffusion, then, likewise the remuneration will continue to improve! 😉 You just keep “kicking like a … With the old-school patronage” 🙂

    1. I find this to be, not only beautiful, but incredibly insightful.
      I am indeed very grateful to live in the age we are living in. For me, it is a perfect storm of me maturing as an artist as the wave of technology with it’s opportunities for dissemination is rising up to meet me. I think about how lucky I am everyday.
      You are so very kind about my art and the things I create. It humbles me, and I promise I will always do my best to justify such faith in my work.
      You are beautiful. This is beautiful.
      Thankyou. xxx

  21. Hi, James— Will you be making this available through iTunes as well? While I found and downloaded “Invocation” from that site a few months ago, I was unsuccessful in finding “Present Reflections” when searching your name…

    1. First, thankyou for your interest, I appreciate it 😉
      At the moment ‘PresentReflections’ is available exclusively thru bandcamp – there are no plans to upload it to iTunes in the forseeable future. Sorry if that’s not the easiest way to get it for you, but it does mean that you can download it at a much higher quality and get the Deluxe PDF should you so wish.
      Hope that helps.

  22. James I will confess that today is the first time I have listened to your album. It’s so beautiful! I feel it stir something deep inside. Something exhilarating.

    Thank you so much for honest sharing.
    Also I feel honoured and privileged that you have passed by my blog and left a “like”.

  23. Oh, I’m so happy to have found your blog and to read this incredibly heartening story about how you make a living as a musician. I feel like there’s a big shift happening (maybe thanks to new technology) that lets audience members have a much bigger role in supporting the musicians, artists, and writers they love. It’s also making a much more diverse range of art available to us all, and thank goodness for that. I am looking forward to reading more from you and listening to your music!

    1. Hey there,
      First, thanks so much for this comment, I really appreciate it and am very glad that you like the site.
      I completely agree, there is a new era dawning, largely because of the advances in tech.
      It is a very exciting time to be an independent musician!
      Hope you are well.

  24. That’s cool. I like this evidence of the value of this whole pay-what-you-want thing. There was a Little Rascals episode about that. It was a show contemporary to Laurel and Hardy–black and white comedy with lots of slapstick and stuff. This show was about kids. Anyway, the kids were going to put on a play. As a marketing technique, they announced in the streets that everyone could “pay as they exit.” The show went completely wrong–turned into a farce. Worked out perfectly, though, because the satisfied crowd left the ticket taker at the back with a handful of cash. It’s a good gag, but it works psychologically too.

    1. Hey there,
      That’s really funny – I may try and track down that skit. 😉
      The pay-what-you-want thing is really heartening, especially when it’s how you make your living!
      Really glad you dropped by, thanks for taking the time to write this.

  25. First of all, thank you for visiting my site. Secondly, thank you for inspiring me to visit yours and to be so uplifted by your words of encouragement regarding living one’s art. I sometimes fear that technology will render us irrelevant, but, your reassurance that “old-school patronage is still with us” put me at deep ease today. Much appreciated!

    1. Hey there,
      You are so welcome. And I am really glad that you were into the article – I think it’s important to spread the word about this, it’s important for people to know.
      Hope you are well, best wishes to you.

  26. A timely reminder, it has been on my mind to purchase the new release since listening to it, now i have it! Thankyou! Why do people pay over the odds? Well, it’s a no brainer: for me it is a privilege to listen to music that is so carefully and beautifully crafted. If i want more then that musician has to live to do it, QED. Tony

    1. You are a scholar and a gentleman Sir.
      And now, also, a Patron.
      I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart, and I love the reasons that you have expoused here. You have really brightened my day. 😉
      Hope all is well with you.

  27. As a writer and editor I love how you are sharing this message that patronage is important and life-sustaining. We need to talk more about the money, about why charts and lists don’t accurately track artist sustainability. Keep spreading the truth! One of the reasons I am focusing on increasing my income is to raise my standard of giving. Looking forward to the day when I am doing my part to support the arts!

    1. This is really lovely to hear. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this comment.
      I completely agree with your points, sustainability is the key for sure.
      And I love: ‘standard of giving’. That is truly beautiful.

  28. I happily have bought your 1st Album which is awesome&I enjoy it so much. You truly bare your soul with your music, that’s why it is so unique& connects with me. When you listen to it, it’s like setting yourself free, from all your cares and worry, relaxing one’s mind, peaceful.

      1. YW & TY Happy for you that your getting great rewards for your music, you put a lot of hard work into it. Like to buy Invocation? TC🙏

                  1. Great to hear! Love your voice and vocals, very unique. It is very healing at this time in my life. Blessings…:-)

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