In what is likely a first for a recording by a top-shelf solo piper, Simon McKerrell has unveiled a collection of eight tracks available only as a download from iTunes either as individual 99-cent cuts or as a $9.99 album.
The recording was made at a recital on May 3rd that McKerrell performed at the King’s Hall at Newcastle University where he is a lecturer in Celtic arts. After researching the digital possibilities, he quickly discovered that he could skip the hard-copy CD, start his own record “label,” and make the tracks available on iTunes.
“I was on iTunes one day and decided to look up bagpipes and was pretty appalled at what sprang up,” McKerrell said. “So, I thought, well why not see how easy it is to release a digital album myself?”
McKerrell sourced a digital distributor that would coordinate the release in return for a small commission of net sales after iTunes fees are calculated.
“For piping it’s pretty easy as it’s all recorded live and during a recital at the university,” McKerrell continued. He said there are no additional charges except for legal payment of MCPS royalties to composers on the album.
Among the tracks on Live at the King’s Hall is the piobaireachd, “Farewell to the Laird of Islay,” composed by Angus MacKay.
Simon McKerrell is one of the world’s top competitive solo pipers, having won the Dunvegan Medal and three Clasps to it at Portree, the A-Grade MSR at the Northern Meeting and the A-Grade Jig at the Argyllshire Gathering, among many other prizes. He also plays in the Celtic group, Rough Tides.