From busking to touring: An Interview with Spinnup Artist David Owens
He discovered Spinnup at the ‘We Take The Streets’ festival in Berlin and, with his first single in the works, Irish artist David Owens has risen from busking on the streets of France to touring 10 cities in the last two years. To find out more about his journey with Spinnup, we asked David to spill the beans on his adventures, success and what makes him tick.
1. How long have you been making music for? Where did it all begin?
I’ve been playing music since I was 5 and began writing songs at about 16. My music career really began about 18 months ago though when I quit my job as a software engineer at one of the top IT companies in the world (Cisco) to pursue my dream of being a professional musician. I first started busking on the streets of France, living in a Campervan with two friends. We didn’t make much money but it was enough, and doing what I loved doing everyday and getting paid for it was just so incredible. I played in 10 cities that first Summer before settling in Berlin to write new songs and develop my voice. In December 2013 I came home to Galway, Ireland for Christmas and played my first shows supporting local artists. This continued until June 2014 when I played my first ever solo show in Berlin. It was a huge moment for me as only a year prior to that I’d been sitting at an office desk all day every day. It was only a small show but it was my show, and people actually came – the venue filled to capacity. I was honestly awestruck that so many people would come just to see me play in a bar. Since then I’ve played many solo gigs both in Germany and Ireland, and have had songs played on radio stations and even recently a live performance for the Irish national TV network’s YouTube channel. To say the last 18 months have been life-changing would be a huge understatement!
2. What drives you forward as an artist?
Connecting with people. When I play my songs and can see people reacting and feeling the emotions I’m trying to convey it makes everything worthwhile. I live for those moments. I can’t really explain why I write music – it’s not for money or fame (though those would be nice side-effects!)…I just do. I always have. Another musician friend of mine calls songwriting a sort of therapy, and I think she might be right. I try to put all my heart into my songwriting and my performances, and people seem to connect with that. My dream is to play at a big music festival, where I’d stop singing during a song and hear thousands of people singing my lyrics at me….someday!
3. How did you discover Spinnup?
I discovered Spinnup through “First We Take the Streets” festival in Berlin. My application to play a slot was accepted and I received an e-mail with a free code to upload one track on Spinnup. I had wondered about putting my stuff on iTunes and Spotify etc, but as an independent artist I didn’t think it was possible. Also the idea of having Universal’s scouts checking my music out was very appealing. So I uploaded a song I’d recorded in my bedroom to see how it worked. Later on in the year when I finished my first album I uploaded it to Spinnup and now it’s available on all the major online distribution channels.
4. You showcased your material at ‘We Take The Streets’ in Berlin last year which was sponsored and supported by Spinnup. How did you find your experience in Germany and at the showcase?
Germany is a great place for music, especially on the street. Audiences are appreciative and respectful. I played twice at “First We Take the Streets” and received a great reception both times. It was very good exposure for me as an artist, and I even booked some concerts from people having seen me play there and later contacting me through my Facebook fan page. Some might feel it’s a strange idea to busk at an organised festival – something we street musicians do every day regardless, but it is different – it’s advertised and marketed, so people walking past aren’t just passers-by; they’ve come to listen to music and perhaps discover new artists. I’m certainly hoping to play at it again this year – maybe this time on the main stage!
5. Do you feel Spinnup has helped you on your artistic journey and if so how?
So far Spinnup has mainly helped by making my music much more easily accessible to hear and buy. I sell my CD’s on the streets and at shows but you can’t expect everyone who likes your music to buy a CD there and then. In today’s world having your music on Spotify and iTunes etc is absolutely necessary to be a successful independent artist. Also you get to “Push” your music to a few scouts each month, so I’m anxiously awaiting feedback on one of my tracks. Of course nothing might come out of it, but a few years ago getting your music heard by a major label’s scouts was known to be incredibly difficult. Now with Spinnup you can achieve this with a push of a button.
6. What advice do you have for our young artists just starting out especially for those distributing via Spinnup?
Don’t worry about money. Think about making your music heard. It’s a big world out there and I can promise you there are going to be other artists who have a sound very like yours, no matter who you are. By using Spinnup you allow people to easily find and hear your music, giving you an edge over acts at the same level. And who knows, maybe a scout will like you and you can sign with Island and become the next Hozier!