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5 scams bad people try to pull on unsigned artists that you must avoid

Spinnup is here to distribute your songs all over the world and together with our Scouts help you promote your music, develop your career and hopefully get discovered.

Unfortunately there are people out there who, for reasons that range from massive greed to pure scumbaggery, see ambitious unsigned artists as something to be exploited and ripped off. These people are evil and you shouldn’t ever have anything to do with them. So here are a few tips on what to look out for and avoid.

1. Fees for A&R introductions or other industry contacts

There are people out there who claim to be A&Rs, or to know some, and for a fee of money will help broker introductions even get a deal. But only if the unsigned artist pays this person first. These people are what are known as LIARS. A&Rs are the people in labels who discover and sign new artists, working with them to help create and develop their craft. They do not get paid by unsigned artists. Ever. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply not a legitimate music industry professional and should be given as wide a berth as possible. Real A&Rs find exciting new artists. They don’t need to fleece those artists for cash before they’ll listen to or work with them.

2. Pay up front to be represented

Managers and agents are paid by commission (learn more about how to find a good manager here [link to: 5 things to ask someone who wants to be your manager]), in other words, they only get paid if the artist they represent gets paid. So if someone says they want to represent you as your manager or agent, but they first they need to be paid by you in advance of doing anything, they are not a manager or agent as understood by the music industry.

3. Fees to play live

Gigging is an essential activity for almost all unsigned artists, and as we’ve said before it’s very important to get right [link to 5-things-to-have-thought-about-before-your-first-gig/] if you’re serious about this whole music thing. It’s also very important to not get ripped off in the process. Some venues may determine their fee based on how many fans you bring along, and there may be a minimum guarantee of tickets you have to sell. If that’s the case, once you pass that minimum you must have the ability to actually earn a share of the money from the sales you bring in. And it should be completely clear upfront what that break-even point is. Think about what is realistic for you and that you’re comfortable with that.

4. Buying tickets for mystery unsigned artist nights

This is a scam that pops up from time to time – unsigned artists are approached by a supposed promoter who has supposedly selected them to appear in a night of unsigned artists. All the artist has to do is buy tickets to guarantee their appearance, they will then get more tickets to sell for themselves, and never see their money again or hear any more about this supposed gig. There are lots of nights out there for unsigned artists and you should absolutely be trying to get on the bill and many will expect you to help sell tickets, but make sure the gig is legit before getting involved.

5. If it sounds too good to be true…

Then it probably is. Building a successful music career is a long hard slog. The rewards can be varied and immense, but they have never come to anyone without lots and lots of hard work. So if someone is offering something that seems a little too easy, just too good to be true, be on your guard. And if they’re asking for your money up front, without the guarantee of anything, be even more careful. Being a successful musician is hard enough as it is, don’t make things harder for yourself by falling victim to a scam from a terrible person.

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Spinnup is very happy to announce a new partnership with 4Sound!

4Sound is the largest chain of music stores in Sweden, with 19 different locations around the country. Here you can find everything from guitars and drum sets to studio and DJ equipment. The ideal place for any musician. –http://www.4sound.se.

When you next visit a 4Sound store (physical or online) and you spend 300kr or more, you receive a voucher for a free single release, valid for one year, through Spinnup!

So if you’re planning to buy some new equipment for you, your band or just some bloke for his birthday, make sure you claim your FREE single release!

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5 things to ask someone who wants to be your manager

When you embark upon a career in music it can sometimes be difficult to know if you’re getting things right and you can feel quite alone and daunted by decisions to be made. A good manger is someone who knows what you’re doing before you do, an employed confidante who will guide you to where you want to be. A manger should be one of the first members of your team you acquire (and please don’t forget that you should always consult a lawyer before signing a contract with anyone, including a manager).

But … only a manager could tell you who your manager should be. So allow us to help you work it out with some questions you may want to ask.

1. Who have you worked with previously?

It’s always good to gauge a perspective employee’s level of experience (remember that however exciting it is to be picked up by management, they work for you) before you take them on. This is not to say that a manager with absolutely no experience is a bad thing. Sometimes the best and most successful manager will be a friend who is enthusiastic about you as an artist, passionate about music, organised and driven.

2. How do we split the money?

Even if there’s no money to speak of at the moment, you need to have this conversation so everyone’s clear and you know how much of your earnings will go to your manager. Managers generally get paid on commission, commonly around 20%. But 20% of what? If you write songs, are they going to manage you as a songwriter and so take 20% of songwriting income? What about gigs? Merchandise? There are no right and wrong answers, and in the early days everyone’s likely to be helping out with everything, but make sure you talk about it. Doing that at the start avoids awkward conversations and unpleasant surprises later on.

3. Why do you want to manage me?

This is key. The answer to this question will probably determine whether or not you work together. If the answer is full of enthusiasm for the sort of music you are doing, the way in which you want to make music and your philosophy about music, then you have made an ally.

4. Where do you see this going in the future?

Be wary of false promises and yet do not be pessimistic. Just listen to where this manager thinks you could end up and if it matches with where you feel that place would be then this is very good news. They should have ideas about how they would promote you, get you a live agent and ultimately get you signed and selling records. That’s the aim isn’t it?

5. How are we going to get there?

It’s all very well promising the world but how is it actually going to happen? A good manager should have a good, proactive plan. There should be plenty of ideas about gigging frequency and location, merchandise, how to approach labels, where to record, when to record, how and when to distribute, how to build fan base, and all with agreed roles and goals. These are the most exciting and important conversations you can have in your career so cherish them. Like when you get married or buy a house, the same is true of finding a manager – don’t make any decisions until you’re sure, and when you meet the right one, you’ll probably know.

For more on this see Artist Management – Decoded.

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See you soon Rookies!

The Rookie festival is the annual big music event in Hultsfred where the goal is to give unsigned bands and artists the chance to showcase what they’ve got and perform live.

During these two spectacular days, they also have the great Redline Records crew including rapper Stor, Linda Pira and the Salazar Brothers on the same stage. And our very own scouted Spinnup artists Flo. and Dapz – which makes this year’s festival even more exciting! Since we love these kind of events, we are happy sponsors of the Rookiefestival and will be there, to hear the latest music and see the latest acts. See you there!

Here’s some more info on how to get there, line-up, tickets etc: http://rookiefestivalen.se/

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Scout Stefan Peters: Space Oddity – Music and Space

One of mankind’s greatest technological achievements is currently to be found about 18 billion kilometers from the Earth outside the solar system.

Launched from Cape Canaveral in 1977 the robotic space probe Voyager 1 is the farthest human made object and more distant from the sun than any known natural object of the solar system. Furnished onto the space probe is a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disk, also known at The Golden Record. Complete with a cartridge, needle and a cover with symbolic instructions on how to play the record, it is intended for deployment by intelligent extraterrestrial life.

Cardinally, The Golden Record is a monument for life on earth and the human species.

Encoded onto the disk is an eclectic mix of images, sounds of the earth and 26 musical pieces. Compiled by American astronomer and novelist Dr. Carl Sagan, these musical pieces – ranging from Beethoven to Chuck Berry – were chosen to display an excerpt of the cultural achievements of the human species.

Music as a cultural practice is assumed to have a pre-historic origin. In 2009 archeologists have found a 35.000-year old flute in a cave in Germany, which presumably has been played by the first modern humans as they began to colonize Europe. According to neuroscientists, making and ‘understanding’ music is an intrinsic ability of the human species and can be directly linked to our ability to process and use language.

Throughout history, changes in practice, perception and distribution of culture paralleled social, political, economic and – crucially – technological developments. With these changes, the functionality of music has constantly evolved. In the 19th century for example, chamber music was the only way of enjoying music outside of huge concert halls, it was composed specifically for a small number of performers. Music was a social event, something to engage in and to be appreciated.

With the advent of radio and then later, mass-produced sound carriers, music had taken on a different functionality: It could now be enjoyed at home on the stereo whenever you wanted to, you didn’t have to have musicians in your house or engage in playing an instrument yourself to be able to listen to music. Collecting physical sound carriers became a part of youth culture.

The medium itself determines the way we listen to music as each creates its own rituals. For instance, vinyl LPs really stressed the idea of an album, a coherent collection of songs, carefully sequenced and boxed in cardboard with artwork on it. This pattern was broken with for the first time with the advent of the CD: It was now made easy to have a non-linear listening experience as CDs allowed you to skip/repeat tracks.

With MP3s and MP3-players, smartphones and streaming services, music is now completely decontextualized – not only from the physical sound carrier and the album format but also from time and space. We can now listen to anything from anywhere and from any time.

As a music fan, it’s very easy to be pessimistic about these developments: Music has become the soundtrack for our way to work or to the supermarket, it requires little to no engagement and it is in constant competition with other stimuli. As a result of all of this the meaning and functionality of music has once again changed.

One thing is very clear though: People will never completely stop to listen to or make music and it very interesting to think about how digital media technology will eventually reciprocate on the creation of music or music forms itself. Just like multi-track recording and the (vinyl-) album-format gave birth to works like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds something will eventually evolve out of these new technologies that will push the boundaries of what we conceive music as.

Most likely, this new form of music will co-exist with the then traditional ways of making music.

I don’t think it’s around the corner, and of course it’s all a matter of speculation because as media theorist Friedrich Kittler puts it: “Understanding media remains an impossibility because the dominant information technologies of today control all understanding and its illusions.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Introducing: Sun Owl

Sun Owl, also known as Sanna Ohlgren is one of Spinnup’s favourite scouted artists. She plays alternative, electronic music and describes it as melancholic yet hopeful. To build her songs she uses a wide range of instrumentation from her voice, to a Casio PT-88, a Levin acoustic guitar, an accordion, a midi keyboard, a piano all the way to various stuff she finds in her apartment.

We asked this interesting young artist to tell us more.

For how long have you been into/doing music?
I started in primary school in one way or another, music has almost always been a part of my studies. I’ve also been doing some side projects, such as being a back up singer to other bands. With regard to my own music, I have been working on it since 2011. I studied music for a long time and became disillusioned with how it had been taught, I felt many “music rules” had been imposed and in my opinion music should be more experimental and sentimental. I suddenly found a new connection to music when I started to write music myself.

What inspires you?
Everything and anything. Animal rights, environmental issues and equality are passions of mine, and this often comes out in my music. Otherwise, music has served as a diary for me, I write about what I feel and think about things, about the people I’ve met who have inspired me or even the people who’ve had completely different values and opinions to me. I also write about my sense of absence and presence in social contexts and how this makes me feel. Many of my songs are on quite ‘heavy’ topics such as my fears; life, death, finites and infinity.

What happens next – do you have new releases or gigs coming up? 
I will continue as usual with my music. I try to produce one song per month, not for the sake of someone else, but because I like the routine of my everyday life. There is a sense of release writing and composing music that I feel I want to dedicate my time to. I very much want to play live, but do not have anything in particular planned at the moment. I look forward to putting myself in that situation where I will need to think about how I should perform and deliver my music.

Anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself and your music?
Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that I might subconsciously work against what I’ve learned when I studied music. Such as: everything needs to be in an exact rigid rhythm, some intervals may not be used and that the sound should be fairly dense. I dislike frames / restrictions in general when it comes to creative pursuits and I feel really at home in the music I’m doing now. It is personal to me and fills a big role in my life. It took a long time before I really dared to write music. Probably because I did not feel comfortable with the rules I was taught by my schools.

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5 ways of finding inspiration for songs

Ok we’ll come clean, here at Spinnup we’re not songwriters. Well, not successful ones anyway. If we were, we’d be offering our advice on how to come up with song ideas based on our own successes.

So as it is we’ll have to share some ideas of how to come up with inspiration from these examples of songwriters who did find ways to create and capture those sparks of inspiration. Ways like:

1. Swapping and changing instruments

Although they are by no means the only ones R.E.M. were one of the best known proponents of this method. When they started recording ‘Out Of Time’ in 1990, drummer Bill Berry played bass rather than actual bassist Mike Mills who played organ while guitarist Peter Buck played anything he could get his hands on that wasn’t an electric guitar. By the time they got to ‘New Adventures In Hi-Fi’ six years later the band were swapping and using over 15 different instruments between them.

2. Don’t come out until you’re done

According to Philip Norman’s 2012 biography of Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham once put The Glimmer Twins of Mick and Keith Richards in a kitchen with no food and drink and told them they couldn’t come out until they’d written a song. And apparently it worked. But if such close enforced proximity doesn’t work, you could always try the opposite approach of…

3. Staying as far apart as possible

Elton John and Bernie Taupin have been writing hit song after mega hit song for over 40 years and in that time have not written single one while being in the same room together. Even when they were little known writers working out of Elton’s Mum’s house they would write in different rooms – Bernie penning the words and delivering them to Elton who would put them to music. Today they haven’t changed their approach one bit, only now they not only write in different rooms but frequently in different continents as well. Nearly 30 albums and millions of sales later, they both still love working together.

4. Dreaming

When we fall asleep and leave our brains to their own subconscious devices we all know what mischief they can conjure up, but thankfully for a lot of songwriters the dreaming mind can still knock out a tune or two. Paul McCartney wrote ‘Yesterday’ when he was out like a light. “That was entirely magical,” he explained in an interview a few years ago. “I have no idea how I wrote that. I just woke up one morning and it was in my head.” Keith Richards came up with one of the best known guitar riffs in history, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, when he was fast asleep. He woke up in the middle of the night, sang the riff and the words ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ into a cassette recorder, and then went straight back to sleep.

5. Ignore how anyone else has written songs and just make it up

Ultimately songwriting isn’t a science, you can’t define rules or follow a template, you just have to do what feels right. When U2 started up, they had absolutely no idea how you were supposed to write songs, didn’t know how to find out, and so they just made it up. “From fairly early on it became clear to us that we had no idea about songwriting technique,” says The Edge. “Our way into songwriting was to dream it up. Instinct was everything for us, and it really still is.”

Once you’ve got a bunch of songs you’re sure are quality you may want publishing. Find out more here, Publishing Deals – Decoded.

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5 things you should know about music consumers

Making music is brilliant. Here at Spinnup we are genuinely super impressed with everyone who makes music and works hard to promote it. But if you want to be successful the name of the game is convincing people that they absolutely have to support you and buy your music.

The good people at Universal Music’s Global Insight team spend a lot of time indeed looking into who buys music, why they do, what they’re looking for and much more to understand how best to reach music consumers. We asked them for some top tips on what you need to know about music consumers.

1. Lots of people still buy CDs

Once upon a time there was nothing more futuristic than the CD. While downloading and streaming have eaten into CDs’ share and in Sweden have completely overtaken physical sales, 67% of global recorded music revenues still come from CDs and 90% of consumers say CDs are one of their main ways of listening to music. Sure, their share is declining, and having a presence on digital platforms is a no brainer and is where we at Spinnup come in, but it’s important to understand that there are still a lot of consumers who value CDs as well.

2. Getting noticed by consumers is hard

According to Universal Music’s research, 15% of consumers say they do not know where to find new music, while 14% say they used to know but not so much nowadays. Just getting your music out there isn’t enough, you still have to be always thinking of new ways to let people know about your music. Speaking of which…

3. ‘Old’ media really matters

Radio, TV, press and films are really influential when it comes to music discovery, far more than influential in fact than streaming services and live when it comes to finding new music. Streaming services are really important follow-up mechanisms – after people discover music through old media, they go to these services to listen again. But to make people aware in the first place, you need to be thinking about how you can get your music onto established media.

4. Music is more popular with consumers than merchandise

Around 35% of people say they purchase music very or fairly often, whilst only 10% of people purchase merchandise like T-shirts fairly or very often. That’s still a large potential market for your T-shirts and any other genius merchandise ideas you have, but for most artists that’s always going to be secondary to their music. Which is why people who reckon that artists should give their music away for free and ‘make up’ the difference in T-shirt and merchandise sales really don’t have the faintest idea what they’re talking about.

5. Have different products for different fans

Different types of people want different things. Some consider vinyl to be oversized, old fashioned and rather pointless, while for others it’s the most valuable and amazing music medium in the world. Some people love CD box sets, others have ditched their collections for a Spotify connection. You want your music to appeal to as many people as possible, so don’t just have one single option for all the fans who want to support you.

It’s a good idea to think about merchandise as soon you start gigging… Merch – Decoded.

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