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5 things that the internet hasn’t changed at all for unsigned artists

As we’ve mentioned, the internet has completely changed so many things for the better for unsigned artists. Without the internet you wouldn’t have Spinnup for a start!

But as incredible as the internet and the whole digital world is, don’t forget that whatever happens with technology, for artists and musicians some things never change…


1. Great songs
It’s still all about the music. However technology changes music and how we enjoy it, however it directly inspires and generates ideas for writing music (hello hashtags), what will never change is that the most important thing for an artist is making great music, creating songs that from the very first time you hear them you feel like you’ve always known them.


2. Build your team
Look at any established artist or band and you can bet that they have a core of people around them who they’ve been working with for a long time.  It makes perfect sense – when you’re planning an exciting new project or performing in some far flung corner of the globe you want to be sure that everyone working with you knows what they’re doing and you’re comfortable that they’re the right people to be doing it. But great teams don’t come together by themselves. When you find people who you like and who like working with you, stick with them.


3. Know how to get people to like you
The music industry is and always has been a people industry. Whether it’s building a relationship with a manager, being nice to bloggers, journalists, DJs and other tastemakers or inspiring people around you to go the extra mile to help YOUR career, you need to know how to talk to people, how to communicate your vision so they want to play their part in helping you achieve it. Be yourself and be genuine.


4. Be amazing live
There’s still no substitute for an amazing live performance. That was true before the internet, before even recording was invented, and it always will be. A performance so good that not only do people want to see you again, but next time they’ll bring their friends along with them as well.


5. Look after your fans
The internet offers all kinds of new and very effective ways of building and maintaining contacts with fans, but however you do it, the crucial thing is to respect and look after your fans. Nobody will be a fan of someone they think is an awful person, so never run the risk of coming across as one.

But even with all that, you should still utilise the internet. Go to Social Media – Decoded.

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5 things The Beatles did that all new artists can learn from

Often referred to as the greatest band of all time, The Beatles created an incredible and diverse range of music in the years they were releasing records. Having sold gazillions of albums and recognised as underpinning much of modern pop music there sure is plenty every new artist can learn from them. Such as:

 

1. Rehearse loads
John, Paul and George met in their mid-teens and performed in various incarnations including as The Quarrymen and Johnny and the Moondogs before finally settling on The Beatles. In 1960, before any of them had even reached 20 years old, they managed to get a residency performing in Hamburg and would go on to perform over 1,200 times there. Being away from home with only rehearsing, gigging and maybe a little partying to fill their time they became one of the tightest live acts in the world. Their time in Hamburg is cited by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers as a prime example of the need to amass over 10,000 hours of experience in order to achieve excellence. The Beatles certainly did that.


2. Build a fanbase by gigging
You can tweet, hashtag, come up with all the fan pages that you like but you can’t beat good old fashioned gigging. Playing your music in front of real people is still by far the best way to grow your fan base. Performing regularly at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and travelling extensively, such as their trips to the aforementioned Germany, brought The Beatles’ music to tonnes of new people. People don’t forget a great gig in a hurry, and if it is great they won’t shut up about it any time soon either. So make sure it’s YOUR great gig people are going on about.

 

3. Think about your image
It can feel slightly seedy thinking about what you look like on stage. The purists will tell you it doesn’t matter and ‘It’s all about the music, man’. Of course the music comes first, but just because Nirvana wore second hand clothes that didn’t fit properly didn’t mean it wasn’t a specific image. The Beatles adhered to the importance of this quite early on after their manager Brian Epstein told them ‘No more jeans, smoking or eating on stage.’ He wanted them to look professional. So, he cleaned them up, got them suits and gave them an identity as a band. There are no rights and wrongs here, just think about how you look and what works best with your music.

 

4. Keep going
The Beatles were rejected by Decca records in 1962 and told that guitar music was on the way out and that was by no means the first set back they experienced. But The Beatles stuck at what they believed in and what they enjoyed, through every failure and every setback, whether a bad review, rejection or even the tragic death of former member Stuart Sutcliffe. They kept going. It’s simple maths, the more time you give yourself to succeed, the more likely you are to do so.

 

5. Embrace your Influences
Few artists were more open about their influences than The Beatles. They covered their heroes in their early recordings, regularly spoke fondly of them in interviews and frequently emulated their writing styles. Even the name The Beatles was considered a play on Buddy Holly’s band ‘The Crickets’. Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry and Little Richard and many more were huge influences in colouring the way John, Paul, George and Ringo saw music and songwriting. If they can learn from the best they knew, so should you, and we can all do a lot lot worse than the Fab Four!

So gigging as a route to being the best band of all time? Go on then, Gigging And Touring – Decoded.

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5 things the internet has completely changed for unsigned artists

The internet. It’s amazing isn’t it? Endless videos of cats and the disappearance of grammar before our eyes.

But there are good things too. Especially for musicians. Before the internet a whole lot of things were much harder for artists, but now that’s all changed, things like…


1. Recording music anywhere

Once upon a time, to get songs good enough for release musicians had to go to a professional studio. No need anymore. Now not only can you produce top notch recordings on any device at no cost with the likes of Garageband, but you don’t even have to be in the same studio, or even country, as your fellow collaborators. Geography no longer has any bearing on where you can record or who you record with.


2. Music blogs

Before the internet there were a few big name magazines that wrote about music and locally produced fanzines and that was pretty much it. Now not only does every publication under the sun cover music, especially in their digital edition, but there are almost limitless music blogs covering every conceivable genre and music interest. And if there isn’t, you can start one. NME and Rolling Stone know their stuff but they’re no longer the only people writing interesting things about music.


3. Music videos everywhere

Forget music videos only being available on a few channels or TV shows, anyone can make a music video now for everyone to see anywhere. And all for nothing as well. Great news for budding directors as well as budding musicians. One of the single best ways of showcasing your music and giving people an unbelievably simple option for exploring your music. What are you waiting for?


4. Artists and fans actually making contact

For the whole history of the music industry before the internet artists had little idea who was buying their music or who was coming to their shows and the only way most fans could provide any kind of response was by either buying or not buying, going or not going. Now artists and fans are in an ever richer and deeper relationship with each other. Thank you social media.


5. Spinnup

And the best of all – us! We get your music out to the world and our scouts have a direct line into Universal Music. With Spinnup you learn how to develop your music career, how to get distributed and get discovered. We’re always coming up with new ways to help our scouted artists – for instance, by curating a stage at Hudikkalaset in Sweden this summer Spinnup artists were able to play live to a festival audience. Well done the internet!

So there you have it, better make the most of what you have. Check out Social Media – Decoded.

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5 things not to waste an A&R’s time with

Embarking upon a career as a musician is an incredibly exciting thing for anyone to do. When looking to attain the next level of success you might seek the attention of an A&R. Many see these A&R’s as the gatekeepers of a their potential triumph. But before you send a muffin basket to their home or try to tell them that their 3rd cousin is your milkman’s poker buddy, bare in mind, they are just people. Here are 5 ways to avoid common mistakes when seeking an A&R’s attention.

1. You don’t need more than a 4 track demo.
At the very most send through 4 tracks, although 2 will be absolutely sufficient. All you are trying to do is get there attention. Go through all your songs and think very carefully about which tracks you should send. You will want something that captures your identity and that could be a potential single. Basically if you’re Sigur Rós, send ‘Hoppípolla’ not one of the 13 minute tracks.

2. You do need to send full songs at a good quality.
Make sure you are sending full songs. If you only send a snippet of a song you’ll just frustrate the A&R listening, they want to be able to make an informed decision based on the length of a piece of music. Send your recording via YouSendIt (or another file sharing website) on MP3 format and at a quality of 128kb/s or above. Don’t make them endure files that sound like a 90’s ringtone.

3. Don’t send them links to your Soundcloud. 
A&R’s are a lot more likely to listen to something if they have to download it. It creates a more personal relationship between them and the song and should they want to play it again it is in their computer. FOREVER. Until they delete it. We’re sure they won’t.

4. You don’t need fancy packaging or artwork. 
Put your easel away, close photo shop, call up and cancel the graphic designer you are paying 98,000 euro to do your logo. An A&R isn’t interested in how incredible you’ve made a potential album cover look or that your name is written in fancy writing. All they care about is whether or not they like your song and would other people like your song, essentially, is it good? So save your money and your time and just send them some great music.

5. You don’t need to send them an essay on the artistic merits of your music. 
It’s difficult to send an email to someone you’ve never met when what you’re saying to them is ‘please like what I’ve spent ages putting my heart and soul into’, but it is important not to say too much. The temptation could exist for you to explain why you are so very good, or maybe to play it down. You obviously like your own music otherwise you wouldn’t have written it. Keep your opinions to yourself. All you need to do is introduce yourself, include a short bio, the download links, your contact info and inform them of future gigs you have.

So now you know how to get A&R’s not to hate you. But what is a record deal? Record Deals – Decoded.

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5 artists whose careers only got going once they hit 30

Someone once said that youth is wasted on the young. Well whichever bitter old thing said that, they did not account for all the young spending youth in the wilderness, preparing for greatness. Like these five.

1. Jarvis Cocker & Pulp

When Jarvis Cocker got a demo tape to legendary BBC radio DJ John Peel in 1981 things were looking up for the then 18-year-old and his band. As it was it took another 10 years before the Cocker-fronted Pulp finally burst into primetime in 1994 with their album ‘His ‘n’ Hers’. Cocker was 31 at the time of its release and within two years Pulp had become a household name and won the Mercury Music Prize. Cocker temporarily ‘guested’ during Michael Jackson’s Brit Awards performance and became, according to one music paper, “The Fifth Most Famous Man In Britain”.

2. Huey Lewis

He was known as Hughie Louis in 1971 when he joined the band Clover as lead singer, aged 21. Clover recorded a couple of albums but things didn’t take off and their frontman was still unsure as to how he wanted to be known – Huey Louis came and went, even Huey Harp took a turn – before he finally settled on Huey Lewis. The 1980 debut from Huey Lewis and the News wasn’t a hit either but finally in 1982 the stars aligned and a 32-year-old Huey led his band to global success including an Oscar nomination.

3. Leonard Cohen

As a child and teenager in Quebec the young Leonard Cohen was interested in both music and poetry. It was as a poet that he was first introduced to the world after he had his first collection was published in his early 20s. He continued to write poetry and novels throughout his 20s, only deciding to turn his attention to singing and songwriting in his 30s. His debut album, ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’, was released a few months after his 33rd birthday.

4. James Murphy/LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy didn’t even start up hipster-beloved New York electro band LCD Soundsystem until he was an older and wiser 31-years-old. Success didn’t come until 2005 with the then 35-year-old Murphy’s eight minute masterpiece ‘Losing My Edge’. A song about getting older and worrying about keeping up with the kids. Six years later they were selling out Madison Square Garden.

5. Seasick Steve

It’s a familiar story – young musician leaves home, works through a number of casual jobs until he becomes more successful with his music, scores a record contract and goes on to win awards and play all over the world. Which is basically the career path of Steve Wold, better known as blues musician Seasick Steve, but in his particular case all that took almost 50 years! Yes Seasick Steve played music all his life but didn’t release his debut album until 2003 when he was 63 years young. Four years later he won the Mojo Award for Best Breakthrough and this youthful newcomer hasn’t stopped since. And neither should you.

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5 things you need to think about before going into the studio

You can’t be a successful recording artist without making recordings, but if you haven’t done it before you don’t want to get it wrong. A bit of thinking in advance can often save a lot of time, effort and money later on.

Fortunately here at Spinnup we are friends with top studio Metropolis and so we asked them what they would recommend thinking about before using a professional studio. These are their top tips:

1. What is the final recording for?

When it comes to getting your music properly recorded you need a good idea of where you want it to be heard. Many musicians would love to be playing stadiums but before you get to that level, be realistic. Think whether the recording more likely to be downloaded, sold as CD at gigs, be used for some local or evening radio play or used in some other way.


2.  What do you want the recording to sound like?

Is your vision for a modern sound? Do you want it to be representative of another time? Should it sound grand and filmic? Or is it more personal? Collect examples of other music if that helps. Being able to tell the studio and engineer what you’re looking for will mean they can use all their skills to get exactly the results you want.

3. What sort of studio do you require?

Studios come in lots of different shapes and sizes, from small booths for vocals and acoustic overdubs to large orchestral rooms capable of holding hundreds of players, with lots of acoustic spaces designed and suited to different recordings in between. Think about how many people you want to record at once and whether the studio you are thinking of has the space and the acoustic space for multiple instrument recording.

4. Do you need an engineer?

An engineer will help you get the sound you want, and all engineers have a different range of expertise. Most studios will have engineers available that know the recording spaces and equipment in that studio and you will need this knowledge to complete your recording. Alternatively you may prefer a freelance engineer who works in many studios in which case who specialises in your music or style.

5. Are you ready?

One of the biggest mistakes made when going to record, especially with new bands or musicians, is that they are simply not ready. A studio is a very expensive place to practise or finish writing lyrics. You can make very efficient recordings if everyone knows what they are doing and have practised their parts. If you cannot play your parts then there is a certain amount that an engineer can ‘fix’ but nearly all experienced professionals will be able to tell so it’s not worth it. If you practise it and get it right then the recording will feel better, sound better and cost less to complete.

 

 

 

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5 ways of coming up with a great band name

Choosing a band name can be one of the hardest decisions you will ever make as an artist. You want something unique, something memorable, and the name should give people an idea of what you represent. And you want to pick one that you’ll be happy to have for hopefully a very very long time.

There are online random name generators out there, but if it’s something you’ve chosen yourself it will always mean more to you. And you’ll have a better answer to the question ’So how did you choose your name?’ than just ’Google’. Here are our tips for coming up with your great name:

1. Keep it simple

Some of the most memorable band names, like The Beatles, are really short and consise. You don’t need to make everything multi-layered and complex. Short and easy to be remembered can never be underestimated.

2. Draw from cultural references

Films can provide all sorts of ideas – My Bloody Valentine, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, McFly and Duran Duran for example, while literary inspired band names include the likes of The Doors, Joy Division, The Velvet Underground, Empire of the Sun, Klaxons, My Chemical Romance and Marillion. Did you ever notice the character Fall Out Boy in The Simpsons? Well they did.

3. Song titles and lyrics

Radiohead named themselves after a Talking Heads song, The Rolling Stones one by Muddy Waters. See also Phoenix, The Kooks, These New Puritans and Ladytron. This method can of course work in reverse once you have you name by calling one of your own songs after your band name – see Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Green Day and Bad Company among others.

4. Intentional misspelling of a word

A nice way of putting your own twist on easy to remember sounds or words. Diiv, originally named Dive after the Nirvana album, changed their name out of respect for the original Dive, a 1990s Belgian industrial group, while Linkin Park were inspired by a Lincoln Park. Other bands who have taken this route include Chvrches, Lynyrd Skynyrd and INXS.

5. Just open a dictionary 

A dictionary is just a book with lots and lots of words in it after all so hopefully there’ll be at least one word in there that you like if you have a look. Worked for Pixies and Evanescence.

 

Anyway, in the end there is no magic formula. Just make sure you distribute the music first on Spinnup!

Check out Decoded, our guide to the music business. Here is Artist Management – Decoded.

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5 things to have thought about before your first gig

Your first gig is booked. This is it, this is the night you will always look back on as where it all began.

So you really want to make sure you get it all right. For example by thinking about:

1. Your image
We understand that for a new musician the idea of image may seem grotesque, but everybody thinks about their image. Obviously for someone like Lady Gaga image is massive but even an artist such as Bon Iver has a distinct look that suits his music. Everybody wears clothes unless they are in private or being arrested, so make sure that what you wear represents you and your music well. Don’t be precious, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix both did the same.

2. The set list
Make a statement at the start of your set. Perhaps one of your faster, heavier or louder songs, or maybe an a cappella if you have a strong voice. Just make sure the first thing you play grabs people, shuts them up and lets them know you are there. If you have two songs that are in 3/3 or maybe more than one song in the same key try not to play them back to back. Make your set seem as varied as possible. Also end with your best, but you probably already know that.

3. Stage banter
Decide on how you would like to behave in between songs. You have time to change your mind but do be aware, if you have awful stage banter it will make people want to crawl into their shoes with embarrassment and will compromise their enjoyment of your set. Do what feels comfortable but make sure you know what that is before you take to the stage.

4. Your second gig
You have just played your first ever gig in front of real life human people. Oh my lord, they love you. ‘When are you next playing?’ they all ask. Have an answer. A contingency plan for things going well is the most important plan of all.

5. Your internet presence
At the very least have a Facebook page for your music. It is so important that you give people the opportunity to go from people that enjoyed your gig, to fans. If you start from the word go you maximise your fan-base. When people compliment you, respond. Interaction and regular updating will keep you in people’s consciousness. Make sure you’re on top of this and bear in mind you are competing with the rest of the internet.

When you are gigging more regularly it might be worth thinking about Merchandise. Check out Merch – Decoded.

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