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5 seminal songs that weren’t appreciated first time around

At Spinnup we get your music on iTunes, Spotify and all our online music distribution partners and into the ears of our amazing Scouts to set your wonderful songs firmly on the path of success.

But if by chance things don’t take off right away, don’t be disheartened. Some of the best songs ever written weren’t fully appreciated at first and took a while before they became the monster hits we know them as today.

1. ‘Missing’ – Everything But The Girl
UK duo Everything But The Girl had been happily producing their tuneful acoustic pop for over 10 years when they released their eighth album in 1994. There was little reason for anyone to suspect that ‘Missing’, a pleasant number from the set would set the world alight and it didn’t, reaching just number 69 on the UK pop chart. The following year it was re-mixed by Todd Terry and took over the world. The US in particular really couldn’t get enough – ‘Missing’ stayed on the charts for a whole year, the first record ever to do so.

2. ‘Rock Around The Clock’ – Bill Haley & His Comets
Few records can have been more influential than Bill Haley and the Comet’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’. It brought rock and roll into the mainstream, changed popular music forever, gave the recently invented ‘teenagers’ a new way to flirt with each other and much more besides. And it very nearly didn’t happen. On first release in 1954 it was a b-side of a minor hit. UK record buyers had the chance to show the world but blew it as well by only getting the song to number 17 in the charts (we’ll come back to this). It wasn’t until the song featured in the film Blackboard Jungle that everyone finally did the decent thing and kicked off the rock music revolution.

3. ‘Love Me Do’ – The Beatles
What is it about UK record buyers and number 17? In 1962 The Beatles, yes The Beatles, released their first UK single, ‘Love Me Do’, and it stalled at number 17. Honestly UK, what were you thinking?! Thankfully by the time the follow-up, ‘Please Please Me’, was released three months later, the UK realised the error of their ways. It went to number one and balance in the Universe was restored.

4. ‘Wild Thing’ – The Troggs
Wild thing, you make my heart sing. Unless you were a member of The Wild Ones in which case your feelings might be a little more nuanced. The Wild Ones you see are the band who first recorded ‘Wild Thing’ in 1965, but being first isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be and their recording didn’t set the charts alight and lodge itself into the hearts and minds of the public all over the world. The Troggs’ version from the following year? Yeah that one did. That one totally did.

True fact: The writer of ‘Wild Thing’, Chip Taylor, who has also written for the likes of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, is the uncle of Angelina Jolie.

5. ‘Creep’ – Radiohead
Radiohead may be one of the most beloved bands in the world, but back in 1992 when they released their first major label single ‘Creep’, they really weren’t. In fact the song only reached the giddy heights of number 78 in the UK. But in an intriguing, life-imitating-song-title way, ‘Creep’, began creeping up in other parts of the world. Almost a year later and it was a massive hit in the US. Radiohead didn’t want to re-release ‘Creep’ in the UK but eventually agreed and the song finally went top 10. Still didn’t make it to number one though. Seriously UK singles’ buyers, why do you keep doing this to yourselves?

One thing that may cause a songs second coming is synchronisation. Find out how here Synchronisation – Decoded.

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5 genres of music that are overdue a comeback

It’s great when a genre that you love has a resurgence. Mumford and Sons have been spearheading the folk revival with Noah and the Whale, Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling and many more, while croon-again superstar Michael Bublé has revived wonderfully the broad appeal of the likes of Sinatra, Anka and Bennett.

Fashion does not dictate what is good, rather what is good dictates what the fashion is and quality and beauty are always fashionable. So never lose heart if the music you are creating is considered unfashionable at the moment, music never stays still for long.

1. Rap Metal

It’s been 13 years since Linkin Park released ‘Hybrid Theory’ one of the most successful debut albums of the 21st century. At that time Papa Roach had reached their ‘Last Resort’ and Limp Bizkit were ‘Breaking Stuff’. It was the final days of Rap Metal or Nu-Metal as it had become and things had come a long way from the early days of Rap Metal such as Anthrax’s ‘I’m The Man’ or Faith No More’s ‘Epic’ which laid the foundation for a band called Rage Against The Machine. They made the genre their own with both rap and metal elements to express the anger they felt towards the people they saw as perpetrators of injustice. With the world economy and politics as they are today can it be that long before somebody rebirths this explosive genre?

2. Reggae

It can only be a matter of time before the charts embrace the community and joy that reggae brings. Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals brought this genre to the masses and any young artists who can capture the energy and jubilant exuberance of this genre, currently lost to the mainstream, is sure to be a great success.

3. Soul and RnB

Whilst Soul and RnB still very much exist as genres, they are very different to what they meant when they first took shape in the 50s and 60s. To go back to how they were then would be doing something truly original in the context of today’s music.

4. Country

Country music is of course huge in large parts of America and brought us global superstars like Taylor Swift, but much of country music never crosses over to mainstream success like Ms Swift and yet this is a genre that treasures the craft of songwriting. A 17-year-old Jackson Browne went into David Geffen’s office and three minutes and one rendition of ‘These Days’ on his beat up acoustic guitar and he was signed and was soon dominating the pop charts. Country music knows great songs when they hear them and it is great songs that will always win out.

5. Punk Pop

The pent-up aggression of every guy that didn’t get the girl, of every girl that liked the silly guy, the musical representation of high school politics. This forgotten outlet not tapped since Weezer, Sum 41 and Blink 182 is surely overdue a return.

Whatever your style you are in modern times, so acquaint yourself with The Digital Music Business – Decoded.

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5 things Lou Reed did that every new artist should learn from

As musicians and fans around the world mourn the passing of Lou Reed yesterday, here at Spinnup we’ve been thinking about what people with creative ambitions can learn from this great artist and songwriter. Here are a few we’ve come up with.

1. Take your music seriously

Please note, serious does not mean being boring and dull at the expense of being fun. Lou Reed wanted to be a musician because he knew and never lost sight of the fact that music really matters. Music is unlike anything else in its ability to reach out to people. Whatever kind of music you are making, whether you are creating the next generation of rock operas or three minute slices of pure entertaining pop music, be in absolutely no doubt that what you are doing, what you are creating, will enrich people’s lives. Lou Reed always knew that he was making something very special and he was. If you don’t feel that, why should anyone else?

2. Understand your own voice and musical style
Not just vocals and lyrics but all aspects of your music. One of the most dismissive ways to describe any kind of music is to say that it sounds like everything else. Throughout his long career, with all the different groups and collaborators he worked with, Lou Reed was always clearly Lou Reed. What makes your music distinctive?

3. Get to know other musicians and artists

From Andy Warhol and David Bowie to Metallica and Kiss, Lou Reed never stopped getting to know and working with other artists and musicians. He understood the artistic benefits that comes from working with others. Many musicians collaborate with each other to help reach a wider audience than they can on their own, which is a perfectly valid and enjoyable thing to do, but there’s also immense value to be had as an artist in just hanging out with and working with other artists. Whether it’s coming up with new ideas, solving problems, keeping up your motivation or anything else, nobody will understand what it means to be an artist better than another one.

4. Be an expert

There were few things worth knowing about guitars and sound recording that Lou Reed didn’t know inside out. Whatever your role, instrument, tool or thing in music is, become an expert at it. Once you know something intimately and really understand how it works, you’ll find it much easier to make it work how you want it to and come up with new ideas.

5. Be your own (very tough) editor
Lou Reed worked very hard indeed at his songwriting. He didn’t just record the first lyrics that came into his head but edited and re-wrote them over and over again. There’s a quote often attributed to Ernest Hemmingway about this point: “The first draft of anything is shit.” That’s maybe a little on the harsh side, but the underlying point is absolutely true – thoughtful editing and re-working are very hard to overrate.

You should be ready to get out on the road now! Check out Gigging And Touring – Decoded.

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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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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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5 things every unsigned artist can change so shouldn’t worry too much about

Signing contracts, getting a tattoo and jumping out of a plane with no parachute. All of these things have very permanent effects: you’re committed to a binding agreement, you now have a tattoo, and splat.

But unlike these, not every decision you or your band makes is forever, here are some things it’s very easy to change so don’t have to fret too much about.

1.     Your name
This is one of those things that can take you hours of crying and arguing only to discover at the end of it you’ve settled on ‘Barbara Death and the Pig Hunters‘ even though your actual name is Simon and you are a solo folk artist. Don’t worry about it. Concentrate on writing great songs. Maybe you’ll name yourself after a lyric or song you write, maybe it will come when you know your sound better (here are some of our suggestions on how to come up with a really good name). Either way, the decision doesn’t have to be final till you get signed. Lots of bands have changed their name along the way – Beastie Boys were The Young Aborigines and Black Sabbath were actually called The Polka Tulk Blues Company. Really.

2.     Your songs
The thing most likely to incur horrific bouts of writers’ block is thinking your songs have to be set in stone, that a song you write will exist forever in its original first form. False. It’s your song, you can do with it as you like. Put a trumpet on it, play it in 12/8 or swap all the lyrics for you just repeating the word ‘exploding’. Experimentation is the key to your freedom and artistic discovery. Don’t worry about everything being perfect first time out. Just focus on your artistic freedom and vision.

3.     Your arrangements
In a similar way, just try stuff out. You never know what will be the final piece of the jigsaw, or what you’ll want to take out. When Radiohead were recording ‘Airbag’ from their third album ‘OK Computer’ bass player Colin Greenwood was ill. He missed the recording and the band put the whole track down except the bass. When Colin came in he went straight into the studio, got out his bass and they recorded what he played as he heard the track for the very first time. And that first experimental take is what you hear on the opening track on one of the great albums of all time. Don’t be afraid to fail, that’s where the greatest successes can come from.

4.     Your internet presence
People can worry a lot about their Twitter handle, their Facebook strategy, which songs they put up on Soundcloud or even the photo on their website. Don’t. It can all be changed. There is no need to think that any of these decisions as final. The internet is a tool to promote yourself and sell your music. Experiment, try different things and see what works.

5.     Your genre
Now we wouldn’t go as far to say that you stop playing the ukelele and instead get a drum machine and play a saxophone through a fuzz pedal . . . actually you should definitely do that, it sounds awesome. Anyway, if you are a folk artist and you write a country song, or a rock song, don’t be scared of it. You wrote it for a reason. If over time you move in another direction then so be it. Don’t be limited by the idea of a genre. Just be happy making music and that will shine out to everyone who hears you.

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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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