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Abbey Road

Spinnup & Abbey Road come together (right now)

You may remember last year we introduced a couple of Spinnup artists, Indigo Palace and BLOOM, to the good people at Abbey Road Studios to help launch their first ever app, Topline.

We spent the day in Abbey Road’s incredible Gatehouse Studio with our artists, who tested the app, wrote some tunes – and like kids on Christmas – played with anything they could get their hands on.

Since then we’ve kept working behind the scenes with our friends at Abbey Road, who we’re sure can claim the title of Most Iconic Recording Studio In The World.  If you don’t know what we’re talking about, can you even call yourself a musician?
(We’re joking, but seriously if you don’t know Abbey Road get yourself to Google ASAP.)

 

In their quest to be instrumental – no pun intended – in the careers of musicians worldwide Abbey Road launched Topline as a mobile recording studio for singers and songwriters. With the app, which is completely free we might add, you can record multi-track demos, add lyrics in the notes section, attach images & locations, AND share easily from within the app. As BLOOM and Indigo Palace will tell you this is perfect app for collaborating, recording harmonies and BVs, and writing to a track.

Download Topline free from the App Store here and get your music on track.

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Once you’ve recorded the masterpiece you wrote with Topline, how would you like to have it mixed by Abbey Roads team of award-winning engineers? Or go one step further and them master your final track? You can even chat to them while they’re mastering.

No matter where you are in the world you can make the most of Abbey Road’s online mixing and mastering services, and now Spinnup artists receive 10% off!

To get started login to your Spinnup artist account and head to the Offers page in the left-hand menu. Here you will find you discount code and link to Abbey Road’s Online Mixing and Mastering pages. Then just upload your track, select your preferred engineer, and enter your exclusive code at the checkout.

Start making music with Abbey Road, and when you’re ready to unleash it to the world, we’ve got you covered.

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Introducing: Cortes

This week we are bringing you sweat-inducing rock trio Cortes and their new single ‘Call It’.

The band formed in 2012 and comprise of Andy Cortes on guitar/vocals, Sam Davies on bass and Marijus Aleska on drums. Although based in London, the band has quite the international background – Cortes’ family are Colombian, Aleska is from Vilnius, Lithuania, whilst Davies is from Devon.

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The band credit The Red Hot Chilli Peppers one of their inspirations, and we can definitely hear these influences in ‘Call It’ from their clamouring lyrics and killer groovy riffs, that we feel also channel a distinct Queens Of The Stoneage vibe.

Cortes have managed to have their track ‘Facing My Fear’, which they released on Spinnup in 2016, played by the infamous Zane Lowe who described them as “certainly, better than good” – today that track has received over one million streams on Spotify! Their tracks have also featured on Apple Music’s playlists: ‘Breaking Rock’ and ‘A-list Rock’.

The trio have landed some pretty good gigs in their time, playing festivals including The Great Escape, Camden Rocks, Barn on The Farm and BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend, and supporting bands such as Nothing But Thieves.

For their debut self-titled EP Cortes worked alongside producer Larry Hibbitt, who has worked with some pretty big names, such as Nothing But Thieves, Sundara Karma, and more.

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As a band we love to see live, they don’t have any upcoming tour dates at the moment, but we’re hoping that they’ll be back on the road soon and with some more new material!

Head to their website to stay up to date with all their news and find links to all their social media

cortesband.co.uk/

Hear ‘Call It’ on Spotify and Apple Music and follow their artist page to stay up to date with any new music!

 

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Who run the world (of Spinnup)?

I’m sure you would have seen online and across social media, today is International Women’s Day.

This is not a topic we would traditionally delve into on the Spinnup blog, but for today, we want to change that. With the recent rise of movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up along with the spotlight that is being thrown on diversity in the music and entertainment industries, we thought we’d open our door a little wider and give you a peek inside the organisation behind Spinnup.

I am Nina Usher, a woman in the music industry, a senior executive for a tech platform, the head of a start-up – in short, Spinnup’s General Manager.

That was in no way meant to sound boastful, although I am very proud of my achievements. It will come as no surprise to you that the music, tech and start-up industries are traditionally male driven, and the thing I am most proud of is that Spinnup says a huge NO to stereotypes in every way.

Spinnup is run by a small team, based in local Universal Music offices in Stockholm, London, Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen and Oslo.

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Was this by design? No. We firmly believe in hiring the best candidate for a role and always maintain an open mind when interviewing staff.
Are we proud of this percentage and adamant to continue encouraging, guiding and mentoring the next generation of female musicians and executives in the music industry?

HELL. YES.

We’re well aware that bucking this trend so violently is not common, which is why I felt the need to highlight it today.

Outside of the direct Spinnup team we have played a part in the journey and have supported the development of female artists such as LovaAdrijana and MOODY, who were all signed to Universal Music labels.

And of course, we have an army of some of the most fearless, and fiercely talented, female musicians on Spinnup –VazKihlaMarcellaBethany AnnBLOOMLani DawsonLucy CampChuchoterMADANII, and Joko, to name but a few.

We are fortunate to work alongside a group of brilliant, supportive and respectful men at Spinnup, I value everyone on the team in exactly the same way. But, today is about throwing a spotlight on the wider issue, by commemorating our achievements, celebrating our progress, and championing the gutsy girls who run the world.

Today is about women, so who better to soundtrack #InternationalWomensDay than the women of Spinnup? Head to our Spinnup, Girl Powered playlist on Spotify to get your daily dose of girl power, or hit play below. 

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Decoded: A complete guide to branding yourself as a musical artist

In your capacity as performer, musician, lyricist, tour manager and business strategist you also need to fit in the small matter of becoming a branding expert.

Nobody said this was going to be easy!

Although some musicians might see creating a brand as a something akin to exam revision, we’ve created this guide to hopefully show you that the creative process of devising and developing a brand is nothing to be feared.

In fact, it should be as absorbing and artistic a process as song writing itself!

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Why some artists shy away from branding

How to begin creating a brand as an artist

The ‘3 Es’ of branding (careful now!)

Key takeaways

But before we begin… what actually is a brand?

We interact with brands all the time. In its simplest form it’s a logo, along with a name, tagline, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes it from its rivals in the eyes of fans or customers.

However, many will tell you that a brand is much more than that. It’s engrained in our tribal psyche as human beings to gravitate towards badges, flags, symbols and ideas– to claim allegiance to a cause, and literally ‘nail our colours’ to the mast.

Brand is visual representation of identity and the best artists in history are all about identity and identifying with their audience. So, as a musical artist starting out in a career you are already a brand whether you like it or not.

The question is whether you are a good, bad or just plain ugly one (in many cases this is no bad thing; check out those early Rolling Stones album covers!)

Image Credit: BP & O
Why many artists shy away from branding

A common mistake some artists make is to confuse authenticity with branding. ‘But isn’t it supposed to be about the music’ is a common complaint when discussing a band’s image, for example.

There’s a fear that credibility can be lost by taking any focus away from the music and concentrating on image.

While there’s no doubt that style over substance always causes problems, even the most credible artists in history have cultivated a strong, defined image, story and visual identity (AKA a brand!).

The Sex Pistols are credited with turning the entire music industry on its head; a vital disrupting force that led to one of the most creative and exciting periods in music’s history.

They were also entirely manufactured by Vivienne Westwood and her then partner, Malcolm McClaren. Does this make their music less credible?

The best artists have always understood that being a successful artist is about more than having well-crafted songs. Remember Nelly’s face band-aid, Madonna’s cone bra and Lady Gaga’s crazy, well, everything? All those quirks and styles helped created their image and brand as an artist. (If you want help finding your trademark style, we’ve got you covered.)

Artist branding is about taking that music and channelling its energy through a consistent visual style and identity. In a way that, hopefully, builds the kind of tribal loyalty that causes normal people to sell everything the own and follow you on tour for the rest of their lives.

Your brand should be considered as much a part of who you are as your music. It should be respected and nurtured just like any other valued artistic element. A Spinnup act we think really nails this is Swedish songwriter/producer/performer duo Vaz, who put a huge amount of effort into their brand, from their album artwork, to artist imagery and outfit styling. Check out their Instagram to see what we mean.

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How do you begin creating a brand as an artist?

Paul Wilkinson, former Creative Director at MTV, believes that the trick when starting out is to take inspiration from your idols:

“When most artists start out they tend to emulate the people they admire as they find their own voice. The best place to start is to think about who inspires you and look at what they’re doing. Don’t directly copy what they do, but study them carefully and introduce your own ideas. Keep it simple.”

Quite often there will be someone in your band or close to you that has a natural affinity for creating a visual identity. If not, it might be worth enlisting the support from someone who can.

Good artists collaborate, so find some inspiration from artists or designers who resonate with you and even see if one can help you begin to create a brand that will elevate your music to where it deserves to be.

“Try reaching out to your own fanbase,” says Paul. “If you have a few hundred followers ask them for feedback and see if any of them can do better. There’s bound to be someone amongst them who will step forward and offer good creative ideas. It’ll also help foster a sense of community, which is vital in the early days.”

One word of warning. When starting out remember that everything you post online will still be there a few years down the line, so take this stuff seriously from the start.

“Everything stays online these days,” says branding expert Bridgette of Zambesi Digital, “so think carefully before you put anything out there.”

“Are you going to be embarrassed in a few years’ time? Is it going to come back to bite you?”

Don’t get caught up in the moment. Guard your image jealously.

Image credit: Toward Music

What are the ‘3 Es’ of branding?

The 3 Es of Branding are often highlighted by branding agencies when helping companies to devise a new brand identity.

The Es stand for Enabling, Elevating and Enriching – and don’t just apply to the logo design and colour palettes, but are used to inform everything from imagery choices to the tone of voice.

We aren’t saying that these principals will always be applicable to every artist, but they help to give you an idea of how a professional agency might approach branding an artist.

  1. Enabling

In other words, whatever brand you choose should feel simple, effortless and accessible for anyone who is attracted to it either directly or through your music

  1. Elevating

Your brand should aim to create an experience through the senses. Think about textures, colours, environment and storytelling.

  1. Enriching

Fans should be able to feel part of what your brand represent. It should resonate with them and create that sense of tribe and community that they seek.

Think of what you can provide your fanbase with that will help this. What tangible objects can you give out at gigs? What different ways are there to interact with them?

When you get these three elements right it can create a catalytic effect that delivers real magic – which is all your audience is really looking for.

Key takeaways

  • Keep it simple
  • Study your idols; be inspired by them
  • Collaborate!
  • Take your time, get it right – you wouldn’t put out a half-arsed song!
  • Be careful what you post on social media – will you still be proud of this in 5 years’ time?

Branding is a living, breathing thing, so expect it to evolve over the years as you become more successful. Coldplay, for example, evolved from a simple scruffy busker look to the colourful and distinctive visual identity they enjoy today.

The most important thing is to take it seriously, and not dismiss it as some sort of inauthentic corporate exercise. It’s really all about visual communication and a chance to stand out from the crowd. And remember, enjoy it and your fans will too!

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Introducing: KamiKwazi

One of the things we love most here at Spinnup is discovering new artists from around the globe, particularly ones with a message to their music. One such artist is Zimbabwean born, UK based KamiKwazi – (which means in short, ‘Know Thyself’). The 19 year-old producer/songwriter first caught our attention in 2017 with his single ‘Move’. This year the he is back with his latest release, ‘Women’.

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Within his music, he challenges himself to explore different styles and topics. The new single featuring Renzo, released shortly before International Women’s Day on March 8th, is inspired by the women in his life.

“The fact is that when most male musicians talk about women in their music, its normally sexual. But I love my mother, my sister and all my female friends, relatives, and girlfriend. So I felt it was needed for a male to stand side to side with females and help in the movement for them being “appreciated”.”

Although initially an R&B artist, KamiKwazi uses a range of sounds and instruments in his music from luscious flute hooks, to brass and guitar to produce more of a fusion of R&B/funk/soul and hip hop. KamiKwazi says that his music is inspired by water as “it takes the shape of whatever object it’s put in, and when that object is full it overflows, flowing to every surrounding area; exploring and taking shape and fitting in. But it can also be very aggressive and chaotic at times.”

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We can certainly hear the variation of music in his 2017 single ‘Apple of My Eyes’ where the producer takes us on a journey of the unexpected, from flowy guitars to brass, whilst adopting a slow groovy The Weeknd type vibe.

He has also collaborated with Kiet, Lorenzo and J’Marli and also remixed Kehlani’s ‘Honey’, and as well as his three Spinnup-released tracks on Spotify, KamiKwazi has built up quite the collection on his Soundcloud page.

As if he wasn’t talented enough already, he not only produces his own music but does his own artwork and photography! Oh and his favourite fruit is a mango 🙂

Follow KamiKwazi on Spotify, Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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What happened in: February

The internet is a wide and wonderful(and weird) place, but let’s face it sometimes with the sheer amount of information, music, memes and cat videos, it’s just too hard to keep up with everything that’s going on. In an effort to combat that we are starting a wrap up of everything that went down in the world of Spinnup, music, and beyond at the end of each month. If you come across anything for next month you think we should include, shoot us an email at blog@spinnup.com 

The best of the blog 

  • After announcing the changes to the release data available in your artist account (seriously, check that out if this is news to you), we decided we needed to dig a little deeper. Why does your data matter? How can it help you? Can it really help you make practical decisions in your career? Resounding yes’s to all of those – read on for more.
  • Because we are loud and proud data geeks, we took this one step further to prove that music data can actually be really entertaining. Before you roll your eyes and go, “yeah, sure thing Spinnup,” click here.
  • As always we had week after week of amazing acts featured in our Spinnup Introducing series, starting with Nashville pop artist Bethany Ann, dreamy French indie outfit Mezzanine, Dutch six-piece Waltzburg, and Swedish hip-hop group taking Spotify by storm, ODZ.

Music industry news 

  • Instagram now allows business to properly schedule posts using third party services – great for organising your key image content Read more
  • Apple Music’s US subscribers to pass Spotify’s by the summer, which gives you potentially even more fans to reach in America. Read more
  • Spotify For Brands breaks down the listening habits of Millenials, Tech Early Adopters and Mums, could you be reaching more of these music fans? Read more
  • Pandora bring on demand premium service to web. Read more

Our favourite February Spinnup releases 

Women, the latest single from Zimbabwean-UK artist KamiKwazi. The track was written as a show of admiration for all the women in his life, from his mum, female relatives and friends to his girlfriend.

French singer Joko made us fall in lover with her latest EP Loon, which was released on Valentine’s Day.

New Zealand band Mako Road released their first EP with us, The Green Superintendent. With one of the most eye catching pieces of cover art this year, the project is a relaxed indie affair, that we’ve been spinning on our playlists for the last few weeks.

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Introducing: ODZ

If you’re reading this in Sweden, then you’ll probably know who I’m talking about when I say today we’re Introducing ODZ.

This awesome foursome has been distributing their releases on Spinnup since 2015 with their Original Dunder Zubbis EP, and we have taken so much pleasure in watching them go from strength to strength.

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In the last few months they have been certified gold in Sweden for 2017’s ‘Helt Crack‘, been nominated for both the Best Urban and Breakthrough Artist awards at this year’s GAFFAs and released their latest single ‘Nya Tider’ which has been streamed over half a million times, and is accompanied by a very cool 360 degree video.

I mean honestly, they achieve millions of streams on almost every track they put out, they make it look too damn easy!

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Introducing: Waltzburg

Without a doubt one of the best things about working for Spinnup is discovering artists and bands from all over the world who provide something fun and fresh to listen to. In January we came across a band from The Netherands who did just that – Introducing: Waltzburg.

The six-piece band from Nijmegen (we had to Google map it too), formerly known as Wolves Dressed As Sheep, released their debut track, ‘So Long See Ya‘ last year, but it wasn’t until they dropped their first track on Spinnup, ‘Ghost‘ that they burst onto our radar. From the opening chords and cowbell (more cowbell!) right to the finish, Waltzburg builds a track that is both moody and fun, with gritty, jangly guitars, whimsical backing vocals and quirky melody lines reminiscent of early 2000’s indie, but with a modern uniqueness.

After wrapping up a domestic tour late last year, we’ve heard along the grapevine that the band has been working on new material and have an album in the works for release this year!

‘Ghost’ is without a doubt one of the most  infectiously head-nodding releases we’ve come across in a while so it’s safe to say it’ll be spinning in the office for a while to come!

Follow Waltzburg on SpotifyFacebook and Instagram or head to their website for more info.

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