On Tuesday (June 16), Donald Trump announced that he will campaign to become the next U.S. president, and his New York press conference was soundtracked by Neil Young’s 1989 anthem “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Unsurprisingly, the famously liberal-leaning Young was not happy that the Republic hopeful used his song. “Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” read an official statement from Young’s team. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.” …
1) Wait To Be Discovered
If you want a career in music you have to MAKE your career in music. You can’t wait for “the powers that be” to come swoop you up and turn you into a star. You must put in the work. No one wants to work with someone with a great recording but absolutely no work ethic, no following, no buzz, can’t perform live and has no social media presence. You must build this on your own first. The days of “getting discovered” at a club in Hollywood are over. Build up your enterprise on your own first, and people will come aknockin when you’ve become unstoppable.
2) Expect People To Just Show Up To Your Shows
I can’t tell you how many young bands I see (with very little online presence) book huge tours and expect that people will just show up because they’re playing a cool club. This goes for local shows as well. Just because you’re on the venue’s calendar doesn’t mean anyone is going to come. You must have a purpose for every show you play. If you’re a super new band and you need performance experience, then fine, play open mics, jams, community centers, charity events, and low pressure environments. If you’re a professional outfit, you need to promote EVERY show you book. Otherwise why are you playing the show? If you do not promote the show, no one will show up. Plain and simple. And you can’t just make a Facebook event and pat yourself on the back. There are many more creative (and effective) ways to promote your shows than just Facebook. Do them!
3) Go On Tour Before You’re Ready
Similarly, if you haven’t figured out how to get anyone out to your shows locally, what makes you think you’re going to get people out when you headline a tour? Unless you’ve been invited as the support act on a national headliner’s tour, don’t tour until you have figured out your audience. If you’re in a major city (200,000+ people) I promise you there are people in your town who like your kind of music. Maybe “the scene” doesn’t care for your music, but there are actual, ticket buying humans who do.
Want to test this out? Go on Facebook advertising and start to setup an ad (you don’t need to buy one) and type in similar artists in the Interests field and then make your location within 20 miles of your city. It will give you an exact number of people who like those bands. So target them!
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get any local media attention. I consistently filled the 800 cap Varsity Theater when I was living in Minneapolis without any radio or press coverage. I was completely ignored by “the scene’s” tastemakers, but drew more people to my shows than most other local bands they positively reviewed.
Once you’ve figured out how to draw locally, then take your show on the road. Not before then.
If you’re in a tiny town, then it might be a good idea to move to a larger city to start your music career. Or start killing it online first.
4) Move To LA Before You’re Ready
I’ve been living in LA for 5 years now. LA is not a town for beginners. Not to say there aren’t beginners here. There are WAY too many! If your band can’t get your hometown to care about you, it probably means that you aren’t good enough yet (no matter what your friends and family say). Cut your chops locally. Practice and perform your ass off. Move out to LA ONLY when you’re killing it regionally (or online). That’s when you’re ready to make the leap. No, you don’t need to be in LA to make your music career happen. Not at all. BUT don’t move out here before you’re ready. LA is not a very forgiving city. If you get a tastemaker or gatekeeper to one of your shows and you suck, they will blacklist you and never come again.
5) Fake Social Media Numbers
The industry has caught on. You can’t fool anyone anymore. It’s now about engagement. People want to see that your fans are ENGAGED. It means nothing if you have 10,000 Facebook likes but you only get 2 Likes a post and can only get 10 people out to your shows. Everybody knows numbers can be bought. If you have 200,000 YouTube views and 6 comments, everyone knows those were paid views. They don’t count. You look foolish.
If you’re going to buy numbers to just get started, buy a small amount. 1,000 is good. It at least gives you a starting point and off of a one second glance it looks like you’re doing something. But then you ACTUALLY need to start kicking ass. But if you want Facebook Likes I recommend using their ad platform (NOT a 3rd party Like-farm service) because Facebook weeds out fake Likes pretty frequently and Facebook only shows your posts to a tiny subset of your followers. If you have 1,000 fake Likes and 400 real ones, it’s very unlikely those 400 real people will EVER see your posts. If you’re going to spend money on Facebook promo, use their ad platform. But don’t pay to get fans before you’re ready.
6) Belittle Merch
Bands live and die on the road based on merch sales. Especially if you’re the opener getting a tiny guarantee for each show. You NEED great merch and a great merch seller at every show. Someone at the merch table from when doors open to when they close. But, of course, you need a fan base first. Don’t go buying thousands in merch inventory if you’re only bringing 40 people locally.
Make sure you accept credit (Square or PayPal have swipers with low fees) and make your display BRIGHT and BIG. You want everyone leaving your show making a conscious decision to either buy merch or not buy merch. Not knowing you have merch or not being able to purchase it when they want to (no merch seller) should not be an option. And always announce it from the stage. It may seem cheesy, but you can find a way to do it that’s not. Make it a part of your set.
7) Ignore Video
In 2015, people are way more willing to watch a video than listen to a song (unfortunately). Make sure when making your album budget, video production is a part of it! No sense in making a kickass record if you can’t afford a kickass video to go along with it. You don’t need a $ 30,000 music video. But you do need very high quality video. Live videos and music videos. If you’re on a tight budget, find a friend with a DSLR camera to shoot performance videos. Learn Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier or even iMovie will work. You should be putting out videos regularly.
8) Neglect The Website
Some of the most frustrating people I’ve ever worked with are web developers. They are unreliable. Overworked. Charge too much. And did I mention unreliable? Unless you have a huge budget to keep one on retainer who can turn around updates within hours (not weeks), then you should be using a template based service like Bandzoogle or Squarespace which you can update yourself. Make sure the template you choose looks super pro and keep it updated. Make sure your music player is on the home page and that you feature your best videos. Do not have a news section if you don’t update this every couple weeks. And do not have a blog if you aren’t contributing to it regularly.
This is your calling card. In 2015, yes, it’s still important to have your own website that you OWN. Facebook will not do.
9) Belittle The Email List
You need to OWN your fans. You rent them from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube when they follow you there. These sites can change their reach overnight (like Facebook did) and you lose complete access to the fans you worked so hard to get. Or they could start charging you to reach them (hello Facebook again). Or the site could die altogether (Myspace anyone?). Email seems super uncool to teenagers and even college kids. But it is how everyone in the real world still communicates. Email is still an incredibly effective way to reach your fans. It’s how you will run successful crowdfunding campaigns, get people out to shows, get fans to buy your music (if they still do that), and generally have a successful, long term career. Pass the clipboard around at small shows. Have a mobile friendly signup on your website and announce from the stage for everyone to go to your website on their phones and signup “RIGHT NOW to get this next song in your inbox before we finish it.”
1 email subscriber is WAY more valuable than 1 Facebook Like or 1 YouTube subscriber.
10) Try To Appeal To Everyone
No matter what kind of music you make, some people will like it and some won’t. Get over it. Make the music you want to make and find your niche. Some niche’s are bigger than others. The worst thing you can do is change your sound to appeal to what you think “people will like.” Yes, make the best kind of music in your genre, but don’t change your sound because your uncle told you to sound more like The Eagles.
11) Engage The Haters
Once you have haters you know you’ve made it. Well, at least in your scene (be it online, locally, regionally, nationally, internationally). People don’t hate things they don’t care about. If they are taking time to hate you it is because people are paying attention to you. This is a good thing! Do NOT respond to personal attacks. As tempting as it may be. If you ignore the haters they will go away. Let your supporters defend you. You look small if you bring yourself down to their level to have it out on Facebook or Twitter. You will never win. If you must engage, take the James Blunt approach.
Photo is by Chloe Muro from Flickr and used with the creative commons license
Digital Music News
Young Thug just released his mixtape Barter 6, and now he’s already announced his impending debut album. The record is rather confusingly titled Hy!£UN35. It seems that this is pronounced “hi-tunes,” although the characters are a little difficult to decipher. (We’re assuming that it’s not “hyphen 35″.) Hy!£UN35. will come out on August 28 through 300 Entertainment. The label’s Lyor Cohen said in a statement, “300 is proud to present Young Thug! We believe he is a unique artist who will have a special place in the future of hip-hop.” Below, watch the new…
Start the month of November off on the right foot by filling your playlists with new tunes, courtesy of our New Release Roundup or reviews of some of the top releases this week. Give it a read to catch up on what’s new and notable, as well as a few things you might have missed. Then be sure to check out our Recently Reviewed section for many more.
Neil Young leads the charge this week with an ambitious new recording project in Storytone. The collection of ten new songs is presented in two different ways: one recorded solo, and the other recorded with a full orchestra and choir. Read our review to find out how Young’s juxtaposition of “vulnerability and grandeur” fared on his new release.
Known for his high-profile production work for the likes of Kanye West and FKA twigs, 24-year-old Venezuelan producer Arca continues to challenge listeners on his debut full-length, Xen. Seemingly uninterested in creating a cohesive record, he opts instead to focus on “each alien, puzzling, substantial sound and its (often) tense relationship to the next.”
In what has been a busy couple of months for Warp Records with new records from Flying Lotus and Aphex Twin, the eponymous release from Clark should not go overlooked. Recorded over a period of four months in a barn outside a secluded English village, feelings of isolation have a sizeable influence on the sonics of the self-titled effort. On top of the “harrowing tones and zeniths of coarse techno,” our reviewer says the record is an incredibly rewarding listen designed to be consumed with no distractions.
Known primarily for his work under the name Toro Y Moi, Chaz Bundick has released a solo record for his side-project Les Sins. Completely abandoning any semblance of chillwave, the debut doesn’t fail in revealing “a freer, all-embracing and, quite frankly, supremely more fun Bundick.”
Though Halifax producer Ryan Hemsworth has been busy touring 2013’s Guilt Trips, he somehow still found time to record and release a sophomore record, Alone for the First Time. On the opposite coast, San Francisco quartet Deerhoof have returned to the “raw materials of their idiosyncratic sound” to create musical moments that our reviewer describes as “impossibly catchy” on La Isla Bonita. Finally, Alex Zhang Hungtai is bringing his work as Dirty Beaches to a close with reportedly final album Stateless.
Find some tracks from the albums reviewed above and lots more on our Rdio Genre Playlists:
Chicago wunderkind Young Chop is only 20, but he’s already left a massive mark on the rap world thanks to his iconic production work for Chief Keef, King Louie and many others. Later this month, he’ll let loose his debut solo album. Called Still, the 10-song collection is more a compilation than a stand-alone LP. The release sees Chop working alongside frequent collaborators like Chief Keef, Fat Trel, Ty Dolla $ ign, Lil Derk, Lil Herb and others. The album includes recently dropped singles like Chop’s “All I Got” remix (which also sees him take the mic) and the Chief…Read More
Rumours suggested that Neil Young’s orchestral album Storytone would be coming out on November 4, and sure enough, that date has now been confirmed, along with some more information about the impending LP. It will arrive on Reprise Records, with a vinyl version following on December 16. Storytone will come with two discs, each containing the same 10 songs. One version was made with a 92-piece orchestra and choir, and the other version was recorded solo. That’s the album cover above and the tracklist below. As expected, it includes the recently unveiled…Read More
The 39th annual Toronto International Film Festival may be coming to a close at the end of this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped reviewing films at this year’s festival. Look below to find reviews of a few of the films we’ve checked out so far, and don’t forget to visit our TIFF 2014 section for even more festival coverage.
First up is Men, Women & Children, the new film from frequently TIFF-selected filmmaker Jason Reitman. The film finds Reitman going back to basics and exploring the ensemble-based dramedies of his early career. But does it reach the same heights as pictures like Thank You for Smoking and Juno? Read on to find out.
Next, Noah Baumbach employs Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts (as well as the Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz) to great effect in the accessible comedy While We’re Young, while ’90s film god Hal Hartley finally wraps up the trilogy that began with 2002’s Henry Fool with the hard-to-appreciate Ned Rifle.
Last but not least, Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters brings his immaculate stage show to the silver screen in Roger Waters The Wall. But how does the concert experience stack up next to the original 1982 film? Click through to find out.
Check out our TIFF 2014 section for reviews of even more festival features.
From electric cars to rainforests, Neil Young has put his weight behind a variety of environmental causes. Now the Canadian music legend is turning his attention to a new green initiative: organic cotton. As Stereogum points out, Young has shared a lengthy letter on his website, saying he’s doing away with selling T-shirts made from non-organic cotton and he’s urging fans also abandon non-organic cotton. He’s also apparently giving away free organic cotton T-shirts that says “PROTECT / EARTH” at his shows. Here’s Neil’s whole take on the cotton debate: Friends, on my…Read More
Mondays are hard. After a fun-filled, entirely-too-short weekend, it can seem impossible to roll out of bed and return to work on a Monday morning, especially when our pals in the U.S. are enjoying a day off. Here at Exclaim!, we try to make Mondays a bit more bearable by rounding up all of the best new music and videos from the past week. Give it a read, and don’t worry — it’ll be Friday again before you know it.
Kicking off our roundup is By My Side, the newest beach-ready, ultra-mellow release from Victoria duo Jon and Roy. It’s a laid-back, effortless album, tinged with folk and reggae, and you can stream the full album at the link above.
Jimmy Fallon has a way of bringing together the most unexpected celebrities. On an episode of The Tonight Show, he got funnyman Will Ferrell and his doppelgänger, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, to address their fictional rivalry and compete in a drum-off. Smith brought along the rest of the band, and you’ll find a live performance from the Chili Peppers along with the hilarious Ferrell vs. Smith drum-off.
Inarguable legend Neil Young is about to release A Letter Home, a back-to-basics release from the rock’n’roll veteran in which he pours emotion into every track, and you can stream it in its entirety now. Then, listen to the new album from Spanish Gold, whose new album South of Nowhere is soulful and genre-spanning.
Finally, you can watch the quirky, stereotypically French video for Scenic Route to Alaska‘s new single “Paris.” Full colour performance shots offset black and white cinematic clips — it’s a silly, offbeat pairing to the folk-tinged track.
Looking for more? Head to our Music/Video section for new music and videos every day.
Easy Pain, the fourth album by Louisville, KY heavy atmospheric rockers Young Widows might give a jolt to those expecting something a little more mellow, based on 2011’s In and Out of Youth and Lightness. But, as guitarist/vocalist Evan Patterson explains, the band consciously decided to create an album that’s almost the opposite of their last offering and more in line with their first two albums. However, it’s still a different beast altogether. “The whole idea was to make the most destructive, heavy record we could make, without being, you know, a metal band, or not being…Read More