New Music Friday: June 16, 2017

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

Follow Music Made Me – a Spotify playlist that’s updated every Friday with new releases from TuneCore Artists – stream it below!


Mad World
Jon Tessier

Alternative, Pop


Lost To The Max
NRVS LVRS

Electronic


Used To Be
AJ
Pop, Singer/Songwriter


Serious Love
Anya Marina

Alternative, Singer/Songwriter


Ooh La La
The Well Pennies

Singer/Songwriter


I Know You Know

Rusangano Family
Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul


Replay (feat. Chandanie)
JSWISS

Hip Hop/Rap, R&B/Soul


Into The Wild
Justin Garner

R&B/Soul, Pop


Dreamworld
Ivory Hours

Alternative, Pop


From The Inside Out
Seth Alley

Pop, Hip Hop/Rap


Been Here Before
Whissell

Pop, Alternative


Monsters (Acoustic Version)
RUELLE

Singer/Songwriter, Alternative


What If There Is No Destination

Garrison Starr

Singer/Songwriter, Alternative


Alive
Crystal Bowersox

Singer/Songwriter, Alternative


Evergreen

Jake Wesley Rogers

Singer/Songwriter, Folk

Wednesday Video Diversion: June 14, 2017

Ever hear Ray Stevens’ “The Streak”? No? Doesn’t ring a bell? What’s about, you ask? STREAKING. Like, running nude in public. Which apparently became such a craze in the early 1970s that our boy Ray had a #1 UK Pop Hit dedicated to it! In fact it jumped to that spot on this day in 1974. Hence why we’re bringing it up on a boring, slow-moving Wednesday afternoon. What else are we bringing? Why a bunch of TuneCore Artist music videos, of course! Distract yourself:

 

Gloria Prince, “Right There”

Beyond The Sun, “Little Kingdom”

Brittany Marie, “Paint It Black (Rolling Stones Cover)”

Sirusho, “Der Zor”

Rusangano Family, “Soul Food”

The Well Pennies, “Wide Open Sky”

Crystal Bowersox, “Until Then”

Jake Wesley Rogers, “I’ll Stand By You”

NRVS LVRS, “I’m Almost Perfectly Awake”

Smoke Season, “Hello”

Do You Need a Publicist Or Just Some Research?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

 

Building out your team as an artist is a very difficult process. Young musicians often believe having a manager, a publicist or a booking agent onboard will be the core to somehow expediting the process of launching their career. Today you’re playing to ten friends and family members at your local VFW or singing at open mics. Then, viola! Your team has scored you a spot on tour with your favorite band, selling out arenas.

As most of you are probably aware, that scenario doesn’t necessarily match up with the reality of building a career in music. There is no magic bullet. In fact, building out your team too early can lead to getting stuck in business relationships that don’t necessarily make the most sense in the long run or, as is the case with publicists, see you investing what little money you have to spend on your project in areas that you won’t necessarily see the sort of results you’re hoping for.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on bringing a publicist into the fold:

Will I Be Able To Give A Publicist Enough To Work With?

An important key to publicity is having assets to work with. Yes, you have a great EP, but is there anything else that your publicist can give to press? Are there tour dates or live shows in your hometown? Do you have a unique element to your story that could lead to a bigger editorial piece that will serve as a cornerstone for the campaign? Did you shoot any high-quality music videos for the project?

A publicist is going to have to sell a writer on the fact they are getting in early on something that will be bigger down the line. Just having a handful of quality songs does not go a long way to help them sell that idea.

What Are My Goals With This Campaign?

Am I hiring a publicist because I think they’re going to take me from my bedroom to the cover of Rolling Stone? Do I think that I am going to see a significant financial return immediately from doing a few months of PR? If so, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the results you’re going to get.

One in a million projects can break immediately without a ton of work from major industry powers going on behind the scenes. The vast majority of artists need to build out their public presence in stages. Your initial public relations campaign should be about building that first tier of coverage. This would likely consist of grabbing a few of the aforementioned cornerstone pieces and streaming playlists that you can start building a 1-sheet around and getting writers out to see you play live.

From there you can start building anticipation for your next release or, if the campaign goes really well, you can continue to go after additional coverage on the release immediately.

What Is My Next Step?

A standard PR campaign will run around three months. Once that three month period is over, if the coverage isn’t rolling in enough to continue seeking press, what’s your next step?

Are you going to be right back in the studio working on the follow-up or is there going to be a long wait before you release music again?

If this release took a year or two to prepare and you don’t see a next release in the near future, you’re better off handling press yourself and focusing on building an organic following through playing live and direct-to-fan initiatives.

In short, ask yourself if this release is going to set up a bigger push in the next year or is it step one in your career as an artist from which you will decide where you will pivot to next.

It’s best for an artist not to rush to add structure to their project to quickly. It’s usually better to find yourself creatively before looking to start working towards a sustainable career. If you do find yourself in this stage of self-discovery, don’t rush to hire a publicist. You can find the contact information for most of the writers or blogs that will be most likely to cover your project in these early stages on their website or via the writer’s Twitter account.

The more you can do on your own before hiring people around you, the better you’ll understand the process of releasing music and ultimately the more worthwhile your eventual first proper PR campaign will be!

Tips For Getting Your Song On a Spotify Playlist

[Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

 

You’re absolutely certain you want, no, you need, to get on an official Spotify playlist. The problem is you’re not sure how to reach the elusive curators and you’re struggling to get past 50 followers on Spotify.

Asking to be on an official Spotify playlist in that case is somewhat the equivalent of wanting to be on the cover of Rolling Stone when the only show you’ve played is the local dive bar on the seedy side of town.

Don’t despair. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it does mean you’ll have to put in a little elbow grease to build up to it. Just like the mailroom guy has to work through a multitude of career levels before becoming manager, you’ll have to create some momentum to reach your official Spotify playlist goal.

Here’s a few simple steps that are within reach no matter the level:

1. Get Verified

The first thing you should do is get your Spotify band profile verified. This does a few things. It gives you credibility and shows you take your band seriously. It can also help with Spotify algorithms which prioritize verified accounts.

Lastly it can help you get noticed by Spotify influencers, including those who create unofficial playlists, but are influential nonetheless. You can find the five simple steps to get verified on Spotify here.

2. Work Unofficial Spotify Playlists

The best way to reach a goal is to start where you are. You may want to go straight to being featured on an official Spotify playlist, but the truth is that you’ll most likely need to build up to where a Spotify curator will pay attention. The good news is that there are a lot of unofficial Spotify curators who will be more open to featuring bands who haven’t yet built a larger following. At this stage in the game, Spotify curators, both official and unofficial, are heavily guarded and extremely elusive.

Start with the ones who want more followers and help brand them by asking your followers to follow them. In your head you may think they’re not worth the time. Instead think about not where they are, but where they could end up. Isn’t that how you would hope playlisters would think of you?

I can still remember when Alex with Consequence of Sound reached out to me to purchase a $25 ad on his site. Nobody knew who the blog was then, but now they’re one of the top blogs. And almost every band who comes to us for music PR at Green Light Go asks to be featured there. You never know where someone will go so treat them with the kind of courtesy and respect no matter what the level.

3. Promote Spotify on Social Media Platforms

If you want to increase followers and awareness with Spotify influencers, you’re going to need to increase your marketing efforts on your social media. Make sure you have links to your Spotify profile in your about sections. Also, once or so per week ask fans to follow you. But don’t just ask them to follow you without giving them something new.

Be strategic by offering fresh content whether it’s announcing your single release, album release or creating a playlist with new songs. Also be sure to promote the playlists of influencers you want to include you in their playlist. Especially with those who don’t yet have the following yet, this can go a long way and allow you to get in on the ground floor before they make it big.

4. Promote Spotify on Website

Just like you promote your social media on your website with Facebook and Twitter links, you should also include Spotify anywhere you can. They have a great tool to create a follow button so fans can follow you straight from your site. In addition, you should include icons next to your other social media and also include a Spotify playlist so people can listen to your music. Lastly, include a widget to listen to the music you have available on Spotify.

5. Create Spotify Playlists

If you have yet to build a following or create relationships with Spotify playlisters, a good place to start is by building your own playlist including your music. To better your chances with Spotify aggregators, limit it to one song per artist (including your song), a minimum of 20 songs and give the title something catchy that is also searchable based on your theme. For instance, we have a playlist themed around indie folk, which we simply callIndie Folks. We also have an indie rock playlist we call, you guessed it, Indie Rocks.


The above steps can help you start breaking down the barrier to get your songs on Spotify playlists. Go ahead and get started by working on the achievable areas to make you more attractive to Spotify influencers.

Wednesday Video Diversion: June 7, 2017

Happiest of Wednesday Video Diversion Birthdays to the King of Cool Dean Martin and the legendary Tom Jones! Let’s do right by these two trail blazers and drop everything, take our eyes off the clock (that will. not. move.) and enjoy a random round-up of TuneCore Artist music videos!

 

UCHe, “Mob Luxuries”

OOLALA, “Get Yo Ass In That Space Camaro”

Foray Between Ocean, “Depression Never Ends”

Hadley Park, “Another Bottle of Wine”

Chris Kasper, “City By The Sea”

Keelan Donovan, “Undertow”

Se’von, “Ready Willing Able”

Julianna Zobrist, “Alive”

The Pheels, “Don’t Play Yourself”

Not All Advances Are Created Equal and Here’s Why

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Eli Ball, CEO of Lyric Financial. TuneCore and Lyric Financial partnered in April to bring artists TuneCore Direct Advance.]

 

A career in the music industry is like a ride on the steepest, curviest, most unpredictable roller coaster in the world. There are so many moving parts, some of which you can control and the majority of which you cannot. Being involved with the hits and magical moments is amazing, but most of us exchange that for a life of trying to get through the rejections, fair weather friends, politics and dry patches with little or no money. In today’s streaming economy 99.9% of artists, producers, musicians and songwriters make less than 25 grand a year from sales or performances of their recorded music. I am not talking about the one tenth of one percent that hit the lottery here. So budgeting and cash flow management are critically important to keep your head above water.

Inevitably you will need some type of financing, be it a credit card, a loan or an advance. No shame here, it’s called LIFE. The problem is, as a self-employed music professional without significant assets (and probably some credit challenges), the banks won’t do squat for you and the finance companies and royalty advance companies will flat out take you to the cleaners. If you’re lucky enough to have a good relationship with your publisher, label, PRO or distributor, it’s still a big hassle to get an advance out of them and it always comes with strings attached.

So here are some words of wisdom from someone who’s been there:

  1. Make sure you understand the deal…all of it. The devil is truly in the details. Finance companies are in business to make a high rate of return on their money (25%-50% or higher). Why? Because they are a low volume business and they are not regulated like banks. Oh, and most are EGB’s (egregious greedy bankers), not music people. Rather than tell you upfront what the total cost of your advance will be they hide the true costs with smooth talking salespeople, (wolves in sheep’s clothing), and in the complex language of their agreements. Here’s an example:

XYZ Royalty Advance Company calls you every week and says they have a great offer for you, a $25,000 advance based on your catalog’s annual earnings of $10,000. Even better, they say you can keep half of your royalties, so you will have cash flow in the meantime.  You ask what the rate is and they say only 10%. This could be the answer to your  prayers…right?   Not so fast.

Here’s where you have to get tough and ask smart questions:

  • 10% for what term? Every three months, six months, or year?
  • Is that a flat one time 10% fee or does the interest rate compound?

What is the difference?

Well, since you asked, if you are only repaying $5,000 per year on your advance it will take you seven years at 10% APR (annual percentage rate) to repay the advance. However, if it is 10% every six months then it will take you 39 years to recoup… no that’s not a typo! 39 YEARS! Are the warning sirens going off in your head yet?

Here’s the dirty secret: the finance company will always pay itself the interest and any fees you owe first, then apply what’s left over from your payment to the money it advanced you, which doesn’t leave much left to repay your advance. The longer it takes to repay the advance, the more it will cost you. Kind of like quicksand, the more you struggle, the faster you sink. At this rate, you will never recoup your advance and you will likely never get back control of your music.

Also be sure to ask:

  • Are there any other fees charged for the advance (administrative, processing or legal fees)? Normally the answer will be yes.
  • What happens if the earnings on your catalog go down (which they eventually will)? What rights are you pledging?
  1. Know who you are taking the money from. Ask your performing rights organization (PRO) (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC if you’re in the U.S., or the equivalent if you don’t) if they know XYZ company. The finance company will say they work with all the major royalty organizations, but that’s not to say that those same performing rights organizations will actually give them a good reference. Your PRO is your advocate and will look out for you.   Also, do your homework. It’s as easy as Googling the company and the management of the company. While these finance companies have a great pitch and website, most have no real ties to the music industry. They simply try to look the part. In Nashville, we call them carpetbaggers.
  2. Don’t be rushed and do NOT sign anything without having your attorney or someone you trust review the advance agreement. Whether you’re dealing with recording or promoting a new album, trying to keep your head above water or some kind of personal emergency your primary concern is getting the money you need as soon as possible. And this is exactly when you are most vulnerable, where emotion can trump reason. It is imperative that you take the time to properly review the paperwork you are signing. If there is anything you do not understand and there absolutely will be then ask your attorney or a professional friend to explain. And for God’s sake, save a copy of everything you sign.

The finance industry has a very simple business model when it comes to royalty advances…separate you from control of your royalties and music permanently. The price they charge you is dependent principally on two factors:

a.) How unsophisticated you are in financial matters, and

b.) Your desperation. It can be a scary industry if you don’t ask the right questions and find the right partners you can trust.

There are a ton of good reasons to take an advance – marketing, tour support, managing a rough spot in your cash flow. And it’s your money after all, so you should have access to it. Just be aware of the true cost and do your homework!

As my good friend Benji Rogers says: Loving your work!


Eli Ball is founder and CEO of Lyric Financial. Founded in 2007, Lyric Financial is a financial services and technology company that provides innovative financing solutions (advances, loans, and more) to the global music industry. The company’s latest innovation, a virtual ATM platform, empowers creatives to tap into their catalog earnings in less than a minute. Lyric Financial announced a partnership with TuneCore in April 2017, offering artists use of the vATM through TuneCores Direct Artist Advance offering. Based in Nashville, TN, Lyric Financial will be announcing more partnerships soon. For more information about advances, loans, and the vATM, click here.