“We Are 100% Independent”

If you’re a regular TV-watcher, there’s a good chance you’ve heard music by The American Dollar.  The duo from Queens, John Emanuele and Richard Cupolo, continues to create “instrumental, experimental” music that seems to be a perfect fit for film and TV.  September marked the release of Ambient Three, the third album in the group’s Ambient album series—a series that features previously-released songs that have been stripped down and then revitalized with original elements.  We got a chance to speak with The American Dollar about their new release, how they’ve been able to get their music placed in film and television, and more.

After you read the interview, listen to their free music sampler!

Without using ‘conventional’ genre terms, describe your sound.
We make instrumental, experimental tracks that happen to blend very well with film.

How did you develop your sound?  
We basically started out with a keyboard and a Kaoss Pad, trying to make something original and different from anything we made together previously, resulting in “Everyone Gets Shot” on our first album. Since then we’ve reinvested our album proceeds in constantly upgrading our equipment, computers and our range of sounds.

You recently released your album Ambient Three, which followed Ambient One, and Ambient Two.  How are these albums related? Is there a common theme that ties them together?
The ambient album series mostly takes previous album tracks and strips them down to be free of crashing drums and guitar; then original elements are added to change the feel. Initially this was created to go better with films and remain unreleased, however, after a small public release of Ambient One we saw there was also desire from listeners to hear the reworked material, and since then they have gone on to become some of our most important releases.

What kind of marketing plan (if any!) did you have in place for the release of Ambient Three?
We never conventionally market our albums, we basically do our best to make sure existing fans know about it, and we price our discography accordingly (12 releases for $20 in MP3) to help get things more spread around and ‘viral’ on the net.

You’re clearly very active on your social media channels.  What are some specific things you do on these channels to really market your brand?

We try to:

1) Release a certain amount of free music.
2) Price our music fairly.
3) Be sure our music is on every possible service.
4) Create enticing deals for our fans when we can

You did a big tour in the spring overseas, playing at venues in Russia, Germany, Czech Republic and more. How did you establish a fan base oversees?
We didn’t really establish anything, luckily they came to us almost entirely through the internet.

What are your goals as an artist?
Our goal is to continue to sustain ourselves by creating the best music we possibly can as often as we can.

What are you doing to carry out those goals?
We’re working on some great Audio/Visual projects for our next release with some incredibly talented videographers. We are going to try to be innovative with the release of the material. Still working out the plan on that one as we move forward.

Why does TuneCore work for you?
TuneCore works incredibly well for us. With a fair yearly rate and transparent monitoring system, we’ve found TuneCore is the best possible system for digital distribution and an awesome benefit to a new generation of artists.

Has your music been used in film/tv?
Yes, thus far our music has been used in CSI: Miami, Infiniti Auto ads, TV trailers for the movies ‘Up In The Air’ and ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ as well as many other placements in a variety of media types.

If so, how did you go about securing these placements?
For the most part, the biggest opportunities have actually sought us out, however, we do our best to get the music out there to begin with by submitting it to specific agents we think will do a good job finding tasteful usage of our music in film.

How did you build this list of agents to contact?
We don’t really have a “list” of agents, more like a few close people we trust who have been good with our music over the years. And as noted before, we focus on our music and art, and have been lucky enough to be sought out by some good people.

Have you signed a publishing admin deal? How are you exploiting your songs/copyrights?
We have no publishing admin deal, we are 100% independent and we prefer to handle everything ourselves.

What are your thoughts on streaming? Do you distribute to streaming sites or do you feel artists aren’t fairly compensated for streams?
While compensation per stream can certainly be said to be less than ideal, the scale of listening seems to be growing and with this hopefully payouts will be increasing as well. Overall, we understand why some more established acts aren’t interested in the royalties associated with streaming, but when you are trying to piece together a living, it’s hard to say no to this source of income however small it might be.

What’s the most important tip you would give another independent artist trying to get his/her music out there?
Be sure to have your music everyplace it can be, that way if people are looking for it on any given media outlet, it can be found.

So what’s up next for The American Dollar?
Right now we’re working on large audio/visual projects and new music. We have a great series of time lapse music videos that is an ongoing project, you can check it out here.


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