#TCVideoFriday: Jan. 30, 2015

Last weekend in January! Superbowl on Sunday! Grandma’s birthday! Whatever your reason for enjoying this Friday afternoon is, kick it up notch with these fine TuneCore Artist videos…


NIKO IS – “Cherry Beamer Dreaming”


KA’RON – “Public Enemy”


Kali Uchis, “Know What I Want”


Housefires, “Good Good Father (ft. Pat Barrett)”


Happy Fangs, “Ton of Bricks”


DJ Khaled, “Hold You Down (ft. Chris Brown, August Alsina, Future, Jeremih)”


Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, “American Beauty”


Manolo Rose, “Run Ricky Run (ft. Telli)”


Fakuta, “Tormenta Solar”


Sandasha, “You’re a V.I.P.”

Getting Social Series: I Fight Dragons on Using Social Media to Connect With Fans

For the second installment of our “Getting Social” Series, we interviewed Brian Mazzaferri of Chicago’s I Fight Dragons. The band has been together for over 6-years, playing catchy pop rock tunes that incorporate chiptune music from Nintendo Game Boy/NES. After only two years, I Fight Dragons had the honor of being signed to Atlantic Records, but in 2012, they fought to get out of their deal in order to regain control of their music and revenue.

After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, they released The Near Future (distributed by TuneCore) in December of 2014. TuneCore was honored to be able to help them continue their musical journey after they departed from the label system. While I Fight Dragons has garnered attention from sync placements in TV shows (including credit for writing the theme song for ABC’s The Goldbergs) and commercials, the band has always maintained an attentive and effective social media strategy. Building large communities on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, maintaining a blog and regularly engaging with their fans through all of these channels, we felt they were perfect candidates for sharing advice on how independents can best utilize social media.

Read our interview below with lead vocalist Brian Mazzaferri, who fills us in on the band’s musical journey and how their social presence has played a role in it.

Congrats on the release of The Near Future! Where do you feel the band has grown the most over the past 6+ years?

Brian Mazzaferri: Thank you!  We’re definitely psyched that it’s finally out; we’ve been working on it for the past 2 years, and it’s a bit surreal to talk about it as something that actually exists out in the world.

Growth-wise, I feel like our main focus has been in our arrangements.  Back when we started, we sort of just threw chiptune on top of what we were already playing, but over the years we’ve learned more and more about chiptune, and also grown as instrumentalists and a band.  These days, the four of us speak a common musical language and it’s always a blast to work on arrangements.

On a practical level, it’s been really cool to see that we’ve had a pretty regular fanbase-growth level over the 6 years. We haven’t exactly had any “big breaks” where we picked up our fans, just a bunch of small and medium sized breaks that we always tried to keep pushing with.

You guys went from local to being signed to Atlantic in just 2 years. Tell us about how you initially went about grabbing the attention of listeners and press outlets.

Yeah, that was a crazy time.  I think we were obviously helped by the fact that our music fit really well with the zeitgeist of the early 2010s, with geek becoming chic and nerd becoming cool. A band that played rock music mixed with retro video game sound cards fit right in, which is not to be underestimated when it comes to labels and folks trying to guess the next big thing.

Beyond that, we also just worked our butts off non-stop – hustling, playing local shows, networking with other local bands, and trying anything and everything to connect with people who might like our music and create meaningful moments and relationships.

It was a lot of constantly trying new platforms and tools too, we had early success on sites like thesixtyone.com (which used to be a ridiculously awesome rpg-style music discovery site), jamlegend.com (which was a really cool online free guitar-hero type game), and others.  We did a lot on MySpace (which was important at the time), and a fair amount on Twitter in its infancy, as well as of course more and more on Facebook as time went on.  We did battle of the bands competitions in Chicago, and played any and every collaborative event we could find.  We used platforms like TAXI and SonicBids to get placements too.  I don’t think the exact path we followed is totally relevant today, but I do think the key philosophy of constantly trying new things and learning as you go is still applicable.

Twitter is a platform that has progressed almost parallel to I Fight Dragons’ career. How has the band utilized its relationship with fans on Twitter? What have you found to be beneficial from your early days through 2015?

It has indeed. Back in 2009 when we started to use Twitter it seemed like a brand new frontier, and it was a huge part of how we grew back then, how we found and connected with more people who might like our music and made new friends along the way.

The best advice we ever got in the early days was actually from Leah Jones, a marketing wizard in Chicago who actually did some social media consulting / coaching with bands back in the day.  She taught us to use social media as a conversation tool, and not as a promotion tool.  Especially with Twitter, it’s not about pushing your message out to the world, it’s about finding the conversations that are already happening out there and joining them in meaningful ways where you actually have something to contribute.

Mostly, just being a human and interacting in real, honest ways provides the most meaningful return.

With 52K Facebook fans, what kind of content helps fans feel connected with I Fight Dragons? 

It’s funny, we’ve never particularly had a growth spurt on Facebook, it’s always just been a slow and steady climb.  I’d say we’ve gotten somewhere in the realm of 10,000 fans per year for the past 4 years or so, and it’s not that we post any specific kind of content; although I will say we do try to do things we think our fans will find interesting, and to post them on a regular basis.  Just showing up regularly and trying to add something seems to work for us.

I will say that social media, and Facebook specifically, seems to work best for us when it’s bridging the gap between what’s happening in the real world and the digital.  When we post to Facebook just for the sake of posting to Facebook, it’s usually a lot less effective than when we’re out doing something in the world and we then connect that through the digital world as well.

Also, it’s a given these days, but responding to every message or post on your own wall has always been an important thing to us.  If a fan takes the time to reach out to us, we take the time to reach back, even if it’s just to say thanks.

the near future

Some artists choose to hone in one particular social platform. Explain why I Fight Dragons chooses to make themselves available across the board and how you keep it organized.

I think people should do as many platforms as they feel like they can handle effectively, and no more than that.  For some people, they’re just Twitter people, it’s their natural ecosystem, and that’s all they need.  Others are 100% YouTube, or 100% Tumblr, or even Instagram.  We’ve always used a fairly diverse mix, but in actuality the only ones we really use on a daily basis are Facebook and Twitter (and our own blog).

Not unlike artists, it’s common to see fans who are loyal to just one social channel. Do you notice differences in the way your fans choose to interact on Facebook vs. Twitter?

Absolutely.  Twitter is like a big cocktail party, with tons of different conversations going on around different topics, hashtags, groups, etc.  It’s very casual, and very easy to join in a conversation.  Facebook is much more connected to a real person, and people tend to resent intrusion much more.  I think that’s a good reason to make yourself available on multiple platforms, even if it’s just to have a place for people that are on that platform to reach out and tag/message you.

Having landed some great sync placements in TV shows, commercials and even a WWE Pay-Per-View, do you find fans heading to I Fight Dragons’ social channels in the early stages of discovery?

I’d say that social is very typically a part of how new fans find out about IFD, pretty close behind hearing about us from a friend, which is the main way that I think almost everyone hears about new music these days.  In some ways your Google search has become your new homepage, because people will just Google your band name and see what pops up, and often that leads them to our Facebook or Twitter feed.

You guys aren’t afraid to get in front of the camera and chat with your fans. How do you think YouTube can benefit independent artists beyond just music videos?

I think that being willing to just go on camera is essential these days.  We actually don’t use YouTube as well as we could, folks like Kina Grannis, Hoodie Allen, Watsky, and more have built insane touring bases through true dedication to YouTube. It’s such a personal channel that offers a deep connection far more powerful than others since people can actually see you and feel like they’re hanging out with you.

A lot of times if you look at those artists profiles, they have a TON of video content that is much more causal, not necessarily a produced music video. Maybe it’s a casual cover song video, or even just a video blog, and I feel like that type of stuff really helps deepen the connection between artist and fan; but obviously it takes much more effort to make a video (even a casual one) than it does to post a tweet, so it takes a lot more time and energy commitment, especially if you want to make sure all of your videos are good (which should of course be the goal).

TuneCore was psyched to distribute The Near Future. Tell us a bit about your departure from the label system and what kind of role social media played in the release and marketing of the new album.

We were psyched to be using TuneCore!  We did our time in the label system and learned a ton, but ultimately it wasn’t working out for us.  The way that system is structured, it’s sort of all-or-nothing, because you give away all of the income from your album sales in exchange for the label fronting the money to record the album in the first place.  This is extreme, a lot of folks don’t realize that artists actually have to buy their own CDs from the label in order to sell them at shows, and even at wholesale pricing they’re generally paying $7 or $8 for each copy of their own album.

Especially with Kickstarter entering the fray a few years back. It’s more possible than ever for a band to find other ways to raise the recording costs, and then start having a steady stream of income from album sales as you continue to play out, make more music, and grow.  It’s so much more organic, and you don’t have to start from scratch every time.  Plus pressing up your own CDs for $1 apiece makes it much more feasible to actually make money at live shows.

The truth is, we never really got any marketing spend from the label anyway, nor any radio promotion, so we were essentially doing all of our own promotion via social media even when we were on a label.  Labels are understaffed these days, and the big acts tend to get all of the staff’s time.

Long story short, we’ve always sort of been a “we’ll do it ourselves” kind of band, and social media is the natural promotional vehicle for that mindset.

I Fight Dragons is a great example of an indie band doing social right. What advice can you offer likeminded artists who are hoping to utilize social in advancing their careers?

First of all, thank you!  I can honestly say that I’m constantly wrestling with how to use social better, how to get more out of it, and how to work it more seamlessly into my life.  It’s constantly evolving, and I don’t think it’s something you can ever solve 100%.

I know it can be a tough balance when you have to choose between time spent working on music and time spent working on social, but I think they’re both important.  I think the difference between doing music purely as a hobby and approaching it as a career is largely in how much time you’re willing to devote to the career aspects of hustling, networking, marketing, and promoting yourself.  Finding that balance is never easy, since if you go too far into the career side it’s easy to get burned out and forget why you’re doing all that work in the first place.

That said, I think that the worlds of art and marketing are bleeding together more and more, and there’s a sense in which a band or an artist’s career is becoming a sort of narrative art form in and of itself.

On a purely practical level, I find habit and regularity to be my absolute best weapon in the battle to stay on top of all your social channels.  Establishing daily habits and brute forcing them feels really hard and annoying at first, but soon enough it just becomes part of your routine, and your mental energy is free to work on more creative endeavors.

The Latest From TuneCore Publishing

One month of 2015 is almost in the books! We’re pleased to bring you the latest news from our Publishing Administration office in Burbank, CA.  Take a look at who has joined our songwriter community and which compositions have recently been licensed in film, commercials and TV shows.

Songwriter Highlights

First discovered by Sean Combs in season three of MTV’s Making the Band, TuneCore Distribution and Publishing Administration client Dawn Richard is a former member of the girl group Danity Dawn RichardKane and “Diddy” fronted super group Diddy – Dirty Money. Richard brings her multiple platinum hits and chart topping success to her sophomore solo release Blackheart, the second installment in a planned trilogy. The New Orleans native states of her project, “I wanted each album to stand on its own, and have a cohesive story. The story in itself is about my journey throughout the music industry, and the love, the hate, the redemption and the whole thing in between.” Dawn Richard

TuneCore Music Publishing is proud to administer select compositions from the highly regarded songwriter Gregory Page. Page is an English born Irish/Armenian musician who creates oddly compelling songs that are full of cinematic mGregory Pageelodies. Perhaps best-written by the composer himself, “The tightrope my music teeters upon is the struggle between tradition & progress, history & fantasy. I am the songbird & the worm.” Fellow troubadour and Page’s producer on his latest release One Way Journey Home, Jason Mraz calmly states, “He’s the real deal, a rare gift.”

Adam Barnes is an Oxford, UK born songwriter and performer, currently residing in the countryside that surrounds the city. He is a folk artist; a haunting songwriter and an honest performer. After touring as direct support for William Fitzsimmons and Slow Club, Adam BarnesBarnes took a brief respite from theroad to hit the studio. TuneCore Distribution and Music Publishing Administration is proud to partner with Barnes on his most recent EP, The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath.

SYNC & CREATIVE

In addition to our Sync & Master Licensing Database, our creative staff continuously works to place TuneCore administered copyrights across all multi-media. Recent pitches include music for MTV’s Finding Carter Season 2, HBO’s Silicon Valley, Universal Pictures’ Sisters and a seasonal broadcast campaign for a global coffee chain.

RECENT LICENSES & PLACEMENTS

Fantasy Factory Sync Placement
Fantasy Factory-Sync Placement
Fantasy Factory
“Static”
Writers: Matthew Duda and Patrick Duda
Artist: Packy

Zales Jewelry Sync Placement
Zales-Sync Placement
Zales Jewelry 
“When The Moment Comes”
Writer: Erin Sidney
Artist: Mia Dyson

Vampire Diaries-Sync Placement
Vampire Diaries-Sync Placement
Vampire Diaries 
“Harlem”
Writers: Johnny Hwin and Brodie Jenkins
Artist: Cathedrals

IN THE NEWS

We stay current on industry news to make sure we’re the first to know how new legislation and deals will affect our writers. Here are links to recent articles you need to know about:

ascap_2Santa Claus” Tops ASCAP List


10 Reasons to Choose TuneCore Music Publishing Administration

TuneCore Live Artist Breakdown: Olivver The Kid, Nightmare Boy & Hudson

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally featured on CraveOnline, a mens lifestyle & culture  website based in Los Angeles. TuneCore is psyched to have a trendsetter like CraveOnline as an official sponsor of our TuneCore Live series, as well as Swisher Sweets and Mirrored Media, and it kicks off tonight, 1/28 at Bardot in Hollywood! We’re hoping to see some LA-based TuneCore Artists at Bardot representing!]

Crave is excited for Wednesday’s live launch event of the TuneCore Live series, hosted by online music distribution service TuneCore. The service, which offers musicians and artists the invaluable opportunity to market their music into online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon and Spotify while keeping all their rights and royalties, is sponsored by CraveOnline in an ongoing partnership. A crucial component to the success of any artist, TuneCore helps rights holders maintain control over their work while eliminating the costly middlemen factor.

The TuneCore Live launch event — taking place at Bardot in Hollywood on Vine — will feature live performances by The Neighbourhood alum Olivver The Kid, as well as SoCal rockers Hudson and Nightmare Boy, whose credits you might recognize from Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence album. Additionally, the event will feature DJ sets by Tron Stamos and Konstantsurprises.

Dig into more info on the artists on the bill below, and sample some of the music fans can look forward to at the TuneCore Live launch event!

Olivver The Kid 

Bryan Sammis has been highly active since his departure from The Neighbourhood in 2013, as he has established himself as first “Olivver” and now “Olivver the Kid”. With a new sonic horizon before him, Bryan’s focus is more on synths and brood-pop rather than rock, and he’s all the better for it.

Stream Olivver the Kid’s long-awaited debut EP Freak on Spotify and pick it up on iTunes if you’re so inclined. In the meantime, check out the dream-funk danceability of “Attica ’71” below:

Hudson

Los Angeles avant-garde rock quartet Hudson are dedicated and passionate about making their mark in the world, with a relentless work ethic and a promising evolution of sound underway. With shows selling out at an accelerating pace, rock fans would be wise to keep an ear on these cats. Their In The Unknown EP is available now on iTunes, and below you can listen to the whiskey-soaked slow-burn groove of “Weightless”:

Nightmare Boy

Aching beauty, poignant power and golden vocals define the delicate greatness that is Nightmare Boy. Listen below, and follow his Twitter and Facebook accounts closely for a new video, coming soon.

Follow Tron Stamos on Twitter and Instagram, and find more on Konstantsurprises on Twitter andofficial site.

TuneCore is sweetening their event promo by offering one winner a FREE One-Year Album or Single TuneCore Music Distribution subscription. Get your songs heard and sell your music worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more through TuneCore’s service, and keep 100% of your sales revenue.

New Music Tuesday: Jan. 27, 2015

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?

drewhocl copy
Medicine
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
Singer/Songwriter, Folk

wellpen copy
Endlings
The Well Pennies

Singer/Songwriter, Folk

ryanhum copy
Catch 22 (Empire Remix)
Ryan Humphrey

Dance, Electronic

thedo copy
Shake, Shook, Shaken
The Dø

Alternative, Pop

havend copy
Haven Drive
Haven Drive

Country, Pop

djord copy
Djordje
Djordje

Alternative, Pop

karlaD copy
I Can’t Sleep Tonight
Karla Davis

Country

highML copy
Bones
High and Mighty Low

Rock, Alternative

nehemiah copy
Journey EP
Nehemiah

Hip Hop/Rap, Christian/Gospel

livewire copy
Quit You
LiveWire

Country

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Examine
Brian Nhira

Christian/Gospel, Pop

ruelle copy
Up In Flames
Ruelle

Alternative, Singer/Songwriter

talkie copy
Talkie EP
Talkie
Rock, Alternative

TuneCore Artists Earn over $134 Million in 2014 from 7.5 Billion in Downloads and Streams

TuneCore Growth Fueled by Creative Expansion, New Artist Services and Innovation

New York, NY – January 27, 2015 – 2014 was a landmark year for TuneCore. Building upon its outstanding growth, the company today announced over $134 million dollars in 2014 artist earnings, up 11% from 2013 and totaling $504 million since 2006. Additionally, artist downloads and streams were up 120% year over year, with more than 7.5 billion in 2014, and more than 12.4 billion since 2006.

 Key Growth & Expansion

With more than 150 store partners available across the world, TuneCore added new ways for artists to share their music in key emerging markets including with Claromusica in South America & Latin America, KKBox in Asia and Spinlet in Africa. TuneCore provides artists with partners covering over 200 countries and territories.

TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration also continues to grow and now actively manages over 275,000 compositions, collecting songwriters’ royalties in over 60 countries, and negotiating Film and TV music licensing agreements.

In 2014, TuneCore broadened opportunities for and connections with the artist community. Music industry veteran Joe Cuello joined the TuneCore executive team to spearhead the music publishing administration business as well as new brand partnerships and special events that will provide growth opportunities for musicians and songwriters. TuneCore also opened a Nashville office in support of that vibrant songwriter and performer community. The Nashville efforts are being led by music industry veteran Shelby Kennedy, Vice President of Entertainment Relations. 

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Artist Highlights

The heart of TuneCore is the independent artist, and 2014 marked another remarkable year for the TuneCore Artist community. The artists continue to be heard across the world in all creative mediums – from the big screen, with music featured on the Academy Award Nominated Birdman soundtrack, to the small screen, as the original score of one of the most talked-about podcasts, Serial.  Additionally, twenty-three TuneCore Artists were selected for teams on the hit show, The Voice with 2 winners in seasons 6 & 7.

In 2014 TuneCore Artists graced the stages of local venues and nationally acclaimed festivals with a high percentage of the performers having distributed their music with TuneCore:

  • 30% of artists performing at SXSW
  • 40% of artists performing at CMJ
  • And 50% of artists performing at the A3C Hip-Hop Festival

Expanding Artist Services

Recognizing that independent artists are looking for new ways to hone their craft, create music and share it with more people around the world, in 2014 TuneCore launched Artist Services, a suite of tools and services that enable artists to promote their work and connect with fans while remaining independent. TuneCore has built-out this suite of tools to include new products such as YouTube Sound Recording Collection Service, enabling artists to collect additional YouTube revenues, TuneCore Track Smarts, providing artists with fan reviews and actionable song element analysis, and TuneCore MerchLink, giving artists access to attractive, affordable fan merchandise.

In 2014, TuneCore also undertook a significant initiative to better understand musicians’ thoughts and expectations for the future of the music industry. An online survey of TuneCore Artists revealed that independent artists are optimistic about their future and encouraged by innovations in the industry, including the growth of distribution platforms like iTunes, Spotify and YouTube and the availability of social networks like Facebook and Twitter to facilitate deeper connections with fans around the world. The TuneCore Survey also confirmed that artists strongly believe that streaming makes it easier for new fans to find their music and anticipate streaming will be a driver of the business’ future.

Innovation

Echoing the sentiments expressed in the 2014 TuneCore Artist Survey, TuneCore continues to look for innovative partnerships and new services to add value for musicians. Realizing the importance of connecting artists with fans, TuneCore acquired DropKloud. The DropKloud app, launching in Spring 2015, offers digital enhancement to street team promotion, allowing artists to drop digital content – exclusive access to a song, an invite to a pop-up showcase or behind the scenes photos – into ‘Klouds’ available to fans in specific physical locations. DropKloud co-founders joined TuneCore’s team and will head a new TuneCore Innovation Lab in Boston, which will support TuneCore’s commitment to product development and expanded services for artists.

Looking to 2015

In 2015, TuneCore has exciting plans to build on the successes of this past year, leveraging the new Innovation Lab to provide artists with added services to help amplify their craft, and expanding artist revenue opportunities through strategic partnerships and special artist-centric events. The year has kicked off with a strong start with the announcement of TuneCore’s newest Artist Service, the LANDR Instant Mastering tool which provides all artists with quick, affordable access to mastering. TuneCore will continue to strengthen its core offerings, always with an eye towards new store partners to increase artists’ opportunities to have their music heard by audiences across the globe.

An infographic with year-to-date milestones can be found here.