Getting Social Series: “Snapchat Can Help Your Band (If You Know What You’re Doing)”

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally featured on the Haulix Blog. It was written by James Shotwell, Social Media Coordinator for Haulix, an online music promotion software. This installment of our “Getting Social” series taps into the world of Snapchat – and why it might be able to help independent artists promote themselves & engage with fans!]

Earlier this month, a new report was released that brought out attention to an alarming trend: Smartphone using teens and young adults (18-34) are spending more time on Snapchat than Twitter. Facebook and Instagram are still the titans of social media, but Snapchat is quickly gaining on the latter and shows no signs of slowing in the near future. You may have been told Snapchat was a place for the taking and sending of nudes, but there is so much more to it than that, and if you’re willing to put in the effort there is a good chance the latest tech trend could help your following grow in ways you never imagined.

I am not going to sit here and proclaim that I am a master of Snapchat. In fact, prior to realizing the potential such a service could provide artists I never even made a real effort to understand everything the platform had to offer. Now that I do it’s clear there is plenty of room for brands and bands alike to not only engage, but also further develop their audience with a surprisingly small amount of effort. It’s work nonetheless, but if your audience is already on board with the app then half of the work is done for you.

BEFORE WE BEGIN: It is absolutely critical that you ask yourself, and even your fans if you desire, whether or not your audience uses Snapchat on a regular basis. If your music caters to adults, especially the over 35 crowd, there may be little to no benefit from adding another social network to your marketing efforts. On the flip side, if your audience spends their summer dreading the fall because it means school will begin again then you have every reason to add this little ghost icon to your phone/tablet:

Make an Exclusive Announcement

The people who will follow you on Snapchat are going to be diehard fans, bloggers looking for exclusives, and friends you’ve made along the way. With the possible exception of the digital press, these are the people who are willing and waiting to help you promote, so why not give them an opportunity to do just that? Through mass messaging, you can share an exclusive announcement with followers on Snapchat before your news to the rest of the world. You can even build awareness for your efforts on Snapchat by first teasing the announcement across all other channels, pointing people who want to be ‘in the know’ to connect on Snapchat.

Give Fans Behind The Scenes Access Using ‘Stories’

Snapchat makes it incredibly simple to share photos and short videos with followers, but late last year they took their efforts a step further by debuting new feature called Stories. Snapchat Stories add Snaps together to create a narrative. When you add a Snap to your Story it lives for 24 hours before it disappears, making room for the new. Your Story always plays forward, because it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them.

An example of a good application of Snapchat Stories would be any situation where you and/or your band play a festival. Throughout the day you can capture exclusive moments for followers on Snapchat, then when things wind down you can string them together and create a story for followers to enjoy in one sitting. This allows everyone to enjoy your efforts at their own chosen pace, and if there is one thing every consumer loves it is the ability to make their own decisions.

Share Snippets Of New/Unreleased Content

Snapchat made its name with photos, but the short video clips users are allowed to share can make a world of difference in your next single/video/album promotion. By sharing short clips with fans you are able to tease your latest release without ruining, or even downplaying the importance of the official premiere in any way.

Additionally, you can use the previewing of new material to engage with fans. Ask them to send back their reaction to your latest clip as a photo or video response and see what happens! It may even make for a good contest, which brings up the next point I wanted to make…

Run Contests, Including Scavenger Hunts

Having the ability to share media instantaneously with thousands of fans at once offers a unique opportunity for contests that other platforms cannot provide. This can be as simple as a request for the best reaction photo/video to a certain preview, or as complex as a city-wide scavenger hunt. Each idea comes with its own set of pros and cons, but we don’t really have time or space to run through all of that in this post. The best advice we can offer is to listen to your audience and figure out what method of giveaway is most effective. Whatever works for you is exactly what you should do. That may sound simple enough, but it bares repeating.

Everyone Loves A Good Sale

Remember how we discussed why sharing exclusives with Snapchat followers is a good idea? As a way to boost your follower count, as well as give back to those who promote your efforts, it’s a good idea to consider hosting a spontaneous merch sale promoted exclusively through the media-sharing platform. This provides further justification for people to seek you out on Snapchat, and also allows for a nice bit of personal engagement with those who have been following since day one.

ABOVE ALL ELSE:

Snapchat is a social network just like any other, and it has the power to do great things for your career as long as you know what you’re doing. Be personal, welcome fans into your world and make it known you appreciate them for welcoming you into theirs. Success is music is built atop a two-way street where fans support the artists they love and artists give back with creativity and anything else they can muster. Snapchat provides a number of unique engagement opportunities, and with proper preparation can provide a bounty of benefits, including a more dedicated (and sizable) following.

New Music Tuesday: April 7, 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?

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Lady Luck (ft. Crucifix)
Moonshine Bandits
Country, Hip Hop/Rap

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Sunshine on My Back
The National

Rock

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Somewhere Down the Road
The Boxmasters

Alternative, Rock

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Stay Gold
of Verona

Alternative, Pop

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Talk About the Weather (feat. Stephanie Lynn)
Rich O’Toole

Country, Singer/Songwriter

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You’ll Get Through This
Mark Smeby

Christian/Gospel, Vocal

stump copy
Stay At Home Soldier
Adley Stump

Country, Pop

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These Fires
Red Wood Rising

Folk, Rock

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4wz
Shy Girls
R&B/Soul

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It’s a Love Thing
Twin Kennedy 

Country

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The County Hound 3
Ca$his

Hip Hop/Rap

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Crossing County Lines

Drew Baldridge

Country

Interview: Charlie Peacock Talks Music Career & The Overdub Hub

Charlie Peacock has had a busy career in music. As an artist, songwriter and producer, he began in the 1980s aligned with A&M, Island and Sparrow/EMI. Charlie was named by Billboard’s Encyclopedia of Record Producers as on the 500 most important producers in music history, and for a good reason: he’s played a role in the careers of hit-making artists such as Amy Grant, Switchfoot, and The Civil Wars. In fact, Charlie earned Grammys for Best Folk Album and Country Duo Performance (twice) thanks to his work with the Civil Wars!

Charlie has continued to push the barriers of his own song and music writing – his most recent recordings have jumped between the jazz/improvisational and folk/Americana genres, displaying Peacock’s diverse range of musical talent. On top of all of this, Charlie is also an A&R consultant for Downtown Music Publishing, the Director of Contemporary Music and Industry Outreach at Lipscomb University, and the Founder/President of The Overdub Hub – a new, innovative service that provides access to reputable producers, engineers and session musicians to artists of all genres looking to complete their projects.

We got the chance to interview Charlie Peacock about his musical career, partnering with TuneCore and his latest venture, The Overdub Hub:

Music runs in your family. When did you first know you wanted to pursue a life in music?

My father was a musician and a huge inspiration to me, so it’s difficult to locate a time when I wasn’t pursuing a life in music. I suppose freshman year of high school was the year of ‘never turning back’. I recorded my first songs and while on vacation in southern California that summer, my dad took me to David Geffen’s office on Sunset Blvd. so I could drop my songs off in person. I received my cassettes back with a wonderfully positive rejection letter a month or so later.

How has your experience playing in instrumental ensembles impacted your style of production?

It embedded within me musical values that I still pursue today – passionate playing, dynamics, careful listening, only playing just a little bit louder than the person to your left or right, timing and tuning – fundamental things like that. When looked after in a natural non-dogmatic way, your productions are hopefully, dare I say, more musical.

What inspires you to write these days?

Everything! It could be a story from half-way around the world, a new Pro Tools plug-in, a writing assignment from my publisher, or something very personal to me that needs to become a song. I keep my satellite scanning the earth and skies for inspiration. It never lets me down.

Tell us about going from being in the crowd during The Civil Wars’ first concert to producing two of their smash albums!

Anyone who was there that first night won’t forget the feeling of witnessing a little pop music history. Seamless, winsome, essential, breathtaking are a few words that come to mind. And then we literally went right into the studio creating the first EP. It was an amazing five year ride. Hate that it ended so abruptly as it did, but groups, even duos, can be a very temporary thing. I’m grateful I got to produce the majority of the catalog, no matter how short-lived it was.

Having a career that spans several decades in a drastically changing music industry, what are some major challenges you see for indie artists these days? Conversely, what kind of advantages for artists do you think lie in today’s market?

Well, we know there has never been a more empowering time for indies than today. The tools for self-promotion and distribution are phenomenal – TuneCore being a major piece of this infrastructure – so that’s the advantage. As you know, The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow was independent with digital distribution via TuneCore and it was a Gold album. This was and still is, exceptional. So big success is available to the indie artist.
But, you can’t chase exceptions. In the normal course of events for indies it’s one very small victory at a time, hopefully by year’s end, adding up to making a living at what you love. But, it’s very, very hard work. I think it’s becoming apparent that there’s a ceiling on what the average indie can achieve – simply because you’re usually just one small person against the world. Not everyone is Amanda Palmer or The Civil Wars. All that said, it’s exhilarating to control your own destiny and actually succeed at it. Ups and downs aside, I would never discourage anyone from that experience.

What advice do you have for independent artists who are looking to further their career but cannot afford to hire a producer?

One of the remedies that I’ve looked at is to give independent artists access to great engineers and musicians. This can go a long ways in improving the music when a major producer is not an option – most major engineers and studio musicians are able to use their huge diversity of experience to make great contributions to songs, with or without a formal producer. It’s one of the reasons why I started something called The Overdub Hub.

Tell us more about The Overdub Hub and how it can help indie artists of varying genres.

The Overdub Hub is an exclusive aggregator website that I curate. It’s a very simple way for artists, songwriters, and producers to get direct and easy access to the same musicians and engineers I use every day on my own productions (The Civil Wars, Chris Cornell, The Lone Bellow, Joy Williams). It’s a pretty exclusive, limited stable of players who share me in common. It’s Nashville-centric and represents some of the very best of the ‘New Nashville Sound’ – whether it’s country, rock, pop, singer-songwriter, folk-Americana or beyond.

I think The Overdub Hub’s number one source of help for indie creatives is to put them with the very best when they are ready for it – and to do it an affordable way. Another upside to a curated access site like this, is that I make my production notes, signal chains, and stories on the players available to the Premium Members – this is like getting several hours of direct consultation with me – basically telling you: ‘Here’s how we do it.’

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What inspired you to address the issue of booking session musicians and create the Overdub Hub?

It’s all about access. I want people to have access to great talent and to grow as artistic people. I get asked to produce so many artists that I simply don’t have the time to – it’s not lack of interest, it’s time. But as a session player, I might have time to create a Wurli piano part for them or recommend a great guitar player – the same player I just used on a hit record, or a critically acclaimed indie release. So, it seemed to me that putting great engineers, background vocalists, and session players in front of the indie community was a solid way of contributing without having to be in a hundred places at once – which I understand is still impossible.

At what career levels do you anticipate artists will find a solution in The Overdub Hub?

The primary level is the talented, forward-thinking indie songwriter, artist and producer. I think they will get the most out of the experience. It requires that they have a little funding for their music, but not as much as some might think. Most, if not all of, The Overdub Hub players have agreed to work at a scale of $100-200 an hour. And there’s not one of them that can’t get a whole lot of music done in an hour. But it’s democratic and egalitarian – come one, come all.

Given your career and various roles in other artists’ careers, how do you view TuneCore in the grand scheme of an ever-evolving music industry?

I hope it’s not too much of a suck-up to say essential! I use TuneCore exclusively for my own music and all my artist development projects. My Top 5 Billboard Jazz recording Lemonade went through TuneCore as did Lenachka, and the recent Kris Allen record I produced. The more TuneCore can effectively be a comprehensive one-stop shop for distribution and administration, the more it becomes invaluable. Personally, I see it making all the right moves for this time in music business history.

Tell us about some other projects you’ve been involved with, recent past and right now. Any cool TuneCore Artists?

In addition to The Overdub Hub, three very major and important projects for me are: my alignment with Downtown Music Publishing as a writer/publisher and Sr. A&R consultant, my appointment as Director of Contemporary Music & Industry Outreach at Lipscomb University here in Nashville, and my role as curator/co-director for this summer’s Ottaquechee Farm Songwriters Festival in Bridgewater, Vermont. Production-wise, the new Joy Williams record for Columbia will come out this year, as will Angelica Garcia for Warner Brothers. My production and co-write with Joy and Matt Berninger of The National was renewed this year as the title theme for the AMC drama, TURN: Washington’s Spies. Also watch for ChessBoxer, Peyton Parker, Shawn Conerton, Gracie Schram, and the Tiny Fire Collective. Every year I launch several artists via TuneCore. 2015 and beyond won’t be any different!

TCVideoFriday: April 3, 2015

Coming out of March like a lamb, enjoy these excellent TuneCore Artist videos. If you’re still feeling more like a lion, that’s cool too.


EMP, “Hey Listen (ft. Streetz-n-Young Dueces, Eazy Hayes & Maal Himself)”


Ben Hazlewood, “Paint Me Black (ft. Mali Koa Hood)”


LaTasha Lee & the BlackTies, “Can’t Walk Away”


Ashlynne Vince, “Right Where I Need to Be”


Aron Wright, “Build It Better”


Redfoo, “Juicy Wiggle”


S1mple, “On The Way”


Oxnylia, “Airean”


Jordan Sweeto, “Fright Tonight”


Chloe Caroline, “Outta My Head”

TuneCore Artist Silento’s “Watch Me” Goes Viral

If you’re a regular reader you know that the TuneCore Blog is here to offer news, advice and tips for independent artists looking to advance their musical careers. If “going viral” were something we could simply and practically suggest to every artist, we would! But anyone using platforms like YouTube and Vine, whether to promote themselves or entertain themselves, knows that the ‘viral phenomenon’ is just that – a phenomenon.

A couple of months back, little-known Atlanta hip hop artist Silento released his track, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)“, produced and co-written by Bolo Da Producer and distributed to online stores via TuneCore. By early March, “Watch Me” had broke into Billboard’s March Hot 100, climbing to #69. Not a bad jump for an unsigned, 17-year old with no prior recordings released, right?

The reason “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” has seen such success isn’t just thanks to its contagious beat and catchy hook – it’s the dance that the chorus instructs listeners to break into that really helped this song explode. Or should we say, two dances:

“The Whip and the Nae Nae were two different dances. I just got tired of seeing people do them so I started doing my own rendition where I was doing them both!” Silento says.

Now watch me Whip / Now watchme Nae Nae“, the song goes. Well, thousands of listeners decided to follow those instructions and take to Vine and YouTube to show off their dance skills to the soundtrack of “Watch Me”, resulting in nearly 21 million views and a total of 35 million minutes watched. Silento and his producer, Bolo Da Producer, are working with TuneCore to collect all their eligible revenue from multiple channels. That means getting 100% of iTunes download revenue and money from the sound recordings on YouTube when ads have been placed on videos using their music. Adding to the revenue stream are the worldwide songwriter royalties TuneCore Music Publishing Administration will find and collect for them from 60 countries.

Everyone from toddlers and parents to costumed individuals and street dance crews has contributed a rendition of the dance-craze, and it’s tough not to crack a smile while watching them!

Much like dance sensations such as the ‘Harlem Shake‘ and the ‘Dougie‘, “Watch Me” began as a regional phenomenon. Silento achieved some local support with his song before he even recorded it. He tells us, “I had been singing it and dancing to it in school already. People were always asking me to do it, they already knew it.” So when the song began to go viral, it was no surprise to the young artist: “When people are asking you do something repeatedly, it’s like, you just know. People liked it, so I kept doing my dances!”

In 2015, this kind of attention can make you an instant star – especially among a younger, plugged-in demographic. When asked how the success of “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” has affected him as a high school kid, he modestly answered, “It hasn’t, really. I’m still the same – I’m still me, you know? I guess now some people, they look at me like, “You’re famous.” But you know, it hasn’t really changed me at all.”

Of all the thousands of Vines and YouTube videos using his song, Silento says that some of his favorites were those that incorporated children and their parents dancing. One awesome element of viral hits like “Watch Me” is that they sometimes get picked up and used in videos by celebrities and athletes. When we asked him who he’d love to see whipping it/doing the Nae Nae, Silento gave us an answer many artists would support: “Obama!”

When discussing the future, he sounds optimistic and confident, and why shouldn’t he? In terms of riding this momentum and where he sees himself in 5 years, Silento says, “I already am, you know? I got remixes, a dance album [to come] – I’m already doing it. I see myself on a stage…and definitely bigger [as an artist] than I am right now!”

TuneCore is excited to be apart of Silento’s and Bolo Da Producer’s musical journey – collecting their download/streaming sales, worldwide songwriter royalties, and YouTube Sound Recording revenue as they ride the wave of this fun, viral dance craze. We’re getting the feeling that 2015 will be the year of “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)“!

Why Master Your Music? Everything I Wish I’d Known

[Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Rory Seydel, Community & Content Manager at LANDR. It was originally featured on the LANDR Blog.]

When I first started producing, I struggled with mastering; the often misunderstood—kinda complicated—sometimes confusing artform…

I spent months mixing my first album – I thought it would change my life. So when I finished, I sent my tracks to a renowned mastering engineer.

It cost $1,000. He gave me the indie rate.

I was beyond excited. But after the first listen, I felt a little defeated. It wasn’t as different as I expected, and some parts were squished where I expected them to boom.

Remastering wasn’t really an option.

It cost a lot of money for something I didn’t really understand, and wasn’t sure it worked.

Create and Master

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS MASTERING?

In the days before digital, mastering was largely about duplication (remember vinyl and tape?). But as technology progressed, and digital recording became the standard, mastering has evolved into fine-tuning how your music sounds.

Still, it’s an often misunderstood—kinda complicated—sometimes confusing artform…

Mastering is all about making your tracks sound as good to everyone else, as they do to you – smoothing out the wrinkles of your final mix without losing the character that makes your music yours.

Using a combination of tools like tasteful compression, EQ, limiting, stereo enhancement plus other tricks like aural excitation – mastering is the glue, varnish and polish that makes your music presentable to the world.

IS MASTERING STILL IMPORTANT?

Yes, definitely! Done right, mastering should solve 3 problems you face with your music:

1. You’re not hearing your music the same way your audience does. Poor acoustics in your room, the quality of your reference monitors and your mixing skills can all have a huge impact on your final sound. Mastering should fix this.

2. Music sounds different in all playback situations (home, the car radio, the club, on a streaming platform, when your mom buys your single online). Good mastering helps you sound your best everywhere and in all situations.

3. It’s easy to lose perspective on your music. This makes it hard to tell if your music actually sounds good. The point of mastering is to take a step back, look at the whole picture and fix any major problems you might have missed.

If the goal is to a connect with an audience, mastering helps build that connection.

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

We created LANDR because we believe that mastering is often expensive and frequently misunderstood. We wanted to give our tracks – and yours – a shot at standing up against the big fish without limiting your creative input, or making you broke in the process.

LANDR is a studio-quality alternative to expensive mastering engineers. It’s a second set of ears you can rely as a benchmark for quality.

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Take Brooklyn artist Govales for example: He makes amazing music in his bedroom. He trusts his ears and room for mixing. But he uses mastering to make sure his ideas get heard while adding a final polish:

“With ‘Freakazoid’ and LANDR, one of the key things I’ve been looking for is to bring out the low end and make the track knock that much more. You can definitely hear the Rhodes piano better, the whole track sparkles more.”

Have a listen to Freakazoid, mastered and unmastered and hear more on Soundcloud.


MASTER WHILE YOU MIX

One of the coolest – and least expected – things that’s happened since launching LANDR is the mid-mix master. Just pop your track into LANDR and see if it resonates. You can then make adjustments to your mix before committing to a final master.

It’s great for getting perspective on your work:

“I had never tried to master my stuff… I’d hand it off to someone else.. but the process for these last two projects is about really trusting my own mixes and putting them through LANDR. It helps me adjust my mixes and know what will pop.” – Govales

Why Master Music

ACTUALLY FINISH YOUR TRACKS

Finishing music is the hardest thing to do, I get it. But it’s also the most satisfying part of making music. In essence mastering IS finishing.

“LANDR can actually help you FINISH your music… that critical, final, elusive, mysterious step has been demystified. And the results speak for themselves.” –Tiga

So give mastering a try, and let us know what you think.


Rory Seydel is a lifer in the music game; When not busy recording, he’s writing or chatting with producers as LANDR’s Content and Community Manager. Ask him about making music, touring the world, and releasing albums. He will not shut up. Read more.