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Interview: Braden Palmer Discusses Licensing for TV & More

Braden Palmer has been led an interesting and busy life in the music industry. Growing up in a family of musicians and falling in love with rock music at an early age, the Minnesota-native’s talents have taken him everywhere from Snoop Dogg’s studio, to scoring films in LA, and back to his home state where he runs his own label.

Having used TuneCore for both Distribution and Music Publishing Administration, Palmer has had to learn first hand how to build a network and run his own business. With the help of TuneCore and his project, Detuned Kytes, he was able to enjoy a recent sync license placement on the season finale of the hit CBS crime drama Criminal Minds. We got a chance to chat with Braden about his career, his influences, licensing and more:

When did you know you wanted to begin creating music?

As far back as I can remember.  I grew up in a musical family, so I started performing as early as nine years old and recorded my first album at the age of 12.  Creating and writing music has been the main outlet for me for most of my life.

Tell us about your initial entrance to the music industry and your involvement in hip hop.

I had been recording for several years in my bedroom as a young kid and after graduating high school I started my first ‘real’ music project called Detuned Kytes – I wrote and recorded a full album called Everything Is Gone, which was a limited product. I only had 1,000 copies printed and released and will most likely never re-release it, but in 2009 I decided to fully start my own record label, StuckHog Studios; I turned a machine barn on my family farm into an official recording studio.

Within the first year of having a ‘real’ place to record in, I wrote and produced two more full Detuned Kytes albums and began doing musical scores for film soundtracks.  By the year 2012 I had released five full-length Detuned Kytes albums and had been producing music for several hip hop artists based out of Minneapolis, MN.  Once I tapped into my ability of producing hip hop, I met Baby Eazy-E, (son of Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright, founder of N.W.A). I eventually became really good friends with him and decided it was time to move to Los Angeles to really pursue a larger step in my career. Two weeks after moving to L.A. I found myself in Snoop Dogg’s recording studio working with legendary L.A. producer DJ Battlecat.

Given the way you’ve moved within the industry, when was it that publishing became something you needed to learn about? What attracted you to TuneCore Publishing Administration? 

Music is my passion, but with most things that are taken seriously and looked at as a potential career, there are business needs that must be met.  Once I officially had the idea and products for StuckHog Studios under my belt, I needed to take the correct business steps as well. Copyrighting, trademarking, incorporating, etc. – I never understood publishing very well until I was absolutely forced to.  Like most things in the universe, if you’re open to learning about it and feel a sense of urgency, the perfect tools come unexpectedly to help move things forward.

I had finished most vital business steps and needed to figure out publishing when I received an update from TuneCore about their Music Publishing Administration offering.  Since I have always remained independent, this offer seemed like something that was necessary without having to involve several other parties and/or companies with extra fees.  TuneCore helped keep it simple and efficient, only asking for a proposed 10% for publishing deals once made as an administrator.

What advice do you have for indie artists like yourself when it comes to music publishing and getting a better understanding of it all? 

Do your research.  Read blogs, articles and visit numerous publishing company websites; really get a full understanding of what it involves and how to avoid problematic outcomes.  If you are involved in a contractual agreement, really look through it thoroughly and if you don’t understand it, legal help may be necessary. A small fee here or there will save major headache in terms of dealing with lawsuits.

If you’re truly considering making music your career and you know full-heartedly that it is possible, publishing WILL need to happen at some point.  It’s great if you can just be an artist and have managers or a label that handles most of the grunt work.  But in my case, I am completely independent so not only am I the artist, I have to be the business man, too.

How important has it been to be able to collect all the royalties owed to you?

Royalties and other TuneCore offers have helped me pinpoint exactly what is most effective when writing/releasing.  Each project I’ve worked on has a multitude of different outcomes.  For years I simply released an album and let it do its work. It spreads on its own until larger opportunities come and catapult it towards more success. As long as you believe in your art, it may only have a couple downloads a month, but always stay determined and confident that everything will pay off. Eventually it does if you continue to work hard.

Tell us about how it feels to land a sync placement on a major television series. 

It was a great feeling to receive this opportunity.  I have written several scores for film soundtracks, but never something for a major network (CBS) with such an outreach.

How has your career been impacted by having your song featured on Criminal Minds

My career has suddenly taken a more serious turn.  People who never knew I was making music, or those who knew but never took it seriously, are now suddenly looking more closely.  My fan base has grown and since the airing of the season finale, I have received a lot of publicity and a number of amazing opportunities.  It definitely gave me the extra push I was needing.  It came at the perfect time.

Between your two current projects, Detuned Kytes & LaHa, what inspires to you to write songs?

Everyday life and occurrences inspire me most. As humans we have good days, bad days, down days and surreal days, so I gather from all experiences and environments and write according to how I truly feel and how I think the listener could relate.  Some songs are personal and others are simply for experimenting with other realities. I’ve never been able to stick to just one way of writing or one style.  I’m always in search of different styles, sounds and recording methods.  Detuned Kytes represents how quickly I change from genre to genre.  One day I feel like writing industrial metal and the next I feel like writing Stevie Wonder type love songs, or sometimes just making noise until it structures itself into something cool.

I’m constantly trying to match a sound with a feeling, tapping into what the music feels like or what the music makes me feel like.  It’s part of me. As for LaHa, its a more personal, relatable project that is much more marketable and mainstream.  I think LaHa expresses the maturity and musical knowledge I have gained in the last ten years.

Tell us about the decision to move from L.A. back to your home state of Minnesota.

I decided to move to L.A. for a year and see where it took me. When the year was up, I just simply packed up and headed back home to take the knowledge I had gained and put it to use in my new outlook.  I love L.A. and all of its creative energy, but I’m really a quiet, independent person who needs grounding and peaceful surroundings in order to fully comprehend my actions and future decisions.

Although there are plenty of recording studios and opportunity in Los Angeles, I still really wanted to build a new, bigger and better StuckHog recording studio and pick up where I left off and really take the next step.  Minnesota has a really great music scene and I feel like I could really reveal that to the rest of the world.  Being a local, I felt the need to stay home and stay closest to my roots.

While they may be different for each project, what do you credit as some of your biggest musical influences?

The first album I ever got from my older brother was Nevermind by Nirvana. Being about five or six years old, I remember having a cardboard cut-out of a guitar and lip-syncing the entire album out my bedroom window, imagining a sea of people in my driveway.

One major artist that I respect in every way and broadened my outlook on music was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Further Down The Spiral was the first album I bought with my own money one day while shopping with my dad at a local record store.  I went home, popped it in and it changed my life instantly. From that moment on I bought, wore, watched, lived and breathed everything NIN.  Once I saw NIN live, there was no doubt in my mind that I absolutely needed to make music for the rest of my life, and [Trent] really taught me a lot about staying true to myself, staying creative and expressing the importance of art.

Depeche Mode was another major influence on me.  Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s chemistry is so special. Their darkness and spirituality through noise captivated me as a youth and really gave me something to relate to. Other influences include Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Ministry, Jane’s Addiction, Radiohead, The Beach Boys, The Eagles and many more.

Beyond the sync placement, how else has TuneCore been a part of your musical journey?

TuneCore has helped me in many ways.  The most important thing I had to figure out when starting StuckHog Studios was how I was going to distribute and make [my music] available digitally all over the web.  There are several companies I considered using at the time, but TuneCore seemed the most advanced and user-friendly.  Once I joined, I could then release albums through iTunes which was major, because it helped get my music to places that I couldn’t do on my own.  TuneCore is always offering new services, stores and features that keep them relevant to fans and the artists. Not only does TuneCore help me get my music out there, they’re helping me get paid for it as well, haha!

Got any big plans for the rest of 2015/early 2016?

The next year will be another busy one, but an important one for the rest of my career.  I feel like this is the year that my music is taking another step towards greater success.  I will be releasing the debut LaHa album entitled Barbaric Minds of Future Times, a new Detuned Kytes album called Broken News, shooting several music videos for both projects and really concentrating on taking the entire experience live and begin performing a lot more. I’ve been working with many hip hop artists, too.  Laying a good foundation for future producing projects.  I plan on keeping StuckHog Studios growing in the direction of what I’ve always dreamed of it being and continuing to allow the freedom of creation from project to project.

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