Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Interview: Emily Fullerton on Balancing College & a Career in Music

TuneCore Artists come in all shapes and sizes: from hobbyists to full-time touring musicians, singer/songwriters and MCs to indie rockers and classical pianists. No matter how they differ, each is leading their own unique musical journey with ups and downs, struggles and opportunities. We do our best to offer a platform for different TuneCore Artists to share their stories, as we know without a doubt others in the community will relate!

Enter pop artist/songwriter Emily Fullerton. Balancing a music-focused college career and a budding music career, Emily attends Belmont University and lives in Nashville. Both the city and the school are destinations for aspiring artists, so she is not alone! Like other independent artists in her position, Emily must both complete a four-year education while building a network within a crowded music scene. She’s released her debut EP Daylight and her latest single “Take Off” via TuneCore. Emily has also been invited to be on a web series called Road To Nashville. We wanted to know how one works to use all of these experiences to complement each other, (while also maintaining some level of sanity), so we invited her to discuss it! Read more below.

Deciding to go to school for music requires commitment. When did you know for sure you wanted to pursue a career in songwriting?

Emily Fullerton: I took group guitar lessons after school when I was 10. The first songs I learned were by The Beatles. I loved it and knew I wanted to make music.

What kinds of efforts have you made during your schooling to better prepare yourself as a businessperson?

I’ve been networking like crazy. I go to Belmont University in Nashville and while you don’t have to do the academic thing to be in music, being here has really helped me make connections with people. The professors and mentors want to be there for you as a person, artist, and songwriter. They want to see you do well and they are always willing to help you out.

I’ve had some pretty cool opportunities come my way while living in Nashville and every single one was sparked by a connection from Belmont, whether it be a professor, classmate, or a friend. I don’t really like using the term ‘networking’ but that’s what it is. I believe that I’ll get to where I need to be in the business through the relationships I have with people.   

How would you compare those efforts to the experience of getting out there and gaining real life music business experience?

So far, I think it has been a balance between the classroom and ‘getting out there’. I have classes that teach me about publishers, PROs, and labels. There is a lot to learn about the business side and I want to learn as much as I can. But I also get out there and perform as much as I can. I do writers rounds at different venues in Nashville, and I have had a few opportunities to play in DC and some other events as well.

On that same note, what kind of network have you started to building in Nashville and on campus?

Like I said before, Belmont is a great school for making connections; the relationships I have made there with the professors, mentors and my friends have opened up a bunch of opportunities for me. When I was in high school, I hosted a benefit concert at the Hard Rock in DC for a school project. One of my mentors connected me with Richard On of O.A.R., and he has helped me a lot through encouragement and advice throughout this whole process. I guess I have been building the network since I really started getting serious, and Belmont and Nashville have been huge catalysts. But I got started on the right path with help from Richard and a few others.

RichardEmilyHardRock
Emily & Richard On of O.A.R.

What were your expectations of a city like Nashville? Were there any misconceptions?

Coming from Washington, DC, my definition of a city is very different from Nashville. I didn’t quite understand how different life would be like without a major metro system or a lot of diversity, (whether that’s ethnically, economically, or politically). I knew that Nashville was going to be an amazing place for me to grow as an artist and songwriter. I wasn’t wrong about that. I was wrong about how different life in Nashville would be compared to DC. I’m a city girl at heart: I love walking everywhere, dealing with the crazies on the street, and that fast paced environment you feel when you’re in a city like DC.

Nashville is a great place, it’s the pace that’s different. I have to say I am still learning how to adjust to these things. There is something very magical about the “laid back-ness” of the south. People are so nice to you. That “southern hospitality” is real. They claim that DC is still the south but people aren’t as nice there as they are in Nashville. I’m glad that I have had the chance to make Nashville a part of my journey. It’s such a vibrant and cool place for an artist and songwriter to learn and grow.

Have you found mentors and resources for inspiration in a city buzzing with likeminded musicians? Or is there a competitive nature to the scene?

I think going after a career in music puts you in a lot of sink-or-swim situations. You’re either going to crumble under the pressure to be different and talented, or you’re going to hustle and be yourself throughout the entire process. Yes, there is a competitive nature in Nashville and at Belmont, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve heard about L.A. or New York.

One of the most inspiring parts of my Nashville experience has been going to songwriting class at school. I’m not sure why, but there is something that seems so powerful to me about a group of young aspiring songwriters who are all committed to helping each other grow. It’s magical, heartbreaking, and encouraging all at the same time.

How did you discover TuneCore, and how has it played into your overall musical journey?

I discovered TuneCore during the summer of 2013. One of my favorite producers from the D.M.V. area, Mark Williams at Sucker Punch Recording Co., told me about TuneCore. A lot of artists and bands he had worked with used it, so I checked it out. It has been a great and easy way to get my music out there. As an independent artist, the process of creating and sharing one’s music can be very intimidating, but TuneCore helps simplify the process.

Tell us about Road To Nashville and your experience on the web series.

Road To Nashville is a reality web series on AwesomenessTV based on the lives of five singer/songwriters in Nashville. I was one of the five featured cast members and let me tell you, it was a blast. The entire process of being on a web show was incredible. From the audition to the last episode, I feel like I learned so much from the experience. I learned how to be comfortable in front of the camera, how I wanted to be perceived as an artist on camera (including how I did my makeup, hair, wardrobe etc.), and I also got to meet some pretty cool people along the way.

During the entire filming of the show, we had a vocal coach, live performances, studio time, and interview sessions. This is one of those opportunities that I came across through a connection with a former Belmont student. I didn’t even know exactly what I was auditioning for when I got there because it was such a last minute thing, but it ended up working out in a pretty cool way.

What advice would you offer to a high school or college aged songwriter considering enrolling in a program like the one you’re in?

I would say make sure that music is your ultimate passion. Music programs are competitive and the business is even more competitive. If you feel like this is what you’re meant to do, no one can stop you, but many will try to. Work hard, don’t get discouraged, and be ready for the challenges and rejection. This sounds pretty harsh but it’s true. College is an investment no matter what, it’s a student’s responsibility to get as much out of it personally, artistically, and socially as possible.

Take advantage of the programs your school has but also take advantage of the city that you’re living in. I still have to tell myself over and over again that every song I write will not be good. Every live performance will not be flawless. It’s okay. These opportunities are designed to build and nurture you. I’ve had an amazing experience so far; attending a music school is a great place to start if you’re looking to become an artist, songwriter, or any part of the music industry.

Artist Breakdown: TuneCore Live at Bardot, June 24

Can you believe we’re readying our SEVENTH installment of our TuneCore Live event series? Well you better, because it’s going down this Wednesday, June 24th, and it’s gonna be a banger! With a little help from Swisher Sweets, (whose Swisher Artist Project is really taking off!), DropKloud, and new addition to the fun, CeleBuzz, we’ll be packing in Bardot Hollywood with fans, friends and TuneCore Artists for a night of fun and music!

Sharing the stage this month are TuneCore Artists FMLYBND, The New Regime, and Drop City Yacht Club, with special DJ sets in between. If you’re in the LA-area and you haven’t joined us yet, this is an awesome opportunity to come out, rub elbows with TuneCore’s West Coast team, and support your fellow TuneCore Artists! Learn a little more about the bands and sample some music after the jump.

The New Regime

TheNew Regime_Photo by Tamar Levine

Ilan Rubin has been around: he toured and played multiple instruments for Nine Inch Nails, filled in drumming for Paramore as they completed their self-titled album, and worked closely with Tom DeLonge to play an integral role in Angels & Airwaves’ latest album The Dream Walker (via TuneCore). Boasting songwriter influences from Led Zeppelin and Queen while incorporating layered instrumentation for an alternative-meets-electronic sound, The New Regime released its latest, Exhibit B (via TuneCore) in February of this year.

To me being independent means being in complete control of executing your vision. TuneCore has allowed me to take my music and put it out into the world without having to deal with any obstacles.

FMLYBND

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We’re proud to say Santa Barbara-based four piece FMLYBND has been using TuneCore to distribute their releases for the past couple of years. It’s been great watching them make people dance since their 2013 online hit ‘Electricity‘ as they continue their goal of “reshaping electronic music with their grunge influences”. Below, you can watch FMLYBND crush the first installment of our Convenience Store Sessions from, you guessed it, the aisles of a random convenience store!

Drop City Yacht Club

Drop City Yacht Club

California is a big state, and Drop City Yacht Club proves there’s hip hop talent oozing out of every region. Hailing from the northern and southern parts of Cali, MC/producer/songwriter duo Kristo and THX aren’t shy about expressing pride for their home state. Combined with influences ranging from hip hop like Outkast and the Beastie Boys as well as classic rock icons like the Beatles and Pink Floyd, the duo managed to break onto the scene with a hit single “Crickets (ft. Jeremih)” and show no signs of stopping! Splitting up all creative duties, we’re excited to watch the boys of Drop City Yacht Club share their beats and rhymes on stage.

To us, being independent means being brave. You have to be somewhat fearless to chase a dream. Especially if you’re chasing that dream on your own.

Interview: Michael Christmas Talks Indie Hip Hop

Boston born and bred MC Michael Christmas (aka Michael Lindsey) has been making a lot of noise since the February 2014 release of his debut mixtape Is This Art? (via TuneCore). From blog love via staples like The Fader, Complex and XXL to sharing the stage with artists like Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Action Bronson, things have been moving fast for the curly-haird self-deprecating rhymer. With deep-cut references to the Dave Chapelle Show and Arrested Development and a never-ending search for tacos, Is This Art? dabbles in light-hearted humor as Christmas faces the realities of being ‘broke and young’ while sharing slices of his story growing up in the neighborhood of Roxbury.

Additional 2015 singles like “A.D.H.D.” and “F**k Wit Me” (via TuneCore) have proven that Michael Christmas shows no signs of letting up this year. He’s working on a new project and took some time to chat with us about his rhyming style, finding his lane and repping a city not known for its hip hop stars:

First off, congrats on the success of 2014 and Is This Art? Tell us a bit about how you jumped into hip hop as a middle school-er.

Michael Christmas: I started in 7th grade through my after-school program. They had a “club” where you could learn to make beats and write raps. I recorded my first song there and immediately fell in love with rapping. I think that’s why I did so bad in school, I’d just write when I was supposed to be doing work.

You’re an artist who can flow and write without taking himself too seriously. Why do you think self-deprecation and a sense of humor have earned you fans the way it has?

I think it’s because we all go through these things and feel these things. It makes you feel like you’re not alone when someone brings up a problem that you’ve been through. That’s why stand-up comedians get so much love, they bring a lighter side to everyday struggles that you can relate to.

What kind of indie marketing and promotional efforts went into making the release of Is This Art? successful?

Honestly we just knew we needed to make a great project. We released two videos for it and a lot of hints using Instagram pictures of me over great art pieces, and then we dropped it. It was a fun roll-out and it did really well for my first tape.

What business or marketing lessons did you learn along the way?

I think the best marketing lesson I’ve learned is to just be authentic and eventually you’ll gain the kind of following you deserve. A lot of young artists will market themselves in a very specific way to build a fan base as quick as possible, but end up losing their identity early on by doing so. We’ve just put out quality content that represents me being me and a pretty cool fan base has followed.

With the exception of MCs like Guru, Edo G & Mr LIF, Boston isn’t exactly known for churning out big names. How did growing up in Roxbury impact both your writing and career growth & development?

One thing I didn’t realize my music had until I moved west was an East Coast influence. I talk about buses, trains, cornerstores and things that they don’t have as much on the West Coast and don’t talk about.
Everyone knew my dad in Roxbury, too, so they’d always ask if I was his son or stop me and go, “You look just like your father.” So I always felt safe I guess. It was fun! More than anything being from Boston and getting out made me realize how much people want to see Boston win. Everywhere I go I meet people from there that are glad to see it’s moving forward.

What advice do you have for young MCs and producers trying to break in smaller markets like Boston?

Right now is a time in Boston where the younger artists are very motivated and excited. There’s a real energy at home. So my advice is to find other artists that are serious in the city, (and also good and motivated), and keep building relationships. That’s always been the issue: no unity – but I think we can do that now. This summer especially.

You’re a good example of an artist keeping it DIY and moving quickly. What kind of role has TuneCore played in developing a greater fan base?

TuneCore has been great because it’s allowed us to get my music to listeners who might not be all over blogs, Soundcloud, YouTube, etc., all without the help of a label. We’ve approached everything with an independent mindset and TuneCore gives us that reach we might have needed to sign a deal to have gotten otherwise.

It’s obviously been a pretty big year for you. How have you adjusted personally, going from releasing your first mixtape to touring nationally and receiving love from major music outlets?

I haven’t really adjusted at all – I’m just so happy to be doing all these crazy things and working on this next project so I don’t need to adjust (laughs). Always on my toes. Life is like an adventure/prime-time sitcom.

 

Hear What People are Saying About Track Smarts Starter Reports

Track Smarts is one of several helpful Artist Services offered by TuneCore. They provide real, unbiased music fan reviews of your songs, plus plenty more! Whether you’ve got a new album and you want to find out which single resonates best, or you’re hoping to learn more about the last song you released, you’ll encounter a wealth of knowledge when you get a Track Smarts Report.

And since we know not everyone is operating with the same needs, we offer several tiers of Track Smarts Reports: Starter, Enhanced, and Premium. Recently, we decided to reach out to our community and find out what they had to say about their Track Smarts experiences! Check ‘em out below, and if you have more questions about Track Smarts, click here.

“Track Smarts was the ultimate wake-up call for our band. We provided one of our new singles and within the next day or two, we had an extremely detailed, (but easy to follow), report with many reviews from the community. This feedback has helped us shape our new music and was well worth the price tag. Without Track Smarts, we may not have such a good direction with our music like we do now!”
Deception, Alternative,Rock

“Track Smarts Starter Reports were helpful. Since my submission is contemporary Christian music, I felt the mixed audience responses were useful.”
Etta Jimerson, Christian/Gospel

“We absolutely weren’t disappointed with the realistic and raw words from actual people. It allows you to see different points of views, from new fans or non-fans. Basically it tells you what you’re doing right and wrong. Artist stability is key.”
Korey Swagger & Scottie Ma’Valous, Hip-Hop/Rap, R&B

“I found Track Smarts Reports very helpful! Being an independent artist just starting out, it can be difficult getting feedback for your work. Track Smarts provided real feedback that aided tremendously in my most recent work.”
Jaah, Hip Hop/Rap

“What I find very helpful about the Track Smarts report is the Market Potential section, which helps give me an understanding of how well my work matches against 1000 tracks in my genre marketplace. The Song Element Analysis is such a key measure in this report as well; for me it shows the breakdown of lyrics, commerciality, instrumentation, and production shown as individual elements in a chart form. It’s easy to visualize and comes from an organic source.”
– Y.Rome, Hip Hop/Rap, Singer/Songwriter

“My Track Smart Reports encourage me to make more music with a good friend of mine. Now we are  doing some shows together and we are putting out some new music soon thanks to them.”
Winslow Phillip Hip Hop/Rap, Alternative

“Reading Track Smarts Reports gives you a rounded view of where you are at within your level of the industry. It’s a very helpful tool to  evaluate your music!”
Fase The Nation, Hip Hop/Rap 

“Track Smarts is a great tool that helps me to further express myself and connect with real fans!”
Mike Oliver, Pop/Rock

“Track Smarts helped me get accurate perception on my music, and now all my music is bangin!”
D’Champ, Hip Hop/Rap

“As a professional musician/singer-songwriter for over 50 years now, but who is just really getting into the world-wide digital market place, I found the Track Smarts Report to be very interesting, useful and helpful. Most of the reviews were quite introspective and gave me a new prospective on how my music is viewed by others and how it touches lives around the world. It is a tool like any other. If you don’t take it out of the toolbox and use it, it does you no good. But, if like myself, you’re going to view it as an opportunity to get a new and refreshing look at your art, take the time and the money to invest in it. I did and I’m glad!”
Ken Martin, Singer/Songwriter

“The BAD feedback was just as important as the inspiring, good feedback to get a view on what we needed to work on to make our music even better. I will definitely continue using Track Smarts to not only get reviews, but also to actually have people listen to the music I’ve made that may not have been heard yet.”
Gage DaChamp, Rock

“Track Smarts Reports are very helpful because they are interesting and easy to use. The analytic information really does work to improve your music. It’s a great tool!”
Mac Connor, Reggae

“I was excited to have the TuneCore Track Smarts for review of my single “Cake.” It was helpful to me when I realized how many people have recognized the sample that my producer used for the song. It was also helpful to know that random people around the world recognized my single as a powerful song that could be popular.”
Marco Pavé, Hip Hop/Rap

“Using Track Smarts really helped point out what listeners liked most about my songs. It also showed me what demographic I could cater to and by getting different songs reviewed, it has allowed me to see what subjects, tempos and production I sound best at.”
HONCH, Hip Hop/Rap

“Track Smarts is a very useful tool, especially if you’re an indie artist. It puts your music in front of real music fans to rate and review.  Each Track Smarts Report contains reviewers’ actual comments, plus insight and analytics, which makes it a great marketing tool. It’s very affordable, as well.”
Vash Da Stampede/ Hip-Hop

“I was led to enter my first single and its sister track into Track Smarts Starter Reports. There were many sincere comments that have stuck with me – that have validated and inspired me to move forward!”
PRIMADONNA, Trance/Pop

“We used TuneCore Track Smarts for our single ‘Revolution Rerun’. The results were worth everything the service promised. For complete, unbiased, honest and straight-to-the point, no B.S. reviews from people who listen to your music. Obviously you can always play your song(s) to friends, family, acquaintances and they might be ‘honest’ with you, but for a truly no-holds-barred assessment of your music,  highly recommend TuneCore Track Smarts.”
Billy Stark Stone w/ Rico Blythe, Rock

Artist Breakdown: Act As If, Curtis Peoples, Best of Friends

Is it just us, or did May absolutely flash before our eyes? The good news is, at the end ANY month in 2015, you’ve been able to rely on another TuneCore Live #SwisherArtistProject event! This month is no different, and we return to Bardot in Hollywood once more tomorrow night at 8PM. The event is 21+ and free, but as always we’re recommending you get there early as these things tend to fill up quick!

Thanks to the help of Swisher Sweets, our west coast team will be on the ground offering the chance for some talented TuneCore Artists to share the stage and showcase their music, including Act As If, Curtis Peoples, and Best of Friends. Show goers will also be able to enjoy DJ sets from Tron Stamos and HeyBradWhatsUp and awesome hand outs from our sponsors. In LA and wanna hang? Stream some songs and learn what independence means to the artists below!

Act As If

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Leader Peter Verdell assembled Act As If after releasing his solo debut album “There’s a Light”, from which several songs landed sync placements on networks like ABC, CBS, MTV, and IFC. Prior to pursuing a musical journey of catchy pop tunes, Verdell worked in the A&R Department at Drive-Thru Records, seeing first-hand how pop-punk bands like Something Corporate & New Found Glory entered the label system.

Being independent means that, for better and sometimes for worse, we’re the ones steering our ship; we’re taking the risks, we’re making the decisions, we’re making the music without fancy producers or hit-makers. But ‘independent’ doesn’t mean that we don’t need people on our side! We have lots of great people on our side…it just hasn’t included a record label at this point. TuneCore has played an awesome role in our musical journey! Honestly. The site is set up so well, and it’s been easy to monitor sales and see exactly what people have been responding to.

Curtis Peoples

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Singer/songwriter Curtis Peoples spent time traveling between music towns L.A., New York City and Nashville writing and recording his latest album, Fight, where he exercised his ability to create “dynamic yet radio friendly music that fans of both rock and pop can enjoy equally.”

Independent used to be a much more powerless term as a music artist. But these days, with the motion and speed of the industry, it is quite the opposite. The ability to create and release music whenever I please keeps me inspired and on my toes and constantly moving forward and that is a good thing. TuneCore levels the playing field for indie artists. When I release a song now through TuneCore I know I’ll have the best distribution possible to reach my fans.

Best Of Friends

Best Of Friends - photo by Beau Evans copy

Boston-based folk pop band Best Of Friends‘ beginnings truly live up the their band name: the group got together as a way to write and perform a single song for band member Kevin McHugh’s wedding! Something fascinating must have happened at that ceremony, as the excitement and energy led to the band’s official formation has led to the release of 7 singles (distributed via TuneCore), and there’s plenty more to come!

Being independent means that we better work especially hard and write good songs because we have to do it on our own without the infrastructure of a label and all their various departments; it keeps us grounded, and also off the radio. Which I don’t love, because I want to be on the radio! We do have our own small team together however, and making this journey, music and product together is a lot more fun to watch and be a part of. Being independent and being in a band should never be used in the same sentence. 

TuneCore has allowed us to get our music out there to the masses, it’s super easy to use, everyone is friendly, it makes us feel less independent, it also feels like they are part of the team we are trying to build.”

#ICYMI: TuneCore Weekly Round-Up

TUNECORE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

Red FooAfter being eliminated earlier this season, Redfoo returned to the“Dancing with The Stars” finale to perform his hit single “Juice Wiggle”. Tyler Boone has officially released his music video for his single “Austin.” He and & his band will perform with nine-time Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow at the 9th Annual First Flush Festival on May 24th.

Michelle Knight released her inspiring Michelle Knightsingle “Survivor” after her kidnapping ordeal recently appeared as a People magazine cover story.

Ross Copperman’s track “Hunger” was featured on “The Vampire Diaries” and immediately jumped up the iTunes Pop charts.

Twilight Saga actress Nikki Reed released a new single “Fly With You” and is quoted saying, “The most important part is that a percentage of the sales will be given to help #SavetheWildlifeWaystation.”


TC Live: Los Angeles

tcl_may_26Plans are underway for another awesome night at Bardot when TuneCore Artists take the stage on May 26th. This month’s TC Live event features amazing performances from Act As If, Curtis Peoples, and Best of Friends.

If you’re in the LA area, you’ve gotta stop by. But get there early, every show’s been a packed house.

For a taste of TC Live: LA, check out this video clip of Dear Boy’s performance.


ARTIST SERVICE NEWS

TuneCore Domains.band THREE new domain name have been added — .dance .video & .social.These domain names along with .band and .rocks are available for you to purchase so can set your brand apart. Learn more about the benefits of unique domain names and the special introductory pricing.

FROM THE TUNECORE BLOG

#TCVideoFriday: May 22, 2015

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