Category Archives: Artist Profiles

TuneCore Live Artist Breakdown: Sam Outlaw, Alexander Cardinale, & George Byrne

Riding high off our TuneCore Live Austin party during SXSW, we’re psyched to keep the momentum rolling with tomorrow night’s return to the Bardot in Hollywood! This week’s TuneCore Live event aims to highlight three TuneCore Artists with more of a folky and country vibe – the perfect soundtrack for a cool late-March evening in Los Angeles!

With the help of Swisher Sweets, CraveOnline and Mirrored Media, we’ve invited Sam Outlaw, Alexander Cardinale, and George Byrne to share the stage for a night of music, drinks, and fun. We’re also excited to announce that Griffin and Taylor of Dawes will be contributing a surprise DJ set! If you’re a LA-based TuneCore Artist, we wanna see you come out – our LA staff and sponsors will be on the ground to hang out, talk about your future, and answer questions. The event is FREE tomorrow, March 31, and begins at 8pm at Bardot. Keep in mind that the past two Bardot events have hit capacity, so you may want to hop over early!

So scroll on down to hear and learn more about this month’s awesome line-up and see how they have leaned on TuneCore during their musical journeys:

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Sam Outlaw is not actually a felon. Rather, he’s a South Dakota-raised independent country artist based in Los Angeles, (‘Outlaw’ is in fact his mother’s maiden name). Sam Outlaw is relatively new to Southern California’s music scene, but with 2014-15 resulting in two well received music videos and a series of single/EP releases distributed via TuneCore, he’s well on his way!
“TuneCore has been a huge part of my 2014/2015 story. They’ve always been my solution for digital distribution of my music and now with TuneCore as my publishing admin team, they’ve helped me get three song syncs. These syncs have provided me money to live and breathe and finish my album. I couldn’t be more thankful for their support.”

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Australian-born, LA-based artist George Byrne has a penchant for playing folky, country-laced Americana, but that doesn’t stop him from channeling influences ranging from early 90’s indie staples to classic rock giants like Pink Floyd. Check out his latest single below, distributed via TuneCore.

“Musically, for me personally [being independent] means being severely restricted in terms of the size and scope of what I’m able to achieve as an artist but also completely free and not answering to anyone about what I release and when. There are pros and cons. [TuneCore] has been a huge help in promoting the product.”

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Singer/songwriter Alexander “Xander” Cardinale writes and performs thoughtful, contagious pop songs that, on top of generating radio spins, have been licensed for numerous popular television shows like “One Tree Hill” and “90210”. In fact, in 2015 alone Cardinale has secured one of his latest songs, “Made For You”, a spot on the hit NBC program “The Mysteries of Laura”!

“I think it’s become black and white, the way we define indie from major. Because seemingly you are signed to a major label or you are an independent artist. The real answer is that there are myriad different ways to be an independent artist. There’s such a large grey area between indie and major. To me, it’s a badge I don’t wear willingly, because although I’m not signed to a major label, I plan to be just as competitive.  Short and sweet, TuneCore has been my only distributor as long as I’ve been an artist distributing music – they’ve been a big help and very supportive!”

SXSW Interview: Derek Minor

Derek Minor has been having a great year: extensive U.S. touring, his latest release, Empire, debuted at 54 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, ranking even higher on the iTunes Hip Hop and Christian/Gospel charts, and now he returns to SXSW with his label, Reflection Music Group, to keep the momentum going!

We interviewed Derek about his career – past, present and future – last year, and we’re psyched to chat with him after the release of Empire as he prepares to join TuneCore, Swisher SweetsMirrored MediaCraveOnline and DropKloud for our TuneCore Live Austin party this Friday, March 20th during SXSW!

A lot has happened since the last time we chatted! How does it feel to have had Empire charting on Billboard, and what kind of role did TuneCore play for you in the past year?

Derek Minor: If feels really good to be able to chart on Billboard! Billboard is one of those staples for every artist as a barometer as to what’s happening in your music career and how to feel about what you’re doing, so I’m super honored to be able to be recognized by Billboard. The thing I love about Tune Core is it gives the artist the ability to take their career in their own hands. We’ve been using Tune Core for a long, long time – since we first started putting stuff out digitally. They’ve always been user friendly, they’ve always been indie artist friendly, and that’s beautiful because oftentimes people try to take advantage of indie artists, or they over-tax, but I think Tune Core just wants us to put out amazing music, and they want to be a part of it. And that’s awesome! I love that about it.

Tell us a little bit about your past SXSW experience. Are there any key takeaways you’re keeping in mind this year?

One of my highlights of my SXSW experience was when I got to see Nas. It was awesome hearing him walk through his career and talk about how Steve Stoute played a major role in that. I also got to see Kendrick Lamar before Good Kid M.a.a.d. City came out – he was a very humble person. What I love about SXSW is you really get a chance to meet artists and they’re very down to earth.

The TuneCore showcase. That’s something I’m looking forward to and the thing I love about this time is that I get the chance to actually meet the people in person that have had such an instrumental role in my career building Reflection Music Group. TuneCore has been for us from day one.

What do you feel are some the challenges facing unsigned artists at a massive event like SXSW?

Well, there are so many signed and unsigned artists. I think oftentimes artists come in with the perspective of ‘I-wanna-take-over-the-world!’ and there’s so many things to do. But I think for an artist that comes in with a very specific plan there are tons of opportunities. Even if you just go to the classes and don’t network you learn so much. So going in with a plan is the biggest challenge, because SXSW is so huge now.

What are some moves you think indie MC’s & producers can make to truly capitalize on their trip to SXSW?

I think you should go to as many showcases and classes as you can because I’ve met a ton of producers and other artists, and you never know – there’s so many networking opportunities! There are many vendors and all of that, so if you’re into DJing or producing there are vendors that do that stuff and make the equipment and walk you through some of the tools and add to your knowledge.

Will you be touring before and/or after your time in Austin?

Yes, the Now Until Forever Tour with Propaganda and KJ52 starts right after SXSW. It’s just exciting to go to SXSW in the first place, so it’s awesome to have that energy and hopefully carry it into the tour, so I’m super excited for that.

As a music fan, are there any acts or events you’re looking forward to (if you actually get some downtime to enjoy them!)?

For me – I really want to go and discover new bands. I remember when I found out about The Neighbourhood at SXSW. I’d never heard of them, and for me its being able to say, “Hey, I’ve never heard of this band before. Lets go check them out”. That’s what I most look forward to – seeing people I’ve never heard of.

As the co-founder of a label, would you say that you approach a music business hotbed like SXSW differently than your average artist may?

Definitely. I’m always looking for new talent and I’m always looking for producers and DJs to help enhance what my artists are doing, as well as my own music. My business partner Doc Watson, he meets with the people who are in suits every day – so that’s the thing I love. We get the opportunity to meet everyone while we’re there. I definitely think I approach it a little differently.

Will you be on the outlook for new artists to sign at the various shows you perform and attend?

Yeah, always!

Aside from performing and networking, what do you personally enjoy about/looking forward to most about SXSW?

My whole record label and all of my artists are going to be there, so I’m really looking forward to connecting with them. We kind of look at it as a retreat. We get to enrich our brains and see some cool bands, and we’re also going to have a little RMG barbecue while we’re out there, so it’s going to be pretty sweet.

SXSW Interview: Prinze George

Prinze George is a three-piece indie pop group hailing from Maryland, currently residing in one of independent music’s trendiest incubators, Brooklyn. Combining influence from 80’s new wave and a more current synth-y electro pop sound, Prinze George’s airy, pleasant vocals and sonic beats carry listeners away on their self-titled EP, (distributed via TuneCore).

The trio will be partying with us and performing at this Friday’s TuneCore Live: Austin day party at the Vulcan Gas Co., and we couldn’t be happier about it! Our event partners Swisher SweetsCraveOnlineMirrored MediaDropKloud, and LANDR will be hanging out, too. Check out our interview with Prinze George below:

You guys have had some very buzzed about singles right out of the gate! Tell us about how you got together and defined the Prinze George sound. 

Prinze George: Thanks! We have been stoked about the response.  We actually started out as a rock band by the name of Kin Heads. Prinze George was a side project at first and we sort of stumbled into the sound. We really like the efficiency of production and all of the sonic possibilities that production provides.  We all come from acoustic instrument backgrounds and we strive to get the same feeling from synths.  Vocal samples are also a huge part of our inspiration.  Sometimes a vocal sample will inspire an entire song.

What kind of advice have you been hearing from your peers/management about making your first trip to SXSW?

Most of what we’ve heard from people is that it’s crazy busy and crowded, so we are just bracing ourselves for that.  We have been told to try to stay as close to the main strip as possible because Ubers are surging like crazy the whole time.

How do you plan on utilizing your social media channels while at SXSW? How important has social been for you so far?

We post regularly to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because ultimately that is the best way to make a personal connection with our fans. We want them to feel connected to the entire process, so we try to provide them with as much content as we can. We will keep all that going during SXSW and since its our first time we will probably be taking photos of everything.

You guys made the move from Maryland to New York City, a move that many artists make. What are some of the less obvious pro’s and con’s of this type of transition?

The pros are mostly networking related. Our entire team came out of NYC with the exception of our manager, and we still had our first meeting with him in NYC. We have an amazing manager, publicist, booking agent and lawyer; there is a real sense of community and we have NYC to thank for that.

The cons of living in NYC are that it is very expensive and extra expensive if you are a musician, because you are essentially paying two rents; one for living and one for a studio. 

We’re proud to have distributed Prinze George’s EP & prior singles! What kind of role has TuneCore played in your ongoing development & growth?

TuneCore is amazing! You guys make sure we get paid! It costs money to live and to make music and TuneCore makes it very simple to access what we need.

Besides playing for new ears, what are you guys looking forward to most at SXSW?

We are so excited to visit Austin, I (Naomi) have never been so that is probably what I am most excited about. New places often fill us with inspiration.  We are also pumped for the barbecue.

SXSW Interview: Dear Boy

If you haven’t already added Dear Boy‘s single “Hesitation Waltz” to every playlist you’ve created since it’s release last August, you may recall the LA-based four-piece helped pack the Bardot for the second installment of our TuneCore Live event series. Dear Boy is returning to SXSW after making their debut trip last year, having since built a devoted live following.

A jangly guitar rock band that oozes “cool”, we’re psyched to have Dear Boy as an addition to our TuneCore Live: Austin party at the Vulcan Gas Co. this Friday, March 20th! Lead vocalist Ben Grey was kind enough to answer some questions for us as the group prepares to take Austin by storm:

It looks like this is your second trip to SXSW. What lessons are you taking with you from your previous experiences?

Dear Boy: Yes, this is our second year. Honestly, the idea of SXSW really freaked me out before we went out there last March. On paper, it sounded like a nightmare… But as the story goes, I fell in love with Austin. Saw so many great gigs, hung with some of the raddest people I know, discovered La Barbecue. It was all so killer.

As silly as it sounds, the chief lesson from last year that I’m taking is to really savor it. It’s almost like music’s birthday party. You’re supposed to have fun at music’s birthday party. We’re also playing twice as many shows this year, so yeah. Happy Birthday.

What’s piece of advice you have for artists making their first trip to SXSW that you could have used?

Comfortable shoes. Jesus Christ, bring comfortable shoes. Make some memories.

How do you guys plan to take advantage of your trip to SXSW in terms of networking?

Networking is kinda like being funny: if you’re trying to be funny, you’re going to bomb. If your mission is to schmooze, you’re going to bum everybody out. For us, we genuinely love music and meeting other musicians, so being around other artists and watching what they do is its own reward. Some might call that networking but we just call it hanging, and we plan on taking major advantage of hanging.

Got any plan to tour on your way down to Austin or after SXSW ends?

Dear Boy actually has some studio time booked right before SXSW starts, so unfortunately we’ll be dead-heading out there. Come to think of it, this will be the 3rd time we’ve driven straight to Texas this year. I just gave myself chills.

As far as downtime goes during SXSW, are there any artists, events or panels you guys are particularly excited about?

Absolutely. I don’t think any panels can top Jarvis Cocker’s last year. But on the performance side: Marina and The Diamonds, Merchandise, Alvvays, The Cribs, Palma Violets, Metz, Ringo Deathstarr, The Vaccines, Wolf Alice, Swervedriver, The Church… We also have a lot of friends playing, Kitten, Nightmare Air, Cloud Nothings, Talk in Tongues, Dark Waves, Mini Mansions… So I’m really hoping to see those guys too.

There’s been some positive buzz about Dear Boy’s live performances. In what ways do you plan to stand out and introduce yourselves to first-time listeners at SXSW?

Haha, that’s cool to hear. Well, I guess justifying the buzz is going to be our deal. Honestly, we’re not the band that climbs all over the walls or employs a floor tom circus to get a reaction. I don’t know. We’re a real bones and blood band. We don’t rely on backing tracks or anything like that. Feeling something live is what this stuff is meant to do.

What bands or artists would Dear Boy cite as major influences? Any newer acts that you find particularly exciting?

For Dear Boy, our chief influences live in the late 70’s / early 80’s post punk era & early 90’s britpop world.

The Smiths, Modern English, The Cure, New Order, Pulp, Suede, Joy Division, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Trashcan Sinatras, The Church, OMD, Psychedelic Furs, The Stone Roses, Ultravox, Oasis, Lightning Seeds, etc.

Some of the new music we’ve been super into lately are DMA’s, Wolf Alice, Merchandise, Alvvays, Sky Ferreira… I’m forgetting some surely, but it’s a lovely time for guitars.

As a relatively young band, what kind of role has TuneCore played in Dear Boy’s development?

Tunecore has given us the freedom to feed our audience. We couldn’t do this without them. Seriously.


Heading to SXSW? You can catch Dear Boy during TuneCore Live: Austin at the Vulcan Gas Company on Friday, March 20th (presented with the help of Swisher SweetsCraveOnlineMirrored MediaDropKloud, and LANDR). Their other SXSW dates are below:

Tuesday, March 17 @ Cheer Up Charlie’s
Wednesday, March 18 @ Bar 96
Thursday, March 19 @ Red 7 Patio

SXSW Interview: Olivver the Kid

Olivver the Kid is the moniker/solo project of Bryan Sammis, an LA-based artist and songwriter who parted ways with the much-buzzed-about indie group The Neighbourhood in early 2014. Since doing so, he has released his debut EP, Freak, and toured alongside artists such as Halsey and Young Rising Sons.

Olivver graced us with his R&B/hip hop laced pop sounds during the launch of our TuneCore Live event series at the Bardot in LA in January. Needless to say, we loved it! That’s why we’re excited to have Olivver the Kid playing our TuneCore Live: Austin party during SXSW next Friday at the Vulcan Gas Co presented with the help of Swisher Sweets, CraveOnline, Mirrored Media, DropKloud, and LANDR. We got the chance to interview the drummer-turned-singer/songwriter about his past SXSW experiences and what he’s looking forward to this time around. Make sure to pre-order his new single, “I Want It” on iTunes (release date March 17th)!

You’ve got some SXSW experience under your belt. In what ways will you be using this experience to shape your trip this year?

Booking less shows, haha. In my old band we played like 2-3 a day our first trip there and it definitely took a toll on us physically and mentally.

What’s something you wish you knew before your first visit to SXSW?

I wish I was better prepared for our off time: who was playing and where. Also, parking is a bitch.

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What differences to you expect between going to SXSW as the drummer of a band burgeoning indie rock band and performing as the lead man?

It’s a definite difference. This new project is a little less of a “band” so things run differently in terms of stage set-up and travel. On the other hand I have to take care of my voice. So, these 2 shows a day and 3 shows a day routines are not gonna cut it for me, especially since SXSW is in the middle of our tour.

SXSW has certainly changed over the years. Would you say there are as many opportunities as challenges for indie artists trying to navigate & network?

Yeah, I think it’s a place where you can get out of it what you put in. Networking alone can be worth the trip. Also, playing the right showcases for the right people & making new fans. But that’s not to say there aren’t a fair amount of obstacles to overcome (some mentioned previously).

Do you think touring around SXSW, be it before, after or both, is crucial in capitalizing on the experience?

It just makes the trip make a lot more sense. Otherwise I’m driving to & from Austin from So-Cal.

Between promoting yourself & keeping your fans engaged, how will you be using your social channels to make the most of your time at SXSW?

I’ll be letting people know when/where I’m playing for sure.

How has the launch of your music differed in relation to going through the label system?

The freedom is much greater. The opportunities are fewer. So, I have to really capitalize on the opportunities that I come into on my own.

What kind of role has TuneCore played as your musical journey has progressed this past year?

TuneCore was a way for me to get my music out to fans through all the popular platforms (iTunes, Spotify, etc…).

Any fun showcases, artists or events that you’re looking forward to checking out while in Austin?

I have to do a little research, but we have some downtime so I’m definitely going to make the best of it.

SXSW Interview: Sam Outlaw

Sam Outlaw is not actually a felon. Rather, he’s a South Dakota-raised independent country singer based in Los Angeles, (‘Outlaw’ is in fact his mother’s maiden name). Sam Outlaw is relatively new to Southern California’s music scene, but with 2014-15 resulting in two well received music videos and a series of single/EP releases distributed via TuneCore, he’s well on his way!

The first in a series of interviews with TuneCore Artists playing our SXSW day party at the Vulcan Gas Company on Friday, March 20th (presented with the help of Mirrored MediaSwisher SweetsDropKloud, CraveOnline, and LANDR), Sam discusses prepping for his first trip as a performer, modern and classic country influences, and his upcoming debut full-length, Angeleno.

This your first trip to SXSW, correct? Tell us about what you’re looking forward to most and how you plan to make the most of the conference.

Sam Outlaw: Yes, this will be my first time at SXSW as a performing artist – though I have gone several times for my previous job (digital marketing/advertising). I’m looking forward to finally performing and having some fun with my band. They’re a great group of musicians and I feel lucky to have some good shows lined up. We’ll only be in Austin for a few days so the schedule is already packed but I guess we’ll just make the most of it by playing our best and connecting with other musicians.

Even though you weren’t performing during your past SXSW trips, what kind of lessons or experiences did you pick up that can apply to this year’s visit?

I’ve seen so many great bands go to SXSW and play to nearly empty rooms. I know that’s a part of the deal sometimes but it was important to me that if we take the time and spend the money to go to Austin that we at least enjoy a few good gigs. It’s obviously not 1992 anymore and the whole “discover music” part of SXSW has changed dramatically. Bands have to hustle now more than ever to stand out. There are plenty of other bands, (and maybe even more brands), vying for attention.

What opportunities do you see for artists at your career level at a conference like SXSW?

My new album “Angeleno” will be released in early Summer so I’m headed to Austin to play my best and spread the word. The album was produced by Ry Cooder here in Los Angeles and I’m really proud of it.

Do you plan to tour before and/or after your time at SXSW?

Yes. Lots!

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(Photo credit: Matt Wignall)

Are there any particular events or showcases you’re looking forward to attending for yourself at SXSW?

A good artist should understand the business of their business and SXSW presents some great discussions. I’ll definitely try to make at least a panel or two.

How has TuneCore been part of you musical journey in the last year or so?

TuneCore has been a huge part of my 2014/2015 story. They’ve always been my solution for digital distribution of my music and now with TuneCore as my publishing admin team, they’ve helped me get three song syncs. These syncs have provided me money to live and breathe and finish my album. I couldn’t be more thankful for their support.

Who are your biggest country influences of yesteryear?

Too many to list, but at the moment I’m still listening to a lot of my old favorites: Don Williams, Gene Watson, Hoyt Axton, Keith Whitley, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Mickey Newbury, Emmylou Harris, Wynn Stewart, George Strait, Clint Black, Dwight Yoakam, Rosie Flores, Randy Travis, Asleep At The Wheel, (and of course most of these folks are still making fantastic music).

Are there any current country artists (independent and otherwise) that really inspire you?

Not sure if all of these artists necessarily qualify as (or want to be considered) “country” but… Pete Lindberg, Austin McCutchen, Cale Tyson, Margo Price, Luke Bell, Andrew Combs, Robert Ellis, Sturgill Simpson, Lera Lynn, Quebe Sisters, Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe, Kelly Pickler, Miranda Lambert, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings

What are some of the pros and cons of being a country artist based in L.A. versus a a market like Nashville?

I guess the big “con” to not being in Nashville is fairly obvious – there’s a built-in country music base in Nashville, whereas country music hasn’t really thrived in So Cal for decades. At times it feels a bit uphill doing this whole thing from LA, but I love the challenge and it makes any victories all the more special. There’s a growing surge of ‘roots’ based music in Los Angeles and I’m thrilled to be part of it.


Heading to SXSW? You can catch Sam Outlaw during TuneCore Live: Austin at the Vulcan Gas Company on Friday, March 20th. His other SXSW dates are below:
Thursday, March 18 @ St. David’s
Saturday, March 21 @ Licha’s Cantina
Saturday, March 21 @ Swan Dive