Category Archives: Festivals

UK Artists: DIY Day at The Great Escape – Brighton, Saturday 21st May

By Sam Taylor, TuneCore UK

Taking place in Brighton from Thursday, May 19th to Saturday, May 21st, The Great Escape takes over the whole of Brighton, staging hundreds of gigs from more than 800 artists in dozens of music venues. Some of these gigs are part of the official Great Escape programme, and others part of the “Alt Escape” line up of showcases and stages organised by blogs, venues, country hosts and music companies from the UK and beyond. As Europe’s biggest new music showcase, The Great Escape brings together a huge number of bands, artists and industry professionals in one place, and offers an unrivalled opportunity to meet and network with like minded people.

Described by Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq as “The Cannes Film Festival of the music world”, The Great Escape is one of the most significant events in the UK’s musical calendar, and for independent and emerging artists it offers a great opportunity not only to be seen and heard, but to learn genuinely useful tips from industry experts.

This year, to mark the launch of TuneCore’s UK office, we have partnered with CMU:DIY at The Great Escape to deliver a day of content aimed at guiding independent and emerging musicians through the complexities of the modern music industry.

This day of content – led by industry experts Chris Cooke, (CMU), Jen Long (Dice FM), DJ John 00 Fleming and supported by TuneCore – brings together a wide range of people from across the industry to share their knowledge and expertise. Taking place on Saturday 21st May, CMU:DIY at The Great Escape tickets are only £25to book, click here.

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The focus of this year’s DIY Day is “Going Live” – once you’ve written songs and honed your performance, the next task for artists is building their fanbase, and live performance is one of the best ways to do this. I sat down with three of the experts sharing their advice – Dave Gamble, Programming Manager at the Royal Albert Hall; Rosie James, Head of Press & Radio at Tru Thoughts/DEC Promotions; and social media strategist Aria Alagha who works with a range of music festival and artists, including Lee Fest, Lovebox and Wilderness Festival.

“One mistake I see artists make is going into things unprepared,” says Dave Gamble. “It might seem boring, but making sure that you’re properly prepared is really important. I don’t just mean for the performance, but everything that surrounds it – making sure that you’ve got good press shots in the right size; having a good paragraph written up about who you are, what people can expect, and that clearly communicates how you want to be portrayed as an artist. If your photos don’t portray you properly, if the information you send out doesn’t communicate what you’re about, then you’re missing your first opportunity – before people see you live – to cut through and capture people’s attention”.

Rosie of Tru Thoughts agrees, saying, “It’s important when you’re starting your promotional campaigns that you really think about the sort of tracks you are sending, and the kind of music you are putting out there – that it’s working to show off how you want to be seen.”

“I think artists who are fully prepared do tend to be the most successful,” continues Dave. “Artists who have an idea, a strong artistic vision, and have crafted their narrative as artists tend to be able to cut through. By understanding what you want to say, you become comfortable presenting yourself and your material to an audience who have come to see you – or more importantly, an audience who haven’t come to see you but just happen to be there, or came with friends, or whatever”.

Aria says that these core principles apply as much to the on stage performance as they do to your digital presence. “A lot of emerging artists target their social activity in the wrong way – so often, I see people creating adverts on Facebook, which are targeting towards people who like similar artists. People don’t really respond well to that, because they have a much more emotional connection with music. Go too much down the route of saying ‘OK, I sound like this artist you like so you’ll love me’ and it can be too sales-y. Inject a personal element into things, communicate something about yourself, and be more creative in your approaches. Facebook is a really powerful promotional opportunity – and so is Twitter, and Instagram – but I think you need to be quite creative in how you can engage people effectively. Video is very engaging on Facebook – creating really great video content and promoting that can be really powerful when you’re trying to get your foot in the door. It doesn’t need to be expensive; pull in people from your wider network, use illustrators, animators, create great content that captures people’s attention quickly.”

Content doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming,” says Rosie. “I think everything you do should be focused on driving things forward – if you get a radio play, or a piece of coverage on a blog, you should be putting that out on your social channels. That’s content in its own right, it’s something that people who follow you will probably be interested in. I often say that one thing that is as important as getting some coverage is telling everyone about that coverage when it happens. A lot of online publications, the coverage can be really fleeting – even if it’s a site that is getting 50,000 readers a day, it may be that a much smaller number of people actually see that. So by taking that coverage and using it as a new piece of content for your social channels means that you’re maximising the value”.

Scenes from 2015's Conference - c/o The Great Escape
Scenes from 2015’s Conference – c/o The Great Escape

The most powerful thing is to hyper-target things,” says Aria. “If you have even a micro-budget, you can take a particular piece of content and get stuff seen by specific people, people who are going to really bring you something. Through Facebook, you can target people based on where they work and what job position they hold. You could target people who work at Sony or MTV or who work in talent agencies, or management or anything like that.”

“Making that personal interaction and connection is key,” says Dave. “Word of mouth – whether spoken or digital – can be one of the very most powerful tools to find your audience, find your network of people. I’m convinced that word or mouth is still the best way to get the word out and get known, find new fans, get more gigs, and get in front of the people you need to to progress your career.”

“I think especially at a smaller level, having a personal interaction with your audience AFTER your set can be incredibly important,” continues Dave. “Fans can become friends, friends can become fans – when you’re playing in rooms of 50 people, 30 people, 100 people, those are the people who are out at gigs and are talking about music, and are going to become your strongest evangelists. You need to engage with them, connecting through your music, and then enforce that connection. Get an email address, tell them about what you’re doing next, where they can find out more about what you’re doing.”

“It’s the one most important thing,” agrees Aria. “Every emerging artist – every artist at any level – should have a rock solid email list. Build up on that, make sure you are telling people about things you have coming up. It’s useful as a channel in its own right, but also, you can take that list and plug it into Facebook, and find your fans there as well. Email is so powerful.”

For more information on CMU:DIY at The Great Escape click here.

CMU: DIY at The Great Escape takes place on Saturday May 21st in Brighton. To book tickets click here.

DAY 1 Recap: TuneCore Austin Takeover 2016

If you were following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook during the week of SXSW, or reading the blog leading up to it all, you already know we did it big this year.

Five events. More than forty artists. One venue.

We couldn’t be happier with how our TuneCore Austin Takeover went. Over the course of three days we were able to showcase amazing talent, throw raucous parties, connect with independent artists who use TuneCore, and partner with Swisher Sweets, WorldArts, and Mirrored Media to pack the Vulcan Gas Company on 6th Street. Not to mention, we received over 16,000 RSVPs on Do512 for our five events!

“TuneCore’s AustinTakeover was an incredible experience. It is a privilege and so much fun to spotlight the amazing up and coming talents on TuneCore like Jacob Latimore, Taylor Bennett, Miya Folick, and Trevor Wesley alongside legends like Wyclef Jean, Talib Kweli, and Waka Flaka Flame.

And the varied styles over the week represent the breadth of what a TuneCore artist is – they can rock the house like Fantastic Negrito, Towkio, and Ron Pope or be intimate performers like Ciaran Lavery, Airlands, and The Wealthy West. “

– Chris Mooney, Sr. Director of Artist Promotions & Strategic Relationships

Welcome

It all started Thursday, March 17th with our TuneCore Indie Artist Forum party. As some of you know, our friends at WorldArts gave several TuneCore artists the chance to win slots during the Austin Takeover.

Trevor Wesley

Winners Flight of Ryan kicked the party off right! They were followed by Trevor Wesley, who was no stranger to TuneCore’s live events and made himself quite comfortable crooning on stage for an engaged crowd.

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As fans filtered in an out, attendees were treated to fantastic performances from the likes of Grayshot, LazyEyes, Lena Fayre and Baby E.

Towkio

Chicago MC Towkio revved up the crowd when he jumped into the crowd, juking, rapping and involving the whole room.

Blondfire

Blondfire, another LA-based act who has enjoyed playing TuneCore Live once before, wowed a packed room full of fans who were lucky enough to catch them early in their trip to Austin.

Checking out 6th street

The roof deck was hopping, the drinks were cold, and the Swisher Sweets were burning. The energy that filled the Vulcan set the tone for what was to come.

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Check out our recaps for Day 2 and Day 2, plus more footage from Day 1 of our Austin Takeover in the gallery below!

Day 1 Party Photo Gallery:

DAY 2 Recap: TuneCore Austin Takeover 2016

If you thought Day 1 of our TuneCore Austin Takeover looked fun, Friday, March 18th made way for an even longer and more packed Vulcan Gas Company. Two events taking place over fourteen hours brought hundreds more people walking through the doors.

Day Party

Familiar faces Dead Stars kicked off Day 2 with their nostalgic 90s revival rock.

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The trio from Brooklyn was followed by an eclectic series of sets from the bluesy Truett, the rocking Ron Pope and his Nighthawks, and the folky Ciaran Lavery.

Ron Pope

It made for an excellent reminder of what makes the staff at TuneCore so proud: a truly diverse array of artists bringing their own sound to the same stage, brought together by their ability to use our services to be heard by the world.

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Case in point: two duos to share the stage were Pr0files and Deap Vally. Decked out in American flag jump suits and rock ‘n roll attitudes, Deap Vally brought the heat!  Totally glammed out and complete with bass drum leaps, fans came ready to rock out.

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On the other end of the musical spectrum, the wonderfully synthy Pr0files used dual facing laptops. Their unique set up was center stage, a full electronics workspace!

YUCK

Riding high off their latest release Stranger Things, headliners Yuck played old favorites and new cuts to an eager crowd of fans. They provided an indie rock warm up for everyone’s night as they closed out the event.

And with that, TuneCore, Swisher Sweets and Mirrored Media had just a couple hours to clean up and get ready for the night!

Night Party

The sun went down and the doors of the Vulcan Gas Company opened to a capacity line. World Arts Winners MRKTS and The Record Company took full advantage of their time on stage and were ready to entertain a packed house. Nothing like a little harmonica and lap steel to get it started, right?

MRKTS

The crowd moved and mingled to the sweet sounds of Brandon Kinder’s The Wealthy West, rocked out to the post-punk vibes of Holy Esque, cooled out to Kevin Calabra’s Airlands project, and threw their hands up for MC Kap G.

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It was when Boston’s Sammy Adams (below) hit the stage that it really started to pop off. Energetic, genuine, and highly anticipated, the MC proved to be a true performer in every sense of the word.

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Finally, late into the evening, our headliner and household name Wyclef Jean stepped up the mic! Let us tell you, the man did not disappoint.

Wyclef

Performing a set of well known hits and new cuts, Wyclef made the stage his home, introducing Trae Tha Truth and Carnivale dancers up to entertain a wildly grateful audience. Not to mention the amazing singalong for “Gone Til November”!

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Want more visual action? Check out the Day and Night Party photo galleries below! And be sure to catch Recaps of Days 1 and 3.

Day 2 Day Party Photo Gallery:

Day 2 Night Party Photo Gallery:

DAY 3 Recap: TuneCore Austin Takeover 2016

During the final day of TuneCore’s 2016 Austin Takeover, we handed the reigns over to our friends at Swisher Sweets. While Swisher’s promotional squad, the Sweeties were at every event this week giving out free samples to very grateful patrons, Saturday, March 19th was truly a Swisher Sweet Takeover at the Vulcan Gas Company.

And boy did they pack a punch with the lineups!

Day Party

A red carpet, tons of photo opps, and all the Swisher Sweets swag you could get, SXSW-attendees may have been getting tired, but not enough to skip our festivities.

Fantastic Negrito 1

One of the most impressive sets of the day came early from TuneCore Artist Fantastic Negrito, who you may remember from last year when he and his band rocked out in the soda aisle for Swisher Sweets’ Convenience Store Sessions.

Taylor Bennett

Chicago’s Taylor Bennett (brother of Chance The Rapper) treated an enthusiastic crowd to cuts off of 2015’s excellent Broad Shoulders, and while many in the audience came for hip hop, Miya Folick attracted a whole new crowd of fans with her Cat Power-like brand of indie folk.

Buggs Tha Rocka

TuneCore familiar face and Cincinnati’s own Buggs Tha Rocka sported hot shades and made the stage his with high-energy rhymes over spacey stoned beats.

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Fans waited all afternoon for the legendary MC Talib Kweli to hit the stage, and he, too, did not disappoint. Playing a captivating and energetic set, Vulcan attendees were treated a combination of new songs and old favorites, dating back to his debut release.

Talib Kweli

Always the hip hip mentor, Talib brought out some of his protege acts – Space Invadaz, K’Valentine, and NIKO IS – out on stage to join him. It was like a party within a party.

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Andy Allo, who similarly rocked out for Swisher Sweets’ Convenience Store Sessions last year, kicked out the jams, alternating between acoustic and electric guitars and carrying the set with her incredible voice and performance abilities. Her mix of pop, soul and rock made the for a perfect end to the day’s festivities. Now it was time to get ready for a whole new show.

Night Party

When you put Waka Flocka Flame as the headliner of your last show during SXSW, people are going to show up early. That was the case as we opened the doors of the Vulcan Gas Company and let eager fans flood in from 6th Street.

Bingx Flippin

Knowing it was most folks’ last night in town, each and every artist on the bill brought their all. Goldyard, Tre Capital and Bingx all brought their sets to the people by jumping into the crowd to soak up the love. Bingx, in fact, decided to show off his acrobatic skills as seen above.

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Local favorites/husband and wife duo Riders Against the Storm showed us all how Austin does it, and teen heartthrob Jacob Latimore brought a female fan on stage to serenade her. K’Valentine and NIKO IS shared a DJ (eventually leading to a Talib Kweli second round appearance), and Yonas performed cuts from his last EP Going Places and his new mixtape The English Architect.

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Perhaps one of the most captivating sets of the night came from TuneCore Artist and Nashville-newcomer R.LUM.R.

Selfie w: RLUMR

Drawing comparisons to the Weeknd, the soulful indie performer treated the crowd to his first full-band set, and even joined in on the fun by taking selfies mid-set with fans. An encore was eventually demanded.

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Headliner Waka Flocka Flame gave the set of his life – nearly 2 hours – and turned the Vulcan into a shaking house party. Playing old favorites and new cuts, Waka didn’t hold back on intensity and energy. We couldn’t think of a better way to end a 14-hour Swisher Sweets Takeover!

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Want more? Check out photo galleries from both events below – you may even spot yourself! Plus be sure to catch Recaps from Thursday and Friday.

Day Party Photo Gallery:

Night Party Photo Gallery:

Interview: Trevor Wesley – On R&B, Chivalry and Style

Maybe it’s something about growing up in constantly amazing weather, but South California-raised Trevor Wesley can show just about anyone a good time with his music. A modern R&B/pop crooner, Wesley has produced, written with and performed alongside artists like Ne-Yo, Wale, 98 Degrees, and Joe Jonas.

Trevor has wowed the TuneCore Live goers of Los Angeles before, and we’re psyched to have him holding it down for us during our Austin Takeover this week. You can catch him at our Indie Artist Forum Day Party on Thursday, March 17th at the Vulcan Gas Co, and if you’re less familiar, get to know him in our Q&A below!

Tell us about how you started singing and performing. Who were your earliest influences?

Trevor Wesley: I started singing and performing at an early age because I just loved to do it. It wasn’t an idea I came up with, I just did it. My Mom played all kinds of jazz music like Ella fitzgerald and Nat King Cole and my Dad liked the rock side like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Singing to a girl in school was a realization in it’s self.

Similarly, what have you been digging lately for inspiration or just chilling out? (New or old!) 

I mostly always get inspiration from something older… Ain’t nothing new under the sun! (laughs) I could hear anything really and get SOMETHING I like out of it. I love taking pieces of inspiration from all different kinds of things even non-music related, like shapes and colors. Music is all patterns shapes and colors arranged in a fashion that your ears can transcribe.

I really get inspired from a lot of my friends these days… My boy Ruslan is a beast on keys…I like his playing. He has an album out and also coming out soon.  My friends in New Genesis (band) are all super talented and I’m always inspired hearing or hanging with them. BJ the Chicago Kid is a new artist I dig. Nice voice and raw sound.

Of all the genre-resurgences, new trends in R&B have been very exciting. What are your thoughts where R&B and soul are going in 2016?

Well R&B music is the true “baby makin” music lane. There are so many ways to tackle that, (no pun intended). I like to make “love making” music: music that feels like love. Right now I don’t feel too much “love” on a lot of the popular records I hear. I know there are a lot of artists who are working hard at making R&B music in hopes to bring back the love.

Your newest project is titled Chivalry Is Dead – do you think modern music is doing a good enough job covering romance realistically in the Tinder age?

This question can tie into my last answer. No, a lot of modern music aim’s on being “cool” than being a man for a lady. Guys seem like they are singing to other guys (fans). I’m singing to women. The women who don’t take sweet guys for granted and the women who value themselves.

You’ve worked with some high profile artists on the production and writing front. What have these folks taught you that you can apply to your own music career?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with very talented people. I’m always blown away when I sit back and humble myself to learn and observe the greatness in the room. Sometimes you feel the need to always want to show what you can do with your talent when the best thing you can do is be a sponge and soak up everything that’s happening.

You’re a pretty stylish dude. How important do you think image and style is when it comes to the music you’re making, as well as performing in general? 

Thanks for the compliment! We have more than one sense of hearing/listening. Got to appeal to the other senses! Visually, it’s important to entertain as well. I like to dress in ways that make me feel good and in ways that make me feel like me. What you wear says a lot about who you are.

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Since this year isn’t you first SXSW trip as an artist, how do you plan to make the most of it?

No I’ve been before. I have a feeling this trip will be a bit more official and also excited that it’s in line with my team over at Believe and they will have a chance to check me out.  I’ll make the most of it by singing my heart out and by tending to the awesome people.

What have your past experiences at SXSW taught you and how do you plan to apply that to your trip this year?

Number one is always have fun. How you feel is a reflection of how you make the crowd feel. If I put my heart in it, and hopefully the crowd will resonate with that.

What advice do you have for artists who are interested in producing, writing and performing but might have a hard time balancing and focusing their efforts?

My advice is do what’s in your heart and what you feel. Do something because you enjoy it and you want to, not because it might make you money. I haven’t made much money in the ten years I’ve been in this industry, but I do it because I love to.

Interview: Yuck – New Album, SXSW, & More

London’s Yuck is a 7-year young garage rock outfit that immediately brought to mind the riffs, fuzzy hooks and vocals of bands like Dinosaur Jr. and early 90’s Weezer when they dropped their self-titled debut album in 2011.

After critical praise for the release, the band rode on an exciting wave of buzz only have their founding member Daniel Blumberg in 2013, followed by the introduction of guitarist Edward Hayes. The four-piece released their second album Glow & Behold that year.

Late this February, Yuck rolled out their third album Stranger Things, and after enough turbulent rock n’ roll cliches, the band shines through and sound more complete than ever before. We’re stoked to have them headlining our TuneCore Showcase, Friday afternoon on March 18th as part of our 2016 Austin Takeover.

Read our Q&A with Max Bloom, who plays guitar and assists with vocals (alongside Mariko Doi and Jonny Rogdoff) in Yuck:

You guys have been through a lot over 5 years! What has changed for Yuck when it comes to releasing a new full length? 
 
Max Bloom: I guess this album kind of brings together everything we’ve learned over our whole career. I think we’ve learned a lot about how we want to sound as a band and the best way for us to work, so that knowledge and hindsight definitely proved useful. I think we also really came together on tour over the past few years, so I think we went into this with the idea that we wanted to make 10 or 11 songs that would be really fun and enjoyable for us to play live.
 
Tell us a bit about the process of readying Stranger Things – from recording it to working with PledgeMusic.
 
The album was recorded over the space of about a year. I remember writing “Hold Me Closer” and “Cannonball” in quite quick succession, and then the others fell into place around those. We recorded very much at our own pace – its probably the longest recording session we’ve ever done. After recording it we sat on it for a while until we worked out how we wanted to release it. Our PledgeMusic page was our manager Kurt’s idea. It seemed like a really fun and interesting thing to do.
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In general, how has releasing music yourselves or on a smaller indie label compared to your previous experiences?
 
Well there’s less financial investment of course, but the rewards are far greater. It’s nice not having to prove yourself or answer to other people.
 
Where is the band coming from emotionally on this record?
 
A lot of the album is about stuff that I’ve been going through personally over the past couple of years. It hasn’t been the most pleasant time for me, so it felt quite cathartic to write about it in a song.
 

Line-up changes are never easy, but Yuck seemed to bounce back from the exit of a frontman. What were some lessons you all walked away with from this?
 
Probably just to believe in what you’re doing and try not to care what other people think… which is easier said than done. It hasn’t been easy at all. The support and encouragement of my friends and the band have been really important.
 
How would you compare hitting SXSW to the days when you were a less well-traveled unit?
 
I guess we’re just better as a band now, so it’s probably easier for us to just rock up somewhere and play immediately without a soundcheck, which is often what you’re expected to do playing SXSW.
 
Is there added significance to a SXSW trip when you’re on the heels of a new release?
 
I think it feels more exciting for us. I hope the audience feels the same!
 
What kind of advice – no matter how general – would you offer to an indie band making their first SXSW trip in 2016?
 
Work hard. Play hard.
 
What are your plans for supporting Stranger Things after you roll out from a week in Austin?
 
We’re going on a long-ass tour of America which I’m really looking forward to. We’ll be hitting up a bunch of places we’ve never been before, like Las Vegas and some midwest cities. It’s going to be great!