Tag Archives: DIY

Interview: Lettuce Keeps Bringing the Funk Two Decades Later

Who would have thought that a few high school aged kids attending a summer program at Berklee School of Music in Boston would lead to a music journey that spans two decades? That’s just what happened in 1992 when several members of the funk group Lettuce met and began playing.

Returning several years later as undergrads, Lettuce would go on to produce, record and release four studio albums, including their latest via TuneCore, Crush, and build a worldwide fan base of funk enthusiasts on the festival circuit. And it’s the band’s ability to completely blow people away live that has really driven their success – drawing fans from all corners of music who can appreciate the funk ethos of movement and community. Lettuce’s ability to weave influences like James Brown, Earth, Wind and Fire as well as hip hop throughout the decades makes them a live tour de force.

Comprised of drummer Adam Deitch, guitarists Adam Smirnoff and Eric Krasno, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, keyboardist Neal Evans, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, and trumpet players Eric Bloom and Rashawn Ross, the formation of Lettuce has also seen members involved with projects like Soulive, Rustic Overtones, and Break Science. We chatted with Adam Deitch and Adam Smirnoff about the band’s legacy, fan connection, and new album:

To meet as teenagers who happened to attend the same summer program at Berklee and go on to make music for over 20 years is pretty incredible. Can you describe the initial sense of musical connection and excitement that sparked when Lettuce first began playing together?

AD & AS: To be away from home for the first time, and to meet these extremely cool and funny characters who also happen to be some of the funkiest cats in the school, was a plan by a higher design. We knew it, so we hung out and made as much music together as possible. That feeling is still with us today more than twenty years later.

At the height of grunge, hip hop, and college radio rock, how did the club goers around Boston and Cambridge respond to Lettuce’s brand of funk in the early nineties?

We were unaware when we started that we would be accepted by so many different crowds. At our early stages in Boston, we played house parties that went through the roof! Young people had never heard that style of funk live very often during those days.
We definitely converted a few heads to our style of high energy horn blasts and hip hop bass lines.

Explain the evolution of Lettuce that took place between 1994 and 2002 when you released Outta Here.

After making some live tapes and compilations of our ‘jams’, we became closer as friends and decided that we would make a professional album, in a real studio, on 2″ tape, with a real engineer!
Luckily our friend from Berklee, Ari Raskin, felt the same way and invited us to Chung King studios in NYC where he was working at the time. We had no record deal, no management, and absolutely NO money! Ari didnt care, he just wanted Lettuce to be recorded correctly. Halfway through recording, Velour Records came and saw what was happenning and jumped on board. The rest is history.

Do you feel that there was some magical timing in the music of Lettuce and the rise in popularity of so-called jam bands and festival culture in the 90’s and into the 2000’s? How did it feel to be a part of this rise?

The rise of festival culture was great for us because we were happy to play for any open-minded people. We are very different musically than some of the more popular “jam bands” that everybody loves, and we are thankful so many musically adventurous fans adapted to our style over time. We are from the James Brown school of music, but like Funkadelic, we appreciate the psychedelic sounds and effects that can bring people to a higher place!

Funk, and genres that have derived from it, doesn’t have an inherently huge mainstream fan base. Do you think there’s something to the genre that is universal among music fans once they get the chance to hear it live, even if unintentionally?

Funk is a musical equivalent to a utopian society. Everybody does their part without interfering with the others’ space. When there is a melody or solo, it is merely a story being told that is supported by the community. When the groove locks in a certain way, the listeners can feel that utopian rush of goodness! We are all one! Third eye open!

With so many members and so many respective side projects, how has Lettuce balanced a touring/recording schedule with other individual priorities?

Our priorities are in place! As soon as we really started to believe that Lettuce could be where it is now, we got focused on it. We learned a lot from our other musical experiences. John Scofield, AWB, Dr Dre, Soulive, Robert Randolph, DJ Quik all made us a better band!
We are indebted to these great artists and to all we learned from these projects, but Lettuce is a band of brothers that believe in our destiny, which is to play TOGETHER!

Explain how Lettuce has kept its connection with its fan base active and engaged over the years.

Our fan connection is as grassroots as it gets. From hangin’ with our core fans, staying accessible, and putting ourselves out there is what we stick to. We don’t say much, but our real fans know how dedicated we are and how much we love to play funky soul music!

How would you explain the experience of a Lettuce performance to a fan who’s only had the privilege of jamming on their headphones?

You gotta see it to believe it! We have developed a synergy with our fans that come out to our shows that is out of this world. They know how to get the energy flowing, and it’s a dance party everywhere we go!

As you prepare to release Crush, your fourth studio album, walk me through the writing and recording process a bit. How have things changed over the years? What remains a constant?

I’ll start with what has changed over the years. I think we have all become much better writers and producers, and everyone is bringing great ideas to the band. The recording process generally starts with someone making a demo at home on their laptop or on their computer. It might be one guy, or a few of the guys working on the demo together.
At times, complete ideas will be brought to the table, other times we might add a section or put two parts together in the studio. What remains a constant is the creative passion that we have while we are in the studio, the ability to listen to each other’s ideas, and no matter what is being played, we play it FONKY.

What plans do you have to promote Crush in the upcoming year?

We plan on promoting Crush by continuing to tour and getting to new areas of the world we haven’t been to yet. I’m really hoping we get to go back to Europe and Japan. We will be releasing a music video for “Phyllis“, and Documentary called “Let Us Play”.

Wednesday Video Diversion: December 2, 2015

Someone just informed us that we’re in December already. How did that happen? We’re still stretching our Turkey Day leftovers, so it’s entirely possible that we were napping. Regardless of how we got here, it’s still Wednesday, and there’s still a dope round-up of TuneCore Artist videos to be watched! Enjoy.

Mocassin Creek, “Low Life”

Chad Zumock, “Hardcore Hall & Oates”

Disciples of Babylon, “Karma”

Gorky, “Seminophagia”

Johnnie Guilbert, “Song Without a Name”

The Ellas, “Bakin’ Cookies”

Joe Weller, “Fire In the Car Park”

Nick Bean, “Wifi Wifey”

Patty Smyth, “Broken”

Chad Sugg, “James Dean”

14 Reasons We’re Thankful to be Artists

Here in the States, we’re just two days out from Thanksgiving – a time of turkey, stuffing, football, family and friends. But this time of year goes beyond all that awesome stuff just mentioned. It’s truly a wonderful excuse to stop dead in our tracks and remember what we have and why we’re thankful for it.

We all know being an independent artist isn’t easy. In fact, it can be difficult to get down on some of the struggles, right? That’s why it’s important to remember why you chose to be a musician – why it called your name – and acknowledge that it’s a pretty incredible journey to embark on.

This year, we reached back out to our community and asked them to share with us why they’re thankful to be artists!

“I am thankful to be an artist because music and art have always been able to say what words cannot. No matter how loud or how subtle our mark is, I truly believe that every day we are given the chance to make a difference. Don’t believe me? Go to an Adele concert and then go to a political function and compare the attendance… art might be the only thing keeping the world together.”

“I’m thankful to be an artist because with a couple of chords, a melody, and lyrics I have the ability to impact somebody else and make them smile, or, even better, feel related to – even if it’s just in those 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I get to take my soul, emotion, or story and pour it into a form that can be danced to with friends, sung at the top of lungs in a car, or listened to on repeat.”
– Chloe Caroline

“Music has given me the opportunity to explore places I otherwise would have never seen and introduce myself to new friends I otherwise would have never met. So I’m thankful to be an artist because it means that every day is a chance to discover more of the world.”
 David McMillin

“I’m thankful to be able to perform and entertain people, and give them a moment’s break from their problems, jobs, relationships, etc.  That’s why I do this, that’s what Adakain is about, and I couldn’t be happier!”
– Ryan Ray/Adakain

“We’re thankful for being artists because it allows us to truly appreciate great art. Knowing that each creator has climbed their own mountain of doubt, frustration, and insecurity makes art all the more impressive, and all the more human.”
– Nikki’s Wives

“I am thankful to be an artist because it gives me a reason to get up in the morning and know that I have purpose: to be creative and to help people feel things they want to feel. When someone asks what do I do, I’m always proud to respond “I play music.” It’s our duty as musicians to help people feel.”
– Tyler Boone

“Thankful to TuneCore for putting my music in the ears of so many incredible fans. A lot of people come back to me and say that my music helps them through the dark times, and changes their life. Them telling me this, in turn, changes mine too. It’s a beautiful cycle, that I’m proud to be a part of.”
– Antix

“We’re thankful for being able to travel the world playing music with our friends. Meeting people who share our passion for music is a highlight of our job. We’re also thankful for Taco Bell.”
– These Kids Wear Crowns

“We are thankful as artists to be able to travel the country and share our music with others. We are most thankful for the opportunities our fans have given us to see the entire country and all its beauty. We are thankful for the many people we have met along the way that have shown us the magic of music and how it brings different people together.”
– First Decree

“We are thankful to be musicians because it’s the most powerful tool we know to communicate  feelings, ideas, and dreams.”
– Prinze George

“I’m thankful to be an artist because of the gift that music gives to me: It allows me to be emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually fulfilled every day. As long as I focus on living out of that gratefulness, the rest comes easy and I am able to give back to those around me more than I ever dreamt I could.”
– Adley Stump

“We’re thankful to be artists for countless reasons! One thing we especially love is getting to meet so many incredible people. It’s so inspiring for us to hear how our music has impacted them, and hearing these stories gives us more strength then our fans will ever know. It’s so fascinating how music can connect all of us in such a unique and special way.”
– Two Story Road

“I’m thankful to be an artist because I am given the chance to do what I love everyday, which is expression through singing, songwriting and performing. These are what dreams are made of and to share it with the world is the ultimate blessing.”
– David Garcia / Bridge To Grace 

Thank You TuneCore for helping me and many other artists connect and engage with our fans around the world.  No matter the physical distance – you bring us closer to our fans than ever before!”
– Denny Strickland 


November News From Our Store Partners

Good news. That’s what our store partners are serving up this time of year while we count our blessings and give thanks.

YouTube is busting out. Claromúsica celebrates big numbers. Amazon Music adds new features. Tidal is causing a big wave. Spotify is killing piracy.

The next few billion!

YouTube-logo-full_colorYouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl is way beyond thinking about his website’s future new viewers in terms of millions. According to Money.CNN.com, he’s thinking about “the next few billion.” He credits more and more people from emerging countries logging on to the Internet for the first time, and mostly through smart phones. The 1990s and 2000s brought the wired Internet. These days the wireless Internet speaks to our increasingly mobile-first planet.

“YouTube will always have most of its money come from advertising.” Kyncl continues, “The next few billion people that will come online will most likely be only monetizable through ads.” That said, the company has launched a new $10 per month subscription service, YouTube Red, another revenue stream for artists. This is the perfect time for artists to make money from YouTube through TuneCore’s Sound Recording Revenue collection service and by collecting songwriting royalties from YouTube through TuneCore Music Publishing Administration.  

5 million subscribers in Latin America.

claromusicaClaromúsica, which publically launched in January 2015, evolved from a digital venture back in 1996 called Beon, which was owned by Grupo Carso and run by Carlos Slim Domit. It’s a division of America Móvil Group, a company owned by the father of Slim Domit, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helú, the richest or second richest man in the world, depending on the day. The online music service is a bit like iTunes, a bit like Spotify. Domit tells Billboard.com, “With Claromúsica, people can buy songs and records, subscribe to free and paid ­streaming services, and listen to online radio stations. Our market vision is regional, and we are in 16 Latin American countries.”

The service is most popular in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile, and is used throughout Central and South American and the Caribbean. Music fans can purchase monthly or
weekly packages. The Slim family seems to have the magic touch.  Claromúsica now has 5 million subscribers in
Latin America—a   muy caliente (very hot) market that likes all kinds of music. Slim Domit’s secret is catering to music fans’ tastes, “In the end, it all comes down to a service, and you can’t miss what people want.” Exactamente.

New offline listening, expanded catalogue & new territories.

2. amazon-music-logoIt’s here. The ability to download songs to an SD (Secure Digital) card for offline listening, which is the size of a postage stamp. It’s the latest advance for Amazon Music. This is great news for those with Android Wear devices who now have the ability to add saved tracks and albums from Prime Music to their phones’ SD card without taking excessive storage space. Thenextweb.com shared that news and mentioned that it is also great news for music fans with Android Auto, who like to rock and roll on the road.

Cnet.de says Prime Music is also being launched in Germany and Austria where its library is small compared to Apple Music or Spotify, but its fringe benefits are huge—for $49 a year music fans get also get movies, series, e-books, photo storage…. For artists, it’s an enticing, multi-faceted service that gets their music to fans in the Alps.

1 million reasons to ride Tidal’s wave.  

Another TuneCore alumnus is lighting up the music world. According to engadget.com, Jay Z’s pet project Tidal has just hit the big seven-figure mark. One million users are getting their kicks fromtidal logo his streaming service. The rapper, who knows how to “Run This Town,” is “Crazy in Love” with the new figures that quiet the haters and verify that he’s on course. Jay Z tweeted, “Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists,” And yes, he put it out there, “Tidal is platinum.”  

Billboard.com passed on this news from The Hollywood Reporter: To sweeten the pot for users, Tidal is adding a comedy series to the mix: No Small Talk is a standup comedy show hosted by DJ Cipha Sounds. A 35-million song library. Several thousand music videos. Tidal is creating a big wave for artists who want to get heard, noticed—and paid.

Spotify gives music piracy the beat down.

Piracy is on the wane and the super power that may be killing it is Spotify. Digitalmusicnews.com confirms that Spotify is causing a noticeable drop in music piracy. It also is reducing paid downloads from iTunes and Amazon. Here’s the math. Spotify solidly reduces illegal swapping and torrenting; 47 Spotify streams replace one illegal download. On the other hand 137 Spotify streams appear to reduce track sales by 1 unit. A European Study reports, “Our analysis shows that interactive streaming appears to be revenue-neutral for the recorded music industry.”

spotifyAirline passengers will have their choice of 30 million streamed tunes via Spotify’s new deal with Virgin America, reports Music Business Worldwide.  And we relayed some great news for artists; the new feature Spotify Fan Insights gives them a clear profile (demographics, location, preferences) of the music fans that listen to their music on Spotify.

Death to piracy. Long live money-making revenue streams for artists.



The Most Overlooked Elements In An Artists’ Digital Presence

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written for us by music marketing strategist Tyler Allen. Learn about his consulting services and follow him on Twitter here.] 

10 years ago you wouldn’t have been reading this blog.

Because even just a decade ago, the digital landscape that we use daily was an entirely different place.

While sure, self distribution and some social media marketing tools were around in 2005 — they certainly weren’t polished and geared towards the self-marketer, and certainly not intended for the DIY musician.

Twitter wasn’t around quite yet, and neither were music-centric programs such as SoundCloud or BandCamp. Facebook was just a year old and restricted to college students– plus there weren’t even Facebook fan pages yet, and certainly not viable Facebook advertising tools. Similarly, a decade ago you wouldn’t find any streaming services, and physical CD’s were still a relatively normal route for artists.

But that’s all changed drastically, right?

These days everyone has a platform to promote their work through social media, stream their music through various channels, and to even build their own websites, and book their own tours. The internet and social media have become very powerful forces in promoting our music, getting our work noticed, and for some, it’s even been an avenue for mainstream success.

This isn’t breaking news. This isn’t a revelation — success via social media has obviously been true for well over a decade.

My focal point though is the effect of these platforms–because with this blessing also comes a curse.

Now with social media and DIY tools, anyone can be an artist, anyone can have a platform — which now puts you into a sort of competition with thousands of other artists. All vying for the same spotlight.

So, how does an artist stand out from the rest? The answer is simple.. but very important: Be Professional.

By having a professional, solid and thorough feel to your social media, website, and all other digital outlets, you’re going to stand out from the static. A solid product and solid digital presence is certainly going to get you more attention than the artist that’s barely putting in any effort.

So, what makes a presence “professional”? And what are the most overlooked components of a professional presence? Here’s a few of my go-to tips that I give clients of all genres on how to clean up their online profiles.

A Proper Content Mix

This is easily one of the most overlooked aspects of an artists digital presence. Think of a major brand that you follow online, any one will do. Go and check out their content.

You’ll notice that it’s typically going to be a combination three content “types”:

  • Brand building posts
  • Miscellaneous content that may have nothing to do with their brand at all
  • Sales posts

Those three elements are the main elements that you want to showcase in your online presence. You also want a good mix of these three. You don’t want to post way too much sales content, and scare fans away with spam, and on the flip side, you don’t want to post so much random/personal content that everyone forgets your an artist.

There is a formula for this, called the 70-20-10 rule which (roughly) says 70% of your content should be brand building.

This is you in the studio, you on the road, photos from shows thanking fans, or talking about an upcoming project.

20% of your posts should be misc. content, or personal posts. These are the posts that fans like to see — it shows your brand in a more personable light. This is you talking about a good restaurant you found in town, talking about the new Jordans, current events, or funny memes.

10% of your content should be the content where you’re actually getting folks to buy your work. These are the download posts, the posts that push your merch, or showcase your presales.

Now, is this an exact science? Not at all. Plus “brand building” can be pretty subjective. Let’s say you post a photo of you and your band at a restaurant with the caption:

“We’re here at Gino’s Pizza in Austin, after wrapping up one hell of a show! One of our go-to spots when we’re in town for late night eats. Thanks to everyone who came out tonight to Joe’s Bar, we’ll be back soon! We’re also in Houston next Friday! Check out the pre-sale info here…”

That post was brand building, because it showcased your recent gig and shows that you’re a touring band. It hit that personal/misc. category because you mentioned how the local spot was a go-to spot for light night food, and you plugged a pre-sale link.

Just in one post just you hit all three of our categories. But it was done in a way that wasn’t in-your-face, or too salesy. The overall point here is to divvy up content topics, and ensure that your posts aren’t too one sided. Give your audience a full glimpse of your work.

Frequency of Posts

Engagement is key to any social media platform. For Facebook, it’s 100% essentially, as you could have 10,000 likes, but if you post something that gets little engagement (likes, comments, shares), only a very small fraction of that 10,000 will even see it.

Similarly, with Twitter or other outlets such as Pinterest of Tumblr, if your work isn’t retweeted (re-pinned, re-blogged), it’s not going to have much of a shelf life.

Being active is incredibly important, and while I recommend scheduling posts in advance via HooteSuite or Buffer App, you should also spend time engaging with fans and showing love to each platform. The sweetspot for each outlet tends to be:

Facebook: 1-3 Posts Daily

Twitter: 3-5 Tweets Daily

Instagram: 1-3 Posts Daily

Twitter and Instagram can surely go beyond the above recommendations. Just ensure your posts are spread out — also ensure that you’re interacting with others on Twitter or Instagram. Finding people to follow and actually engaging with their work.

The idea here is to have an active presence, not only to engage fans, but also to show other influencers such as media and labels, that you take pride in your work.

The Big Picture

One big issue I find in a lot of artist’s online presence is the linked accounts, or the copy and pasting on various outlets. For instance, having a Facebook tied to a Twitter, so every time one posts on Facebook a link appears on Twitter, too.

Not only is this not engaging, it’s also lazy and an eyesore. Most tweets end up looking like this:

“Make sure to order our new album out o… http://fb.com/1237867/page/aiaiajf5454”.

And while taking a tweet and copying and pasting it into a Facebook post is a little better, you should still ensure that every social media outlet has it’s own voice and purpose.

For instance, you may utilize Facebook as your go-to place for ads due to it’s user-friendly platform, Instagram might be your place to really showcase that personal side of you or your branded imagery, where as Twitter is your go-to place to find fans, and be interactive.

Don’t forget other outlets too — an artists website is very important, and should serve as a long-form version of what you feel is too long or intricate to post on social media. Your newsletter is also a great place for fan interaction in a more “fan club” type of way.

Ensure that each channel has your brand, but that it always gives your fans something new and fun to interact with.

These are just three general issues one can find in their digital presence. Though, by being consistent and having a strong presence, you can always ensure that you’re standing out from the crowd and making an impression on potential fans, listeners and media, too.

As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.

How To Build a Digital Street Team For Your Band

[Editors Note: This article is written by Lauren Gill and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog. Lauren is the founder and chief power specialist at Power Publicity, a marketing, branding, and public relations firm that empowers entertainment, nonprofit, and lifestyle brands.]

If you’ve ever come across a flyer for a show in a coffee shop window or tacked to an electrical pole that’s given you pause (and I bet you have), you can oftentimes thank a street team for its presence. You probably know that street team marketing is a form of guerrilla marketing used to raise awareness of music among target fans. Street teams were heavily used by hip-hop labels to promote their albums; they hired reps to hang up posters and flyers to let people in the streets know about their new releases. Today, many people find out about new music online from their peers, but you can adapt this old-school tactic of street team marketing to form your own digital street team and reap the same benefits, including sparking conversations about your music and generating a buzz online. Here are a few tips to help you build your own digital street team.

Who should be on your street team?

Your email list subscribers

Your fans who have subscribed to your email list have a more vested interest in you than people who simply gave you a like or a follow on social media. They signed up for your mailing list to stay updated on what you’re doing and to personally hear from you on a consistent basis. Send an email to your mailing list asking them to join your digital street team first. Once you have given your mailing list a chance to join your team, open up your street team to your social media followers. Create a signup form that asks your social media followers to provide their email address to join your team. This will help you to grow your mailing list.

Your supporters

Your best brand advocates are people who believe in you and love your music. Ask your family, friends, and of course, your fans to be part of your digital street team. These people already support you and would be willing to help.

People with influence

Your digital street team members function as your endorsers, so they must have a strong influence on your target audience. Having a strong influence doesn’t just mean having a large number of followers on social media. A strong influencer has a large following and the power to sway people’s thoughts and actions. Find tastemakers who have a strong influence, access to your target fans, and the ability to persuade people to listen to your music. Reach out to these people via means already in your life: Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram. Ask around and see who’s a friend of a friend’s mom’s cousin’s college roommate. You might be surprised how small your world actually is. (Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is not just a party game.)

What do you do once your street team is in place?

Give them marketing guidelines

Your street team marketing must fit within your overall marketing plan. While you want to give your team members freedom to speak from their hearts about your band, you need to give them guidelines on how to represent you. Your street team must communicate the same messages you’re communicating in your other marketing channels. For example, you release your new single, and you want your digital street team to help you promote it. Ask your street team to post your song at the same time with genuine comments. The more people who are talking about your music online at the same time, the more likely it is that you’ll generate a viral buzz.

Reward them

Your street team members are using their spare time to help you out because they believe in you. Treat your digital street team well and compensate them. Reward them with free downloads, exclusive content, exclusive access to your concerts and events, merchandise, etc.