Tag Archives: edm

Dissecting Billboard’s Music Executive Survey

Last week, Billboard released it’s inaugural (anonymous) A-List Music Executive Survey – wherein “Billboard polled the top executives in music on a broad range of temperature-taking topics” –  and if you’re into reading headlines, the big take aways were that today’s high-level industry players love Taylor Swift, hate rap and EDM, and have generally mixed feelings about how artists are treated and whether or not they like their current jobs.

TuneCore is part of the greater music industry, and we’re incredibly proud of some of the amazing careers that our artists have gone on to experience. But as a member of a community of independent artists, do the revealing results of this survey really matter? How much of this survey intends to touch on hot-button issues like Taylor Swift’s battles with streaming companies and the pressure placed on a high-profile new service like TIDAL, and how much of it aims to highlight how truly out-of-touch some of the most powerful music industry folks really are? Let’s digest and dissect a bit.

Taylor, Taylor, TAYLOR!

The current princess of pop music, Taylor Swift, is represented in 30% of this survey’s results – and in some ways, rightfully so. She was picked as the #1 artist any music exec surveyed would sign right now, 70% of the respondents are “rooting for her”, and she tied with Scooter Braun for #2 when asked who should be running a music company but isn’t. Regardless of your opinions around the “Bad Blood” video, it’s hard to argue with Taylor’s talent and industry prowess these days. But should this matter to you as an independent music maker?

It’s safe to say that ultimately, it shouldn’t. We’re here to help you hit your musical career goals, whether it’s getting your first single on iTunes, collecting royalties, or connecting with fans on your first tour. Until you’ve got major labels knocking down your door, it’s important to manage your expectations and commit a lot of hard work towards completing those goals. Taylor has had a LOT of development and marketing put behind her career (read: money), and if you asked these folks these same questions in 2005, where would she rank? T. Swift is going to have fans, (and a few haters), for the rest of her career, and she’s certainly a great source of inspiration. But the sooner you come to terms with difference between Taylor’s and most independent artists’ career trajectories, the quicker you can focus on current realistic goals in your musical journey. After all, she had to do the same thing at some point early on, too.

Where’s the beef?

When asked what genre of music they despise most – #1 was rap, #2 was EDM, and #3 was pop (do they know Taylor Swift makes pop music?). To us, these results are laughable. Hip hop ranks highest for TuneCore, too – it’s our #1 most distributed genre among artists! This question’s results can easily be conceived as discouraging to many independent hip hop artists looking to reach commercial success. But it doesn’t have to!

2015 is a great time for independent hip hop. From Jay Rock to Azelia Banks to Donny Trumpet & the Social Experiment, TuneCore has had the pleasure of seeing current and former artists take off to new heights year in, year out. Nobody said making it in music, let alone hip hop, was going to be easy; and nobody said you have to make music that sounds like every Top 40 hit in order to garner success and a fan base. In fact, these days it’s becoming clearer and clearer that even with accelerated success and a wide reach, major labels aren’t for everyone.

If you’re making hip hop, EDM or pop music and the answers to that question make your stomach queazy, use them as inspiration. Are these ladies and gentlemen even your target demographic? If you’re performing in a small club to a crowd that’s feeling it, whether you’re MCing or DJing EDM, the folks who answered these questions aren’t going to be upfront moving along to the music even if they WERE at the show – they’ll be in the back answering emails on their phones. Remember that there are enough dedicated fans out there, constantly thirsty for new music — and even better, the tools to reach them are at your hands.

Fairness, technology & streaming

When asked, “Is the music industry fair to artists?”, only 42% of the respondents answered ‘Yes’. If you’re reading this and distribute or collect your royalties through TuneCore, we don’t really have to ask you your opinion on the question. You’ve already chosen to keep 100% of your sales revenue – and it doesn’t get much fairer than that! But it is somewhat encouraging to see that 58% of these players, many with some pretty serious leverage and influence in the business, feel as though the industry they work in is ultimately failing the people who are keeping their lights on. With the music industry becoming (due mostly to high demand) more transparent, does this lead you to believe that the future of artist rights are being more strongly considered than in years past? Of course, we know it’s easy to remain anonymous and admit faults rather than come out and speak up from behind the curtain.

Another interesting element of this survey was how it touched on streaming and technology in general. When asked if they had the technological aptitude of an average 14-year old, only 62% of respondents felt confident enough to answer ‘Yes’. So does that mean the man or woman who decided to turn down your demo submission is currently accidentally Face-Timing someone while attempting tweet on Facebook? Maybe. Ultimately these folks got to where they are based on legitimate business decisions involving music over the years, so it may be that they’re far more confident in their instincts when it comes to hearing the next hit song. Or maybe some of that 62% is just vaguely familiar with SnapChat and Tumblr because they have a 14-year old kid.

Finally, 71% of the respondents to this survey have completely dismissed the notion of a successful TIDAL streaming service. You know TIDAL, right? Well, it appears the high-profile nature of its launch, (which received equally high-profile criticism from artists and journalists alike), and its inability to topple Spotify in subscriber numbers two months later have industry leaders not-quite-sold. In fact, only 12% of them attested that TIDAL will last more than two years!

While this may begin to worry some of you about how out of touch music executives are with the future of streaming and what it means for the industry, hold the phone! 54% of survey takers admitted that they’d take a similar paying position at Spotify or Apple if it were offered to them. So, uh, that’s saying something, right? It doesn’t suggest that everyone’s ready to leave the theoretical sinking ship that many industry journalists have made the majors out to be, but it certainly proves that that more than half (and we’re willing to bet that after enough high profile leaks, at least SOME portion of that 42% was holding back) of these successful industry men and women have placed their bets, at least mentally, on the future of music streaming.

So, what now?

What do you mean, what now?! Keep making music. Keep marketing yourself, connecting with fans, and take any opportunity to play live. Use any defeating statistics as motivation, and remember that it’s not going to happen all at once overnight, so enjoy the ride. Distractions like this one come along everyday – they’ve never stopped you from trying to complete your goals before, right?

Interview: A-Bomb Talks New Release, Crossing Genres, & Staying Independent

Atlanta MC A-Bomb knows what it means to be an independent artist. Having grown up moving around cities that coincidentally proved to be major forces in hip hop, he’s happy to call Atlanta home. After all, it’s there that he learned to support other musicians, book shows, and where his ‘boom rap’ trio Mighty High Coup got their start.  (Read about Mighty High Coup’s recent visit to our Brooklyn office here.)

When their song “808” was remixed by an influential dubstep producer, A-Bomb and Mighty High Coup enjoyed unexpected success on the iTunes Dance charts, as well as access to a whole new fan base. A-Bomb is releasing the remixed follow-up to his first solo effort, The Movie, on Feburary 24th. We got the chance to learn more about his solo work, his on-going career with Mighty High Coup and more below:

From the northeast, over to the west coast and down to Atlanta – you’ve been around! How did the various environments you grew up in affect your desire to make music?

A-Bomb: Man, I think it just gives me such a unique perspective. I grew up in the Northeast back when NYC was the only respected city making hip hop music. When I moved out west, Death Row popped up. It was a bit of a ‘Declaration of Independence’ thing happening out there at the time. People rising up and proving their worth in a scene dominated by a completely different demographic. The same movement took place when I moved to ATL being led by Outkast and the Dungeon Family. I think it affected me in many ways – mostly being my view that anything can happen. Underdogs can win. And that the musical ‘norm’ is ever-changing; it only takes one innovator to shift the whole balance of power.

How crucial was being involved in Atlanta’s hip hop scene in terms of building a name for yourself both in music and in business?

Being in the Atlanta hip hop scene has been huge in the success of my career. I honestly don’t feel like I could’ve gotten to the place where I am in any other city. NYC, LA, Chicago, Detroit, Miami…all of these places are victims of ‘crabs in a barrel’ syndrome. If you’ve ever seen crabs stacked in a tall barrel, they all try frantically to get out. Once one gets close to the top, instead of helping him get the freedom they all want, every other crab switches their focus from getting out of the barrel to making sure that front runner doesn’t get out. The same goes for most cities’ approach towards independent music. I’m so fortunate that Atlanta is completely the opposite. The support system here is strong. We take pride in our neighborhoods and want the best for anyone from them. We all go to each others shows, the deejays play each others music, and we work together whenever possible. Atlanta has been called “The city too busy to hate.”

Tell us about how you got together with Mighty High Coup.

Another testament to Atlanta’s “open-mindedness”. Myself, Ricky Raw, and Mr. SOS were all members of our own groups that had enjoyed some success in the city. We were in different ‘types’ of groups, but we often crossed paths in the scene; battling each other in contests, booking each other for shows, opening for each others groups at parties, etc.

I say on “Opening Theme”, the intro to my album The Movie:

We were always dope but different, nothing you could do about it /
Then we smoked a couple blunts and started up a crew about it.

Mighty High Coup was my group-mate Ricky Raw’s mastermind idea. He reached out to MR. SOS and I and pitched the idea, to both of our dismay. After some smoking, and thinking, and prodding, we conceded. Ricky produced and ‘conducted’ our first album, (To The Moon), with the sole purpose of making the kind of music that he wanted to hear. And he still says to this day that me and Mr. SOS are his two favorite rappers.

Your song, “The 808 Track”, received the remix-treatment from dubstep legend Bassnectar. How did that impact Mighty High Coup’s fan base?

The Bassnectar 808 remix was huge for us. Career changing. We were an underground hip hop group that rapped on underground hip hop beats. And, it happened fast! We’d recorded some songs, but “The 808 Track” was the very first single Mighty High Coup put out as a group. When Bassnectar did that remix we were immediately exposed to an entire new group of fans and we loved it.

What kind of doors did unintentionally crossing genres like that open for you?

It opened tons of doors for us. Bassnectar putting us in that forum allowed for us to also work with a lot of other EDM legends such as Caspa, Bro Safari, Datsik, Mayhem, Oiki, Treasure Fingers and too many more to name. Still to this day, most of the biggest and most enjoyable shows I’ve done have been ‘raves’. We were always a bit of a party-rap group and most that know me will tell you that, in the words of Cal Naughton Jr. (from Talladega Nights), “I like to party” – so the scenes meshed perfectly. When dubstep began to fade and trap music took off, and we were already in that arena – it was kismet. This was the type of music we’d been making for years! All was right with the world.

You released The Movie (via TuneCore) in August of 2014. Where were you coming from lyrically on that album?

I really wanted The Movie to be like a slice of my life. As such, the I kept the lyrics pretty natural to my existence: weed , women, money, booze; booze, money, women, weed; partying and club life, working hard, and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

Tell us a little bit about the upcoming release of The Movie (Remixed), set to drop 2/24. What can fans look forward to from a production standpoint?

It’s a complete re-working of The Movie, which was my first solo album since Mighty High Coup embarked in 2010. The initial release of The Movie made a lot of noise; I was blessed to be able to reach out to a lot of my favorite producers and work closely with them to take the remix record to a whole new place. The production is pretty next-level. Smooth-edged future bass, hard and loud trap tunes and a feature from Fish Scales of Nappy Roots!

Spring will welcome the launch of your new independent label, moredope – congrats! What does being independent mean to you?

moredope is a three-way venture between myself, my producer Wes Green, and my management team Zuko Inc. I couldn’t be more excited about going at it independent with a team that has always believed in my work. I truly feel that as a unit we have the innovative brainpower, artistic ability and knowledge of the game to do more for ourselves than any major label could right now. All of us have chosen to focus our efforts on careers in music, which meant living our lives trial and error. Now we live the research together: we read articles, watch interviews, and explore every avenue that pops up. That is what being independent means to us – rising up with a team that fiercely stands behind what we create, and making our own rules as we go.

From Mighty High Coup, to your solo career, to your new label, what kind of role has TuneCore played in the musical journey of A-Bomb?

TuneCore has been hugely important to us. Just knowing that you can put your music on iTunes by yourself was huge. In this digital age that is by far the biggest link between artist and consumer. We’ve recommended TuneCore to several friends and they’ve all been happy with the results, as well. Because of TuneCore we’ve been lucky enough to be named ‘New and Noteworthy’ in the iTunes Store and we’ve had songs on Amazon compilations. It’s the single best relationship we’ve developed since we’ve been in the game, and moving forward we know that TuneCore will be integral in building our new label from the ground up.

What advice can you offer aspiring independent MCs and producers in today’s music industry?

Be yourself, and hone your craft. Practice makes perfect; and knowledge is key. Also patience, and planning, and some other Confucius-style sage advice.

Besides the new remix project and your new label, what else does 2015 hold for you?

Mighty High Coup will be releasing a powerful new project this year. We have a big big big surprise from our pop artist, Nedric Nedo. Also, super-producer Wes Green has a Dr. Dre The Chronic-style project in the works. Overall, you can expect Moredope!!

Mighty High Coup Visits Our Brooklyn Office

When TuneCore Artists come into our offices, it’s not just enjoyable because we get to step away from our work momentarily and ask questions (and occasionally eat pizza) – it reminds us all why we’re doing what we’re doing on behalf of our artists. To hear more about what an artist is working on, learning about their backgrounds, understanding about what they’re going through during their musical journeys – all of these things help us get a better feel for how TuneCore plays a role in our artists’ careers.

Today, Atlanta-based party hip hop trio Mighty High Coup came through our Brooklyn office to hang out, talk about what they’ve been getting into, answer a few questions from curious TuneCore staffers, and perform an impromptu a cappella style song.

Mighty High Coup – consisting of Mr. SOS, Ricky Raw, and A-Bomb – got together through performing and partying in Atlanta’s hip hop scene and have been distributing music through TuneCore since their debut, To The Moon in 2010. After that release, their track “808” received the remix treatment from legendary dubstep producer Bassnectar – which as Mighty High Coup shared with us today opened up doors into the EDM/house music/rave world. The trio now benefits from being involved in both worlds – EDM & hip hop – as they begin to intersect more and more. While Mighty High Coup’s fan base becomes more diverse as it grows, one thing their supporters share is their appetite for a good time!

Be sure to get more familiar with Mighty High Coup on Twitter & FacebookSpotify and iTunes, and check out our photos from their visit below: