Greg Holden lets music guide him around the world. Born in Scotland, raised in London, and now residing in Brooklyn, this gifted songwriter and performer finds inspiration in his life experiences as well as in the music that surrounds him. Greg’s new album “I Don’t Believe You” hits digital stores on May 31st, and if you’re in the New York City area that night, stop by Rockwood Music Hall at 7:30 PM and celebrate with him. Read on to learn about the “teaser videos” he’s been posting, and why believes an updated mailing list trumps promotion through social media sites.
Without using the words “alternative,” “pop,” “rock,” or “hip-hop,” describe your sound.
Well, I write poetry, then figure out a way of putting music to it without ruining my efforts. My producer, Tony Berg, described my new album as folk-punk, and he knows better than I do so I’ll go with that.
In what ways do you use social media to promote your music?
My “career” started when I began posting videos on YouTube. They were simple enough, and have remained so. Just me, my guitar, and a new song. It went from there and now I seem to have a half-decent following. I also use Twitter and Facebook because they’re great for keeping people up-to-date, and I’d say more people think to look towards those platforms for new music.
How do you stay connected to your fans?
I use Facebook mostly, because the status updates and messaging features are unchallenged in the social networking market. The runners-up being Twitter and YouTube. I came late to the mailing list world because I was naive enough to think that the social networks would last forever. Sadly, I’m now plagued with remorse and my mailing list is rather pitiful. I believe the social networks are now over-saturated and the whole thing is going full-circle. Websites and email addresses have prevailed. So we all have to make sure we have good websites with the ability to collect email addresses.
Is there usually a set marketing plan you follow when you release new music?
Well, this really is my first serious release since I’ve had a following, so I can only tell you what I’ve been doing this time around. For the last couple of months I’ve been posting teaser videos, maybe 30-seconds long, with a little audio from the record, and some footage from the studio. It seems to be getting people excited so I’m glad I’ve been doing it. This month I’ve also been doing a countdown on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Each day I try to find a different way to show the number of days before the release, whether it’s by writing it on a steamy window, or drawing it on my face. Just makes a boring number slightly more interesting for everyone you know? On top of that I’ve just released a new music video for the first single of the album so that has certainly helped get people excited too.
I’d say the trick is to not give everything away all at once, even if you have it and can’t wait to show people. Tease them, it makes them want it more.
How do you actively control the rights to your music?
By making sure I own all my releases. It’s difficult, and I have been lucky in the sense that my fans just helped foot half the bill for my new album. I distribute through you guys (TuneCore), and all my songs are registered through ASCAP, who collect my royalties. I also have a licensing company who work my songs onto TV, so I can pay the rent. Owning the rights to your music is the most important thing a songwriter/artist can do, but sadly nowadays it’s becoming more and more difficult. I wonder how long I can hold on.
Can you tell us about your new album “I Don’t Believe You” that’s hitting stores on May 31st? What was the inspiration?
Of course. The concept of “I Don’t Believe You” was born at the start of 2010, when I’d kind of hit a wall in my career. I didn’t know what to write anymore, I didn’t even know if I wanted to write anymore, I didn’t see the point. I certainly didn’t want to fight my way through the over-saturated genre I, and many of my friends were being dragged into. It was starting to feel like a competition or something, like a scene out of American Idol where the person who wins the hearts and minds of the public isn’t the one with talent, but the one who can conjure up the best “feel sorry for me” story, and that wasn’t why I was doing this. So then one day I was sitting in a cafe somewhere in Brooklyn, and the song “I Don’t Believe You” came out of me, I’m not sure where from. Then it all made sense and I at last knew what I wanted to say. So I got right to it…
My album was half-funded by the website Kickstarter.com, and half-funded by me. I raised $30,000 in 30 days in September through fan donations, which was utterly mind-blowing, and then in October I flew to LA and straight into the studio with my favourite producer, Tony Berg (Aimee Mann, Bob Dylan, Weezer). It was a dream come true, it really was. We worked for 5 weeks, with some of my favourite musicians in existence, and then the album was done. It comes out on May 31st and I can’t wait for people to hear it.
How have you evolved as an artist since your last release?
I feel that I have evolved a huge amount since my last release. I made my last album “A Word In Edgeways” three years ago. In the last three years I have moved to London, and New York, where I have been surrounded by the most inspiring musicians and people, some of the best friends I’ve ever had, I have learned so much about myself, music, life, money, love, hate, touring etc… I like to think that this album is a huge step forward for me, and exactly what I am trying to say. I just hope everybody else feels the same way I do.
Aside from your new album, what projects do you have coming up?
Touring I think. Tour. Tour. Tour. I just came off a 6-week run in Europe, I’m heading back to the States in 2 weeks to release the record, and then back to Europe in October, hopefully. I think touring is still the best way to get your name out there, improve your live performance, and generally meet new people who can help you, and who you can help too.