"We Are 100% Independent"

If you’re a regular TV-watcher, there’s a good chance you’ve heard music by The American Dollar.  The duo from Queens, John Emanuele and Richard Cupolo, continues to create “instrumental, experimental” music that seems to be a perfect fit for film and TV.  September marked the release of Ambient Three, the third album in the group’s Ambient album series—a series that features previously-released songs that have been stripped down and then revitalized with original elements.  We got a chance to speak with The American Dollar about their new release, how they’ve been able to get their music placed in film and television, and more.

After you read the interview, listen to their free music sampler!

Without using ‘conventional’ genre terms, describe your sound.
We make instrumental, experimental tracks that happen to blend very well with film.

How did you develop your sound?  
We basically started out with a keyboard and a Kaoss Pad, trying to make something original and different from anything we made together previously, resulting in “Everyone Gets Shot” on our first album. Since then we’ve reinvested our album proceeds in constantly upgrading our equipment, computers and our range of sounds.

You recently released your album Ambient Three, which followed Ambient One, and Ambient Two.  How are these albums related? Is there a common theme that ties them together?
The ambient album series mostly takes previous album tracks and strips them down to be free of crashing drums and guitar; then original elements are added to change the feel. Initially this was created to go better with films and remain unreleased, however, after a small public release of Ambient One we saw there was also desire from listeners to hear the reworked material, and since then they have gone on to become some of our most important releases.

What kind of marketing plan (if any!) did you have in place for the release of Ambient Three?
We never conventionally market our albums, we basically do our best to make sure existing fans know about it, and we price our discography accordingly (12 releases for $20 in MP3) to help get things more spread around and ‘viral’ on the net.

You’re clearly very active on your social media channels.  What are some specific things you do on these channels to really market your brand?

We try to:

1) Release a certain amount of free music.
2) Price our music fairly.
3) Be sure our music is on every possible service.
4) Create enticing deals for our fans when we can

You did a big tour in the spring overseas, playing at venues in Russia, Germany, Czech Republic and more. How did you establish a fan base oversees?
We didn’t really establish anything, luckily they came to us almost entirely through the internet.

What are your goals as an artist?
Our goal is to continue to sustain ourselves by creating the best music we possibly can as often as we can.

What are you doing to carry out those goals?
We’re working on some great Audio/Visual projects for our next release with some incredibly talented videographers. We are going to try to be innovative with the release of the material. Still working out the plan on that one as we move forward.

Why does TuneCore work for you?
TuneCore works incredibly well for us. With a fair yearly rate and transparent monitoring system, we’ve found TuneCore is the best possible system for digital distribution and an awesome benefit to a new generation of artists.

Has your music been used in film/tv?
Yes, thus far our music has been used in CSI: Miami, Infiniti Auto ads, TV trailers for the movies ‘Up In The Air’ and ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ as well as many other placements in a variety of media types.

If so, how did you go about securing these placements?
For the most part, the biggest opportunities have actually sought us out, however, we do our best to get the music out there to begin with by submitting it to specific agents we think will do a good job finding tasteful usage of our music in film.

How did you build this list of agents to contact?
We don’t really have a “list” of agents, more like a few close people we trust who have been good with our music over the years. And as noted before, we focus on our music and art, and have been lucky enough to be sought out by some good people.

Have you signed a publishing admin deal? How are you exploiting your songs/copyrights?
We have no publishing admin deal, we are 100% independent and we prefer to handle everything ourselves.

What are your thoughts on streaming? Do you distribute to streaming sites or do you feel artists aren’t fairly compensated for streams?
While compensation per stream can certainly be said to be less than ideal, the scale of listening seems to be growing and with this hopefully payouts will be increasing as well. Overall, we understand why some more established acts aren’t interested in the royalties associated with streaming, but when you are trying to piece together a living, it’s hard to say no to this source of income however small it might be.

What’s the most important tip you would give another independent artist trying to get his/her music out there?
Be sure to have your music everyplace it can be, that way if people are looking for it on any given media outlet, it can be found.

So what’s up next for The American Dollar?
Right now we’re working on large audio/visual projects and new music. We have a great series of time lapse music videos that is an ongoing project, you can check it out here.

Download a Free Music Sampler from The American Dollar

Become a Fan on Facebook

Follow The American Dollar on Twitter

Check out The American Dollar’s Official Site

New Music Tuesday: Oct. 16, 2012

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. We’re featuring a few of those new releases below. Check them out!

Sweet Talk
Miss Tess

Running Out of Places to Go
The Swellers

Danza 4: The Alpha- the Omega
The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza
Heavy Metal

Take the Stares
Hip Hop/Rap

Loose Canon EP, Vol. 1

On The Line
Avery Storm

We’ve Got to Try
Kiki Sire

And a Happy New Year
Mikey Wax


Joel Piper: Stay Out Of Your Comfort Zone

California pop artist Joel Piper is quickly becoming an artist to follow.  The former lead singer and drummer of hardcore band Confide recently released his debut album as a solo artist, “Dying To Live,” (following an EP), and people are continuing to take notice. With little more than the support of his fans, the album debuted at #17 on the iTunes pop charts. We got a chance to talk to the humble artist about how he got to where he is, where he’s hoping to go, and what other independent artists can do to connect with fans and promote their music.

What was it like starting to release music as a solo artist after having been part of Confide for so many years? 
I’m basically doing everything the same as when I was in a band. We always had to do everything ourselves, which I actually like. I am very hands on with every part of my music career—as much as I can be—whether it’s with videos, graphics, marketing, etc. It’s actually easier doing things on my own now because I have full control of what goes on, so there are no miscommunications.

I’ve always had a unique and authentic connection with my fans. I’m thankful because I’ve joined band after band after band through the years, and my fans have continued to stick with me and support whatever music I write and pursue.

You released your most recent album Dying To Live this summer.  Did you have a marketing plan in place for its release?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, if anything. I was guessing that it would hit some sort of Billboard chart at least, but I didn’t expect to get top 17 on the iTunes Pop chart, a manager, and some other opportunities, within one day of the release. I just let my fans know 2 weeks before the release that it was coming. My fans and I are so close that I can treat self-releases like that. I only was able to market to my twitter fan base considering my Facebook page wouldn’t even work half the time during the week of the release…

How do you feel about streaming? Do you put your music on streaming sites? Or do you think that artists aren’t fairly compensated for streams?
My EP is on basically every streaming site, but I have left Dying To Live off of particular streaming sites after hearing about the shady business and unfair pay system these companies practice. For now it’s not a bother to me to not be on certain sites because if people want to stream my album they can just go to another site. I don’t care about the money as much as the principle of the matter. For now I’d rather they hear the music for free on YouTube than get ripped off by a company that lies.

You’re very active on Facebook and Twitter.  What are some specific ways you use these social media channels to connect with your fans and promote your music?
Some ways I’ve used social medias to promote were having fans leave iTunes reviews and in return I would personally email them an exclusive mp3 of an unreleased cover song for free. I don’t really make contests as much as I should. I usually just write a few tweets announcing a cd release and the core fans are right there re-tweeting, sharing, and spreading the news by word of mouth. One way I gained an original small core fan base (that is constantly growing) was by hanging out and meeting almost every single one of my fans on tour with my old bands throughout the years—building almost personal relationships with them. I just love people, and they are the reason I can do what I do.

What are your goals as an artist?
I will continue to write music for and connect with people everywhere, and one day wish to become a household name as an artist showing people hope, love and passion. I have had this vision since I was a toddler, and have never strayed from it.

Why does TuneCore work for you?
Straight out of the gates TuneCore allowed me to release music to the biggest music store on earth—iTunes—and all other digital platforms. That right there is, to me, the most powerful tool for any unsigned artist.  Many friends wish they weren’t on labels and could self-release their music through TuneCore.

What advice would you give other independent artists?
It’s all about understanding and connecting to people. Figure out how to fit into peoples’ lives instead of trying to make them fit into yours.

If there is an authentic purpose to the music you are making and you never quit doing what you love, I promise opportunity will come one step at a time, as it has for me 🙂

People can see when you’re genuinely passionate about something you’re doing.  And if it’s good they will want to be a part of it.

I am constantly staying out of my comfort zone too.  I have made some great connections by accident just because I stay out of my comfort zone and make friends everywhere I go. I am so thankful for all the opportunities a few specific people have given me in the last 2 years. It’s all getting me closer to breaking through as an artist. I’ll never give up. And now I have a great team building behind me.

What can your fans look forward to next?
Music video and possibly a single beginning to go to radio 🙂

We are working on song placements right now in many areas too. Things are looking very positive, and we cannot wait to see what comes of Dying To Live these next few months!


Download Dying To Live from iTunes

Follow Joel on Twitter

Become a Fan on Facebook

#TCVideoFridays – September 28th 2012

September’s just about over, and we’re celebrating with one last #TCVideoFridays for the month! Check out our roundup of rockin’ TuneCore Artist videos.

We’re starting off with a few music videos that TuneCore delivered to iTunes. Click here for more info about that, or write us at video@tunecore.com.

True Dream, “The Stare of Death”

Flesh-n-Bone, “How Many (feat. Layzie Bone & Ducctape Gang)

Bianca & Chiara D’Ambrosio, “Let Your Light Shine”


And now we’ll continue with some more videos from TuneCore Artists. Enjoy!

Creatures of Love, “Vakkula”

Apollo Run, “The Inevitable Small Rebellions”

G-Eazy, “Plastic Dreams (feat. Johanna Fay)”

The Foot. “Ignorance”

Ki:Theory, “I Wanna Run (feat. Maura Davis)”

Spirit Animal, “Crocodile Skins”

SafetySuit, “Let Go”

Low Cut Connie, “Scoliosis in Secaucus”

Evitan, “Hot Damn”

#TCVideoFridays – September 21st 2012

Another week, another #TCVideoFridays post! We’ve got a great group of videos for you to check out, but here’s a quick announcement before you do: TuneCore can distribute your music videos to the shelves of iTunes. Click here for more info, or write us at video@tunecore.com.

Exact Change Project, “New School”

We Three And The Death Rattle, “Hey Detonator!”

Brandon & Leah, “Showstopper”

Tiffany Alvord, “The Breakdown”

aprilemade, “Johnny”

Holly Starr, “Don’t Have Love”

Kelley McRae, “When the Evening Comes”

Xing n Fox, “Bang (feat. Treach, Doitall & Ky Will”

A Silent Film, “Danny, Dakota & The Wishing Well” 

Thomas Fiss, “Let Go”