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Archive: Jun 2014

YouTube Puts the Squeeze on Independent Music Artists

Posted on June 27, 2014 by admin

YouTube Puts the Squeeze on Independent Music ArtistsIndie artists aren’t just bearded gentlemen with experimental guitar riffs and emotional lyrics – indie artists are (nearly) everyone who makes any kind of music without being hitched to one of the handful major labels (Universal, Sony, or Warner Brothers – or their subsidiaries). Even belting pop starlets in matching dresses are independent if they haven’t signed a deal with a major label. Why does this matter? Because the Google-owned powerhouse YouTube is making some big changes, and it’s going to affect a lot of musicians.

Indie artists use YouTube to promote themselves, reach new fans, send messages to their fan base, and get their music into the ears of people who want to hear it. And it doesn’t cost them anything. Anyone can post their music to the site and benefit from it by making themselves more well-known – and some people even get famous this way. But those days may soon be over.

Changes are Coming

YouTube wants to compete with other music streaming services and be able to turn a profit. The video sharing website’s new model, rumored to be called ‘Music Pass,’ will make users pay for a premium service to skip commercials and download music, among other perks. The current version where users watch videos for free, as long as they can sit through an advertisement, will still be available.

But labels don’t get off that easy. Record labels must strike a licensing deal with YouTube in order to be included in the ‘Music Pass’ world. Any label who doesn’t sign a licensing agreement will be left off ‘Music Pass,’ and it seems, the free version of YouTube as well. Indie labels are refusing to make this deal because they have not been offered the same deal as the ‘big three.’

Whether or not YouTube actually goes through with pulling indie label videos remains to be seen – but if the company does decide to play hardball, indie favorites will all be gone from the most popular video destination on the web.

What Does This Mean

This means indie label videos will disappear from the most popular video platform on the web.

“If YouTube takes the independent labels and independent artists for granted, it will be a huge mistake,” says Gary Alan, creator of video-driven music discovery site TalentWatch. “As far as we’re concerned, they are even more important than the major labels and the smaller pool of artists they represent.  In fact, this could open up some eyes to what we’re doing at TalentWatch.”

If all goes to plan, independent music won’t be on YouTube – if you want to see and hear new singers and artists, better start searching through video sites like TalentWatch, Reverbnation or Vimeo. It is still unclear whether artists who aren’t on a label will be affected, though the YouTube backlash may be strong enough for new talent to take their videos elsewhere. These changes are supposed to happen within the next few weeks, so online video viewers won’t be in the dark for long.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Music Artists Make

Posted on June 20, 2014 by admin

mistakesThe music world is hard to navigate, especially for new artists who want to develop a successful career. And while nobody has all the answers to courting the random lightning strikes of fame, we do have a pretty good idea of what not to do. Here are just a few of the recurring mistakes we’ve notice during our time in the music biz.

1) They Don’t Develop An Original Sound – you want to sound as good as people you admire, not exactly the same as them.

Most musicians are big fans of, what else, music. It can be pretty tempting to parrot the sound of the bands and singers you love. But for every Heart paying a delicate and well-received homage to Led Zeppelin, we are forced to endure a slew of forgettable stars who just…sound…like everyone else. You are better than that. You need to develop your ‘special sauce’ – something that makes you stand way out from the crowd, otherwise you’ll just get lost in it.

2) They Don’t Have The ‘Cool’ Factor – nothing sets you apart at first sight!

While being cool isn’t everything in the music world, it does count for a good deal when making a first impression. Sure, every once in a while we get a Susan Boyle who stands out for being so mind-bogglingly different (but isn’t that cool, in itself?) but we also get a lot of bland, young stars who look and act the same. Everyone can be cool in their own way, including you. When you see an authentically cool artist, something just resonates. Think Gwen Stefani or Iggy Azalea. Find a way to set yourself apart before even opening your mouth, whether it is librarian-cool or neo-punk or some style you’ve handcrafted in your bedroom

3) They Don’t Link All Their Social Media Together

While having a social media presence is good, great even, knowing how to use it to fan the flames of your fire is important. Trying to find all the information on a new artist is hard, and it gets even harder to figure out what that person is all about when that artist only has one network profile – or, this might even be worse – a series of networks that are unconnected.  Many times I have tried to find information on an artist, only to find another page that may or may not be the correct one. It’s frustrating and turns my interest into disinterest. Please link all your profiles! It helps reviewers and interested fans get a whole picture of you – literally and figuratively.

4) They Don’t Practice Enough – your live skills need to match your recordings.

Just because you have a ton of followers on youtube, doesn’t mean you will automatically be able to knock them out live. An audience is a scary thing to come face to face with, especially if you are used to making videos in your bedroom. Practice is the only way you’ll be sure to impress. Furthermore, practice is a little different than rehearsal, and both should be done before even trying to step on stage. Rehearsal takes it up a peg – you not only practice your technical skills, but you also hone your performance ability during rehearsal. Rehearsal is how you get better at working a stage, charming an audience, and figuring out the little things…like what to do with your hands if you’re a singer. Maybe even get a test stage and test audience to see how you will do in front of real people. When you’ve got enough hours under your belt, you’ll be more confident and just look and sound better live.

5) They Don’t Put Enough Work Into Relationships (Fans and Network) – be good to fans and be easy to work with!

Networking is a huge part of making your career thrive, both by seducing fans into superfans, and by getting your name and face in front of the right music industry people. Put yourself out there, talk to people and get them to attend your shows. Interact with any fans you’ve made on social media. When fans feel cared about, they are very likely to tell their friends all about “this new singer I like.”

Be polite – if you’re part of a large bill, you shouldn’t act like a rock-star, no matter where you are on the bill. Don’t be rude to people you work with (session musicians, sound engineers, stage managers, and more), chances are they know someone you might need to know later on. If you have the ability, charm everyone you can.



Spotlight on TalentWatch TV Show Host, Jessica Ford

Posted on June 11, 2014 by admin

jessicafordAs you know, once TalentWatch decided to create a TV show, you were at the top of our list to host it.  Tell us why you decided to host our show.

“I decided to host the show because of the opportunity for up and coming artists… Once an artist has their music they usually have no idea what to do with it. It is very hard to get this kind of exposure without being signed to a major label. There is some amazing talent out there that deserves this kind of opportunity and there is nothing else out there like this. This kind of a show supports the artist, their craft and that for me is what it’s all about.” 

When you think back on your career in the music industry, what one experience impacted you the most? 

When I was awarded The Ambassadress Of The California State Talent Competition (given to me because I had won just about every singing category in this Competition). I was then given my own show at the Santa Clara County Fair Grounds all through the Youth Focus Program. I was asked to compete for Miss California State, got 2nd place and was given an award for the first ever Perfect Score In Talent and the Most Inspirational Talent Award. This singing competition changed my life. It gave me opportunities that some people only dream of. I have been able to use this many times in my life to show people I am a professional. It was a resume’ builder like no other and many more doors opened after this because of what Youth Focus did for me. TalentWatch has the same feel to me… when you win a contest you never know what music industry higher ups will take note or what opportunities will come from the exposure you get as a competition winner.”

Besides being an accomplished music artist, you have been named, ‘Nashville’s Premier Vocal Coach.’  What advice do you have for music artists? 

“Most important… never, ever give up on your dream. Next, you must be prepared so that you are ready when the opportunities come your way. If you are not ready it will pass you by and end up landing on someone else’s door who IS ready.  Also, if you want to be the best singer and “win the Olympics”  you have to train and you need a trainer. And one more… very important message I have is… just like going to college, if singing is your career choice, you need to invest in your career. These day’s the internet has taken music in a different direction… so you need to have a video, your music professionally produced and play out as much as possible. Take every opportunity and know that if you turn one down, there are 1,000 other artists who are right behind you ready to take it with a smile on.” 

What do you hope to accomplish on your show? 

I hope to help music artists get the exposure they deserve. I love the idea of giving artists another avenue to grow their fan base. We have big plans for this show and I know we can make a huge impact.  I know we will accomplish this.”  


Creating an Engaging Low Budget Music Video

Posted on June 6, 2014 by admin

Showcasing music videos were once exclusive to programs like MTV.  During MTV’s heyday, you could see video after video and discover new music to love. Now the internet has opened the door to everyone.  The playing field is way more leveled- anyone with a camera, a little editing software, and a dream can make a video that hooks new fans anywhere in the world. But how do you make a video on a low budget?

Trust Yourself

You’re an artist, so chances are you have good, creative ideas for different types of art – not just music. Use those ideas to come up with a compelling video. That being said, try to make sure it’s something you can execute, which brings us to the next point…

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is key when you are on a budget. You probably won’t have money to build a set or a rent a premium location, so try to think of simpler alternatives. Use friends as actors, or as a crowd for a live show scene. Make a few key props, use a friend’s studio, or your parent’s basement – you can create your own wonderland with a few things from the craft store and help from others.   Keeping your video simple will allow you to finish filming before burning out on the process.

Get Help From Your Friends

Someone you know is probably interested in filmmaking. And while they may dream of making full length, high-budget wonders, they’ll have to start somewhere (just like you!). Even future Spielbergs need to plump up their portfolios or create something for school projects – and that something could be a great video for you! Directors, editors, graphic artists, and production people are all lurking within your extended network of friends.  All you need to do is find them.

Your friends are a great source of everything you need when it comes to videos: location scouts, extras, crew members, and a person who will run to the store to feed everyone. They can also spread the word about your video, connect you with resources, and be potential stars. If you decide to do a little fundraising, your friends can help by donating or sharing your donation page with others.

Promote, Promote, Promote

What use is making your video, low budget as it is, without knowing that people are going to see it? Luckily, these days basic promotion is free. You can promote your video long before it is done, using social media. Start by planting the idea, and move on to recruiting your friends to help. Post photos of props, a group of brightly dressed extras, or a behind the scenes shot of the film crew (even if it is just your neighbor with his camera). Start getting people excited! When your video finally premiers, send everyone you know to watch it.

With a little cash and a lot of creativity, you can make an awesome video to attract new fans and showcase your talent.