Lego Rockstar

Wish Your Fave Band Was Bigger? 5 Ways to Pump Up Your Fave Unknown Artist in 5 Minutes or Less…For Free!

Do you have a favorite band that you think is the bees knees, but they don’t get the attention you think they deserve and you’d like to help them rise to fame but you’re not sure how? Perhaps you saw them at a club opening for another well-known band you love, or you saw them at a local show playing right after your friends band. Maybe you heard them on a local radio show, or your friend turned you onto them and you’ve been trying to spread the gospel ever since. It’s not surprising; these days, because there are so many choices of what to listen to on platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, iTunes, etc., it’s difficult to figure out who the great bands out there are. Make no mistake that there are legions of great bands and artists out there that most of us haven’t heard of, and chances are pretty good you’ve got at least one in mind that you love.

A lot of us are under the impression that bands are just “found” somehow, and then turned into stars overnight by some industry big whig that loves what they do, because that’s the glamorized story that the big 4 corporate record labels (Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner) want you to believe. While that is certainly the case for some artists, the vast majority go through a much longer and laborious process on their way up the ladder of fame. Behind most artists that achieve national and international recognition is what is and has always been the most important aspect of an artist’s career: an army of motivated and ravenous fans that are adamant about the artist receiving recognition from those in the industry. These fans will often stop at nothing to make sure that the wider world pays attention to their favorite artists, and they have a few tricks up their sleeves that they use to get it done.

Remember, if you’re totally turned on by this artist, chances are that there are others out there that feel the same way and are doing the same types of things to bring the artist to prominence. Together, you can do it! With that being said,  it’s time to jump to action with some simple and quick ways to get your favorite artists seen and heard by the masses!

  1. Call up your local college, community or commercial radio station and request that they play the artists’ music. This is something you can do as many times as you want, and the more you request it the more likely they are to find it and check it out, if they don’t know it already, and play it on their station.
  2. Post about the artists you love on other music blogs, like the one you’re reading right now! People who love music read music blogs and the people that write music blogs check out the artists that people talk about on their blogs. Just adding their name to the conversation goes a long way towards moving them into the American musical psyche, and chances are that someone will see your post, check the artist out, and then tell someone else who will in turn tell someone else.
  3. Mention the artist on facebook, twitter, or other social networking platforms you are on. This is super easy and quick and not only lets others know about the band through a conversation on social networking, it also increases the bands visibility on the internet in general. The more a band is discussed on social media, the more they show up in search results when people search for topics that relate to music and artists like the ones you love, and the more they show up in other people’s social media posts.
  4. Play the artists music on streaming music platforms you use to listen to other, mainstream music. Search for the artist on Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, or where ever else you stream music and if they have music available to stream, play it often. Admittedly, if you pay for the service then this one is not technically free, however, you don’t have to pay anything additional out of pocket over what you pay to listen to all of the other music on that platform. In addition to getting a little compensation for your spin, the band also raises their visibility profile on that streaming music site and will come up in searches for music in their genres. If they get enough spins, they may even get a feature on the sites featured music list, or in another highly visible area on their website somewhere.
  5. Tell your other friends who love music about the artist during casual conversation! I know this one seems obvious, but a lot of people forget to tell their friends when they are excited about an artist they’ve recently discovered. Face-to-face word of mouth is still the one of the best ways to start a groundswell of recognition of an up-and-coming artist, and many bands still become famous largely because people talked about them around the water cooler.

You may already be a seasoned and dedicated music fan that has been a part of a movement that has brought one of your favorite bands to the fore (and you may not even know it!). If you have ever done one of these things and can share your experience, or if you have some tricks up your sleeve that aren’t on this list that you want to share with other music fans so they can help their favorite artist move to that next level in the American musical lexicon, we want to hear from you! Feel free to share your advice, experiences, failures, and just plain old great stories about supporting your favorite artists.

 

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10 Great Bands From the Bay Area You May Have Never Heard Of But Should

With the incredible economic boom that has overtaken Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area and the meager wages that the average band are paid in the U.S. these days, I get the question all the time “are there any good bands left in San Francisco?” Well, in addition to our band, which still somehow hails from the city by the Bay (and is about to release a brand new 12 song album), there is still a wealth of musical talent that resides in cities around the Bay.

Although I do love them, I have refrained from including some of the darlings that have arisen in the last few years, such as @Wooden Shjips (@woodenshjips), Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (@thaogetstaydown), and Thee Oh Sees (@theeohsees) to this list. Nevertheless, there is actually an amazingly deep well of talent still brewing in and around the city, although the scene has admittedly been somewhat decimated compared to what it was before the cost of living skyrocketed above what musicians are typically able to scrape up.

I’m sure many of you will have bands to add to this list, which is very much encouraged here. Please note that this is not a “Top 10 Bay Area Bands You’ve Never Heard Of” blog, but rather just a list of 10 Bay Area bands you likely have not yet come across that, if you like The New Up’s music, you are likely to enjoy listening to. So don’t fret if you don’t see a band you like on the list; rather add it to this list by commenting with the name of the band.

  1. 20 Minute Loop
  2. Pebble Theory (@pebbletheory)
  3. Eagle Wolf Snake (@eaglewolfsnake)
  4. Beautiful Machines (@machinemusic)
  5. Soft White Sixties (@thesoftwhite60s)
  6. Pamela Parker (@pamelaparker)
  7. Taxes (@taxesband)
  8. Yassou (@yassouband)
  9. Brokedown Valentine
  10. Seeking Empire (@seekingempire)

I’m looking forward to reading what SF Bay Area bands you have to add to this list!

Cheers, and enjoy!

Noah
The New Up

What Are We Listening To Right Now?

We’ve discovered a spate of bands recently that have really tickled our fancy, some more commercial and some less. We really try to look into some corners to find good new stuff, we feel like it’s part of our job. And then, of course, there’s always a little old stuff that creeps in, so it’s always an interesting mixed bag.

We could have used some music social networking service to share with you what we’re listening to instead of putting it into this blog, but I like the old fashioned way of putting it into text. There’s just something more endearing about that. You’re encouraged to comment on this and let us know what you’re listening to as well…

Here’s what’s in our queue:

Polica
Ms Mr
Tame Impala
Sory Kandia Kouyate
Queens of the Stone Age
The Kinks
Tricky
Daft Punk
Phantogram
STRFKR
Ali Farka Toure
Doug Stanhope
Grimes
Wilco
Rodriguez
The New Up (Of Course!)
Depeche Mode
Stripmall Architecture (Fellow SF Band)

So what’s in your queue?

How Do Musicians Bounce Back From Tough Nights?

We always hear about sports stars having a bad game, or the comedian having a rough night, and I’ve read a lot of articles and blogs by these folks talking about how they get over those rough patches and pick themselves up to perform at a high level again the next day. Well believe it or not, musicians have bad shows and usually know when the crowd isn’t diggin’ it, and that can translate into a very rough night. So how do we pick ourselves up from that and dust ourselves off, so we can come back and perform at the top of our game the next night?

There are a lot of factors that go into putting on a good show, and any one of them can go wrong and cause a show to be subpar: bad club management, crappy stage gear, poor matching of bands on a bill, lack of audience attendance, the list could go on forever. A musicians job is partly to go out and put on a killer show despite the fact that any one of these things, or a combination, have gone wrong. But sometimes the musician is having a bad night and that can translate into one of these factors having more impact on the show than usual. It’s not an easy thing to overcome a night like that, but there a couple of key philosophies that help musicians at any level get over a night like this.

Just like with any profession, overcoming adversity takes a mental tenacity. The constant rejection of being any kind of artist is actually some of the best training you can have for overcoming difficult performances. Knowing how to pick yourself up and dust yourself off is something that is part nurture and part nature, but you can make up for a lack of nature with some amount of practice. If you’re a touring musician you get plenty of practice with this, but unfortunately if you’re just an every once in a while performer it can be much harder to overcome. When you think about the fact that even the best baseball players only hit the ball 3 out of every 10 times they’re at bat, and the best teams still lose 65 games in a season, it’s no wonder that they can be good at handling adversity. Musicians, on the other hand, have much more pressure to perform flawlessly every night, because they’re usually performing for new fans that didn’t watch them the night before.

Beyond the nature or nurture of your mental toughness, it’s important to maintain a decent diet, get good sleep and keep the partying to a moderate level; all of which can be difficult to do when you’re a touring musician. But the seasoned veterans that perform well every night have systems down for all of those factors, because they know that it will have a huge effect on the quality of their performance, and in turn their musical legacy. When you’re a young, fresh touring musician you may be able to bounce back from those difficulties fairly quickly at first, but it doesn’t take long before it catches up with you and performing can become a drag instead of a blast.

So behind all the excitement and perceived irregularity of being a touring musician, the things that are important to normal everyday people to feel good as they go about their day: diet, exercise, sleep, social interaction, etc., are the things that are even more important for touring musicians to maintain if they want to have the mental stamina to overcome that occasional bad night. The grueling touring schedule, extreme amount of energy expended while performing, and the myriad of logistical and administrative difficulties that musicians are confronted with almost everyday when they’re not performing makes these factors even more critical to maintaining their ability to bounce back from a rough night on stage. And that, in turn, plays a big role in keeping their dreams from becoming as much of a drag as any another job.

Every once in a while, we all need to breathe

Memorial Day weekend.   For many of us, three days off in a row is a perfect excuse to hit the road and GO somewhere.   Escaping the busy complexities of life for a brief, yet needed break from the day to day insanity.

Its Hawk here, writing my first blog ever and life in my shoes really has been insane recently.  I’m heading out of town to do a little camping / kiyaking trip up to the Russian River and really looking forward to just kicking it with nature and getting out of the city.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate, but thats always a roll of the dice.

Luckily my insanity is not all bad,  collectively my circles of people have been getting some serious sh*t done!  The New Up’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is chugging along on all cylinders (check it out here: http://igg.me/at/thenewup/x/3150441f ), the new album is ready to go, and we just played an incredibly cool outdoor show last weekend.   Also I have to give a big shout out to Blue Bear School of Music, who just pulled off a successful annual benefit show at Bimbo’s San Francisco.

So I would like to raise a glass and toast everybody out there that are going to chill out and relax this weekend.   We deserve it, we work our tails off.   And of course let us remember all the fallen soldiers this Memorial Day, we wouldn’t be the same without their ultimate sacrifices.  Over and out.

Join The New Up For a Google Hangout Tonight!

Tonight, Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30PM PST The New Up will host a Google Hangout in which the band will answer your questions about the new album and crowdfunding campaign, and anything else you’re curious about; plus they’ll be giving participants a sneak peak at some of the new music from their upcoming album. Visit our Google+ page and add The New Up to your circles (note: you’ll need to join Google+ if you don’t already have an account) then at 7:30PM PST click on the “Say hi” button in the green Hangout box. You’ll be able to join the Hangout session and ask questions, or just listen.

And don’t forget to check out The New Up’s fundraising campaign for their upcoming album on indiegogo at http://igg.me/at/thenewup/x/2175393. There you’ll find their pitch video, which includes previously unseen live footage of the band and new unreleased songs from the new album, and you can check out the numerous exciting perks, including indiegogo-exclusive items that can’t be obtained anywhere else other than by donating. You’ll also find indiegogo-exclusive pictures of the band, comments from other people who donated, in-depth details about how donations will be used, what the band and the new album is about, and a whole community of people that share in your love of The New Up. The band has already reached 25% of their goal (and they’re only 20% of the way through the campaign), but they need your help to make it to the finish line, so go there now and get involved!

See you in cyberspace at 7:30 P.M. PST on google hangout for what is sure to be an interesting and lively Q & A session and an exclusive unveiling of some of what the band will be offering on this new album.

The Internet: Friend or Foe of Music’s Middle Class?

Many people have written about the changing state of the music industry quite a bit in recent years, and they all seem to come to the same conclusion: it’s in shambles for the everyday musician. We’d like to put our two-sense in on this issue, so here are our thoughts. The music industry has never been especially kind to the aspiring musician, you were either plucked through nepotism or sheer luck, despite how talented (or not talented) you were. Once you were plucked from unknowndom, you were typically given lots of money by your record label, and then the record label would proceed to spend all of your money on lavish things for you, while you walked away broke at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still nice to be promoted properly, play shows to large sold out rooms, give interviews to news sources where people go to find good new music, etc. But for the rest of the everyday musicians, how did we get to this place in society where we seem to think that getting paid to be a musician is just a bonus?

Part of the reason is that if you take away the musicians and bands that aren’t registered as businesses, or run like businesses for that matter, 90% of the bands and music out there would fall away. What that results in is a severe downgrading of the profession of music and a dilution of the music market with so much subpar music that the value of the profession as a whole is watered down. This is not to say that just because you understand the business side of music that you’re talented, but there’s an inherent bump up in the quality of the talent in that remaining 10%. Why? Because if you have it together to work hard enough and to understand that music is a business like any other business, then you’re much more likely to also work hard at your craft. So the percentage of talented individuals in that 10% is much higher than in the other 90%.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, we believe that there should be a much healthier middle class in the music world, especially the rock world. Right now that seems almost impossible, you’re either a struggling musician touring on a shoestring budget, playing mid-sized clubs and barely breaking even on your expenses, or you’re making tons of money selling out larger venues and basking in the warmth of the limelight. There is a small middle class in some genres of music; jazz, jambands and classical music are a few that come to mind. But in the rock, indie, hip hop, pop and so many other genres of music, it’s feast or famine. There have been so many factors that have combined to lead us to this point that we would have to dedicate an entire book to that discussion, so we won’t go into that here. But the bottom line is that if we don’t try to nurture a middle class in music, then we’re in danger of further eroding the quality and diversity of the music that the general public is exposed to, and in turn eroding the very creativity and craft that has been the basis of music since the first caveman starting singing in the shower.

Don’t get me wrong, creativity in music will never die, but it has become harder and harder to be original and find someone to trumpet your greatness to the world if you don’t sound like something that has already hit the charts. The internet has been a godsend in keeping this alive, but the record industry has slowly been figuring out how to squeeze and tighten the outlets through which music is bought, sold and promoted. Sites like itunes (who pays most of it’s artists 3 cents on the dollar for music sales), Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora have taken the place of the record labels in exploiting musicians, paying unfathomably small amounts to the musicians that provide them with the very product that constitutes their lifeblood. Before we pour too much of the blame on them, though, we have to look at the reality that even while these sites charge for subscriptions, collect reasonable prices for sales of the music, and have often come up with other creative ways to boost their bottom line, they are still struggling, too. Most record labels have stopped using the old model of developing bands into stardom and have switched to a model of cherry-picking bands that have already made a name for themselves, and this is because they have been struggling as well.

So who, then, is to blame for the shrinking music economy and the lack of opportunity for working musicians to make a living at their craft? We are. The internet has allowed so much more great music to be exposed to so many more music, but it comes with a cost so great that it risks starving the very artists it exposes out of existence. A lot of the music that we listen to, download and enjoy from the internet is free. Or at least it is to the consumer. The recording, promotion and production side of music has undoubtedly come down in cost in this age of technology, but bringing the cost down from $100,000 for a record to $50,000 for a record doesn’t much help a poor, working class musician. And access to the main outlets for music is typically reserved for folks that have backing from a source that has a reputation for churning out successful music. If you’re a musician or a band and you want to break through that barrier, it requires some pretty serious resources. Anyone who tells you that you can just have a viral video and then you’re all set and you don’t really have to spend any money doing it probably has some swampland in Florida that they’d like to sell you as well. So make no mistake about the reality of music on the internet: when music is “free” or is purchased through a subscription site, it’s actually contributing to a slow churning and burning of a large chunk of the middle class of musicians.

So what can we do to sustain musicians that haven’t reached the level of Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, or Madonna, but are just as much if not more talented? Crowdfunding sites have helped even the playing field for talented musicians without a lot of resources. If you want to help music blossom from the bottom up, go and check out some of the various crowdfunding projects on sites like Indiegogo.com or Pledgemusic.com. You’ll see a plethora of interesting, funny and inspiring music projects that have realistic goals and need funding from music lovers of all kinds. You can also add to the emaciated middle class of talented musicians by buying music directly from the artist, usually through their website. And you can help to increase the amount musicians get paid when you listen to their music through a subscription site by taking a quick second to make sure that the subscription site that you are subscribed to is one that pays the musicians a fair percentage. Sites like itunes and Pandora are notably stingy with paying for the product that they peddle and other sites that pay out more to their musicians need more subscribers to make that business model work. Lastly, go and see the bands you love when they come to your town. Most musicians earn a lot of their living from revenue from live performances. And no one will deny that going to see live music is one of the greatest things you can experience on this earth.

So in the end, the internet is both the biggest danger and the best hope for fostering a burgeoning middle class of musicians, and in turn increasing the choices for music lovers that enjoy a well-crafted, creatively inspired song. Much like our behaviors have changed as we’ve become more aware that the fast food and fast fashion industries exploit their workers, we must embark on the same campaign of awareness for musicians. Right here in our own country, we’ve got a robust system of exploitation that turns musicians into less than worthy producers of something that we all seem to not be able to live without. Let’s join together to change this and show that we truly appreciate music, and the people that are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and co-workers, that produce that music.