Tag: indie rock

 

A noteworthy conversation about spreading music with indie rockers Novus Cantus

While making music is art and self-expression, ri be ab independent musiciab abd get your completed works out into the soundscape is a different kind of personall forray han planned when recorrding. It’s also a business necessity to complement production and distribution.

The word is marketing. Public exposure to audio creation. It can be a heavy investment of tine and emotion. Success can lead to a financial anbd social windfall.

“It’s incredibly important for bands to be aware of, and include radio outreach in their marketing plans,” said Christian Herasimtschuk. Christian and his brother Alex make up Novus Cantus, an indie-rocl duo based in Albany, New York. “And yes, sorry, marketing has to be part of your overall game plan, even if you don’t want it to be!”

I interact with Novus Cantus on Twitter regularly. They’ve long talent interest in radio and music submission options I’ve compiled over the years. lowing they spend time looking into radio stations that accept submissions, and how it’s an uncommon thing to read about, I asked the pair a few questions about thier experience with radio and submitting songs. Take this as insight and enciyragement to other independent musicians who have yet to go down this route with their music.

in general: What musicians influenced you two into music?

When we started out we had influences that were all over the place – Your typical rock groups like Jethro Tull, Metallica, and Nirvana, but also more eclectic groups like Deep Forest, Enigma, Muzsikas, and Rusted Root. We would say that hearing Rusted Root was one of those major moments that we realized a sound similar to ours could be popular and successful.

When did the notion radio airplay was an option come to mind?

Back in 2004 when we recorded our first demo, we already had in mind that we should try to reach terrestrial radio stations in our area (Hudson Valley in downstate NY). We were a tad on the, how do you say, nieve side, however. It was a strange time. CDs were still popular, even though MP3s and digital music were on the rise, but people had to hear us to be interested, and on a larger scale that still meant brick and mortar radio. But terrestrial radio was already being carved up by companies like ClearChannel. We even brought a press kit with our demo to an affiliate station in Poughkeepsie. We had no idea that ClearChannel and its affiliates had no interest in local bands with no following. That’s not their business, to discover new bands; just play what brings in revenue. We had no clue, so that didn’t work out.

When was Novus Cantus’ first accepted, by what site/station, and for what song?

Our first CONFIRMED station acceptance didn’t come until many years later (we know, not the positive note y’all were hoping for). It was not until 2017 that our song Storm was played on a local (Albany NY) station, 97.7 FM, for the Local 518 Show” It really put some wind in our sails. Shoutout to Andy Gregory for his willingness to give us the time of day.

How has ‘Net radio airplay paid off directly for the band?

We have to say that internet radio absolutely motivated us to, at times, keep going when things were looking bleak. The internet really opened up a world of opportunities for us; we went from spending time printing CD labels, burning CDs, printing press packets and sending out via snail mail (and maybe hearing back from a couple of stations), to now having a consistent presence on certain indie radio stations online. The payoff hasn’t been monetary (sorry) and any band should be prepared for that. Sure, we’ve made maybe $20 in the past year in streams, but most of the indie stations that will consider you will ask you to waive your royalties. Our benefit has been purely through exposure, networking, and gaining a trickle of new followers with every acceptance. Plus of course, it looks great when writing the next station to show you have a reliable track record of being accepted.

What should a musician keep in mind before submitting music anywhere?

This is such a great question… and it’s a huge topic! But we’ll try to keep it short. Maybe the most important thing, is to actually see if that station is active. Life is hard – the people running these stations are human beings. This isn’t iHeart radio with computerized playlists that run 24/7. Check their social media, check their recent posts, and see if their streaming service is working. The same goes for truly indie terrestrial (land) radio – I’m looking at you college radio! These are STUDENTS running this thing. There are some semesters when station leadership all graduates, and boy, that ball gets dropped. If you don’t read any other part of this paragraph, read and remember this. It’s OK to contact stations directly!!! Are they on Twitter? Great. Follow and shoot them a message asking if they are currently accepting submissions. Are they ‘old school’ and only have a phone number? Call. Don’t hesitate, just call.

The second thing to do is check to see if you can contact a show’s DJ directly, especially if their show is in your genre’s ballpark and the music director is MIA or non-responsive. For us, because we decided to make music that’s a cross between Last of the Mohicans and Metallica, finding shows that match our sound has been super challenging, but we still try. Last of the Mohicans is an amazing movie, by the way (theatrical version only, please!).

What information have you learned to keep on standby for a submission (stuff to include in an email/form)?

Another great question. We, first of all, have a shared Google Drive folder with all radio submission materials (organizing your materials is a must) and in there are little nuggets we’ve prepped. This includes a short AND long version of our bio, AND an elevator version (super short) that a DJ can read on air when introducing our song. We also include, believe it or not, a 1-pager fact sheet about submitted songs. This is typically used for terrestrial stations as it give detailed information about each submitted track, including intro time before lyrics begin, max peak sound levels, and overall tempo/feeling. For internet radio, this isn’t AS needed but it doesn’t hurt to have prepared for a curated show. The last thing is a bit technical, but we also export various formats of our songs. By that we mean we export our song files in both WAV and MP3 format, with variations of the MP3 in bit rates of 320 kbps and 128 kbps. Stations sometimes specifically ask for one or the other… Lastly, TAG your songs – there is great freeware called MP3Tag.

What has been the most intimidating factor you’ve had in a submission?

Certainly listening to other artists on a station can be intimidating, especially if their songs sound more “produced” or radio ready. Our sound is niche as is, so hearing a song of ours like “Moon” and then hearing a really intense modern rock song makes us feel like fish out of water – but that can’t stop us, and it shouldn’t stop anyone in a similar situation who is reading this. Music sounding different is a GOOD thing, it just may take a while to catch on, and maybe not even get a lot of traction. It cannot stop you from casting a wide net… it’s actually even more important that you do so.

And the biggest disappointment?

The biggest disappointment was the lack of response from local DJs at the independent stations where we grew up. After repeated contacts, sending physical and electronic demos, we pretty much “gave up”. And I know, you’re not supposed to do that. But we are talking about TIME to put packages together and do research. We could be doing something else with that time. It doesn’t mean we won’t circle back again. But come on, how many times can you play the same Phish song.

Has airplay on out-of-town stations ever led to in-person performance requests?

Unfortunately, no! . 🤨

What station do you find as a must for submissions and why?

I would say that Lonely Oak is a great station for every radio campaign. They have a ranking system as well where they’ll note the quality of the track, so you get some feedback (I believe it’s a star rating) and even if it doesn’t rank high they give it a chance and add it to rotation.

How about the ones to avoid?

Yikes! We don’t want to make too many enemies but consider avoiding “pay-to-play” scams – particularly if there is no free option. It is different if an indie station is willing to play you for free, BUT also has a paid option for a longer rotation. Lonely Oak has a system like that, and it’s very reasonable. MPG Radio also had a system like that, but I’m currently unaware if they are still operating.

Speaking of pay… What about pay-to-submit? Some stations – locals – do that to cover costs…

[Christian]. I am okay with SOME pay to play situations. More so if they are a legit indie radio station, who will consider playing your music anyway but will boost plays in exchange for support of the station. Like, once again, Lonely Oak. I ALSO think it is wise for bands to open their minds to paid advertising on major platforms, such as Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Youtube, etc. I start to draw the line when it’s just a promoter who claims “10k plays/streams for $50”, or joining this corrupt BS of profit-sharing between radio and labels. Pay to SUBMIT, we are even LESS open to, but would consider for a truly indie station that has accepted non-mainstream sounding bands. Yes, we have been burned by SumitHub several times. Overall “play to pay” as a concept… seems wrong. It should be about the art, right??

However, I also am trying to walk a line here because in music… promotion and marketing has become synonymous with “airplay”, which essentially is the definition of “pay to play”. Radio is so consolidated by the industry, and frankly corrupt, that one hand is just washing the other, and they pay to get their music on rotation 20x more times per day. Just imagine all the millions of indie artists in a metal trash can, while major labels are sitting on the lid, screaming at and handing gold bullion to radio conglomerates passing by. And we scratch the lid like “but we have talent!” while radio stations are like… “but… we are making record profits this way” as they take the gold to the bank and nominate Taylor Swift for 30 more awards.  And in the trash we are hoping by networking enough and getting a few spins on sympathetic indie stations we can “break out” of this galvanized echo chamber. Does that sound realistic? I know I make it seem hopeless – it’s not – but it is incredibly difficult and disheartening at times. It requires real PLANNING and bands do have to be careful not to, as a principle, avoid putting resources (money) toward promotion, which may include radio. It’s the only way we can get any sound outside of that damn echo chamber of a trash can to real human beings and potential FANS on the outside, away from the noise. And sadly, yes, some of these efforts will just be a waste of money and time. But I know from our experience that we wouldn’t have (almost) ANY fans if it weren’t for paid promotion. This of course does tie into the need to also perform live in combination with these online efforts… 

OMG this is better than therapy

And have any fallen into your listening habits?

Yes! We will turn on Lonely Oak, as well as the Local 518 Show, which is a program local to Albany, NY. Believe it or not, MOST of the time I listen to terrestrial radio in the car, and try to tune into the local indie stations.

***

To learn more about Novus Cantus, click here. Their latest EP album, “O Thou Man”, was released \ Thursday, December 1st for the 2022 holiday season. Their music is available through Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube / Youtube Music.

Ease with the Chill of Cabela and Schmitt’s Single ” Lose My Mind”

Ease with the Chill of Cabela and Schmitt’s Single ” Lose My Mind”

How widely known the Nebraska-based indie band Cabela and Schmitt are, I dunno. I knw they have a devoted follower count on Spotify – 97,600+ as of this post – -and have a place on underground stations like Lonely Oak Radio. Do they have any reputation in mainstream music and pop culture though? I dunno.

What I do know is that I tend to like their arranfements. They can do chill/easy listening or boot-stomping rockers. It’s the chill tunes that catch my attention though. Case in point, their latest single, “Lose My Mind”:

It may be a re-release, as they did that with other singles lately, but that’s besides the point. Take a listen. You can find the song on , Spotify but not the other services. At least not yet.

Something familiar and Fab lurks with Blac Rabbit

Two gentlemen singing in harmony to create a fantastic melody in a song titled “Eight Days a Week”. That was John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and it happened on many songs for a decade. Yet I’m not talking about John and Paul in this case. I’m talking about a duo who can be seen in the act at subway stations in the New York area.

It was by chance I crossed a friend who posted a video of Blac Rabbit performing on Facebook. It’s pretty common to cross gentlemen from all over doing covers of Beatles work and sounding pretty good. This was different. This was John and Paul…at least in this writer’s opinion as well as others who cross them in the New York subway stations.

The Blac Rabbit website doesn’t seem to feature an “About” page to give up facts about these guys. Their Facebook page isn’t much more informative on the “about” section there, either. It was through a news article by a New York TV station that I found out that they are twin brothers, Amiri and Rahiem Taylor.

They began busking to make some pocket money, and found a receptive audience on the subway with their Beatles covers. The brothers say they’re continuing to perform on the subway while performing original music at venues across the city.

I also found out that they do have an about page on their website (yeah, slight me for that because I couldn’t find the damn thing myself):

Born and raised in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, identical twin brothers Amiri and Rahiem Taylor do not make the type of music that their borough of origin is usually associated with.  Growing up surrounded by hip hop culture and all it’s glory, the Taylor brothers had more exposure in their house to pop, funk and soul music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  So naturally when they began writing songs in high school, they decided “why not learn from arguably the greatest song writing duo of all time?” and proceeded to teach themselves how to play guitar and write songs based off of the Beatles.  After high school they formed Blac Rabbit, bringing in former metal and church drummer Patrick Jones, followed by resident shredder Josh Lugo on bass (and sometimes guitar) to play their original psychedelic rock tunes.

They do their own music? Oh, yeah… Their own stuff can be found on SoundCloud while YouTube can show you more o their performances as well as their original stuff. Here’s one of their songs, just to whet your appetite:

With their harmony and abilities, it piques my curiosity where the group can go with their stuff. As someone who was drenched in the music of the same era as the Taylor duo, I know that can inspire rather grandly. It’s what their creativity brings that remains to be seen.

I also hope they go beyond New York. Let that be a memo to the Tampa Bay club scene in St. Pete, Ybor City and beyond in the Tampa Bay area: Lure these guys here.  Could you imagine what that’d lure to your establishments? Just where in the area they’d end up performing in a busker spot remains to be seen but it’s not like we’re totally lacking on such locations. Ybor City, Pier 60, the West Plaza before a Lightning game. That’s just a shred of potential spots.

There is a question that remains though: Hass Sir Paul McCartney had someone tell him about this pair yet? Cover acts are not uncommon, but this is different. The Taylor duo and Blac Rabbit seem to have something “Fab” going on.

When an established band gets deemed as nothing

I like Reddit. I’ve already posted here about Reddit and promoting content on Reddit. I also know Reddit doesn’t work for everyone, especially at the community-level where commentary can get volatile and discussion stunted by way of sarcasm and reactionary responses.

I want to speak of ill I’ve encountered, but not a malicious incident. No, no, it’s posting restrictions that thwart participation. Subreddit’s having rules are a necessity or everything goes chaotic (or spam-laden), so I’m not trying to frown on rules here. It’s when they go too far and are over-reactive in an effort to… what, exactly? Read More

“Hush Yer Mouth” by the Pretty Voices (with Lyrics)

Hush Yer Mouth 

Better hush yer mouth now baby
if yer talkin’ to me
How the hell you end up some place
ain’t supposed to be
You’re pretending it’s your first time
but I’ve seen you before
I’m pretending I don’t like it
but I come back for more

You shouldn’t be here with me
Don’t think I like what I see
You know there’s no guarantee
Nobody gets out for free

Better keep it on the down low baby
if you know what I mean
We both got our hands so dirty
never gonna be clean
You pretend it never happened don’t you?
Do you sleep through the night?
Try to sweep it out the back door, honey
that ain’t making it right

You shouldn’t be here with me
Don’t think I like what I see
You know there’s no guarantee
Nobody gets out for free

Interest in a song by way of a radio stream

I happened on this, “Be My Friend” by Tomas Fornstedt, by chance while tuned in on Lonely Oak Radio.

Give it a listen, what do you think?

Indulged by the glimmer from Gypsy Star

I was on the Music Tampa Bay website yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an indie rock/music station in the Tampa Bay metro area (96.7 FM). I’ve interacted with the site before as I helped get the Pretty Voices on air on the station.

One key element on the Music Tampa Bay website is a Top-10 list of songs from local artists. It’s also directly tied to voting on the Top-40 of the station. I was looking at the list specifically to see if the Pretty Voices had any tracks listed at the time (nope). None of the listed artists or bands were familiar to me and that’s regularly the case with me and indie music.

What’s also regularly the case with me is checking out an indie artist because… why the hell not?

So, listed at #1 at the time on the Top-40 list was Gypsy Star, “I Feel Love”.  I jumped to Google and typed that in and instead of pointing to a version of “I Feel Love” on YouTube, it pointed to the song Paramour:

All too often what I hear and what I see is bland rock. It’s not the lyrcs that make it bland, it’s just the non-riff of guitar and everything layered on top of each other to make the tunes forgettable. This was not that. I was taken aback by a violinist and accordion being part of the arrangement. Gypsy Star describes themselves as being “dynamic folk / rock” and this sure as shit felt like it. It transfixed me through Monday night.

Yet, listening to the opening of the song again, familiarity crept in. I’ve heard another variation of this before, haven’t I? Listen to the song alone for a minute, without the show distraction.  Think about it for a minute.

It reminded me squarely of a song that “you can check out any time you like, but you can never” leave:

Don’t take that as a criticism, folks. I highly recommend checking out more of their tunes; they just released the album Under the Moonlit Night  in January. Listening to “Paramour” and checking out some of their other songs (like the previously mentioned “I Feel Love”, you can find “I Feel Love” here, it is on YouTube… Not in concert version) I’ve been left curious and surprised. Gypsy Star is only a Tampa Bay local group? They sure as hell look an sound like a group that should be seeing a broader playing area in Florida, in the US and perhaps around the globe.

My dance with music and marketing

It really shouldn’t be that tough promoting a band on Twitter, should it? I’m talking Rock’n’Roll here (or just plain Rock as it’s referenced now) and a quartet in the genre since 2009….But who’s only had a full album since May of 2016 and who’ve only had a Twitter account since June.

It’s a project, that’s for sure, but I’m helping the Pretty Voices as best I can. On their Twitter account at the moment, they currently have 17 followers.  That’s a wee bit better than the 14 they had as a lasting number until a few days ago. I’ve already added plenty of new accounts to its follows list (avenues to help promote the group) but it’s a project, that’s for sure. Thus is the life of a band – trying to gain exposure. It takes some experience with the tool and in marketing. Something my time in the Boltosphere has brought me.

By the way, the group has 378 “likes” on Facebook.  That’s only a fraction of people who have experienced them and liked them on the radio, on the Internet, and in reality. If you’ve heard them, if you’ve enjoyed them, see what they have to offer here on Facebook.

“Control” by the Pretty Voices (with lyrics)


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