History: Our original bass player and I [Sterling] were close friends as kids and got into music at about the same time. We were huge Green Day fans and that brought us together as musicians as well as friends. So I called him up in the summer of 2011 and said “Dude, you wanna start a band?” and he said “Sure.” Then I said “You have to play bass though” and he said “Fine.” We needed someone to play drums too and I kinda knew this dude, Brad, from where I used to take guitar lessons. I was aware that he was basically a percussion prodigy at his age so we definitely wanted him along for the ride. We started practicing in my bedroom regularly and booking shows around Dallas at clubs, friends' houses, proms, and basically wherever anyone would let us play. We even won the local battle of the bands that fall. At that point, we only had some rough demos out that we would pass around to friends and family so we wanted to record a substantial EP. We released our self-titled EP the next June (2012) and started to gain more credibility as a band. It was really cool seeing that we had kind of become a household name in high schools around the area. We started playing way bigger shows to hundreds of kids on most weekends. In the two years between then and now we've gotten to play shows with huge names like Less Than Jake, Real Friends, Major League, The Dangerous Summer and somehow even Aaron Carter. On earlier this year we released an acoustic EP called Streetlights On the Worst Nights. We are currently supporting the EP with shows around Dallas and DIY acoustic shows night after night.
Something Special: Brad can juggle. That’s kinda cool.
Future Plans: After a big show in June with Man Overboard and Transit, we plan on taking a break from gigging for a little bit in order to get some proper preparation in for our next big project. We can’t tell you about that yet, but we’ll have something new and awesome for everybody real soon.
UC Takeaway: "Advice? ALWAYS wash your hands after using the restroom." Hardy har har, very funny, boys. Ok, so the members of The Happy Alright may not be the most mature bandmates in the world, but their career trajectory is a great example for other unsigned artists. There is no "traditional" path to success in the music business. That being said, steady work and progress will take you far in any field. From jamming in your basement and playing mostly empty rooms to recording tracks and selling out shows, patience is a virtue for independent artists. By building experience over time, you're honing your skills and developing both individually and as a group, preparing yourself for anything that may come your way. So take a note from the tortoise and don't rush to win the race like the hare, and check out The Happy Alright below!
Name: As the City Rumbles Underneath (Ashton Price and Cat Forsley)
Sounds Like: A good comparison would be the band Metric because we use real instruments and synths quite a bit
History: I [Ashton Price] am a professional music producer who runs a studio in Toronto, and Cat actually found me on twitter of all places. We began talking quite a bit over the span of a few months and decided to take things farther and start a band. I thought we'd try a few songs and see what happened. When we did our second song "When Stars Collide" I knew there was a really good chemistry between the two of us and I decided to put a lot more effort into the project. Since then we've been focusing on making songs and videos. We just compiled all our singles into one EP called Flowers from the Stars and are working on pushing that for the next while. Our biggest accomplishment so far has been getting a song on a show that airs internationally called "Degrassi - Next Generation."
Something Special: Cat has been all over the world as a peace advocate. I've been a lot of different basements producing music.
Future Plans: Originally the plan was to release new material right away. Then we kind of stepped back and listened to what we did and thought, "No, this deserves our attention and promotion." Since that time we've just been focusing on promoting our EP and videos. When we do start up again we're going to be doing a few covers to get the ball rolling.
UC Takeaway: "As a producer I encounter a lot of different artists trying to do different things. The ones who find success are the ones who find that style that THEY absolutely love and are really great at. Trying to do anything else to try and be more successful will always end in failure." That's a great piece of career advice based on personal experience coming at you from As the City Rumbles Underneath's Ashton Price. You are the only "you" in this world, so own that fact. There are a million wannabe or copycat groups out there just trying to capitalize on the success of others. But what you bring to the table is your own unique point of view, and the music that's in your head and heart. Accepting your very special self and sharing that with the musical universe isn't what will hinder you - rather, it's what will propel you forward. So march to the beat of your own drum and check out As the City Rumbles Underneath below!
Name: River Becomes Ocean (Marvin McMahon - Vocals/Keys, Danny Snow - Guitars/Backing Vocals, Oscar Neidhardt - Bass, Dorian Neidhardt - Drums)
Sounds Like: 30 Seconds To Mars, Bring Me The Horizon, You Me At Six
History: Four guys from France, Germany, and England, knowing each other from tours with former bands, moved to Brighton, UK, to do what they love and start from scratch. River Becomes Ocean was formed in January 2013. We have recently been to the Outhouse Studios in Reading to record our debut EP featuring Shane Told from Silverstein. Our first music video will be released in early 2014.
Something Special: We are all vegetarians/vegan and support animal rights.
Future Plans: A music video and EP are both on the way!
UC Takeaway: We've touted it before, and we'll do it again: connections are everything in the music business. And no, we don't mean bigwig "industry" connections. It's about the musicians and music lovers you meet along the way. Bands fall apart and new ones form every day. Befriending other guys and gals on the road could lead to a future you never foresaw. Stay after the show for drinks and laughs, exchange numbers, and keep in touch. Who knows what those friends could turn into one day. So make an effort to bond with those around you, and check out River Becomes Ocean below!
Name: Normanton Street (Elliot Tomas - Drums, Phoebe Freya - Vocals, Bukky Fehintola - Vocals/Guitar, Jack Butterworth - Vocals, Nicholson Davids and Ned Archibong - Guitar/Bass/Vocals)
Sounds Like: Wu Tang, Lauryn Hill, Alice Russell, Nina Simone, Jill Scott
History: We pretty much grew up together. On the same street in Bradford. Big up BD9 and shouts to Dean and Lewis on the same street. Myself (Nicholson), Ned, Jack and Bukky decided to get a house together in Brighton and have a few years working standard jobs and making tunes. We lived on Normanton Street initially, which is in the infamous Elm Grove area of Brighton. The crib was a dive yet with an abundance of warm charm (and mold). Semi-detached, so we were able to play music as loud as we wanted on the side of the house that ran parallel to St. Agnes Street. Plus, we had fantastic next-door neighbors in the form of Paul Cox and Jordan Adams. After a year of the intoxicating stenches from that lovely abode, we now reside in the centre of Brighton, where we are a convenient stones throw away from many of the venues that we play at and it's a brisk walk to the station to jump on the Southern Railway service to Victoria for them London shows. Dunno why but the First Capital connect service just isn't as enjoyable.
Something Special: We run our own label, QM Records.
Future Plans: Next EP due out in May 2014 followed by a UK Tour in June/July 2014.
UC Takeaway: "When we were finding our feet a while back and struggling to get bookings, we started hosting our own nights with other bands from Brighton and London. These were quite successful and suddenly the bookings came. Due to some extortionate prices to record at various studios whilst knowing we would be making music for the long term future, we decided to invest a lot money and built our own, which is now the home of QM Records." Normanton Street truly embodies the UC way. They say if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, but sometimes in the music business it's better to trump the label bigwigs at their own game. This band didn't just look to advance their own careers with their endeavors, but assist other musicians trying to "make it" as well. All their good karma is sure to do nothing but increase their odds of having a long, successful journey through the music industry. So be the best independent artist you can be, and check out Normanton Street below!
The following article by Unsigned Corner Editor-in-Chief Maggie Hollander originally appeared on the Huffington Post Blog
Every Independent Musician Is a Startup, So Start Acting Like One
In the last decade, the world has changed in a multitude of ways. Two seemingly unrelated examples of this fact are:
1. The tech landscape has spread and grown exponentially, and,
2. The formal music business has consolidated and shrunk dramatically.
What do these trends have to do with each other? Well, a whole lot more than you may think.
The rise of the independent musician has been well documented, but the success stories (for the most part) have not. On the flip side, every day a new startup is making a splash while another is changing the technological landscape as we know it.
While we think of music as art and technology as science and mathematics, when it comes to unsigned artists and startups, they are both fundamentally the same: businesses.
Accepting this premise, here are five things every musician should learn when it comes to being their own startup.
It All Begins With An Idea:
That's all it takes to start. Whether it's an app or a sound, the very first thing a musician needs to figure out is what they bring to the market. What music do you love? What's missing? What does your beat, your lyrics or your rhythm say that isn't already being said -- and are there people out there who want to hear it? Music can be something secret, something special, something just for you, right up until the second you decide you want to make a career out of it. In that moment, you need to start thinking beyond yourself and focus on what your idea brings to others.
There's No "I" in Team:
Not even a solo artist or lone wolf hacker can launch an entire career on his or her own. Figuring out the right people to surround yourself with is an important step in the process of turning music from a hobby into a job. What can't you do on your own? Who do you know (or can you find) to fill those gaps? Are there people out there willing to invest their time and effort in helping you achieve your dreams?
Start Small and Build:
No overnight success actually happens overnight. You need to hone your craft, the same way a programmer might spend hours and hours perfecting a code. It is not always fun, but it's necessary. From late nights practicing to performing at empty open-mic nights to reworking a song for the thousandth time, understanding that there will always be room for improvement is an important step on the road to becoming the artist you hope to one day be.
Know Your Goals:
What do you want from music? Every musician has his or her own idea of what "making it" means. For some, it is simply sharing their music with as many people as possible. Others would seek out an acquisition of sorts -- maybe a major label buys your songs and sets you down a song-writing path (to put this in pop culture terms, you could be Gunnar from TV's Nashville), or perhaps one signs you to a contract that makes you a star, but takes away your control of your music and your image. It could be finding a smaller label that helps you get the word out about your music while allowing you a greater say in crafting that message. Or maybe it's just touring the country in a van one summer with your best friends and a guitar. Whatever your goals are, or whatever they become (because let's face it, change is inevitable with time), keep them in mind and let them guide you through every decision you make in your musical career.
Believe In What You're Saying, Singing -- and Selling:
Launching any kind of business is hard, but when you're in the music industry and the product you're peddling is so personal -- in many ways, it's a part of you -- it can be even more difficult to deal with the many obstacles that come your way. The solution is two-fold. First, an artist must separate any criticism of their music or their performance from themselves personally. Second, like any person putting his or herself out there on a public stage, a musician must believe in themselves and their work completely. If the work isn't worth fighting for to the person who created it, then who else will? Who else will believe in you if you yourself don't?
Music moves us in profound ways that only art in its truest form can, but for any musician aiming to turn their passion into a full-time position, the business world has to be taken into account. So independent musicians, be your own startup, and take over the world one song at a time.
History: I'm an independent artist from Philadelphia, born in a suburb of Philly and migrated to the city at a young age. I've always loved and had a passion for music but never thought I could use my talent as a career until I fell on hard times and decided why not do what I love for a living.
Something Special: I'm really like to create things whether it's painting, fashion, photography and just making things with my hands.
Future Plans: I'm in the process of recording another single and planning on some big shows this year.
UC Takeaway: "You should live life to the fullest and be appreciative of what you have no matter how small. It's more than a lot of people have. Life is too short for regret." Ok so that may be several cliched phrases wrapped into one advice bubble, but Cody Kahmar does have a point. Let's focus for a minute on the second: appreciating what you have. In any career, we are generally looking towards the next milestone while disregarding any success we have already achieved. In particular in an industry as difficult as the music business, it's important to appreciate what you've been able to accomplish rather than just tossing it aside as a stepping stone towards a future, bigger prize. To add another saying on top of those already referenced, the grass is always greener on the other side. So live in the moment every once in a while without worrying about the next step, and check out Cody Kahmar below!