How do you get your music on the “it” blog or radio station? When should you hire a publicist? What does a publicist even do? These questions are common among young musicians looking for their break. In our second installment of Music 101, we talk to tastemakers Sharlese Metcalf (KEXP) and Brandon Stosuy (Pitchfork) about how they discover new artists, then publicist Nathan Walker (Riot Act Media) gives some advice on promoting your band.
In an industry where it’s difficult to make a living, musicians have had to become more and more creative to survive, especially with shrinking royalties in their pockets. One way some artists have managed to succeed is to tap into — or create — a niche market. Whether it’s inventing a new genre or signing to an obscure label, their stories prove that there’s not just one path to success in the music business. Our guests on this episode share their unique approaches to what they do. We hear from Simon Tam, founder of Asian American dance rock band The Slants, who saw a lucrative opportunity in playing anime conventions. Charmaine Clamor, creator of Jazzipino, a genre combining Filipino folk songs with American jazz and blues, also joins us. Finally we talk with Eric Isaacson, founder of Portland’s enigmatic Mississippi Records.
Health insurance, a 401K… employment benefits in general? Not so easy to find working in the music industry. Luckily, in 1989 the Recording Academy created the MusiCares Foundation, providing a safety net of critical services and resources for industry people in need. On this episode, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow gives us some background on the foundation and, while the service is confidential, some of the many musicians, managers and crew who have been helped by MusiCares have volunteered to tell us their stories.
You’ve written and recorded a song, now you want people to listen to it. What’s next? We start off the year with our first Music 101 episode, where we talk about the songwriting, publishing and master rights related to self-releasing music. ASCAP’s Marc Emert-Hutner helps us decipher some of the acronyms every musician should know in order to understand their rights. Then, Kevin Breuner of CD Baby returns to the show to talk about how to distribute music yourself. SoundExchange’s Michael Darpino wraps up by telling us how musicians can collect royalties.
What do Justin Bieber and weird punk have in common? Well, not much, but we cover both on our last show of the year, where we celebrate the year in music. We also get into 2015 trends in shoegaze pop, comedy, feminism, top 40, and more. Portia brings in the Kill Rock Stars crew, James Reling and Ben Parrish, to hear their favorite songs of 2015. We then wrap up the year with Kiran Gandhi, activist, musician, and former drummer for M.I.A. to talk about major trends in music and what the phrase “The Future is Female” means to her.
Independent labels have long been at the forefront of bringing great music to the public, especially lost gems and overlooked greats that went out of print or were never pressed on any other format than vinyl. Today we talk reissues with the labels Yep Roc and Light in the Attic, as well as talking to one of the bands whose output is receiving the reissue treatment: seminal pub rock band Eggs Over Easy. Yep Roc’s General Manager Billy Maupin discusses reissues in general, and Light in the Attic’s Matt Sullivan gives us the scoop on tracking down enigmatic folk musician Sixto Rodriguez, and more!