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Opinions on live solo electronic musicians. 

Hi all, 

Looking for some opinions on what you would make of you went to a gig and it was just a guy and a laptop. This would mean the performer is literally just pressing play on the laptop - which runs the backing tracks they have made. 
 

This would allow the performer (ie me) to actually concentrate on performing more. It also means the performer could interact more with the audience rather than thinking about the sheer workload they have going on at any given time. 
 

I have done only a few gigs in my life and I want to do more. I really, really want to do more. I’m naturally a performer though and I feel like previous setups haven’t given me the chance to really “Perform”. 
 

For example, I did a gig in Sheffield a while back. It was me and my laptop. The Mac was running the backing tracks and i was playing, rapping and singing along to them. However, I had 2 different keytars on stage with me, a microkorg and an acoustic guitar. Switching between sounds,  making sure the correct backing was playing, ensuring the settings were right was a nightmare. 
 

My set list comprised of the songs I was playing and a list of detailed instructions on what to switch when, what sounds to use etc. It sucks the fun out of it and doesn’t give me the chance to have fun, it becomes stressful and too much for just one person. 

I could bring in some other musicians but I hate relying on other people and I am not a people person particularly. On stage, given the opportunity, I can be a completely different person without the stresses of doing things at a certain time. 

My question is this, can somebody make up for “just pressing play” by being a captivating and confident performer? Would the performance side alone be enough to maintain interest? Laptop, mic and a human? 
 

Thoughts appreciated,

Eqavox

Unchartists - A Spotify playlist for musicians.  

Unchartered Artists – A playlist. 

Playlists play a significant role in the promotion of underground and independent bands and artists these days. There is no denying that one of the best ways to get your music heard is through playlists with significant followers. 

If you can get your song on a playlist, then that is great news. Irrespective of the size of the playlist or number of followers it has. Afterall, any promotion helps us to gain traction. 

It’s important for artists to support other artists too along the way. 

One of the problems I have encountered is that, to get featured on playlists, many of the curators require you cross their hand with gold. This leaves you feeling less like you have earned your place there as you have bought your way in. 

There are also other methods, where you are encouraged to follow the playlist and the curators on social media with the promise that your song will get added to the playlist. In my experience, having done this many times, I have never found myself on any of them. I quickly realised that this is not a genuine way of getting your music heard. 

These playlists get a clear majority of followers, sure, but they are likely thousands of other musicians primarily hoping that their song will be featured, rather than genuine listeners with a real interest in the content. 

I want to help other bands and artists get discovered without shelling out money. 

Because of this, I have created a playlist “Unchartists” on Spotify. It is a collaborative playlist that enables artists to add their own music into the mix. 

This is a collaborative playlist, so you can add your own songs to it. 

This is an idea I have had for a while, to make something where people can share their music for free. This is not genre restrictive, you can add your music regardless of what category it falls under. 

I want this to be a place where people can go to experience a vast and diverse expanse of a variety of music from lesser known artists and subsequently help us all to grow. 

There are no real rules here, however, I would request the following please as a courtesy: 

Please only add a maximum of 3 songs. 3 songs that really show what you are capable of. Please don’t spam the playlist or I will have to remove some tracks. 

If you add your songs to the playlist, please share it with your audience 

  • Encourage people to listen to the music, follow the playlist and share what they are enjoying. Granted, with such a variety of genres, not everybody will like everything, but every music fan will enjoy some things in there. 
  • Please share the playlist everywhere you possibly can 
  • Feature it on your website 
  • Share it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (#chartists) – Personal accounts and your band / artist accounts if you feel comfortable with that. 
  • Do a blog post / Vlog about it. 
  • Encourage other artists / bands to add their music & ask them to share the link around too. 
  • If you have Spotify for Artists maybe feature the playlist on your artist / bands Spotify page. 

It’s mutually beneficial. The more people that share it, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more followers we get. The more followers we get, the more listeners we all get. The more listeners we get, the more our audiences grow. 

Maybe have a browse through it as it grows too, you may find other artists to collaborate, remix or work with. 

I have kicked the playlist off with my own song to start off with – Losing Control. 

One last thing be respectful of the playlist. Please don't rearrange and drag your song to the top of the playlist - that's just rude. 

Please do not just dump your music in this playlist and not share it around. It is not here as a platform to benefit just you, it is here to benefit musicians as a collective.   

With all that being said - here is the link: 

https://open.spotify.com/user/1142605247/playlist/5RXYJAH89Jf4jkWUufFRa0?si=zklM0Q4dQqGhgClAHVaO_g

Eqavox

Help promote artists / musicians / jewellery makers / photographers / poets / designers you enjoy ...  

It's so, so difficult for musicians, artists, writers etc to get noticed these days. 

There are literally millions and millions of people all reaching for the same goals, all trying to stand out, all trying to make something of themselves. 

The creative world has always been busy, chaotic and crowded but, with the introduction of the internet, it is now over saturated too. 

I spend a hell of a lot of time trying to push my music out to everybody, trying to get peoples attention and, more importantly maintain it. 

Being a musician also means you have to be able to do a multitude of other things if you want to stand a chance of being noticed. 

For example: 

  • Press Releases
  • EPK's (Electronic Press Kits) 
  • Graphic Design - Album covers etc.
  • Video Editing - Music videos.
  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • Writing lyrics
  • Marketing 
  • PR
  • Social Media

It's not enough to have a good song up on the internet. That song needs to be EVERYWHERE. Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, Amazon MP3, Youtube. 

So, you finish your track. Save it. You are happy with the musical side of things but then you realise you need an eye catching and relevant image to use as cover artwork. So, after spending days on music, you spend subsequent days creating some cover artwork. 

You finally have your artwork AND finalised music. You upload this to the digital retailers mentioned above and play the waiting game for it to appear on them all. 

Then you realise you need a video with some eye catching visuals to really make the song stand out. So you spend subsequent weeks searching for stock footage, recording on location, editing, deleting and re exporting a video a million times. 

Eventually, you have your video ready and uploaded to your Youtube. Your song is on all major digital retailers so you need to get the links for each individual retailer and add it to the comment section and video description sections so people know where they can buy / stream it from. 

The next step is to post the video EVERYWHERE and hope the algorythm Gods will bless you. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, your website all that jazz. plaster social media in it. 

Encourage people to share or retweet it if they like it. Most don't, but some do and every little helps when it comes to spreading the word. 

You then spend hours and hours every day for weeks on end submitting the song to whoever you can that may listen. 

  • Spotify Playlist curators
  • Radio Stations
  • Online radio shows
  • Podcasters
  • Vloggers
  • Bloggers
  • Music Reviewers 

I approach hundreds of people personally. I don't send out spam, mass emails. I email directly and ensure I show an interest in what they do. I check out what they do before hand and make sure that the particular song I am promoting at the time will fit in with their style / theme. I keep the emails personal because I owe them that much and it's respectful to do so. Sending off one generic email to hundreds of contacts never works out very well. 

You have to give a little to people and be genuine in your approach to what they are passionate about. 

Then you get mostly rejections in return or potentially nothing at all in some cases. 

I would say, to do all of the above, can take up to 1.5 - 2 months realistically. 

It's exhausting and hard work. It can be discouraging work but it's work that needs doing. 

I would suspect that for artists / video editors / graphic designers / painters etc they all experience similar issues too. 

Promoting really intrudes on your art. If I could spend less time promoting, I could release more music more frequently. 

I guess the intention of this blog is to point out the amount of work and time artists invest in what they love and promoting it. 

If you like what we are doing, then it is so important for you to helps us out where you can with a retweet or a share here and there when you see or hear something you enjoy. 

The support is always appreciated and it alleviates some pressure from us knowing that other people are pushing us and helping us too. 

I don't make much money at all from my music. I do it for me and for you because I enjoy it. 

I hope you do too :). 

So yeah, please help your artists, jewellery makers, graphic designers, painters, producers, musicians, rappers, etsy sellers, small businesses etc etc and just share - That is honestly one of the easiest ways to support us. 

Much love, 

Eqavox

 

Once Upon A Time ...  

Colours seemed so much brighter as a child. The world was so unassuming. I chased butterflies through fields, trying to grasp them. I watched through shadowy windows, the sun piercing a dusty dawn. Dispersing a cerise sky. I watched the sun scatter dreams from her eyes like cinders and smoke on hypnotic airstreams.  

Now, the colours have faded. The world is demanding. I listen for silence through echo chambers of gloom, trying to mute them. I gaze through vibrant windows. Sinister shades spiral in over green meadows. I saw the sun burn out years ago, swept away like embers in a tempest.  

It’s difficult for me to put into words really, the above is the closest I have got to date. It’s merely a reflection that life as a child was incredibly relaxing and happy. I was content, so I had the time to appreciate the world around me and observe things that were beautiful, things that you take for granted as you get older:  

  • Sunrises and sunsets.  
  • Crisp, hazy mornings where dew dozes on leaves of the drooping trees.  
  • Damp grass, ornate with shimmering raindrops that dance as you amble through them.  
  • Autumn Leaves. A cacophony of warm colours to fuel our souls through the cold, dead winter.  
  • Rainbows.  
  • Frozen, icy meadows smothered with frosty silk. Flamboyantly gleaming.  
  • Snow.  
  • Icicles clutch to skeletal trees. Shimmering vibrantly as they thaw.  
  • Neon florid skies, cloudless skies, bloodshot skies, auburn skies.  
  • Clouds that morph into a million ideas, only to dissipate like modicums of silt in the ocean.  
  • Gazing through the night at distant city lights that invoke deep, ethereal moods of marvel.  
  • Observing the cosmos through the inquisitive mind of a child who dreams the days away imagining where it all ends.  
  • Contemplating the moon, the universe, the stars and the ceaseless heartbeat of eternity. An infinity you can gawp into but on no occasion understand.  
  • Becoming motionless as you sit, indulging in stasis, scouring boundless skylines for drifting satellites.  
  • The overwhelming and absurd fact that the beacons of light that burst and sparkle in the remoteness may not exist anymore.  
  • Fires that crackle and snap. Frenzied embers flourishing up to the sky, pirouetting alongside sluggish cinders into drowsy atmospheres.  
  • Heat pulsing over frozen, weary bones. Warmth.  

Everything was enhanced when I was younger. My senses were fiercely sharp. Everything was beautiful and curious, exciting and mysterious. There was so much to do, so much to see, so much to love. 

To quote some beautiful lyrics from The Birthday Massacre from their song "In This Moment":  

When I was younger  
The days all seemed to last  
So much longer  
But that was once upon a time ... 

Memory Lane 

Memory Lane. 

My grandad was a strong person too. He was quiet and somewhat reserved, but when I accidentally spilled something on the carpet, for example, all he needed to do was give me a look and that was enough to scare the shit out of me. I called it the “Panda Stare”. 

When I was very little my grandad would pick me up above the kitchen table and let me push the light that dangled over it. I used to love doing this. I’d push it back and forth while shouting “Swing, Swing!”. When I got a bit older and a bit too big for him to be picking me up anymore he used to hold my hands and I would stand on his feet. He would walk around the room with me like that for ages because it made me happy. 

He took me to watch trains pass by at a bridge just outside of Leeds city centre every Sunday afternoon. He would lift me up, so I could see over the bridge when a train was coming, and I used to gesture with my hand at the trains, miming at them to blow their horn. They always did because what sort of a monster wouldn’t do that for a child?   

There was one steam train that came out of Leeds at 3pm on Sundays. We always tried to ensure we were there around that time to see it. It was the only steam train that we knew of that was operational anymore in that area. It was a little green engine that we named “Smokey Joe”. I was obsessed with trains as a child and still enjoy them to this day, and planes. My grandad enjoyed both and talked to me a lot about them growing up, so I learned a lot more about trains and planes and how they work than anything else. 

I remember sitting on a plane once going to Ibiza with my Nan and Grandad and I was watching the TV screen onboard. They were about to do their safety spiel and I saw a CGI, animated plane on the screen. It glided majestically across the bottom and did a full 360-degree loop before coming to a stop at the right-hand side of the screen and disappearing. I turned to my grandad, gasped, and exclaimed; 

“Our plane isn’t going to do that is it!?” 

My grandad turned to me with a smile and said: 

“Well, I hope not” and continued browsing the magazine from the chair in front of him. Probably looking at what beer he was going to have. That was a reassuring response. 

Grandad bought a lot of Hornby train-sets and trains for me. It was amazing because I would always turn up at my Nan and Grandads house wondering if there would be a new train waiting for me up in the attic. We used to sit up in the attic and set different tracks up and get the trains running. When I was very young I would often call him the “Fat Controller” after the fat controller from Thomas the Tank Engine. I often found myself alone in the attic after calling him that, it was a mystery to me as to why. I was completely oblivious. You probably can’t call the character that anymore, it’s too politically incorrect. Maybe it should be the “Full Figured Controller” now or something. 

He was a real character and a bit of a rebel too. He bought me a cannabis lolly from a stall in Ibiza when my nan told him not to (I don’t think it had cannabis in it). He bought me a replica metal Luger pistol and put it in our suitcase for our flight home, even though my Nan told him not to. We went for a walk up a mountain in Ibiza and there was a sign in Spanish. We ignored the sign because Nan and me couldn’t read it. Eventually my Nan wondered what the sign further back said. My Grandad said; 

“It said something about not passing this point, dangerous cliff edges and rocks falling … something along those lines” 

Nan couldn’t believe that he understood it and just chose to ignore it. I could, because it’s exactly the thing he would do to amuse himself and me and wind Nan up further. 

Surely enough, we got around the corner to find a gaping hole in the side of the mountain with a 500-foot drop, so we had to turn back anyway. Grandad wanted to look up there and he was damned if he was going to let any big red warning signs get in his way. You must admire that level of rebelliousness I think. I mean that is pure dedication, risking your life and your family’s life just because you wanted to see what was up there. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it never seemed to kill him, thankfully. I get the impression he thrived on danger sometimes, like he got a kick out of it. Maybe adrenaline perhaps?

If you could work with anyone who would you work with?  

Hey all, 

I had the above question fired at me in response to my last blog post prompting people to ask me questions so I thought I would respond as a blog post as there is it's a pretty big question. 

Let's say that I was signed to some huge label like, I don't know, Sony for example. Somebody with the clout to get any guest appearances on an album I was working on. Who would I choose? 

Ed Sheeran would be one without a doubt. I see a lot of similarities between Ed and myself. He's like the more successful, ginger, version of me in a way. We both started off doing cheeky little acoustic songs and have both developed over the years. I love that Ed is bold enough to do whatever he wants, he's not afraid of being labelled as a pop star. His latest collaboration album shows that he's not afraid to be bold and experiment with a variety of genres which is something I can totally get behind. I never really know what Ed is going to come out with next but can guarantee it will be stuck in my head regardless of the genre. I think we would bounce some ideas around and come up with something really unique together. 

I used to be afraid of the "Pop" label and I get the feeling that maybe Ed was too in the past. I think it takes a real boldness to create whatever you want and not care about the labels or opinions. I stopped fearing the "Pop" label too and stopped forcing myself to do only one certain genre. It's liberating and keeps music fun, which is what it's all about at the end of the day. Why box yourselves in? 

(Worth noting that the comparisons I make between myself and any mentioned artists here are entirely subjective, I am not arrogant enough to put myself on the same level as them in any respect - just some similarities)

Mike Shinoda would definitely be another one. Mike has always been strikingly diverse musically too. He's another artists that keeps me on my toes with his songs. I always loved Linkin Park growing up but they lost me somewhere along the way. I can't figure out why, I guess their new music didn't really speak to me or I didn't really respond to it on a personal level anymore. Whatever the reason was, they were still incredible nevertheless throughout their whole career. I have to say though that "Post Traumatic" is one of my favourite musical ventures mike has done. It's refreshing to hear and experience life from his view rather than as part of Linkin Park. It also shows he is a highly talented and multifaceted musician, producer and writer in his own right and wasn't just feeding off the energy of Linkin Park but was actively enhancing it throughout their journey with his input. 

I Reckon me and Mike could really click together musically too. I love that he blends so many different genres into his music. Pop, Rock, Dubstep, Electronica ... There's a whole spectrum of musical techniques and ideas that he just manages to combine incredibly well. 

This is something I like to do too with my music. I will try anything musically, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but at least I gave it a shot. If something doesn't work, I usually find a way to make it work. I would definitely have to work with Mike, I often wonder what sort of crazy mash up we would make together given the opportunity.

This blog literally could go on forever if I go into this much detail for every artist so I will just round off with some brief Honourable Mentions: 

Poppy - Same as above really, she keeps me guessing and surprised every time she brings new music out which I admire. 

Eminem - Because, well, Eminem ... 

She Wants Revenge - Because I would have to harness that dark, eerie Gothic vibe they have going on and merge it with my style, that would be interesting. 

- Eqavox 

Music Promotion 

Hey all, 

Hope you are all doing good. 

I have recently really been attempting to promote my music more proactively than usual.

In the past, I have lacked the confidence to do so, but I have spent far too long seeing so many of my musical peers put the effort and time in and actually progress while I get left behind. 

I don't know whats more disheartening, watching your friends grow and progress to a level you wish you were at and mightily surpass you, or trying to promote your music only to face rejection 99% of the time. 

Below are a select few of the places I have reached out to in order to try to help me out:

  • BBC introducing 
  • Anrfactory 
  • Indiepulsemusic 
  • Submit hub - multiple submissions (100 submissions to different bloggers, reviewers, podcasters, broadcasters, twitch streams etc ...) 
  • Aurgasm 
  • Omarimc 
  • Radio Warwickshire 
  • Pop justice 
  • Label radar 
  • Indiemusicreview 
  • Gorillavsbear

This takes up a huge amount of time. Time I could be otherwise utilising towards making my next song instead. I do, however, understand that without promoting your music you are unlikely to progress. 

BBC Introducing have listened to my song but that doesn't necessarily mean they will play it. In fact, it's likely that they won't because they have never enjoyed any of my stuff. 

Submithub was 99% rejections. Rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection. The worst part of this was that I was paying good money just to be rejected too, literally pissing away money. 

I have given Facebook Advertising a chance and boosted my music video to "Heartbeat". 3 days down the line, money was being taken from my account but there were no likes, comments, shares or any interaction whatsoever. So I burned away even more money and achieved nothing. I cancelled the advert down eventually before they took more money from me for something I was gaining nothing from. 

I submitted "Heartbeat" to Monstercat only to be rejected by two of the labels they affiliate with thus far. 

Of my many emails I have sent out to local, independent radio stations I have had zero response. 

I am trying to find gig opportunities but find myself staring into the void because my music won't fit in in the majority of local venues. 

It's not all doom and gloom though. I have had some support from a number of people now. People who are sharing, retweeting etc. People who are playing my tunes on their online radio shows. I also have a radio interview later this month (More on that shortly). 

I never thought this would be easy but it is so easy to feel crushed when you are putting so much time into trying to make something of yourself only to feel like you are talking to the wind. 

I would like to thank the people who are supporting me though. There are many people I know who have been around for a long, long time now with me and I have also noticed some new supporters emerging. 

Your support means everything to me and I am by no means ungrateful. No amount of rejections could shadow your support or make me forget about you all. You are all the reason I carry on. 

Please, please help out and proactively listen to smaller, independent artists. It's exhausting work for them to try to promote their work, especially without any backing from anybody influential. We all need your help to spread the word about our music. 

I aim to keep at it, regardless of how it makes me feel. As I say, some positives are also coming of it so I aim to just stop focusing on the negatives so much. 

Thanks for taking the time to read, 

Eqavox

Submithub. 

Hey all, 

I recently signed up to a site called "Submithub" and thought I would sum up my experience here. 

For those that don't know, Submithub is a site where artists / bands can go and submit their music (at a cost) in order for it to be sent to bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, radio stations, music reviewers etc etc. 

I paid for a significant amount of credits. You then use these credits to get your music sent to various individuals of your choosing. You filter by genre to find the best people placed to promote the style of music your song is, at which point, you can then submit your tune to them. 

You use your credits you have purchased to submit the music to a variety of people. Some may have, for example, very established Spotify playlists with a large number of followers or a Youtube channel with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. 

The site itself is a brilliant idea in principal. You submit your tune, you control who the tune gets sent to and who listens to it all with the hope that your song will get some juicy promotion. Maybe it will get featured on their Youtube channel and help promote you?, Perhaps you will end up on a big Spotify playlist with thousands of listeners. 

Sounds great right? - but here's the thing - You are paying out money with no guarantee your music will get anything at all. You could be throwing money at this platform relentlessly and still get nowhere. 

The issue is that music is subjective. My latest single "Heartbeat" has so far been rejected by about 40 of the 100 people I sent it to. I am not bitter about it, we all have personal tastes and you do get some valuable feedback in some cases. In others though, you are just left feeling like your work is shit. 

These people are rated on the site. Submithub has got your back in that they let you know how good these people are at responding to submissions, how fast they respond, the ratio between songs they decline and approve, what their website / Spotify / Youtube engagement is like, if their traffic is consistent and legitimate etc etc. 

This is a brilliant tool because you don;t waste your time sending your music, lets say a dance track, to somebody who enjoys country music. It also ensures you have some semblance of power as to the selection process.

The premise itself is brilliant,but I am not convinced. These people are getting paid to listen to your song, consider it for addition to their playlist / channel / website or for review and provide some feedback (if that sort of thing is important to you). 

Some of the people take their role more seriously than others and provide reasonable and fair critique and feedback, the sort of stuff that has value in and of itself. Suggestions on how to improve moving forward ect but some don't have much to say and are clearly just in it for the money. People do often rate the feedback they get though and you can make your submission choices based on if they give good feedback or not because Submithub makes it public. 

I mentioned earlier that music is subjective and I have certainly found that to be the case here, I think this is why you need to take the feedback with a pinch of salt and not take their words too seriously. People often contradict each other because, you know, we are all humans with different brains and ears and minds and we know what we like and what we don't like and thats all good. However, I do think it would drive you mad if you because obsessive about their feedback. 

For example, some will say;

"This is a brilliantly clean mix", while others say "The mix sounds too muddy"

"I don't like the vocals, they are too processed and have too many effects on them", while others state, "I really like what you have done with the vocal effects" 

"The vocals feel very forced" while others say "The flow of the vocals are very natural and sit well in a mix" 

None of the above are right or wrong, it's just peoples opinions. 

Personally, I don't mind people criticising my music constructively but you do have to remember that that is just one persons opinion. Good or bad - there will always be people who like what you do, your style and how you mix, manipulate and create your tracks. There will always also be people that think everything you do is horrible or sounds messy, muddy, the mix is all over the place, the vocals don't sit right, the vocals aren't loud enough or are too loud, the drums should be louder, the drums are too loud, there are transients in the mix. 

There is no "Set" way to make music. No rules. I left my University course because they tried to make me do things in a certain way. Use certain softwares. Mix and master in a certain way. I didn't like or need that. I have got to the stage I am at on my own and have taught myself how to make, write, record, mix and master music from scratch and write songs too. 

So, if you do use Submithub. Take it with a pinch of salt as I am doing. 

It's disheartening having rejection after rejection of your song you worked hard on and love which is why I won't be using their service again unfortunately. 

I hope this provides some insight into what it's like promoting your music for struggling musicians such as myself. It always costs money and bares little fruit in return. 

Here are some examples of the feedback I got on "Heartbeat". Quite a variety here, some useful and generally very nice, some I could have done without. But you live and you learn. 

Here is the video / song if you haven't heard it so you can make up your own mind: 

- Eqavox.