Interview with SmashMouth

Smashmouth  august 21, 2001

SmashMouth, the iconic band behind hit’s like “All Star” and “I’m a Believer” discussed the evolution of their career and shared some tips for emerging artists with Backtrack.

How did you decide to become a professional musician? Nobody decides to be a professional musician. We all wanted to be Rock Stars as kids so we started a band and it just happened to work. We didn’t know it then but a band is sorta like a start-up company, most don’t even get off the ground.

How did SmashMouth form? Cheating,lying and criminal activity. It was also a conscious decision,….Do we play in cover bands our whole lives or take a chance at something new&original. Maybe we can create our own hits instead of playing other peoples hits our entire lives.

How did SmashMouth develop their sound? It came naturally, half of us grew up listening to Van Halen and going to mega concerts and the other half grew up with Punk/Modern Rock hanging out on the beach surfing all day.

How did you find the right label and manager? Our Manager grew up in the same area as us and even went to the same High School with a couple of us. He started working with bands very early on. We we’re lucky enough to get a song spinning on KRoq in LA and we found ourselves in a label bidding war. Interscope Records was very aggressive and it just felt right from the start, they also came to the table with the strongest budget. Jimmy Iovine basically wouldn’t let us leave the building without signing a deal. The dude had John Lennon’s piano in his damn office, that was impressive.

If you had to start your career over today, what would you do differently? Nothing because we’re not even sure how we did it in the first place. The experiences are so amazing we couldn’t ask for anything to be different.

How did you maintain a healthy relationship with your fans throughout the years? I’m not sure we did to be honest. As our sound changed and developed so did our fans. Whenever a small punk type of band gets widely popular you lose some of the diehards along the way but gain new ones. We ended up with a lot of fans who loved our songs. They love our songs much more than us as individuals and that’s perfectly fine with us.

What is your opinion on streaming services, and do you feel as though they are a viable platform for emerging artists to distribute their music? Of course, it’s another vehicle to get your music out there. The lack of sales from streaming only affects about 1% of artists/bands in the entire biz because there’s only 1% making real revenue from sales anyways.

With such a unique sound, how were you able to find your target audience? We didn’t know anything about a “Target Audience”. We played what we loved and the audience found us. “Walkin On The Sun” was very new & fresh so younger audiences gravitated toward it but so did older folks because it reminded them of The Doors. Then we created “All Star” and at first our built-in AltRock fan base loved it but we also gained a kid type of audience because “Shrek” picked it up. The song was already charting top10 before Shrek licensed it however people think the movie broke the song. Totally not true, the film moved it to another “Target Audience” called “The Kiddie” world. Hence Radio Disney came along with it and all of a sudden we we’re on tour with NSYNC. In other words the Target Audience keeps changing at the same time staying the same.

Do you believe that new technology will allow for more opportunities for emerging artists such as finding a manager, book shows, getting signed, and finding the right audience? New technology helps bands move forward without a manager and/or label. The trick is to accomplish the most you can within the band and not even concern yourself with a manager,label or even agent. They will find you once you become attractive. When we came up we didn’t have access and transperancy like you have today. Heck the internet wasn’t even invented yet, not even email. So you had to find someone who had access to the hidden secret world of the music biz. Nowadays you can reach the masses all by yourself.

What is the most useful advice you can give to aspiring, unsigned musicians?

 

Bring something “Unique&Great” to the music scene and you will stir waves. Don’t try and chase trends, you will always trail those trends. Make sure you LOVE what you’re creating otherwise you will come across as a car salesman. You’re selling music but you’re also selling a lifestyle and a piece of yourself so it must be authentic. That being said pay attention to current music and trends, you must know what’s currently going on so you can follow and feel the trends as they come and go. Be on the forefront of current happeings then take your songs about 5 steps ahead. Don’t write in a vaccuum, be able to reference current topics etc,…. And you must be superhuman, you have to give 100% to your music,school,job,relationships etc,… Your music can NEVER be an excuse for anything. If you have to rehearse till 2am and get up at 8am for a class the next morning you can’t complain, put on your cape and fly. Also realize nobody in your family wants you to be a musician so don’t fight it. They will NEVER believe it’s a real job even when you earn your first million. Do not look for acceptance because it won’t happen.

Interview With David Larson of The Royal Concept

If you haven’t heard of the Royal Concept yet, you will soon. Their song, On Our Way, is dominating the charts and can be heard in the newest FIFA video game. The Royal Concept has one of the most unique, attention-grabbing sounds today and the staff of Backtrack strongly believes that they will become a dominant force in the music industry within the next few years. David Larson, the group’s lead singer, sat down with Backtrack to share his story about The Royal Concept’s inception and success.

 

How did you decide to become a professional musician?

I think I made a decision to try during high school when I studied music. After high school I went to jazz college and after that I made money by taking almost every job in music I could. I was an educated jazz pianist but I played everything from troubadour shows, cover bands, teaching music theory, arranging strings for pop songs and I played synths on tour with Robyn. I really discovered many sides of working as a musician and I started to feel that I wanted to have my own group and play my own music. That’s what got my heart beating extra hard.

 

How did The Royal Concept develop their sound?

We’re constantly developing. We’ve only released one record so far and the sound on this upcoming second record will definitely be different. But we have a few stuff that we stay very trustful too. The slap back delay on my voice, the semi distorted over dubbed guitar sound, Povels low pitch snare and Magnus little Phatty Moog Bass. Those sounds in combination with how we play our instruments is basically the sound. And we know that we sound way dirtier live than what we did on the first record, so we’re now trying to catch that on the second record.

 

How did you find the right label and manager?

We played our first show on a demo stages at a festival in Sweden called Peace and Love. After that show a couple of managers called and wanted to work with us and we took some meetings. Of course we asked around in music business about them all to make sure that we didn’t sign contracts with any idiot, but luckely all of them had good reputations. At the end of the day we just went with the person we liked the most and that we felt would be most joyful to work with.

When labels and publishers started to reach out we did kind of the same process with them. To me it’s always been very important that the people I work with are nice people with good hearts. There’s already so much lack of passion in music business and so many egos that I’m always very careful and trust my gut feeling when it comes to the business part of it.

 


Was the process of finding the right label and manager difficult?

Both yes and no. At the end of the day, a record deal is not gonna make you a good band. The only thing that matters is what you do creatively and if people dig your music. If you never give up, opportunities will come to you when you’re really onto something good artistically. So don’t rush into anything, chances will come. Make sure that you’re pretty secure about your vision and your music when you sign up your art to labels, no matter if they’re indie or commercial. I’m telling you, from the point you sign that contract, everyone’s gonna have opinions about everything and you’ll really have to know what you wanna do and who you are as an artist. Otherwise you’ll be eaten up and you’ll end up thinking about how many records you sell. That’s an artists nightmare.

 


Do you feel as though streaming services can be beneficial for artists that are starting out?

Absolutely. Get your music out there!

 


How did you market your music and book shows without a manager and label?

We played it for friends and send it to a couple of blogs. First we sent a bunch of songs that was not that good and nothing really happened. We went back in the studio and wrote better songs and worked more on the recordings. When we finally felt that we had something that sounded cool we sent it out to the same people and things started to take of here and there. But we focused most of our time on playing together and tried to put together a decent live show. I think that was what really gave us some attention later on.

 

Going back in time, before you were signed, would you have used a program that digitally connected you to labels and managers globally?

Maybe. All the labels are looking at blogs like hype machine, pitchfork and so on. So if you’re creating a buzz out there they will find you. So the more you can do on your own the better. Don’t go after record deals, let the deals come to you. Then you’re in a way better position.

 

What is the greatest tip you can give to aspiring musicians?

That hard work actually pays off. Be critical to yourself but never loose joy and passion. That’s all that matters. Trust your heart and make the journey itself worth it.

 

How important is organization and analytics for emerging artists?

It’s always good to have a focused mind and be aware of that you’re your own boss.

 

Where do you see The Royal Concept in five years?

Hopefully we’ll develop and get better and better. We’ll still be playing together we have probably just released our forth record by then.

 

Interview with Mark White from Spin Doctors

Mark White is currently the bassist of Spin Doctors. In the 1990’s Spin Doctors had two hits on Billboard’s top 100: Two Princes and Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong. With a unique sound and vision, they released music that remains popular and fun to listen to. BackTrack Music asked Mark a few questions about his journey as an artist, here is what he said:

Backtrack: How did you decide to become a professional musician?

Mark: I suck at working 9 to 5 so it was this or death.
Backtrack: How did you develop your sound?
Mark: With a live band your sound is based off the people in the band when they are free to do whatever they want. Most live bands are the result of blind luck or somebody picking each person by hand.
Backtrack: How did you find the right label and manager?
Mark: We actually didn’t find them, they found us and you can  never know if it’s the right one until a lot of time has passed. Basically you just hope for the best when you decide to work with other people.
Backtrack: If you had to start your career over today, what would you do differently?
Mark: Not take a single vacation, never say no to any gigs and go everywhere they want me to go.
Backtrack: What is your opinion on streaming services, and do you feel as though they are a viable platform for emerging artists to distribute their music?
Mark: Streaming is really just the radio on the internet without the DJ controlling everything. It’s good for new artists who want exposure and it might be bad for old artists who might not be getting paid, I suppose the jury is still out on that.
Backtrack: With such a unique sound, how were you able to find your target audience?
Mark: Your sound finds your audience, you don’t really look for them, at least back in those days, today you can do that by labeling yourself online and people looking for that type of music will find you.
Backtrack: Do you believe that new technology will allow for more opportunities for emerging artists such as finding a manager, booking shows, getting signed, and finding the right audience?
Mark: Well it will allow people on one side of the world to find somebody on the other side without having to leave their house. Do a good job on Youtube, get some buzz and anything can happen.
Backtrack: What is the most useful advice you can give to aspiring, unsigned musicians?
Mark: The key to success is song writing. You can be the best musician you can be, but if you write songs that people love, that will take care of you for life.

What is my Image?

To have a music career means more than just making good music. Fans want more than just songs. They want a figure that is the human representation of the songs that mean so much to them. You need to be the whole package to attract listeners, who want to undergo a genuine, authentic, and all-encompassing music experience.

An artist’s image is comprised of their public behavior, performance style, musical style, social media activity, dressing style, public statements, etc. As an entertainer, you are living under constant inspection from fans and potential fans. Thus, in the public sphere, it is important that you live under the guidelines you dictate as integral parts of your image. That’s why it’s necessary for your image to accurately represent yourself, or at least a prominent facet of yourself. To be genuine and comfortable in your artist persona, you must walk the fine line of being yourself and being a consistent and accurate representation of the music you create.

Your image should have roots in your personality and character. You must be authentic. Fans will be able to tell fake from genuine. If you have the choice between being yourself and assuming a larger-than-life persona that does not accurately represent you, always choose to be yourself. Defining your image does not mean deviating from who you are. It means identifying powerful aspects of your music and self and portraying these aspects to fans who want to see your music brought to life. Your look, style, and mannerisms will be associated with your music–this is inevitable. The image that you develop will reflect how you want your music to be portrayed.

Your image should reflect your sound. You should be the living, breathing, walking representation of your music, the complete encapsulation of your lyrics. What you show to the world should be indicative of your music. Your image and behavior should parallel your target market and your vision as an artist.

Your image should reflect where you are in your career and in your life.

Your image as an artist will define people’s perception of you. If you think about the world’s most beloved and popular artists, you’ll realize that you can easily identify their image, which evolves with their careers. Taylor Swift is America’s sweetheart, who is associated with relationships and breakups, but who has also evolved into a feminist icon. With time, as her music evolved with her own personality, her image also evolved to reflect that.

Your image is your brand. Your brand must be properly marketed to the right audience. Having an organized, well thought out image makes it easier to market your brand which means it makes it easier to market your music to potential fans. Understanding and performing in accordance with your image is the key to approaching marketing with intentionality and purpose.

Certain names will always come to mind when we say teenage superstar, hippie peace-loving crew, diva queen, or rebellious, controversial rocker. Every region and musical era are known for producing artists of certain images, as well. However, If we look carefully at the people we associate with these labels, we’ll notice that their images are not set in stone. They can identify with the labels, but the intricacies of their character and personality are what draw fans to their personas and their music.

There is a misconception that having an image is putting up a front or being unauthentic, but the truth is that fans need to see a consistent picture that parallels the music that they so admire. When deciding on your image, remember not to think in terms of block characters, but to think in terms of yourself, your music, your passion, and your vision. What person do you want your fans to associate your music with? Be that person while still being yourself. This is one of the most challenging and important aspects of creating your music career and presence, but once you figure it out, it will be the key to whether or not you experience industry success.

How To Get A Record Deal

If you’re considering a record deal, you are dedicated to your music career. This is not a hobby or a side job, but your life’s passion. You find yourself spending every hour practicing until you develop the perfect sound structure and chord progression. You hit the right notes. You find the missing lyric. If you’re at this point, you’re ready to start finding the best labels and managers.

When preparing to physically or digitally send your music to an A&R representative, it’s very important to understand that if you send your music to a major label or a major independent label, then it will compete against tens if not hundreds of thousands of artists that are at the same stage as you.

In order to ensure the best reception from an A&R team, consider preparing a press kit of bios and links to your social media accounts. This kit is a necessary supplement to your music submission that gives your music some context and background while revealing to A&R reps what your music doesn’t show.

Social media:

A strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube accounts, etc. is essential. A&R reps want to see that you’re raising awareness and creating interest among fans. They also want to gauge your organic following on social media. How interactive and supportive are your followers? More importantly, how interactive are YOU with your followers? Being as socially interactive as possible with your followers will not guarantee you precedence over other artists, but it proves you’re aware of digital trends and that you’re willing to dedicate time and energy into creating and developing a digital footprint. A&R reps want to see that you’ve made the commitment to connect and expand your fanbase.

Biographies:

Include individual bios and a bio of the band/group, if applicable. Bios should be very current and should contain quotes from newspaper articles that have mentioned you, links to music reviews, etc. A&R representatives want to know the important details about you. Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your sound? When did your group form? Have you had record deals in the past? Do you have an agent? A manager? A publicist? Are you currently on tour? Have you ever been on tour? Do you generate many downloads or streams? Have you won or been nominated for any serious awards?  Have you opened for any major musicians? Have you been quoted or discussed in any publications? A&R reps want to know this. They don’t, however, want to know how you formed or what your motivation to write and perform music is. Keep it simple; the passion will show in your music. Include a recent, high quality photo that reflects your/your group’s image. Do not be disheartened if you don’t have the answers to some of these questions, especially regarding newspaper articles or music reviews. People of many varying degrees of experience will be submitting their music. Everyone has to start somewhere.

MUSIC–THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE SUBMISSION:

Different labels expect different types of music submissions. Some labels require SoundCloud submissions or links, others want email submissions through the inclusion of a digital mp3 attachment, and others want a physical CD. The important thing to remember, whether your music submission is streamable, an mp3 file or a physical CD, is that the recording quality of the music is not the most essential aspect. Of course, the music must be audible and be of as good quality as possible. You want to give the the label the best representation of your sound. However, A&R representatives will understand if you don’t have a professionally produced album. They expect to hear a rough cut or a good representation of what the final product could be, not the necessarily the final track. It’s called a demo for a reason. With that being said, continuity is important. All of the songs you submit should be of similar recording quality, unless the label specifically asks for a different version.

Different labels ask for different numbers of songs. Some ask for your entire repertoire. Some ask for two or three songs. Either way, it’s important that these are your BEST songs and that you’re not just sending them to bulk up your submission. Quality takes precedence over quantity and you need to ensure that every second of your submitted songs serve as the best possible representation of your potential.

Most artists just submit music and a few sentences describing themselves. However, consolidating all of the information discussed above, characteristics frequently forgotten or ignored, makes the A&R rep’s job easier and gives them more time to focus on reviewing your profile and music rather than searching around for your personal details.

Backtrack takes all your information and consolidates it into one comprehensive digital platform. Your profile becomes an evolving submission and representation of you. The service allows you to add and remove songs, constantly update your status and biography, and document your progress in achieving your career goals. Backtrack bundles this information into a concise, accessible format for the label you’re interested in submitting your music to. In essence, the service is one fluid submission platform as labels can discover you even without a formal submission on your end. With Backtrack you have access to labels and managers of all different styles and visions that could best represent you throughout the world. Submitting your music to labels and managers has never been easier. Simply send them a message on our service and your profile is highlighted on their page, allowing for increased efficiency in terms of reviewing the profiles of unsigned artists. Our goal is to provide new opportunities for serious artists looking for the perfect label and manager. Discover and organize your future on Backtrack, where the music industry has never been as accessible and full of new possibility.

Visit Backtrack at http://www.btrackmusic.com

 

How To Start My Music Career

Every year, thousands of people attempt to start their music career. With new technology and online services, this is now a journey that anyone can navigate. Making yourself knowledgeable about the evolving music industry is your key to starting a sustainable and successful music career.

How serious are you about your music career? This question might seem silly, but knowing the answer is essential to defining your personal success. Do you want this to be your side job or your career? Figure this out for yourself and you can approach your career with purpose, and this will be evident in your work.

Create your own music. As an unsigned artist, you can differentiate yourself from other emerging or established musicians by showcasing your original work. Have a repertoire of original songs readily available to showcase and perform. Record your music well; either invest in recording equipment, software or time at a local recording studio. However, the quality of your production is not the deciding factor for a label or manager. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure that you provide labels and managers with the best representation of your sound.

Copyright and protect your music. If you distribute your music online via aggregators or record labels, then you must protect yourself from intellectual property theft and copyright infringement. Copyright can be conducted without a lawyer, maximizing efficiency and reducing expenses. This is a necessity, regardless of the status of your career.

Consider a membership to performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. They will work to ensure that royalties are distributed to you appropriately. While it might not seem important in the beginning, the foundation of legal protection is necessary for your music to flourish commercially in the future.

Analyze your current situation in terms of your career status, expectations, and goals. Should you be looking for a manager, aggregator, or label? Managers book shows, put you in contact with labels, and cover public relations, usually at the price of a retainment cost, however certain agreements result in a percentage of your revenue. Aggregators distribute your music efficiently to all the digital retailers and streaming services for a fee. Record labels assume responsibility for distribution, legalities, and marketing for a percentage of your revenue. When finalizing a contract with a label, there are two avenues to consider: Assignment and Licensing. Assignment results in the signing away of all rights to the label in return for extreme support as well as commitment from the label. Assignment ensures trust on both ends as the artist believes the label is fully capable of handling not only their music but their career. On the other hand, the other conclusion is through licensing your music to the label. The artist will be able to maintain their rights to the music, however, the relationship with the label will be weaker as less trust is evident. What you decide will depend on the size of the label that signs you, your desired relationship with your label, and your vision for your music career.

You need to be heard, seen, and constantly thought of. Create a simple webpage that describes who you are, gives upcoming show dates, and links visitors to music and social networking feeds. Your social media presence must be strong if you want to be a relevant force in an extremely competitive industry.

Backtrack, a music service dedicated to connecting unsigned artists with managers and record labels throughout the world, makes the rapidly evolving music industry more accessible to those who seek to start a professional music career. The conventional method of starting any music career requires a lot of time, effort, dedication, and money–all of which are the necessary and inevitable costs of touring. By giving artists direct access to managers and labels on its digital platform, Backtrack reduces the amount of touring that is needed to get noticed or discovered by labels and managers, thus saving the artist a significant amount of money. Backtrack uses software to connect you to the global labels and managers that would be best for you, based on your goals, sounds, and visions. Furthermore, Backtrack offers organizational and analytical tools which you can use to further develop your sound and image, thus growing your musical career and potential and making you an attractive prospect for record labels and managers.

Starting a successful music career used to seem impossible. It was easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed by the roadblocks, uncertainty, and magnitude of competition. However, Backtrack is committed to making your music career a very feasible reality, because we believe every voice should have the opportunity to be heard by the right people throughout the world. So go ahead, if you’re talented and passionate and ready to start your career, you can be confident that Backtrack is actively rooting for you and ready to take your career to the next level.

 

For more information on Backtrack and our services follow the link below:

http://btrackmusic.com/

 

Getting To Know Us: Max Snow

Have you ever been stuck in a moment you couldn’t get out of?

I know I’ve been. In fact, for the last 17 years of my life, I have been a part of one of the most beautiful cycles of music discovery. To think that it all began at the young age of 4 is quite astounding. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band changed my life forever, despite my inability to understand the lyrics. At a young age, I discovered that the power of music is its universal ability to captivate you, and thus, I began the obsessive, “I want every song in the world” stage of my life. In a mere 5 years, thanks to my local library, I was able to build a database of over 80,000 songs, and, most importantly, I was able discover some of the most diverse and independent sounds that truly defined my life. Whether it was rocking out to Chuck Berry, or contemplating the meaning of life with Pink Floyd, or hating everything with Metallica, the opportunities to express myself were endless. And that is why I fell in love with music. No matter how I felt, there was always a song that epitomized my emotions. But even more, music served as the safe haven for me. Throughout some of the most hectic periods of my life, I always had music to comfort me. Like many others, my emotions were channeled through different genres and lyrics because they were stories I could relate to. Frank Turner’s “Recovery,” for instance, has been one of the most introspective music experiences I’ve ever had. While the song is focused on recovering from drug addictions, my interpretation of it transformed the lyrics to signify a more intimate setting, one in which I have come to know quite well: horrible relationships. As clichéd as that may sound, I hope I am not the only one who rocks out to Pink Floyd or the Doors during low times in my life.

I like to think that my entire life has revolved around music. As the CEO of Backtrack Music, I envision a world where people are united by this universal love of music. Building a community of people that are “Stuck in a Moment They Can’t Get Out Of” has always been a dream of mine. Backtrack isn’t just a piece of software that allows you to listen to music; it is a platform dedicated to bringing together music lovers and spreading that inextricable experience you get when listening to a song that utterly blows you away. Let’s revolutionize the music experience together.

Thank you,

Max Snow

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