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.

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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