As any loyal concert-goer knows, there are certain things that work for artists, and others that we’d just as soon forget. Let’s be honest, this rings true even when seeing our favorite artists perform.
Now, as one of those aforementioned concert junkies, I’ve been compiling a mental list of these attributes and it’s about time I share them with music lovers and bands alike. Join us after the jump for a rundown of some of our personal DOs and DON’Ts for touring musicians, large and small.
It’s officially summer, and Warped Tour has begun! In case you haven’t heard, we’re sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing over twenty-three artists out to perform on it. We decided to catch up with these artists to get the scoop on their summer plans.
Over the past few years, Phone Calls from Home have become a pop rock staple in their local scene. These boys will be bringing their exciting live show to Warped Tour all month long, with hopes of bringing feel-good vibes to fans new and old. Read on to find out how the band met, what they’ve been doing this year, and what they hope to accomplish on Warped Tour.
OS: How did you guys all meet and start the band?
PCFH: Dave, Zack, and Jason met in high school and they met Danny when they were on tour and played a show in Alabama.
OS: Like OurStage, Phone Calls From Home is a Boston-bred operation. What’s your favorite local venue to play?
PCFH: We played at the Brighton Music Hall recently with Paradise Fears and it was great! Definitely a new favorite for us.
Maybe the moniker came about because he is one of country music’s up-and-coming young guns”pun intended due to Moore’s hit song Guns.” So is his buddy Josh Thompson. And Kiefer Thompson, of Thompson Square. Scotty McCreery is another. The list goes on.
I formed my impression of Moore after talking to him a few times in the past eighteen months. I found him to be straightforward, honest, down-to-earth and incredibly humble. Let’s put it this way”mama would let her babies grow up to be cowboys if they were half as genuine as Moore.
But rather than tell you about Moore, we’ll let him tell you about himself in this exclusive Q&A.
OS: So you have been on tour with Blake Shelton on the Well Lit & Amplified Tour. What is that like?
JS: It has been a blast! Miranda [Lambert, Shelton’s wife] and I are good friends. We’ve toured together a lot in the past couple of years. Blake is as down to earth as they come.
OS: What’s the biggest difference in your show these days?
JM: This tour is different than any other tour [we’ve done]. For one thing, we have got production and I never had that before this tour. We have a tractor trailer pulling gear. That all makes a huge difference. The lighting, the staging. It takes so much pressure off me as an artist. People are not only looking at you, they see the cools staging.
It’s no surprise that OurStage artists Orange Avenue have named their new record Small Victories. The band has had a countless number of them in their five years together, including being named Buzzworthy by MTV, opening for The All-American Rejects and Rihanna and song placements on MTV, FOX Sports and Teen Nick. Here on OurStage, they’ve been named one of the top rock bands of 2010, chosen as a Needle In the Haystack artist and won the Video Grand Prize in 2011. With the release of Small Victories just a few weeks away, we caught up with Orange Avenue to learn more about the album and what we can expect from these guys in 2012. PS:There’s a free download waiting for you at the end of the article!
OS: You had a song (“Just Refrain”) featured in the first episode of The OurStage Panel. What was it like to watch the episode and hear the panelists’ commentary?
OA: Very enlightening. It was really cool to see the different outside opinions and critiques, and it was really cool to see the other artists that we were against…it was a nice glimpse of the music industry from the inside. It was a good episode all around. It’s a phenomenal thing, what you guys are doing at OurStage. It’s awesome for independent bands, it’s a phenomenal outlet. Back in the day, we weren’t so fortunate to have this tool. We’re definitely grateful.
OA: It basically means overcoming obstacles to achieve what you want to achieve. Taking things one day at a time, one battle at a time. One small victory towards winning the ultimate war [laughs].
OS: Small Victories will be your third album. How do you feel that you’ve grown as a band since the first and second albums?
OA: The album itself, if anyone’s heard our Reset EP…it’s along the same lines. We’ve definitely grown as far as writing together and individually musically. This is some of the best stuff we’ve come up with. But there was a serious elimination process that we had to undergo. We came up with around sixty songs, so you can imagine! And every song, somebody had a serious tie to each one… so we went through a process of elimination with our management and our producer. We came up with what we thought was a well-rounded album.
OS: How many songs of those sixty did you end up using for the album?
OA: We actually used nine. We actually took a couple of choice tracks from Reset because we wanted to actually push them and get them a little more exposure, “Just Refrain” being one of them… “No Goodbyes,” and “Nightwalk” actually starts off the record. We just always thought that was a great album starter. This is kind of like our dream album. If we could have had the money to do this when we were doing Reset, this is probably what we would have done [laughs]. It’s twelve tracks total, but we have a bonus track for those who are pre-ordering to offer them a little something extra.
OS: The first single, “Wondergirl,” has a very high-energy, electronic feel to it. Can we expect more of the same on Small Victories? Have you thrown any curveballs in there?
OA: It’s very moody, it’s not really all high-energy. We just like to give people something that just kind of rocks, to begin with, then get down to the deeper part of Orange Avenue, you know? [laughs] Start with a bang, first of all, and hopefully they come back for more and realize there’s more sides to the band than just the fast stuff. There’s definitely some moody stuff there.
OA: There’s tons of them, to be honest with you. The Killers, All-American Rejects, The Used, Muse, Chili Peppers, Radiohead. All of us individually have a lot of separate influences and collectively we agree and have the same as well. I can kind of hear all of that being used in all the songs, like a rollercoaster ride. You can hear those different vibes throughout the entire record.
OS: You play hundreds of shows a year. Do you have any big touring plans for 2012?
OA: Big plans! [laughs] We are in the process of trying to do a small little tour around Florida just as a kickstart to get it going and promote the new record. But every day, good things are happening! We’re getting news every day on different things that are popping in and hopefully in another couple weeks, it will be completed where we can go ahead and do everything and really make an impact. Spring break goes off in Florida, so lots of gigs here this time of year!
OS: When are you going to come to Boston? We need to see you up here!
OA: We’d love to do that! The plans are that if this tour that we’re speaking of goes well, the next plan is to do an east coast run. We’d love to be there, it’s definitely on the list.
OS: Anything else you’d like to say to your fans on OurStage?
OA: Small Victories, 2/21! Order the CD now on iTunes! [laughs] We really worked hard on this album and there’s something on the album for everyone. We think people will appreciate the sound that we’ve come to develop on this third album!
You can try, but you probably can’t put an accurate label on Foxy Shazam. Their eccentric and eclectic mix of punk, soul and straight up rock ‘n’ roll has earned the band critical praise and performances at Lollapollooza, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Reading & Leeds. Following a summer tour with Hole and the release of their smash self-titled album, the band recently finished a two-month cross-country stint with Free Energy and is preparing for another huge year in 2011.
One might expect that outrageously energetic 24-year-old frontman Eric Nally lives an equally wild life. On the contrary”offstage, he is a soft-spoken, friendly father of two. We had the pleasure of speaking with Eric about touring memories, writing with Meat Loaf, modern day rock stars and what it’s like to lead a double life.
OS: You’ve just finished your fall tour with Free Energy. How were the shows and what were some of your favorite moments from the tour?
EN: We went to the UK for a week in between this tour and that was awesome. I loved that because we sold out London for the first time. It was big for me because we’re from Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s just really far from home. To sell a place out so far away is an awesome feeling; to bring your music to a different country and do that. I liked playing Montreal because Hollerado, the band that’s opening on this tour, is from there. All their crowd was out and it was just really fun.
OS: Foxy Shazam is well known for its incredible, off-the-wall performances. What inspires the band to become so theatrical on stage?
EN: I usually tell people, “that’s just the way we were born!” It’s just natural to us. We don’t have to do any preparation or any pre-show rituals to summon these things on stage, they just come out naturally. It’s just the way we came out of our moms, I guess. When I’m on stage, I’m an entertainer…when I’m off stage, I’m a spectator. So I just kind of sit back and watch and soak everything in. When I go on stage, I let it all out.
OS: You’ve stated that Foxy Shazam are “not concerned with what category it falls into.” Do you often find that people are trying to fit you into a genre or compare you to other bands because they’re not sure where to place you?
EN: Yeah, that happens all the time. Anybody I ever meet that’s an artist…everybody wants to be themselves. But really, in the way that everything works now, it’s just what people have to do. I accept that. Everything needs to be compared to something else just so you can wrap your head around it easier, I guess. Either way, I don’t mind it, but people do try to compare or group us into a category. Every time it’s different, so it’s cool.
OS: You’ve said that you would never want to make the same record again and the evolution of the band’s music has certainly reflected that. How do you see Foxy Shazam’s music evolving in the future?
EN: I don’t know…every record we make kind of stands for where I am at that moment. I’d have to kind of be in the moment to understand, but that’s exciting for me. I really like not knowing. It’s kind of cool to not think about it and not prepare.
OS: In the song “Wannabe Angel” from your self-titled record, you sing, “For you I wear this mask, at home I take it off.” Is it difficult to transition between your life as a rock star and your life as a dad and husband?
EN: Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say with that. I feel like I’m a completely different person when I’m on stage. It’s kind of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type thing and that’s awesome to me. It’s like how actors do…entertainers, really. It’s just who I am. Being a dad compared to being a professional touring musician…it’s just the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I feel so different when I’m not on stage.
OS: Earlier this year, you helped write some songs for Meat Loaf’s album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. What was your role in the writing process? Would you be interested in writing for other artists again?
EN: Absolutely! I love being associated with people that have rich history in music and Meat Loaf is obviously one of those people. I just co-wrote two songs with Justin Hawkins who used to be in The Darkness”he’s one of my best friends now. It was just awesome. We went there together and we wrote together and sat with Meat Loaf. It was great, I made a lot of good friends through that whole experience. A lot of the other writers that were there were a lot older and have done stuff like that before. That was something that I couldn’t believe I was experiencing so early in my career.
OS: Are there any artists in particular that you’d like to write for?
EN: I would love to, whether it’s writing or whatever, work with Cee-Lo Green sometime. I think he has the best voice in music right now. I think it’s just awesome, it hits me in the right spot. It’s the perfect voice for me. I’d love to work with him someday.
OS: Foxy Shazam was one of the first bands featured on ChatRoulette for album promotion, but you aren’t a huge proponent of bands using social media. Can you share your thoughts on that?
EN: I feel like the rock star is kind of a dying breed, we’re becoming extinct. You don’t seem them very much anymore. I think one of the most important things about what that persona was, was that you didn’t know them. It was almost like a mythical creature. People would gather backstage for hours just to catch a glimpse…and you don’t get that anymore. People know everything that everybody does because of Twitter and Facebook and they’re updating constantly. Everybody’s so human now, I guess, which is fine. That’s how it’s always been, everybody’s just a person. But I think there was this certain mysteriousness about the artist and that’s not really around anymore. So I kind of try to keep that going. I think it’s important to have people make their own stories about you rather than know the hard facts because chances are the hard facts are extremely boring (laughs).
OS: Foxy Shazam has recently announced some big touring plans for 2011. Can you tell us about the tours and festivals you’ll be playing next year?
EN: In January, we have a tour with Circa Survive. That will be awesome because I’ve heard their new record is great. I haven’t heard it but I’m really anxious to! I’ve heard a lot about that band and I know a lot of people who know them and they say they’re great guys and that’s really important to me, to share a tour with people that are nice. I’m really excited about that one, I think it will be awesome. Then we go to Australia [for the Soundwave Festival] in February and I’m really looking forward to it. I just love taking my music to different countries. I’ve never been to Australia, so it will be awesome. We have a bunch of days off in between the shows there so I’m going to do a lot of sight-seeing.
Check out this live video of Foxy Shazam performing “The Rocketeer” and don’t miss them on their upcoming tour dates, listed below!
Dec 16 Detroit, MI – Shelter
Dec 17 DeKalb, IL – House Cafe w/Victorian Halls & ‘Richardson’ Richardson
Dec 18 Minneapolis, MN – Popsickle Festival w/Motion City Soundtrack, Minus The Bear & more!
Dec 19 Kalamazoo, MI – The Strutt w/Their Teeth Will Be of Lions
Jan 14 Richmond, VA “ The National w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 15 Charlotte, NC “ Amos Southend w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 16 Ashville, NC “ Orange Peel w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 18 St. Louis, MO “ Pop’s w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 19 Omaha, NE “ The Slowdown w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 20 Des Moines, IA “ People’s Court w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 21 Grand Rapids, MO “ Orbit Room w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 22 Columbus, OH “ Newport Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 24 Cincinnati, OH “ Bogarts w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 26 Baltimore, MD “ Rams Head Live w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 28 Rochester, NY “ Water Street Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 29 Albany, NY “ Northern Lights w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 30 Allentown, PA “ Crocodile Rock w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Feb 26 Brisbane, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
Feb 27 Sydney, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 4 Melbourne, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 5 Adelaide, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 7 Perth, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
The word “sponsorship” may conjure images of sporting events or awareness marches, but musicians can certainly be sponsored too. In a world where record sales hardly add any change to the artist’s bank account, sponsorships are hugely beneficial to off-setting expenses racked up by travel, promotion, merch and more. In addition, sponsors can significantly improve an artist’s advertising, publicity and promotion.
While there are several types of sponsorships out there, the most common for the music industry is a sponsorship where a band or artist is given free products to wear or use by the company. For example, a band can be sponsored by clothing companies, who gives the members free clothes to wear on stage or in photo shoots. A band could also be sponsored by a gear company who gives them free instruments, amps, etc. to play. The hopes for these companies is that fans and fellow musicians will see a band or artist using their products and, as a result, desire the same products.
Obviously, sponsors want to pick bands and artists that are talented, professional and have a large fan base. If you’re not quite there yet, aspire to start with a smaller company that offers sponsorships to local bands. After all, the likelihood is slim that the company sponsoring your favorite major label act will sponsor your band too. Like large corporations, local organizations need advertising too, and it will be much easier to set that up if you’re a local act.
If you think you’re ready for a larger-scale sponsor, there are a few things you’ll need to think about first. Before you get started, you need to decide which sponsors would be appropriate for you. For example, if you’re a rapper, you probably don’t want to propose a sponsorship to a clothing company that sells shirts at Hot Topic. It’s important to remember your music’s target demographic and consider companies that your fans might support.
Next, you will need to craft a proposal letter. This letter serves as an introduction of your band to the company and explain how you can mutually benefit from a partnership. Start by giving a BRIEF synopsis of your band’s background (no more than ten sentences) and include some facts about each member. Mention any major career highlights, including opening spots for well-known acts, statistics of sales from past releases and press clippings. Include a description of past tours, venues played and your average draw in a few markets. Along with this letter, you should include a few photos of your band and links to live performance videos.
A few final tips: try to send out as many proposals as you can and don’t get discouraged if you’re turned down. Remember that professionalism is key, so don’t be afraid to have a manager help you with this project. And if you’re chosen for a sponsorship, be sure to read through any legal documentation thoroughly with your band and any of your team members so you know exactly what the sponsor expects of your partnership.
When indie rock band The Format announced their hiatus in early 2008, thousands of fans were devastated by the news. Luckily for them, frontman Nate Ruess had a new project up his sleeve. Teaming up with members of Anthallo and Steel Train, Ruess hit the studio a few months later to record the first fun. record, Aim and Ignite. In anticipation of the record release, the band hit the road, opening for pop rock powerhouses Jack’s Mannequin and Paramore.
The eclectic and whimsical Aim and Ignite received fantastic reviews across the board and left fans in eager anticipation of what’s next to come. As the band rounds out a few UK dates with Paramore and 2010’s hottest new rapper, B.o.B., we caught up with Nate to find out more about the story behind fun., touring and plans for a new release.
OS: You’re well known as the former lead vocalist and lyricist of The Format. For those who haven’t heard fun.’s music yet, how does it differ from The Format’s?
NR: Just different songwriters. Different approaches to writing songs. Different songs. Different band. Same vocals.
OS: Rounding out the fun.’s lineup are Jack Antonoff of Steel Train and Andrew Dost, formerly of Anthallo. How did the three of you come to collaborate on this project?
NR: It’s something we all had talked about in the past. And the time window opened up when The Format broke up. So we flew to Jersey and got to work.
OS: Your debut album Aim and Ignite is very eclectic, at times sounding like indie pop and other times sounding like a Broadway musical. Which artists were the biggest influences on that record?
NR: The Xanadu soundtrack. Really that was all we collectively listened to at the time. Otherwise, we all bring different influences to each song. I like how unique that is.
OS: Your song “Walking the Dog” was used in an ad for Expedia.com. What was it like to see your music in a national television commercial?
NR: I didn’t see it for a long time and then one day I was walking through the airport and saw it. I wanted to grab some random person, shake them, and say, “Hear that? That’s me. So stop judging how I look.”
OS: You’ve toured multiple times with Paramore and Jack’s Mannequin. What do you enjoy most about touring with those bands?
NR: The music, the members, their crew and their fans. All great things.
OS: Speaking of Paramore, you’ve embarked on three straight months of touring, including some dates in the UK playing stadium shows with them and B.o.B. How did you prepare for those dates?
NR: I built a mock stadium in my bathroom and I just practice my arena moves.
OS: You were recently signed to Fueled By Ramen. Why did you decide to choose to sign with them and how has it changed things for fun.?
NR: The ink is still really fresh. So nothing has changed yet. Hope it eventually does though. We went with them because we’ve known them for a long time and thought they could supply us a nice balance of artistic creativity and sheer power.
OS: What can fun.’s fans expect in terms of a new record? Any release plans for 2011?
NR: Working on it now. Plan on really digging deep into the new songs once we get home from tour. Not sure what it’s going to be stylistically. I do know these are my favorite lyrics I’ve written so far. Hopefully it will be out summer 2011.
11/18 – Newcastle, UK @ Metro Radio Arena with Paramore & B.o.B.
11/19 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Evening News Arena with Paramore & B.o.B.
11/20 – Aberdeen, SCT @ AECC Arena with Paramore & B.o.B.
11/27 – New York, NY @Webster Hall with Steel Train and The Postelles
11/29 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa with Steel Train and The Postelles
11/30 – Toronto, ON @The Mod Club Theatre with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/2 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/3 – Boston, MA @ Royale Night Club with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/4 – Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/5 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/7 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/8 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/9 – Orlando, FL @ The Social with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/11 – Atlanta, GA @ The Loft with Steel Train and The Postelles
12/13 – Ashland, KY @ Paramount Arts Center with Steel Train and The Postelles
With energetic guitars and quick, straight-forward drum beats, Broomfiller’s sound is reminiscent of bands like Anti-Flag, Alkaline Trio and MXPX. The vocals, provided by frontman Richard Leko, are characteristically punk: a style in which casual yelling is preferred over technically “correct” singing. But if you can’t get behind that, you’ll be happy to know that Broomfiller are not one-trick ponies. Their slower numbers, such as “One Last Time” and “I Won’t Leave You There” from their 2006 album Enter the Storm, are closer in style to Nirvana and Staind. Leko’s vocals are deeper and much more focused on these tracks, which are still strong even when up against the more complex structure of the group’s fast punk songs.
After one listen to the intro of “Windsor Bukkake,” you’ll definitely begin to wonder what Broomfiller’s live show must be like. One thing’s for sure, these guys are no strangers to the road. They have toured extensively across Canada and the US since 2002, including spots on the Vans Warped Tour and performances at the International Pop Overthrow Festival and Canadian Music Week Festival.
In addition to touring and recording two albums, Broomfiller have been racking up awards in both Canada and America. They took home “Best International Artist” at both the Empire Music Awards and the Orange County Music Awards and were nominated for the same title at the Southern California Music Awards. They’ve also been nominated for “Best Punk/Alternative Group” at the South Bay Music Awards and “Best Independent Album” at the Toronto Independent Music Awards in addition to reaching the Top 10 of the Punk Charts three times and the Best of Rock Chart here on OurStage, where they stayed for fourteen weeks!
Get your air guitars ready and check out Broomfiller in the player below!
There’s no question that the music industry has changed drastically in the past few years. As the power has shifted from the major labels to nearly anyone with Internet access, it’s hard to tell what artists really need to do to get their careers off the ground. After all, it could take years of constant touring, promoting, spending money you don’t have and sleeping in a van to finally get your big break…or you could become a celebrity overnight thanks to YouTube, MySpace and Twitter.
So, what’s the deal with record deals, anyway? Should you try to get signed on an independent (“indie”) label or a major label? Do you even need one at all?
In general, indie labels tend to be like small businesses. They typically sign a small number of semi-established acts and have much less funding than a major. Examples of indie labels include Epitaph, Victory, Saddle Creek and Fueled By Ramen. On the other hand, major labels have big budgets and are similar to corporations. They are fast to sign acts with huge followings and many marketable qualities, and can put much more money into their artists’ careers. Examples of major labels include Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI.
Essentially, in order to know what kind of label you want to be on, you need to figure out who you are as an artist. Try to compile a written plan for your career. What is your genre? Target audience? What are other acts your target audience likes and why? What have those acts done that helped them succeed? Do some shopping and start a list of labels you like that will help you realize your goals. Once you have the list narrowed down, you’ll need to learn how to effectively and appropriately get the attention of A&R executives.
If the idea of being on a record label doesn’t appeal to you, fear not: it is possible to have a successful career as a musician without a label. Let’s not forget that when Radiohead released In Rainbows without a record label and at any price the customer chose, they saw 1.2 million downloads before it was even physically in stores! With so many free outlets available (including OurStage, of course!), more unsigned musicians are able to be discovered without having to send out demos and press kits to add to the growing pile at an A&R’s desk.
Do you need a label? Not necessarily. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But whether you choose to stay unsigned or try to get signed by a label, always keep your ideal goals in mind and stay true to what makes you unique!