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Backstage with: Iris Lune

BACKSTAGE WITH: IRIS LUNE | IRIS LUNE MUSIC on SPOTIFY | NEW YORK, NY

Main influences on making music?

 Björk, Bon Iver, James Blake, Radiohead, Sylvan Esso

For how long have you been operating as an independent artist and what are your main challenges?

This musical journey started for me back in Boston 2012, when I met my producer and co-writer, Asher Kurtz. My amazing bassist, Aaron Liao, has been with us from the very beginning but it took a while to find the perfect drummer. The final quartet only came together a few years later when Angelo Spampinato joined the team. So I’d say the first challenge was to find the perfect crew. Other than that I think the hardest part as an independent musician these days is to balance everything you need to do. 

We all just want to do the creative work but unfortunately there’s so much more technical work to be done and it can become exhausting. Also, the industry is constantly evolving and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the changes.

Iris Lune Close Up
What were the most significant actions you took that helped you build your fanbase?

Finding the right team has been instrumental. Aside from the band, I’ve been working with an incredible illustrator on our album cover arts and merch. He always has incredible ideas and manages to create a cohesive visual brand that evolves organically. 

Touring and making connections with other artists in the scene is inspiring and mind opening. Also, Facebook and Instagram advertisements have helped reach more people and gain a better understanding who my fanbase is. I know this might not sound as sexy, but it’s been one of the best things we’ve done to grow our fanbase and reach real people out of our comfort zone.

Do you have an external team to help you with management, booking, pr?

We’re working with Rachel Rossen from Tell All Your Friends PR for this album’s cycle. Other than that it’s all done in house. It’s definitely been challenging and I’d really love to work with a booking agent and manager, but as of now it’s mostly me and my bassist Aaron who helps me out immensely with the business side of things.

Iris Lune Band
Tell us about your new album, in what ways does this album stand out from your previous albums, and what were your main challenges of the creation process? 

lovelosslove is my first full length album. So far I’ve released three EPs, but this one is different in its essence and length. I co-wrote it with Asher about eight months after my mother passed away in the winter of 2018. I was trying to make sense of this new reality and to figure out how to keep living in a world that was empty of her physical existence, a world that was painful and didn’t make sense at all. 

Working with Asher on this was a healing experience, we pushed each other’s boundaries and both brought out a lot of vulnerability. We met three times a week for four months, improvised a lot, sampled sounds from our homes (me – Israel, him – Dallas, TX) and wove them into our music. Unlike the first three EPs, this album was different from the very beginning because we had the concept before we wrote a single note. 

We created a safe space, a non-judgmental space for us to create and explore. It was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever been a part of. I think the challenge was to keep pushing ourselves and not be afraid of diving into the deepest and darkest parts of our minds.

What is your personal favorite song from this album and why? 

Ahhhh, I can’t choose! They’re all so dear to my heart. I think that Note to Self and Summer Blue feel the most vulnerable and cathartic to me. Note to Self is a letter to myself after losing my mother and trying to figure out how to hold on to who I was before her death and find room for that person in this new reality. The first half of the second verse is a literal translation of one of the love letters my mom wrote to my dad in their early twenties. 

Summer Blue is about my mom and how much I miss her. I wrote it during the summer after her passing when  everything felt like it was painted in shades of blue. The chorus is a desperate plea to find a way to do the impossible – breathe underwater, swim above the sea. Both seemed just as impossible as living without my mother in the world. 

Your new album was created under the shadow of very emotional, contradictory circumstances: grief and new life. How did  that affect your writing, did it reposition your artistic standpoint? 

Absolutely. That was the whole point actually – to write while being in the midst of my grief journey. Writing these songs helped me process my emotions and made me understand myself better. When I wrote the album with Asher, about eight months after my mother’s death, my wife and I were planning to start a family. Having that in the back of my mind while writing about my mother’s passing helped me confront a lot of emotions and inner contradictions I had. 

There’s a fine line between birth and death, and you’d be surprised to find that there are a lot of similarities, not only juxtapositions, between the two.


Did music help you go through this period, serving as a place to contain all of those strong feelings, or was it it a challenge to even sit down and write?

Writing music has been a healing process for me, it’s the best way I know how to process my emotions (besides therapy!). It wasn’t always easy and there were times where I had to really dig deep and be honest about my choice of words. 

I wanted to be 100% true to my grief process and to make sure I wasn’t judging myself along the way. It’s tough being so vulnerable but it’s also rewarding. 

As one of my heroes, Brene Brown, says – you’ve got to put yourself in the arena. Otherwise, what’s the point?

In light of the new COVID-19 reality, have the last months proven to be in anyway inspirational for you as an artist?

It’s been a journey. I got stuck in my home country for months without my studio and all I had to write on was a fairly untuned piano. It’s been a while since I wrote songs on a piano (especially my childhood piano) and so it took me a few weeks to get to a point where I felt comfortable and inspired. 

Played a lot of Bach and looked for new music to inspire me. Eventually I started writing and finished a bunch of songs. It really helped me process everything that was going on.

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

Writing new music and exploring new sonic directions. Since a lot of my new songs were written on a piano and not a computer, it’ll be interesting to see how they develop in different ways and whether the starting point has an impact on their eventual production. 

Iris Lune Backstage
Which venue are you waiting to perform at? Why?

I’d love to perform again at National Sawdust in Brooklyn NYC. The crew there is super nice and professional and the venue itself is gorgeous. There’s always a really nice intimate connection with the audience. I’d also love to return to Rough Trade NYC, where we’ve played several times. The room sounds amazing and I just love the place, not only as a performer but as an audience member as well.

Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business? 

This is a tough question because you don’t always know what’s happening behind the scenes. However, up and coming artists that I love and seem to be doing well developing both the business and creative sides of their development are altopalo, Sammy Rae and Tali Rubinstein.

Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?

Well, obviously Asher Kurtz (aka Old Feels). Also my wife Mikhal Weiner who is an amazing lyricist and has become my editor and co-lyricist over the years. 

I loved collaborating with J. Viewz on a very fun project during quarantine. He posted a loop played on kalimba on Instagram stories and asked people to add their own musical ideas to it. Eventually, he had a bunch of musicians from all over the world record their parts and it ended up being a gorgeous and powerful track

Memory

Ella Joy Meir (Iris Lune) with her mother. <3

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Performing Rights Organizations & Royalties – The Basics

What are performing rights organizations? How many are there in the United States? What are the type of royalties that performing rights organizations are responsible to collect and who can receive these royalties?

These questions do sound complicated however they can somewhat be simplified! Below is an overview of the key items to understand while registering with a performance rights organization.

Performing right organizations as suggested by their name collect a royalties called Performance Royalties and pay out these royalties to songwriters and publishers.

Each country in the world has a performance rights organization that is responsible for collecting royalties for songwriters and publishers . Any musical artist is eligible to receive performance royalties if you were the author (lyrics), the composer or a publisher of a work. In many cases independent artists are defacto all three!

Who are performing royalties collected from?

Performance royalties are collected from: streaming services, radio stations, TV stations, bars, venues, restaurants and more. Pretty much anytime a song is played in public the broadcaster of the song is legally obligated to report back to the PROs that the song was played and pay out a small portion for the right to play the song.


How can artists collect their royalties?

It’s pretty simple to register with a PRO and usually requires a one-time membership fee. PROs from all over the world work together in order to collect royalties from all of the different territories. 

So if your song is registered with ASCAP and you have radio plays in Germany, GEMA (the German PRO would collect your royalties and transfer it to ASCAP). Just remember:  PROs pay songwriters (authors and composers) not Artists who perform the song. 

What performance rights organizations exist in the United States?

There are 3 main rights organizations in the US:

ASCAP – A non-profit organization managed by songwriters, composers and publishers. The board members and board of directors in ASCAP are elected by it’s society’s members.  750,000 members are registered as of 2020 and is one of the two dominating PROs in the US. You can join ASCAP both as a publisher and a songwriter for as little as $50 – one time membership. 

BMI – Holds 800,000 members. Just like ASCAP, BMI is also a non-profit organization. You can join BMI for free as a songwriter but as a publisher it will cost you $150 or $250 if you’re registering as a company.

SESAC – The only for profit organization with 30,000 members. Not everyone can become a member of SESAC, you would need to receive an invitation.


Some important points to remember:

  • Always remember that performance royalties are broken out into money that is paid out to both the songwriter and the publisher. We would definitely recommend to open both a writer and publisher account on a PRO to collect the two.
  • Performance royalties are a completely different type of royalty then streaming royalties paid out to a distributor. It is important to remember that on top of streaming royalties that you receive from your distributor the streaming services ALSO pay performance royalties to PROs. 
  • To benchmark the above point for you  – the royalty amount paid out to a PRO amounts to something in the ballpark of 7% in addition to what the artist receives from the distributor. So if in a given month an artist received $1,000 from his/her distributor,  they should expect another $70 to be paid out to him through the PROs. 
  • An artist & publisher can only be affiliated with one PRO in each country & the publisher must be registered in the same PRO that the artist is. So in the case where a publisher, publishes a song on ASCAP but the artist is on BMI – ASCAP wll not be able to collect the royalties on the artist or publisher behalf.

Hope this helps in generally summarizing what performance rights organizations do and the royalties they collect on behalf of artists. Always remember that if you are an independent artist you most likely own both the artist and publisher rights and are able to collect both by registering with the organizations. 

Please always keep in mind that in addition to performance royalties an independent artist is most likely entitled to receive other royalties from different organizations. More on this in our next articles! 

That wasn’t THAT complicated, was it?

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Backstage With: Emily Keating

BACKSTAGE WITH: EMILY KEATING | EMILY KEATING MUSIC on SPOTIFY | NEW YORK, NY

Main influences on making music?

When I was little Joni Mitchell felt like my musical mother. She sang what I dreamed of singing. She is a major influence on my music. Then in high school, my musical guru  became Regina Spektor. I obsessively learned her songs like they were my own. Come college Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens became the first male artists to deeply influence my work. 

My other main influences are Kate Bush, Carole King, Lady Gaga (mainly what she stands for), and Sylvan Esso. I know there are more, but these are the first to come out of my mouth and heart.

Most appreciated and innovating artists in the NY Music Scene?

NY music venues are the heartbeat of the city. A lot of the original venues from the 60’s and 70’s closed down, so the places that are still alive are very alive indeed. More than any artist I can name right now in the NY Music Scene. The music venues are the ones that are innovative in their consistency, their openness to explore different sounds, and they stand strong in their conviction that music is one of the answers.

What are your main challenges as a young, up and coming singer-songwriter?

It is truly hard to execute everything that needs to be done in one day / in one week/ in one month/ in one year. 

From writing new music, keeping up my vocal and instrumental technique, maintaining an active engaging social media presence, playing shows and rehearsing with my band, networking events, promoting new releases, working on PR and marketing, there is A LOT to do in this beautiful career of music. I know it’s all about creating your team, which I’m finally starting to build with the right people. This helps immensely, as it is impossible to succeed doing this career alone. I will always be the captain on the ship but the ship only moves with a team on it. The challenge here is picking the right people for my team, knowing who to trust, and who will help me move forward to my dream.

The other key here is organization / making priorities and managing time well-which are big challenges.

When the pandemic hit NYC you retreated to upstate New York. How is your time spent in the Catskills? 

My parents recently bought a very old farmhouse from the 1800’s in Parksville, New York. It is an enchanted piece of land, there is a lot of beauty here. I am very grateful and humbled to experience it. 

I have spent a lot of time in the woods speaking and singing with the trees, and thanking the earth for being who she is and apologizing for what other people have done to her. From that headspace, I have written a few new songs in this seven week period that I’m really excited about with with producers from afar. I am currently writing my debut album with these producers.



Did you manage to record new material while in Parksville?

I have recorded all my new material by phone and have sent these files to my producers in NY and LA. One of my next steps in my list of priorities after my EP releases, is learning how to record vocals from where I am-I’m going back to the city to my apartment for two weeks so I plan to record there. This is NOT an easy task for me, as the engineering side of production does intimidate me. But I know this is the very reason I have to do it, to grow in this area of my work. Besides, this is the only way my producers can move forward in the songs we are creating for my record No Drama Club

My guitarist, drummer and co-songwriters have recorded from their homes and have sent their recordings to my different producers. I am SO grateful I have them on my team, and that the producers I’m working with are creating such musical beauty from where they are remotely. It’s interesting because my idea for my debut record was to always have many different producers from across the country contribute. Now this is happening outside of my control – It is fascinating this was my vision from the start.

How are you technically managing music collaboration & work during CoVid 19 times?

Frequent communication and check-ins have been key to moving my songs forward in this time. Even if I reach out to say I cannot focus on this song until my EP is released this week, I do so and it feels balanced this way. I only had one producer tell me that he couldn’t resume our production of our song untill we were back in person in the studio. I respect his decision because we all create differently and each song has a different need and story. Another producer I was working with completely dropped the ball on our song and communication because of his own mental health faltering in this time-I have complete empathy for him and understanding. But it was very challenging to have to start completely from scratch from afar. On this particular song I’m working with a very talented co-writer-Without the producers stems we had to look for a brand new producer on a song that was already written. But when I take a big breath I see that everything that’s happened is leading us to how the song is supposed to exist. But, yes, for a song to thrive in this time, all parties need to be in good communication. 

There is also an amazing creativity and synergy that has happened working with my producers and collaborators from afar. By working in our own spaces, there’s an intimacy and space that is born in the music that wouldn’t have been found in real time in the studio-with the ticking of the clock. 

Something I’ve learned with my song writing and collaborations in this time is that if I give the songs more space to breathe (ie. not forcing a melody if it’s not working and taking a few days to let it build) a power is born within the music that I never want to loose from my songwriting now, There is something to say about deadlines and moving quickly-genius is born there.

Have the last months proven to be in anyway inspirational for you as an artist?

YES. Nature has again become my biggest motivator and inspiration. Looking within and having more time on my own has been a catalyst for new work too. And facing the most challenging relationships of your life, your family (with love) has let a lot of creativity enter my body mind and spirit. I’ve learned the lesson of patience again with songwriting, the daily work it takes on a song to master it, and the beauty of listening to what you can’t see might be where all the answers are. 

I’ve started to meditate again every morning, and because of that I have been able to create words and melodies I might have not otherwise made.

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

My debut album No Drama Club. I’m currently writing each song with different producers in NY and LA. It is me, but it has an evolved sound from my first EP HEART made in 2018. This EP of mine is FINALLY releasing this week-That is very very exciting. Writing my first long record is exciting in a way I can’t put into words yet-All I know is it’s challenging me and making me put my best self forward. That’s all I will write about it now 🙂

Which venue are you waiting to perform at? Why?

The venue I’m waiting to perform at is any stage I can get on next. I’m not picky as long as I have an audience, my band and my voice. I love performing more than anything. It’s truly a remarkable feeling at home in a place that’s sacred. The stage is as sacred as a temple or church. I know performance is also the best rehearsal I can ever have. You give it your all (hopefully) and then you can see yourself clearly, and where you can improve.  I can’t wait to do my first tour. Right now my venue is the screen-performing on live streams and that’s wonderful in a weird, new way. I’m eager to learn more with my band again, to make as cohesive as a sound we can make. 

My dream venues? Red Rocks, The Beacon Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall.

Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business? 

Stay organized in the way that works for you. Don’t give up on finding that way until you master it. Speak up-always. To people you’re working with and to the world. Don’t take your music so seriously that you’re intimated to make new songs. Try to get back to the place when you wrote songs for fun, for the pleasure of it. Try to get to know someone well before signing any contract, or even having them work with you on your team. But be very open that’s the only way they’ll come. Know you deserve the best team and people supporting your career and don’t settle for less. Always stay excited even when all you’re doing is the business side of your career for a few days-because this is even a privilege to do. You’re pursuing your dream and there should be a lot of gratitude in that. If you’re not naturally business or technically savvy do not ever give up on becoming it. You are capable of learning anything you focus and put time into. Know that comparison is the devil-It only defeats you does nothing else. Know that you are unique and your music has a purpose no matter how daunting or competitive the industry might seem. Don’t let lack of funds stop you from making your art and marketing it-If you show up for your creativity/otherwise yourself, the world will conspire to help you-including finding the funds. 

Don’t be as hard on yourself as I am, but still expect only greatness from yourself.

Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?

I love to work with my band and my four amazing players, a songwriter i’m working with right now Jeff Franzel, and producers Nico Phillip, Eric Sanderson, Fran Cathcart, Bob Cutarella, Byrn Bliska, Itamar-Gov-Ari. There are many more but those are the first people that come to my mind. Thank you!

Emily Keating Music Article Photo
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Live Music Streaming: Platforms & Essentials for Online Performances

It is now more than ever that live music streaming is being acknowledged by the masses. Self quarantine is leading more people to consume content at home, while artists who are forever creating content are looking for new ways to reach their isolated audience. 

These content consumption needs are now being addressed by live streaming platforms. In this article we will cover ways to quickly utilize the different audio and video live streaming platforms out there and finally we have picked our 2 favourites for music performances. 

Broadcasting software:

These are downloadable softwares that allow you to manage your broadcast. Almost as if you were in a real television production studio. Definitely start from one of these to polish and upgrade content delivery. 

These tools allow you to:

  • Plan transitions in advance.
  • Prepare your screen with graphics and text that can run on through the broadcast,
  • Stream in HD
  • Integrate and broadcast on the main live streaming platforms: Facebook, Youtube, Zoom, or custom stream keys (we’ll get to that one in a bit)

E-camm: (For Mac users only)

E-camm us actually an outstanding product. Its very easy to understand and intuitive. There are three main video modes your camera, “share screen” view, and an option to play a video from your computer. 

E-camm also has a plugin that allows you to stream audio from your computer. This allows you to easily play audio from any DAW directly into the live stream platforms. If you are familiar with live streaming you already know that routing audio into your streams isn’t as easy as it sounds. Special tools like : voicemeter, soundflower, loopback were developed especially for doing this. 

You can simply skip this with E-camm and just download the E-camm audio plugin. 

OBS:

This is a totally free tool that many YouTube broadcasters use. OBS is a bit less intuitive than E-Camm but in terms of features you can do the same.

Audio Quality

First and foremost making extraordinary live streams is dependent on sound quality. Fans are seeking the intimacy of seeing you off stage but what will make them stay for the full show is the quality of your content. Sound is a very important factor here.

Unless you’re going for a spontaneous live solo session with your smartphone, a good audio interface is highly recommended. Assuming you already have one of these, the next step is to have an audio routing system that will allow you to control input / outputs from and to different applications. 

Lets say you want to do a  Google Hangouts session, but want the people you’re speaking with to hear what’s playing on your audio workstation, or on a video editing software. These tools will allow you to route through the different apps:

Voice Meeter
Blackhole
Soundflower (Only on Mac)
Audiobus

Social Platforms

Social live streaming is another great way to connect with fans. Facebook and Instagram, for example, love giving you updates about who’s live right now. You can easily take advantage of this and connect with your fans on a more intimate and personal level. 

Use Facebook & Instagram algorithms for your best interest. The thing to remember here is that your audience’s attention can be easily disturbed. It’s very likely that people on Facebook & Instagram won’t have the patience to stick around your 30 minute live streaming. If you have a decent following on Youtube, maybe it would be better to try and broadcast from there.

Below is a list of social streaming platforms:

Instagram live
Facebook live
Youtube live
Twitch
Periscope

Our staff pick platforms for  live stream gigs

After researching we have found ZOOM and Crowdcast to be the most accurate solutions for musicians.

With ZOOM you can easily setup the audio to both go through your DAW and have a good sound quality. By default, ZOOM doesn’t deliver well with a guitar or keyboard playing, but if you make a few adjustments , you can generate a pretty good sound. We’ve found a video that explains how to setup your ZOOM audio setting to get the best results (make sure your version of ZOOM is up to date): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEAb4G063sM .

What’s great about ZOOM is that for the purpose of playing live, you wont need any extra programs like OBS or E-Camm. Upgrade your account and you will also be able to connect your stream to other platforms such as facebook live (you wont see the comments unless you open your facebook live session. Be careful though, opening more than one of your live stream simultaneously can cause feedback).

Crowdcast allows you to create an event, connect to OBS/E-Camm, collect donations, collect emails through a registration link and even connect attendees with your Patreon account to support you. If that’s not enough, you can also stream from Crowdcast to other platforms if you use one of the upgraded versions. The only thing to keep in mind is that you should use Crowdcast with OBS or E-Camm. The platform has its limitations and since audio quality is a essential to live streaming, we highly recommend getting familiar with E-Camm or OBS when using Crowdcast . 

Crowdcast is growing rapidly now and they did have some technical problems because of this growth in demand. Regardless it is indeed a solution tailored for musicians (and other content creators) which you should check out if you haven’t already.

Live streaming is now all over the web. From meetings and webinars, to yoga classes and music concerts. People are craving for content and personal connection. There’s still a long way until streaming will be flawless and smooth. 

Until than, there’s still a feeling that we are in the stone age of live streaming evolution. The tools above can help step up your game, but keep in mind that there are more factors which can affect your live streams (internet connection for example). 

There is definitely still demand for live music, and the technical faults are part of this stage of the evolution. Maybe 20 years from now we will laugh at ourselves for having such an unstable experience, but for now,  just go have fun with the tools above. 

Play to your audience and you will eventually get better and better just like real gigging.amm

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Backstage with: Tali Rubinstein

BACKSTAGE WITH: TALI RUBINSTEIN | TALI RUBINSTEIN MUSIC on SPOTIFY | NEW YORK, NY | FEATURED IMAGE BY: MOR KATZMAN

Main influences on making music?

My most significant musical influences are my beloved teachers over the years: Bracha Kol, who I’ve studied with for about 20 years and taught me everything from the very basic techniques to finding my own musical expression in music. 

Ilan Salem who introduced me to jazz and improvisation at Rimon School in Israel, Alain Mallet who taught me several courses at Berklee College in Boston and encouraged me to write and perform my own music, and Javier Limon, also my former professor at Berklee, who threw me in at the deep end (in the very best sense) asking me to compose and arrange for several projects and pushing me further to explore new musical genres and original endeavours.

Tali Rubinstein in Bar

Photography by Dror Pikielny 

Most appreciated and innovating artists in the NY Scene?

I absolutely LOVE Iris Lune – I am their number one fan! We’ve all been really good friends since our days at Berklee College. I was lucky enough to play with all of them in different settings, including my own band. Not only are they all of them masters of their own craft, together they create the most sensitive and intricate music which has an addictive quality to it. Every note and every sound is thought out to the smallest detail.


Being a dedicated fan, I received a special perk: I get to be with their handsome drummer 24/7 and he cannot leave the house 😉

How did you start playing the recorder? What are the challenges in playing the instrument?


I began playing the recorder when I was seven years old in school, just as many kids do. I assume my parents sent me to recorder class as an introduction to music. They probably figured that if I liked playing music, I’d later change to a different instrument, like piano or violin. This has yet to happen.

I am still challenged by playing the recorder – I feel like I have only begun to unravel what this instrument can do. 

There are a few technical challenges in playing contemporary music on the recorder, which is what I mostly do nowadays. Since the recorder is modeled after a 16th century instrument, it does not lend itself easily to certain keys, ranges, and volumes. 

These challenges have been keeping me preoccupied for the past years, searching for ways to overcome the limitations in order to incorporate the beautiful sound of the recorder into music that wasn’t written for it and could not have been imagined at the time.

Best ways to reach an audience for new artists?


This is the one million dollar question for any artist and the thing that people most struggle with. Most of us enter the professional world with lots of knowledge and experience in music, but little to no knowledge in promotion. 

From my experience it’s totally random – you have no control over how many people will be exposed to your music and how many of them will like it. The only thing you can do, really, is dare to put it out there, and let it do its thing. Of course it’s good to have a visual component and to use all social media tools and platforms, but above all, consistency and fearlessness are key.

Tali Jams New York | Web Series | Official Trailer to full series featured on YouTube

What would be your tips on connecting with other musicians that you want to collaborate with?

Nowadays, connecting with musicians you admire is probably the easiest it’s ever been (unless they are ultra famous). I’ve looked up numerous musicians I like on Facebook, and most of them are awesome people who are genuinely looking for new ideas and initiatives. 

I think the hardest thing is coming up with an idea for a concrete project, and following up on it. Often times I would have a great idea for a collaboration, but later on be swamped with work and completely forget about it, or just lose confidence. Other times, I could really want to make music with someone, but not have a good enough “excuse”. Daring and executing will get you a long way.

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

After I release the current album I’m working on, I want to record myself at home and learn some new techniques for using computer software with my recorders. Also, I have a long time dream of recording a Stevie Wonder tribute album…

 

Best ways to book gigs in 2020? What are your favorite venues and why?

Right now – online… 

In normal times I would say connecting with people you know and reaching out to new ones. There are no shortcuts here unfortunately. Booking is real hard work, a tedious task with not much creativity or fun to it. People who do best at it are usually ones who have a good system for connecting with many people at once, keep lists of all the interactions, follow up and don’t get offended by rejections. I think it’s great if you can find someone to collaborate on this with – it makes it more like a game and helps you distance yourself from it a little. Also, needless to say, releasing new material online often helps getting gigs. 

I think that at least 50% from the projects I’ve done are a result of people watching my videos on Youtube.


My favorite two venues I got to perform at recently are Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club (NYC) and Amsterdam’s Blue Note. Both venues are stunning, perfectly balanced acoustically, and in each of the venues the sound engineer did an amazing job and was extremely fun to work with . 

Photography by Noam Galai

How did you react to showing up on Barack Obama’s Favorite Songs of 2018 list?

It absolutely came out of nowhere. That morning I didn’t turn on my phone until around noon when I was heading to a work meeting with two friends. When I finally turned it on, I realized I have many more new messages than usual, and I saw someone tagged me in Obama’s list. 

It took me a few hours to fully realize it’s not just a post, or as my good friend put it – “Do you get what this means? It means that he and Michelle sat down in their living room, drank wine and listened to the song, and this happened more than once”. 

That day I told every Uber driver that I made it on that list, but none of them seemed to care much. Brooklyn drivers are hard to impress.


Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business?

Yes – don’t treat it as business! It is a business anyway. Your job is to find how you can maintain the business side: grow your audience and exposure, book shows and recordings, strengthen your connections and build your brand, without losing the sense of why you’re doing it. 

This is the paradox of being a musician – it makes absolutely no sense on the business side, but it makes all the sense in the world otherwise. The reason it is a business is that in order to dedicate your life to it you have to make enough money to be free to do so. That said the only way to create music is to very frequently forget it and reconnect with your initial passion, curiosity and excitement. 

What is your advice for young music makers and producers who would like to turn their art into a business?

This is a very small technical piece of advice, but if you haven’t done so yet, I would recommend that you start writing your bio, portraying your background and accomplishments in a professional way. The process of listing all your achievements might feel a little uncomfortable, but you’ll need a good bio for almost everything you do, whether it’s a show, a festival application, an email to an important promoter, etc.

Apart from that: dare to dream, be courageous and experimental in your approach, trust your instincts, and tend to say YES to opportunities that come your way, even if you’re not 100% sure you can make it happen. It’s the only way to guarantee you will 🙂

Tali Rubinstein Coney Island, NY

Photography by Noam Galai

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Backstage With: ATELLER

 

BACKSTAGE WITH: ATELLER | ATELLER MUSIC on Spotify | New York, NY

 

Main influences on making music?

Ateller: O Mer, Flying Lotus, James Blake, Radiohead, Fallen Atom, Zeppelin, Bon Iver, Kendrick, Anderson Paak, Chris Dave, my friends

Ateller_Indieflow
Challenges in music production?

Ateller: Sit your ass down and work 🙂

Challenges in being a musician in 2020? 

Ateller: Oooof — I don’t know where to start! I would say that the biggest challenge is the need to master many things that aren’t music – social media, marketing, fashion, brand, business. I don’t think we were prepared for it and whereas we’ve probably spent our 10,000 hours on music, we certainly haven’t on the other stuff. That creates a gap between talented profound musicians and their potential audience, because we simply don’t really know how to reach them.

Best ways new artists can reach an audience?

Ateller: Funny to finish my last answer and the read this question. Well – I just don’t know!

Ateller-BW-Indieflow
What is the most exciting aspect of launching your new album?

AT: This one had the strongest impact on me so far. Many people have been reaching out, writing long thoughtful messages about how the album touched them from all over the world. It’s kind of a mind fuck that something I did completely alone now belongs to other people and they have their private relationship with it.

Best ways to book gigs in 2020? What are your favorite venues and why?

AT: Well — I still book my gigs based on personal connections and just writing emails. I’m not sure that’s the best way. I really like to play at Baby’s All Right where I have a show at Feb 26, if you’re in NYC — come!

 

 

How and when did you start realizing that you can support yourself financially with music?

AT: I’ve been only doing music for roughly 3 years now and it’s truly the best feeling in the world. To me it’s mixing several worlds that create a somewhat consistent income – producing myself and other artists, playing drums and touring with other artists, and DJing. I think you need to have more than 1 expertise these days and be very flexible and adaptable in order to survive today, in all professions really.

What are your recommendations for up and coming artists who would like to take and treat their art as a business? 

AT: My main advice (to myself included) would be to constantly release music. You can only benefit from dropping music to the world. You engage with the enviroment in a real way and learn and grow that way, whereas sitting on music, trying to perfect it for years and never releasing it gives you nothing and creates unnecessary loops in your head.

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Licensing & Syncing Your Music – The Best Sites Out There

Earning money as an independent musician is challenging. Income opportunities vary through streaming, mechanical, performance royalties, performing at concerts and the list goes on.

Another opportunity presented to artists is sync – film and TV music licensing. The great thing about music sync is that it works for you while you can concentrate on the other aspects of your artistic career.

There are some cool websites out there that give your music necessary exposure to sync opportunities. The pricing models of these websites vary: some sites are free at the musician end while others take a percentage or request exclusivity for your music.

As an independent artist being open to these opportunities is not a bad thing.

Below is a comparison of the top music licensing websites, a description of their services, product & costs. These websites have hundreds of thousands of monthly visits – all are business opportunities for you as an independent artist.

Songtradr

Overview: An online marketplace designed to facilitate music licensing for films, TV shows, ads, apps, and other media. Songtradr also facilitate features such as distribution and YouTube monetization

Costs: One time fee which ranges from $0 – $49 + a percentage of the transaction.

Ease of use: As Songtradr offer a variety of services, their interface may seem a little complex – however the process is clear and easy.

Exclusivity: Songtradr does not request exclusivity. Artists can license through other outlets as well.

Artlist

Overview: An easy to use marketplace that connects any video content creator with music available for licensing. The music is filtered by genre, mood or video theme.

Costs: Free. The musician has no membership costs. There is a curation process – but Artlists’ business model charges the video creator, not the artists. Film creators pay a fixed fee for unlimited use .

Ease of use: Beautiful and easy to use interface.

Exclusivity: Artlist does not request exclusivity. Artists can license through other outlets as well.

Rights: The artist maintains the rights for their music.

Music Vine

Overview: Marketplace that connects video creators with music creators

Costs: 40% of transaction for exclusive licensing, 65% of transaction for non-exclusive licensing

Ease of use: Great interface. Artists need to fill out a short application in order to apply and need to have at least 5 songs on their catalog.

Exclusivity: Music Vine accept both formats. Artist portfolio must have at least 50% of the music in exclusive deals. Non exclusive deals charge a higher fee as mentioned above.

MusicBed

Overview: A marketplace for film makers. Membership differs depending on license type. MusicBed also offer larger scale projects and custom, pre-ordered music.

*Cost, ease of use and exclusivity comparisons was not available due to the fact that they are not accepting submissions at this time. You can fill in a form and they will get back to you when they open submissions for artists.

Soundstripe

Overview: Same as the others. Also offers sound effects.

Costs: Free. Musicians have no membership costs.

Ease of use: The interface is simple for video makers. All songs have 3 main tags attached to them. Tracks are submitted and reviewed. Soundstripe contact the musician only once accepted and offer the musician different types of contracts, depending on the level of the track and demand.

Exclusivity: Soundstripe require & request exclusivity. You cannot register songs if you’ve assigned them to a third party. You cannot submit songs if you are signed to a label or have publishing deals elsewhere.

AudioJungle

Overview: Probably the biggest website out there for royalty free music. Huge inventory of songs. As of the day this article was written they had 570,800 tracks!

Ease of use: The website is pretty much clumped with everything “Envato Market” offers. Interface is still very old school and not as pleasant as the younger websites above, but you can definitely get around.

Costs: Per license. The “author” (in this case the musician) decides what the price of their piece will be , and then , depending on the type of license, the final price will be calculated. The musician doesn’t take all of the payment made, there are also some taxes and handling fees.

Exclusivity: Artist can choose whether or not they want exclusivity. Exclusivity increases the artists share of the full price.

Epidemic Sound

Overview: A different and interesting one for music creators. Epidemic Sound will do what the other websites do- sell filmmakers a license for using your music, but they pay you up front. Registered musicians must be located in the US or Sweden.

Songs however cannot be registered with a publishing rights organizations (PROs or NROs). The reasoning for this appears on the Epidemic Sound website:

“Our team of experts collaborate with each Music Creator from the first demo to the final mix to make sure each track becomes as great as it can be, while never sacrificing artistic vision. Each Music Creator works closely with a dedicated team of music production experts, packed with songwriters, producers, and engineers who help our creators hone their craft. This team of Music Reviewers provides extensive personalized feedback to help music creators achieve the best version of their music’s original creative intent. Epidemic also provides in-house mastering”

 

Ease of use– The user interface is obviously focused on acquiring new users therefor the access to the music on Epidemic sound takes about one-two more step for new users to find music. Once you reach the music catalogue its pretty much the same. They have a pretty cool feature called “similar songs” attached to each song which can come in handy for filmmakers.

Costs: Free for musicians + the musicians are paid.. There is an up front fixed rate + a 50/50 split per deal.

Epidemic Sound also offer distribution for the songs accepted.

Exclusivity: Non-exclusive. However they do require your song to be “PRO” free as mentioned.

Curation: Only selected tracks .

Tracks in catalogue: 30,000 tracks

While the dream of having your music featured in the next big Netflix series is tempting -granting exclusivity to sync libraries at the beginning of your career is questioned .  Working with a few non-exclusive outlets might be a good way to market your music. Think it over before limiting yourself to exclusive channels – getting your music out there as an aspiring independent musician can be key.

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An Insider Guide to Booking Gigs

A guide to get your live performances up and running

Booking gigs can become a hassle , but the more musicians I’ve spoken with, the more I’ve learned about the importance of having a method. Once you have a method you’ll save energy and be more productive. This article isn’t about international tours and festival performances. These take a lot of planning and are very important, but most of the year you probably aren’t touring abroad. Most of the year the opportunities you have are actually not that far away from you, and these are your local venues/bars/promoters/bands, who can be a huge asset.  You should be concentrating on gigging around your local area, make connections with other artists, and open local doors for yourself. When I say “local” I’m mainly talking about places you can get to within a 2-3 hour drive. Places where you can perform, but the travel costs will still make sense. 

For starters, if you are a beginner, or if you have a new project that you want to test out, the recommendation I hear from many musicians is – just do it. Book a gig! Don’t think about it too much. Book it in a place that fits within your genre and that is close enough to your friends and family. This gig will teach you so much about your next move. Do even 2 more of these in different formats. Like a vocal coach has once told me “One gig is like 20 singing lessons”. This tip applies to any musician, singer or not. 

After doing that, or if you’re already experienced enough and just want to book gigs these following tips are for you.

As artists, we book gigs to: 1. Promote our music . 2. Promote an upcoming concert through smaller gigs. 3. Meet more talents/people from the industry to collab with in the future. 4. Cause we freakin love it! 

Like most things in music, the return comes after a while. The idea is to keep the ball rolling all the time. But if you’re patient this is the strongest way to build a strong fan base: by grabbing them one by one.

Tips on doing it right:

  1. Have an awesome online appearance. Have a great looking website, and make sure your music is available anywhere that counts.
  2. Invest yourself in 1-2 social assets . You don’t have to be the best everywhere. You may be a musician in a country where facebook dominates, and most of your fans are there on your page. You may want to get into a new market where most people don’t use Facebook, but use Twitter. Does that mean you need to be on Twitter? As the cliche says: don’t be someone you arent. This applies also for social. If you’re not a savvy tweeter, or if it will take you a year to start building an audience there from scratch, don’t be there. It’s better sending links to where you’re presence can really be seen.
  3. Plan your desired acts- Are you a band? Are you a single singer-songwriter that plays with a band but can totally do open mics on your own? If you create different versions of your music, you broaden the variety of venues you can pitch to. Sort of like a brand of bags that manufactures small hand bags, laptop bags, and travel bags. Have a full band live performance? Have an acoustic version of your songs? Can you pull off a solo performance? Plan what you can give out, and then go to the next step. 
  4. Research- ok, now that your infrastructure is ready and you know what you’re offering, you can create an excel sheet with the following: a. Big venues or small venues (depending on your capacity) around you for ticket selling concerts (you bring your own audience). If you’re an established band, this should be running every month or two at least, depending on your ability to fill up a place with people who love your music. If you have an audience also outside of your home town, you can definitely increase your frequency.  B. Similar bands- similar bands give you a few things. First thing, you can see where they’ve played in the past . This may indicate that the place is suitable for your music. Secondly, you can give a similar band a shout , call them in for a mutual performance and get exposed to each other’s audience. Don’t forget to make some noise about this on social media. C. Promoters- some venues have open mics or nights with specific genres. Making a list of promoters or curators can be great. Some promoters may even work with a few venues and whats best is that the audience is already there! How can you find these promoters ? You can either find these by contacting the specific venue where you saw an event that may be relevant to you. Or you can also check artists similar to you like you did in the last step and see if they’ve played in some sort of band night you didn’t hear about. Afterwards contact the promoter/venue and continue from there.
  5. Contact! Scary right? Those ridiculous butterflies that arrive when you’re about to click “send”.  Don’t be scared. Just be professional. Subject line: booking a gig at |venue_name| in |month_name|. “Hello |contact_name| “ . A sentence about your band and music, a sentence about any achievements. A sentence about expected audience if necessary. Links to your main social platforms and of course , to your music. If you have a landing page that showcases all of this properly, even better. 
  6. The follow up. So the venue didn’t answer you? Forgot cause they wanted to check something before responding? Your email ended up on their “promotions” tab? Remember that these people do what they do cause they love music, and if you’re a good match you may be playing at there venue more often. Be nice. And again- be professional. Send a follow up : “Hi, just wondered if you got my previous email. Looking forward to hear from you. Have a nice day!” . Keep track of your follow ups, and emails sent. If after 2 follow ups the place doesnt answer, drop it. 
  7. Ok, you got a few dates scheduled. Thats great! Make sure that there is an agreement between you and the venue. More specifically: what technical gear and human  resources do they offer (don’t be surprised on the day of performance)? how much do they pay you if at all? Ticket sales : where does it take place? Is there a split? What time is the sound check and what time is the performance? Is there another band playing that night? Minimize surprise factors, you’ll have enough to worry about on the day of the performance.  
  8. On day of performance- people are people. Some can be nice. Some can be douchebags. Don’t get into any unecessary rivals with people from the venue. Keep a positive energy and think long term. Some places will be welcoming and professional, others wont. Essentially you’re there for the audience not for them. 
  9. A nice thank you email and follow up can be nice the day after your gig. Building relationships is everything in this industry. Every point of contact matters. 

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How To Distribute Your Music Online:
Apple, Spotify & Royalty Data

How did the music industry get so complicated? How can an artist be aware of what’s happening all over the digital streaming sphere? So many platforms & so many data points to track. Although the complexity – digital distribution is actually something we should be thankful for. 

Not too long ago, physical stores were Spotify and Apple Music of the world. Distributing an album to a “Tower Records” shop, would not help your music much. It is about getting discovered and doing proper campaigns to stand out. 

A distributors job is to make sure an artist’s music fits store requirements, and pay you back artist royalties. As complicated and non-transparent as it may seem, we’re actually in an era where an artist can both deliver their music to the masses  and also get paid from one place. 

When choosing a distributor it would be recommended to take into account the following considerations

Stores & Streaming Services a Distributor Submits To

Which stores (DSPs) does your distributor work with? Different distributors have connections with different DSPs. Yes, it is amazing to be on every streaming platform out there, but focusing on a few big ones can be more rewarding. 

We have complied a list of the top 10 streaming services by subscribers in 2019 statistics. FYI IndieFlow’s platform distributes to all these streaming platforms with 100% of the royalties going back to the artists:

 

1. Spotify: 124 Million Subscribers

2. Apple Music: 60 Million Subscribers

3. Amazon Music:  55 Million Subscribers

4. Tencent Music: 35 Million Subscribers

5. YouTube Music: 20 Million Subscribers

6. Deezer: 7 Million Subscribers

7. SoundCloud: 175 Million Users (No subscriber data available)

8. Pandora: 6.2 Million Subscribers

9. Tidal: 3 Million Subscribers

10. Gaana: 1 Million Subscribers

Royalties & Pay Outs 

As these royalties most likely won’t pay the rent (at least in 2020), you must be aware of two things: 

How are your royalties provided and how often are they given to you? 

Direct distributors often have the availability to receive payouts after a certain amount of funds ($5-50) are collected from the streaming services. These funds are usually distributed to your bank account. 

Another useful stat here would be the average royalty per play on each one of the different channels. It is an interesting stat as the leading streaming service (Spotify) is actually not the top payer in terms of royalties to artists:

Here are the top 9 payers- their average payout per track and for comparison purposes the number of tracks needed to hit ~$1,500 in royalties:

1. Napster: $0.019 (Per Stream); 77,474 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500) 

2. Tidal: $0.012 (Per Stream); 177,604 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500) 

3. Apple Music:  $0.007 (Per Stream); 200,272 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500)  

4. Google Play:  $0.0067 (Per Stream); 217,752 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500)  

5. Deezer:  $0.0064 (Per Stream); 230,000 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500) 

6. Spotify:  $0.0043 (Per Stream); 336,842 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500) 

7. Amazon:  $0.004 (Per Stream); 366,169 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500) 

8. Pandora:  $0.001 (Per Stream); 1,106,767 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500)

9. YouTube:  $0.0006 (Per Stream);  2,133,133 (Streams Needed to Reach $1,500) 

Costs, Exclusivity & Length of Deal

Cost, exclusivity and length of deal vary depending on which distribution route you choose to take. 


Distributing completely independently through online services or software:

(IndieFlow, Distrokid, CD Baby, TubeCore & other independent distributors).

The costs for these services vary from (0-10% of commission on royalties) to subscription costs or just a general cost per track distribution.

No exclusivity is required here and there is no minimum deal length)


Distributing semi independently:

Services such as AWAL offer semi independent services. AWAL has gone the semi label route – where they choose the artists they would like to distribute, offer them a cash advance & ask for a higher % of royalties (can be the ballpark of 20-30%).

They offer exit points upon payback of the cash advance.

*Information above should be verified with services and is not based upon sources and dependent on artist.


Distribution through a label:

The old fashioned label route is the “traditional” way of getting your music on the streaming platforms. It is worth noting that for the sake of uploading to the streaming services many of the labels utilize online services described above.

Labels can ask for contracts giving them up to 50-70% of royalties and will ask for exclusivity.

Labels do offer networking, PR and services that are not in the scope of digital distribution.

A Distributor’s Support Team

Is there someone to talk to on the other side? There may be all kinds of terms you’re not aware of, questions you may have or corrections you need to make even post release. 

“What is an ISRC code?”

“I can’t find my profile on one of the stores”. 

“How do I transfer my track from one service to another” 

In many cases , because the stores are in direct contact with the distributors and not with the artists themselves, you need a good support team to back you up on a rainy day!


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Spotify Playlists: Myth or Powerful Marketing Machine?

Spotify is like an open source content machine in which both Spotify in-house editors and everyday users can curate content. Among the user generated playlists –  some Spotify user playlists that have gone insanely viral and have a massive fan base of hundreds of thousands of users.

As time went by, these user generated playlists have become an excellent way for new music to be heard. Spotify playlisters became influencers and a new eco-system was born.

Along with this great new power that these private curators suddenly had, came also a handful of responsibilities. Playlist curators had to start organizing, branding, bringing in new music, taking out old music and so forth. So this playlisting hobby soon became a full time job, and this means money needs to be made.  

Introducing – Spotify Playlist Placementing! Artists pitch their songs to playlisters and the playlisters give it a listen. Does the music fit in any of their playlists? Did it make an impact? Hey but I paid for this!

Services such as Submithub, Playlist Push, and Indieflow, have a network of playlisters to pitch music to.

The idea is always the same: Artists pay X dollars to get pitched to Y playlists. After a campaign that can take up to a few weeks (depending on the service), you get added to any playlist that liked your stuff. The playlist curators guarantee to listen to the track and if it fits they will place it in the playlist. 

The purpose of this article is to reveal some useful insights about the benefits and the risks of paid submission to playlists. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, so it’s crucial you know what to expect!

 

The Big Trade Off:  Playlist Curators & Musicians

As many of us artists would love to get into these playlists, there is a big debate about
the efficiency of playlist placements. Yes, it can get to a wide audience, yes you can get your song heard by thousands and sometimes even more, however, is this audience loyal to you or to the curator?

The general answer is: the audience is loyal to the curator. However the law of large numbers applies to music as well. Among the thousands of listeners – a small percentage will become your listeners. And in these numbers, a small percentage can be all you need. 
Here are a few pointers to help you base your decision, the next time you consider playlist pitching.

The Listener to Follower Ratio

Your followers are most likely your true fans. These are the people that didn’t only listen to your songs, but who also want to follow your new releases, concerts etc.

Spotify’s algorithm likes this variable and defines the quality or the “hypeness” of an artist through this ratio. Listeners divided by followers. This ratio is an important factor of your quality in the algorithm’s eyes, and paid placement on playlists does not help you much with that.

A playlist curator’s follower base is there to listen to their taste in music. The audience will listen to the track but not in all cases become followers. Most listeners will do add to your listener count without actively following. 

An artist promoting their music on paid placement playlists will likely have a high listener count, but a very low follower count, resulting in…. (drum roll) …. A very low listener follower ratio.  

While this can be a minus – do not be alarmed. Getting your music heard  is just as important as maintaining a high listener to follower ratio. Numbers are not everything.

The Spotify Save Button

Curated playlists allow listeners to click save on a specific song. Once a user has clicked “save” it means they liked your song. YAY!

Listeners like adding newly discovered tracks to their playlists, or just keeping these songs in their library where they sometimes shuffle play. Although this is not a follower – it is someone who clicked save on your music. 

Branding

Releasing a song and getting it in several playlists can get your number of streams peaking. It is definitely fun seeing a new song getting thousands of plays through playlist pitching. But does it give you any meaningful results?

Depends how you look at it. Streams won’t get you anywhere in your music career unless it’s backed up by followers or listeners. It can give you a better look though. If you’ve pitched your hit song, and you want people to listen to this song, most users will go to your top popular songs and give them a listen. Also stream numbers stay there. They don’t change every week or month. You’ve probably experienced a situation where a friend has recommended an artist, or you decided to give someone a listen. When you go into their artist profile, you will probably take a look at whats popular in streams and press play. 

Playlist pitching will give your hit song a good boost in stream numbers- a good way to make this song stand out.

Expectations and Understanding Results of Pitching to Playlisters:

Once you start a playlist campaign, a few things will happen. On average 5-10 percent of playlists pitched to will add your song to their playlist. If you pitch to 20 playlists don’t be surprised you weren’t added to one. If you do pitch to a decent number of playlists, your music will likely get added to at least a few and your listener numbers will rise. YES! 

After the initial rise in numbers you should expect  to see a slow down in listeners which will eventually result in a generated loyal fanbase.

 How do you know if your campaign was worth it? 

Always keep KPIs (key performance indicators) in mind. The most important metrics are: 

  • Followers
  • Saves
  • Listeners
  • Streams

Compare these numbers to your numbers before the launch of the campaign.

Conclusions
Playlist pitching can be a very powerful way to boost your streams. Paying for submissions is not the only way to do this. Spotting the right curators for your music and building relationships with them, is definitely something you can do on your own. Doing this properly is time consuming though, and is a whole topic within itself. In this article we’ve covered the main factors and measurable indicators that you should be aware of when starting a playlist campaign. Even if you had a successful campaign, it doesn’t mean you’re career is going to sky rocket. It’s another step towards building and growing your brand, so remember what to expect when planning your budget for this type of campaign, what to measure and always think long run.