Nathan Brumley / Blog
The ow.ly Indie Artist
Ow.ly has been an amazing advancement on sites like Twitter for altering or shrinking websites to fit into the already limited number of characters allowed for posts. It has allowed someone with a massive link to alter it to something that would fit into a post even with having a lengthy description preceding.
Indie artists are unique; we offer a sound that the mainstream doesn't have and frankly I think we all want to keep it that way. We explore sounds, do things differently and make great music that is unique to us and not just for a mass crowd that likes regurgitated Beiber and Taylor Swift sound alikes.
Sometimes I think, however, that there are temptations out there for indie artists to change who they are; to conform to a mold-to blaze a path that would definitely lead to more monetary pleasure. A path that would alter everything that we are or have become with our indie music to become like the countless throngs of other pop one hit wonders.
Ow.ly is a good thing-technology is a good thing-your music is a GREAT thing. Don't conform your identity just because you aren't getting the attention or money you think you deserve for your craft. Your day will come-be true to your art and continue to work at it, make contacts and push forward with it with all you've got. And even though Ow.ly continues to condense and alter sites to fit a certain mold, don't let your art follow the same path!!
Part 2: 5 More Crazy Tips For Inspiring New Song Ideas
#6-Pick up a new instrument-Eddie Vedder picked up a ukulele, Bob Seiger played piano and guitar-if you are primarily a piano player try writing a track on guitar and vice versa. Don't worry about taking lessons. Some of the best writers had their own style of playing that wasn't necessarily correct but was uniquely them and relayed the genuineness of their craft.
#7-A song a day-years ago I went through a period of time in Nashville where I did not write at all simply because I thought none of my ideas were strong enough. In the process my writing got rusty and I lost a lot of my chops. I finally came to a point where I would take 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month and vow to write 1 song per day. Quality wasn't always the end result but it allowed me to keep consistent with writing and helped me keep more on top of my game when it came to co-writes.
#7-READ READ READ-So many of the best writers I know are some of the most prolific readers. Authors have great word imagery and offer numerous ways to say things in a manner that's fresh in the same way songwriters try to do in their music.
#8-Write to queue-I have worked a lot with the Songs Of Love Organization and write for many film/TV companies where a 1-2 day turnaround for a full song with production is pretty common. Even if you don't have these kind of deadlines, set goals for yourself to try to write a great song for an artist or for your own album in a given amount of time.
#9-Always be sensitive to situations in your life that you can put to song-is a family member going through a bad illness, is a friend having a bad break up? Try to vicariously put yourself in their shoes and see what kind of hook lines, melody or ideas you can put with their situation.
#10-Fill in the blank-go to a new station and find a song you've never heard before. Listen to the intro and verse 1 just to where the chorus is about to start. Just before the chorus begins turn off the radio and hum where you would go with the chorus melodically. This is a great exercise to keep up your melodic chops. Writing is a very instinctual exercise and generally your first attempt is going to be your best one.
Nathan Brumley *Song holds with Grey's Anatomy and Vampire Diaries *Film placement with Life Unexpected, Surprise Homecoming, Palisades Pool Party, Hollywood Heights and The Young And The Restless *2007 Discmakers Top 14 Acts of the Southeast *2008 2nd overall winner of the USA Songwriting Competition & 2012 1st place winner in lyric category of USA Songwriting Competition *2nd overall in Music City Songwriting Competition 2009 and 2010 *Lightning 100 featured artist-July 2009 *Warner Brothers featured songwriter for film and television in March of 2009
5 Crazy Tips For Inspiring New Song Ideas
Inevitably at some point in your music career ideas, melodies and hook lines with taper to a screeching halt and you will find the endless flow of work, school or family blinding your way to writing the great tunes you once penned with ease. I've compiled an off the wall list of 5 tips to lube the creative machine and hopefully get you out of that rut if and when you may arrive there.
#1-Challenge yourself to listen to a new genre; even if it's one you don't necessarily like. 5 years ago I started listening to obscure indie rock garage bands and although I didn't enjoy 60% of what I initially heard, I heard new melodic patterns and production ideas that I would never have heard on mainstream radio. Which brings me to another good point-DON'T LISTEN TO MAINSTREAM RADIO-the world doesn't need another Taylor Swift, Adele or Justin Beiber!
#2-Turn on a new radio station in your car or on your computer and turn it to the lowest volume you can to where you can't definitively make out the melody but can still hear the music. Your brain is going to constantly try to make out notes, riffs or melodic patterns and in the process you will come about a process I call 'melodic regurgitation' which has been very effective for me when I go through melodic blocks.
#3-Go to a record store or get a copy of the 1000 best albums of all time and sift through song titles. There is no copyright law in using a song title and writing your own original song to it. It can also be very inspiring to get song ideas as well.
#4-Find your ideal time of day when you're the most inspired. For me it is right before I fall asleep (when it's the least convenient time to grab a pen or a recorder!) Take advantage of these times and don't let anything distract you. ALWAYS WRITE DOWN/RECORD YOUR SONG IDEAS! Never assume you will remember them because many times you will forget them.
#5-Co-write-this is not a ground breaking concept but one that I've come to admire especially in the Nashville music scene. With co-writing you not only have the ability to cross promote, but you can also save money on the production by splitting costs and sharpen your songwriting skills by learning from other writers.
The most important thing to remember is the BE CONSISTENT! You wouldn't go to the gym and just do one workout for the year. Rather you need to condition your body regularly, do different exercises, keep it fresh and challenge yourself in creative ways. I wish you all the best this year and hope you can take just one thing from this list into your own writing and write some great songs!
Nathan Brumley *holds with Grey's Anatomy & Vampire Diaries *cuts with the Young And The Restless, Nickelodeon, Life Unexpected, Palisades Pool Party, and Surprise Homecoming *2nd overall winner of the USA Songwriting Competition in 2008 and 1st place in lyrics in the 2012 USA Songwriting Competition *Discmakers Top 14 Acts Of The Southeast 2007 *Nashville Lightning 100 *featured artist-July 2009 *Warner Brothers artist of the month for film placement March 2009 *I Tunes/Tunecore Top 25 Song Of Summer winner July 2012
Planting Oaks Around The Sequoia
Jesus said in the New Testament of the Bible that a 'prophet is without honor in his own hometown.' Sometimes I have found this to be true in sharing my music on Facebook. It seems like the people who I'm closest to sort of lose interest and become numb to what I do and I feel like not even the most epic achievements would impress them.
The problem with sites like Facebook is that if you're not careful they can become a feed for all the other sites that you're on (if you choose to link them) so sometimes your friends, family and some fans can get an overkill of your music life.
I've personally resorted to using Facebook to post quotes and other non music related topics and reserve my music posts to ones that are substantial such as a film placement, artist cut or big award. I call this 'planting oaks around the sequoia'-still keeping my fans engaged without wearing them out with constant non-substantial music posts.
This week I posted a similar approach to doing this on Twitter with my 6 tweet per day plan to getting fans without 'over spamming them'. Here is my plan: 1. Tweet 1-Instagram picture 2. Tweet 2: artist/fan or business mention 3. Link to your Soundcloud song or YouTube video 4. Funny or thought provoking quote or thought 5. Outreach-reach out to one person directly whether it be a radio contact, producer, fan or label 6. Retweet a fan or follower tweet I space my tweets every 2-3 hrs but to can repeat this cycle daily if you want. Put you music links up at high volume Twitter times throughout the day (not at 5 am!!)
I am no music professional, but I've found that less is more when approaching Facebook and Twitter and the more direct contacts I can make with people the more likely I can get them to check out my songs. Good luck!!
My Top Site Picks For Artists
One thing that I've learned in the last 10 years in the music industry is that if you don't have a great online presence then you're not tapping into a huge part of both your networking and ultimately earning potential as an artist/songwriter.
I am currently active on about 100 different sites and have gone through some of the best ones and wanted to share with you what I believe to be some of the best ones. With that being said here are the top 3 networking sites in my opinion:
Best artist/songwriter sites (fan acquisition/opportunities/networking):
1. Reverb Nation-there's just no better site out there that constantly provides endless opportunities for artists as well as provide a huge network of other artists in all genres, booking agents, club owners and labels/publishers. I consider this the one stop site where an artist can pretty much do anything they are wanting to do.
2. The New My Space (fan acquisition/networking)-now hold your horses for a minute I know what you're thinking-the old Myspace basically became extinct so what good is the new one going to be? I can tell you honestly that the New Myspace is THE BEST way to pinpoint fans. I am blown away by the sites 'affinity' percentages where artists can see by % how a fan may like your music. Although it doesn't have near the outlets as Reverb Nation, we all know its about gaining new listeners and this site is very powerful for that.
3. Linked In (networking/opportunities) It took me a long time to realize the power in Linked In-I always thought it was a site for people in the corporate world but I have been amazed at the different music groups on the site and the ability to be able to submit and share tracks with other artists and for radio/publishing/label opportunities. I have personally had a lot of great things happen on this site. Besides making great contacts I've landed many great radio and licensing deals on the site.
Top 3 Licensing Sites
1. Tribe Of Noise-everything is free on this site and they provide world wide opportunities for every genre.
2. Sonic Bids-the tried and true, Sonic Bids always brings great opportunities to the table with the ability to mail EPKs to prospective labels and other opps and they keep their submitting prices low.
3. Music X Ray-these guys have gone above and beyond and have not only provided great opportunities for artists but have created online tip jars for artists, feedback from publishers and labels personally on every submission and song match analytics to find the best fit for songs for opportunities.
In the coming weeks I want to go through more of these sites. I have spent years finding the most effective ones and I want to save you some of the pitfalls I have come across. If you're not already on Twitter, Facebook band page and Soundcloud (the big 3) you need to have these in place. It's a never ending game when trying to get your music out there, but the more great platforms you have to share it through, the greater the exposure and hopefully the greater the success!! Til net time...
The Rising Fall
If there's one thing I have learned along this broken up, sometimes directionless and brutal road of the music business is that nothing comes easy. When I was 12 years old I remember getting my first rejection from a music publisher who I had approached to do some sheet music to some of my piano pieces.
As I went through my high school years I can recall going in for auditions and hearing how I didn't measure up and how hundreds of publishing companies turning my songs down.
Moving to Nashville was a whole different realm of rejection. In a town of such high standards I cannot even recall how many showcases I've played where I was criticized for my voice, publishers turning down what I thought to be strong songs and even writers refusing to write with me because I didn't have any credible success.
Music is a double edged sword; we all love it but what I've come to find is that it is a very individualized thing. Even if a person has a great song you're still going to deal with the individual tastes of the audience you're writing for-and it changes constantly.
I've realized I can't please everyone; and after over 20 years of pursing my career without making a living I've grown to just do what I love to do and not worry about what people think or feel about my music. Yes I've spent many nights getting 4 hours of sleep, doing free gigs and killing myself marketing and promoting my music. But I wouldn't change a thing-I am me-everything I have I've earned and I'm proud of the journey that I've been on and wouldn't retrace a step.
Anything To Everyone?
OK so here's my dilemma-I'm a songwriter who's got a huge collection of songs, 5 LPs, 2 side group EPs in indie rock and dance pop and a TON of energy to pursue this crazy jaded game called the music scene. The problem is after 13 years in Nashville with credible cuts with some big shows, some songs with up and coming artists, and producing some great acts, I could probably have paid my mortgage for one month with what I've made so far. So here's where it gets complicated-I moved here as a painfully white man pursuing Christian pop and I've ended up as a rapping dancepop artist (sort of). I've diversified to Indie rock, indie pop, country and many other styles just to see what it is that people latch onto. All to come to the conclusion that after all my research and recording that someone will probably just stream my music on Spotify and I'll be left with about enough money to get a Snickers bar at the end of the month. Well it was a good try. The Bitter Selway's EP just came out March 6th: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cold-as-numbers-ep/id616821327 and my other sidegroup World Kup just released their EP March 15th https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/world-kup-ep/id603726878 . Maybe I can upgrade to a dinner at Taco Bell by the end of the month!
Live On I Tunes With My Two Side Groups
In the beginning I thought it would be cool to diversify my sound and have a few side groups. Little did I know that it meant more networking, more websites, more music sites and a ton of other work that I never dreamed of! I finally feel a lot better knowing that both of our EPs are finished with The Bitter Selway (indie rock) and World Kup (dance/electronic) and we finally have a presence on I Tunes with both groups. A little note to all artists out there: don't start a side group unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands-it's about to kill me!!
The Bitter Selway (Shangri La-single)https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/shangri-la-single/id6171733060
The Bitter Selway EP Cold As Numbers https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cold-as-numbers-ep/id616821327
Tribe Of Noise Remix Contest Winner
We were blown away to get our song 'Bump' chosen to be in a worldwide remix contest in late 2012. Just the other day we got the 6 top remix winners for our song and we were absolutely blown away by the talent and production quality of these entrants-here is the best one that we both agreed on www.soundcloud.com/nathanbrumleysongwriter/bump-in-the-night-secret
I have definitely figured out that in this crazy game of music that it definitely takes a team to get music out to the world; you definitely can't do it alone. There is no way we would have been able to do anything like this on our own and we are honored to have been a part of this opportunity (but we still want to learn how in the world they did those songs!!)
The Least I Can Do For The Least
I have always believed that a songwriter or artist should have a voice for something; a cause to stand for or a charity to uphold. Music can be so influential and can not only move people to melodies but can call people to action.
I have always had a passion for supporting the homeless. From the time I got out of high school I frequented local rescue missions sharing songs of hope and a message of better things ahead.
I have seen it become such a growing epidemic in my own town of Nashville that I have started handing out homeless backpacks equipped with food, basic toiletries, socks, and t shirts. I realize my supply is limited and I will only impact a portion of the homeless population, but it's a start and a blessing to those who receive them.
My purpose in writing this is to call others to action and help people realize that homelessness doesn't always stem from being an addict or having a mental disorder. Times are tough right now and many of these homeless folks are ordinary people who have come across difficult times.
Obviously we can't give to everybody that is homeless, but we all can do the best we can to help those around us whether it be volunteering in a rescue mission, handing out a homeless backpack during the colder months or helping out at a Room In The Inn at a local church. You will be blessed and you will feel incredibly good helping those less fortunate!