There’s a million things to consider and action when preparing for your music releases: in the build up, on the release day and the weeks beyond. Odds are you’ll forget at least a few things, but it’s important to take your time: build a strategy and plan, map out a timeline and prepare assets way in advance of deciding release dates. Why spend so much energy and investment preparing the perfect songs and recordings to then watch as they don’t fully realise their potential?
Off the back of the acclaimed 2017 Heart Worship EP ‘Faithful To Us‘ the next generation of Heart Church (Nottingham) has taken up the baton- releasing a double single- ‘Unending Grace’ and ‘Where Would I Be’.
Recently we’ve had a splurge of music-makers asking for pointers/advice on the mechanics of releasing music- how to capitalise on the all-important release day (…and week… and month…) and maximise the impact of your record. You’ve spent countless hours (and pennies!) perfecting your songs and getting them recorded, mixed and mastered- it’s critical to not lose focus and make sure your release strategy backs up the effort you’ve put into making the music.
With critics describing Timberlake’s 5th studio album Man Of The Woods as ‘struggling with its direction’, the Suit and Tie singer seems to have steered away from his usual R&B, silky suave self. Whether an attempt to reinvent himself or simply gather a new plethora of fans, JT is gasping for air in the same stagnant pool that contemporaries Katy Perry and Taylor Swift seem to have found themselves in.
I love reflecting back each year on the music that I’ve loved, but I’ve got to be honest, 2017 wasn’t a standout year for music in my opinion, however there were still a few gems released this year. Changes in the way people consume music has meant that more singles and EPs are being released by artists, rather than albums – this is reflected by three EPs (and one “mini” album) making it into my list. Also, this year I’m including a playlist of my 10 favourite songs alongside my favourite albums. My lists seem to be comprised mainly of pop music, which is probably no surprise given that it’s the genre I’m most involved in, and also that the pop label has expanded so much in recent years that so much music fits under it. With that said, in no particular order, here are my favourite albums and songs from 2017:
Opening with an infectious plucked guitar hook that is slightly reminiscent of Irish indie-rock band Two Door Cinema Club’s ‘Something Good Can Work’, Swedish alt pop band Everywhere, who now reside in London, have re-emerged with their new single ‘Moments’ only a short time after their previous electro pop release ‘Man Up’.
Before we begin, I’d like to start off by quickly acknowledging that there are two sides to every coin! In many situations in this music journey there are pros and cons. I suppose this little write-up is simply a bit of insight into my own observations and experience on my journey and how I learnt to focus on the benefits of my situation and all it’s possibilities rather than the opposite.
Bespoke Records are set to release a final Outlines album – Sketches, featuring the 8 original piano demos recorded before the 2 EPs were produced. Showing the 8 stunning songs in their rawest form, singer Sam Cox delivers effortless and mesmerising performances- including favourites ‘Tranquiliser’ and ‘Carnegie Hall’.
If there was an award for the most memorable piano part of the year, Finland based Indie-Pop duo Since November would win in a heartbeat with their debut single ‘Star System’ released in late June this year. The riff is wonderfully unique in that it is flashy, sad and uplifting all at the same time- resulting in an effect that is rare, but undeniably effective.
Bespoke is excited to announce the release of a new CHARIOTS EP – Dreaming As We Go (Remixes). Featuring 4 remixers (This., Latchmere, Black Forest and OKO) tackling the same song. The This. remix has already been featured on several mid-range Spotify playlists- take a listen to this energetic and diverse project and let us know what you think! Available from all digital outlets– OUT NOW.
The Legend of XERO is certainly a distinctive and interesting individual. Producing a unique brand of dark, Industrial-Goth, Pop and Hip-Hop for several years now- The Legend of XERO (his real name unknown) has already released multiple albums, his most recent being Ascension: The Creative Power of the Imagination, released earlier this year. This album features XERO’s most popular track to date, titled ‘Zombies’. Much like the majority of XERO’s music, ‘Zombies’ features influences spanning an array of different styles including EDM, Rock and Industrial with a contemporary pop sensibility in the songs structure, lyrics and vocal melodies.
Despite residing in L.A, one of the world’s most prominent hubs of music and pop culture, PLEXXAGLASS have faced little trouble standing out as of late. Consisting of members Alexa Joan Rae (vocals, keys), Lauren Stockner (bass, guitar), Ken Oak (Cello) and Sarah Luffred (drums), the bands unique brand of emotive songwriting initially captured a more widespread audience through their single ‘Lament en Route’ released five months ago, gaining critical acclaim from independent bloggers across the globe. It was a powerful, emotive and commercial release, but how does their newest single shape up in comparison?
Anybody growing up as an awkward teenager in the mid-late 2000’s will remember with fond nostalgia the music of Paramore and the way they tapped into a MySpace culture of emotional angst at just the right time. Lead singer Hayley Williams’ dramatically razor-sharp bangs (with appropriately violent bursts of red, pink and orange) jumping around in front of her band mates (who for the most part just seemed like they were in it for the ride). Fast paced, mind numbingly catchy emo-rock-pop, albeit without the shrill whininess one often associates with the genre. Thinking about how much of a different time this was really does make one feel old.
Writing a song is still one of the things I love to do most in life, but it’s also become something that I monitor and assess more intentionally than before.
I’ve recently stepped up how much effort I give to my songwriting. I don’t mean simply giving more hours to writing, although that has been true. I also mean a mental shift from treating it like a glorified hobby to treating it more seriously.
What a night we had!! Thanks to everyone that came down to the Green Door Store, our secret headliner was… DUN DUN DUUUNNN… none other than the amazing Billie Marten! Thanks to the other amazing artists too- Lydia Evangeline, Anna Pancaldi and Jacko Hooper. Check out our playlist of these guys and let us know who you’d like to see at the next one:
Last year was full of controversy for many. Brexit divided the nation and Trump unexpectedly won the US Election. Since the inauguration on January 20th, his controversial agendas have dramatically unravelled before our eyes as he has tried to enforce bans on immigration and to build segregating walls. However amidst all the chaos he has united millions of people globally- mobilising them on to the streets in protest. Ranging from the Women’s March on Washington to the emergency demonstrations at American airports and outside Downing Street- to say no to racism and no to divisive politics.
Have you had a working relationship grow into a friendship but found it difficult to differentiate the two?
If your answer is YES, well you’re not alone. ME TOO. I admit it can be a challenging dynamic to figure out. I think being able to have a healthy working relationship and friendship is an incredible thing and I do encourage it always. You might be thinking that I’m about to give you some answers…maybe not. I certainly do however have 3 keys that I hold dear when trying to maintain a healthy business + personal relationship.
As a Member Services Representative at PRS for Music for nearly 10 years (in May) my field and my experience is advising, assisting and steering people through the world of songwriting royalties (both published and unpublished). In that time, I have spoken to people at all different levels of the Industry with varying degrees of success. I have also been exposed to a world that is as confusing as it is deep, insightful, sad and sometimes amazing. I have witnessed success stories, failures and those who flourish or falter at the gate of songwriting royalties.
Well, you know what they say, “good things come to those who wait” and that could not be truer of Sampha‘s debut. I’d like to say that I was cautiously optimistic on first listen but mostly I was just itching to have it on repeat. This came to us on a day of music release mayhem and it’s made a point to standout…
U2 are going on tour this summer. Nothing new in that as a statement but this tour is a bit different. The run of shows celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of their iconic album The Joshua Tree which they’ll be playing in full every night. Why was that record so significant for them? Well, it was the album that propelled them to their long-held status of biggest-band-in-the-world, a place from which they’ve built the rest of their career as a band.
If you’re an artist, music publisher, record label or manager (or anyone involved with music and music business!) you should be roughly aware of these terms and what they mean. We’ve highlighted who should be particularly aware of each term, or handle each term on a daily basis: Artist (A ), Songwriter (S ), Publisher (P ), Record Label (R ). Managers need to be fluent in them all to protect their clients!
In the digital era we have access to more music than ever before. Spotify and Apple Music have given us the ability to listen to virtually any song ever released at the click of a button. With so much music available to us, how do we find music that we like? Playlists and algorithms have become the new mixtape and one of the best ways to find new music, but my favourite way to discover new music is still by recommendations from other people. So in light of that, here are my 10 favourite albums/EPs from 2016, complete with a Spotify playlist (at the bottom). Leave a comment and let us know your favourites!
This all may sound a little harsh, but the number of simple mistakes artists make while trying to make it in the music industry are astounding. Here are a few of the classics we come across almost every day and how to combat them- the likelihood is if you’re an artist you’ve already learnt from a few of them. There are very few shortcuts in this business – you’ll need to graft whatever happens!
Most general Joe Bloggs people-on-yer-street aren’t sure what record labels do – other than notoriously take advantage of, and screw over, artists. Music is a complex industry, but the very core is record labels. The original labels (of which the original original is Columbia) began as gramophone manufacturers – selling the accompanying vinyl and distributing throughout America before growing into Europe. For the nerdier among you, we’ll do a history of the recording industry in another blog, but for now here’s what all record labels (major and independent) do as part of their day-to-day in the modern industry.
“Any old Monkey can use social media to tell people about their next gig”
We were invited to speak at a ‘Music and Media’ conference this weekend in central London, hosted by Step FWD. It was a great event, with a lot of discussion around how up-and-coming and established independent artists can use media tools to market their music and develop their careers – we’ve summarised a few of the thoughts we shared.
Bespoke gets a lot of emails every week enquiring about publishing – some with specific questions on what publishing is, others asking to meet to chat through publishing, some asking to be published by Bespoke. We love to empower the songwriter… so much so that they might not even need us for any of these! Do you even need a publishing deal? Here are a few things you can do to get off the ground without one and hopefully put a bit more money back in your pocket.
Publishing is pretty misunderstood; it took me aaaaages to get my head round the concept, let alone all the crazy niche clauses, structures and interdependence with record labels. We’ve got to where we are now thanks to some cheeky orchestras, the French (merci), and weird creepy malls… no one said it was a straight forward journey!
“Passion before profit. People before product.”
This blog is just a tool in gathering like-minded people together. The vision of Bespoke is to create a revolution in the music industry through killer music and through integrity. The best art going around – purveyed with trust, love and through placing value on the artists who make it.
Ever got a bit bored of your well-trodden albums and wished you knew some good places to discover wicked new music? I know I’ve certainly written the odd admit-how-uncool-I-am Facebook status “Anyone got any new music recommendations?”. Here are some top tips and places to easily discover great new music and be the envy of all your friends.
“What the flip actually is a publisher? What the heck is a record label?”
It’s pretty surprising how often I’ve found these two questions crop up – even from experienced songwriters and artists who’ve had dealings with both entities and been left non-plussed. Bear with me and prepare for a sore brain.
The music industry is all about copyright control and how to earn money from exploiting copyrights – putting them to work, selling them, licensing them. It’s all pretty confusing – mainly because the industry has reacted to new technologies, precedents set by legal wrangling and large swings in music consumption (both in quantity and medium) over nearly a century.
“We’re on a crusade to change the music industry. We want our artists, writers and consumers to change it with us. A music revolution.”
Bespoke Records is not just out to sell music. We want to revolutionise the entire industry – we’re on a crusade to fundamentally change the way artists and consumers interface with one another through the industry (the go-between) and put creativity back at the fore. We certainly don’t want to do it by hoodwinking consumers and artists – screwing music lovers and music makers alike, laughing ourselves to sleep on mounds and mounds of cash. Our vision is to do it by finding a way to honour and incentivise creativity while providing a fair deal for consumers. The key building blocks of this are education and community- the reasons for this blog.
We are loving this music video from Bespoke artist Tom Smith for his single ‘Dynamite’ off the new EP ‘Sound of Heaven‘.