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Building an Online Fanbase: Branding And Marketing

Millie ScreamI have recently had a fair amount of people asking me about how I have gained my online following, so I decided to write a blog about it in the hopes that it might help some unsigned musicians who are just as I was at the beginning of this crazy musical journey – clueless, but highly motivated and hungry for information.

Before I start there are a couple of things I feel I must state. Firstly, touring is essential. Getting out there and playing shows, perfecting your live performance and selling CDs and merchandise is a must. There is no substitute for touring if you are a live, DIY musician.

Secondly, this is a cold hard business blog, so please don’t confuse this with fan interaction. That is something that is intertwined, much more fun and COMPLETELY ESSENTIAL at your shows and online. Some of my best friends are people I met that came to my shows (they still do thank goodness). However, this is about the branding and marketing side of building your fan base.

The first thing you need to realise is that if you are a DIY artist or band YOU ARE A BUSINESS. YOU ARE THE RECORD LABEL. YOU ARE THE MANAGER.

What do I mean by this? I mean you can’t put up a couple of videos and release an EP, have a few statuses or photos on social media websites and think people are going to come flocking to you. It’s not someone else’s job. It’s yours. This is going to be hard work, and you are going to be spending all of your time and all of your hard earned cash making this happen.

WHAT?! YOU HAVE TO SPEND MONEY? Yes. Lots of it. As much of a budget as you can muster. Any record label/management label etc worth their salt will have a marketing budget. That record/management label is you. Welcome to the World of business. In this case, the music business. and YOU are your business. your music is a commodity, you are a brand and this is the start of you becoming an entrepreneur.

Lets talk branding first.

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” Business Dictionary 2017

What makes a brand? What makes you buy into a new product or music? How many times do you have to hear about a new band or artist before you bother having a listen on Spotify or going to a gig to check that band out? Most people need to see your brand around 7 times before they are going to bother trialling it.

To create a consistent and recognisable brand as a musician you are going to need:

  • A logo – Get something professionally done and Vectored. It needs to be easily readable as your band or artist name, and you need hi res PNGs with no background, preferably in a couple of colour-ways that can be distributed to venues, promoters, bloggers, magazines etc and anyone else who might be designing a poster or giving you some airtime.
  • Consistent image – This is your onstage image but its also your image in general. Get some promotional photos done. Get them done well. Make sure you have hi res versions as well as low res ones you can use for social media (you can only use pics up to 2MB on Twitter for example). The images you use should be THE SAME on every platform you use and in your press packs. So, if you update your promo pics, update every single website and platform you are on to reflect that.
  • Recognisable sound – Yes, your songs are important. You need to develop and craft them. But a recognisable sound is a different thing. If you heard a new song by Adele, Pink, Enter Shikari, Pharrell Williams, Bruno Mars or any one of a plethora of known artists the chances are you would guess who it was even if you hadn’t heard the song before. Craft your sound. Make it intrinsically you. Get the exact amps/instruments/microphones etc and work on the effects you want to use and cultivate that sound. To begin with you might not be able to tour with all your gear but as much as you can, do.
  • Slogan/Recognisable quotes – this can be as simple as a name for your fans (Think Lady Gaga and her “Little Monsters”) or a name for your sound that becomes synonymous with you (Check out Louise Distras, The Kenneths and Riskee and The Ridicule currently heading up a wave of “Nu Punk”)
  • Biography – Get a good biography written and update it regularly, especially if you have tour dates coming in, new releases coming out and any reviews happening. Have your journey documented and have choice quotes from blogs, interviews, radio presenters and anyone else singing your praises. To begin with you may only need to update your bio once a year. Eventually it will be every few months if not more.
  • A WEBSITE!! Having a professional website is essential!! Make sure it has a webstore for your merch. Have a shows and tour dates page. Mine is linked to BansInTown so that I can update instantly every show that comes in and it goes straight onto my website. Have a video and music on the home page along with hyperlinks to each of your social media platforms. Similarly, have a link to your website on every social media platform you have to send people BACK to your website. You’re basically creating your own web within the web.

“Your entire image online should have the same ‘look and feel’, regardless of where the content sits. This same branding should apply to anything you publish in print, any artwork you use, or any merchandise you produce for sale.” Riches, 2012

Millie Profile.jpg

Think of all your favourite and best known brands. Think of what you know about them; Nike, Adidas, Heinz, Coca Cola, Tesco, iTunes, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, British Gas. All of these brands will have instantly made you think of slogans and logos that are recognisable Worldwide, and you are on a journey to make your brand be as recognisable as that. At least, thats the goal, right?

So Marketing then….

Most people need to see your brand around 7 times before they are going to bother trialling it.

“You cannot just run a couple of advertisements one time and expect the customers to buy the product. The hidden message of rule of seven is the continuous and repetitive effort that should be put in for marketing. 80% of sales are made on the 5th – 12th contact.” Catamount Marketing, 2014

So how do we find out about new music? And what makes us engage with it? There are multitudes of ways you can engage an audience and you should be aiming to do as many of those as possible.

  • Word of mouth – If you are good at what you do and you engage well with people, they will talk about you. They will share your posts if you have interesting content. Word of mouth is your biggest currency, wether organically or through advertising. Aim to make it both.
  • Shows – Get out there and tour. Play support shows. Play to one man and his dog in a tiny pub in Wiltshire. Understand that your first couple of tours YOU WILL LOSE MONEY. But think of this as an investment. Both big and small companies when trialling new products give out hundreds of thousands of samples. Think of your first coupe of tours like that. You are getting your music out to new audiences and if people like that free stuff they are likely to buy that stuff. Promoters, venues, agents that see you working hard for little to no return and putting on great shows will want you to come back. That one man and his dog might bring a few friends next time. Do it.
  • Magazines/blogs – Got a new release coming out? Make sure it’s ready at least THREE MONTHS before the release date. If you can afford to, hire a PR agency to push it for you. They have access to the gatekeepers of national and international press, large blogs, radio stations and all sorts and they will plug you. If not, start making a spreadsheet with lists of bloggers, small radio stations etc and start chatting to them. engage with their content. Check out the bands they are talking about, and when you have a new release, send it to them. They may well review it for you.
  • TV – PR. You are unlikely to get national air without a major label and/or a really good PR company. But there are local TV stations and you should absolutely send your high quality video in.
  • Radio – See Magazines/Blogs
  • Spotify weekly playlists/Apple Music recommendations – PR can do this but so can getting loads of plays. How you get onto Spotify/Apple Music etc is through distribution. Thats a whole ‘nother blog that I haven’t written yet but a quick google will find you a bazillion upload platforms you can check out.
  • Social media (including adverts)  – I’ll go into this more in the marketing section of this blog but have interesting/engaging content, have a strategy and use the marketing tools available to you.
  • YouTube – See above.

The majority of your marketing is going to be through social media. Once you hit the big time TV adverts, large spreads in National and International media and other things will start to happen, but right here, right now social media is where it’s at.

The first thing you need to do is decide which platforms are best for you. There are loads out there – Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook being just a few and not all of them will necessarily be right for you. I personally use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so I am going to talk about those here but you might be a God or Goddess of Snapchat, or a budding YouTuber. Whatever you use, each platform has a different type of fanbase and you will need to interact with each of those groups of people in the way THEY like to be interacted with and regularly.

Your second task is to have a strategy:

  • Who is your audience?
    Each social media platform interacts and works differently and you will have what is called a demographic on each that you can track. Knowing which countries and towns you are most popular in, what age and gender they are and their interests can help you decide what content to post and who/where to target your campaigns so that the people that want to see your music and those likely to enjoy it will see it.
  • When are they active?
    Posting at the right times throughout the day will ensure more people will see your posts. I find 8:45am, 11:30am, 12:30-1:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:45pm, 7:30pm and around 10pm are all good content posting times for various reasons depending on demographic. There are scheduling tools you can use for this sort of thing.
  • What are your goals?
    Are you trying to promote a video? New release? Tour? Trying to get people to follow you or like your page? Have a clear set of goals for your campaign and aim to have those goals stretched out over a six month to year plan. If you have goals you can create content. If you have content you have engaging posts.
  • Who are your peers/influencers?
    Look at the people you admire. How are they using their social media? Can you use that to your advantage? Are you able to interact with them and get some advice?
  • Competitions
    Competitions are a great way to interact with your fans and gain new ones. Just reached a follower milestone? Give away a t shirt. Got a new EP dropping? Competition to win a merch bundle and CD before it drops. There are loads of ways you can do this and its fun for you as well as giving something back to one of the people who are constantly supporting you and spreading the word.

Lets take a look at the three main social media platforms and go through the main points of how to use each.

Facebook

  • Use the analytical tool. It will give you great information of where people are who are liking your page. This can be super useful when you are looking to book tours – you can prioritise areas where people already like your music. You can also set up adverts for followers in areas you feel you’d like more people to know about you.
  • No hash tags! While they can be used on facebook, most people really don’t like to see them on there. It’s an instagram or twitter thing and the general opinion is that’s where they should stay.
  • Don’t repeat yourself. The algorithms set up by facebook will push down any similar posts to ones you have already put up. They will send you messages to tell you they have done so. That includes the same photograph or similar wording, so if you want to post about a gig with a poster, sponsor it, don’t repeat it.
  • Advertising is essential. As I mentioned before, you are your record label, and all labels will have a marketing budget. You can set up adverts for as little as £1 a day. I always have a perpetual facebook likes advert running. I will then sponsor posts about tours, single gigs, new videos and merchandise or anything else important. You can start off small but as your brand grows, so will your need to advertise.
  • Interaction is key. If people are bothering to comment on your posts, respond! Apart from anything else this is polite. Your fans spend time and money coming to your shows and buying your music. The LEAST you can do is talk to them online and at your shows.
  • Visual content on your posts will make them more interesting and get more responses. This can be a promo pic, a live shot or a video. Try to upload your videos direct to the page rather than using youtube links – you will get more views because its instantly playing and easier to access and share.

Instagram

  • Hashtags work, but only if you are using ones that are relevant and popular. Using #mycousinsdogisthebest isn’t going t help you. It might have been used before but probably not much. Using tags that are in their millions is a great way to push your post to the top of peoples suggested posts which will help you get more likes and more followers, so research them and when tagging use the most popular ones as they come up that are relevant to you. #gig #music #singer so on and so forth.
  • Chang your biography link regularly. You can’t put live links in the blur under your bio, so if its new merch send them to your web store. If its a gig send them to your shows and tour dates. Video? YouTube. Always put “link in bio” if thats the case so they know where to go for more information.
  • Tag your photos. If you are doing a show with other people, tag them. If you are posting a live photo or video from a show you just did, tag the venue, the promoter and the other acts. Say thank you! If you always wear a certain brand, are sponsored by someone or would like to be, tag them.
  • There are multiple functions that you can use to interact. One minute videos, multiple photo/video posts, stories and live feeds. Use as many of them you can in different ways as often as possible. I will keep your feed interesting and your audience entertained.
  • You can now sponsor posts on Instagram. Sponsor a poster for a gig or send them to your website to pick up some merch… You can have multiple photos and functions on these adverts and if you are a successful Instagrammer these can be really useful for generating more music sales and getting people to shows. The only difference from facebook is that you have to post before you can sponsor.
  • One big DON’T for instagram: DO NOT connect your instagram to twitter and facebook. Twitter only shows a link not the photo – frustrating for twitter users. Just post the photo on twitter separately. Facebook shows all the hastags and we already know that a no-no.

Twitter

“Using Twitter effectively requires you to put in time, effort and sometimes even money to reach your goal..” Jackson, 2015

Twitter is a tough cookie, but if you can work it, it can be great. It’s more like a continual mini conversation in bitesized chunks and has a lot of networking and business opportunities. Booking agents, photographers, PR, promoters all frequent. I have met web designers, got modelling jobs and music collaborations, met artists (including the person who does all our artwork) and got multiple gigs through twitter. It’s worth it. I’ve also made a tonne of wonderful friends.

  • You have 280 characters now (it was 140) to work with, which isn’t a lot but it’s enough. You need to be punchy with your information. Get it all in there in a bitesized chunk.
  • Use only one or two key hash tags. In 280 characters reading a post that says “Got a #gig in #worcester #tonight and we are super #excited. come #drink and #dance the #night away” is just an eyesore and not an easy read at all. One or two is good and easily searchable. Make sure that like instagram you are using the most popular and relevant ones.
  • Tag the other bands, the venue and the promotion company into your posts wether you are advertising the gig or saying thank you afterwards. You are then advetising them too and that will be appreciated. They are also likely to retweet you, as you should be doing if anyone mentions you. You can also tag up to 10 people on a photo.
  • Have a link to whatever event you are promoting. That can be a ticket link, the link to the facebook event page, your website or whatever. Put a link. It gets more clicks.
  • Retweet and reply anyone and everyone who is interacting with you. Again, they are spending time and effort getting in contact. You should be doing the same in return. Build relationships with your fans. It’s so important.
  • There are scheduling tools for twitter and facebook. I only use one for twitter. It’s called Tweetdeck and when I have tours and things coming up its amazing. I can schedule the same tweet once a day at different times to hit those target audience engagement points in the run up to all my gigs as well as talking about any videos, merch etc I have happening.
  • DON’T have an automatic reply system or instant DM when people follow you or get in contact. It’s cold, it’s annoying and people know it’s not a genuine response.
  • You can advertise on Twitter for a minimum of £1.50 a day. If you choose to do so, you can link yourself to similar artists/interests which will put your advert in the fans of those peoples feeds. Choose or create your most engaging tweets as part of your campaign and as always have links to your website/merch store/spotify/events/youtube videos
  • Make sure you have a link to your website in your biography.

In conclusion, here is a summary of what I’ve just gone through, and some other things you can do in order to grow your fanbase and online presence.

Social Media Musts

  • All profile and cover photos, biographies etc should be the same
  • Use engaging content – links, videos and photos in your posts
  • Post at strategic times during the day
  • Target your audience
  • Respond to your fans
  • Interact with your peers
  • Say thank you publicly
  • Tag in other artists/promoters/venues
  • Have exciting news – releases, new merch, shows to talk about
  • Don’t link your profiles, link your website

Millie Cantatorem.jpg Millie Cnut Logo.jpg

Other Marketing Strategies

  • Networking – Go to gigs. Talk to people. Direct contact. I have been played on Radio X because of networking. I have had modelling jobs, played major festivals and seen and done amazing things as a musician because of networking. I have some of the best friends and most unbelievable colleagues because of networking. Network. GO MAKE FRIENDS.
  • Cross branding: My sponsor is King Cnut. My fans who wear the brand are the Cnut Crew. The owner gives us awesome threads and hats to wear on tour and we put his brand in our artwork and sell his hats on tour which makes us money too. My artist is a comic book writer and illustrator. I am a character in his award winning comic and his art is on almost every t shirt design and poster we have. All of this is mutually beneficial to both parties and exponentially helps grow both businesses.
  • Start making a spreadsheet of e-zines, music blogs and online radio stations. Read them, listen to them and interact with them. When you have a new release, send it to them.
  • Free listing sites for gigs are everywhere. When you are planning a tour put your gig on every local free listing site in the vicinity of each of the venues you will be playing. It’s time consuming but worth it.
  • Use PR companies. Yes it’s expensive, but again, think record label. They pour millions into the PR of a single song. Having a three month campaign professionally PR’d is a must. They have the contacts to the gatekeepers of national and international press, hundreds of music blogs, commercial radio pluggers and all sorts. Do it.

If you got this far and actually read the whole thing I applaud you. I wish you all the best on your journey and if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email. I will try to answer as best I can, as quickly as I can. Big love, and good luck!

 

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Women are vicious. Can we please stop?

I haven’t written a blog for ages. Weeks. Not because I haven’t had the time or haven’t wanted to but whenever I have gone to write one I haven’t felt like I have had anything relevant to say.

I like my blog to be about the sort of things I think are truly important. Certainly this subject is something I struggle with continually.

Before I go on, I have a statement to make;

I do not, in any way, believe that I am better than anyone else. Nor do I believe I am flawless as a human being. I make mistakes. I say hurtful things. Sometimes I say them and mean them. Sometimes I say them and hurt people without ever meaning to. I try to be a decent human. I don’t always manage it.

I make that statement because I don’t want people to read the rest of this blog and believe that I don’t think it relates to me too.

Recently I have had personal experiences of women attacking me. Not physically, but the kind of snide attacks that leave you questioning your character and feeling worn down on the inside.

I am blessed to have many friends. A lot of these friends are male. There have been several incidents in the last few months where I have had to distance myself from those friends because their girlfriends see me as a threat. That probably sounds arrogant, but I can tell you from personal experience in earlier years that when you decide to hate your boyfriend’s friend who happens to be female and you don’t know the first thing about her, it’s definitely not because you know she is the devil incarnate. It’s because somewhere deep down inside you are allowing yourself to feel insecure and inadequate.

It’s taken me a very long time to realise that if I was with someone and they cheated on me, be it with their friend, my friend or a complete stranger, that person would not deserve me anyway. Equally, choosing to dislike someone who is a friend of your partner will put strain on your relationship and unless that friend really is actually trying to get in your partner’s pants and they are letting it happen, that strain is YOUR FAULT.

A lot of the viciousness between women often comes from some sort of jealousy or assumption, and it usually involves a love interest or something similar.

Take Monday night for example. I went to a charity event. Watched some bands. Managed to get my friends and I into the after party. Met some of the musicians. All great fun. At one point I was chatting to a beautiful girl – perfect hair, amazing style, the most beautiful eyes. One of the musicians (male) came and stood next to me. His arm brushed mine. He had the softest skin EVER! I mentioned this. I am very open and honest and have no qualms with complimenting someone as and when I see fit. The girl I am chatting to lunges forward, turning the musician away, exclaiming rather loudly that I should stop trying to get into his pants as his girlfriend would not be happy about it…. Talk about embarrassing! Cue me trying to explain that I simply stated the facts – he had soft skin, end of, before quickly realising this chick wasn’t going to change her mind so I wandered off to find more beer and other people to chat to that weren’t so crazy. Needless to say her beauty seemed to fade before my eyes. A real shame.

I’ve also met some little girls recently at some of my gigs who are bullied. One in particular related to my song Little Big Mouth and even sang it at a girl in school as a way of getting her to stop being nasty (apparently it worked).
I was bullied at school. Called buck tooth, big foot, likened to a boy for having no boobs or hips, called a geek, suffered verbal and physical abuse… Women can be nasty!

The flip side of this is that women – ALL WOMEN – have the capacity to be motherly, nurturing, caring, considerate, beautiful people. If women could put down their insecurities and connect with each other on that level wouldn’t the World have so much more beauty in it?

I wrote a poem with all this in mind. The first part inspired by one of those friend’s girlfriends. The second part inspired by like minded people I have been blessed to meet and become friends with in recent months as well as the beautiful friends I have already.

Before I pop it here, I will sign off with this: For those of you ladies who are reading this and getting instantly vexed, ask yourself why. Is it really because you don’t agree, or is it because on a deeper level all this is ringing true and you don’t want it to?
Those of you nodding your heads and hopefully smiling, thank you for being the ones I seek continually and come back to for inspiration, guidance and love.

Guys – I am without doubt that some of this can be attributed to you too, be is the positives, the negatives or both. You lot could do with sharing more love too. 😉

Here’s my poem

“Girls”

Girls. Who have em eh?
But I get it,
Being erratic
Attacking other women
Because really, you want to be them

And I know you’re gonna read this
And say who the fuck do you think you are?
I’m not insecure, I just hate you, that’s all

But I’ve been there.
Not wanting to change who I am
But being threatened by who you are
Wondering if the man I have
Would rather be linked with your arm

It’s a prehistoric, inbuilt mechanism
We all have it there
But as we grow we make choices
Can I really be bothered to care?

Not not care about you
But not care about who’s better
I’d rather get on with my lot and love myself
So I can love you, whatever

Yeah I can love you
Through all of your spite
Because these days I just see another human
Not a competitor to fight

And this won’t change your mindset
It’s not gonna make us friends
But I’d like to say bless you
I hope love follows you, right to the end.

Women are strong. Beautiful. Motherly.
If we loved each other more I wager the World would be less ugly.
If only we could stop all the jealousy.
Stand together and spread love recklessly!

I reach out to my sisters, to those broken and torn
To ones with hidden scars as well as the physical ones worn
And I give you my hand, my head and my heart
Forgive me my trespasses. I am ready to be part.

Part of a sisterhood, part of a revolution
That will encompass our brothers, our parents, our children
To take back the power of that lost love and light
And to stand strong, together as each heart we ignite.

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Does It Still Hurt?

She screams silently into the back of her mind
Reaching out to the pain

A morbid bubble ripped open like a womb after birth

Open and fresh the tear is fingered over and over

Does it still hurt? Yes. Does it still hurt?

Her memories form twisted and charred
No longer the truth but a long line of guilt

Taunting and grabbing at each of her limbs and knocking on the echoing chambers of her heart
Tortured by the torture she lies in the dark

self pity and blame her blanket

It’s her fault he did it. Her fault.

Manipulation catapults her from hate for him to loathing of self

A merry go round never slowing

She scratches at her skin. Physical pain to numb the other.

Not the first. Won’t be the last.
She hasn’t learned to love herself

So she waits for the cycle to start again.

And so it does. And so it does.

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I’m A Model Of Society

I’m a model of society
I’m a doll for you to dress
I can’t speak about the way I feel
Incase I get repressed
And this never ending cycle
Of what if you don’t accept?
I’m a product of a deeper wrong
That exposure won’t address
The World is getting smaller
And it’s not all rosy beds
We’re conditioned to believe
That this is what is for the best
One world bill and one world government
To tell you what you need
One religion one collective
Forced upon us as we bleed
Not just physically but mentally
Us slowly they condition
With their cashless clean society
Our own opinion forbidden
You’ll ignore the signs and give away
Your freedoms for your comfort
Sleep with ease at night because
You know your next meal comes without fuss
At what point will you begin to see
The freedom that’s invented
Is just a tool to get you to
Bow down for their incentives
And as you swipe your cashless card
I challenge you to think this
What happens when they put in place
A chip in hand for credit?
You think it’s sifi crazy talk
And yet you have forgotten
You never thought you’d see the day
The pound coin left your pocket.

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It’s not a complaint, it’s a celebration.

I’ve slept less than 6 hours a night and haven’t eaten a cooked meal in over a week. My bedroom resembles a car boot sale and I’m pretty sure my cats think my flat mates are their actual owners.

This isn’t a complaint, it’s a celebration.  I am so blessed to be so busy doing what I love.

However, I feel it’s time to lay bare some home truths about following your dreams as a musician.

I often get the impression that a vast majority believe that being a musician is having an elaborate hobby supported by full time work or generous and well off parents.

I gave up my 32k job to become a student. This gives me just enough in the form of student finance to live on. I spend the majority of this on rehearsal rooms, travel, accommodation and per diems for my musicians, advertising and other musically related expenses.

At my level playing small pubs and clubs with the occasional small festival thrown in for good measure, payment is sporadic at best. I am lucky to get expenses and when I do it rarely scratches the surface of the actual expenditure that made it possible for my musicians and I to play.

Again, this is not a complaint. Yes, it would be wonderful to be paid and make money from the music I lovingly create and play. The industry as it is does not allow for this. I am merely pointing this out and I am 100% grateful to those promoters and venues who do pay me, however much, as every penny goes back into doing what I love and goes a long way to make what I do possible!

I think it is important that the impression people have of following dreams is a real one. It’s not writing a few tunes and suddenly being a rock star. It’s working for years from the bottom up, hoping you’ll be able to pay your rent again this month and afford to get to the next gig while possibly NEVER being a so called star or being out of part time work and in full time music.

It is hard graft. Blood, sweat, tears… I’ve shed all of them to follow my dream. I’ll continue to do so. I love it.

Writing songs and booking gigs is just the beginning. It’s also sitting up til 6 in the morning sending emails to more promoters, blogs, magazines and radio stations asking for exposure then getting a few hours kip before packing a bag and getting a train to who-knows-where to play a gig or do a radio interview for 20 listeners because any airtime is worth the exhaustion. It’s working a part time bar job every night after a full day of rehearsals on minimum wage and thanking God for that £6 in tips because that’s your bus fare back to the studio the next day. Thick skin and determination is essential. Passion is everything.

Apart from my sheer love for the music, the other huge element to keeping me in this is the people. I now have many people who support me continuously by sharing my music, promoting me in venues, turning up to gigs, playing my music on their radio stations… They are my heroes. One person singing along propels me forward. To have as many people as I have to call friends, fans or colleagues is a huge gift.

Rather than waiting to have an album to credit people, I’m going to list some of the important people I have around me so far and thank them whole heartedly for their amazing support. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. If I have forgotten to list anyone, please forgive me.

Twitter Fam:
@MrPeepsSays
@BoltonAddick
@TrustFox
@SqrPig
@MusicForiTunes
@JonpPenny
@DaveyHub
@ryan_Unsigned
@krystaljonjo
@SpeedOfSoundUK
@GBH68

Blog Fam:
www.nijimagazine.com
www.thepunkarchive.blogspot.com
www.thebartonquandry.com
www.musicvstheworld.wordpress.com

Radio Fam:
Coral Rose Radio, Lancaster
Shoreditch Radio, London
Krystal Radio, Essex
BBC Intro, Norfolk
London Unsigned/Unsigned Gig Guide
#RKC, Paris

Promoter Fam:
Elena Katrina
Nick Jaques
Wayne Samways
Zaid Zarathustras
Cheeky Promotions
JakRock Music
Dan Littlechild

My Musicians:
Nzoyi – guitars, keys, MD, brother from another mother
Jeff Cramer – guitar
Ben Witherstone – guitar
Frankie P – bass
Sophie Lord – bass
Michael Osborne – drums
Shakira Malkani – drums
Paolo Gravanti – Cajon
Amanda Brown – drums

Band Fam:
Ghouls
Riskee and the Ridicule
Banjaxeld
Gifted Circus
Nakisha Esnard
Facio

Fave Venues: (for hospitality, promotion, and friendship)
Golden Lion Hotel, Carmarthen
The Kings Arms, Salford
Bar Vinyl, Camden
The Blueberry, Norwich
Milgi, Cardiff
The Tram And Social, Tooting Broadway
The Aquarium, Lowestoft
The Worlds End, Finsbury Park

Special thanks to www.archstudios.co.uk for their friendly, very accommodating and generous team. You look after me and my team so well!

Also, I humbly thank every friend, fan and family member near and far who have given me a couch/floor/bed to sleep on, a meal, come to a gig, chucked me a tenner in times of trouble… Too many to name but you all know who you are and I hope you know how much I love you.

May my struggle carry on and bear fruit to be given back to you in abundance.

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Uncategorized

For Mum

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It’s Mother’s Day! Which is why my blog is dedicated to my favourite Mum in the World – MINE!

My Mum only ever asks for one thing on Mother’s Day from each of her children. A letter. She always says she wants for nothing, so for us to take a minute, or an hour to write a letter to her is the most thoughtful thing we could do, and seeing as I have started this blog I decided that this year I would publicly write mine because she’s wonderful and I wanted to let the World know. Or at least anyone that decides to read my blog 😉

This last year has been a mental one for me and I am pretty sure I gave her a fair few new white hairs as a result, if not a load of heart burn to boot!

At the beginning of last year I decided in the space of a week to apply for Uni, move house and quit a 32k job to throw myself back into education in order to have the time to be a full time musician or at least be pursuing music full time!  Mum was understandably scared. Her very stable daughter was deciding to turn her life upside down, reduce her incomings by drastic proportions and go into an industry where sales are continually dropping and is saturated with hopefuls more than ever. She supported me through it any way regardless of her misgivings. Don’t get me wrong – she believes in my abilities (like every proud Mum she thinks I’m the best singer songwriter in the World) but in realistic terms, no matter who you are or how good, chances of being successful in music are slim. It’s a tougher industry than ever!

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My Mum is my hero. She has faced so many tough challenges in her life and has managed to come through without an ounce of bitterness to become a strong, fiercely independent woman who above all else loves her children, her husband and God. She has fed us with next to no money, raised us with dignity and respect, provided us with the ability to learn music, dance, horse riding or whatever else we wanted, sometimes at the risk of her own health to pay for it.  As far as I am concerned, she is the most amazing mother, friend, confidant and advisor.  I won’t tell you too much – she doesn’t know I am doing this and I have no idea how much she would be happy with me saying! 

At the end of last year my Mum watched me get my heart broken. Not for the first time, but definitely the worst. She felt my weight loss, my night terrors and my depression as though it was her own.  She had seen it coming, but never judged my choices, advised but never ‘told me so’ and never got frustrated with my tears. She just sat and held me, listened and comforted me in any way she could. Over and over.  I know that she would still sit and listen to me for hours going over the same unanswered questions now too.

My Mum never asks for anything from us, but would give everything she has to see us happy and healthy. I know you’re going to read this Mum, because you subscribed to my blog and your my biggest fan.  I just want you to know how much you mean to me.  I could never wish for a better mother or friend. I love you so much. Thank you. For last year and all the years before it. For your protection, support, love, friendship, advice. All the hugs AND the tellings off that have shaped who I am today.  Thank you for being my biggest PR and Publicity person by telling EVERY person you meet that they have to listen to my music. Thank you for believing in me when I don’t feel like I can believe in myself. For all of this and everything I have forgotten to mention here. Thank you.

Happy Mothers Day Mum. You rock my World.

xxx

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Gigs and Such

Hello!!

I promised to be back with the “other stuff” I’ve been up to over the last few weeks and you know, it’s rude to lie. So here I am again attempting to bore you to tears 😉

I have recently had the pleasure of seeing three of my favourite bands in ONE SHOW! on 15th Feb I got the very privileged opportunity to be at the front of Shepherds bush empire, stage right at the barriers to watch Zebrahead, Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish on the last night of their UK tour.  It was epic.  I have to say, working at an awesome live music venue has it’s perks – the security were ace making sure I wasn’t battered (secretly I was actually really disappointed I didn’t have my usual collection of bruises) and passing me paraphernalia like pics whenever they were dropped, not to mention (but I totally am) getting a hat trick of set lists handed to me! I am such a geek for bands….

Zebrahead kicked off the show playing their synth-punk-pop crazy tunes at supersonic speed with a bar on stage to get the other bands and some random people VERY drunk and happy. I ended up with a signed penguin head… I have no idea why but I will be keeping it FOREVER!

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http://www.zebrahead.com/

Less Than Jake played a near perfect run of my favourite songs including The Science of Selling Yourself Short and Plastic Cup Politics and they got two audience members u on stage to star jump through an entire song – poor bastards looked like they were ready to chuck their guts by the end. Brilliant antics from Buddy and a cameo from Matt Appleton on Sax made for some awesome highlights too.

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http://www.lessthanjake.com/

Reel Big Fish have been my favourite band since ’99. Even though their set is perfectly choreographed, their jokes are the same  every show and Aaron’s shirt collection appears to be rather small, I love them. Their songs, their energy and the fact that they are SUCH LOVELY PEOPLE!! Whenever I have had a chance to interact with any of them they are just very sweet, unassuming people who just love what they do. Side note – the new trombone player stepped up to the mark brilliantly. Proud moment here by the way – RBF used the second picture below for an “insert your caption” post on instagram. This makes me very happy, and VERY smug!

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http://www.reel-big-fish.com/

So what happens when you can’t afford a ticket to see Me First and the Gimme Gimmes? YOU WORK THE NIGHT! I’d actually forgotten it was happening having been caught up with Uni assignments and music projects so when I turned up last Friday to be greeted with a big sign saying that, I lost  my shit. SO EXCITED! Fat Mike wasn’t able to play, but that did not matter at all. I managed to swap bars so I was on stage right with one of the coolest bar ladies ever – Lianne Drewett if you read this I think you are rad – and I skanked out something chronic and drank shooters with punters as they smashed out hit after ska-punk fuelled hit.

Incase you don’t know who they are, The Gimmes are a covers band made up of some of the most awesome people in punk. They turn pop into ska-punk. Check out Wiki’s info on them here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_First_and_the_Gimme_Gimmes

REVIEWS

I’ve written a review or two since my last blog, so I have posted them here for you if you wish to have a read.  One was positive and one wasn’t.  When I first got asked to write a review for The Punk Archive it was for a friends band, The Ghouls. I love them, love their music and their debut album (which comes out 4th April by the way – cheeky plug) so a review was easy.

Here’s the Ghouls review if you haven’t seen it before now:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Ghouls

Ghoulsbeach

The second review I have written for The Punk Archive was for Courtesy Drop. Like Garage band gritty sounds? They are awesome:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Courtesy+Drop

They have quoted from my review. This is a huge compliment for me.

I then had the pleasure of reviewing The Shell Corporation. They have an awesome Police Cover on their album and it is rich with Pop-Punk glory. Here’s my view:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=The+Shell+Corporation

Being a musician myself I know how important feedback is for your music. I also know how hard it is to receive negative or constructive feedback. Your music is your baby. You nurture it from the ground up. Scrutinise it. Perfect it. Even when you release it you hear every flaw, every skipped beat and gap were you “could have just”.. so to write a review about an EP that I felt was sub standard as a release no matter how much potential and good musicianship I could hear has to have been one of the toughest things I have ever done.

If you’d like to read it, it’s here. My review for Bottler’s debut EP:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Bottler

I even thought about never reviewing again. I haven’t had any feedback about it. No one has got upset with me – It was just so hard to have to be critical in that way. I will still be reviewing though and I truly hope that what I write constructive or not is useful to whomever I write the review about.

By the way, if you don’t follow The Punk Archive I highly recommend it. I am discovering some awesome music reading other peoples reviews. There is so much new and amazing music out there and if you are a punk fan, well…. What more do you need?

AND SUCH

Just as a side note before I sign off, this week has seen two new songs being written and some recording time booked in next week to start a six track acoustic demo I will be GIVING AWAY to anyone who signs up to my mailing list… OoooooooOOOooOOooooohhhhhhh….

See you soon cyber space lovelies….

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