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Introducing Demar, Our New Instant Star

Demar from Instant RecordsI just love being a witness to something special in the making. Sometimes, I’m an inattentive witness, only noticing a burgeoning talent at the same time as everybody else. This time… my eyes (and ears) are wide open — and yours should be, too.

In June 2012, Stephanie Demar left her hometown, the discreet and demure city of Miami (bitch), to move to London for six months, where we had the fortune of meeting her for the first time. Steph interned for The Orchard UK, assisting our local Client team and starting to build her international presence with a debut gig at The Cornershop. Last summer, she joined our New York office part-time and finally became an official Orchardite Client Manager in October. As such, she competed in our Holiday Party Battle of the Bands, blowing everyone’s mind with her version of Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank)” [not clean]. The rest, my friends, is history.

I say history because this performance kicked off an exciting chain of events which led to Stephanie signing with Instant Records, the label run by our very own Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Richard Gottehrer, and which boasts a slew of amazingly talented female artists like Au Revoir Simone and Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. The picture at the top of this post shows Stephanie debuting as Demar – simply and beautifully — at Tammany Hall the night of the signing.

The best thing about Demar‘s sound is its distinctly personal and genuine nature. Whether she’s singing an original ballad or a Montell Jordan/Big Pun/Ginuwine mashup, she’s always Demar — and that’s something you just can’t teach. 

We’re so excited for what lies ahead for Demar, and we can’t wait for you to hear it, too. In fact, here’s a taste right now with a demo of “Fire:”

Welcome To The Heist: Marketing Tips to Help You Stand Out and Succeed

sourceWith Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ recent success of winning 4 awards at the Grammys, I wanted to explain a few factors that I think made the duo successful. Some people say they’re an “overnight success.” As a fan of Macklemore’s music, I can safely say this isn’t the truth.

It’s important to note that the duo is not signed to a major label deal. They operate independently with the help of a distribution company. I think all artists can learn from these guys’ success. Here are a few key points:

1. Stand Out From The Crowd. Be YOU!!

While the rest of the Hip Hop community seems to be focused on boasting about their riches, jewelry, cars, popping champagne, etc., Macklemore and Ryan are taking a different approach, like for example releasing a song called “Same Love,” which covers topics including sexuality, homophobia and gay rights. These subjects are definitely not common place in Hip Hop, but by raising the issue and standing by a controversial topic, they stand out from the crowd.

Another example of the duo standing out is their single “Thrift Shop.” This track doesn’t fit the mold of a usual Hip Hop track either. Macklemore isn’t talking about buying expensive high-end brand names, he’s talk about going shopping on a budget and not getting sucked into corporate brand marketing. This track again separates them from other artists, and most importantly, it’s relatable, which helped make it so popular.

2. Be Patient

There’s no such thing as an “overnight success.” Macklemore met Ryan Lewis in 2006, they released The VS EP in December 2009, and it wasn’t a very successful release. Prior to this, Macklemore released Open Your Eyes in 2000, The Language of My World in 2005, and The Unplanned Mixtape in 2009.  It wasn’t until 2012 when they released The Heist they had their first real taste of success.

As well as releasing albums, the duo spent years building a local audience, which later led to a nationwide movement. Another import aspect of their rise to success was getting a good booking agent, who started to secure small gigs for them. They continued to grow, playing at Seattle Mariners open day in 2011 and progressing onto festivals later that year.

3. Build A Strong Team

Building a strong team is a vital part of having a successful career in music. It doesn’t have to consist of industry veterans — a team of top execs may not always be the best option. You want people that believe in you and your music, and who you can fully trust. Invest in people that share your vision and have your best interests at heart. When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis met, Ryan was a producer, guitarist and photographer aged 17. He was far from an industry veteran, but Macklemore related to him as a passionate creative and they were both chasing the same dream.

If you look at the list of contributors on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album, The Heist, you’ll notice there are no big-name artists. They used local singer-songwriters and musicians from Seattle. In addition to this, Macklemore’s merch and tour manager also manages their finances. It’s all about trust.

4. Connect With Your Fans

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis always connect with their fans in an honest and authentic way. Take a look at their Twitter and Facebook pages to see just what I mean.

For Macklemore, “being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable and how I’m able to be an individual amongst the mass amounts of other artists.”

5. Creative Control Is More Important Than Money

Of course having a certain amount of money is important, but I think it’s better to have creative control to express what you want through your art and make your own decisions. Referring back to my first point, I highly doubt that releasing a single about marriage equality on a Hip Hop album would ever have been allowed if the duo didn’t operate independently. If you combine creative control with a quality product, money is much more likely to follow. If your main focus is on making money, your art will suffer and reaching success will be more challenging.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis make music they want to make and let the world critique and create opinions. I personally have always stood by this and believe you should never make music to cater to a market; you should create something that you feel satisfied with, and whether or a not a person likes it is up to them. I can guarantee, if you don’t feel confident enough to stand by your own product, no one else will.

Numbers Don’t Lie

To conclude, here are a few stats on the three top singles from The Heist:

Thrift Shop

  • 500+ million YouTube views
  • US & UK sales approximately amount to over 8 million
  • No.1 in the UK Singles Chart and US Billboard Hot 100
  • Two Grammy Awards

Can’t Hold Us

  • 204+ million YouTube Views
  • US & UK sales approximately amount to 4.9 million
  • No.1 in the US Mainstream Top 40 Billboard Chart

Same Love

  • 114+ million YouTube Views
  • US & UK sales approximately amount to 2.2 million

Follow these simple suggestions, and you’ll be one step closer to seeing numbers like these in your future.

All Eyes on SXSW 2014: From Our Client Managers

SXSW2014March may be over, but we’re still reeling from our SXSW experience. More than 30 Orchardites were in Austin this year, including a handful of our Client Managers, and they wanted share some thoughts and memories from the conference. Without further ado…

João Brasil‘s DJ set from The Orchard’s Happy Hour on Friday 3/14 was one of my favorite sets. His mash-ups of Baile Funk brought a much needed dance party vibe. Kind of the right place, right time, right grooves all coming together at once.” – Corey Sheridan

“Standout shows included Haley Bonar at the Ginger Man; Marijuana Deathsquads at The North Door (Totally Gross National Product Showcase) — Har Mar, Channy from Polica were guest vocalists — Astronautalis at Holy Mountain (First Ave Party): he does a freestyle rap at every show based on ideas from the audience. This one was about missing planes and bunnies. It was amazing. And Riverboat Gamblers at Jackalope: Mike Wiebe with a tambourine on a bar, then going behind bar to get/make people’s drink orders.” – Sarah Sandusky

“For me, the highlight was having the opportunity to meet with all of the labels I work with and spending time with them at our happy hours, various meals and their shows. It’s always awesome to put a face to an email and connect with people in a more relaxed, sunshine-filled environment. Joining the team over at Rock The Cause to participate in their panel on cause-based music during their day party was an honor; RTC and their teams are some of the most dedicated people working through music to make a change in the world. Additionally, having a chance to check out all the FatCat artists who have releases coming out later this year, including We Were Promised Jetpacks, Paws and Honeyblood, was pretty great. Stand out show though was closing this year’s SXSW trip with Travis Barker and Yelawolf :)” – Amanda Suriani

Eli Cook’s virtuoso blues-rock guitar wowed the crowd at Rowdy’s Saloon. Eli’s debut album for Cleopatra, Primitive Son, will be released on April 29th 2014.” – Riker Griffiths

Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas’ showcase at the Palm Door on Sixth on Friday, 3/14.” – Valeri Travagliante

Primitive Man hurled molten lumps of awesome dissonant crust at the Relapse showcase.” – Riker Griffiths

“I had been waiting for five years, patiently, to finally see Tinariwen. The last schedule performance they had in San Francisco was a few years ago, and I was traveling at the time. While the performance only consisted of six of the core members of Tinariwen, it didn’t at all seem thin, or that any parts were missing. In fact, it all seemed perfect. The show featured all new material from their new album Emmaar. While the set was short, it certainly did not disappoint. As the show came to a close, the band played through the last song “Chaghaybou,” bringing up members of their crew who danced on the stage. Shortly thereafter the lights went up, but the crowd was chanting for more… a true rarity that you don’t see often at SXSW, given everyone is too busy hustling from venue to venue.” – Corey Sheridan

Forest Swords at the Pitchfork showcase at Central Presbyterian Church — some gorgeous weather-beaten dubtronica here.” – Riker Griffiths

The Districts — a rag-tag group of underage rockers from Lititz, PA. They recently found a home at Fat Possum Records, which seems to be the perfect fit for the up-and-coming lo-fi rockers. The Districts had the dreaded early 12:00pm-12:30pm slot at the Another Planet / Noise Pop party at Red Eyed Fly. As they began the set, you could tell that the crowd was not giving the young group even half of their attention. However as the first track really opened up, and the riff-heavy rock took over, EVERYONE’S attention was now centered on these kids. The room began to fill out from the outside stage, and soon enough it was a full-on rock concert. The youngsters left it all on the stage — sweating through their clothes by the end of the second track, and leaving the audience in awe on how they magically avoided knocking each other over while rocking out on stage. Rare is it when you get a group of youngsters that demands a crowds attention at SXSW — even rarer when it’s that early in the day. In my years of attending SXSW, I feel like I have only seen one other band that had this effect on the crowd. And that was Delta Spirit, before they were “Delta Spirit.” Keep an eye out for these kids!” – Corey Sheridan

“Eoin Loveless from Drenge rocking out so hard at the British Embassy day party during “Bloodsports” that he accidentally unplugged his guitar. He seamlessly plugged it back in and carried on with the song.” – Valeri Travagliante

Until next year, folks!

Remembering Frankie Knuckles, Godfather of House Music

frankie knucklesThis morning, we woke up to the news that the Godfather of House Music, Frankie Knuckles, passed away last night. Knuckles is largely credited with nurturing and promoting the Chicago house sound throughout the 80′s and beyond… Wait, let’s stop there. House music. Why do they even call it that?

Well one story goes like this. When he left New York for Chicago in the late 70′s, Frankie had a residency at a club called The Warehouse. He played at The Warehouse until 1982. During  his tenure, his style and selection as a DJ in the post-disco era was unrivaled and groundbreaking. When The Warehouse closed in ’83, he began playing at another spot, the Power Plant, and the crowds who came to The Warehouse followed suit. Meanwhile, enterprising club owners across the Windy City were looking to fill their own dance floors and one such owner put up a sign in front his establishment: WE PLAY HOUSE MUSIC. Frankie was driving with a friend when he saw this sign. House Music? “You know, that’s the kind of music you play down at the Warehouse!”

When your style as a DJ lends itself to the naming of a genre, you’re a legend. When your productions influence an entire generation of producers, you’re a pioneer. And when you manage to do both during your time on this earth, you’re Frankie Knuckles. House music lost its Godfather last night, but he leaves us with countless tracks to celebrate his life.

Magnolia Memoir Play with Props in “Odds & Ends”

Magnolia_Memoir-Odds&EndsMagnolia Memoir, the up-and-coming “Noir-Rock” quintet out of Los Angeles, are making waves with the music video premiere  of “Odds & Ends,” the first taste of their soon-to-come full length album. Set in the famed Hand Prop Room in L.A., the video features a myriad of guest appearances from the likes of Will Forte (SNL; Nebraska), Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), Fred Willard (Best in Show), Jorge Garcia (Lost) and James Kyson (Heroes), just to name a few.

With a unique blend of Rock, Jazz and old sensibilities, Magnolia Memoir have found the perfect sound to accompany lead singer Mela Lee’s classic yet instantly familiar pipes. Described from critics as “Fiona Apple meets the Killers with a dash of The Clash,” Magnolia Memoir has truly created a unique concoction of influences and vintage sounds to separate themselves from the rest.

Odds & Ends” is the lead single off of the upcoming album Pale Fire, set to hit stores through the band’s personal label, Pale Fire Records, on April 29. We cannot wait!

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