- A professional music geek. Also broadcaster, writer, public speaker and consultant.
Alan Cross is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock and is a respected also known as a musicologist and documentarian. He’s written four books, works as a public speaker, has a national newspaper column in Canada and co-hosts a weekly podcast called Geeks & Beats. He also serves as head of Canadian Curation for Songza. Alan has been deeply involved exploring the present and future relationships between music, technology and social networking. More information can be found at www.ajournalofmusicalthings.com .
- radio, journalism, public speaking, writing, broadcasting, music curation, radio hosting
- indie rock, alternative, classic rock, music, alternative rock
Your stuff keeps getting better and better. This one reminds me of a British band called Public Service Broadcasting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Service_Broadcasting_(band))--and I mean that in the most positive way. Can you send me an MP3? Maybe I can use it on my daily radio show.
So far, so good--but you can only tell so much from an unmiked acoustic performance, but I can offer some comments. Good harmonies, nice arrangement, heartfelt performance. The audience certainly seemed to appreciate what you were doing. Now, some questions: --Where does this song go from here? How will it be arranged in the studio? Will there be a band behind you? --Who do you believe your audience to be? --Are you targeting radio? If so, what stations? (Be careful with this; the indie folk arena is very crowded, especially in Canada.) --Will you hire a publicist to help you be heard above the noise? --Have you considered the possibility that you may work better as a live act than a recorded one? This isn't to say you shouldn't record anything, but you may find more success on the stage. --Are you thinking of applying for any kind of talent grant? (FYI: I sit on the FACTOR jury and we hear a LOT of indie folk right now. This video wouldn't meet the criteria for an application. It's just too raw.)
First, I love the lyric video. Fantastic! And you're wise to have something on YouTube, given that it's one of the biggest places for music discovery. As for the song, it's very much in line with a lot of alt-pop we're seeing these days. You could easily release this under the name Fitz and the Tantrums (or, with a few tweaks, Hall and Oates) and everyone would believe it. Good production, fine performance, good songwriting, solid arrangement. What are your next steps? Are you signed? Are you looking to be? Do you have a publicist and radio plugger? Will this be part of an album or EP? Have you thought about licensing opportunities? (If so, time to make friends with music supervisors.) Good job. Let me share this through my social networks, which will be good for about 100,000 people. Good luck!
Good stuff. I like how the rhythm section is arranged and produced. Good to hear a woman out front of a rock band. We're sorely lacking in that these days. So where do you go from here? Are you signed? Do you have a radio plugger working for you? What's your social media strategy? A couple of hints: (1) Make friends with at least one of the DJs on a local rock station. Get them to be your advocate. (2) Cozy up to bloggers. The more you get people to write about you, the better. (3) Be on EVERY platform. If you don't already, get a simple lyric video up on YouTube. For many people, if you're not on YouTube you don't exist. You should also cover off SoundCloud and iTunes, just in case. (4) Answer EVERY SINGLE BIT OF CORRESPONDENCE you get from anyone who contacts you. You want to turn those people into evangelists. I'll share this through my networks, which is good for about 100,000 people.
This is terrific! Love the keyboard sound. Retro yet...not. I found myself humming along about 1:20 into the song. Great production, top-notch performance. No critiques from me. So now what? Are you signed? Do you have a radio plugger? What's your social media strategy? Are you making friends with bloggers? Are you on Spotify/Apple Music/all the other streaming services? Do you have a plan for turning early fans into evangelists? I'll give you some love through my social media circles. That'll be good for about 100,000 people. Nice job. Keep it up.
Solid guitar-driven alt-pop reminiscent of the early 2000s. Good video, too. It's very, very wise to have a lyric video. YouTube is still the biggest place for music discovery. If you're not there, you're nowhere. What are your next steps? Are you signed? Have you got someone plugging the song for you? Stations like XFM need to be your friend. Some advice: --Push this on social media as much as you can. Create evangelists out of early fans by responding to every single thing they post. --Make friends with bloggers. You want them to post your stuff. --Play as many live gigs as you can. You'll have people in front of you telling you the truth about your music in real time. --Use every gig as an opportunity to push your social media agenda. I'll give this a post to my social networks. That's good for about 100,000 people. Good luck!
Fabulous voice! Very soulful and full of emotion. Great production, too. I have nothing to say in terms of a critique. Good to see that you have links on all the platforms necessary for getting your music out there. Now it's time to start making friends with influential bloggers. This is also the kind of stuff that might work well in TVs and movies. Time to start making the rounds of music supervisors. One final thing: do you have a radio plugger? A plugger can be very helpful when breaking through all the noise and landing your song in front of radio people who can make a difference to your career.
Interesting concept for a song (and yes, I did Google "GINI coefficient.") Honestly, though, I'm not sure where this fits within the current music landscape. It's certainly not what radio is looking for at the moment. However, given its social justice theme, it might find favour with a certain type of music fan. So where are those fans? Are they alt-folkies? Or something else? I'm wondering if your kind of project might lend itself better to promotion through live performances than recordings. I'm also curious as to why you offered up this song for critique than anything else from the album.
It took me a few seconds to notice the band. Nice touch! This is the kind of thing that over-30s are getting into these days: quality music played on real instruments with passion and authenticity. So here are the questions and comments: --Where do you see this music being placed? Outside of public and community radio, there are precious few commercial outlets that play this sort of thing. Maybe your notoriety lies not in recordings and videos but live performances. Videos, CDs, streams and MP3s will act more like calling cards. --That being said, check out www.vintage.tv. Maybe there's something there for you. --You might want to consider making friends with some music supervisors. Maybe get something placed on a TV show, in a movie or an ad. I'll give this some exposure through my social media channels. That's worth about 100,000 people. Good luck! -
There's some good stuff here and some excellent ideas at work. But what you have is a solid demo that shows your songwriting, performing and programming ability. What might this material sound like with a full band and/or an outside producer who could show you how to make the arrangements fuller, bigger-sounding and with more punch? That's my advice: Shop this to some producers who might be able to take what you do to the next level.
I like this. Reminds me of the kind of headspace inhabited by the Black Keys and similar bands mixed with a little old school Bad Company. Nice sharp production, too (the highs cut through on all sorts of speakers, including on my laptop.) I think you've got something here, so what's the next step? Are you signed? Do you have a radio plugger and/or publicist? A couple of points: --Make sure you have material ready for download/streaming. Your new audience is going to expect your music to be available in a variety of ways. --That being said, I have a feeling you'll do well concentrating on live performances rather than hawking recordings. Have something to sell by all means, but I'm wondering if you'd best be served by playing as many live gigs as you can over the next 12 months. You'll be a different--and better--band at the end of it. You'll also figure out who your real fans are. --Have you thought about music licensing? Time to make friends with some music supervisors who place music in TV, movies and commercials. Good luck with the track. I'll be sure to share it through my social media channels.
Okay, I laughed. This is perfect for an attempt at going viral. Or maybe an anti-drinking spot. Not exactly radio friendly, but that was never the point, right? I'm going to (a) play this for my hard-drinking friends; and (b) share this on my social media channels. Let's see if gets any traction.
Interesting take on Americana. I like the trashy snare sound, too, which adds some extra realness to the production. That being said, another producer might polish up the final mix somewhat with some compression on certain parts of the arrangement to get it a more even sound. Now the tough questions: Who is your audience? Is the expectation that you get some radio airplay? If so, where? (Time to hire a radio plugger, too. And my guess is that you'd be best targeting public radio, campus and community radio rather than commercial.) Is your material/image better suited for promoting through live performance or recordings? I'll give this a push through my social media channels.
Very pleasant. Good production. Fine performance. Now the questions: Where do you see it fitting in the general scheme of things with today's music landscape? Alt-folk? Americana? When it comes to commercial alt-rock radio, these sounds are transitioning out in favour of a more aggressive guitar-driven sound. (Blame Trump for that.) Maybe community radio, NPR, CBC... Who's your audience? Can you reach them with recordings or is your style better suited to spreading the word through live performance? Is it time to hire a publicist? Someone who can help you with licensing your material for TV and movies? Do you have anything available for YouTube?
Love me a good road song. I can't find anything to critique about the song, the performance, the arrangement or recording. As far as I can tell, this is pretty much radio-ready. The next thing is to find yourself a radio plugger and publicist to help you cut through all the noise and find the right ears for your song. Also consider getting something--anything!--on YouTube because of the high music discovery potential. You want to be everywhere your potential audience is. Even a lyric video would be fine. What about music supervisors? A song like this might fit in a certain type of TV show, movie or ad. Anything to get the word out. Finally, what about peddling the song to an established performer? I can see Zac Brown-like bands performing this. Good luck! I'll give it some exposure through my social media outlets. That's good for about 150,000 peope.
Cool intro. Caught my attention right away. I get the Ray Mazerek keyboard, too. Programmed drums? Sounds like it. I'd like to hear a version of this with a full band and with an outside producer manipulating the arrangement for maximum effect. A good start.
"Dear Prudence" is one of the Beatles songs that offers plenty of opportunities for re-imagination (Just ask Siouxsie and the Banshees.) This arrangement reminds me a bit of Billy Thorpe's "Children of the Sun" from 1979 (https://youtu.be/XR2oct3zeTM), especially with the guitar sound. Now, some questions: What's the overall goal of this project? Where are you hoping to take it? Is something music supervisors should be looking at? Or are you looking to take it into another area? Given that the market for albums filled with covers is limited, who do you see as your target audience? Is this the kind of project that requires a music publicist to take it around to people who are looking for this kind of music? Just some stuff to think about. I'll spread it around through my social media channels.
Wait--does this song start in 9/8 time? Very Radiohead-ish. Love the build to the transition to 4/4 and the drive that follows. Great production and performance, too. No critiques from me on anything to do with the song. It's totally radio-ready and deserves to be heard by more people. Are you signed? Do you have a publicist? Is there a radio plugger working on your behalf? You need help to get this heard in as many places as possible. Meanwhile, let me see what I can do about giving this some love through my social media channels. If you have an MP3, I'd be happy to share it on my radio show later in the month, too. (I'm heading out on the road for two weeks, so my daily radio show will be on hold until then.) Find me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting. There were a couple of chord changes that caught me off guard. I like that. And you're right about the influences, I could hear them come through in the vocals and the arrangement. (Waterboys? Interpol?) If I have one criticism, it's that I think you have to do something more with the bridge. It's basically a recitation of the central figure of the song. By keeping it the same, the song seems longer than it is. Given the bridge is both a transition and a way of elevating the emotion of the song, what changes could you make the recording to give it that extra lift?
Love the video. I don't want to know how long it took to set this up. As for everything else, I think it's excellent. Big, anthemic guitars and background vocals with understated lead vocals. This is COMPLETELY radio ready. There's nothing about the performance or production that I can ad. Now you need to get the word out. If you don't have a publicist, get one. If you don't have a radio plugger, hire one. If you're not already making friends with local radio people or friendly bloggers, do it now. Got a manager? Good. Got a package to send to labels? Perfect. I'm very happy to push this out through my website and my various social media outlets. In fact, I'm going to do that right now. Meanwhile, good luck going forward. There's no reason this can't find a larger audience.
First, I really like dogs. My English bull terrier is at my feet as I listen to this. This sounds pretty radio-ready to me. What you'll need now is someone to help you get past all the noise of the competition. That means hiring a publicist and a radio plugger. Both will help you get your music in front of writers, bloggers, reviews and radio program directors. Question: What are you doing to turn the fans you have into evangelists? You want those early adopters to love you so much that they'll go to war for you. Your publicist can help with strategies. Let me pass this on through all my social networks. Hopefully this will get you some extra traction.
Good straight-ahead mainstream rock. Nothing wrong with this at all. So what are your plans now? If you don't have a publicist, hire one. You need someone to help you navigate through the shark-invested publicity waters. That includes creating a compelling bio, complete with some interesting information hooks about the band. Second, confer with your publicist about hiring a radio plugger to get this song to as many music directors as possible. Third, make friends with some bloggers. Get this song/video in front of them. Other than that, I can't offer anything more of substance other than a promise to share the clip through all my social media channels.
I like this! It's nice to hear a lead vocal that's different and distinctive. (Would July Talk be as far ahead in their career without such a cool sonic signature?) A couple of things. (1) You need a radio plugger to help you get past all the noise; (2) a publicist to do the same thing. Other tips: 1. Make friends with as many music bloggers as you can. 2. Use any relationships you have with other bands to spread the word 3. If you don't already, make sure you have something--ANYTHING--on YouTube. That's where so much music discovery takes place. Be aware, though, there is a slight demo feel to this recording. A more experienced producer would probably work with you to great more depth and breadth to the sound. I'm also willing to bet that has you play live more often, you'll find your own ways of expanding the sonic qualities of the song. Go forth, my friends. Keep in touch, too. I want to see what you guys can do. Meanwhile, let me post it through all my social channels.
God, I remember "Hot Rod Lincoln" when it was originally a hit. Good boogie, great musicianship with nice production. Now the hard part: What are you going to do with this music? It's not really congruent with what's happening on the radio today. Where do you see it being placed? This is definitely niche material in today's music environment. I'd looking into licensing opportunities for commercials, TV and movies. That might be your best bet.
Muscular stuff. I'm betting that you have some Rage at home someplace. Good. We need more of this kind of stuff right now. Sounds radio ready to me. Tight, well-performed, good production. Have you got a publicist/plugger working for you yet? You'll need someone to help you cut through all the noise with radio programmers and bloggers. You should also target campus stations everywhere. They love this stuff, especially if it comes from a Canadian band. What other plans do you have after the album comes out? Any thought of approaching music supervisors to get your music placed in TV/movies/commercials. I'll give this some love on my social media networks. Good luck with the album and keep in touch, okay?
Interesting choice of a cover. I like it when people take the time to dig deep for tunes to cover. This gives you a chance to really make a song your own. Same questions as last time. Where do you see this project fitting into the musical food chain? A manager or agent is essential at this point.
This is the most honest (and maybe the only) song I've ever heard about a band breaking up. Totally get it, too. Been there, done that. Get yourself a radio plugger and get this on as many speciality programs as you can. I'll give it love with my website and my social networks--plus I'll keep in mind for any of my Ongoing History of New Music documentary shows.
Pleasant. This is the kind of material that travels well internationally, regardless of the local language--but you already know that by now. I definitely hear the influence of Stereolab along with the Lilac Time, the La's and maybe quieter and less frenetic Beautiful South (not to mention a happier Nick Drake). Both tracks are definitely candidates for all kinds of licensing opportunities. Question: How are you hoping to spread the word in North America? Do you have representation here? You might require the use of a radio plugger to get this material on specialty radio programs on commercial stations as well as listens by music directors at public radio. Let me give this a push on my social networks. I'll also pass it along to some people within the industry.
This I like. The things DIY people can do with drones, huh? Jeezus, something like this would have cost millions back in the 90s. I hope you've got a radio plugger and publicist working on this one because it should be heard on specialty shows on alt-rock stations everywhere. If you don't have someone working for you, find someone. I'm going to guess that because you're part of this network they're pushing out your video to all kinds of places. Good. I'll do the same with my social channels. That's worth about 100,000 people. Nice work! Keep in touch.
Usually not my thing, but I recognize a good pop-funk song when I hear it. Excellent production (I had it up loud in my studio and it sounded fantastic all through the frequency spectrum) and there are lots of elements that lend themselves to remix potential. A couple of questions: How are you planning to expose it to the public? A radio plugger? Getting the song into a dance pool? Inviting DJs to remix it? A thought: Is there room for a featured vocalist somewhere? Someone well known who can lay a vocal and/or rap down in the bridge? Are you available on all the streaming services? You want to get this one some kind of tastemaker playlist. Is there a YouTube video? Even a lyric video would be helpful because for a lot of people, if you're not on YouTube, you don't exist. I'll spread the word on this best I can. Good luck!
Interesting. Retro-y melodic vibe (early 60s?) but difficult to pin down. Familiar yet new. That's hard to do. I'm also torn between saying that it's just the right length and that it needs to be longer. After a couple of listens, though, I'm wondering if there shouldn't be another verse before the bridge. And then I'm wondering if (a) the final verse should be different rather than a repeat of the first one. And a final thought: what about arranging the ending to end on a last chord or with a cold out. While the fade lends a wistfulness to the song, I don't think the track is long enough to warrant a fade. It makes the whole thing feel...truncated, you know? I wonder what another producer might make of this? Would be change the synth solo on the fade?
There are the bones of something interesting here, but the recording/production isn't nearly at the level it needs to be for it to be taken seriously. You need a proper studio with an experienced producer who understands how to best capture what you're about. He/she will also help with the arrangement, mix and performance. And if you want radio to consider it, you'll need a different title. Again, you're onto something here, but it still has a long, long way to go before it could be considered a viable demo.
Another good juxtaposition of images, music and beats. How else are you guys getting the word out on what you're doing? There are some really powerful and effective messages here. I may want you guys to make a presentation to radio/media students at Ryerson in the New Year (I've been telling them about what you're doing and this fits in well with their mixed media curriculum.) Would you be into it?
That's better. Got the whole thing this time. Like I was saying before, I like this a lot. This would work in terms of the current zeitgeist of what alternative radio is playing. Nice production, good hooks. Some advice: -You need something on YouTube, even if it's just a lyric video. YouTube is the biggest music discovery vehicle on the planet, so you need to be there. -Find a radio plugger. Once you have product ready to sell, enlist a plugger to help you get this song placed on new release shows on alternative outlets and campus stations. -What's the public image of the band? How are you planning to sell that image to the public? -Always think about music supervisors. Could this be licensed to a movie or TV show? I'll give this a push through my socials. Good luck!
Whoa. Not what I was expecting based on the artwork that goes with this track. (I don't know what I was expecting, but nevermind...) This is really strong. Great hooks, nice production. HOWEVER, the track cuts out to nothing but static at 1:47. Something went wrong with the upload. Try again.
This is pretty cool. I love the visuals--very creative and professional looking. The song itself is well-produced (I listened to it with and without the video). Given how well bands like Phantogram are doing right now, this fits in very well. I also hear elements of Pink Floyd in the mix. Never a bad thing... The only criticism I have is I wish the song had a more definitive ending. As it stands, it just kind of...stops. Time to get promoting it. Do you have a radio plugger working on your behalf? You need someone to push this to music directors and speciality shows on both commercial and campus radio stations. And think about submitting it to music supervisors for use in TV and movies. I'll give this some Facebook and Twitter love. That's good for about 100,000 impressions.
I like the vibe of this: smokey, late-night jazz-ish stuff with a touch of Thom Yorke. Good production and solid performance. I'll certain give this a post and some social media love. What's your target audience for this album? It's on the cusp of what is happening in alt-rock these days, so I'd encourage you to find a radio plugger to see if you can him/her to get you airplay on speciality programs on alt-rock and campus stations. If you don't already, I'd consider creating a lyric video for YouTube. That's the biggest music discovery site in the galaxy and if you're not there, you don't exist for untold millions of potential fans. I'd also seed this with the kind of blogs that pay attention to Radiohead Kaleo, Sigur Ros and others. And I'd also think about approaching music supervisors for TV and movies. This might just be the kind of thing that they're looking for when it comes to certain scenes.
Straight-ahead midtempo rocker. Nice. Why do I think that you could peddle this to a country songwriter who could turn this into a hit for the pickup-with-a-gunrack crowd? I'm not being flippant; it could be arranged in such a way that it would work. Now that I'm thinking about, have you ever thought about trying to work as a pure songwriter once in a while? It would be another way to get your stuff out there. Just a thought...
This is pretty. It's very early Radiohead mixed with some post-rock textures. It's certainly something that fits in with what's happening with commercial alt-rock radio these days. If you haven't already, I'd hire a radio plugger who can help get you airplay on speciality shows on both commercial and campus stations. I'd also buddy up to blogs that promote this kind of thing. Do you have video that you can use for YouTube? That's the biggest music discovery site in the galaxy; if you don't have something there, you're missing out of picking up up millions of fans. What about pursuing music supervisors for TV and movies? This sounds like somethey might be looking for. I'll give this a post on my social feeds and my website. That's good for about 25,000 views. Good luck!
This took a couple of listens before I began to get it. It's certainly unique in its performance, construction and arrangement. The piano of the first 15 seconds sort of put me off (I thought I was in for something amateurish), but by 17 seconds we were off and running. Another thing that took me a few listens was the hook. Was there one? (Yes, there is.) If so, did it stick in my head (Yes, but only after a while). This could be problematic in this short attention span era. It's not a fatal thing--there are plenty of well-regarded artists (Anohni comes to mind) where the music demands closer inspection before the penny drops. Those fans who take the time to do this will become your evangelists. Speaking of which, what's your audience and fanbase like? Who are you aiming for when it comes to your stuff? Have you had some successes other than those listed? A few other questions/notes: --You need to be everywhere. If you haven't already, get something up on YouTube--even a static lyric video is important. --How else have you been promoting your material? Have you used a publicist/radio plugger? They can be very, very helpful and well worth the cost. --What about websites and bloggers? Have you started to make friends with them? Keep me posted on your progress, okay? If
I love this sort of stuff: stripped down Stooge-y garage-y rock. Choosing to shoot the video black-and-white was a good idea, too. Your next step should be to find a radio plugger, someone who can get the word out who you are and what you can do to alt-rock stations with specialty shows as well as campus stations. You also want to make friends with as many bloggers as you can. Let me share this through my networks and let's see what kind of reaction you get, okay?