- 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
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?
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.
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?
Pleasant stuff. Is the rest of the album in this same style? (Just curious, that's all.) I could have used some more information about YOU, too. What's your background? What's your fanbase like? What kind of image have you cultivated so far? Is this your first release? These are all ingredients that go into creating and maintaining buzz for an artist. Next question: What are your plans for getting the word out on your material? I'd be looking at (a) making friends with as many bloggers as you can; (b) making sure that this song is available on all platforms, including YouTube--even if it's just a lyric video: and (c) hired a radio plugger to make sure the song comes to the attention of as many speciality radio shows (the kind that feature new music and emerging artists) as possible as well as campus radio stations.
Wow. Not your usual sort of material, is it? (My deepest sympathies about your mom. I hate this time of life when we start losing people.) I understand the catharsis this song provided, but when it comes to the rest of your material, it's a sharp counterpoint. To avoid confusing people with your image and attitude, you may want to keep this separate. For example as a B-side or bonus track.
This is good stuff, so I have a question: Why haven't I heard about you guys before? What are you doing to promote yourselves? Do you have a record deal of any kind? Do you have a radio plugger? Are you sending out demos? This track is a no-brainer for alt-rock radio on a mass basis. YOU NEED TO GET THE WORD OUT! Spend the money on someone who can take you guys to the next level. This is too good for people not to hear it.
Nice work! Not that long ago, a production like this would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. I do feel a bit bad for the organ, though. I hear Black Keys, Jack White, Foo Fighters and even some Janes Addiction. This is right in my wheelhouse, so I've got all kinds of time for this stuff. I just bought the track on iTunes so I can use it on my radio show on 102.1 the Edge. I'll make you guys the Undiscovered Gem of the Week next Wednesday. I can also use it in a few other places on my website. Keep me posted on what you guys get up to, okay?
This fun! I do, however, wonder what another producer might to with the arrangement. Would it remain this minimalist or would it become more layered as the song progressed? That's the feedback you might get from radio programmers and A&R types. I can hear them asking "Is this a demo version?" Still, let me give it some exposure on my website and social outlets.
Interesting sound--certainly not what I was expecting. Dark soul? Some thoughts: (1) The song might benefit from live drums. Programmed rhythms are a little too...perfect for my tastes when it comes to songs with soul. I'd love to hear the track with someone who played just a millisecond behind the beat. (Apologies if these drums AREN'T programmed. If that's a real person, their timing is insane!) (2) The track might benefit from an outside producer, someone who could hear the arrangement differently. At the moment it sounds a little too synthesized to be radio-ready for alt-rock. The bones are of the song are excellent, but sometimes you need someone who can take it to the next level. (Note: This isn't a criticism of the song's quality. I'm just musing about what someone else might bring to the party.) (3) At 5:11, it's a bit long for radio. Could there be an edit?
This is cool stuff--I like what Trent Reznor does along these lines--and would be best suited for soundtrack work for movies, TVs and video games. I can't remember the last time there was an alt-rock radio hit that was exclusively instrumental. The key is for you to find people looking for bespoke music. I'd suggest looking up the folks who run Music Gateway out of the UK. Their speciality is mating artists with people who need music writing to certain specs. You should also do your best to make friends at various production houses and studios. Meanwhile, I'll post this on my socials to see if anyone bites. Deal? Good luck!
I really like this one! Love the hook and the attitude and the organ (even though it might be mixed a little high--although that might just be the stereo setup in my office.) Very Courtney Barnett (and thanks a compliment.) Speaking of whom, what's she doing to get the attention she's enjoying? It might be worth studying her career trajectory.
I like this one better than the last track you submitted me. Maybe it's the swampy blues feel (I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff, but nevermind.) Like you, I believe that the rock scene is about to turn harder and heavier as political uncertainty (thank you, Donald Trump) and social stability becomes...well, less stable. There are also definite signs of a big 90s revival, which will help your cause. Your stuff begs for some kind of YouTube post. A lyric video would be a good start, but people (including and especially record labels) need to see what kind of visual aspect there is to the band.
This is the kind of bluesy, sludgy stuff that does my heart some good. (I'm currently into the Sheepdogs, Temperance Movement, Reignwolf and so on.) After too many years of woe-is-me introspective down-tempo alt-pop, I'm hoping the world will once again grab some guitars and turn them up loud.) I do have some industry people to whom I'll recommend this. I'll give it a post on my own website, too.
Very interesting arrangement. I began by thinking this was going to be a straight-ahead pop song designed for CHR. But as the song continued, I began to think it could fit in other formats. Another mix (one, for example, without the synth swooshes and something other than handclaps) might even work with alt-pop programmers. The one issue you may encounter is the lack of a memorable chorus. I should have been able to hear it in my head once the song finished, but...nothing. This will definitely be an issue with CHR types. There's nothing wrong with the performance, the vocal or the sonic quality of the production. I'd consult with some other producers to see what they might do with the arrangement, something that could punch up the chorus.
First, I love the title. Second, I love the sentiment of the song. What dude hasn't been through something like this? Short, sharp and fun. I have no comments beyond that other than I'll give it some social media and website love.
Good production and performance. This the sort of thing that should appeal to the Ed Sheeran crowd--a good thing, by the way. Now, a couple of questions and points: (1) Now what? How do you plan to market what you do? And to whom? (2) This sort of material is on the soft side of pop and almost square in the middle of adult contemporary. I'd stay away from pitching to any other formats. With that in mind, who have you reached out to? (3) Do you have management? Managers should already have the answers to points 1 and 2. (4) Are you making this shareable on all platforms beyond YouTube? You have to be everywhere anyone might choose to find/stumble upon you. (5) What about licensing for TV and film? Start making friends with some music supervisors. (6) Are you signed by anyone? Even an indie? If so, what are their plans for you? Good luck. This is strong stuff. I wish you well.
I like the song and the message--and the video works well in conveying that message. You might be able to tap into something with this. To my ears/eyes, this is more of a CHR/pop song than anything else. Your next step should be to get this posted to as many female-focussed blogs as possible. There's also a decent possibility that an advertiser concern about things like body image and conceptions of beauty (think Dove) might want to license this for a campaign. Bottom line? A strong song. Now you have to work on getting it marketed and making the video go viral.
This is fun--way better than the last song you sent. Timely, too. I'm convinced at what you can do, the quality of your songwriting and your sense of humour. The big question is how to get your stuff to a wider audience. What are your promotion and marketing plans? I can it a push through my channels, but I'm a small fish. I'd love to see you succeed. Where do you go from here? Lemme know, okay?
I listened to this one on a sunny Sunday morning and I can honestly say it made me feel better. There is lots of potential here because of the melody and the anthemic quality of the chorus. It could lend itself to all sorts of different production styles. If you were to give it to five different producers, they'd probably come back with five different sounds--and all would work. That's the sign of a good song. It also reminds me of some of the work Bill Nelson did back in the very late 1980s. Nice work. It needs to be shorter, though. Could you chop it down to around 4 minutes? Off to listen to the second track now.
Another good track, a solid demo worthy of sending around. Hey, if Owl Eyes can do it... Both songs should be used to showcase what you can do. It doesn't have to be an either/or situation. Because the nature of what you do, you should check out a site called Music Gateway to see if there's something you could do to pick up some extra cash while doing what you do. I've met the people behind the site and they're good dudes. Let me post both these songs on my site and see if we get any producers to bite, okay?
Not the most radio-friendly thing I've heard, but being the experimental crew you are, that probably comes as no surprise. I'm totally cool with something like this. In fact, I'm happy to spread it through my networks. We need more artists willing to namecheck places in this country.
Good melody, multiple hooks. I like the gang vocals, too. Reminds me of Ting Tings mated with MIA (a good thing, by the way.) I'd consider a secondary mix with a fatter rhythm section to give radio programmers a choice between the original (which is fine, by the way) and something even more rhythmic. And since we're talking about radio, into which format do you see this fitting? The song is interesting in that it could fit into alternative (at least before it turns harder again), CHR and Hot AC. The choice should be made based upon the artist's short- and long-term image goals. How do you want to be perceived? As a pop start? An alt-rock kid? A more mature adult-oriented singer? This is where marketing strategy comes in. If you're working independently, you'll need to hire a radio plugger, too. It's good that you have a video, too. If you don't exist on YouTube, you don't exist. What other social media strategies do you have ready? Nice stuff. Now comes the hard part.
More evidence for my theory that music alt-rock is going to turn heavier and angrier as we get closer to the end of 2016. (Thank you, Mr. Trump!) Good production and arrangement. Does the song segue from the previous track on the album? If you're thinking of sending this out as a single, you may want to trim the marching drum from the intro. Some questions: (1) Does the song sound like this when played live? I could see how it might be performed with more intensity (and maybe even slightly faster) in front of a crowd. (2) Beyond Fluence, how are you shopping this to labels? (3) Do you have a YouTube video available? Even a quicky lyric video would be preferable to nothing at all.
I can't profess to be any kind of expert in hip hop but I know what I like. That being said, I was sucked in by the production and the lyrics by this one. Next you submit something to somewhere, it might be cool to include the lyrics. There's a lot going on here and it would be cool to be able to study exactly what you're saying. That will make the message more powerful. Make sense? What's the next step? A mixtape? A full CD?
I like this a lot. Familiar indie/alt-pop but with an interesting sonic twist. Nice work getting this far on your own, too. Social media can be a cool thing, can't it? My suggestion is to get yourself a radio plugger to help get this track on speciality shows on alternative stations across the country. And if you haven't already, start making friends with bloggers that specialize in breaking new music. Let me share this on my social media channels, too.
Sexy video. Well done. Great performance and production on everything. Take THAT, Lana Del Rey. Now that you've got the song and the video, what are your plans going forward? How are you going to rise above all the noise that's out there? Some suggestions: 1. If you don't already have a radio plugger, hire one. This should be on a SiriusXM's XMU along with several other channels like The Loft. 2. Make friends with as many bloggers as you can. You need to build buzz. I like this enough that I'll post it on my site.
It's not often you hear a guy admitting to be influenced by Florence + the Machine. I think that's fantastic. I can't find much to fault in this song. It's pretty much in line with what's happening with the alt-pop zeitgeist that's happening right now. Question: What are your plans going forward? You've got a solid song, so how do you rise above all the noise? Here are a couple of suggestions: 1. Get a radio plugger to help get the song on speciality programs on alt-rock radio stations. I can give you some recommendations. 2. Make friends with bloggers. Lots of them. 3. Do you have a lyric video or something similar for YouTube? That's the world's biggest music discovery site, so you need to be on there. 4. Is there a radio station within driving range of where you live? Do your best to make friends with the announcers. They might be willing to give you a break.
Full disclosure: Anything described as "shoegaze" immediately has my attention. Totally get what you're trying to accomplish here. I like when things start to get all fuzzy about 2:30 in. A couple of questions: (1) Are those live drums? (2) Was an outside producer used for the track? The reason I ask is because I'd be most interested in the kind of take a producer with shoegaze (or at least drowsy indie-pop) sensibilities might bring to the song, especially the drum sound (a little too clean, maybe?) and how the reverb on the vocal might be refined just slightly. Some good work. Great bones to the song. I'd be interested in seeing what else you can do.
Based on how the song began, it turned into something unexpected. The major key of the vocals was something of a surprise--not that this is a bad thing, of course. The nature of the opening keyboard pulse led me to believe that something else was coming. Interesting idea, mating elements of semi-industrial with what could be described as an indie-rock vocal. Sounds fresh. That being said, I'd be interested what a hot producer might suggest for the arrangement. More bottom end? A bigger/more complex drum sound? A few more layered keyboards? Hard to say, but I can't help thinking that the song needs something more in its production when compared to hits by Banners, Big Data/Joywave and others. Time to start seeding this to various blogs to see what other kinds of opinions you might get. And if you have the funds, it might be an idea to create a lyric video for YouTube.
I remember! Glad you followed up. There's some good stuff here, but this recording would benefit from an outside producer who can lend some fresh ears to the arrangement. In this form, it's a very good demo, but not ready for the world at large. I'm not a producer, but I'm sure there's much that could be done with the arrangement, mix and overall sound to bring out the absolute best elements of what you've written. There are good bones here, but it needs...more. I once sat in one a series of sessions conducted by producer Steve Lillywhite for an indie band who won a contest. He turned one of their good songs into something truly great. It was amazing to watch/hear. I'm not suggesting that you contact someone like that, but if you can find an experienced guy who understands your vision, I think you may be amazed at how many levels higher you'll go.