Making music has been on the rise recently with many people showing interest in music production and having their own bedroom studios thanks to the evolution of technology. With more and more affordable gears becoming available in the market, it’s only a matter of time when we see independent music clearly taking over the mainstream music industry. But the question is – how would music marketing and promotions work with so many new music being released every single day? Well, there are targeted ads, public relations, media relations, and playlist promotions – but all comes with huge expense leaving most of indie artists on the brim of dreaming big!
Here’s Edward Eagle, the man behind New Artist Spotlight, who believes in a different approach to support indie musicians and help them grow, and it’s working!
Below is an excerpt of the conversation where we asked him a few questions about his journey, vision, and mission. Read on to know his thoughts!
1. What prompted you to start New Artist Spotlight? Can you explain in brief about the initial days of NAS?
After playing music and recording it for many years but never releasing it, I was inspired by my best friend — who is a pretty well-respected musician back in my hometown — to stop messing around and make some music for real.
So I did. After recording a few cover songs, I wrote, performed and recorded a demo of my original track, “The Team.”
As luck would have it, a pro producer in London was doing a “demo restoration” contest or something like that in one of the Facebook groups that my best friend was in, and he told me I should submit “The Team” to the contest. I was lucky enough that the producer picked my track out of all of the others and, a month later, he sent me back a very professional mix and master of it, 100 percent free of charge.
When that happened, I thought, “This could be my one and only chance to put music out there that is professional sounding and not just a home demo.”
So I signed up with a distributor, added “The Team” to all of the streaming services, made a neat little video with Abe Lincoln lip-syncing about what two-faced liars politicians are today, asked all my friends and family to listen to it, like it, share it, etc. I basically begged everyone I knew to give it a listen. And they did. Mostly once or twice.
Then, it just kind of died on the vine without any kind of real promotion. I even tried targeted Facebook/IG ads, but they were basically a waste of money.
It was like I did all of this work for nothing. And what I thought was an objectively decent rock track was going absolutely nowhere since I had no way to get a wider audience to listen to it.
Somehow I was directed to a submission hub. There, I quickly found that if you don’t already have a lot of followers, most curators don’t want you on their playlists unless you are willing to pay. You get a lot of, “Cool track, but it doesn’t really fit my genre,” unless you are willing to drop hundreds of dollars for placement on multiple playlists. What I didn’t know at the time, as a newbie to this whole thing, was that a lot of these seemingly large playlists were full of bots.
So, I decided that if this was happening to me — a grown man with some past professional successes in life who’s been around the block more than a few times — what chance does a young artist struggling to make ends meet have in this business? It’s absolutely rigged against them… unless they can find a way to work together.
Fortunately, I used to teach university courses on leadership development, was a leadership department head at that uni and was a leader in several groups before then as a student, so I had plenty of past experience working with groups of people to pull together to do what is best for the group as a whole. I started recruiting other new artists on that submission hub site to join my playlist. In fact, some of my leadership team now were among the first folks ever to join NAS, nearly 8 months ago.
One thing that I should point out that was always at the absolute core of my beliefs for how NAS should work: It would always be 100% free for the artists. We don’t charge a penny and we never, ever will. There had to be an esprit de corps woven into the fabric of the group for it to succeed.
2. You have helped hundreds and thousands of independent musicians reach so many potential listeners on Spotify and other platforms! How do you feel looking back at your journey?
Well, thank you, but I wouldn’t say “I” have done it as much as “we” have done it. For the first month or so of the playlist’s existence, I did pretty much everything myself, but we were a smaller group then. And while I still have my hand in every single thing we do with NAS, I couldn’t possible run it all by myself now. My mod team has been amazingly valuable, and they are the absolute backbone of what we do. It truly is a community of artists working together, from top to bottom.
Looking back, I feel like it has been helpful for a lot of folks — we’ve had 5 artists from our community added to Spotify-curated playlists already — which really makes me proud. But most importantly, we’ve made a lot of friendships and connections in what is otherwise a very selfish industry. We genuinely care for our fellow artists and work to try to help each other grow. We’re certainly not just about everyone getting a lot of streams, and I’ve always looked at us as far more than a “stream team” or whatever the term is. That’s why we do the artist interviews, song reviews, podcast, AMAs and everything else outside of playing each other’s music. We want to help each other grow all of our fanbases. It’s like one giant promotional team that happens to be free and filled with volunteers who believe in what we’re doing.
3. How does NAS work? Can you briefly explain the system?
I’ve touched on a lot of it in my previous answers, and you can find all of the detailed info on our website. But, at its essence, NAS is and has always been a community of artists working together to promote each other’s music. We’re also typically each other’s first fans, which is why we have our own weekly Top 20 list, which our artists take great pride in being voted on, because they know the people who are voting are the other fellow NAS artists themselves. We’re constantly trying to come up with new ways to promote each other without having to spend a penny.
4. With technology getting affordable every single day and more accessible, the future of independent music looks bright. What are your thoughts?
Creatively, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be an independent artist. You have the world at your fingertips.
I remember recording music for the first time in the late 90s when I was finally able to afford a 4 track recorder, a drum machine and a few instruments. To see how far it has come since then is amazing. Obviously, I could have never created tracks like “The Team” or “It’s Fine” then on a basic 4-track.
It has also never been easier to share your music with the masses. The trick, as every independent artist quickly discovers, is finding a way to get others to listen to it. That’s where NAS comes in.
5. Music industry is highly competitive and volatile. Do you believe in this? What are your two cents for a newbie in town?
Yeah, as I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of sharks out there just waiting to feast on newbies. But that’s life in general, isn’t it?
It’s a tough racket. The music industry just seems to amplify some of the greediness and selfishness that is prevalent in most areas of life now, unfortunately. I guess having grown up poor and in a high-crime area, I was just taught at an early age to keep my eye out for those who would try to rip me off. I feel bad for those who come into this with more money than street smarts, because they’ll likely soon have much less of the former and just a little more of the latter.
6. If you had to suggest a few independent songs to somebody, what would they be?
And please check out my latest single, too. (I take myself out of consideration for the Top 20. It wouldn’t be fair or a true assessment of my own music if I didn’t). It deals with the mental health struggles that I and so many in my peer group deal with, yet no one seems to want to talk about it in polite company.
Since we’re plugging here now, your readers may like the video for “It’s Fine.” It gives a bit of a deep dive visually into the upbeat track with the dark lyrics.
7. Where do you like to see New Artist Spotlight in the next one or two years?
Great question, and a very difficult one to answer, as we have grown and changed so rapidly already.
I’m also keenly aware that most other groups like ours — the few that have ever existed — were about 1/5 the size, and most crashed and burned at some point. Burnout, especially when dealing with a couple dozen volunteer mods who also have jobs and lives outside of music, is a very real concern.
Ideally? I’d like to see us a FREE one-stop resource to help new artists put each other on the map without having to pay for placement anywhere else. I would love to be a feeder system for Spotify-curated playlists to find the most talented and hard-working new artists in the game today.
Of course, I know that there are hundreds of thousands of new artists out there every day who will never hear about groups like ours, and they’ll be navigating the shark-infested waters alone. But hopefully we can keep helping enough folks that more and more groups will follow our model and give artists more free options for growth. I hope we can inspire others to create their own community of artists, because we love ours.
Thanks for giving me a chance to share our story with your readers!