Featured Artist: JOSH AND MER
Their latest accomplishment was raising over $15,000 on Kickstarter.com for their Musical Callioscope. Despite being a fairly young band, (founded two years ago after meeting at the shoot of a Levi's commercial) they have experienced a lot and have good advice about how to stay afloat in this business called music.
They recently finished three days at NACA West (National Association for Campus Activities) in Portland in order to book a college tour in the fall.
Question: Can you tell us a little about your “From The Sea” Kickstarter campaign?
Josh and Mer: We successfully raised our goal of $15,000 to make an animated short/music video for our song “From the Sea” off our album, Planet Music. We were amazed by the support we got and we are so excited to work with Austin Hillebrecht to help bring his vision for this project (over a year in the making) to life. The Kickstarter campaign was an interesting social experiment for us too. Still being fairly young as a band, we didn’t know how we’d raise such a large figure but through creativity, determination, and perseverance we were thrilled to have succeeded.
It was a lot of work: In addition to Austin’s impressive Kickstarter video, we made several follow up videos that took planning and time to make. We reached out daily via our facebook page, email list, and our different networks. We held a Kickstarter fundraising party at one of our favorite local Portland venues, Ford Food + Drink. It was crazy, but we all had to swallow our fear and pride in asking for help and the response we got was very encouraging.
Question: Do you have any advice for new bands and artists who are just getting started?
Josh and Mer:
1. Write good songs. How? Listen to good songs and study what’s going on. KEEP WRITING!
2. Find a good producer (or two), and record your good songs in the best way possible. This could mean a variety of things. For us, we record part of our records in a home studio to cut costs, and then the other part is recorded, mixed, mastered in a professional studio. If you have the funds to do it all in a pro studio, DO IT IN A PRO STUDIO!!! Always be prepared. Time is money.
3. Get your social media act together. What’s the secret? Annoying busy work that you have to do yourself. Maybe someone in your band is a Twitter champion? Or all of you can take turns to lighten the load! Social media is as important today as writing good songs and recording them.
4. Never turn down a gig (if you can help it). Don’t play for free (if you can help it). If you must take a free show, make sure it’s worth your time and don’t forget to sell your merch.
5. Work as a team and divide up duties. In our two years as a band, we’ve had some time to figure out each others strengths and it’s been really helpful when it comes to planning and executing our goals.
6. You’ve got to spend money to make money. Pressing CDs, making posters, paying for a website domain, buying new gear, taking road trips, festival entry fees. It’s all the cost of doing business. This might mean it takes you awhile to actually gain some momentum.
Josh and Mer: When we first put together our CD we didn’t have enough funds to professionally package them but we still wanted them to feel special. So we went for a limited-edition hand made approach for our first run and we knew that once we sold out of those we’d have enough to produce Digipaks. The Digis look amazing, but we still wanted to keep some of that handmade vibe. We wrap each package in twine and include a postcard with each CD. When people see our CDs we want them to feel like they are holding something unique. We’ve received a very positive response to our packaging.
Question: What's next for you guys?
Josh and Mer: We just finished mixing and mastering our second album. It’s more introspective and earthy in nature compared to Planet Music, but it still has elements of the dreamy vibes from that record. It turned out better than we expected thanks to Jason Carter’s imagination and extensive mixing experience. No release date at this time, but we look forward to putting it out into the world.
Question: Which do you prefer? Writing, recording or performing live? And why?
Josh and Mer: We love to write and it’s something that drives what we do. But if we had to choose between the three, recording is probably the most fun because it allows for an endless amount of possibilities and inspiration. We’ve still only recorded as a duo so we’re really excited to start working on new music and make our first record as a four piece band. For us, performing live is the reward for making an album that we’re proud of.
Question: What do you consider your most important platform for promotion? (website, blog, facebook, bandcamp, twitter, off-line?)
Josh and Mer: Our mailing list and Facebook seem to be the most effective platforms for promoting right now. Nothing beats good old fashioned hand-shakes and hugs after shows though! Meeting people in person is the best form of social networking.