Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Single "Winter Love Song" Available Now...WORLDWIDE!

My new single, "Winter Love Song" is now available worldwide!

Or get it on:

Happy holidays :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hey, Hello, Its Me - Part 2: Stage Names and Educating yourFanbase

Building on my previous post about the importance of artists to be real, or be themselves... (read part 1)

Why did I feel fake using a stage name?It wasn't the fact that I was using a stage name (I still am), but that I was using a super cheesy stage name.

Lots of artists use stage names, which can be variations of their names, or based on their real names (ie. Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Stevie Rachelle, Billy Idol), or a something else all their own (ie. Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons).

Stage names don't reduce the credibility of an artist, its merely an extension of their personality.  But shitty stage names can do damage.  Can you take yourself seriously with a shitty stage name?

I used Rock Hart as a stage name originally because SEKS (my old band) was a parody, half-serious and half-not (no, I actually hadn't heard of Steel Panther when I first made that film).  But when I started to get serious about being an artist, I tried and tried to take Rock Hart seriously, but could not.

But you know what?  Its all part of the journey.  It takes some time to figure out your real style, what works and what doesn't.

A stage name, to me, allows you to be a slightly different version of yourself.  Paul Stanley spoke well about it in his autobiography.  He said as the Starchild, he was still himself but a more outgoing and extreme version of himself.

It allows me for example to be Joseph at home, and Vitne on stage.  He's Hulk Hogan in the ring, but Terry Bollea at home.  William Broad at home, but Billy Idol on the stage.

I like knowing what their real name is, I think establishes a trust with their fanbase...but I think its cool to adopt a larger-than-life persona, its a part of being an artist.  You do what you as an artist think is cool.  That's how you are unique.

So what do I mean about "being yourself" as an artist?

I mean to speak to your audience, be available, act as you would normally act around anyone when you aren't on-stage.  And also, I think its important to educate your fanbase.  Are you an independent artist?  How do you feel about that?  Do you want a record label?

Do you have a day job?

Independent artists don't have to have websites that look like they were built in 1998 or have shitty recordings.  Some independents look and sound more professional than "pros."  But unfortunately, this can add a negative side, I think.  People may assume you are on some record deal with a big budget.

First of all, you can do some pretty amazing things on a minimal budget now.

Second, If I were to find out an artist I love also has a day job, I would probably support them even more heavily, sharing more of their content, buying more music, maybe even donating.

Not all artists can tour.  Maybe they have a wife and kids, work a day job (or two), pick up the kids from school and make dinner, put them to bed, and only after that do they have time to practice, record, fix their website, do promotion, talk to their fanbase.

No doubt touring is tough, but that's also pretty fucking impressive in my book.

People shouldn't think lesser of an artist or band if they are independent or have day jobs.  I do think its important for the artists to tell their fans, though, so that they understand.  Like I said before, I work a day job, but am I aiming for music full-time?  YES!  But I need your help.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Musicians! How to Effectively use CoPromote

CoPromote is an excellent tool for independent musicians to share their content.  So if you are a musician wanting to promote your music, I highly recommend it.

But PLEASE...do it RIGHT!

STOP thinking like old-school advertisers, aka. "visibility is key - push to as many people as possible!"  - these guys have huge budgets.

START thinking this way:  "targeting is key - push to the correct people!" - way more effective for those without huge budgets...and much more people-pleasing.

The reason I'm posting a blog article on this is because I like CoPromote a lot.  But, I'm sick of having hip-hop in my feed for rock music.  It's not rock music.  I like some hip-hop, but I have rock (not hip-hop) listed as an interest for a reason.  I'm a rock artist and I want to be shown posts related to rock music.

So if you are an artist who is currently posting music and listing it in CoPromote as "rock, world, hip hop, rap, pop, r&b, children's, classical" - please STOP.  This is along the old-school advertising thought of "push to as many people as possible.  Maybe someone will like it."  Instead, why don't you list it for what it actually is...and maybe you'll get better engagement!  If you are a hip hop artist, maybe the people who see your music will actually be hip hop fans and not classical music fans feeling spammed.

I'm using hip hop just as an example because there were easily a dozen tracks in my CoPromote feed today that were hip hop or r&b which listed themselves as rock.  One was even listed as children's music.  Come on, guys.

Also, a final thing.  Think about your audience.  Example:  If you are a Swedish heavy metal band, when you click "share this post" in CoPromote - do you care that you are sharing an article on veterinarians in Connecticut to an audience of primarily European heavy metal fans?

Share content relevant to you and your audience.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey, Hello, Its Me, Nice to Meet You

The more and more I think about this, the more and more it makes sense to me.  The increasingly-important need for artists to be real.

Let me elaborate.

I have two musical hats:  1)the music fan, and 2) the artist

Sometimes I get lost in the artist and forget to think as a music fan.  As an artist I'm constantly thinking of ways to better present myself, to look more professional, to sound better, to play better, how to market music, all that kinda stuff.

But then I stop and think, as a music fan, would I like it if "so-and-so" artist was hiding behind a fake name?  Would I like it if I knew that "so-and-so" wasn't a full-time musician, but also had a day job?  Would I think less of them, or would I feel for them?  Would that make them a less "legitimate" artist?

I think the first this hit me HARD was when Tom Hess told me at a music seminar that much of White Lion (you know, the 80s hair metal band) had day jobs, the entire time they were in the band.  It blew my mind because, I mean, these guys were rock stars in the 80s, ROCK STARS!  Videos on MTV, multiple Billboard charting albums and singles...really?  Could it be true?

Whether it is or not (I'm guessing it is true), it got me thinking.  It got me reading and researching.  To me as a kid and much of life so far, a "rock star" had some big record contract and were touring the world and "rich."  I started to find out that in many cases, it is an illusion.  The record contract is usually just a big loan to the artist, while the artist signs their life away (figuratively speaking), while getting a measly salary per week.  CD sales give them maybe $1 or so on re-paying their loan.  They really don't get anything of it.

No wonder they had day jobs.  No wonder so many have day jobs.  They don't want day jobs, but they have to make ends meet.  Of course some artists, make it huge and rake in tons of money with record deals, but those seem few and far between.

Anyway, it also got me thinking about stage names.

I like the idea behind the stage name.  It sets you apart, it gives you a separate persona than your normal, everyday self.  In some cases, that can be good because it can protect you.  But when I was using a stage name, something didn't feel right.

It felt fake.  (this is because I was using a really cheesy stage name!)

I've increasingly been feeling that in this digital music age, this social-networking age, being real is more important than ever.  Before the internet, artists could easily get away with it, because you didn't have wikipedia to inform people on a whim.  Now, though, I feel there is no problem in using one, but I think its nice to know the person's real name.  Lizzy Devine of Vains of Jenna fame has his real name on his facebook page.  Gotye has his real name in his bio.  They aren't trying to force everyone to call them by their stage names.  I liked that.  A lot.

My name is Joseph Kimbrell.  If you look in the songwriting credits on iTunes (if you purchased my music there, for example), it will say "Joseph Kimbrell" and not "Vitne".  You are free to call me Vitne, though, if you want.  Or Jo.  Or Joseph.  To friends and family I usually go by Joseph, but in the past I've gone by Jo/Joe.  I like Jo.

I also have a day job.

I don't have a record label, and I'm ok with that.  Actually, I like it, I think its cool.  Its a challenge, but it also is a free feeling.  Would I take a record deal?  It depends if the offer is right!

A goal of mine is indeed to make enough money on music to do it full time.  And I think it is important for you as a fan, to know.

My music is an act of love - I love making music, and I love to be able to give it to you.  Really, I'm just happy to have you listening.  If you download my music, even better.  If you pay me, I love you.  The great thing about not having a record label is that I actually receive your gifts, not the record label.

I think a lot of this is about finding "me" in the this sea of anonymity.  I'm far from perfect, but I'm a real person.  I listen, too.

So, pleased to meet you.  I'm Jo.  What's your name?

(read Part 2)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

20% OFF All Merch Sale til Nov.11

Vitne merch!

From now (actually, November 4th) until November 11th, get all Vitne merch 20% off!

On checkout, use code:  20EARLY

Shop at http://vitne.spreadshirt.com


Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Changing Listening Habits of Music Fans

As an independent artist, I handle a lot of stuff myself.  Billy Idol calls this the punk rock do-it-yourself mindset.

Sometimes it is a daunting and overwhelming thing, because nothing is concrete.  But, has it really ever been concrete in any artistic industry?

I recently read an article (this article) about the listening habits of 18-year-old music fans.  The article stated that overwhelmingly these fans said they did not buy albums, they streamed via Spotify or YouTube, and it was the song, not the artist, that got them interested.  Then, I stumbled across a 2-year-old article on how younger audiences prefer streaming.  This article quotes a young woman saying:
"If I really love an artist and I want to support them, I will buy their music," said Kim, 21. "You can find [music] on the radio and TV, but those songs are chosen for you. The Internet allows you to find your own music. It's more personal."

It also mentions how some people feel that owning music is too hard, because the idea of building a collection is hard work.

This shows the changing idea of access to music.  My generation and older generations have grown up purchasing music, its what we've always done, but there's a younger generation weened on YouTube, Tivo, and NetFlix where everything is instant.  Pay a subscription fee, or endure some ads, and everything is "your's."

So, the desire for music is ever present, its just how its being consumed.

I understand what people mean about "its too hard to build your own collection is too hard."  HOWEVER, I feel though that this is not the best way of thinking.  Do you need a collection of everything?  Why are you worried about building a collection in the first place?  Just get what you like as it comes.

It has made me many times question whether I ever want to release another CD.  Unfortunately, the magazine industry still treats CDs as a right of passage to a large extent, it seems many reviewers and editors feel a CD release makes a release legitimate.  This must change eventually.

Sometimes I wonder...

Is a CD even worth it anymore?
Is the album-format done?

The answer to any question that comes up like that is usually "it depends."

Is a CD worth it for the artist?  It depends.  Are you touring?  Do you have an established fan base that buys CDs?  What genre is your music?  Do the research and see if your fanbase buys CDs.
Is the album-format done?  It depends.  Are your fans willing to wait 1-3 years while you take time off to write and record a new album?  Or is it better to release things more frequently?

I grew up with cassettes, VHS, CDs, DVDs, mini-disc, even Laser Disc.  I love holding a physical product.  But, I absolutely understand the draw for streaming/subscription services.  Back in 2008 I subscribed to the ZUNE Music Pass (which is now XBOX Music), and loved it, I thought it was great.  I ended up listening to more music, testing out new artists, and just listening to music more often.  It is a cool feeling having an entire library of music at your fingertips.

As for myself, as a fan, I buy music and I use Spotify some.  As an artist, I would be stupid to ignore all the signs, I think this is just the beginning of the streaming "revolution."  I do think streaming rates should be increased, many services pay the artists next to nothing.

How do you listen to music?

VITNE now on Instagram

VITNE has joined Instagram with an official account!

Follow VITNE on Instagram at www.instagram.com/vitneofficial