Rethink Music with Karmin and Amanda Palmer

The Rethink Music Conference is where music industry nerds in Boston are flocking to.

The biggest thing I took from Rethink Music was the advice from fellow musicians who had launched their careers from Boston.

As mentioned in my last post, Amy Heidemann from Karmin had discussed guerrilla marketing and promoting ones’ self via the internet. In addition, Amanda Palmer discussed being attainable to an audience and booking gigs when you don’t quite fit in.

    Karmin at Rethink Music. Photo credit Farah Joan Fard.

When asked about getting started on the Youtube videos, Heidemann mentioned that she and Nick Noonan had posted material before, but were not satisfied with the hits the videos were getting. Citing advice from peers at Berkleemusic.com, where Heidemann was working at the time, they did some research. They found which top singles were trending, learned how to tag videos so that they were more visible, and showed personality in their videos. Eventually, Noonan convinced Heidemann to rap on a video. And a Youtube sensation was born!

Was it the novelty? I am sure that is part of it. But you can’t deny that they can both sing, play their instruments, and have excellent stage presence. Many comments on their videos note their energy, enthusiasm, and…smiling. Because, though it seems obvious, lots of us forget to smile when we sing! In fact, I am guilty of this when I drum. I am often told I look sad, or like I am about to beat up Billy for lunch money. Whoever Billy is.

    Karmin at Rethink Music. Photo credit Farah Joan Fard.

Karmin at Rethink Music. Photo credit Farah Joan Fard.

Amanda Palmer discussed the fact that she is so accessible to her fans-no, not fans. She stated that she prefers not to say fans, because it makes it sound as if she is above them. She mentioned being okay with the term ‘audience’, but seemed to favor ‘community’.

When asked if she ever becomes afraid that she will get a stalker, she just laughed. Since she is so open about her life, she joked as to why anyone would want to find skeletons in her closet, when they are all out in the open. She makes a valid point. Where’s the mystery?

Palmer realizes she uses social media to the Nth degree, but she also realizes that it is a huge part of her success. Palmer has utilizes social media to connect with her community and spread her music. She compared it to when she was a street performer in Harvard Square years ago-as a living statue. She said that no matter what, she could always estimate making a certain amount each day. She never walked away empty handed. Likewise, when she gives away her music for free, people often feel compelled to pay. It’s the gesture that makes an impact on the audience; your music being available to them.

Even when recording, Palmer kept on connecting with others to make the music happen. She mentioned that she would be in the studio and need an instrument that they didn’t have. She would tweet about it and, sure enough, a follower on Twitter would get one to her.

Not only does this interaction show her ‘fans’ (can I say that?) that she is responding to them, it shows that it is really her. Palmer noted her dislike for artists that have others pose as them on Twitter just for self promotion, without taking the time to actually interact.

Lastly, I asked her about getting gigs in Boston. I feel that, sometimes, venues stick to certain genres. They want to be sure they get a certain amount of people in for the show. So, how does a musician get a foot in the door if their genre can’t easily be classified as rock or pop or folk?

Amanda Palmer poses at Rethink Music. Photo credit Farah Fard.

Palmer said she used to play galleries and parties, until she had enough of a following to prove she could sell tickets for a show at a local venue.

I know a lot of you do that, so props to you!

Lastly, I’d like to share an email that was forwarded to me from Deer In Headlights, by one of their team members (and SYM band member) Andrew Hall, who attends the boxing club that Nick Noonan had been working before. Since I was reviewing their band history over the past few days and hearing stories from many who saw them when they were performing out on Newbury Street and handing out EPs, I thought I would share!

Guess who knows tonight’s SNL musical guest Karmin? You!

The Ring Boxing Club’s own Nick Noonan and his fiancee Amy Heidemann — will be debuting two songs from their upcoming album on tonight’s show.

Here’s a pic of the duo as seen on Entertainment Weekly:

http://music-mix.ew.com/2012/02/11/karmin-snl-new-album/

For those of you who may not know,
Nick was our front desk guy extraordinaire for two years — working 12-6 every day at The Ring and pumping out YouTube covers from his apartment every night after work. One day this past spring he and Amy posted a video of Chris Brown’s “Look at me Now,” and they were launched to stardom.

Here’s an insider secret for you — a couple of weeks before they were discovered, Nick and Amy wrote the background music for the video on the home page of The Ring’s website.

Thanks, Karmin, and best of luck tonight! We’ll be watching!

Ah! Ferklempt! It is such a great story. Thanks for the note, Andrew!

What do you think of all this? Youtube guerrilla marketing? Being super accessible to fans? Giving your music away for free?

Note: Heads up that I will be chatting with Karmin again this Friday about their album release! Hello is out May 8th!