Category Archives: Blog

Olympics and classical music in perfect harmony

The guys at Quite Great love doing promotion and PR for classical musicians. We have worked with hugely talented classical artists, composers, and musical innovators – from Brian Eno and Michael Nyman to Jean Michel Jarre and Pavarotti.

In terms of redefining the parameters of classical music and changing the public’s views and perceptions of traditional musical thinking, no-one comes close to Kristjan Järvi. We were thrilled when we were chosen by Kristjan to help with his release of Wagner’s The Ring, his Duets project with Steve Reich, as well as his tour.

With a timely nod to the Rio Olympics, this is a wonderful story about music and sport coming together. Check out the release and spread the word as Kristjan is a true innovator within the music world.

Estonian Olympic Committee appoint classical music innovator to inspire a new generation of sportsmen and women

The Estonian Olympic Committee have created history by appointing the first non-sports person to hold a senior position as a standing member, with the announcement that the innovative classical composer Kristjan Järvi will be using music to help inspire Estonian sporting success in the future.

Kristjan is already a major force across the Baltic states through his work in creating ‘Sound Estonia’. Now, he is looking at ways to bring all types of music together – from classical to hip hop – in order to encourage people of all ages to get involved in sport and hopefully bring Olympic success to Estonia for years to come.

“It is an honour,” explains Kristjan, “to be part of the Olympic movement in some small way and to be the first non-sports person to become a standing member of the national committee. Music is an inspirational force. It helps people to fulfil their potential, and in sport, this is vital. Every sportsman and woman tends to use music in some way to inspire, whether it is in the gym or prior to them starting a race. It’s a natural next step to see how this can be expanded upon and how we can scientifically draw in the power of music through training regimes and add to the mental side of sports too.”

It is not widely understood how much training and fitness are involved in becoming a renowned member of a leading orchestra, although both are fundamental components of success. Kristjan Järvi not only understands the physical side, but also the spiritual side, which again can play a vital role in an athlete’s success. Bringing the two together could be an inspiring move by the Estonian Olympic Committee. Perhaps, in years to come, we may be seeing more and more Estonian athletes bringing home gold medals thanks in part to Kristjan’s groundbreaking ideas – not to mention hours and hours of hard work on the part of the athletes.

Kristjan Järvi has “earned a reputation as one of the canniest, and most innovative, programmers on the classical scene.” [Reuters]

Curating and conducting his original, genre-fusing projects with individual approach and style, his concerts have been proclaimed a “life-enhancing experience.” [Herald Scotland]

He realises his pioneering ideas with his four ensembles: as Music Director of the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Gstaad Festival Orchestra; as Founder-Conductor of his New York-based classical-hip-hop-jazz group, Absolute Ensemble; and as Founder and Music Director of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the cornerstone of the Baltic Sea Music Education System. An entrepreneur by nature and a passionate educator, Kristjan Järvi leads both the oldest Radio Orchestra in Europe and the newest young musician Orchestra.

Ongoing guest conducting engagements include: London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington D.C), the Minnesota Orchestra and NHK Symphony Japan. In 2012, he also made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a recording artist, Järvi has more than 60 albums to his credit, from Hollywood soundtracks such as Cloud Atlas and award-winning albums on Sony and Chandos, to his eponymous series the ‘Kristjan Järvi Sound Project.’ Launched in 2014, the series features projects across all of Järvi’s ensembles and is characterised by the conductor’s unmistakable approach in taking a fresh look at the old, with concepts and presentation that transcend the borders and boundaries of music.

Järvi continues to work with some of today’s brightest minds, from film directors Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis, to composers and artists Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich, Tan Dun, Hauschka, Dhafer Youssef, Anoushka Shankar and Esa-Pekka Salonen (with whom he started his career as Assistant Conductor at the Los Angeles Philharmonic).

Born in Estonia, Kristjan Järvi emigrated to the United States as a child and grew up in New York City.  He is an accomplished pianist and graduated from Manhattan School of Music followed by conducting studies at the University of Michigan.

[Photo of Kristjan courtesy of Peter Adamik]

 

Make the most of playing a festival

As an emerging band or solo musician you will have been wracking your brains to get more exposure in the industry; you have your Facebook page, Twitter profile and YouTube channel sorted. I’m sure you’ll be trying to secure gigs at pubs, small venues and even attempting to land that gig as a supporting act, but one of the most beneficial things you can do is try to land a spot at a festival. It doesn’t need to be Glastonbury or Coachella; it can be at a local festival. There are hundreds across the UK and abroad that still attract a good number of people and are given a good deal of attention, maybe not in the mainstream media, but definitely by many local and indie music sites.

Having always been a major platform for artists to step up on the career ladder, festivals today have increased in popularity, particularly with the digital savvy Millennial generation. So, with festival culture growing exponentially in the last 15 to 20 years, becoming more tech centric with each passing year, this is a new and exciting transformation that gives artists numerous ways to capitalise on the experience and gain more visibility in the process. If you have your social media platforms in order, you could manage to be the star of the festival.

The importance of preparation

Playing a festival is all about increasing an artist’s interaction with their fans first and foremost. With the explosion in tech innovation, an artist can easily make their mark, but only if they’re savvy about it. In Help for Bands article, The Importance of Festivals for New Bands, artists need to be at their most active online before taking their slot : “The planning for music festivals for bands and artists should start right at the beginning of the year. Make sure you have a press pack put together ready to send.  Make sure you are actively gigging few festival bookers will book a band that is seen to be inactive a lot of smaller festivals rely on word of mouth and recommendations from others so it’s important to be seen even if it is just on a local scale.  Make sure you are also active online and have a social media presence which you keep up to date. It’s becoming more and more that promoters and festival bookers first port of call when they look you up will be your Facebook or Twitter page so try and update these once a day at least. Looking you up online will be more than likely what any new potential fans will do also so it’s vitally important.”

Atmospheric photo at a convert

Help for Bands talk specifically about the importance of local festivals. Being too snobby is never a good way to be when it comes to promoting yourself, the procedure is quite simple: “Target all the festivals in your local and wider area find out who is putting them on and get in contact and make sure they are aware of who you are. Make sure your music will fit in with the other bands at the festival.  If you have to enter some sort of competition, which is becoming more common with a lot of festivals then you should do it simply for the experience and it will help get your name out there and make more connections with the right people who could perhaps help you in the future.  It is also worth exploring the possibility of playing one of the many festivals overseas and across Europe.  However, there are several more factors involved in performing overseas such as insurance for yourselves and your instruments costs of flights and accommodation and mostly importantly having the correct paperwork such as a carnet which is an essential document that lists equipment like instruments and amplifiers.  In effect a carnet signifies the intention of people transporting it to use for a performance but also affirms they will return it to its original point of departure without selling it or disposing of it along the way.  Having a carnet makes travelling from country to country with instruments and other equipment a lot easier.”

So remember, it all starts with getting your online presence sorted first, then approaching festivals. From there it’s up to the fans to decide, but with good preparation, it won’t be too hard to gain some online hype prior to your performance.

Images by freeimages.com/Marcus Osterberg

How to gain more fans

If you’re an upcoming music artist, you desperately want to reach as many people as you possibly can. Even though we’re living in an age where the universe is at our fingertips, thanks to the digital revolution, universal access to every kind of music can be a double-edged sword.

For artists, it can prove more difficult than ever to build a successful fan base. The internet, as in the physical world, is over saturated with creatives all vying for attention. With so many artists clamouring for a performance spot, it can feel like one giant hurdle after another. It’s therefore vital that you take full advantage of the technological means available to you in order to maximise your reach and impact. Thankfully, the best – and most simple – ways to gain more fans involve managing your efforts in a twofold manner, comprising both an online and “real world” strategy.

Here are a few ideas to get started with.

Creating an online buzz

From Twitter to YouTube, galvanising all that social media has to offer is the way forward if you want to gain those much desired online fans. The way in which you approach these is therefore crucial.

For a musician, the first port of call is YouTube, argues Marcus Taylor in his post 7 Ways to Double Your Fan Base for musicthinktank.com. “Increasing the rate and quality of producing music videos – or video content – can be a powerful way of exponentially growing your fan base, because as the number of videos on your YouTube page cumulates, the results begin to compound.” He writes further “This is how many ‘YouTube celebrities’ have made their fame – by producing good quality video content frequently until they hit a tipping point where they have so many videos that they’re getting 100,000s views every day. You can use services like TubeMogul to distribute your videos to a larger network of video hosting sites, as well as use their pre-roll advertising options, which I’ve found to be very effective. There are also music specific platforms for building loyalty with your fans via video or live streaming. My favourite of the bunch being Stageit.”

With YouTube as your base of operations and the rest splintering off from that, essentially it’s quality content that will tempt potential fans most of all – whether it’s music videos or a video diary. In turn, these can be posted to your Twitter and Facebook profiles. Once you’ve built up a satisfactory number of followers, you can begin offering special incentives to keep them entertained, like the opportunity for fans to have their own private gig and specially signed merchandise.

Dotted Music Blog gives some further useful tips on digitally marketing yourself.

A band in action

Furthering your real world strategy

Doing as many gigs for as many people as possible is always the foundation stone for a successful real world strategy. John Hess writes that collaborations are also a fine way to widen your appeal. “Collaborate with other artists and bands in your local area. Rather than thinking about all other musicians in your area as “competitors” (for the attention of your music fans), you can cooperate with one or more bands in a style similar to yours to attract many more fans to see and hear your music.”

“One way to do this is to arrange for you and one or more bands to perform at a certain venue and organise a joint effort to bring in as many fans by each band as possible. In addition to helping you to build a much better relationship with the venue owner (due to packing a much bigger audience into the club), you get a chance to essentially “advertise” yourself to the fan base of another band (and vice versa). This idea is extremely simple and obvious, but surprisingly a lot of bands do not consciously implement it.”

Another good idea is to set up gigs in unusual locations. Take some inspiration from pop-up restaurants, who often set up shop for the day in unconventional places such as launderettes and bus stations. A few alternative location gigs would get local press interested and may even lead to a local TV news spot.

There are of course many more ways to market yourself. Quite Great have put together a superb infographic which breaks down good music PR, so take a look for some extra tips.

Images by Freeimages.com/Philipp Hafele and FreeImages.com/Tom Cale

How to survive without being signed

The music industry has long been described as a harsh mistress, and for good reason. For any artist trying to make their way towards some recognition, there are numerous pitfalls to avoid. A good dose of stoicism and perspicacity go a long way. However, even the most seasoned professional can fall short and succumb to the pressures the music industry puts every artist under.

Many new artists on the scene are choosing to bypass the industry altogether, instead concentrating on fan interaction and the traditional gig scene, where it’s often just a matter of bartering with the venue manager for your performance fee. It’s these unique, individual ways artists make their mark that is keeping the industry fresh.

Today, we’re seeing a lot of bands and musicians look at major record labels as goliaths of unfairness, existing simply to chew up talent and then unceremoniously spit it out, leaving artists far worse off than if they’d never signed up to a label in the first place.

Furthermore, in the age of digital downloads, musicians feel that major label aren’t doing enough to protect their artists’ interests when it comes to illegal distribution of their music. In an article titled ‘The Three Biggest Ways Musicians Get Ripped Off’ (for Lateral Action) Russell Brennan wrote of ways artists can succeed without being courted by the major labels, especially reaching that much desired outcome of having fans buy your music. “It’s a big leap to go from hearing a song once to buying an entire album from a band you’ve never heard of. So instead of simply trying to get listeners to buy first time, encourage them to visit your website, get to know you and your music better, and sign up for your mailing list. Getting permission to stay in touch with your fans via email gives you a better chance of selling new releases and filling gigs than any amount of free plays on someone else’s website.”

GuitaristGetting Closer to Your Fans

Two artists who have pushed this notion even further by actively avoiding the industry are Kye and Ryan, members of the upcoming hardcore punk outfit Worthy Victims. “99.9% of labels are greasy corporate shafters, waiting to bend the artist over.” Says Kye, “As far as I’ve seen it through friends and bands that disseminate the attitude of the industry (especially “Major” labels) they are just there to make a quick buck on your art and throw you under the bus when you don’t make back what they gave you. Unfortunately the radio chart toppers have saturated and diminished the value of music as an art form into a mere commodity. Thanks, Jay-Zed!”

Kye and Ryan are in it for the music, the pleasure of creating and playing live are what keep these two fueled. After realising that monetary wealth is very hard to come by, and often a double edged sword, they understood that the greatest success comes through fan interaction and building a solid community. “Our advice to others,” Ryan says, “is to make sure you’re doing it for the love ‘cos there certainly ain’t any money in it. Arrange gig swaps with other bands to build up a network of like minds. Never do a ‘pay-to-play’ gig.”

For their gigs, Kye and Ryan found that putting an effort into creating more unusual promotional materials greatly endeared them to fans. “We gave out some free Worthy Victims bookmarks at our last gig,” explains Ryan. “They went down really well just ‘cos it was something different, and that’s what people want from their bands I think – that extra effort.”

With each passing year, the music industry is transforming, and artists mindsets are transforming along with it. For some, it’s getting harder to understand, but for many, like Kye and Ryan, the artist is becoming more free to choose his or her own path in the industry, finding greater happiness and creative fulfillment when ignoring the allure to sign to major labels.

Images by FreeImages.com/Piotr Ciuchta and Freeimages.com/motulz anto

PR tips for brands: Research and surveys

The team at Quite Great are the masterminds behind several website promotions and music-related projects, as well as tech and gadget brand development. These high profile commitments don’t make our latest venture any less exciting – a collaboration with Sunfly Karaoke, unquestionable experts in their field. We are currently helping them to launch a new streaming service, known as Sunfly Streaming.

The concept for Sunfly Streaming came during a recent meeting with the company, in which we discussed, researched and brainstormed a whole series of gift ideas for Father’s Day. We came up with a wonderful insight into the singing habits of dads, uncovering the fact that artists such as Oasis and Blur are still fighting it out in the hearts of British dads. These are the bands that dads in 2016 love singing along to, which results in an exciting array of coverage that highlights once again the importance of understanding and working with your brands when it comes to gaining big PR.

Here is the information we went with and some of the coverage to date that highlights the power of strong research:

The Release

The 20 year old war between Oasis and Blur has been reignited in a national poll conducted by karaoke experts Sunfly. And this time it is Oasis who have won the battle as they have the most popular karaoke song as sung by UK Fathers between the ages of 30 and 50.

Sunfly’s national data uncovers the unusual places where they do their singing too!

A unique poll of over 3000 dads across the UK was recently carried out by Sunfly Karaoke ahead of Fathers Day to discover their singing habits, covering both the songs they love to sing as well as where they tend to sing them.

With Oasis and Blur fighting it out for top spot, the Gallagher brothers pipped Blur to the post by gaining 32% of the vote for the perennial classic ‘Wonderwall’ compared to 29% for Parklife.

In addition the findings, compiled from comprehensive analysis of downloads and streaming data from www.sunflykaraoke.comhas revealed that (ahem!) older acts like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Queen and Bowie are still right up there for 30 to 50 year olds when deciding which songs they enjoy singing the most.

The North of England’s dads seemed to help swing the balance, with 27% giving the nod to both the Beatles and Oasis.

Other interesting observations drawn from the data published by Sunfly, in line with the launch of their recently released new karaoke streaming service; sunflystreaming.com, identified the types of songs dads tend to sing, which see over 30% preferring rock anthems and 20% going for the more passionate, heartfelt ballads of Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’, ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet. This indicates that dads across the country still have that soft centre we all knew they had.

The region that loved singing ballads most was the North East with 17%, whilst Londoners were least likely to sing the soppier stuff with 23% preferring classic rock

Sunfly’s data gives us an insight into the habits of dads across Britain and not only tells us what they like to sing but WHERE they like to ‘rock out’ as well. The bathroom whilst shaving and showering sees a combined total of 35%. Then perhaps surprisingly, it is the kitchen which sees 33% of dads highlighting their vocal talents to the whole family maybe whilst cooking or doing the dishes, closely followed by their car both when cleaning and driving it which saw 30% of those polled saying this is where they love to sing most. An odd revelation is one of the top places they like singing being the toilet with 7% saying that even if it is relatively quiet singing they tend to do so in the smallest room maybe it is thought because there tends to be a radio for them to listen to as well.

Dad Rock Top 20

  1. Wonderwall – Oasis
  2. Parklife – Blur
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody –  Queen
  4. Heroes – David Bowie
  5. Hey Jude – The Beatles
  6. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
  7. Angels- Robbie Williams
  8. My Way- Frank Sinatra
  9. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  10. True – Spandau Ballet
  11. Home – Michael Buble
  12. Mr Brightside – The Killers
  13. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League
  14. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth – Meatloaf
  15. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel
  16. Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen
  17. 500 Miles – The Proclaimers
  18. Don’t Look Back In Anger – Oasis
  19. Mustang Sally – The Commitments
  20. Daniel – Elton John

Top Places Fathers like to sing:

  1. The Bathroom
  2. The Kitchen
  3. The Car
  4. The Garden
  5. The Pub
  6. Doing DIY
  7. Walking the dog
  8. Exercising
  9. The Kitchen
  10. The Toilet

As Dan Maidstone from Sunfly Karaoke  explains:

When we were launching the new streaming service across the UK, it became clear that there was a growing trend amongst dads of a certain age to sing both upbeat and heartwarming ballads which shows that UK dads we feel are on the whole optimistic and big softies at heart, who tend to love letting themselves go vocally.

We hope that by bringing streaming karaoke in the homes of the UK, dads are going to start learning the proper words and improving their technique. Subscriptions to sunflystreaming.com, with over 15000 songs available, start at just £4.99 per month with a 7 day free trial and make an unusual and ideal Fathers Day gift

The data was gathered from Sunfly’s customers including subscribers and karaoke DJs in the first part of 2016 and is the first survey of it’s type to show the distinct singing habits of UK dads.