Skope: Where are we talking from today and are you excited spring is here on Friday?
I am speaking from my studio in Cancun Mexico, yeah, I know you guys in Boston hate me, but I am happy for you that Spring is arriving. By the way that, headline is a bit grandiose…but those were your words…not mine. LOL…I would hope to be a bit more humble. But thank you….
Skope: You were recently on Skoped Out and have had major success recently. Please tell us what has been going on?
I was, Stoli interviewed me when I first started this project not that long ago. I really liked that guy and the interview and what Skopemag does for the Indie artists, so when some good things started happening for me, I really wanted to have you guys break the news. Since you reach so many hard working indie artists, you were my first choice. I hope my story will help them keep the faith and keep on pushing. It can be done, and there are some things I learned along the way that might help them achieve the success they are seeking. Not everyone is in music for commercial success…and that does not make their music any less important. If you are interested in playing in the big leagues I might have some insights that will help you.
Skope: At what point did you really start to see results and who have you been working with and what have you learned about music promo/marketing that you can share with other artists/bands?
First of all, your readers have to understand that my music is all about a message of change that America must embrace to become the country that we all want it to be and actually, what the world wants it to be, because what America does, effects the World whether the World likes it or not. So…BE DIFFERENT is my first bit of advice and have a PLAN to make that difference work for you. I know that sounds cliched, but it is crucial. If someone says you can’t do it your way, and you SERIOUSLY consider their opinion/objection and still believe you can, do it your way.
About 2 months ago, I decided that if I REALLY wanted to get my message out, I had to get on commercial “over air” FM radio. I had really saturated internet radio, blogs, reviews interviews etc…. and that was the PERFECT preparation for what I felt needed to be my next step. At this point in time, the fastest way to get National attention is to do well on mainstream, commercial FM radio. You may not like it, but to not face facts is… well..to not face facts. The biggest radio audience, by far, is FM radio because that is the way music is primarily “delivered” to those driving or riding in cars. Period. It is also the source mainstream media uses to judge an artist’s success…again like it or not. Being on “over air” FM radio means you are”for real” in the eyes of the public. If you know and understand America you will know I am speaking the truth. I need to stress again that it is just the way it is…fighting it will not help you and smugly dismissing it hurts no one but you. So take this advice: If you want to play with the big boys…you have to jump into the big boy pool. Internet radio will catch up eventually and be readily available in cars…someday…but that time is not here yet. The number of people listening to FM radio commuting, and at work etc is ENORMOUS. I want the biggest audience possible to hear my message.
So…I decided I need to be there, on “over air” FM radio, to get my message disseminated most effectively. I am working primarily with two industry professionals. One is Jay King, my advisor. Jay has been in the music business since the 80’s when he had a string of hits with his group Club Nouveau…..he still tours and records, but also advises artists, writes books on the music business and hosts a radio show daily. His advice, from the recording process and evaluation of my music production, to working the business… has been invaluable. The second is Howard Rosen and his company, Howard Rosen Promotions, a legendary and industry respected record promoter.
So here is my second “pearl of wisdom”….YOU CANNOT EFFECTIVELY ASSAULT FM RADIO WITHOUT A RECORD PROMOTER. The record promoter presents your record to FM radio and gives it legitimacy. From there he builds support for your record among the various FM stations by building upon your success with the stations on which he gets your record “added”. To be sure, to advance, your record must be popular enough with the stations’s audiences to get the maximum number of “spins”….but the story he can tell new stations is based on the number of “adds” and “spins”…and the more you get the better the story…and the faster you get “ adds” and thus “ spins” ….and the faster you climb the charts.
Skope: What charts are you currently on and how do keep track weekly to how you are doing?
Mr. Rosen’s team decided to work Adult Contemporary radio with this first song. If you listen to the record, you will here a number of influences that, I believe, will allow it to move to R&B and Gospel. I know that sounds kinda weird….but this is a “weird” record…..well not so much weird as different than everything else we are competing against.
Charts or rankings come out every week to plot your movement up or down according to the number of “spins” you are getting. I get one sent to me every week on Tuesdays. I post what our movement has been every week on our Facebook page or through Twitter. If anyone is interested they can use the links at the end of this interview to follow what is happening with “The 99″
Skope: What is it about your music that you think is really catching on with listeners and industry folks?
Well…that is the perfect question to follow my last comment. There are plenty of musicians and artists out there who sing as well or better than we do…certainly better musicians ..since I played all of the instruments on our music, with a few exceptions….BUT…no one has chosen to write songs with our message…at least not in the commercial over air FM radio space. FM radio is all about “party” and “love songs”…and that space is VERY crowded. No one in the space is delivering a message like we are. And the message has been crafted to be a balance of not to hard, but insistent. There is nothing “ party” or “love song” about our music. BUT… I TESTED OUR MUSIC (third pearl of wisdom) on two professional focus group testing services and got HUGE conversions of listeners to “fans”….because of the message. So I knew that if people got to hear the record, we had a good chance to be successful. As a side note…although it surprised even me, the biggest fan conversion demographic was women between the ages of 18 to 24. Next was women between 25 and 35. If you think about it, women probably are more concerned about the welfare and future of their children, families and lives. Men …well …men think about women.
As far as how industry people received our music …Indie folks like Skopemag and artists were believers in our music right away. Corporate labels…not so much. Corporate label people, while they liked the message, couldn’t see it as a money maker. This week our single blew past the Rhianna/K.West/McCartney new single that entered the charts at the same time we did. We are currently #53 (of 200 on the chart) this week and fully expect to be in the Top 40 by next week….if not …the following week for sure because of the “ adds” and “spins” we are getting. If we enter the top 40 the big labels will notice that some unknowns, out of nowhere, are messing around in their territory. I am sure they will want to try and figure out how we are doing it. The answer is as old as music itself. People respond to music that stirs them. Sometimes they want to party…sometimes they have to deal with issues surrounding their love lives….but they also think about their lives in general, what they can do to make their lives better. That’s the part of their psyche we are targeting. Hearing music that speaks to what you are thinking gives YOU a voice. Big corporate record labels spend a fortune trying copy each others successes and pump millions of dollars into a project. Delivering something different can achieve the same success for a LOT less money. You would be AMAZED at how little this has cost. But when your corporate butt is on the line it is safer to follow than lead….If these records are successful, it will seem like we have returned to the 60’s and 70’s because of all the politically motivated records the labels will try to churn out….and to me, that would be a good thing. Now…make no mistake if I find a label that is in tune to what I am doing and “gets it”…I will no longer be Indie. My goal is initiating change…to that end Corporate sponsorship would help me get to a level that gets the message out faster and to a larger audience. Also would that not be cool to have corporate greed responsible for selling music that denounces corporate greed…the irony there would almost make all this work worth it by itself.
Skope: Has this surge made you want to put out more music or will you keep pushing your 3 singles?
I have more music in the wings, but not recorded. To tell you the truth…I can write songs like these all day long….that is my gift, if I have one. I wrote and recorded the outlines of the first three in less than a week. BUT… I HAVE A PLAN…AND HAVING A PLAN IS MY NEXT BIT OF ADVICE. I am establishing our band/brand “The 99” as the “spokes singers” for the average “Joe” in America. The songs we have will work for now, to see if the plan can work. We are as much a political movement as a music project…. That makes us different, and makes our two other recorded songs just as relevant and different as this first one. Plus the first one will grease the wheels for the next ones….if it is successful enough. I will concentrate on getting all the milage I can from this one and at least one more before writing and recording more. Following the plan and managing this project is more important right now than doing what I consider the easy part, writing and recording. It takes focus not to slip into doing the easy things, and not the hard things that a successful artist must do. That’s where an advisor like Jay King comes in…he keeps me focused (and grounded) on the not so fun for most musicians business side of music.
Skope: Being that you speak on current events in song, why does it seem like the US government works against it’s own hard working & legalized citizens?
Boy..do not get me started….but you did… so here goes…the short version for you… mercifully. Our American government is not controlled, run by or even concerned about the people. The government is bought and paid for by those I call the Corp/1%. Democracy does not exist in America. It is not Democracy when the cost of getting elected forces our leaders into alliances with powerful monied interests to get them elected. You cannot serve two masters, and the people’s interests are more times than not, directly at odds with the Corp/1%. Obviously our leaders choose to keep those that get them in office happy, so they can get the money needed to get reelected.
Part of the problem is also that the population of America does not really understand how things work. I would bet that most people do not realize the Federal Reserve Bank is no more a part of the government as Federal Express. It is a privately owned bank, running the fiscal policy of what is arguably the worlds largest and most influential economy/country…. and they answer to NO ONE. Not even the President can see their books.
There really is a “they”…and “ they” are keeping us distracted and divided, to keep us from realizing where our real problems originate…and it is not our fellow citizens, Black White or Brown. There is a show on TV called “Orange is the new black”….in America “Green is the new white”….without green/money you are not part of the group that makes decisions on how America will be run….They have HUGE money…BUT…we have the votes. So I see my job as delivering a message of change…and the more people I can get to hear it and educate themselves as to what is happening, the better. “The 99” is a snow flake ….but an avalanche starts with many snow flakes.
Skope: When you wake up every morning what gets you excited as a musician with a voice in 2015?
What I am doing and how lucky I am is what gets me excited, how could it not… I am doing something I love and potentially helping change my country for the better, how cool is that! If this record goes where I think and hope it will, so much more will be possible. I am so fortunate. I want to help anyone I can achieve their dream, that is one of the reasons I wanted to be on Skopemag.
Skope: What is coming up for Alvin Harrison and where you @ online?
Well for the immediate future we will be working on getting this record as high as we can. If we can reach the top twenty or higher we will tour and do charity benefits, in addition to initiating an assault on R&B and Gospel radio,and also issuing our next record “We Ain’t buying”, which is a bit more militant.
I write a blog almost daily at https://www.facebook.com/RTIA1. I have an Electronic Press Kit at http://artistecard.com/alvinharrison and of course the requisite Reverbnation presence at http://www.reverbnation.com/alvinharrison8 if you just want updates you can follow us on Twitter @RTIAAlvin
I keep the Electronic Press Kit kind of secret because I reserve that for people I want to be able to hear and down load the songs for free, that, of course, is all my Indie musician sisters and brothers here at Skopemag. Thanks for giving me this opportunity and thanks again for EVERYTHING Skopemag has done to help me and other Indie artists.