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Music insiders know the right balance of passion, musical talent, imageand most importantlywork ethic is what really makes an artist shine.  OurStage folk act Annie and the Beekeepers are putting their own spin on this classic formula while making its mark with mature composition, clever lyrics and a nostalgic yet earthy sense of melody.

Massachusetts native, Annie Lynch began writing music when she was thirteen-years-old, playing for friends at small coffee shops. It wasn’t until she met the rest of her band mates that she started considering music as a true career. When we spoke to Annie, she told us this was the starting point for the band’s songwriting collaboration. Squid Hell Sessions, the Beekeepers latest EP release, is the result of this effort. The band’s unique fusion of Folk and Blues, along with their straightforward writing style, afforded them the opportunity to perform at SXSW and CMJ in past years. They’ve continued to parlay their sound into upcoming spots in the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion and Midpoint Music festivals.



l_cdeb2a0385e369965a919ba83d0cb0f5Music aside, Annie and the Beekeepers have gained industry success in many other ways. The choice of “the Beekeepers” as the band name refers to the group’s tireless work ethic. Annie likens their sense of motivation to the same “strength in community” found within bee colonies. In this spirit, Annie unknowingly sets an example for indie bands who want to succeed while  staying true to their sound. She also expresses some seldom heard advice:  in the music industry, “we’re all just people in this together.” This concept encourages artists to go out into the world and make personal connections. Even if an artist feels like their won’t land that next club gig, they should take the time to write a letter. The talent buyer at the club is, after all,  just another person trying to help their venue and the artists who play there. The effort may just be the “in” an artist needs to get their foot through the door. In fact,  Annie and the Beekeepers  got their music played on the Emerson College radio station in Boston, MA (WERS) using this same strategy.

Balancing out this equation and further highlighting the band’s organic style is the Beekeepers’ decision to stamp their album art by hand on 100% recycled cardboard packaging, purchased from Calumet Carton. These small steps allow an artist to add a personal touch to their albums while staying cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Let Annie and the Beekeepers add color to the musical landscape in your world.  Check out their latest release and join their fanclub.


In the age of “generation Obama,” community service organizations and charities are gaining momentum in their efforts to promote and fund a number of good causes. These days, there is an ever-growing call for action on many fronts—both mainstream and unconventional—and the music industry is responding. New artists are emerging as advocates in support of charitable work, human rights and similar causes everyday, a positive trend that can bolster both career and personal beliefs.

5rOne such organization benefiting from industry support is called 5 Rights Inc. 5 Rights exists to try and promote “a local, sustainable culture of human rights.” These rights are protected by a United Nations bill and are the basis of the organization’s goals. We caught up with 5 Rights representative Jeff Lipman, who has worked closely with community-minded OurStage band the Adam Ezra Group. When asked about the advantages of an artist supporting a cause, Lipman agreed with the idea that musicians can raise awareness by encouraging  fans to take an interest in a particular cause. This is especially important for the 5 Rights organization since basic human rights is a global topic that needs greater awareness. Although 5 Rights doesn’t focus solely on the music industry as a partner in their cause, they do plan on organizing some human rights festivals, utilizing music as a central point of the event.

state-radioWhen talking about 5 Rights and the music industry, it’s almost a given to discuss Calling All Crows. This is an organization that was started by Chad Stokes (Dispatch, State Radio) and his activist partner, Sybil Gallagher. Per their Website, Calling All Crows is dedicated to mobilizing musicians and fans to promote human rights.” We spoke to Matt Wilhelm, Co-Operator of Calling All Crows, to get his opinion on bands’ roles in charitable organizations. He agrees that a band can bring a new level of awareness and passion to a cause, beginning with the community of fans that surrounds the artist. But Wilhelm also feels that it works both ways. If a band can be a catalyst for activism, then a band can also benefit from the community of fans they gain from supporting a particular cause. In his words, “doing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive.” Bands like State Radio and Dispatch have certainly supported this idea in the past as evidenced by the droves of fans coming out to hear both their music and their messages of political, environmental and social activistism.


l_6a41d37d2b5d402ab68d5376c2f0836cWhen you think of the latest sounds to appear out of Detroit, Eminem and The White Stripes are probably the first to come to mind. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Detroit houses a thriving scene of indie music and art rock. At the forefront of this new music scene, you’ll find The Silent Years, one of the most diverse and unique indie groups to come around in a long time.

l_a1015bd4421d2c361cc5214ca7d34f2fArtists often get caught up in lyric writing, attempting to focus on their words as the driving force of the song. The Silent Years take a more music-centric approach. They start with driving hooks and powerful instrumentation changes. In other words, they seek to create a sonic representation of the theme of the song, before a word even hits your ear. Lead singer Josh Epstein describes his poetic approaches to adding words to music as being “drafted and redrafted”. He feels that the pure expression of musical emotion should take the focus, and he struggles to find the perfect words to compliment it. Even with the layered, experimental sounds of their recordings, you can’t miss their live set as the band brings these sounds to the stage in a unique and organic way.

l_b3a3930018c77e3afc965730d41f00f5With such an authentic approach to songwriting and performance, it’s no surprise that the band is being afforded some impressive career opportunities. Recently signed to SideCho Records, the band is starting to make waves in the online scene while also building a nice list of supportive press. Bob Boilen of NPR is the newest critic to join the droves of fans lining up behind the new album, The Globe. “After one listen, I may have found my summer pop record,” he said when the band was featured on NPR’s “Song of the Day.” Recently, The Silent Years has also been featured as the “Band of the Week” in Paste Magazine and an ABC News interview. We caught up with Epstein to get his reaction to his budding celebrity status and to get more insight on his unique and ear catching approach to his music. Click through to see what he had to say:



R & B is one of the most dynamic and changing genres of music. From the days of Motown to the pop-influenced tunes of today, Rhythm & Blues can strike the right chord with almost any listener. We took the time to scan through this channel to see if there were any “diamonds in the rough” that deserved some more attention. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an equal mix of contemporary R&B and more traditional tunes like the ones that have inspired today’s artists. Ranging from pure soul to catchy pop choruses and even some singer/songwriter tracks, this playlist will certainly inspire you to head over to the R&B channel and listen for yourself. Make sure you don’t forget to judge, because you are the fan and you should decide who ranks in the Top Ten!

[playlist artist_name="Gentlemen Hall" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/gentlemenhall" song_name="Weatherman" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/TPETYXIGHDEZ-weatherman"]
Got Me Thinkin by: AZ ONE
[playlist artist_name="Tijay Starr / Rob Reason" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/robreason" song_name="A Love Song" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/QEUOVMQZSQTC-a-love-song"]
On My Job(I Aint Stoppin) by: Christian
[playlist artist_name="C-Mal" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/cmal" song_name="Wanna Get Away ft. Hostyll" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/KIHZWWNXZBPH-wanna-get-away-ft-hostyll"]
Join Me For Love by: Nick Mundy
[playlist artist_name="Jackie Rae" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/jackierae" song_name="Someone For Me" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/HFUDRVYKLGTX-someone-for-me"]
[playlist artist_name="QUANDESHA" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/quandesha" song_name="Street Love" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/EPLDFNQGQPUX-street-love"]
Give it up by: Brandon Chandler


Sometimes party music just isn’t diverse enough. You’ve probably been to a party where all that was played was constant rap or constant techno, with nothing to break it up. Well, it’s about that time of year when OurStage would like to throw some Latin flavor into your dance party. Today is Cinco de Mayo, the most popular celebration of Mexican pride. It’s also a great excuse to head to your favorite taquería or Mexican place, throw a big bash, and click on a playlist of the most exotic dance tunes you can think of. We’ve taken the time to make that last step just a little easier and pulled some of the best tunes from our Latin channel. Feature this playlist at your next fiesta and you’re sure to get everyone’s hips moving!

[playlist artist_name="Barneo" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/barneo" song_name="Storm in your heart" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/IDICPCQZRRHX-storm-in-your-heart"]
Majadito by: Bergman Pazs
[playlist artist_name="Kat Parra" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/katparra" song_name="Quitate La Queta" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/SXLWSXTUIUVB-quitate-la-queta"]
E Com Esse Que Eu Vou by: LubaMason
[playlist artist_name="Lau Miranda" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/lauriv" song_name="Ya no te Quiero" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/ZTDJMQBKNMHE-ya-no-te-quiero"]
Confirmame by: Son By Four
[playlist artist_name="Bosa Mora" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/bosamora" song_name="Say Goodbye" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/FKRMOWMPTEXX-say-goodbye"]
Roof Top by: Jaz Rice
[playlist artist_name="Layla Angulo" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/laylaangulo" song_name="Que Te Valla Bien Sin Mi" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/PXANJZTTCKRY-que-te-valla-bien-sin"]
Mi Reina del Solar by: Orquesta D'Soul

If that’s not enough to get you moving, take a listen to the Latin/Tropical Channel for more tunes!


The suspense has been killing us since the Be Legendary with John Legend channel judging closed, but at last the results are in. With so much talent getting involved it is no surprise that choosing a winner was such a painstaking decision for the accomplished singer. The channel ran last month and was a Radio-One/OurStage promotion in partnership with Columbia Records. Artists were prompted to come up with their own rendition of John Legend’s latest single “Everybody Knows”, and enter it. The Grand Prize winner would receive the honor of opening for John Legend at a high profile show, hotel and airfare included. John Legend has spent the past few weeks listening to  the artists in the closing top 10, trying to settle on just one to give the honor of “Grand Prize Winner.” There was so much talent, however, that he couldn’t settle on just one. Instead he chose one Grand Prize winner and two runners-up. The two runners-up will have the unique opportunity to play their versions of “Everybody Knows” at a John Legend concert in their area. Without further ado, here are Grand Prize winner Porsche Smith and runners-up Michael Logen and Wil Guice!



Break out the coolers and start planning those road trips because summer is on its way. There are few things in this world that can draw masses of people halfway across the country to spend their minimal savings on a single weekend. A summer musical festival is one of them. From hippies craving nostalgia to college students scraping together their loose change for months, these festivals see such a draw of people that I’m sure they aren’t giving too much thought to these rough economic times. On that note, I’m going to take you on a tour of the five most notable warm weather festivals that deserve your attention this year.


sxsw-2009First on the itinerary is the week-long party of southern hospitality that is the SXSW music festival in Texas. The unique thing about this festival is its location: it doesn’t really have one. Rather, this celebration of music scatters mainstream and up-and-coming acts all across the Lone Star State to select bars, clubs, and outdoor spaces. Unfortunately, here comes the bad news, this festival happened a few weeks ago. If you went this year you probably enjoyed such names as Third Eye Blind and Ben Harper and Relentless7. If you’ve been following our coverage you know that over 80 OurStage artists played SXSW. Make sure to check out this festival next year if you missed it; it’s a great way to start off your own tour of summer music fests.



It’s that time of year again: time to gear up for finals week. Right about now you’re probably looking for any excuse to procrastinate. That or you’re ignoring your studies altogether, finding any way to chase off those “finals blues.” In either case, we’re sure you could stand to listen to some good tunes.

It’s finals week at OurStage too and we’ve pulled some of our favorite tracks that made the Quarter Finals this month. Ranging from singer/songwriters to instrumentalists, these artists all know how to craft a catchy, motivating piece. Why not share your finals experience with a few artists who are enjoying one of their own? Use this playlist to drown out your noisy roommate, sibling, or pet. Who knows, these soothing songs may inspire you to actually focus and study for a change.

The Curse of the Grand Prize

The coveted Grand Prize at OurStage is as illusive as it is dangerous. We were curious about what happened to previous Grand Prize winners, so We put on our “Where are they now?” caps and found an astonishing truth. The OurStage Grand Prize may be just as cursed as opening an umbrella indoors. Sure, there’s glamour, exposure, and of course that $5,000, but something the artists didn’t plan on was an end to their band. That’s right, we’ve found a few cases where an artist will rise to the top only to find that their days as a band are over. Don’t believe in black cats and broken mirrors? Check out these groups and their stories. Draw your own conclusions about the curse of the Grand Prize.

northernroomInspired by Coldplay and U2 (among others), Northern Room has been a familiar face on OurStage. Building synth melodies, energetic drumming, and soaring vocals are just a few of the characteristics that afforded this band a grand prize win in July of 2008 with their song “Last Embrace“. They were even featured on our blog during the July competitions, showcasing an interview between OurStage’s Alyssa Jayne Hale and lead vocalist, AJ. Despite their large scale aspirations, just months after winning the grand prize, the band played a farewell show and called it quits. Thankfully, the band’s inspirational and uplifting music can still be heard on their OurStage profile. Check them out and pay your respects to a timeless grand prize winner from deep within the OurStage archives.oddway

Dig even deeper into those archives and you’ll find Oddway, a female-fronted rock band from Boston. Their sound can be compared to artists ranging from Sublime to Alanis Morisette. The bluesy, soulful melodies of singer Petrina Foley pair so well with the skillful guitar playing of Ryan Ordway that they seemed destined for greatness. After winning the first ever grand prize at OurStage in March 2007, the band enjoyed a month or two more of success in the charts. Then they met their fatal end, the well-meshed sound was just not enough to prevent artistic conflicts of interest that lead to the breakup.

ryanordwayTwo well-accomplished OurStage artists have since risen from the ashes of Oddway. Singer/songwriter Ryan Ordway has recently enjoyed success in the charts; fronting his own solo act has given him the artistic control he needed to thrive petrinafoleyas a musician. Additionally, lead singer Petrina Foley has also posted her own badges of honor in the singer/songwriter (female) channel. Her style brings back memories of Oddway with a slightly more indie sound, suggesting hints of Ingrid Michaelson or even Regina Spektor.

Of course, a curse is only what you make it. The truth is, these bands achieved the highest honor that OurStage has to offer, and their music supports the award. So maybe the Grand Prize isn’t cursed after all. Oddway produced some phenomenal solo artists and Northern Room’s lead singer is optimistic about future musical goals for the band members.

So go ahead, keep listening, because in the music industry, you make your own luck. Our artists will keep submitting their songs even if a few of them will be throwing salt over their shoulder or knocking on wood.

License to Sing

The music industry is changing and the tell-tale signs of success from the old days just aren’t as applicable anymore. Today, in addition to radio plays and record sales, success is also measured by digital distribution, downloads, and media placement. In this spirit, we’ve found our top 5 favorite licensing stories right here from OurStage. Check them out.

alissa-morenoAlissa Moreno: At the top of our list lies this accomplished singer/songwriter. Her powerfully simple songs have landed her feature spots on MTV, NBC, Fox, CBS, and many more. These features aren’t just small mentions, either. Her catchy tunes can be heard on hit shows like “The Hills“, “Laguna Beach“, “Newport Harbor“, “Wonderfalls“, “Will and Grace“, and “How I Met Your Mother“. Moreno doesn’t stop there. She’s even earned a Grammy nomination for her well-crafted songwriting. “Every Day“, a popular hit sung by Rascal Flatts, was nominated this past year for best songwriting. This is one artist you won’t want to miss before she “hits it big”.

marrMarr: This powerful, adrenaline-pumping metal band had the honor of licensing a song for the New Line Cinema feature “Shoot Em’ Up” (starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Belucci). The song “Landscape” caught the ears of New Line placement exec’s and seemed to be a stellar match for the non-stop, edge-of-your-seat action film.The band was even invited to play a minor role in the movie. The DVD can be purchased now.

kilroyKilroy: This classic rock-inspired group has had its share of success on OurStage. It is no surprise then, that their music has been featured on such mainstream media outlets as MTV and FoxSports. Their nostalgic, upbeat style have made them a perfect fit for a recent FoxSports college football special, where they were invited to perform their energetic song, “Shake ‘Em Down”, to be paired with a high-ranking team. am

AM: Indie Singer/Songwriter, AM, credits himself with an impressive 46 song placements on TV and in movies. These placements include notable names like HBO’s “Big Love“, ABC’s “Men In Trees“, MTV’s “The Hills” and TNT’s “Trust Me“. This artist clearly shows how licensing can be used as a springbaord for more traditional music industry accomplishments (“Best Singer/Songwriter of the Year” at the LA Weekly Music Awards and a showcase at SXSW). Check out this artist’s smooth melodies and honest image. He certainly has a lot to say.

mollymarletteMolly Marlette: This trend-setting indie singer has certainly established a strong following in the industry (popular youtube videos, strong fan following on OurStage and MySpace, etc.). Marlette’s song “Constantly” was featured on the hit television series “One Tree Hill“, as a perfect representation of the show’s uplifting drama and universal themes. This feature earned her significant credibility and actually helped lead to her online popularity.

These artists may have proven themselves time and again on the OurStage charts, but they’ve also utilized other media as a powerful tool for furthering themselves as artists. In a changing musical world, artists can benefit from embracing licensing because, it is a new way to reach fans in unexpected places. Maybe these artists have inspired you to listen closer when you’re watching your favorite show. You never know what you’ll discover.


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