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Behind the Mic: Sponsorships

The word “sponsorship” may conjure images of sporting events or awareness marches, but musicians can certainly be sponsored too. In a world where record sales hardly add any change to the artist’s bank account, sponsorships are hugely beneficial to off-setting expenses racked up by travel, promotion, merch and more. In addition, sponsors can significantly improve an artist’s advertising, publicity and promotion.

While there are several types of sponsorships out there, the most common for the music industry is a sponsorship where a band or artist is given free products to wear or use by the company. For example, a band can be sponsored by clothing companies, who gives the  members free clothes to wear on stage or in photo shoots. A band could also be sponsored by  a gear company who gives them free instruments, amps, etc. to play. The hopes for these companies is that fans and fellow musicians will see a band or artist  using their products and, as a result, desire the same products.

Metal band Eyes Set to Kill decked out in gear from Skelanimals

Obviously, sponsors want to pick bands and artists that are talented, professional and have a large fan base. If you’re not quite there yet, aspire to start with a smaller company that offers sponsorships to local bands. After all, the likelihood is slim that the company sponsoring your favorite major label act will sponsor your band too. Like large corporations, local organizations need advertising too, and it will be much easier to set that up if you’re a local act.

If you think you’re ready for a larger-scale sponsor, there are a few things you’ll need to think about first. Before you get started, you need to decide which sponsors would be appropriate for you. For example, if you’re a rapper, you probably don’t want to propose a sponsorship to a clothing company that sells shirts at Hot Topic. It’s important to remember your music’s target demographic and consider companies that your fans might support.

Next, you will need to craft a proposal letter. This letter serves as an introduction of your band to the company and explain how you can mutually benefit from a partnership. Start by giving a BRIEF synopsis of your band’s background (no more than ten sentences) and include some facts about each member. Mention any major career highlights, including opening spots for well-known acts, statistics of sales from past releases and press clippings. Include a description of past tours, venues played and your average draw in a few markets. Along with this letter, you should include a few photos of your band and links to live performance videos.

A few final tips: try to send out as many proposals as you can and don’t get discouraged if you’re turned down. Remember that professionalism is key, so don’t be afraid to have a manager help you with this project. And if you’re chosen for a sponsorship, be sure to read through any legal documentation thoroughly with your band and any of your team members so you know exactly what the sponsor expects of your partnership.

The Fast and the Furious

Getting spins on MySpace isn’t a competition, but if it were, NEEDMORE would be wiping the floor with the majority of us. With 8.5 million plays through their profile and placements in television and film, exposure isn’t an issue for this L.A.-based band. Their traction is easily attributed to their sound: sleek, impeccably produced, epic as hell. “Lost My Way” begins with gorgeous ribbons of violin that give way to ebbing guitars and the soft crush of drums. It’s highly visceral, emotional stuff. Same goes for “Late Night Drive,” a perfectly arranged ballad of glimmering piano, edgy guitar scribbles and a soaring, stratospheric chorus. The sinister swerve of “Go” with its ricochet guitars and driving percussion is raring for a cinematic car chase. Don’t take our word for it—watch this Lincoln MKS commercial and tell us you don’t want to go for a spin with these guys.

More Prizes, Greater Opportunities

In 2007, launched with the dream of helping the most promising independent artists illuminate their music and, hopefully, further their careers. To this end, we began to give away a monthly prize of $5,000 to the Number 1 ranked artist, but soon the artist community indicated they valued career-enhancing opportunities over a payout. In response, we worked to bring OurStage artists the chance to record singles with the likes of Keith Urban and T-Pain as well as the chance to open for national acts such as Bon Jovi and John Mayer. Each month we continue to provide artists with more opportunities to further their music careers. Now, what about the cash?

Since OurStage was able to make good on the request to offer more opportunities we thought it was time to address another long-standing artist request: distributing the 5k prize pot amongst the Number 1 artists in pop, rock, country, urban and specialty. Next month, the artists competing in these main music genres, and their respective sub-genres, will each have a chance to win 1k. This opportunity engages all artists in our community, not just the ones who perform songs in the most popular genres of music.

Beginning December 1st, the following genres will be eligible to win:

1K Prize for Rock

1K Prize for Pop

1K Prize for Country

1K Prize for Urban

1K Prize for Specialty

Alternative Indie Pop Alt Country Alt Hip Hop Acoustic
Hard Rock Pop Country Hip Hop All Instrumental
Indie Rock Singer Songwriter Female Southern Rock R&B Ambient Chill
Metal Singer Songwriter Male Traditional Country Rap Blues
Modern Rock Soul Christian
Punk Cover Bands
Rock Electronica
Soft Rock Folk
Southern Rock Funk

We will also continue to award 1K for the Best Video (country, hard rock, hip hop, pop and rock videos are eligible) as well as 1K for the Best Live Performance Video (open to all genres of music). See our FAQS for more information on our monthly prizes, eligible genres and our competition-judging season.

Españoles on OurStage

Latin music never ceases to amaze me. The thing that I love the most about it is its capacity to mix music styles from completely different regions and still get extraordinary results. But it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the place that started it all: Spain.

Well known for its Flamenco dancers and its wooden castañuelas, España is the reason why we sing, write and play songs in Spanish. And let’s face it. Some things can’t be said in any language other than en Español.

To honor the great influence that Spain has had in Latin music, I am dedicating this post to my favorite españoles on OurStage:

First on our list is Kathyjuan band. Please don’t be fooled by the name. Kathyjuan is not a band, but rather an amazing do-it-all artist from Sevilla. He plays the electric guitar, the bass, the acoustic guitar and the keyboards. No wonder he won the Number 1 OurStage Latin Channel prize in both October and November of this year with the song “Jardin 09″

Also from Sevilla is Emiliano Dominguez, a.k.a ZAPATA, a musician that describes his style as being “halfway between songwriting and Andalucian rock.” ZAPATA’s pieces are notorious for its strong poetic elements. Listen to his song “Mayorales” to hear a poem by Mariano Frutos.

Another Spanish gem on OurStage is Ester Andujar, a singer-songwriter from Valencia who has performed in some of the best Jazz clubs and festivals in the world. She has earned several awards for her performances, including one for Best Voice from the Valencian Association of Jazz and Creative Music (Promusics). Ester hasrecorded two solo albums and will be releasing a third one soon. Listen to  “Paginas Preciosas” and be delighted by her marvelous voice.

Andalucian talent Melo Bakale is also on our list of Spanish favorites. Ever since his undeniable talent and good luck earned him a victory in the “Cazatalentos” contest of the Andalucian Radio-Television (RTVA), Melo’s career has been rapidly heading to the top. His triumph in “Cazatalentos” led him to record his first album, Melo Bakale, which sold over 8,000 copies. Intrigued? Check out Melo’s Web site for a list of his upcoming presentations.

You see? All this amazing talent is exactly why they still call Spain “La Madre Patria.” Enjoy this playlist !Y Ole!

Intel Superstars Winners Announced!

The Top 5 OurStage artists in the Latin, singer-songwriter and urban genres, who entered their original songs in the Intel “Superstars”Competition via Intel’s Facebook page, are now the lucky recipients of an awesome prize package courtesy of Intel and Cakewalk. Each package includes a personal computer with Intel® Core™ Processor Technology and Cakewalk music software! The Top 20 artists in each of the Intel “Superstars” Competition Channels have automatically made it to the Intel “Superstars” National Finals Competition to compete for $10,000 cash, to be awarded in January 2011 by a panel of music industry experts.

Remember to Judge in the Intel “Superstars” National Finals Competition and help the best artist rise to the top and take home the grand prize!

Congratulations to these Intel “Superstars” Competition Winners:

Singer-Songwriter Winners:
“Worth The Fight” by Marie Hines (Nashville, TN)
“Running Into Walls” by Lily Holbrook (San Francisco, CA)
“My Way Home” by Made To Break (Bothell, WA)
“Quicksand” by Anthony Rankin (Pittsburgh, PA)
“Gotta Get Away” by Seth Glier (Shelburne, MA)

Urban Winners:
“What’s On My Mind” by Kjae (Mentone, CA)
“I Need You” by Mac (Gods Gift) (Fresno, TX)
“Little Do They Know” by Arenbe (Houston, TX)
“Save The World” by Luci (Nashville, TN)
“Thomas Edison” by Bravo Young (Riverdale, GA)

Latin Winners:
“Cuando Mas Te Neccisito” by Luis Guillermo (Berwyn, IL)
“Sunshine In My Mind” by Laura Ault (Astoria, NY)
“Le Propuse” by Berto Lavos (Tampa, FL)
“Live It Up” by Luci, featuring Thrill Coleman (Nashville, TN)
“Elena” by Soulsa (New York, NY)

Check out the playlist below to listen to the winning songs from the Intel “Superstars” Latin, Urban and Singer-Songwriter Channels!

Springsteen Settles Up With The Past On “The Promise”

These days, the words “Bruce Springsteen” often seem like they denote a religion rather than a flesh-and-blood human being. The Jersey giant’s iconic stature has swelled to such an extent over the last three decades that it’s difficult to imagine a time when Springsteen was just a rough-and-tumble rocker still cementing his legend, and not yet a monolithic figure for whom no surname is necessary. But The Promise permits a peek back into the mid ‘70s—a time before many of today’s Springsteen fans were even born—providing a portrait of a very different Bruce.

Even after the 1975 masterpiece Born To Run put the scruffy king of undershirt rock’s name on the world’s lips, it was still too early to be assured of Springsteen’s staying power.  He was at a crucial point in his career, where he could either pick up the artistic gauntlet laid down by the aforementioned album or let the brass ring slip through his fingers, and just as he was getting ready to grapple with that, fate threw a monkey wrench in the works. Differences between Springsteen and his manager, Mike Appel, resulted a long, painful legal battle that prohibited Bruce from making an album until it was resolved. During that long winter of the soul, the songwriter amassed dozens and dozens of powerful songs, fueled by his frustration. When the smoke cleared and the time finally came to record Darkness On The Edge of Town, Springsteen had enough material for six or seven albums, and a lot of great tracks inevitably got left behind. That’s where The Promise comes in.

Courtesy of Shorefire Photo Credit: Frank Stefanko

Thirty-plus years after the fact, The Promise goes spelunking in the Springsteen archives on a rescue mission to recover the best of the lost tracks from the Darkness sessions. It exists in two versions—a two-disc collection of the twenty-two recovered tunes, and deluxe edition that also includes a remastered Darkness and three DVDs, containing two live shows of Darkness material along with a Promise documentary film. Listening to The Promise is like getting a glimpse into an alternate universe where the Springsteen legend developed differently. For one thing, we hear The Boss’s own hard-charging versions of songs he ended up giving to other artists. What would have happened if Patti Smith, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, and The Pointer Sisters were denied career-making tunes like “Because The Night,” “Talk To Me” and “Fire,” respectively? Then there are songs that did make the Darkness cut, presented in earlier versions, like “Candy’s Boy” (which became “Candy’s Room” with a radically different arrangement) and “Racing In The Street,” offering hints at the nature of Bruce’s editing process.

Of course, the meat of The Promise is the bounty of compositions that were left behind. From the romantic reverie of the Brill Building pop-tinged “The Little Things (My Baby Does)” and the measured, mid-tempo melancholy of the bittersweet “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)” to the very Darkness-sounding anthem of alienation “Outside Looking In” and the smoky, wee-hours urban romanticism of “City Of Night,” this collection delivers consistently, cut for cut. So, would Springsteen’s star have ascended even faster if these songs were released in ’76 or ’77? Would they have somehow taken his career down a different path? Would Patti Smith and The Pointer Sisters, denied of their biggest hits, be working hotel lounges today? The Promise can’t answer any of these questions, but it presents some tantalizing possibilities.

  1. Racing In the Street (’78)
  2. Gotta Get That Feeling
  3. Outside Lookin In
  4. Someday (We’ll Be Together)
  5. One Way Street
  6. Because The Night
  7. Wrong Side of the Street
  8. The Brokenhearted
  9. Rendezvous
  10. Candy’s Boy
  11. Save My Love
  12. Ain’t Good Enough for You
  13. Fire
  14. Spanish Eyes
  15. It’s a Shame

By Jim Allen

Jim Allen has contributed to a wide range of print and online outlets including, MOJO, Village Voice, Uncut,, iTunes, All Music Guide,, The Advocate, Prefix, Blurt and many more.

Q&A With fun.

When indie rock band The Format announced their hiatus in early 2008, thousands of fans were devastated by the news. Luckily for them, frontman Nate Ruess had a new project up his sleeve. Teaming up with members of Anthallo and Steel Train, Ruess hit the studio a few months later to record the first fun. record, Aim and Ignite. In anticipation of the record release, the band hit the road, opening for pop rock powerhouses Jack’s Mannequin and Paramore.

The eclectic and whimsical Aim and Ignite received fantastic reviews across the board and left fans in eager anticipation of what’s next to come. As the band rounds out a few UK dates with Paramore and 2010′s hottest new rapper, B.o.B., we caught up with Nate to find out more about the story behind fun., touring and plans for a new release.

OS: You’re well known as the former lead vocalist and lyricist of The Format. For those who haven’t heard fun.’s music yet, how does it differ from The Format’s?

NR: Just different songwriters. Different approaches to writing songs. Different songs. Different band. Same vocals.

OS: Rounding out the fun.’s lineup are Jack Antonoff of Steel Train and Andrew Dost, formerly of Anthallo. How did the three of you come to collaborate on this project?

NR: It’s something we all had talked about in the past. And the time window opened up when The Format broke up. So we flew to Jersey and got to work.

OS: Your debut album Aim and Ignite is very eclectic, at times sounding like indie pop and other times sounding like a Broadway musical. Which artists were the biggest influences on that record?

NR: The Xanadu soundtrack. Really that was all we collectively listened to at the time. Otherwise, we all bring different influences to each song. I like how unique that is.

OS: Your song “Walking the Dog” was used in an ad for What was it like to see your music in a national television commercial?

NR: I didn’t see it for a long time and then one day I was walking through the airport and saw it. I wanted to grab some random person, shake them, and say, “Hear that? That’s me. So stop judging how I look.”

OS: You’ve toured multiple times with Paramore and Jack’s Mannequin. What do you enjoy most about touring with those bands?

NR: The music, the members, their crew and their fans. All great things.

OS: Speaking of Paramore, you’ve embarked on three straight months of touring, including some dates in the UK playing stadium shows with them and B.o.B. How did you prepare for those dates?

NR: I built a mock stadium in my bathroom and I just practice my arena moves.

OS: You were recently signed to Fueled By Ramen. Why did you decide to choose to sign with them and how has it changed things for fun.?

NR: The ink is still really fresh. So nothing has changed yet. Hope it eventually does though. We went with them because we’ve known them for a long time and thought they could supply us a nice balance of artistic creativity and sheer power.

OS: What can fun.’s fans expect in terms of a new record? Any release plans for 2011?

NR: Working on it now. Plan on really digging deep into the new songs once we get home from tour. Not sure what it’s going to be stylistically. I do know these are my favorite lyrics I’ve written so far. Hopefully it will be out summer 2011.

Don’t miss out on the fun! Check out the band on tour this fall with Steel Train and The Postelles:

11/18 – Newcastle, UK @ Metro Radio Arena with Paramore & B.o.B.

11/19 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Evening News Arena with Paramore & B.o.B.

11/20 – Aberdeen, SCT @ AECC Arena with Paramore & B.o.B.

11/27 – New York, NY @Webster Hall with Steel Train and The Postelles

11/29 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa with Steel Train and The Postelles

11/30 – Toronto, ON @The Mod Club Theatre with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/2 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/3 – Boston, MA @ Royale Night Club with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/4 – Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/5 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/7 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/8 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/9 – Orlando, FL @ The Social with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/11 – Atlanta, GA @ The Loft with Steel Train and The Postelles

12/13 – Ashland, KY @ Paramount Arts Center with Steel Train and The Postelles

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: The Lives of Famous Men

Their name is The Lives of Famous Men, and if their career thus far is any indication, they will probably know exactly what those lives are like.

Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, this five-piece eventually moved to New York City, where they now claim residency at Arlene’s Grocery and at Philadelphia’s North Star Bar.

Vocalist Daniel Hall has a soothing yet expressive tone, channeling a mix between Head Automatica‘s Daryl Palumbo and The Spill Canvas‘ Nick Thomas. The group behind Hall writes with a strong indie pop sensibility (similar to Steel Train and The Format) as showcased on their latest record, Marigold Maxixe. The record is an evolution from the group’s past material, which was more upbeat and jazzy, but shows that the group is both maturing and unafraid to experiment with new sounds.

Like Meg & Dia, the group opted for a more toned-down approach for their new release, which features airy guitars, steady drum beats, vocal harmonies and charming acoustic guitars. Charging electric guitars have been traded in for bells and tambourines, but the change is both refreshing and well-executed.

After performing at SXSW, Warped Tour, MTVU’s Campus Invasion and on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Lives of Famous Men are more than ready to take on the indie scene. Produced by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, The Pixies), Marigold Maxixe is now available for streaming and download on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Click here to check out The Lives of Famous Men’s performance on Jimmy Kimmel and hear some of their older material in the player below!

Hip Hop Habit: LogicaL

Hip Hop HabitEgo tripping, chest thumping, talking shit—whatever you want to call it—is accepted by mass audiences if it falls under two criteria: truth and balance. No one can dog an artist for trumpeting his abilities if what he speaks is undeniably the truth—as has somewhat surprisingly been the case with Kanye West—especially if there is some secondary content in said artist’s catalog to counterweight what would otherwise be an obnoxious collection of material. This week’s featured HHH artist LogicaL knows both requirements very, very well.

Without Me” delves into the confidence realm with LogicaL begging the question “how could you call it music without me in the equation?” Though that statement may be just a bit outlandish, he has every right to champion his own art. Musically, this excellently-produced track carries the form of a well thought out pop song, from a catchy vocal sample  in the intro to its parallel synthesized sitar-y riff when the verse drops. The track even has a pre-chorus to prepare listeners for what comes next. With his momentum flying, LogicaL admits to loving the chase “I don’t like the ground/ that’s what I’m always in the air for” and confirms his philosophy as being “not all about the flash, but all about the lyrics/ and everybody knows the difference when they hear it.” Ain’t that the truth.

LogicaL Hip Hop HabitDifferent Breed” featuring DayKeeper is where the balance comes in. Immediately recalling Lupe Fiasco’s track “Baba Says Cool For Thought” featuring Lesha Jaco, this piece opens with DayKeeper’s tense spoken word over gentle piano growing in intensity until LogicaL’s verse breaks over a pattern of crunchy snare hits. From here on out the therapeutic beat flows easy, supporting the two emcees’ refreshing message about not buying into the negative practices of settling for less or halting effort too early, illustrated in lines like “Good intentions die hard/ that’s why I always do more than just try hard” and “never settle under par.”

Those two tracks represent the two poles of LogicaL’s stylistic spectrum, but a third approach finds common ground (and also proves the emcee can sing).  Check out “Can’t Let Go.” On LogicaL’s profile if the previously mentioned tracks don’t do it for you. With so many styles, only time will tell which one will emerge ahead of the others and be known as LogicaL’s sound.  Let us know which is your favorite in the comments below!

Metal Monday: Songs for a Cold Winter

The temperatures in many areas of the United States  have been in free fall since Halloween, and that really only means one thing: winter is just around the corner. So, bust out your scarves and mittens, it’s only going to get colder. There are lots of activities that people like to do in the winter to stay cozy. For example, curling up with a good book by the fire or sipping some hot chocolate under some blankets on the couch while watching a movie. Sometimes, though, you just need to get your blood pumping to get warm, so here are six winter-themed songs that are sure to fire you up:

  1. Dead Winter Inside by The Neologist
  2. Premonitions of Winter by Apathy
  3. Icewind Blast by Icewind Blast
  4. Ablaze All Shrines by December’s Cold Winter
  5. Cold Rapture by Fell On Black Days
  6. Frozen by Black Chapel


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