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Behind The Mic: Setting Up Your Webstore

Perhaps the biggest source of income for independent artists these days is merchandise. Bands keep all of the money from the merch they sell at shows in order to finance future recording projects, touring costs, practice space rent and more. If you’re not on tour or playing shows, however, you can still make money off your merch.

Setting up a web store for your band will allow your fans to buy items online. With sites like Big Cartel, CafePress and Merch Lackey, starting and managing a web store has become incredibly painless.

happygolovely's BigCartel store

As seen in the photo to the right, OurStage artists happygolovely have a store on Big Cartel.  In the store, they sell tickets to upcoming shows, T-shirts, CDs, stickers, posters and even a “Date with the Banana Man.” The options for items to sell are virtually endless, so get creative with your merch and make sure to have photos for everything you’re going to sell.

Now, let’s walk through the steps of setting up a Big Cartel store. There are three different memberships you can select from: Gold, Platinum and Diamond. Gold accounts are free and allow bands to have one custom page, offering 5 products and access to basic statistics and customization. The Platinum accounts cost just $10 a month and offer the ability to sell 25 products, have 3 custom pages, more access to sales stats and full customization. Finally, the Diamond accounts allow sales of 100 products, 10 custom pages, even more stats and full customization for $20 a month. Best of all, you can upgrade, downgrade or cancel an account at any time and Big Cartel doesn’t charge any fees for listings or transactions.

happygolovely's shirts look awesome in their webstore!

The store is organized by a side bar that divides items by “Categories,” “Newest Products” and “Top Selling.” As with most shopping Web sites, customers can add items to their virtual shopping cart and then select “Checkout” when they are ready to pay.

Payments for items on Big Cartel are completed through PayPal, so make sure you set up an account there. Your fans, however, do not need to have accounts in order to purchase items. They can pay for items using a regular credit or debit card, or PayPal if they so desire.

As far as shipping goes, you can choose to offer free shipping on all items, or you can charge specific shipping rates based on location. You can also choose to use your default PayPal shipping settings.

Of course, nobody will know your store exists unless you promote it! Be sure to have links to your store on all of your Web sites, and offer fans special discounts from time to time to bring more traffic to your store. You’ll be making bank in no time.

Apocalyptic Rock

The Lo and Beholds

Originality is a hard thing to come by, and even harder to sustain. Whether you’re M.I.A. or Tom Waits, eventually someone’s gonna plunder your goods. So, Charlotte, North Carolina band, The Lo and Beholds, better watch their backs. The five-piece band obviously has a lot of influences; their accomplishment lies in the fact that they’ve melted them down into an unidentifiable mash. Singer Jason Rudisill sounds like Ozzy Osbourne in one moment, Isaac Brock the next. The band’s idiosyncratic songcraft is an alloy of math rock, metal and indie. “Mouths to Feed” requires several listens until you can start to get a handle on what’s happeningit’s a sinister, slouching rocker where high and low register guitars rut and drums skitter behind arcane, almost Biblical imagery. At first it’s all mute dread and foreboding, but then the music swerves into a Zeppelin-esque romp with handclaps and tambourines—like a gospel revival on the verge of Armageddon. Less ambitious, but infinitely more moving, “Sleep Tight, Satellite” strips the layers and polyrhythms away to just a voice and a guitar. In his frayed voice, Rudisill sings, “I will lie between the patterns in the night / And guard the corner of the sky where you sleep tight / My satellite.” It’s just a wisp of a song clocking in at 2:47, but in it lies irrefutable evidence of the band’s artistry. Behold.

GuacaMusic: Cucu Diamantes

There are diamonds and then there are diamantes!

I am not talking about jewelry, but rather about singer-songwriter CuCu Diamantes, a true Cuban gem with a voice as stunning as a precious stone and an attitude that conquers it all.

If you are into gorgeous voices, you will immediately fall in love with CuCu Diamantes. Her interesting cultural heritage (she has Spanish, African, Chinese and French backgrounds), eclectic personality and invigorating songs make her a true diva in the world of Latin music.

After eight years of being the lead vocalist of the Latin-fusion band Yerba Buena, which she founded with producer and guitarist Andrés Levin, CuCu released her first solo album CuCuLand in March of 2009. She obtained rave revues from this debut, and a much deserved nomination for the Latin Grammys.

At her relatively short career, CuCu is already an internationally recognized persona. As part of Yerba Buena, she performed with Ray Charles, Juanes and Celia Cruz. In advance of the debut of CuCuLand, she collaborated with various artists such as Fatboy Slim, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Orishas, Beto Cuevas and others on original recordings.

We can’t think of any reasons NOT to play CuCu’s songs on OurStage and enjoy a few minutes of marvelous, inspiring music. We really can’t decide which of her songs we like the best. “Más Fuerte is sexy, passionate and a bit gloomy, while “Alguien is catchy and incredibly adventurous. “Guajira is one of the songs she performed with the band Yerba Buena.

Cucu’s OurStage profile describes her music as “an intoxicating mix of NYC downtown funk and old school Cuban glamour.” We think her music is about much more than that. Enjoy this playlist and see for yourself why CuCu is a true diamante.


Judge In The SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS Competition And Win Big!

Judging for the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” Regional Competition came to a close in September. As the National Finals Competition continues throughout October, and 500 artists from across the country compete for a chance to open for the Goo Goo Dolls, it’s time to award last month’s judges for their hard work. Ten best predictors, one from each of the regional channels, are walking away with $50 in SUBWAY® gift cards and a bunch of OurStage swag. Congratulations everyone, enjoy the free stuff! Judging for the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” National Finals Competition continues throughout the month of October and this time, the stakes are even higher. One lucky best predictor winner will score a meet and greet session with the guys in the Goo Goo Dolls as well as tickets to see the band perform live. Continue to judge now, help the best artists make it to the top and you could be on your way to meet the Goo Goo Dolls. For official competition rules and information, head to the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” National Finals Competition page here. Check out the list below to see the fan winners from September.

Best Predictor Winners

Region 1: Nicholas Conforti

Region 2: Aaron Forsyth

Region 3: Nathan Jacobs

Region 4: Tyler Clarensau

Region 5: Stephanie Eason

Region 6: Jon McNeill

Region 7: Adrina Thorpe

Region 8: Claire Westbrook

Region 9: Christopher Anderson

Region 10: Michael Thomas

Shock, Awe, And Spin In ck one shock And Rolling Stone’s “DJ Shock Mix Competition”

Ready to count yourself part of the in-crowd? Calvin Klein has just launched their brand new “ck one shock” fragrance and is on the lookout for the nations hottest DJ. Here’s the deal: If you spin electro, funk, house or indie styles, then enter the ck one shock And Rolling Stone’s “DJ Shock Mix Competition” on OurStage by November 11th.

You could win an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to man the turntables at an exclusive nightclub gig. You’ll be chauffeured to the venue in your very own luxury limo—camera’s rolling to document the entire experience. Live the lifestyle like the celebrity you were destined to be— enter now.


Music As Marketing: Dialing Up Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”

Q: If a Tweet falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

A: Who cares.

Why debate philosophical malarkey while Justin Bieber is out there hogging 3% of our Twitter servers, and Lady Gaga gets to be the belle of the MTV ball by wearing a meat dress?

The point is, marketing methods that were formerly described as DIY (social media, shock frocks) are being deployed by artists who don’t need to focus on frugality, and that makes the playing field that much more crowded for unsigned acts. What’s an indie band to do to get attention on a budget? Kick out the jams.

Songify covering 'Double Rainbow'

The latest marketing trend is… music. Yes, the actual music. Bands seem to be crafting and curating songs for maximum rock ‘n’ roll attention. That could mean anything from writing novelty lyrics (meme mentions, news-du-jour references, sentimental stalker ditties) to strategically chosen cover songs. One blog suggests doing away with a song’s bridge to get more chorus-verse-chorus pop power. Tribute songs about the “Double Rainbow” dude are charting on iTunes, we swear. Apparently, there’s a little “Weird” Al Yankovich in most every burgeoning beat group.

“Now, all to often, I’ll see an artist puttering around in something like Twitter, diligently tweeting into a fan-less void,” lamented Mike, author of a recent post at the blog GarageSpin. “Making a splash in the music industry requires a lot of hype, and a lot of artistry. Hype drives awareness. Great music creates fans.”

The indie rock/jazz duo Pomplamoose has built buzz by putting its unique musical stamp on covers of pop staples. Multi-instrumentalists Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn are not known for playing live, but Pomplamoose has garnered a huge fanbase on their YouTube channel, about 3.8 million as of October 2010.

Pomplamoose from 'Telephone' video

Join 5.3 million others and check out Pomplamoose’s cover of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” on YouTube . The band’s take on the Michael Jackson classic “Beat It” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” are also crowd pleasers.

“Cover songs are popular for a reason — familiarity attracts fans of the original work, and can breed new fans,” says Mike at the blog Garagespin.  “If you can produce a creative spin or meme from an existing popular concept or creative work, you may attract attention and fans.”  Perhaps this explains burgeoning indie rockers, The Beatles‘ rush to cover Gaga’s “Telephone” as well.

Whether you’re Joan Jett, Run DMC, Franz Ferdinand, Johnny Cash or a member of Glee’s New Directions, it helps to know the basic decision chart you will need to plot out to master the perfect cover song. There are no right or wrong answers, of course. Do you choose a crowd pleaser or an under-appreciated gem that your group can own? Pick a song you truly love or one that you loathe for fun? Perform it by-the-numbers or give it a full makeover? Another option to consider: whether the song’s lyrics, artist or any other element have special relevance now or to some event in the near future.

Up and coming Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott) have gotten a bit of attention for their moody and thoughtful cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” OK, so they also perform in dorky NASCAR-style jumpsuits plastered with the logos of Cheerios, Lysol, Hamburger Helper and other brand “sponsors,” but sometimes a band likes to make an ironic lowbrow fashion statement to contrast with its arty intellectual music.

Take that, Gaga!

[Editor's Note: Check out these great covers by OurStage artists! ]

By Becky Ebenkamp

Becky Ebenkamp is a pop cultural anthropologist and former West Coast Bureau Chief for Adweek Media. Becky has a radio show called “Bubblegum & Other Delights” that airs 7 to 9 PM PST every other Tuesday on

Q&A With The Goo Goo Dolls

Last month, OurStage teamed up with the Goo Goo Dolls and Clear Channel to offer upcoming artists a chance to open for the band on a future tour date. Artists across the US entered their music into 10 regional “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” Competition Channels for their chance at making it into the Finals. The Top 50 artists from each of the regional channels are now competing in the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” National Finals Competition Channel.

The 1990s saw many bands come and go, but the Goo Goo Dolls have proven that they are here to stay. With their new record, Something For the Rest of Us, the Dolls are back on tour and ready to take the world by stormagain. We got a chance to chat with bassist Robby Takac about the new album, the tour and what it’s like to spend 25 years in one of the most recognized bands in the world.

OS: The new album, Something For The Rest of Us, was written to be a voice for the average person dealing with difficult times. What inspired that concept?

RT: Difficult times, I think! I think when you try to put a record together that talks about what happened for the last few years since you’ve done that last, you take a look at the stuff around you and if you’re doing something that’s relatively honest to what’s going on at the moment…I think you can’t help but to feel what some other folks are feeling right now. I think if you look at the news, or if you read the newspaper at all, and you see the things that are going on out there…obviously the general sentiment within the country right now is that things are a bit tougher than they have been in years prior. I think that concept itself is something that is pretty universal at the moment, aside from that top 1% that keeps making more and more money. And I think if you take a look at that entire scenario that I just mentioned, there’s a huge problem there. I’ve been asked, “What does ‘the rest of us’ mean?” and I think it’s pretty much everybody at this point. I think all the major decisions that are being made at this point are made to benefit that top 1% and that’s a very scary thing, because there’s not a huge remedy or any outcome other than this getting worse if we don’t change that idea. So, I think we really just took a look at what was going on around us and did our best to represent that.

OS: Instead of working with one engineer and one producer for the whole album, the band opted to work with numerous people. Why was that decision made?

RT: That wasn’t really a conscious choice. We made the record with Tim Palmer…we went and started it on our own and then we brought Tim on after a few months of work. We worked with Tim at our studio in Buffalo and then we went back out to L.A. and finished the record with him there. He moved to Austin and we had some time between when we finished the record and when we were going to put it out, so that gave us some time to listen to it and start to think to ourselves, there’s some things that we would probably would have done differently. So we ended up spending some time working on some stuff on our own with some of the guys in our touring band and a couple of opportunities opened up…we always wanted to work with Butch Vig, he’s been a friend of ours for a long time and we never really had the opportunity. He’s a staff guy over at Warner Brothers now, so we were able to work with him and do a song with him…and a friend of ours, John Fields, who we were always interested in working with…we were able to go in and record a song with him. That’s really the only song that we recorded from scratch; “Home” is that song. We went in and actually recorded that song when the record was done, we recorded one extra and it turned out to be that one. I think it ended up being the single because it was just the freshest in our mind, the most current-sounding. So that’s what we ended up leading with.

OS: What were some of the second-round changes made before the release?

RT: Korel Tunador, our touring singer and keyboard player, came in and played an awful lot of stuff. We went back in and re-sang some background vocals and just kind of tightened stuff up a little bit more. I think we just felt like the record could have been a little bit more focused than it was, and so we spent the time going through all the tracks and finding the things that worked and fixing the things that didn’t….we put real strings on stuff, too. Originally, we had sampled strings on some of the songs, so we went in and recorded some real strings, as well. Most of the changes were fairly minor, but I think when you put them all together, it was a pretty large amount of changes, although they’re barely discernible, probably, to most people.

OS: The Goo Goo Dolls have been a touring band for 24 years. When going out in support of a new project, how does the band balance out promoting the release while also honoring the older material?

RT: I think we know the songs that have made their way into normal life for folks through the radio, or walking through the supermarket, or whatever it might be. I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on what those songs are, so we try our best to get those thirteen, fourteen songs in that we’re pretty sure that someone has come there to hear and might be disappointed if they don’t. We do our best to work in about half of the new record, about six songs, and then throw in a couple that we think are gonna be big numbers in the show that aren’t necessarily the most popular on a mainstream level. Those moments that we think are representative of what we can do that are a little bit outside of what people know of us.

OS: How have Goo Goo Dolls fans changed over the years?

RT: Some of them got older, many of them have had children and they’ve been bringing them to the shows, which is one of the more interesting things that we’ve seen over the years. There are some kids that come to see us play, they’re fifteen, sixteen-years-old and they don’t know the world without this band. I mean, not that they focus on it all day and night, but we just always have been. If their parents were fans, our records have been around their house. If their parents were fans in college, then they’re maybe a little bit more knowledgable about what we did…but at the least, they’ve heard “Iris” somewhere, so they have some sort of connection to what we do, be it good or bad. I think having those concepts gone on within what we do, the crowds have gotten pretty varied. There are kids, there are older people there…we don’t draw 4,000 goth kids, we don’t draw 4,000 housewives, we don’t draw 4,000 accountants or 4,000 hipster kids…it’s like we draw 1,000 of each of those to the show. And I think that’s what makes our crowd pretty interesting.

OS: Many OurStage artists have named Goo Goo Dolls as a big influence in their careers. What advice would you offer to them?

RT: Make sure you like what you’re doing, because you might be doing it 25 years later. Be as honest as you can…at some point, you might get called on it. And aside from that, remember that success—monetary success or commercial success—is a by-product of doing something well. The success is not the product, and I think that’s what you need to keep in your mind. Just because you’re doing something and you are not making great financial strides, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And I think that that, to me, is the most important thing you can keep in your mind. It’s your craft, it’s your art, it’s your ideas and if those are good ideas, not whether anyone else likes them—that’s a whole ‘nother issue. But I think you’ve got to hold that stuff close to your heart and know for yourself that you’re doing the right thing.

Continue to judge in the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” National Finals Competition and you could win big, too. The fan who earns the best predictor score in the channel will win two tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls perform live along with a meet and greet with the band!

Check out this video of “Broadway” from the Clear Channel Radio performance we attended in NYC! Also, make sure you check the tour dates below the video to see the Goo Goo Dolls on tour this fall.

10/6 Stranahan Theater -Toledo, OH
10/7 Indianapolis, IN  - Murat Theatre
10/10 Green Bay, WI  - Weidner Center
10/ 11 Sioux Falls, SD - Augustana College
10/ 15 Myrtle Beach, SC  - House of Blues
10/ 16 Chattanooga, TN  - Tivoli Theatre
10/ 18 Montclair, NJ  - The Wellmont Theatre
10/ 19 University Park, PA - Eisenhower Hall
10/ 20 Kingston, NY  - Ulster PAC
10/ 23 Latrobe, PA - St Vincent College
10/ 24 Mansfield, PA - Decker Gymnasium
10/ 26 Portland, ME  - State Theatre
10/ 28 Fairfield, CT  - Pitt Center
10/ 30 Salamanca, NY - Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel
11/ 07 Glasgow, UK  - Academy Glasgow
11/ 08 Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK – Academy Newcastle
11/ 09 Leeds, UK – Academy Leeds
11/ 11 Birmingham, UK – Academy Birmingham
11/ 12 Manchester, UK – Manchester Academy
11/ 13 London, UK – Academy Brixton
11/ 15 Norwich, UK – Norwich UEA
11/ 16 Bristol, UK – Academy Bristol
11/ 17 Leicester, UK – Academy Leicester
11/ 20 Liverpool, UK – Academy Liverpool
11/ 21 London, UK - HMV Forum
12/30 Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino
12/31  Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Colorfire

Combining the synth-laden beats of Owl City with the vocal stylings of MuteMath, Colorfire is poised to become one of the next great electronica acts.

The Nashville, Tennessee trio released both an EP and a full-length in less than a year. The self-titled full-length dropped back in March, showing that the band can be both laid-back and upbeat, soothing and energizing. Programmed drum beats and piano parts are woven tightly into every track, along with swirling, layered vocals that are refreshingly free of autotune. “One Way Love” is a standout track, with bright, spacey instrumentation backing vocalist Landon Austin’s breathy, “It’s such a beautiful sight when you keep me running/You let me look, but you’re just a one way love.

In addition to winning the coveted opening spot in our Shout it Out with HANSON Competition, Colorfire has also shared the stage with Rooney, The Undeserving and This Is the Good Fight. They were also selected by Coldplay for a feature on the band’s official Web site, where their video for “One Way Love” was displayed to thousands of fans.

Check out some tracks from the full-length album (now available on iTunes) below and pick up a free download of “By My Side” on Colorfire’s official Web site.

Hip Hop Habit: Lyriqs

Hip Hop HabitThis week’s edition of Hip Hop Habit attempts to learn more about the man behind the mask. With nothing more than a brief mention about his production work for other artists and a series of distancing profile pictures, all we are able to know for sure is that Lyriqs (aka Dwight Giles) is an artistic enigma—flawlessly blending the genres of spoken word, neo soul, and hip hop to create a whole new genre not yet tediously compartmentalized by the man.

All questions left unanswered in his profile are dramatically unveiled in “Me,” a 6-minute audible ablution about the life and times of Mr. Giles himself. From the get go, we learn why he isn’t forthcoming beforehand. On top of a skeletal beat furnished only with morose strings, frenetic percussion and an ironic applause sample, Lyriqs proceeds to spill his guts on what it was like growing up without a father figure, most obviously conveyed in lines like “Now this boy is a man/ just the way as mama planned/ daddy didn’t understand/ what it took to be a man” and “All I can do is think back and blame him/ vowed I never became him.” Yet out of the anger directed at what wasn’t grows an appreciation for what is, and soon enough Lyriqs is thanking his mom for her hard work in raising him and affirming himself as the “rock” he always knew he could be. When it’s all said and done, our protagonist emerges as a hero having successfully slain the troubling fodder of his past.

Baltimore Emcee LyriqsMaybe this is because it’s an unavoidable destination for the majority of Lyriqs’ targeted genres, but the same coffee house spoken word vibe present in “Me” bleeds into “Lyrical Lady,” a descriptively told artist-on-artist love (or is it merely admiration?) story that sees Lyriqs poetically lauding a fellow writer he first sees on the bus. Instead of the typical derogatory male-dominated courting that infests all genres of music, this piece sees both subjects trying to stealthily win the other’s approval, whether it be for musical purposes or other. Fun fact: The charming female voice in this piece is OurStage Artist Yung Miss!

Lyriqs music is absolutely refreshing and unique, but whether it will grow beyond the café is still debatable. There’s no question that his music is good, but it may just fit too well within its niche to break out. Thankfully, if there’s anyway for that to happen, it lays in the hands of Giles himself since he’s started his own record label and production company, Spoken Music Entertainment. Get lost in his mystery genre in the player below, and let us know how you would classify his sound in the comments!

Pop Goes Political

Following her record-breaking rack up of eight MTV VMA’s for her single “Bad Romance” and collaboration with Beyoncé on “Telephone,” Lady Gaga gave fans a taste of what’s to come when she belted out lyrics to her future single, “Born This Way” at the podium: “I’m beautiful in my way, because God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” The reigning Queen of Pop was escorted by three discharged US soldiers to her big night, a move made to raise awareness for the repeal of the controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy employed by the US armed forces. There’s no mistaking the pointed message of the song, but was it also a call to action to her fellow superstars?

The “It Gets Better” campaign, sponsored by the Trevor Project, has celebs rallying around the LGBT community, urging troubled teens to seek help and hope, not suicide.

Tyler Clementi

It comes at the heels of a national string of gay suicides, most recently Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student who leapt to his death after his roommate used a webcam to film him having homosexual sex. Clementi’s suicide was the fourth time in four weeks that gay youth suicide made headlines, prompting big reactions from some serious stars.

Ellen DeGeneres, Cyndi Lauper, Wendy Williams, Aubrey O’Day, Ke$ha, Ashley Tisdale, Leanne Rimes, Jason Derulo, Joe Jonas, Jewel and Eve are just a few of the stars who have lent their time and their stories in personal video messages directed at teens struggling with their sexuality and its harsh repercussions. Also reportedly in the works is a special episode of hit show, Glee that will broach the subject of bullying and tolerance.

Cyndi Lauper's personal message.

Rumors are swirling that Pink, this year’s recipient of the Ally For Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s 14th annual National Dinner in Washington, DC, will actually marry a gay couple in her next video, “Raise Your Glass.

With today being National Coming Out Day, it seems that finally, the art reflects the time and artists and fans are uniting to be heard.

By Cortney Wills

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.


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