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Needle in the Haystack: Hannah Miller

This week’s Needle in the Haystack winner writes music that begs to be licensed. It’s easy to hear the emotion behind each song and this clearly speaks to both the general listeners and music licensors. Hannah Miller joined OurStage in 2008 and has been tearing up the OurStage charts ever since. Miller has four independent releases under her belt, the last of which was  produced by Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks. She quietly seeks inspiration for her music from her husband, her dogs and the interesting people she meets on a day-to-day basis. In addition to being asked to open for Land Pigg, Patrick Davis, Katie Herzig and Langhorne Slim, Miller was a finalist in the International Song Writing Competition thanks to her track “The City and Salt.” Her song “Keep it Simple” was featured on NBC’s hit show, Mercy. Naturally, it’s an honor to have her as this week’s Needle in the Haystack winner.

We have plenty more  Hannah Miller in store for you as the week goes on. For now, take a listen to her free download “Way About Ya” below.  

Walking the Line

Alanna Clarke

Years ago, you knew a band was the shit if they played The Peach Pit on 90210. Younger generations had The O.C. as their musical zeitgeist. And the new guys now have the Canadian teen drama Degrassi to tell them who to pay attention to. Alanna Clarke may not have made an appearance on the show herself, but her song “Fine Line” did, and it’s an effective ambassador for the 18-year-old singer. The tremendous pop hook of the chorus alone is enough to send the nearest teenage girl flying to her computer to start downloading. (OK, maybe a 30-something one, too). Clarke’s voice is a gemalternating between lilting and feathery coos and full-throated warbles. “Bedroom Window” is a supple pop number, where strings and pining sighs in the background infuse the tune with adolescent restlessness. “Can’t Turn Around” is just as pretty, but with a darker, bluesy bent, thanks to a low cello moan and some emotive strings. To her credit, Clarke’s able to indulge some of the sugar addiction of her age group, but proves she’s also capable of sophisticated songcraft that’s palatable for geezers like us.

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.


Scene & Heard: Memphis, TN

When you think blues, you think of a couple places. We’ve already been through Chicago, so the other obvious choice for blues music is Memphis. Sure, Nashville seems to garner most of the state’s music coverage with its strong grasp on the singers and songwriters of country music. But, heading across the state to Memphis offers you a whole new flavor of southern rock, country and blues.

Proclaiming itself the “Home of the Blues,” we recommend you start your Memphis visit on Beale St. This famous strip is home to some of the best venues and clubs that Memphis has to offer. You’ll find everything from the famous Hard Rock Café to B. B. King’s Blues Club to Alfred’s. The sound of “Memphis Blues” slowly became a staple of the street  in the early 1900s with artists like Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie and B. B. King. himself. In his earlier years of performance, B. B. King was even dubbed the “Beale Street Blues Boy.”

For a more standard “rock club lineup,” we’ll head over to the Hi Tone Café. Here, you’ll find acts like New Found Glory, Wavves and The Tallest Man On Earth. You’ll also find OurStage folk/country/blues act Star & Micey. These guys serve up a helping of true southern folk/pop with strong blues/soul influence. The band’s music is everything you might hope for in a current indie act coming out of Memphis. Check out their performance on a Memphis trolley bus, supporting the communal qualities and southern hospitality inherent in the city’s music.

“It affects us daily. We are always meeting someone new who, whether they mean to or not, humbles us,” commented guitarist/vocalist Joshua Cosby when asked about the music scene in Memphis. “[It] reminds you that you’re on the right or wrong path.” After watching that video, it’s clear that the southern blues/traditional country feel of Star & Micey fits perfectly with these sorts of interactions.
When we asked Cosby for some advice for acts that would like to play in Memphis, he said, “Play only if you enjoy it first, because the people here (and everywhere) respond to that more than anything. Those are the kind of fans you want to meet.” He also recommended that a visitor go to the Buccaneer Lounge on Monroe Ave. He even specified an artist who does enjoy playing for himself: Dave Cousar who plays at the Buccaneer.
Star & Micey’s southern-influenced, soul-driven acoustic songs hit home in a big way. They perform throughout Tennessee quite regularly and currently have a very extensive upcoming tour schedule. Be sure to check out their OurStage profile in order to keep an eye on where you can see them next. Who knows, you might find yourself on a trolley in Memphis next to Joshua Cosby and the rest of the guys.

Q&A With Bruno Mars

He’s the man providing the bright, soulful hooks of two of this summer’s catchiest songs, Travie McCoy‘s “Billionaire” and B.O.B’s “Nothin’ On You.” Bruno Mars may be 2010′s greatest overnight success story, but he actually got his big break behind the scenes as one of the songwriters behind 2009′s smash “Right Round” by Flo Rida and Ke$ha.

Bruno released his full-length album Doo-Wops and Hooligans this week, and he’s also the musical guest on Saturday Night Live tonight at 11:30 PM EST on NBC! In a few days, he will be performing live on some of Maroon 5 and OneRepublic‘s west coast tour dates this month, followed by some European dates with Travie and some US headlining dates in November. OurStage caught up with Bruno to talk about life leading up to international fame, his new record and his live shows.

OS: Most people know you best from your guest appearances on B.O.B’s “Nothin’ On You” and Travie’s “Billionaire.” They were both huge hits, but they’re very different, musically. Is your new album mostly one style or does it span a few different genres?

BM: No, it spans a few different genres! [laughs] I just write whatever I feel. One day, I felt like writing a love song, and I came up with “Nothin’ On You”… and the other day, it was a reggae song. Not too much thought behind it, I just want to like it, you know, as I’m recording it.

OS: In addition to being a vocalist, you’re also 1/3 of a songwriting team called The Smeezingtons. Following the success of “Billionaire” and Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” do you have plans to continue writing for other artists as well?

BM: Yeah, we’re actually really excited…we had a couple songs that came out. We did a song for Mike Posner, which is “Bom Chicka Wow Wow,” it’s a fun song. But we’re really excited  about the song we wrote with Cee-Lo. “Fuck You,” it’s called.

OS: Yeah, Cee-Lo’s great…he was on your EP.

BM: That’s right, that’s how we got introduced and we ended up working with him again and we came up with that little jam.

OS: So, you grew up in a family full of musicians. How did seeing your family members perform influence your own live show?

BM: A lot of different things. My father was a great drummer and I wanted to learn how to play the drums. My uncle was an incredible guitar player, he made me want to play guitar. He was a great singer, he made me want to sing. I just came from a live performance…that’s more of my background. I’ve been doing that longer than I’ve been songwriting and producing…that’s kind of my comfort zone. I’m a lot more comfortable being on stage than doing interviews [laughs].

OS: You play guitar, piano, drums…do you play all these different instruments during your live show or just stick with one?

BM: Yeah, well…we’re gonna really fine tune our show. If it makes sense, you know…I’m not trying to go up there and look like a “boy wonder.” If it makes sense for me to play drums in said song or piano in said song, we’ll do it…but I don’t want to do it just to self-indulge.

OS: So you’re going to be on tour with Maroon 5 and One Republic, playing at some huge, sold-out venues. Besides the size of the shows themselves, how will this tour be different for you?

BM: It will be different for me because I’ve never done anything like it! [laughs] I’ve done a couple of stadiums with B.O.B…just two, actually…but I finally get to do my own thing, with a band. And I’m in great company. It’s exciting.

OS: So you’re going to be playing all solo material? Will you be adding anything else to your set?

BM: We’ll see…that’s the thing, every time we go on stage, I’m always throwing new things out to keep everyone excited and keep everyone on their toes, so it’s never the same show.

OS: That’s awesome.

BM: But yet, it’s always amazing! [laughs]

OS: Of course! Now, you write music of all different styles, as we talked about before… so you must have a wide range of musical taste. Which three albums would you highly recommend to your fans?

BM: Wow, good question! Off the top of my head, I would say: get Michael Jackson’s Bad album. I’d say get [Prince's] Purple Rain…and I’d say get Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.

OS: Very nice choices. Have those influenced your writing this time around for Doo-Wops and Hooligans?

BM: Yeah, actually, they have.

OS: You’ve said that your EP was titled It’s Better If You Don’t Understand because you feel that people are constantly trying to fit you into one category. What would you like new fans to know about your music and you as a musician?

BM: I just want them to know how passionate I am about it and I’m really doing it because I believe in these songs…that’s the goal, is to focus on the song and to think about the live show. So when you hear these songs, it’s like…we’re trying to make a movie. We want people to just get involved with this movie and want to come and see the movie.

OS: So before we wrap things up, I wanted to say, “Congratulations”… your song “Just The Way You Are” is Number 5 on iTunes today!

BM: Yeah, I’m just trying to beat that damn Katy Perry! [laughs] That’s another thing that’s just incredible…the people that are in front of me are like, Eminem and Katy Perry…

OS: That must be insane, to see your name on there with those names…

BM: Right, right. But…I’m happy!

Check out Bruno Mars on tour this fall:
10/14 - Save Mart Center, Fresno, CA
10/15 - Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA
10/16 - Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA
11/16 – Slim’s, San Francisco, CA
11/20-  Martini Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ
11/23 – The Loft, Dallas, TX
11/24 – Warehouse Live, Houston, TX
11/26 – Pops, Sauget, IL
11/27  - Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL
11/28 – Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH
11/30 – Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

New Music Biz 101: Music Reviews

The easiest way to convert someone to become a fan of your music is by receiving a third party recommendation. Just think about how you discover new music? An awesome album review, or a friend’s endorsement of a song typically results in you taking a listen, right? There are ways to make these third party recommendations happen more often so lets take a look at a few of them.

Pay-Per-Review – There are programs that exist out there that allow you to send in your music (with a fat check) and get a professionally written review of an your album. Billboard Discovery is a prime  example. Here is a list of pros and cons for this type of service:


  • Association with a big brand in music
  • A professionally written review by a respected industry writer
  • An unbiased opinion of your music (in theory)
  • Additional content for your EPK or one sheet


  • Reviews like this cost almost 400 dollars!
  • Is it really unbiased? Some of the reviews we’ve read seemed a bit fluffy.
  • Will a review that is paid for be respected?

The Fan Re-Direct – There is a quick an easy way to get your fans more involved. It’s important to harness them at the proper time and engage them in an appropriate fashion. One example is when someone emails you or messages you via social media telling you how much they love your album. A great way to respond is by thanking them and asking them to post their comment as a review on Amazon, iTunes or wherever applicable. Now here are the pros and cons:


  • Over time, this will result in a large number of reviews of your album
  • Improve the conversion process of future sales
  • Makes your fans feel like they’re apart of something


  • May be difficult to encourage your fans to take the time to actually write the reviews
  • Some fans may feel as though you’re asking a lot of them.

These are just a few strategies to increasing the third party recommendations of your music! Let us know if you have other strategies that have worked for you!

Needle in the Haystack Follow Up: Mitten

Wow, time sure flies by when you’re having fun! We’ve enjoyed a great week of promotion with our Needle in the Haystack winners Mitten. These talented young artists offered a free track on Monday, interviewed with MTV on Tuesday and took part in a Tweet & A session on Wednesday. Now it’s time to wrap things up with yesterday’s fun phoner.  Take a listen and let us know what you think!
Stay tuned next week for more talent to come.

Punk On The Rocks: On The Run

If you’re in the mood for some alt-rock/pop-punk that packs a punch, look no further that East Freedom, PA’s On The Run. On The Run has shared the stage with the likes of Bayside, The Ataris, This Providence, JT Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights, Mark Rose of Spitalfield and Pittsburgh heroes Punchline. Steve Soboslai of Punchline even recorded the band’s 2008 debut EP Keep Me Here.

On The Run

The band’s sound is versatile, ranging from the pure pop-punk sound of “Examine This” to the modern rock build of “Keep Me Here.” In April of this year, the band released the three- song Don’t Flatter Yourself single. This newer material sees them keeping the catchy hooks but exploring a more theatrical rock sound, like Panic At The Disco or Coheed and Cambria. Their growing fanbase seems to dig the new sound as well. On The Run were voted the one of the winners of the Vans Warped Tour Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands this year and performed on the Ernie Ball stage at this year’s Pittsburgh Warped Tour stop. It seems like On The Run will be up and running for a long time to come.

Check out “Lessons Learned” from On The Run’s Don’t Flatter Yourself single in the playlist below! Dig their sound? Catch On The Run live October 9th at Punk’n Fest in Mount Joy, PA.


The results are in and the band Hotspur has come out on top as the grand prize winner of the NMS “Artist on the Verge” competition on OurStage. The focus of the competition was to expose aspiring artists to top media, tech and music industry executives and give them a jump start to their careers. Hotspur was one of three finalists who made it to the New Music Seminar in New York to showcase their talents in front of some of the music industry’s top brass. The seminar was attended by major players from companies such as MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, Tommy Boy Records and, of course, OurStage.

Hotspur at NMS

Bands were stopping by our NMS booth all day to show their love and we even had to call in the reinforcements for more swag to give away!  We were there later that night when all three bands performed live in a showcase at Santo’s Party House. After hearing great performances from each of the finalists, the folks from NMS named Hotspur winners of the competition. The band will receive a grand prize package worth more than $50,000! Contents of the package include a Gibson SG Raw Power Guitar, a custom-designed website, a music business toolbox, and much more!

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ke$ha, Ciara, Jewel, Jake Shears and more tell bullied kids, “It Gets Better”

This week, several artists took to their webcams to record heartfelt messages for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project—aimed at bringing hope to bullied gay and lesbian teenagers. Ke$ha, Ciara, Jason Derülo, AJ McLean, Joel Madden and Jake Shears are just a few of the musicians who’ve posted their own messages. You can check them out here.

Hollerado go 8-bit for “Americanarama” video

Watch your back, OK Go. Canadian rockers Hollerado have come out with their own ambitious video choreography, and it’s pretty bitchin’. Watch them create a larger-than-life 8-bit video game with a big box, some placards and a couple well-timed sound effects.

The Bad

Weezer offered $10 million to break up

How mean-spirited and pointless can people get? Head over to and see firsthand. That’s where Weezer-hater James Burns established his fundraising campaign to come up with $10 million to offer to the band in exchange for them hanging up their guitars for good. Beard writes:

Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he’s changed, and that their new album is the best thing that he’s done since “Pinkerton,” and what happens? Another pile of crap like “Beverly Hills” or “I’m Your Daddy.” This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to stop now.

Tired of Weezer, too? Throw some virtual money over to Beard. He’s already got nearly $300! Who’s your daddy now, Cuomo?

Saudi Arabia Photoshops Mariah Carey

What to do when you’re an ultra conservative country promoting a concert for a scantily clad pop singer? You Photoshop the poster, duh. In this case, Saudi Arabia officials covered Mariah Carey’s whorish shoulders with extra cat. Problem solved.

The Ugly

Lil’ Wayne gets solitary confinement

Lil wayne

Most inmates get solitary confinement when they try to shank somebody. Lil’ Wayne got his for having headphones and an MP3 player charger. We’re no criminals, but seems like that would make a really ineffective shiv.



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