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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.


Rising Outlaw Randy Houser Lets It All Hang Out On “They Call Me Cadillac”

Sometimes it pays to be an outlaw, especially if you’ve got the gutsy, greasy sound and tough, terse songcraft to back up the bad-ass image. On his second album, They Call Me Cadillac, Randy Houser shows he’s bona fide and then some.  By the time the smoke clears and the dust settles, the world at large might finally give the up-and-coming country star his proper due as the Willie Nelson to cohort Jamey Johnson’s Waylon Jennings. Lately, you can’t look anywhere, from CMT to The New York Times, without seeing Jamey Johnson’s hirsute mug, but Houser’s been his partner in crime for a long while. The pair came up together, playing sets full of George Jones and Johnny Paycheck tunes in rowdy bars before breaking through as songwriters—they co-penned Trace Adkins’ monster 2005 hit “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”—and moving on to solo success.

Houser managed a Top 10 country single of his own straight of the gate with the raw, rockin’ “Boots On,” from his ’08 debut album, Anything Goes. But even though he was already showing off the kind of maverick, roughneck spirit that makes sane men climb on top of raging bulls and marry beauty-contest winners without signing a pre-nup, Houser hadn’t quite  reached his full potential yet.

There are no half-measures on Houser’s latest outing—They Call Me Cadillac. It marks his first recording for fellow country rebel Toby Keith’s label Show Dog, which was created expressly to give someone like Houser the opportunity to be his own butt-kicking self without holding anything back. “It’s the first time that I’ve had the most creative control to make the record I want to make,” Houser confesses. You can hear the rush of artistic freedom fueling his no-frills mix of outlaw country edge and classic honky-tonk heart throughout the album.

Houser tasted success from the fruits of his latest labors before Cadillac was even released when the redneck-pride Southern rock stomp “Whistlin’ Dixie” hit the country Top 40 back in February—the record’s first sneak-peek single. Now that the real, raw, uncensored Houser sound has been fully unleashed on the public, the burly, bearded man from Mississippi has been popping up on TV shows from Good Morning America to Jimmy Kimmel Live. Houser looks at his latest effort as “a more traditional country album…something that country folk like my friends and family in Lake, Mississippi—and lots of other places across the country—can relate to.”

He’ll be bringing his outlaw-as-he-wants-to-be sound all across the nation on tour with Gary Allan through late November. As his country-rocking Cadillac makes its way from state to state, he’ll be on a one-man mission to let fans from San Bernadino to Staten Island connect with their own inner rabble-rouser. Don’t be surprised if a pattern of barroom bust-ups happens to develop this fall along a route that seems oddly identical to Houser’s tour itinerary.


10/2 – Farmville, VA, Lankford Mall

10/7 – Toledo, OH, Huntington Center

10/8 – Erie, PA, Tullio Arena

10/9 – Detroit, MI, The Fillmore

10/17 – West Des Moines, IA, Val Air Ballroom

10/21 – Corpus Christi, TX, Concrete Street Amphitheatre

10/23 – Dallas, TX, Center

10/24 – Houston, TX, Sam Houston Raceway

10/26 – Laurel, MS, South Mississippi Fair

10/28 – Lincoln, NE, Pershing Center

10/29 – Popular Bluff, MO, Black River Coliseum

11/13 Bloomington, IN, Bluebird Nightclub

11/14 – Lake Elsinore, CA, Wagon Wheel Festival

11/18 – Atlanta, GA, Fox Theater

11/19 – Charlotte, NC, The Fillmore

11/20 – Myrtle Beach, House Of Blues

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.

Soul Searching: Djru da 7th Prez

When searching for soul, we stumbled across a super talented musician who goes by the name of Djru da 7th Prez. Djru puts a unique twist on his music, presenting the listeners with something catchy yet original to latch onto. He uses interesting rhythms and a distinct style of delivery to express his well thought out words. From first listen, it’s clear that hot riffs and tight harmonies are this guy’s thing.

In addition to musical skills, Djru is a talented actor. As many of the best musicians do, Djru relies on his acting skills to bring his overall musical performances to the next level, which only serves to further engage his audience. This rising star was not only a contestant on American Idol, but has preceded performances by Cupid, Mary J. Blige, Musiq Soulchild, Lil Wayne and many fantastic local acts.

“Djru’s music is a complete turnaround from the sex, lies and explicit video footage” that’s found in a lot of R&B music. He focuses on the idea that music transcends all people, and after listening to his music, you tend to believe him.

Take a quick listen to the tracks below and let us know what you think of da 7th Prez!

Tune Up: Alternative Picks

If you play guitar (or know a friend who does), you’re familiar with the age-old question, “Does anyone have a pick”? Undoubtedly, someone always has one in their wallet or pocket. As such, this tiny piece of plastic has become the standard sound of a guitar. I’d like to spend this week, though, giving you some alternatives to this somewhat “overused” sound. There are a bunch of different types of implements that are designed specifically to make a guitar sound that aren’t a standard pick.


The E-Bow, short for “Electronic Bow” ( refers to  resemblance to a bowed orchestral string) has become one of the most intriguing guitar-related devices to me. This small plastic gadget runs on batteries and generates an electro-magnetic filed in front of it. Therefore, when placed in the vicinity of a metal guitar string, the string is set into motion. The result is a very unusual sound, not often heard on an electric guitar. Twisting and shaking the device near the strings alters the electro-magnetic field, which creates some very interesting harmonic overtones, and sonic “warbles”. You can also alter volume based on the distance to the strings (allowing fade ins and outs with more intuitive control). If you can ever get your hands on one of these to try out (at a music store or a friend’s house), I recommend spending some time with it. You’ll probably want one when you’re done.


From the first time I saw a picture of this pick in a magazine, I was curious. I’ll put a picture here, but for all intents and purposes, this is the guitar pick equivalent to brushes for a drum set. What really seals the deal is this product’s versatility. You can hold the pick like a standard guitar pick, so you don’t need to get used to a new feel. However, when you strum like you’re used to strumming, it will sound much like you would expect a pick made of metal wires to sound. You get a very chorusing, echoing sound. The sound has a faint resemblance to a 12-string guitar even if the guitar itself isn’t one.

Beyond this, you can drag the pick across the strings, strum from different angles, and even isolation some of the wires to create a very thin sound. It was a fun pick to play around with. I recorded a session with it once and have since used many of the takes, not only for musical purposes but also for isolated, artistic sound effects. It’s affordable and versatile. What more can you ask for?

Felt Picks

There are some guitar picks made of odd materials and some finger picks that I’ve found useful for isolated techniques. First, on my list is a metal pick. While I don’t use standard metal picks that often, I’ve used metal thumb picks for gritty, claw-hammer applications quite frequently. I get a really full, thick sound and even get some inherent scraping. These are great for steel resonator guitars. Another pick I’d like to recommend is a felt pick. While they don’t last very long, these thick, soft picks are really mellow-sounding, as expected. I’ve gotten great results for acoustic ballads and nylon string guitars. Again, keep in mind that you’ll need to get at least a few of these as they do break and wear much earlier than standard plastic picks.

In the end, your pick of choice (whether it’s your fingers or an object) is entirely contingent upon the application. I do recommend having an arsenal of picks. Keep an eye out for sales at your local music store. I once got about 30 picks (finger, felt and standard) all for a dollar. As I’ve said before, it’s best to be prepared. You don’t want to be at a show or in the studio and be held up because you don’t have right pick.

Behind the Mic: Don’t Ditch Your Website

In a world where bands are constantly spending hours updating their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace pages, it may seem like having an official Web site is a thing of the past. In fact, a large percentage of bands these days have their site re-direct to their MySpace.  While this will save you a bit of time and maintenance effort, having an official Web site can actually be better in the long run.

Though technologically hip, Facebook and Twitter are both extremely limited in terms of what bands can do with them. Facebook’s Pages for bands are uniform and do not allow for HTML customization. While this is good news for people sick of MySpace crashing their browser, music is not the focus here. Most bands’ Facebook pages have a separate tab for music, or they have a small music section on the bottom right corner of the page (of course, those with more web experience can make a flashy Facebook page for their band).

Eminem's website is simple, straight-forward and eye-catching.

Twitter is good for up-to-the-minute brief updates (140 characters at a time), posting links to other sites and speaking directly to fans, but you really can’t do much in terms of posting content.

And then there’s MySpace, which many consider to already be “dead.” Though the fans have certainly abandoned MySpace communication, it is still the go-to, one-stop-shop for promoters, booking agents and talent scouts. The problem with MySpace occurs when bands decide to fill their pages with videos, graphics, ads and banners that can make the entire viewing process slow and unenjoyable.

With an official Web site, the power is in your hands. With completely customizable HTML, you have total control over the branding and design of the site. You also have control over how long the site exists. Think about it: If you’re only on Twitter and Facebook and these sites shut down someday, your band will have zero web presence! Your Web site will also be an official place for fans to go to get all the information and content they need, from live videos to song lyrics to blog posts and chat forums.

OurStage artist Danielle Barbe's website, created on BandZoogle

From an internet marketing standpoint, it only makes sense to own, as fans may assume you have the page and try to go there. You will also be the first result in search engines, instead of another band or a completely unrelated company.

Now, for those of you who think you’re not web-savvy enough to create a Web site from scratch, there are other options. One is using, which is basically a platform that helps you create the Web site. BandZoogle will help you create and customize pages, and all you’ll need to do is fill in the blanks.

You can have fun with your Web site by using it as a blog, a fan community page and a news site. Just make sure that it’s clean, easy to navigate and updated consistently!

Where the Wild Things Are

Buckeye Knoll

Leaving civilization behind and heading into the wild to get back to a simpler way of life can lead to one of several outcomes: You eat some sort of poisonous plant by accident and it’s game over, or you return to society an enlightened version of your former self. Buckeye Knoll is the happy outcome of songwriter Doug Streblow’s wilderness sabbatical. Taking a backpack, notebook and guitar into the California woods, Streblow emerged months later with songs that would seed his new project. There’s no doubt that Streblow is a pop-punk kid at heart. His strident, earnest vocals have emo written all over them. But for Buckeye Knoll, Streblow’s pop instinct is tempered with an appealing folksiness. “I Roll” has the singer trading verses with singer Emily Moldy, a harmonic call and response that gives way to a crashing chorus. If you’re looking for more evidence of Streblow’s pop pedigree, see “The Melody Scene,” a driving melee of grungy, chugging guitars, thrashing drums and the singer’s sinewy vocals tethering it all together. The woods can make you wiser, but they can also make you more feral. We’re digging the combination.

Day 2: Future of Music Coalition’s Policy Summit 2010

The second day of The Future of Music Coalition’s Policy Summit covered a ton of topics for musicians and music entrepreneurs alike. On paper, some of the sessions may have seemed unrelated, but it was great to see how it all wove together by the end.

Rocco Landesman, the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and a powerhouse Broadway producer—who pleased many in the art world when he took on the new role—gave a terrific keynote speech about the value of arts in both the cultural and economic communities.

Landesman’s talk was followed by a closer look at the spread of broadband to rural communities, housing for artists and opportunities for musicians to perform overseas as part of cultural programs organized by the US Department of State. The session featured presentations from Jonathan Adelstein (Administrator, Rural Utility Service, US Department of Agriculture), Maura Pally (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Professional and Cultural Exchanges, US Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs) and Ron Sims (Deputy Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and a subsequent conversation with attendees at the summit. The session helped explain why the current administration’s support of broadband expansion into rural areas matters to musicians (more online reach, more potential fans), cultural exchange programs (reaching new audiences while traveling the world and representing the US as peaceful musical representatives) and affordable housing (recognizing that not all musicians or artists can afford fair market prices—even if neighborhoods often like to tout their artistic population). The session helped connect the dots about why we, as citizens, need to be support public servants and representatives who understand the value of the arts in our greater culture. Subsequent conversation featured some fascinating stories (that would make any musician jealous) from Amy Blackman, the manager of Ozomatli, about the joys and challenges of their trips overseas to Asia and Africa.

The FMC is all about creating a “middle class of musicians” that is more sustainable. In continuing the thread of “musicians running themselves as a small business,” sessions covered subjects like managing and understanding all the data available now for anyone who has a web site or manages their presence on third party sites. This particular panel included Danah Boyd, the Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research; Eric Garland, Founder/CEO at BigChampagne Media Measurement (a new media and data measurement site) and musicians Erin McKeown and Tim Quirk.

In “Who’s Your Ticket Master Now? The Magical Mashup Between Live Music and Social Networks,” attendees learned how quickly Ticket Master—and its service fees—is being out-maneuvered by web ticket start-ups like Ticketweb, Ticketfly and There was also talk of an interesting idea from Australia called Posse, where musicians and venues can utilize fans to help sell tickets and receive a commission. The session included Ian Hogarth, co-founder and CEO of Songkick, a free service where you can track bands who are coming to your town. One of the most interesting comments came from Donna Westmoreland, the COO of Washington, DC’s 9:30 club about how many of their concerts are selling out simply by being announced to their email subscribers, reducing their need for additional advertising or marketing.

The latter part of the day included two interviews and conversations. First was Kara Swisher of All Things Digital speaking with Tim Westergren, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of  Pandora about his company’s strategy and where people will likely be using the service in the near future—from desktops to laptops, iPhones and Android, to iPad and tablets to cars and seemingly everywhere in between. Westergren laid out the company’s plans more as an advertiser-funded model than any other source, and acknowledged that the platform’s success.  According to a third-party study, the site simply helps sell more recorded music—43% of users bought more music after they used Pandora while only 1% bought less music, which is a great stat for those who assume online music is cannibalizing other music revenue sources.

The second conversation was a great reality check amid all of this digital change. Greg Kot, music critic at The Chicago Tribune and co-host of Sound Opinions interviewed T. Bone Burnett, the musician, composer and producer who has worked with Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Sam Phillips, John Mellencamp and many more. Burnett, as a consummate audio producer, is weary about how online delivery of music has greatly degraded the quality and experience of the music we consume and provided a great reminder that the most important thing in being a musician is to make great music‚ to aim there first and let the marketing be secondary as you make great art. You can read more about the interview from Kot’s page in The Chicago Tribune.

Learn more about the Future of Music Coalition’s 2010 Policy Summit speakers. Find more links and follow us live at The Future of Music Coalition’s Summit 2010. Search the hashtag #fmc10 to read up on this and more.


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