5 Questions: Brian Ball of Ernie Ball & The Warped Tour

Since 1995, the Warped Tour has showcased not only some of the biggest names in punk and rock, but they’ve also created a platform for up-and-coming artists to get exposed to larger audiences. In fact, many consider The Warped Tour to be the first festival to bring artists like Blink-182, New Found Glory, and Katy Perry into the national spotlight.

In keeping with that tradition, The Warped Tour and Ernie Ball are working with ReverbNation for the fifth year to present a battle of the bands-style competition in which unsigned, independent artists compete for a two-week tour spot on this year’s Warped Tour.

We spoke with Brian Ball (grandson of the legendary Ernie Ball and the company’s current President) about the current festival landscape and how bands can improve their chances of being selected for opportunities, among other topics. Check out some of the highlights below:

ReverbNation: The number of festivals in the US has grown exponentially in the past few years — how does The Warped Tour stay relevant in this new festival culture?

Brian Ball: Not only has Warped Tour remained relevant in continuously booking breaking bands, but they’ve also managed to keep the value incredibly high. It’s mind boggling to me how expensive some of the newer festivals can be. Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) has done an amazing job at maximizing value, and allowing festivalgoers to be able to buy merch, water, food, etc., without breaking the bank.

What are some of the things you look for when narrowing your selections? Is it purely based on the music, or do the artist’s photos, videos, and profile stats play into your decision?

Songwriting is almost everything to me — does the band have dynamics? Are they trying to create their own voice or just follow trends? Second to that is the band’s appeal in their regional/local market — do they promote their shows and engage with fans online? Are they treating their band as a career or more as a hobby?

What is one of the most common mistakes you see with up-and-coming artists these days?

A big mistake is putting promotion and social media presence before songwriting and musicianship. We’re in a time where instant forms of promotion and communication have never been better, but I think they can also hold bands back from what’s most important — their music.

Is there any aspect of an artist’s profile/submission that tends to catch your eye more than others?

The first thing I look for in a profile is if they have live videos in addition to songs. That’s one element that shows me the band treats their art more as a lifestyle than a hobby. It also gives us the ability to see how much modern recording equipment (Pro Tools, Auto-Tune, etc.) goes into making the band sound great.

After an artist has been booked for a show or festival slot, what is the responsibility as far as promotion is concerned? Have you seen certain tactics work better than others?

Drawing a good crowd at any show or festival can be tough, so it’s vital that they promote prior to the show online, and even offer promotions to those that come see the show. Some bands have chosen to give fans their two free passes and hold a contest prior to the show to help them promote. Also, the bands that do the best at The Warped Tour show early and come with signs and headphones offering attendees in line the chance to check their music out. That can easily turn the show into having 50-100 people in front of the stage, to having 200+.

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus on songwriting first, promotion second
  • Include live videos on your press kit at all times
  • Get creative with your show promotion with contests, giveaways, etc.
  • A festival spot isn’t just another show — promote yourself throughout the festival, not just during your set

Don’t miss your chance to play The Warped Tour 2015:

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Sam5 Questions: Brian Ball of Ernie Ball & The Warped Tour
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CONNECT Brings Synth-Pop Artists Coral Bones to Chicago and NYC

Our Artist Development incubator CONNECT has been working with some great Artists in the past few months, and so we asked them to start keeping us all up to date on their findings and goings-on. Here is the first dispatch from Curation Manager, Schuyler Rooth.

We’ve been following Coral Bones since ReverbNation’s curation team turned us onto them, and we’ve since fallen in love with the band’s compelling electro-pop music. When we established CONNECT, they were some of the first people we wanted to help. Luckily for us, Chris Bennion (above) and Landon Young of Coral Bones were stoked to meet up and work together from the outset.

Last week, the guys left their hometown of Provo, UT, to play a few shows, record some brand new material, and hang with the CONNECT team. After performing a great set at our showcase at South By Southwest in Austin, TX, a few weeks ago, the guys were ready for more stage time and strategizing.

Their first stop was Chicago, where they performed at the sold-out After Dark Party at the Art Institute of Chicago alongside fellow CONNECT Artists GlassLux. Then, the band headed to New York City where they met up with Simon Perry, a multi-platinum writer/producer and ReverbNation’s Chief Creative Officer. Simon and the guys headed to Engine Room Studios in downtown New York City to record vocals for the band’s new songs and do a bit of collaborative writing.

The rest of the week was a flurry of adventures in Manhattan and Brooklyn, most of which involved copious amounts of pizza. Chris and Landon topped off their trip by playing their favorite material upstairs at Pianos on the Lower East Side, where the eager Thursday night crowd lapped up their bouncy synths, swelling beats, and compelling lyrics.

We’re so glad to have Coral Bones joining us in CONNECT, which gave us the chance to set up their first shows in Austin, Chicago, and New York City. Be on the look out for their new EP later this year!

Check out the video for “Queensway” below:

 

Schuyler Rooth is the Curation Manager for CONNECT. She’s also a music journalist and curator living in Brooklyn, NY, who has been featured on numerous tastemaker blogs. Schuyler appreciates brave music, both new and old.

SchuylerCONNECT Brings Synth-Pop Artists Coral Bones to Chicago and NYC
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Making Waves with Pacific Records

When you imagine a group of record label executives, you probably wouldn’t expect them to spend as much time on a surfboard as they do in the boardroom.

But according to Pacific Records CEO and founder Brian Witkin (above left), the entire label’s brand is built around the laid-back, friendly vibes that surround the San Diego surfing community. And because Pacific Records is not genre-specific, the label defines itself by its lifestyle, which has guided their development and search for new talent, allowing them to grow their label in an organic and authentic fashion. 

SamMaking Waves with Pacific Records
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Simon Perry Promoted to Chief Creative Officer, Head of A&R at ReverbNation

(NEW YORK, NY) ReverbNation Founder and CEO, Michael Doernberg, today announced that Simon Perry has been promoted to the position of Chief Creative Officer, Head of A&R at ReverbNation. He was previously Senior Vice President of Creative, Head of A&R, joining the company is 2013.

In his new role, Mr. Perry will continue to lead the company’s impressive artist curation and development initiatives which bring substantive opportunities to promising ReverbNation artists to help them become successful. In addition to leading ReverbNation’s team of curation experts in major markets across the country, Mr. Perry also spearheads outreach to the larger music industry, including records labels, music publishers, concert promoters and the film and television communities. He also oversees ReverbNation’s CONNECT program, an artist incubator that will launch later on this year.

SamSimon Perry Promoted to Chief Creative Officer, Head of A&R at ReverbNation
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ReverbNation, SESAC Announce Strategic Relationship to Nurture Emerging Artists

(DURHAM, NASHVILLE) ReverbNation, the company that has helped millions of emerging Artists advance their careers, and SESAC, the industry’s most progressive performing rights organization, announced a strategic relationship that provides a path for ReverbNation Artists to become part of the SESAC community. SESAC will initially be included as part of the CONNECT program, an Artist development incubator that will launch later this year. The program develops promising artists identified through ReverbNation’s curation-at-scale capability.

SamReverbNation, SESAC Announce Strategic Relationship to Nurture Emerging Artists
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SXSBest — Gathering the Top #AustinSnapshots from South by Southwest

Did you miss South By Southwest in Austin last week? Or were you lucky enough to join thousands of other audiophiles and experience the annual festival and conference? Either way, we’ve got you covered.

Before SXSW began, we asked dozens of great ReverbNation Artists to help us document their time in Austin using #AustinSnapshot on Instagram and Twitter. You can see the whole #AustinSnapshot collage here, but we’ve also picked out some of our favorite shots that showcase everything from Texas BBQ to Game of Thrones pedicabs to all the great shows that happened during the week.

SamSXSBest — Gathering the Top #AustinSnapshots from South by Southwest
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Simon Perry Discusses Music & Artist Discovery

We sat down with Simon Perry — hit producer/writer, ReverbNation’s Chief Creative Officer, Head of A&R, and lifelong music fan — to hear how his music roots spread to embrace technology and point to a new music future.

Q. You’ve been working behind the scenes with ReverbNation for a few years now, but your recent efforts are paying off in a pretty public way. Before we talk more about that, tell us a little about your background.

A. I started out as an Artist in the UK, where I’m from. I got signed, but I didn’t become famous (insert self-deprecating British smile and shrug here), so I gave up my dream and went to law school. Then I went straight back to music, but this time I was writing and producing for other Artists. I was lucky enough to have a lot of success, but eventually I realized that I wanted to develop my own acts instead of writing for other people.

I co-founded a company called Archangel Media, and that’s what I was doing when I first heard about ReverbNation and met Mike (Doernberg, ReverbNation CEO and co-founder).

ShellySimon Perry Discusses Music & Artist Discovery
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Announcing the #LoveandHeartbreak Video Contest Winners

In celebration of Valentine’s Day (and all things romantic), ReverbNation launched our inaugural video mission, #LoveandHeartbreak. We knew how much time and talent our Artists put into their music, so we also wanted to give them an opportunity to showcase their video skills — we were not disappointed.

Out of hundreds of submissions surrounding the eternal themes of love and heartbreak, we’re proud to announce the winners of this unique contest:

First Place: Alina Celeste, “Love is”

SamAnnouncing the #LoveandHeartbreak Video Contest Winners
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