Take a Walk in Samantha Stephens’ Boots – our Senior Country Curator Talks Country, Nashville, Edward Scissorhands & more

We’re finishing up our Meet The Curation Team series with Nashville-based singer, songwriter and national radio/TV personality — our Senior Country Curator Samantha Stephens. Samantha writes a daily column for CMT.com, hosts CMT’s Listen Up web series, and has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, TV, and film. In addition to the biggest stars in country, like Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert, she’s interviewed industry heavyweights like John Oates, Lisa Marie Presley, Vince Gill — even actor Kevin Bacon. She’s been profiled in Country Weekly magazine as one of country’s up-and-coming music industry professionals. Read on to find out what makes Samantha tick.

What about music struck your fancy in the first place?

Senior Country Curator Samantha Stephens

Senior Country Curator Samantha Stephens

It’s one of those things I can’t quite put my finger on…I’ve just always felt complete comfort, safety, and happiness when I’m around music.  When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Edward Scissorhands.  Growing up it remained a favorite, and my parents couldn’t figure out why I loved it so much.  It wasn’t the kooky characters or wild and colorful sets—it was the music. That gorgeous score from Danny Elfman just sucked me in.  It gave me chills even as a child.  I watched that movie a thousand times just to hear it over and over again, and to this day I cry when it plays.  That’s when I knew music was going to be the biggest thread in the tapestry of my life.

How old were you when you started playing music/singing?

I know it’s sounds cliché, but I really don’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing something or trying to sing something.  I loved singing in church, in the car, stores, parking lots—anywhere I could.  And I loved putting on shows in our living room using Daddy’s flashlight as a microphone.  Let me ask Mama…she says my first “official” performance was in 1989 (age 4) at a local pageant.  I performed Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nothings” complete with choreography…apparently there’s a video somewhere.

What’s your favorite part about living in Nashville?

You hear this all the time, but Nashville truly is a community.  The people you see on red carpets are the same folks you see out in your neighborhood coffee shop, happily living their everyday lives, jogging past you at the park, dropping their kids off at dance class.  It tickles the heck out of me that I can have an official “sit-down” interview with Keith Urban and then bump into him at the grocery store later on that same day.

You host CMT’s Listen Up series and you talk to lots of upcoming artists. How has it been working with CMT?

It’s absolutely amazing.  I’ve always been drawn to the new artists—their passion, their excitement, their willingness, that unrelenting drive—it’s never higher than when an artist is on the verge of that “big break.” Hosting Listen Up gave me the opportunity to witness and share those magical moments.

I will never forget when we featured Sam Hunt.  He was the most-buzzed about artist we’d had on the series since I’d joined, and I was already a huge fan.  He’s such a talented guy, and I just knew he was going to be a superstar.  Before the interview I jokingly said to him, “Well, my real question is how long are we gonna get to keep you?”  Meaning that the whole world—country fans and non-country listeners alike—would be falling in love with this guy once they heard this record.  We predicted that his music would transcend the boundaries of genre and it did.  He’s one of the biggest stars on the charts right now—one year out from his debut album and he’s already been nominated for a CMA, was just named one of our CMT Artists of the Year, and was the most-nominated country artist at this year’s American Music Awards.  And I felt like I got to watch it all happen, with a front row seat.  It’s a beautiful thing.  

How do you split your time between being a musician and being a TV personality, or do the two often overlap?

At first, I tried to keep the two completely separate.  But I’d been singing and playing much longer than I’d been in the Radio/TV world, so it was inevitable that one side would find out about the other!  When that day came, it just felt natural to own them both and let the two overlap only when it was appropriate.  CMT has been so supportive of my music.  Sometimes, if I’m hosting a writer’s round or a concert event for the network, they’ll say, “Hey, why don’t you just bring your guitar and play a few?”  And there are a few artists that know I play and they’ve all been incredibly encouraging.

At the end of the day, I think being a musician helps me be a better interviewer.  When I’m talking with an artist, I try to strip away the proverbial lights, glam, and celebrity and just make it a conversation about real life and music.  Because when you take all the fancy out of the equation, that’s all any of us in this business really are anyway:  regular folks with extraordinary jobs that just live for music.

Clockwise from Top Left: Madison Shae, Emily Earle, Erik Smallwood, Dustin Hensley

You’ve been sorting through Reverb’s database for over a year now! Who are some of your favorite artists that you’ve discovered, and why?

My little Madison Shea!  Oh, I just love her.  When she first came through curation, I thought, “Whoa, whoa, whoa…she’s HOW OLD?  And she’s writing these songs?”  There was a sophistication about her voice and her music that far exceeded her years.  I was blown away.  She’s a star.  Then there’s Erik Smallwood.  Emily Earle, Dustin Hensley, they’re wonderful… there are so many and I’m their biggest cheerleader.

If you could write a song with one of the artists you’ve discovered on ReverbNation, who would it be?

Madison sure could teach me a thing or two, and I’d happily take notes!

JordanTake a Walk in Samantha Stephens’ Boots – our Senior Country Curator Talks Country, Nashville, Edward Scissorhands & more
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What is The Watch List? — An In-Depth Look with Simon Perry and Matt DuFour

As we get ready to launch the second installment of The Watch List, we sat down with Simon Perry, our Chief Creative Officer and Head of A&R, and Matt DuFour, the Director of ReverbNation CONNECT to discuss this new series. Simon and Matt lead us through the thought processes behind ReverbNation CONNECT and The Watch List, and share the hopes they have for the artists we’ve been helping over the past year.

What is The Watch List?

SIMON: The Watch List is a monthly single series featuring some of the best artists in the ReverbNation CONNECT program.

What brought about the idea for The Watch List?

Simon Perry

ReverbNation Chief Creative Officer and Head of A&R, Simon Perry

SIMON: Honestly, it was driven by our wanting to share some of the great artists we’ve been working with since we launched ReverbNation CONNECT. It got to the point where we all felt we needed to get some of this music out into the world. We hope our passion for this music will be shared by everyone that hears it.

What is the main goal for The Watch List?

SIMON: To do just that. To showcase to fans and the Industry the incredible quality of the artists we’ve discovered through our Curation-at-scale capability. It’s a powerful way of exposing these bands to a wider audience. Of course, we also want to draw attention to what we’re doing, but we believe the best way of doing that is by sharing our passion for these artists, and the sheer brilliance of their music.

Why did you partner with The FADER for this singles series?

SIMON: The FADER has a longstanding reputation of discovering and amplifying some of the world’s most compelling artists.  We couldn’t imagine a better platform to give these Watch List artists the kind of industry and fan visibility that exposure in The FADER can provide.

(The Watch List’s first artist was Vienna, a singer-songwriter from Nashville, TN)

How did you go about picking the first batch of artists to include on The Watch List? What did you see in those artists that sets them apart?

SIMON: There are so many great artists in the ReverbNation CONNECT program. Ultimately, the decision of which to feature in The Watch List was more a function of which of those we thought would be a good fit for The FADER, and also, which were at the right moment in their journey to share new music.

We were also very keen to show the broad range of artists that ReverbNation has on its site. For that reason, the first few months of The Watch List will showcase artists from many places across a wide range of genres.

How did you find Sammy Brue?

SIMON: Sammy was initially identified through our Curation Process, where he was discovered by our then Senior Curator for Americana music, Emilee Warner.

Our Senior Curation team meets several times a year with the entire CONNECT team in NYC. At those meetings, we discuss which artists to prioritize for initiatives like The Watch List. Sammy was an immediate and firm favorite with everyone on the team. This was back in the summer of 2014.

Singer-Songwriter Sammy Brue

Singer-Songwriter Sammy Brue

Since the launch of the ReverbNation CONNECT program in 2015, we’ve been able to offer many artists an elevated level of career development. Sammy is an artist that’s really benefited from the industry introductions and practical assistance we’ve brought to his career.

This is exactly what the ReverbNation CONNECT program was launched to do, so personally, I’m particularly excited to see his progress.  

CONNECT has accomplished a lot this past year. What are you most proud of?

SIMON: It’s been an amazing first year for ReverbNation CONNECT. For me, what’s powerful is our ability to help so many artists, rather than the chosen few the traditional music industry blesses. It’s also been liberating to be able to take risks on truly extraordinary artists who may not be the immediately obvious commercial candidate. I firmly believe that’s the only way great artists can be developed.

Ultimately, I’m beyond proud to see the fruits of everyone’s labors, as artists begin to achieve meaningful career advancement. It’s a credit to Matt and the whole ReverbNation CONNECT team in the US and the UK that so many artists are now experiencing the additional benefits of this extension of ReverbNation’s core mission – that of putting our artists first, by offering them meaningful career opportunity that starts with our tools, and ends with their success.  


Director of ReverbNation CONNECT, Matt DuFour

MATT: Being a part of something like ReverbNation CONNECT is truly a dream for me, as I’ve had a real passion for finding, helping, and exposing great artists for the majority of my life. Playing a role in the execution of a program that’s making a real impact on the careers of promising artists is definitely something I am proud of. I think what I’m most proud of though is the team that Simon and I have brought together for CONNECT. Every single person on our team shares a common passion for developing the next generation of great artists and it’s an inspiring environment to be around on a daily basis.

What was your first impression of Sammy, and what made him an ideal candidate for The Watch List?

MATT: The Watch List is all about showcasing the amazing artists from ReverbNation CONNECT to a wider audience, and Sammy is exactly the type of artist this program was created for. I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone like Sammy. The way he sees the world, his creative drive, and his commitment to his craft are amazing things to witness. Even though he’s only 14 years old, I think most artists could learn a lot from the way Sammy approaches his career.

What has ReverbNation CONNECT done in the last few months with Sammy?

MATT: Over the past few months, we set up a showcase for Sammy at Hotel Cafe in LA, which really got the industry buzzing. We then helped Sammy build out his team with Peter Leak at Red Light Management and Jonathan Levine at Paradigm. We spent a day at Southern Ground Studio in Nashville recording “Once A Lover” for The Watch List and organized a couple of shows while he was there to showcase for a number of Nashville-based record labels. We also brought him to NYC for our CMJ showcase at Rockwood Music Hall, then sent him back to Nashville for a show to celebrate his release via The Watch List.

What do you see in Sammy’s future and how will you help him get there?

MATT: I think that Sammy will have a lifelong career in music. In the short term, Sammy will find a record label to call home. We are currently helping him navigate offers to help him find the right fit. In the long term, I truly think that the sky’s the limit for Sammy.

Tell us a little about what’s to come for The Watch List this coming year.

MATT: We have one more Watch List single to release in 2015, which will be a song from a sick Cleveland-based rock & roll band. In 2016, you can expect to continue to hear more amazing artists from various genres who are very worthy of your attention.  

Check out Sammy Brue in the playlist below, and stay tuned for more updates on The Watch List!

SamWhat is The Watch List? — An In-Depth Look with Simon Perry and Matt DuFour
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Lou Bega Cassettes, the 411 on London’s Music Scene & more with UK-based Senior Curator Adam Nealon

This week we’re talking to our UK-based Senior Curator Adam Nealon, who scouts Alternative music. Adam has helped the CONNECT team learn a lot about the anatomy of the music scenes in the UK and Europe. During our chat, we talked about London’s friendly music scene, the importance of perfecting one’s craft and about how formative music has been for Adam.

What was the first song/record you remember listening to?

I remember having “Mambo no. 5” by Lou Bega on a little cassette tape. I’m sure I was aware of other songs and nursery rhymes before that, but Mambo no. 5 is the first song that I remember absolutely rinsing on my little cassette player. 

Senior UK Curator Adam Nealon

Senior UK Curator Adam Nealon

What was it about music that intrigued you in the first place?

I guess how powerful it is as an art form. From such a young age music dictated so much of my outlook on the world. It sounds horrendously cheesy, but I don’t really find I can make sense of life without it.

You go to shows weekly to discover new talent. What elements make an artist’s live show strong?

It’s got to be believable. I find it really easy to see straight through some acts – it’s the ultimate flaw that turns me off when I see someone following a trend because they think that’s what an audience wants to see. Show the audience what you’re all about and be confident in that idea. Rehearse to the point where you feel like you’re going mad you know the set so well. The number of times I see something that just isn’t ready to for a live setting. There’s no rush, so make you sure you put in the hours to play well. It’s really quite simple, but there’s a ton of artists who just want be in the spotlight as quickly as possible, without depth and artistry.

What are your go-to publications/sites/blogs to visit when you’re looking for new music?

For a good overview of new music, sites/blogs such as The FADER, Hype Machine, Line of Best Fit, Hilly Dilly, and Noisey. Beyond that, there’s a million more niche ones I check out, but the ones I’ve mentioned are your bread and butter, if you like. I always start with those, but often go deeper into the blog world. It’s pretty never-ending to be honest.

How did you get involved with ReverbNation/CONNECT?

It came about through someone I was meeting in the UK putting me in touch with Joel, who’s one of our CONNECT managers. He and Simon were looking for someone who was London based and “on the scene”. I was doing a number of different bits and bobs at the time and thought the opportunity seemed really interesting.

Tell us about some of your favorite acts that you’ve found on ReverbNation.

An artist who I’ve been working with recently called Katie and I are really great. Max Jury is another amazing one. There’s loads of them! I also like Sample Answer, Jaye Bartell and a lovely guy who I hung with in New York during CMJ, Ben R. Mackie.

Clockwise from top left: Max Jury, Sample Answer, Ben R. Mackie, Katie and I, Jaye Bartell

What’s your favorite part about the music scene in London?

It’s really friendly. Everyone who works in music all know each other and help each other out. The unfriendly, overly competitive ones don’t tend to get very far because no one ends up wanting to work with them.

What was the most recent show you saw that really blew you away?

Father John Misty at Shepherds Bush Empire. He makes you realise that the alternative world of music doesn’t have to be taken so seriously. He’s a showman, a comedian and brilliant songwriter all in one.

What advice would you give to an artist who’s trying to stand out amongst the 4 million+ artists on ReverbNation’s platform, and stand out in the world of internet music in general?

There’s so much you can do now with the help of the internet, so be clever! Don’t give too much away at once. No one is going to listen to 10 rough demos and look through 25 press shots, so get one or two really special tracks and visually entice people with the imagery that complements the music. Less is more. If you’re truly talented, one or two track is all it can take to get noticed.

Check out Adam’s favorite ReverbNation playlists below!

SamLou Bega Cassettes, the 411 on London’s Music Scene & more with UK-based Senior Curator Adam Nealon
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From Vinyl & Pirate Radio to Streaming & Sampling: All Things Music with Althea Legaspi

Our Senior Curator Althea Legaspi has been very busy lately. The long-time music journalist/critic, radio correspondent and adjunct professor just returned from week-long stint at this year’s Iceland Airwaves Music festival. For the last few years, Althea has taken students she teaches at Columbia College in Chicago to the festival to cover music and produce a radio documentary that airs on WCRX-FM. Learn more about Althea in the Q&A below!

What got you into music in the first place? Who did you listen to growing up?

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 12.45.13 PM

Senior Urban Curator Althea Legaspi

I grew up in a music-loving household. There’s a cassette tape somewhere of my sister and I singing “Yellow Submarine” when we were really little. My parents loved The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Motown and they both are in a choir and love to dance. I play the piano and the flute, and dabble on acoustic guitar. As for my own personal tastes growing up, when I was in elementary school, it was a lot of pop and rock, plus classical from piano and ballet. I started collecting vinyl in 3rd grade. By junior high I was really into the underground music I discovered on pirate radio stations and at an indie record store in my hometown. The cool, bright-magenta-mohawked woman behind the counter would recommend imported (mostly UK) music and more often than not I’d buy it before even hearing it and loved it. I was obsessed with music magazines and read them voraciously.

One of my first big arena shows was Prince in elementary school, and I continued to go to concerts from indie bands to large arena shows several times a month, and have never stopped. I caught U2’s first U.S. tour, New Order, The Cure, The Go Go’s, INXS, Pixies, Nirvana, Salt-N-Pepa, Beastie Boys and lots more all in small venues when they were just starting out.

When did you get started working in the music industry?

After college, I worked at a club in Detroit called St. Andrew’s Hall. It’s where I saw a ton of shows growing up and I basically worked there because I wanted to be immersed in music and see shows for free. I started writing about music shortly thereafter. I’ve done on-camera interviews for Rollingstone.com; I was the Editor-In-Chief for regional music magazine Illinois Entertainer; I produced on-air artist interviews and music-related stories for NPR-affiliate WBEZ. My work regularly appears in Chicago Tribune, and I’ve contributed to a variety of publications, including USA Today, SPIN.com, MTV.com and many others.

You’ve covered so many different types of music in the past few years. Can you give us some highlights?

Since I’ve interviewed many artists from across genres, it’s tough to just name a few as highlights as they’ve all generally been engaging conversations. Most recently I’ve interviewed  Lil Durk, Courtney Barnett, CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry, and Lorde – all of whom were great. I’ve interviewed Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne multiple times, and he’s always interesting. I interviewed Yoko Ono while in Iceland, everything about that was amazing.

I’ve also covered a ton of festivals. Here in Chicago there’s Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, North Coast and Riot Fest, among others. I’ve also been covering Iceland Airwaves every year since 2007. I also created a course for Columbia College Chicago, where I take students to cover Airwaves each fall and we produce a radio documentary that airs on WCRX-FM; I teach radio and music journalism courses there. I’ve covered South By Southwest a dozen times, Finland’s FLOW Festival, the Juno Awards in Canada and Goiânia Noise Festival in Brazil as well.

How did you first get involved with ReverbNation/CONNECT?

I started in January 2014. A friend who used to work at a major label recommended me. I met Simon Perry several years prior when I interviewed one of the bands he worked with who is from Chicago for the NPR affiliate here and we have a lot of mutual friends in the industry. We immediately clicked and I knew I wanted to be involved as a Senior Curator to hear and discover burgeoning acts who have potential and new, good music.

When you’re reviewing music, what strengths do you listen for?

Obviously, at the very basic level, strong songwriting, lyrics, and vocals are paramount. But there are also the less tangible things, such as emotional connection, creativity and originality, which can often be the most important for me and those are less easy to define. I also consider cultural impact, does this artist contribute/have something important to say in a defining, cultural way?

Tell us a little bit about some of the artists you found for CONNECT. What struck you about these artists and made you think they would be interesting to work with?

Lorine Chia has a rich timbre that recalls the raspy beauty of vintage standards singers, but it’s also modern sounding in the context of her songs. She got under my skin on first listen in a good way. Ella Rogue‘s vibe on “Raise The Bar” shows potential and attitude in equal measure. Ogden Payne‘s laidback flow on “Back In The Day” was an early discovery and he was appealing right away, too.

AltheaArtists(Clockwise from top left: Ella Rogue, Lorine Chia, Ogden Payne)

Who are you listening to these days?

I just got back from Iceland Airwaves, so I’ve been immersed in artists who played there to prep to cover that fest. There were a lot of great Icelandic artists I’ve seen previously: Vök, Fufanu, Grísalappalísa and FURA were a few of the bands I’ve enjoyed watching grow over the last couple of years. Icelandic acts I hadn’t seen previously that were impressive this year are Reykjavíkurdaetur – they’re this amazing, 20-female-strong rap collective whose stance, choreography and explosive NASA set was great on opening night, and I caught Filipino-Icelandic rapper Cell7 as a fun festival closer. International artists I caught for the first time live that were also fest highlights included Japanese punk act Bo Ningen, who were mind-bogglingly ass-kicking as was Los Angeles by way of New Jersey’s Ho99o9‘s beer-soaked set. The OBGMs’ energy and enthusiasm won over industry hearts during their set, Chicago’s Meat Wave put on a fun show, too.

I’m gearing up to cover Grimes’ show in Chicago, so I’ve been listening to all her records and am about to dive into her new one, Art Angels.

What’s the best thing about the Chicago music scene?

There are a lot of great things about the music scene, from the talent to the venues to the people who make it tick. In the summer, there are scores of free outdoor shows. The city has strong musical roots from all genres, from blues to dance, punk to jazz, indie rock to alt country and all points between – some of the most influential artists hail from Chicago. Hip-hop has always been strong here, though it arguably hasn’t always gotten its due. Kanye West and Common are native sons, but they no longer live here; Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest I believe still call our city home, though the latter isn’t making music right now. In recent years, our hip-hop scene has been getting more deserved attention again with artists such as Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Chief Keef and Lil Durk making new waves.

Where do you think the music industry is headed? What’s exciting? What’s worrying?

Streaming is one of the biggest topics, and how it might shape the industry is still in contention. There’s also sampling and copyright/fair use law and what shape those will take legally going forward, both with online use and in songs, which should be interesting. It’s an exciting time for artists because the internet democratizes distribution and being heard in some ways, but at the same time it’s oversaturated and lends itself to a needle-in-a-haystack situation for discovery. I’d argue that because of this, music criticism is more crucial and valuable now than ever. The fact that anyone can put music up online also means that the traditional way of growing as an artist – i.e. developing as a songwriter, playing live, building rapport with and gaining an audience – can get lost by the wayside, and that probably doesn’t serve the artist well long term. The ability to deliver live and tour is more crucial now for those looking to make a career in the music realm because we all know record sales generally are not what they once were and connecting with an audience in the live setting leaves a lasting impression. Generally, the best artists make great records and are also riveting live, but not everyone can (or are talented enough to) accomplish that.

Check out some of Althea’s favorite ReverbNation picks below!

SamFrom Vinyl & Pirate Radio to Streaming & Sampling: All Things Music with Althea Legaspi
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Punk Bands and PBR Cans: A Conversation with Curation Team Member Paul Blest

As a journalist, Senior Punk & Metal Curator Paul Blest writes on a wide range of topics for VICE Noisey, VICE Politics, Impose Magazine, and Deadspin. Read on to hear Paul share some stories about the first band he started, how his childhood obsession with the soundtracks on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater videos games (seriously, they’re so solid) shaped his tastes, and what his thoughts are on the state of the Metal and Punk scenes today.

When did you first get into music? What got you excited about it?

Paul Blest

Paul Blest, Senior Curator, Metal & Punk

This is a super common thing among people my age that are into punk and metal: I first got really into music because of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game series. The soundtracks for those games were so good: it’s how I first heard Alkaline Trio, Nas, the Dead Kennedys, Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, AFI, KRS-One…the list goes on and on.

I started getting excited about music in high school when I started going to shows. I got super into pop punk, emo, and that weird kind of mid-2000s post hardcore that was huge around that time, and I just loved going to shows, whether it was all locals or a big package of touring bands. I’m from Delaware, so there wasn’t much else to do at the time, and something about it was really cool and formative for me.

What was the first CD/album you bought and why?

Smash Mouth’s Astro Lounge. “All Star” was the official song of the MLB All-Star Game when I was nine or ten-year-old and I loved baseball, so naturally I loved that song. The first real album I bought with my own money was probably The Young and The Restless by Good Charlotte. My taste in music used to be so, so good. (laughs)

What was the name of your first band, and what did it sound like?

My first band that actually did anything was called Caseracer. We were a punk band that wrote pop punk or hardcore songs depending on what we felt like that day. We were all super busy with college and other music, and we never intended to go anywhere with it, but we were all really good friends and we made time for it because it was an incredibly fun band to play in. We ended up touring for three weeks one year and we put out two records, and to date it’s the only real band I’ve ever been in. We played our last show a few months ago and I blew out my voice on the third song because I’m apparently an old man now.

Tell us about some of writing you’ve done for VICE.

VICE and my editors there have been incredibly generous in teaching me how to be a writer. I started freelancing for Noisey in February of 2014 and in that time I’ve been given a platform to write about some of my favorite musicians, to do some incredibly cool interviews, and to talk about really, really important issues – such as how much PBR gets crushed at The Fest in Gainesville and a record-by-record analysis of Eddie Murphy’s music career.

They really helped me kickstart my writing career, something I never thought was in the realm of possibility, and I’ll be forever grateful for that. Since then, I’ve started freelancing for other sites as well as Noisey, including VICE.com, The New Republic, Impose Magazine, Deadspin and more, and I don’t think I would have been able to do any of those things without getting my first chance at Noisey.

Who have you found on ReverbNation that’s caught your ear?

I’ve found a lot of cool metal and punk bands on Reverb. Extinction AD is a great thrash metal band from New York that’s on Good Fight Music; Grohg from Raleigh, North Carolina is really solid doom metal band; Sleep On It from Illinois reminds me a lot of American Football, and Giants, a UK punk band, bring me back to those THPS soundtracks.

Clockwise from Top Left: Extinction A.D., Sleep On It, Giants

Clockwise from Top Left: Extinction A.D., Sleep On It, Giants

What are you listening to these days?

Lately, I can’t stop listening to Spraynard, Crash of Rhinos, Laura Stevenson, Timeshares, Beach Slang, You Blew It!, Sharon van Etten, Hop Along, and All Dogs. Every time I think I’m slacking on finding new music, I realize there’s about 20 records that could make a legitimate run at record of the year for me, and another 20 that I would love but I just haven’t gotten around to hearing yet. Also, I’m always listening to Propagandhi, RVIVR,  Iron Chic, and Paul Simon’s Graceland.

What makes you excited about the future of Metal and Punk?

The fact that it’s so decentralized and so easy for anyone to pick up and make their own way with it. You don’t need a major label anymore – just write songs, play shows, book shows, and make sure your scene is a welcoming place for everyone (and not just white dudes). You might not get famous, but trust me: your life will be fulfilling.

I’m very happy with how punk and metal and rock have come so far since I was a kid, and bands were still trying to find their way on the Internet. Now you can find huge communities of people who love the same music and share the same ideals as you just by logging onto Facebook or a more music-centric site like ReverbNation. It’s a great time to be a musician and to be a fan of awesome music.

Check out some of Paul’s favorite ReverbNation finds below!

SamPunk Bands and PBR Cans: A Conversation with Curation Team Member Paul Blest
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ReverbNation For Artists — A Brand New Mobile Experience

It’s 2015 — if you and your music aren’t mobile, you’re missing out. Today’s music fans are taking their favorite artists wherever they go, from streaming songs in their car to checking email in the coffee line. So if your fans are mobile, you need to be, too. 

So we took our Control Room app and gave it a facelift, allowing artists to access a ton of features never before available on the Control Room app. Check out what’s new on ReverbNation For Artists:

  • Upload new songs (*requires free Dropbox account for iOS users)
  • Add new photos and videos
  • Check your profile stats
  • Read and send messages
  • View up-to-date stats
  • Add, edit, and view your show schedule

Download the free app on your iOS or Android device and never stay out of touch with your fans again!




SamReverbNation For Artists — A Brand New Mobile Experience
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Artists You Should Hear Round Up — October 2015

Check out these 10 great artists curated by the ReverbNation CONNECT artist development team. They were all featured on the ReverbNation homepage throughout the month of October, and now you can dig into their music using the playlist below. Enjoy!

SamArtists You Should Hear Round Up — October 2015
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Meet The Curation Team — Rachel Kohler (Christian, Pop)

Up next in our Meet The Curation Team series, we chat with another one of our Nashville-based Curators. Rachel Kohler—our Senior Curator who dabbles in discovering both Pop and Christian music on Reverb—moved to Nashville recently because she was craving its rich, diverse music scene. In our Q&A with Rachel, we learn about her nearly lifelong obsession with music, her close encounter with Sigur Rós, and what ReverbNation artists she’s hooked on right now.

What got you hooked on music in the first place? Who did you listen to growing up?

I have a 20-something year massive obsession with music, all kinds of it. I grew up in a tiny town in Tennessee as a preacher’s daughter and all my musical inspirations were homegrown and pre-Internet. My first cassette tape was Ace of Base. I was grounded for a year straight after playing hooky from school & illegally driving a few towns away to get Choirgirl Hotel by Tori Amos the day it was released. TOTALLY worth it.

Where and what was your first music industry gig?

My first music industry gig was in the early 2000’s working for Superfly at Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN. Back then it wasn’t as tight of an operation and I remember watching Sigur Rós for the first time with only a few people in the audience.

How did you get involved with ReverbNation/CONNECT?

As long as I’ve known Simon Perry, he’s had incredible creative direction and been involved in so many amazing projects. When he asked about getting involved in ReverbNation, I didn’t think twice.

Aside from finding new music on ReverbNation, where are you finding new music these days?

My favorite way of finding new music is always the old fashioned way of going out to see live shows. In the interim when I’m not scouting on Reverb, I check on music blogs like The Wild Honey Pie, Paste, Daytrotter, etc. Word of mouth and social media are always great for discovery as well.

You recently moved to Nashville! What’s your favorite part about the music scene/scene in general there?

Nashy! I’m so happy to be here. I love how the scene here is constantly evolving into something even more amazing than it already is. I love the diversity in genres of the music it has now. And the songwriters…the talent in some of the songwriters here is so good it’s incomprehensible.

Tell us a little bit about some of the artists you found for ReverbNation CONNECT? What struck you about these artists and made you think they would be interesting to work with?

Our team has found a gold mine of talented artists, it’s difficult to pick a favorite. I have a special affinity for Emily Earle, Celeste Buckingham, and Thomas Fiss. Aside from being incredibly talented, each of their sounds and styles as artists have characteristics that are truly unique.

Who are you listening to these days?

Some of my favorites right now are Elle King, Dawes, Labrinth, Kaleo and Maren Morris.

Check out some of Rachel’s favorite ReverbNation artists below!

SamMeet The Curation Team — Rachel Kohler (Christian, Pop)
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