ReverbNation Artists Rock NBC’s The Voice — Exclusive Interview with Stars James Wolpert, Matt Cermanski & Will Champlin

Sweaty palms and butterflies. A few last touch-ups in the mirror. Replaying the song over and over in their head. These are just a few things that ReverbNation artists on Season Five of the hit NBC show “The Voice” experience before taking the stage every Monday night at 8 p.m.

Last night we were on the edge of our seats wondering if ReverbNation singers Jonny Gray and James Wolpert would be safe. Luckily, James made it past this round and into the top ten, but we were sad to see Jonny go. Since the show’s beginning, we’ve seen these artists, plus Reverb vocalists Kat RobichaudBarry BlackJonny GrayMatt Cermaksi, Matthew SchulerWill Champlin and Tessanne Chin give their all each week to wow the judges and entertain the excited live audience hanging on their every lyric – not to mention the millions of fans watching them on TV.

For singers James WolpertMatt Cermaksi and Will Champlin, competing on “The Voice” was a dream come true, and a result of hard work and perseverance. The singers sat down with us to talk about their pre-show rituals, offer advice to aspiring singers and talk about what it’s like to work with some of the biggest names in the business.

ReverbNation Artist Matt Cermanski NBC's The Voice

Matt Cermanski is one of the top up-and-coming singer-songwriters from Philadelphia, PA. After not making a team on Season Four of “The Voice,” Matt took the coaches’ advice and began taking vocal lessons and performing at local venues. He returned to The Voice with the hope of connecting with America and jumpstarting his career. Matt was eliminated on the October 21 episode, but he will continue to promote his music, primarily his debut album “Long Road Home.”

ReverbNation artist Will Champlain on NBC's "The Voice"

Will has music in his veins: His dad was a singer, songwriter and keyboardist for the rock band Chicago. Even though he grew up with music, Will didn’t begin singing until around age 17! After graduating from Berklee School of Music in Boston, Will left for LA to play gigs around the city. He provided backup vocals for Glenn Frey of The Eagles and even played on Michael Jackson’s last album. Today, Will’s musical inspiration is his one-year-old daughter.  A favorite on “The Voice,” Will is currently Team Adam, after he was stolen by Christina and then stolen back by Adam!

James Wolpert The Voice ReverbNation NBCAfter attending Carnegie Mellon for two years, James dropped out to pursue music. Despite his family’s hope of re-enrollment, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he was an Apple Store Genius by day and musician by night. His life-changing choice to follow his passion ended up leading him to audition for “The Voice.”  James is proud to represent Pittsburgh on the show, but recently moved to LA in hopes of furthering his career. He, along with Matt and Will, represent Team Adam!



What was the audition and selection process like?

Matt: The audition for “The Voice” was a long but rewarding process. Everyone that works with the show, from production to the casting department, were a pleasure to work with. As you go through each level of the auditions it gets more and more exciting to know you are getting close to being on TV.

Will: It was definitely a lengthy process, but they really make sure you’re able to give your best and look your best as well. I just went in and sang a few songs and they ended up liking what I was bringing to the table and gave me a great chance that’s so far working out well.

James:  The whole process was a labor of love! It was super intense and rife with pressure— I couldn’t feel my legs walking through the stage door! I didn’t think that it could be so unnerving to have 4 people not-look at you.

How do you prepare for the show? Any special rituals?

Matt: Sadly no crazy pre-show rituals. I warm my voice up and kind of just chill out. I am thankful for all the hundreds of gigs I’ve played since I was 16-years-old that made me so comfortable on the stage. Of course I get butterflies right before a performance, but as soon as I hit the stage all that drifts away and I get lost in the music and the rush of performing.

Will: I go over the song in its entirety. I find the spots that I can make my own almost as if I’m writing my own songs. I try to inject artistry into these songs the same way that I would in my own music. I warm up some, but try not to over do it.

James: I try to center myself and remind myself of why I’m doing any of this in the first place. It’s for the love of music, man! I also think of all the people in my life that I love.

Matt Cermanski The Voice NBC ReverbNation

“My advice to all aspiring artists is think positive and positive things will happen. Never give up on your dreams, don’t let any one tell you that you can’t do something, and work as hard as you possibly can to improve yourself, if you don’t you are only lying to yourself.” – Matt Cermanski

What is the most important lesson you have learned from being on the show?

Matt: I learned so much, I don’t even know where to start. I learned a lot about my voice obviously, working with Adam Levine helped me learn what I need to do to get to the next level, as a singer. The whole show is just one big learning experience and I took every little piece of info I could get so I can use it to better myself all around as a singer-songwriter and musician.

Will: Don’t forget your own sound. It’s very easy for anyone to sing a song verbatim, but America doesn’t want that. Originality is the most important thing that will keep you in the game. “The Voice” is geared for artists who have a clearer idea of who they are and what they want to sound like, as opposed to other shows that simply throw on a track and say “good luck.”

James: To (counterintuitively) find a place where I can disregard the external consequences of performing on the show (What will people think of me? Will I be good? Will they vote for me? Will there be hayterz?) and completely immerse myself in the music. Because I love music :]. On a related note, Adam also likes to drive home an interesting work ethic mantra: “rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until it’s muscle memory. That way, by the time you hit the stage, you have the liberty to forget all of that and exude the song”.

What advice would you give to other aspiring artists who hope to be in your shoes one day?

Matt: My advice to all aspiring artists is think positive and positive things will happen. Never give up on your dreams, don’t let any one tell you that you can’t do something, and work as hard as you possibly can to improve yourself. If you don’t, you are only lying to yourself. My favorite quote is from rapper Macklemore: “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great cause they paint a lot”.

Will: Think outside your comfort zone and then take steps to grow beyond that. It’s a must. It’s all about finding your own formula and making it work for yourself. Music is changing so much these days. Nothing is pop or commercial until its literally popular and blasting on radio, TV and VEVO. Don’t listen to the wrong people. Trust your instincts and position yourself to prosper in your art by working hard and paying attention.

James: I refuse to believe I’m in any position to be pontificating, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Your love of music is going to be what carries you through! Allow me to repurpose the words of the late Mr. Steve Jobs in the context of music (or any art/thing for that matter) — Making music that puts dents in the universe is about being insane enough to press onward where any person in their right mind would quit. I loved music so much that I let it wreck my life a little bit— and as it turns out, that’s exactly what needed to happen :]

Will Champlin The Voice NBC ReverbNation

“Simply put, having a ReverbNation profile has helped me get my music heard…Amazingly, I also found out about the casting call of ‘The Voice’ Season Five through a ReverbNation opportunity, so I’d say it has been instrumental in my musical journey.” – Will Champlin

How has having a ReverbNation profile helped you?

Matt: ReverbNation has helped me reach out to fans and other artists who share the same love for music as I do. It is a great tool to market yourself, and in this day in age you need all the social media presence you can get. Why not take advantage of using the best for music, ReverbNation!

Will: Simply put, having a ReverbNation profile has helped me get my music heard, rather than getting lost amidst the chaos of the Internet. I feel that it is the hub of my online content, everything between gigs, as well as links to other essential social networking sites. Amazingly, I also found out about the casting call of “The Voice” Season Five through a ReverbNation opportunity, so I’d say it has been instrumental in my musical journey.

James: Reverbnation has been the hub of my digital music life for a few years now! It’s a great way to get yourself out there and share your craft with the rest of the planet!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Matt: I am currently in the works of writing new music and working on a new album. But you can buy my debut album “Long Road Home” on iTunes. Check out my websiteTwitterFacebook and join my mailing list for new updates on shows and music. Thank you all for reading! Much love!

Will: It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point, and I really want to encourage everyone that is considering taking a bold step forward in their career to make the jump. It may take a few tries, and it may seem discouraging for a bit, but perseverance is the name of game. Just don’t be afraid to dream big, because amazing things happen everyday, and I feel like I’m living proof.

James Wolpert NBC The Voice ReverbNation

“Making music that puts dents in the universe is about being insane enough to press onward where any person in their right mind would quit. I loved music so much that I let it wreck my life a little bit— and as it turns out, that’s exactly what needed to happen.” – James Wolpert

Catch Will, James, Kat, Matthew, and Tessanne, every Monday at 8/7 central on NBC. See their fate on the results show, Tuesdays at 9/8 central. To learn more about “The Voice” and watch past episodes and performances, visit

KevinReverbNation Artists Rock NBC’s The Voice — Exclusive Interview with Stars James Wolpert, Matt Cermanski & Will Champlin
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Ready to ROCK Your Facebook Profile?!

It’s simple: Just add the NEW ReverbNation section to your timeline! Now you can express to the world the activity you care about most on ReverbNation AND spiff up your profile in the process.


1. Preview your custom ReverbNation section on Facebook.
2. Click “Add to Profile.”

If you’re an artist
, you can highlight your new songs and videos, showcase your upcoming shows, and let your fans know what music you’re currently listening to…all in one place!

If you’re a fan, you can show off your music taste with your recently played songs, favorite artists, and downloads. We’ll be adding new stuff, too.


Not seeing this on your Facebook profile?

Your ReverbNation profile must be synced with Facebook to add this custom section. If you haven’t already synced, here’s how:

  1. Go to your Social Sync settings on ReverbNation (Account > Social Sync).
  2. Select “Sync to Facebook” and log in with your Facebook account.
  3. Follow the directions above to add your custom section to your timeline.
  4. Keep doing what you do on ReverbNation. Before you know it, your section will be populated with all sorts of cool stuff.

Move your ReverbNation section to prime position!

You can easily move your ReverbNation section higher up on your timeline. Ensure that your friends see all your awesome activity by following these two quick steps:


See you on Facebook!

KevinReady to ROCK Your Facebook Profile?!
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May’s Breaking Artists: Kudos to these ReverbNation Opportunity Winners!


Wondering who submits to all those opportunities you see in your email inbox every week? What happens after submissions close? Our monthly Breaking Artists newsletter, along with this nice, shiny blog post, breaks it down and shows you some of the opportunity winners.

Take a look and a listen, show your support for your fellow musicians and send them kudos in the comments.

Breaking Artists are selected by Reverb staff from opportunity winners. Increase your chances of being one of them by submitting to opportunities here >>

Got a feature in the May issue of Cen Cal Magazine…

Pop musician Marina V from LA.

Pop musician Marina V from LA.

Marina V is a Russian-born recording artist with a hauntingly beautiful voice, whose melodic and passionate music has been influenced by the Beatles, Tchaikovsky and Tori Amos. This month, Marina was featured on Cen Cal Mag, a new online magazine about art, music, food and fashion in Central California.

“Thank you ReverbNation for being so awesome! I’ve been submitting for the last two years to the RN opportunities and have won several, including magazine features, video features and a couple of radio shows. When the Cen Cal Magazine feature came out, they tweeted about my music and posted on their FB page as well, which was really cool.”

-Marina V

Played the Carolina Railhawks postgame party…

Folk-rock band Pinkerton Raid performing at Carolina Railhawks postgame party.

Folk-rock band Pinkerton Raid performing at Carolina Railhawks postgame party.

A family band, Pinkerton Raid is consisted of siblings Jesse, Katie and Steven, plus husband and wife Tim and Laura Wooten on drums and a second keyboard, respectively. The band came together in the retro-pop renaissance of North Carolina’s Triangle region, sharing strong influences like the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young with a core of local acts. Jesse, a soccer fan, was really excited to perform at a stadium with thousands of other soccer lovers. Plus, he knew that playing at the Carolina Railhawks postgame party wouldn’t be just another nightclub gig: the band would get exposure to an audience they might not otherwise reach.

“We had won a couple of previous opportunities, but this was by far the best. It was a well-paying gig and gave us exposure to an audience we might not otherwise reach. For us, making music is all about bringing people together. We try to make music that people at different places in life can get into. A family sporting event turned out to be a great place for us to do that.”

-Pinkerton Raid

Performed at the Montauk Music Festival…

Alternative Reggae Hip-hop fusion band  Oogee Wawa from Long Island, NY.

Alternative Reggae Hip-hop fusion band Oogee Wawa from Long Island, NY.

Take Gym Class Heroes and Sublime; mix them in blender and you have Oogee Wawa, a NY-based Alternative Reggae Hip-hop fusion band. Oogee Wawa’s hard work and determination has honored them spots performing with many national touring acts such as: 311, Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, Sublime with Rome, Rehab, Rusted Root, Badfish, Ballyhoo!, The Supervillians & 40oz To Freedom. A Montauk Music Festival veteran, Oogee Wawa’s guitarrist JP says the 4-day music celebration gets better every year. “It’s such a positive vibe out there and we always seem to be more excited about it every time it comes around,” he said. “Plus, the bon fire jam parties we throw at the end of every night are pretty epic.”

“To be highlighted in what is becoming a huge festival over 100s of bands is an amazing feeling.  When you put in as much work and sacrifice into your music as we do, it’s awesome to get noticed for it.  We are extremely grateful!!”

-Oogee Wawa

Performed at the 12th annual Florida Music Festival…

Alternative rock band A Brilliant Lie from Orlando, FL>

Alternative rock band A Brilliant Lie from Orlando, FL.

A Brilliant Lie is a think-outside-the-box alternative rock band from Orlando, FL. They have performed multiple shows at the famous House of Blues (both as a supporting & headlining act). This was their fourth time performing at the Florida Music Festival, where they have supported acts like Anberlin, Minus the Bear, Less Than Jake, and more!

Rocked the stage at MOVE Music Festival 2013…

Electronic Dance duo Young London performing at MOVE Music Festival 2013.

Electronic Dance duo Young London performing at MOVE Music Festival 2013.

Young London is the power-duo of electronic wizard Matt Rhoades and sassy songstress Sarah Graziani. They met in 2010 and quickly realized the two could create explosive electro-pop primed for mainstream radio play. They have toured all over the country, after making their debut at South By Southwest Music Festival in 2011. Last month, they got the chance to perform at MOVE Music Festival in Albany, NY, which is an event that gives exposure to regional talent through live performances at select venues.

“Our experience with ReverbNation has been a great one. The Move Music Festival was a fantastic venue to get our music heard by a whole new crowd. After the show, we got to meet some awesome fans, as well as industry professionals. It was definitely a really fun and positive event for us!!”

– Young London

Young London is now running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the release of their upcoming EP and tour. Check it out when you get the chance!

More Winners: John Frederick, Deedub

John Frederick performed for Reno Earth Day: "ReverbNation has provided such a wonderful platform for so many of us struggling artists to get recognition and exposure. It is amazing to think that I have people all over the world enjoying some or all of the tunes that I am so lucky to write."

John Frederick performed at Reno Earth Day: “ReverbNation has provided such a wonderful platform for so many of us struggling artists to get recognition and exposure. It is amazing to think that I have people all over the world enjoying some or all of the tunes that I am so lucky to write.” Photo by Debbie McCarthy.

Hip hop artist from Long Beach, CA, Deedub played the Lunar Independent Music Festival.: " I submit to a lot of opportunities on Reverbnation and I have been connected to many events, awards, publications, and online radio through the opportunities system.  It works great and basically helps us to get the kind of exposure that people pay PR firms for.  Which helps save our budget for other things like music production. The Lunar Music Fest went great, there were several venues with live music and we were invited to play a few different gigs through the event.  We headlined the main show at The Complex main stage which holds about 800-1000 people so it was one of our bigger shows to date."

Hip hop artist from Long Beach, CA, Deedub played the Lunar Independent Music Festival: “I submit to a lot of opportunities on ReverbNation and I have been connected to many events, awards, publications, and online radio through the opportunities system. It works great and basically helps us to get the kind of exposure that people pay PR firms for. Which helps save our budget for other things like music production. The Lunar Music Fest went great, there were several venues with live music and we were invited to play a few different gigs through the event. We headlined the main show at The Complex main stage which holds about 800-1000 people so it was one of our bigger shows to date.”

Congrats to all of May’s Breaking Artists!

Don’t want to miss out on the next opportunity?

There are four ways you can use to stay up-to-date on the latest gigs (we recommend using all of them to ensure nothing gets missed!):

  • Follow our updates on Twitter (@Gigs and @ReverbNation) and Facebook
  • Check the email updates we send you
  • Check the latest Opportunities on this page
  • Go to your Control Room on your Reverb page > click “Opportunities”

So, where’s your next gig?

KevinMay’s Breaking Artists: Kudos to these ReverbNation Opportunity Winners!
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6 great tactics to connect with fans on the road

In this guest post, blues and rock musician Josh Urban shares the social media tactics he got from his recent railroad touring experience.

The greatest advantage of being an independent artist today is ironically also its biggest challenge: Anyone can jump in the game. So while the playing field may be level, it’s crowded. Access isn’t the issue – recognition is.

Here are 6 suggested tactics I’ve had success upping my game using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to go beyond music and build a fan base:

Josh used Amtrak to tour the East Coast.

1. Create an experience

Good music and showmanship are vital — but here’s a radical idea:  What if there’s even more that we can do?

Musicians have always been the ones bringing the coolest thing to town. If the traditional live show is already saturating the market, what else can we do to create an experience?  In my case, I decided to take a tour by train, harkening back to the blues musicians of old. I invited people to virtually “tour” with me using hashtags and social media.  I believe that everyone has a story, so I invited them all to share their worldview by using the hashtag #JURT (Josh Urban Rail Tour.)

“My stage became theirs as they posted text, photos, and ideas back to the tour, creating an exciting environment of inclusion, democracy, and conversation.”

At the end of the tour, I assembled all of the photos posted into a giant collage, a collaborative view of the world as we saw it.  The question is: what can you do to create a unique experience for your fans?  Ask yourself:  Do I have interests outside of music I can draw on? Is there a cause I care deeply about?  What else moves me?  

2. Involve people

For a long time, I forgot the first word of the phrase “social media.”  Unlike traditional media, social media allows conversation.  Engagement with fans turns them into friends.  People like to be heard, and to have others hear their opinions.  Check out the comments section of a news article, and you’ll find folks debating viewpoints — and the input has little or no outcome on the story.  It never seems to stop people, though!

So, instead of talking at people, I like to invite them to talk with me.  Since they’re doing it anyway, we might was well have a conversation.  The challenge: Give ’em something cool to talk about!  My tour turned into not just a journey, but a sharing of sights and ideas for everyone.  Plus, it made it a ton of fun!  How do I suggest involving people?  Which brings me to…

3. Make it easy

For me, I’ve never had much luck with asking people to remember things like “See this website on my CD?  Go to that later when you go home and sober up, then follow the link, and like my page.”  But  if I’m putting on a colorful show, people are probably going to snap a few Instagram shots of me.

On the rail tour, I told them that if they simply use the hashtag #JURT, they’d be part of a worldwide project.  I handed them a business card with the tour info on it and guess what – it worked great.  It was easy, and most importantly, they were doing it anyway.  I was able to throw a hashtag at them and get them to join in (and of course, follow them back on the networks!)

There are many other ways, but just remember: the simpler, the better.  I love hashtags, because you don’t have to know the person to interact, which is vital for building a fan base.

4. Their words, not mine 

People like to talk about stuff that involves them.  My new EP does not involve a stranger yet, so no matter how loudly I shout about it, they have little reason to listen to it, assuming they’ve never heard me play.  But, if they take a picture of me playing guitar and post it, now it’s in their worlds, and has something to do with them. This translates into interest, which turns into “Hey, I saw you in New York!  When’s your new EP coming out?”

“The more you get people to talk about your music in their own images and words, the better.”

5. Crossover appeal

By getting out of your comfort zone, you end up meeting people you would normally never meet. Future collabs anyone?

With the rail tour, I was able to interest not just fans of blues music, but also people who were intrigued with the idea, or who liked any aspect of it, such as traveling, trains, adventure, or stories.  It broadened my base, and made each conversation relevant to the project.

And believe me, I told everyone about it, meeting great connections accidentally! It also made it much more interesting to traditional media sources.  I was able to successfully pitch the tour to radio stations, newspapers, and even community television.  Another question to ask yourself:  Who else besides fans of your genre would enjoy knowing you?

6. Refine 

After every experiment, learn, refine and improve.  (Examples of things I learned: never try to eat a microwaved bagel, and give magazines plenty of lead time to meet their publishing deadlines.)

Remember to get busking permits ahead of time!

I’m looking forward to applying those lessons — and others — when I tour again this week, this time on my Search for Good Tour.  I’ll be touring by rail, playing children’s hospitals, street corners, cancer centers, and places that don’t have music.  I’ll be looking for the people, sights, and sounds that rock the world and I’ll be putting some good on the news for a change. (You’re invited to join me, of course!  Find some good, and post it with the #JURT hashtag!) I’ll be adding some other “cool factors,” such as bringing my home-built cigar box guitar and releasing an album on download cards in the form of a tour lanyard.

I’d like to end with six questions you can ask yourself:

  1. What can you do to create your own experience?
  2. How can you involve people?
  3. How can you make it easy for them to join in?
  4. How will they express it in their own words?
  5. Who else will this appeal to?
  6. What will you learn from the project?

I’d love to hear what you cook up!  Leave a comment below with your social media ideas and questions.

Josh Urban is currently recording an EP inspired by his first rail tour, and will be touring by rail again to support its release in May and June of 2013. He firmly believes all the world’s a stage, as shown on his Instagram feed. He can be reached via his website, Facebook, Twitter @DontJoshMe and Instagram @JoshUrban.

Kevin6 great tactics to connect with fans on the road
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ReverbNation band wins the 2013 Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands! Drum roll, please…

Over 12,000 bands entered for a chance
to win an opportunity of a lifetime.

Only one was left standing: The Carnabys survived three rounds of voting, battling it out on the live stage and securing thousands of votes online to make the Top 25 in Hard Rock Rising 2013 – THE global battle of the bands contest held by Hard Rock Cafe in exclusive partnership with ReverbNation.

Chosen as the grand-prize winner by a panel of music industry experts, The Carnabys secured a spot on the bill at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London as part of a WORLD TOUR. “This year we saw some really high-level competitors and with such an amazing prize on the line, the scoring process for all of us on the judging panel was more difficult than ever before,” said John Kirkpatrick, Hard Rock International’s Head of Music & Artist Relations.

“Ultimately it was The Carnabys who stood out because of their songwriting, musicianship and performance level. We look forward to welcoming them to our Hard Rock stages!”

In addition to sharing the stage with Bruce Springsteen, The Black Crowes, Zac Brown Band and Alabama Shakes, The Carnabys won tons of new band gear, earned the opportunity to make an album and video with Hard Rock Records, and are lined up to go on a World Tour with stops in amazing cities such as Sydney, Chicago, Tokyo, and Honolulu. Now that’s rock star treatment.

Let’s not forget about this year’s two runner ups: Bop Skizzum and Sunwill! With $10,000 worth of new band gear and their music exposed to new fans around the world, they’re certainly not going home empty-handed. Check ’em out here:

Bop Skizzum (Denver, Colorado)


Sunwill (Moscow, Russia)


A huge congratulations to these talented and well-deserving bands!

KevinReverbNation band wins the 2013 Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands! Drum roll, please…
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5 Tips for Preparing for Your Hip-Hop Mixtape Release

In this guest post, Kayla Calloway gives independent and up-and-coming hip-hop artists tips on how to effectively prepare a mixtape release.

Whether you are prepping for your first mixtape or this is your next go round, here are 5 tips for preparing for a successful mixtape release excerpted from “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Marketing & Publicity.” So in the words of Trinidad James “Lemme give you a checklist:”

1. Choose a DJ

When starting out, especially if it’s your first mixtape, choose a DJ who is on the come-up as well and who truly believes in your music. Or you can go the latest route used by emerging Atlanta hip-hop artist, Rich Homie Quan, and host your own mixtape.

2. Find a Studio

Find a studio that you are comfortable recording in, and once you have blocked time, make sure that you come prepared. Write your rhymes at home and be ready to go when you arrive to the studio.

3. Mix

Have your mixtape cleaned up and mixed by a professional engineer who knows what he is doing. Make sure that the sound is clear and crisp and that the sound levels are balanced throughout your mixtape.

4. Hire a Graphic Artist

When hiring a graphic artist for your mixtape cover, you need to make sure they understand your music and brand and that they can bring your ideas to life or that they can bring forth their own creative cover ideas that will represent you and your mixtape effectively. So, with that being said, here are three tips to consider when hiring a mixtape cover graphic artist:

  • Versatility: When selecting a graphic artist, make sure that they are versatile, creative, and have a range of design skills, because you want someone who can convey your individuality and the themes and messages of your music, not someone who has a one-size-fits-all approach to designing mixtape covers.
  • Track Record: Request to see work they’ve done in the past. Additionally, when you’re hiring for services, such as PR, marketing, or website design, check track records as well.
  • Professionalism: I know that the hip-hop industry can be a little casual, but business is business. Make sure you have a timeline for the work and ask that the graphic artist is being consistent with you and communicating effectively with you throughout the process.

5. Use Social Media to Gear Up for Your Mixtape Release

  • Engage: Follow other hip-hop artists, both up-and-coming and established, who have similar fan bases and followers. Additionally, follow DJs and other hip-hop influencers, such as hip-hop editors, bloggers, etc. Keep track of who’s mentioning you.
  • Get Fans to Promote for You: Constantly engage with your fans and include them on your journey. For example, you can ask fans for feedback regarding the title of your mixtape, which track to promote, mixtape cover art, etc. Join their conversations; don’t just always flood them with links pertaining to your music.
  • Plan: Plan a content strategy so you do not get distracted from the bottom line.

This list covers the basics. However, I would like to also mention the importance of working to build your fan base prior to releasing your mixtape. For more hip-hop marketing and publicity tips, visit Got any questions for me? Leave a comment below!

All the best with your mixtape release!

Kayla Calloway is a hip-hop enthusiast with over 5 years of PR experience, with specific concentrations in media relations and writing. Kayla has a strong rapport within the hip-hop editorial community and is the author of “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Marketing & Publicity”. She has secured media placements in XXL, The Source,, Creative Loafing, AJC and more. Kayla can be reached on Twitter and Facebook.


Kevin5 Tips for Preparing for Your Hip-Hop Mixtape Release
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Charity Tuesday: Interview with Love Hope Strength

This blog post is part of the bi-weekly series highlighting the Music For Good charities and their spotlight artists (read others here). Subscribe to our blog (enter your email on the right) to get a new blog post every other week!

SEE ALSO: What is Music For Good and how do I get involved?

Love Hope Strength Foundation co-founders and leukemia survivors James Chippendale and Mike Peters talked to us about their cancer charity.


When James Chippendale, a wealthy and otherwise very healthy 31-year-old Dallas entrepreneur, got diagnosed with leukemia in 2000, he was dumbfounded. Like most people, he had little to no information about it. “I knew it was cancer and that’s about it,” James told us in a phone interview. “I didn’t know what the treatments were nor did I know my chances of survival.”

Once he knew more about it, James focused solely on finding the best doctors and a bone marrow donor who could save his life. “That was the only chance I had of survival. No drugs, no medicines, nothing else besides a donor could save me,” he said. And a donor he found — but it wasn’t easy. There was nothing for him in the United States so he had to go on the international registry, where they found that a man’s marrow 5,000 miles away in Germany was a perfect match (read the whole story in this moving article on New York Times). As of today, James is cancer free.

This experience prompted James to unite forces with fellow leukemia survivor, Mike Peters (of popular Welsh alternative rock band of the 1980s, The Alarm), to start the Love Hope Strength Foundation (LHS). LHS is a music-based charity whose goals are to reveal the ongoing success of cancer survivors, build a support network for cancer patients worldwide, fight for great research, fund and develop innovative music related outreach and awareness programs.

Over the last five years, they’ve added over 30.000 donors to the bone marrow donor registry that have resulted on over 575 matches for people around the globe.

James and Mike have a heart-to-heart just before climbing to the top pof Kala Pattar for the world record highest concert on earth. Photo: Jake Norton/MountainWorld

We talked on the phone with James and Mike (who was in the middle of a sound check in Manchester, UK) about Love Hope Strength’s future, funding sources (like putting on crazy concerts in unexpected elevations worldwide), the power of music and more.

You just celebrated Love Hope Strength’s 5th anniversary this year. Where do you see the charity five years from now?

Mike: I suspect we’ll still be here, fighting the fight. Cancer is a very dangerous weapon to humanity. If James and I are still around in five years [laughter], we’ll just keep encouraging people to stay alive.

“The goal of LHS is not just about raising money, but it’s to tell stories, show others that people the likes of James and me can come back from cancer and do wonderful things.”

– Mike Peters, of The Alarm

James: In a less poetic way [laughter], the charity continues to grow every year by adding new countries. Just two weeks ago we launched Mexico, where we’re going to do bone marrow donor drives across the country. We get offers every day from different countries in the world. I hope we can add hundreds of thousands of donors so that people don’t have to wait months and worry that you’re not going to find a donor. It’s a big, big world and a big mission, you know, and we’re just trying to do one country at a time.

Many musicians today use the power of their music and fame to promote a cause. Some examples would be Jack Johnson, Zac Brown, Dave Matthews, Bono, and you Mike. Do you think this is trend, a fad that’s going away, or do you think the relationship between musicians and charities is here to stay?

Mike: I don’t think it’s a trend. I think musicians will always be involved in humanitarian causes. Music is such a natural expression of your feelings and of who you are as human being. Having something to say is the most important ingredient you need to become a successful artist.

“If you’ve got something to say, and it’s relevant and powerful, then you’re doing something right as a musician.”

– Mike Peters

James: I think it’s important to know the balance between supporting the cause and promoting the cause, and not hitting their fans over the head with it. Artists now are able to do it in a way that engages the fans instead of alienate them. I think we do that really well, Mike, in the sense that we stand back and stay true to who we are and what we do.

Mike: Yeah, when I started with my band The Alarm in 1981, we had high ideals to power people and change the world. As I got older, I realized that it’s okay to say those things but people want more specific examples, they want to know how they can engage in the circle. So then when we started LHS, we gave musicians a reason to talk about the charity on stage in a meaningful, positive way, without distracting fans from the music.

One of the cool things you guys do is you host first-ever concerts with big time musicians at some pretty unusual places, such as Mount Everest (twice), Mount Fuji, Empire State building and Machu Picchu in Peru. Tell us about it.

Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze sing at 18,526ft during the Everest Rocks concert. Photo: Jake Norton/MountainWorld

James: Back in 2007, Mike and I came up with this crazy idea that were going to climb Mount Everest, you know, just to celebrate our recovery from leukemia, kind of like “climbing back from cancer.” It was just going to be him and me celebrating life. But then we used our entrepreneur minds and decided that Mike was going to invite some of his buddies like Billy Duffy from The Cults, Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats, Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze, and have all of this power in the music world join us in the celebration. I invited cancer survivors and we all climbed the mountain to announce what we’re doing to the world. It really evolved from there. The experience of climbing back, being so far down, and leading a charge back up the mountains to help others be able to climb back became the theme of the charity.

We kicked off, actually, with a climb of the Empire State Building steps, 1,576 to be exact, in a concert at the observational deck. It worked as an announcement of the launch of LHS and our plans to climb Everest.

What’s the main goal of performing these amazing feats?

James: The goal is twofold. One goal is to create awareness about our charity. The other is to raise funds. On these hikes, people pay a pretty significant amount of money to come and join these adventures, meet and get to know these musicians. We’ve raised millions of dollars over the years through these events. Another cool outcome we get from these events is that the musicians themselves get an experience of a lifetime.  

Some of the biggest musicians in the world come to us and say “I’ve played to millions and millions of people but this is probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.”

Why did LHS decide to participate in the Music For Good program?

James: It’s such a natural fit for us being a music-based charity and all. Another thing we learned throughout this process is that the power of music is just incredible!

“Music doesn’t know any border. It doesn’t know color, it doesn’t know race, it doesn’t know religion, it doesn’t know economic status. Whether you’re rich or poor, it’s music.”

– James Chippendale, Co-Founder of Love Hope Strength

That’s the message we’re trying to spread. I mean, we also don’t have any borders. We’re now in four countries around the world and we’re finding matches for people from dozens of countries. It’s not about a US-based cancer charity; it’s about a global community. I think music resonates across a global community. To be able to interact with thousands of people who are part of ReverbNation is amazing. These artists can align with us and be part of our family for years and years to come.

When musicians support us, they’re going to be able to see the results. They’ll see cancers centers that are being built, the donors that we have, the lives we save. That right there is the differentiating factor from anything else out there.

Mike: Yeah, and our events are not about giving money so much. They’re about encouraging people to get tested to be on the list to be a bone marrow donor with a simple cotton swab of the cheek; they’re about getting them excited to join the cause. So we’re very thankful to those who do participate!

James: We realized musicians and fans are giving us a tremendous gift in supporting us, so we wanted to give them that gift back by showing them how they are helping us.


To learn more about Love Hope Strength Foundation, please visit their website

To buy music from The Alarm and help support Love Hope Strength, please visit their ReverbNation profile.

KevinCharity Tuesday: Interview with Love Hope Strength
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VIDEO: Jed Carlson discusses promoting upcoming shows and more on Renman Live!

Haven’t seen Renman MB Live? Then you’re missing out on one of the music industry’s best kept secrets. Steve Rennie — AKA Renman — is the longtime manager of Incubus and a driving force behind the band’s multi-platinum commercial success.

Last year he launched a weekly live web show, Renman MB Live, to provide “insider access” to the music industry. His no-holds-barred feedback on what musicians are doing right – and wrong – is fueled by 30+ years of music industry contacts turned guests; producers, promoters, marketing execs, breaking and signed bands.

This week, our own Jed Carlson, President and Co-Founder of ReverbNation, joined in right after Seth Hurwitz, owner of the legendary 930 Club, and shared some true pearls of wisdom (and some colorful language!)

In the video below, Jed gives insights on promoting shows. He includes a quick demo of how artists can “poster the web” with the details on their upcoming show, targeting likely fan on the very day they’re set to play using Promote a Show (after all, 81% music venues say same-day concert marketing is critical to drive awareness).

Jed concludes with a quick tour of Music For Good — our innovative music download platform that connects artists, fans and 13 amazing charities. Check out this video and discover just how much good downloading music can do!

KevinVIDEO: Jed Carlson discusses promoting upcoming shows and more on Renman Live!
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