Sam Lee, Songular: getting ahead in the music industry
Songular's Sam Lee gives us his essential advice for musical success in 2019...
Songular's Sam Lee is an expert when it comes to music streaming and how emerging talent can leverage playlists to advance their careers.
So as a music industry veteran of ten years, with stints as a freelance music hack and playlist editor at Deezer, we were delighted to recently welcome him to ICMP.
On his visit, Sam listened to music from some of our BA Songwriting students, giving them feedback as well as insight and advice on how to progress their music industry careers. We managed to spend a few minutes with Sam to quiz him on his career and how new talent can get their music on the playlists that matter...
Could you explain a little about Songular and what your company does?
Songular Music is a music company that helps artists thrive through playlist promotion and streaming-led promotional campaigns. In essence, I work with labels, managers and artists to help them reach new audiences on streaming platforms, then use the streaming data to help their team make smarter decisions and build better campaigns.
What was your route into the music industry? What was your break through moment?
I started off by looking for freelance (mostly unpaid) work for a bunch of music blogs (The Line Of Best Fit, DIY, NME etc) while I was working evenings as an assistant on my local BBC Introducing show in Swindon; plugging in microphones, making coffee, that kind of thing.
After a couple of years of doing this while still living at home I moved to London after getting a job as a radio plugger, then after a year or so joined the editorial team at a streaming service called Deezer. I stayed there for four years before setting up Songular in early 2016.
I don’t think I’ve had a breakthrough moment. I treat every role as an opportunity to learn something new, so I am always keeping one eye on the horizon and looking to grow.
How was your visit to ICMP?
I was really impressed by the standard of the demos that were played to me at ICMP - there are some really talented students and some great potential on both the creative and the business side."
How important do you think music education is in helping the next generation of music talent?
Very important - mainly because it helps to demystify the music industry, which is something I still feel like I need sometimes! I’ve always felt that it’s difficult to teach true creativity or business instinct but what ICMP seems to do well is to expose students to people who are working in the industry and give them a clearer idea of potential routes to take to success.
What's your top advice for new and emerging artists?
Take all the advice you can get but trust your instincts. Lots of (sometimes experienced) people will have their own opinions - but you’re the only one who knows your vision, so stick to it."
However, alongside that, it’s crucial to know where your weaknesses lie and be prepared to work with the right people to fill those gaps.
How can new acts get their music on the playlists that matter?
It can be difficult for new artists to get their music in front of the right people at Spotify, Apple Music etc, but there are a number of independent playlist platforms that are easier to get in touch with. PopFiltr, Indiemono and SpinGrey are a few.
These can help to build up a track’s streaming numbers so that when playlist editors at streaming services do come across the track they can see that there is already something happening around it. The same goes for blogs that have their own playlists - these are often keen to work directly with independent artists so can also be a good place to start.
Which new artists are you hyped about in 2019?
Former ICMP student Aislin Evans is an artist I am particularly excited about working with - she is starting a really valuable conversation around self care and dealing with the various challenges and pressures presented by society and the mind. She has a great ear, a crystalline voice and a knack for writing brilliantly bruised and honest pop songs.
Also Octavian, who I’ve been working with for a while now and who won the BBC Sound of 2019 poll this year - lots of buzz around him right now.
Visit songularmusic.com to find out more.
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