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Frontiers' Nick Tieder On Indie Labels, Marketing Music

2Here Nick Tieder, the General Manager of long running independent record label Frontiers Music Srl., talks about what the label looks for in the artists they sign, what comprises a successful marketing campaign, and what artists need to do to be successful.

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Guest post by Julia Rogers of MusicConsultant

Nick Tieder is the General Manager, North America at Frontiers Music Srl, an independent record label that has been around for over 20 years and specializes in the melodic and hard rock genres. As GM, Nick oversees marketing on all the label’s releases and is also is an A&R representative for all its North American artists. Initially launched as a home for established artists looking to put out new material, Frontiers has released albums from a long list of rock superstars, including Def Leppard, Toto, Whitesnake, Yes, Journey, Sebastian Bach, Styx, Jeff Lyne and ELO, Heart, Foreigner, Sammy Hagar and many others.

Nick talked about what Frontiers looks for in artists they sign. He also talked about what makes for a successful artist marketing campaign and delivered some advice for new and emerging artists looking to build successful careers in the current climate.

Music Consultant:

Thanks for taking some time to chat, Nick. What does Frontiers look for in artists they sign? How can an artist get noticed by you?

NT:

We receive such a staggeringly large amount of submissions and it can be difficult to stick out from the pack. I can tell you that sending a message on Facebook with a link to a video on YouTube and a message that says “Hey, we are looking for a record deal” won’t get you very far, nor will trying to hijack a conversation on Twitter by spamming links to your band. We have a large and growing network of trusted sources that pass along music to us and we do our own investigating/research via YouTube, message boards, and the like. Sometimes you can get noticed through pure dumb luck or good fortune (whatever you’d like to call it). On multiple occasions, we have inadvertently stumbled across something brilliant while poking around on the web. That’s why it is always wise for new bands to have plenty of content out there for people to happen upon, but of course make sure you aren’t just dumping things out there without some curation.

As for the bands that make us stand up and take notice, we take a lot of factors into consideration. Most importantly we look for indications that there is a strong work ethic in place. Showing clear signs of being a self-starter is going to be attractive to any label, really. We also take into consideration the image of the band or the potential for the imaging of the band. Sometimes jeans and t-shirts work just fine, sometimes maybe something more would make all the difference. And like everyone, we also investigate social media numbers, YouTube views, streaming numbers, touring activity, etc. We also look closely at the quality of the social media numbers. If you have 100,000 Facebook likes, but really poor engagement on your posts, then something is amiss. Quality over quantity is important.

Music Consultant:

Do you look for bands outside of the hard rock genre?

NT:

Yes, we absolutely do look for bands outside of the hard rock genre. We are a rock ‘n roll label, so while we stick to the rock genre as a whole, that’s a pretty broad umbrella. We have bands playing everything from hard rock to heavy metal to blues rock to progressive rock to progressive metal to melodic rock to AOR to classic rock on the label, but the common thread they all share is quality songs and excellent musicianship.

Music Consultant:

Frontiers started as a home for established Artists’ new projects, what new Artists have they broken overseas before coming here?

NT:

The label has become known for being a home to established artists who still want to create fresh, new music, but there have been young, developing artists with the label since the inception in 1996. It has been and always will be part of the vision for the label. We’ve also been in North America for quite some time now, but the efforts to really ramp up our presence and start signing and developing more young talent in the U.S. has just begun in earnest recently. We are seeing really great stories develop overseas with bands like Inglorious, Eclipse, One Desire, Bigfoot, Dirty Thrills, and more. While those bands continue to gain momentum in their home territories, we’ll look at the right timing to bring them to the U.S. and properly introduce them to audiences here via touring. One of my main objectives right now is to find and sign U.S. based upcoming talent so that we can develop them in this market and then plug them into our network overseas.

Music Consultant:

How do you plan to tweak what Frontiers does to fit the U.S. market? Does it need tweaking?

NT:

Not particularly, no. As an independent rock label, we have our brand, which is growing and evolving; but people who know us know we are going to deliver them quality rock music. We just want to introduce ourselves to many, many, many more music fans in the U.S. market.

Music Consultant:

What labels do you feel are your contemporaries (aka signing the kinds of artists you’re looking for)?

NT:

Napalm, Mascot, Spinefarm and the like. And to a degree, Nuclear Blast, Metal Blade, Earache, etc., but more for the hard rock, classic rock sections of their roster and obviously not the extreme metal subgenres. I’m a massive fan of all the aforementioned labels and am thrilled to see the success they’ve been having over the years. A rising tide lifts all boats, so a win for one of us is really a win for all of us, in my eyes.

Music Consultant:

Do the bands on the label now reflect your personal taste? What are your favorite recent releases, on and off Frontiers?

NT:

Absolutely! Everyone who works at the label is a huge fan of the music and invested in the A&R vision. We are all total fanatics doing this for the passion and devotion to the artists’ music. Everyone on staff can bring forth bands that they think might fit the label. We don’t keep A&R to one department. I was incredibly psyched when I first started working with Frontiers’ because they had releases lined up from multiple musical heroes from my teenage years. My 15 year old self never would have believed that I was going to be handling product management for these acts. And then I started to get to know the European bands they were working with that I hadn’t previously been familiar with and it opened up whole new worlds for me. Some of my favorite recent releases from Frontiers have been L.A. Guns, Riverdogs, Wayward Sons, Crazy Lixx, Inglorious, Hell In The Club, Tokyo Motor Fist, Eclipse, Labyrinth, Rick Springfield, Animal Drive, CoreLeoni, and more. Non-Frontiers’ recent favorites are Liam Gallagher, Visigoth, Jared James Nichols, Corrosion Of Conformity, Power Trip, Ryan Adams, Downtown Boys, Alvvays, Future Islands, The Menzingers, Mutoid Man, and I am absolutely obsessed with Twin Peaks from Chicago. Amazing band.

Music Consultant:

Many rock labels are in NY or L.A. Why Nashville for you?

NT:

Simple. It is MUSIC CITY and is brimming with musicians from all stripes. Country certainly rules the roost here, but it is absolutely an ever-growing rock town, as well as other genres, for that matter.

Music Consultant:

Can you talk about a recent marketing campaign for a band that you noticed and thought was great (not one of yours) and why?

NT:

It is perhaps a glaringly obvious example, but I thought the rollout on the Metallica’s latest album was brilliant. They gave themselves enough of a runway to gather pre-orders and promote the release, while not having it so far out that the wait felt agonizing for their fanbase. Filming a video for every song and releasing them in rapid succession, while not the first time it had been done by an artist, felt like a revolutionary move for a rock band. From a fan perspective, I couldn’t have asked for more out of them and absolutely enjoyed the ride. I suspect you’ll see a lot of bands try to mimic what they did. And they of course had the key ingredient, which was an amazing album.

Music Consultant:

Since your personal background is in marketing and PR, what advice would you give a young band in the DIY stage of their career?

NT:

Take care of your backyard. It is easy to get lost in the daydreams of conquering your home country and the world, but take care of your hometown first. Get to know all the local promoters and club owners. Go out and support other bands and make friends with them. If nobody will give you a gig, then you can pair up and host your own shows at DIY venues. Make friends with local businesses like breweries, coffee shops, tattoo parlors, and of course, record stores and see if they’ll let you play gigs there. Know who your local government officials are and what kid of arts programs they offer in the city and figure out how to tie yourself into them. If you have a fan or fans that are really supportive, then get to know them and see if there is a way they might be able to help you out. Maybe one of them is a graphic designer and can help with t-shirt designs or maintain your website for you. Make them part of the family early.

Also, pay attention to social media and content creation, but don’t get so deep into it that impacts your time creating music. Make sure everybody in the band (if you are in a band) has an assigned duty for the band that speaks to their strengths. Don’t get discouraged. This business is not for the faint of heart, and you will have a lot of people tell you that you suck, but that is just one opinion in a business built largely on opinions. If this is truly what you feel you are destined to do, then you will persevere.

To learn more about Nick Tieder and the work he does with Frontiers Music, check out the label on Facebook and Twitter.

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