This week’s Indie Revolt showcases Nicola, one of New York City’s most emerging singer/songerwriters. After recent performances with 90’s greats Eve 6, and future shows alongside Edwin McCain and Aaron Lewis (Staind), Nicola’s soulful voice and attractive style is gaining attention everywhere. As a successful indie artist herself, we sat down with Nicola to get her take on the indie music industry and where it’s headed. You can find and follow Nicola and her music at www.nicolanicola.com.
What is music to you?
Music is one of the most visceral, profound, inspirational and healing forms of art that exists. To me it is life…something you don’t end up choosing…it always seems to end up choosing you. It’s not always an easy life and finding ways to earn your living from it can be more than challenging, which is why I think you have to have so much heart, passion and determination in the first place to even want to forge ahead. On the other hand, it is immensely gratifying to be able to create on a daily basis and share your art with people. I can’t imagine any other life.
Where do you see the music industry heading in five years?
Ha! The Music Industry doesn’t know where it’s going to be a year from now, let alone 5 or 10. I do believe it’s possible that many, if not all of the major labels will shrink substantially… or go under and be replaced by DIY or indie labels and self-publishing. Everything about the way the industry is currently run, operated, and managed today is becoming outdated, too expensive, not accessible to the public, and needs to be re-formatted due to the overwhelming use of internet and file sharing and a population that does everything online. We are not far off from artists using the internet to record, distribute and profit from their own music completely bypassing major labels. Seriously how cool would that be?!
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
That’s funny…the other day some friends and I were discussing this. Seems like live music has seriously become de-valued these days and the perception of what live entertainment is, has a somewhat distorted image lately. Because of all the technical devices and advances such as “auto-tune” and the prevalence of lip-synching, even during “live shows and events, people have come to expect this model of a white-washed, almost photoshopped version of an artist performing live…one that is completely devoid of flaws, perpetuating super sterile performances with no edge, no “realness”…no humanity. Our responsibility as artists is to move people…get them to feel…make a statement…tug on heart strings…how can you do that if the emotion has been removed by wiping everything squeaky clean and making it all generic and safe? Look at clips of old school insanely talented artists like James Brown and Elvis…they were amazing…real…raw…on point…they were anything but “safe”, and they kicked ass! They would have sooner jumped off a cliff than used “auto-tune” or committed to lip-synching! Can you imagine?! I’d like to see the return to real raw artistry with respect to live music.
When it comes to the music business, name one band/artist that you think is “doing it right?”
I guess that depends on who you are talking to and how you qualify “doing it right? There are great artists and songwriters who are either bad at running their own business, or who the major labels market wrongly, and then there are others who are lucky enough to have left and right brain ability and can do both and manage to become successful and well-known popularly. Wasn’t it James Brown who said something like, “they call it the Music Business…there’s the music and the business…and I intend to do both”. Yeah you know, Bruno Mars is particularly impressive to me. He has the whole package…he is a hugely talented vocalist and songwriter who writes successful hit songs, and also plays drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and harmonica. He is a dancer and an actor, comic and great stylistic impersonator who can write, sing and perform in a multitude of genres across the board…rock, R&B, pop, reggae, soul, funk…and the guy puts on one of the most crazy high-energy entertaining live shows around. Doesn’t hurt that he is known in the industry for being extremely hard-working, humble and likeable. Yeah I’d say the guy is doing something right.
What’s the biggest challenge emerging musicians face in the music business?
In the end it always boils down to budgetary obstacles doesn’t it? Especially as an indie artist without major label backing or funding…you need money to do things like recording and releasing new music, touring, press, marketing…the list goes on…and the challenge of trying to maintain being creative the whole time while finding sources of income and building your fan base “brick by brick” can be daunting.