I was given the opportunity to chat with Matty Amendola of 825 Records, and we discussed his record label, musical background, and, of course, social media. Recently, he developed a social media strategy for one of his artists, Jay Shepard, where fans could vote on which of four songs would be Shepard’s first single. The plan was even more successful than they could have planned for–so much so that their servers crashed in the first half hour because of the high demand!
Read on to find out what else Matty had to say and what his thoughts are on the changing music industry. Be sure to leave any questions or comments for Matty below, and you can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter!
1. Tell me a little about how you got started in music, and how that led to the development of 825 Records.
My father (Billy Amendola) was a very succesful session musician so I followed in his footsteps. I started playing drums at an extremely early age and then later picked up other instruments. I was playing on some major sessions and gigs when I was 12-13 years old and I’ve been working as a session musician & producer ever since. (I’m now 23 years old) I produce A LOT of artists and when I feel like I have someone really special, I sign them to 825.
2. Who is 825 Records?
Without me there would be no 825 Records but my artist roster has definitely brought it to what it is today. The first release on the label was my debut solo album =ecstasy. Shortly after that we released albums from former “Miss Trinidad & Tobago” Tiva Lee, Grammy Award Winning – Toni Rose, singer/songwriter Fleet Walker, singing duo The Lovegoods, & in July, one of NYC’s most in-demand guitar players, Jay Shepard.
2. What is the significance of the 825?
We’re a complete one-stop-shop indie label that specializes in artist development and works with artists from the ground up. From the recording, to the distribution, promotion, marketing, and everything in between.
3. How does social media play into your artist strategies within the record label?
We mainly use Facebook and a simple website to build an artist’s fanbase and then we add YouTube, SoundCloud, & Twitter once the fan base has a solid foundation. If a fan in a different country feels like they are truly getting to know an artist because of their content on social networks, then I’m happy. I stress to all my artists to be very honest on social networks. Split it 50-50. Some days promote what you have going on, and other days show people that you’re human just like them. People respect that…
We also have a password protected site for press where other professionals can download/stream full albums, download press releases, photos, video, etc. People really dig it.
4. Do you use social media as a way to promote the label itself? How so/Which tools do you find work well for you?
We’re all about cross promotion. Everyone gets tagged on everything. The artist, the label, the musicians, etc. Word starts to spread 3x as fast when it’s done that way. Everyone’s name is getting mentioned and most importantly, getting seen. Exposure for everybody!
5. You recently used social media as part of a release for your artist Jay Shepard. What was the development process like for that idea?
I knew that we were building hype for a long time and I didn’t want his Facebook followers to lose interest. Jay & I both have busy schedules with traveling, working with other projects and it took us some time to finish his album together. We threw around some ideas when we completed the album and we both thought giving away a single for free would be great to keep people happy and interested for another few months before the full album release. We strongly feel that every song on this album could be a solid, radio-friendly single so I figured why not pick 4 that nobody has ever heard before and let them choose.
6. You had about 7000 votes placed in the first half hour, and your servers couldn’t quite handle it. Did you expect this type of response? What is that number in relation to Jay’s fan base?
The fans absolutely loved it and he also gained over 1000 new “likes” on Facebook in the span of 1 month. I didn’t expect it to be so crazy but it worked! Every fan, family member, friend, and even strangers who just saw that everyone else was doing it logged into his site and casted their vote. It was fun and I think the fact that it felt like a community effort really struck people. When it comes down to it, that’s exactly what it should be all about.
Jay’s been a very well known guitar player in NYC for the past 5 years. He’s played thousands of shows and worked with hundreds of different bands but this is his first solo effort. It’s the first time he’s the artist. His fan base practically just started growing and we will make sure it doesn’t slow down.
7. Now that the voting has finished, what is the next part of the plan?
The winner was a song called “Last Man On Earth.” We put it up as a free download on his site www.jayshepard-harshmistress.com and contacted every indie rock, internet, college radio station, and blog that we could. We told everyone the entire story and people thought it was so cool. The song hasn’t even been out for a month yet but it’s being played across the world daily on radio and the bloggers have really liked spreading the word about the whole thing.
I think even if the song sucked, people would still play it just because of the success of voting process and that whole promotion campaign. (haha) The song does not suck though. It’s great and I think because the fans voted for it, it reflects how people view Jay as an artist.
8. Will you use this strategy for any of your other artists? Why or why not? If yes, what would you differently the next time around?
It depends on the situation. I’m totally against giving away music for free but this time we did it in a creative way, kept fan’s interest, and gained fans in return.
9. In what ways do you feel social media has affected the music industry?
Well nowadays anybody can make it seem like they’re “something” if they utilize social media the right way, but that doesn’t mean their music is good. There’s always a good and a bad. The good is that you can reach billions of people on your own without even leaving your house. The bad is that things are kinda clogged up right now. Bloggers, radio promoters and everyone else who accepts music submissions are overwhelmed. All artists need now is a SoundCloud or Facebook page to waste someones time, or send them the best thing anyone has ever heard…
10. Do you use streaming services (such as Spotify or Rdio) to promote your artists? Which ones and why?
We’ve used Spotify on our most recent releases but I’m not a huge fan. I’d still like for people to either buy a physical copy or go on iTunes or Amazon. People appreciate something more when they pay for it, instead of having a pool of everlasting music 24/7.
I did do something interesting with “The Lovegoods EP” release though. I asked every friend I knew who used Spotify to listen to the EP at the same day and same time… They all did and my Facebook newsfeed was full of “so and so is listening to The Lovegoods EP on Spotify.” It was pretty interesting because The Lovegoods’ page “likes” tripeled that day. I’ll definitely be using that strategy again in the future!
11. What do you think is next for the digital music industry?
Well the “digital music industry” or as I like to call it, “the new music industry” isn’t such a new thing anymore. People are settling into how things work and I hope some real talent will start emerging.
12. Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I’d like to thank As The Music Plays and everyone for reading. Please feel free to say “hey” on my Facebook wall: www.facebook.com/mattyamendolamusic
See that shamless plug right there? I hope you’ve learned something today =]
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