- I like you. It's pronounced /wordy/. Past lives: Billboard, Rolling Stone. #vegan #music #musicbiz #sustainability Instagram: @billwerde
As the editor of Billboard for five years ending in 2014, I worked closely with musicians and the music business alike. I can provide musical/a&r feedback along with advice for planning career moves: pr, social media, branding, distribution etc.
- music industry, music promotion, music marketing, music publishing, music business, film / video, music, digital media
- hip-hop, rock, electronic, indie, edm, music, r&b
- New York, NY
Great track, great song. exceptional vocals. unique style that sounds completely unforced. as a guy that has done a lot of work in the pro-social spaces, and also once ran billboard, i always want to like politically active music more than i actually end up liking it--it's almost like too many activists feel like the message is so important, they dont still have to craft a great song. this is interesting and intricate and made me want more. to the extent i have constructive feedback, it's just that US radio isnt ready to play anything unless you can beat the audience over the head with a chorus that starts early and repeats often. if you want this important message--and others like it--to be heard by the masses, you may want to think about production edits along these lines. Thanks for sending this-- i'm going to share the link on Twitter later tonight or tomorrow.
1. What are your thoughts on the song and production? It depends on what your goals are. I'm going to answer as if your goal is commercial success, as R&B pop is a very commercial forum. In this context, i'd say the song shows potential but isnt quite ready for prime time yet. I like your subdued vocal style--your voice has a nice timbre to it. But the production left me a little flat and the rap left me flat too. Production needs to vary tempos and build--more on that in my feedback section, below. 2. Is this song something you would normally listen to or share through your network? Not at this time. I'd love to hear another go at it though, if you decide to incorporate feedback. 3. If you could give a two sentence description of Mawule's music, what would it be? I'm not comfortable pigeon holing the music like this, at this time. Right now it's amateur R&B/pop that shows some potential but still needs some work to be a great song, as opposed to just being a good song for an amateur artist. Feedback: around :53, you have a beautiful caesura/pause and then open up into the melodic hook that goes through the song. My two cents is, keep building on this, so that at a later point in the song (say around 2:47 when you come back to it) you can really open up that seem--let it soar. As a case in point, check out how Ellie Goulding builds the hook on "Love Me Like You Do" ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJtDXIazrMo )--check how it pauses and then soars at around the 2:00 mark and then how it repeats but even bigger, even more powerful at around 3:15. People want to be moved in a song--not just by the lyrics, but by the music pulling and tugging them to different places and feelings. Also, just another thought: you focus heavily on your Ghanaian heritage in your bio, which is cool. Havr you thought about weaving some subtle elements of the incredibly rich Ghanaian musical tradition into your production or stylings? I'm not saying you have to sound like a classical Ghanaian singer. But a little instrumental or production nod might be something fun to explore. i think it's an opportunity to possibly differentiate your sound a bit, and deliver music consistent with the narrative you're offering in your bio.
cant tell you how rare this is, but there isnt really much i can recommend changing about this. really loved the whole thing. Theres a tension and an element of uncomfortable confession in all the right ways--lyrically, musically--that keeps me feeling like maybe im listening to something i shouldnt be. And that's rock and roll. Love the Watsky contribution. Noticed a few little things that i love, an example being--and maybe i'm just hearing this--but a slight pause for the lyrics at around :42 that sort of brings to life the contemplation of the line (but no one really knows the true self). Bad-add guitar solo starts at 2:36. I dont think this is a radio hit, but thats more to rock radio's discredit than anything else. If you want t head more in that direction, you need to push up and out a strong, addictive chorus that hits early and often; the musical hook--that guitar riff that anchors the track--is great.
This is really good. I dont say that lightly. i hear a ton of hip-hop/rap where the beat isnt half as good as this. and your flow is really strong too. love some of the rhymes. The part that starts at :47 is especially clever (... "without a plan you plan to fail"). Also "using beats to teach what teachers aint taught." some great ideas and conceots your exploring here and your ambition and focus on self-empowerment generally comes across as inspiring. On the feedback side, there's a couple of things that could make this track pop much more. I think you need to play with varying your tempos and sounds; as much as i like the groove youve laid down, and as much as i like your flow, both start to get a bit same-y by the end of the track--a little monotonous. check out and think about what some other great rappers have done with this idea: holding a pause, wrapping an extra syllable into the next bar, etc. I'm not saying you should do these things specifically. I'm suggesting you should find a way to break up the track and the flow a little more than you do. Maybe pop out the hook or chorus a little more, maybe work an interesting textural sound in (whistle, clap, bell, etc) at a certain repeated point that makes sense. A lot of this feedback depends on what it is you're shooting for, though. If your goal is just to drop the smartest rhymes you can over a good beat and make something that sounds good for the underground, i think you've got it. If you want something that feels like it fits in with other hit tracks right now, i'd spend some time listening to whatever you think is hot and charting right now, and ask yourself what part of it is most addicting. This DOESNT mean try to sound like everyone else. It means study the mysterious science of hits a bit, and figure out some approaches and techniques that would work with your unique voice. Cant stress enough though: there's a lot to like about this track. You have skills as a producer and a rapper. Keep on working at it. Hit me up if you have any further questions. And good luck!
hard to form a deep opinion of music in the limited window that fluence allows for (or at least that $20 covers :). But i really liked this. Good sign is when parts of the track are stuck in my head by second listen. the track is great, no doubt. to be really honest, i waffled a bit on the vocal at first. ended up a believer.
I liked this. The chorus is stronger than the verses in my opinion. The chorus is memorable and has a nice intensity. The verses get a bit samey in flow; it feels like that's kind of the style you're going for--stone cold and methodical, maybe like Tyga/"Rack City"?. But without a little bit more clever wordplay to make me want to listen a lot more closely, and without a more gripping track, it fell a little flat of making me fall in love. Seriously though, there's a good base here. I hope you wont be discouraged. I'd just love to hear you get a little more creative/have a bit more panache on the rhymes.
I loved the joy of this track--the build, the instrumental chops and the repetition of chorus were all very Phish for me, which i have to assume is a major influence. These sorts of songs struggle to develop a huge base online; i'm thinking you really want to focus your efforts on building your touring base. Without seeing your live show, its hard for me to say, but this type of music just lends it self so purely to the live arena, and suffers in the pop-singles-driven YouTube culture. This is why Phish videos have thousands or tens of thousands of YouTube views compared to pop stars with tens of millions, even though Phish can sell exponentially more tickets. The live band really has to get creative in marketing themselves. Take the 50 people that come to your shows and find a way to offer 2-for-1 ticket nights. Make sure you're giving people the chance to provide you with email address and cell numbers so you can let them know when you're playin dates. And REALLY focus on the live show. Not just your chops but your creativity and your engagement with the audience. A bit more feedback for the track itself: i love the guitar lick in the 1:10 to 1:30 range, and the vocal tempo that emerges from that, and the guitar solo that is basically the bridge. For the life of me, i cant understand what you're singing in the chorus, right before the "can you hear it ringing in your ear" part. Is it "It got out here"? This is somewhat frustrating, as it's a refrain repeated throughout the entire song. All in all, good stuff. I'd love to hear more.
its a good teaser - great energy, some good defining of the power of the female demo as a business target. but what is viiv? perhaps edit down some of the big picture positioning and give me some sense of what viiv actually is? by this i mean share some specifics, some tactical knowledge. is it a content site? an advertising network? a cable network? a movie studio? when is it rolling out? etc. When i first started watching this i thought it was cool that someone finally used Fluence to pitch a media idea as opposed to a song. I thought i'd share it on my networks. But i don't know enough about what it is to do that... Also, and somewhat to the same point, you may want to insert some form of direct call to action? You display what i presume the URL is at the end of this video, but 1. i shouldn't presume, you should tell me, "visit viiv.tv..." and you should tell me why: "...to sign up for future updates" or "...to see our slate of fall programming" or, and ideally, to receive something of value--some free piece of content, etc. my 2 cents. love the energy and the idea, like i said. good luck!
really like this. strong vibe, nice track, good flow, good story. the whole thing is strong. it makes me want to look for more from the artist, as i think there's real potential here. that said, this track feels more like an interlude or an album cut, and not a hit unto itself (though I'm not sure thats your goal, here, anyway). the backing track isn't quite unique/melodic enough to real stick in my mind, and the "she never had a chance" hook, while definitely memorable/sticky isn't quite the sort of "addictive like crack," bombastic hook that works at radio today (in general, the tempo isn't whats happening at radio). None of this is a negative, really - its all to just say its a good track that makes me want to hear more. i could hear a hit coming from this artist.
this really grew on me over a few listens. on first listen i liked it, but thought it might be a little flat - that could be a million things, from my speakers to the compression to the mix. i went off and listened to some songs that i thought were in the same vein - in particular, lightning seeds "pure," postal service, chvrches "mother we share." i was going for ethereal, pretty electronic indie rock that i loved and trying to figure what was missing from "spirit." because again, to be clear, i really liked the parts but the sum didn't completely enslave me on first listen. the only thing i really came up with was i might like to hear this mixed with the voice maybe 5 percent higher in the mix. but to be honest, by the time i went back and listened to "spirit" a second or third time after listening to those other songs, i came to think it compared quite favorably - the hooks/chorus were sticking more, i found myself anticipating builds, appreciating the stripped down bridge etc. This is great stuff. One of the few Fluence submissions I'm happy to organically share with my network. Congrats!
i kinda sub this - enough, certainly that i clicked through and listened to some of your other songs - artemis, yonkers, capitola. i like that you sen rooted in being a singer-songwriter but you take these risks/experiments where you're creating some really angular and unusual songs. for this particular submission, i really liked the track - the slide-y guitar sound that forms the minimalist hook is clever enough. i'd remix it with the voice much higher in the mix though. it may just be the equipment your using but its hard to understand all of your words and i suspect it's a interesting story you're telling. plus, sonically, it just seems a little out of balance -- too much track overwhelming the vocal. also i think this track is interesting enough that id love to hear you flesh it out with a chorus that has some meaning and a good hook. you could have something here. good luck and thanks for the submission!
This is one of the better submissions I've received here, particularly in terms of the tightness and ambition of the band and the vocal potential of the singer. This is an act that really has the potential to go somewhere. Some (hopefully) constructive feedback: I feel like the vocals could be tighter, clearer, more enunciated occasionally in a way that might let them pack more actual lyrical punch. "She only wants a winner" gets a little space to breathe as a lyric; I actually wish it got a little more. I'd play with that a bit to see if you can't make that deliver more feeling, more sneer and attitude. Maybe try a quick bear of silence before ripping that line out? Maybe end on it hard stop, no backing music at the end? I felt, sometimes, listening to this song on repeat, that this was a brassier, less attitudinal version of the black crowes. And while the brassier part Is pretty cool for you and for the listener, the less attitudinal part isn't a compliment. This feels to me like a song that demands a bit more sweat and sinew then I ultimately got from the performance. I mean, this song is supposed to be the brass rock version of Cee Lo's "F*ck You," lyrically, isn't it? Similarly, on the vocal enunciation tip, where you sing (I think?) "black jack do it again," especially the last time, the words kind of rush out. I think you're going for style points but I think it diminishes the impact of the lyrics a bit. So as much as I like the components here, and see obvious talent, the sum isn't adding up to be greater than the parts for me in that magical way that happens when I hear a smash. For whatever it's worth, I attribute a lot of that to the vocal performance. Again, to be clear: I think the vocal talent is a clear strength. I just would love to see you go back and work on some of the phrasing and pacing on this performance and see what more you can wring out of it. A little space here or there and I think you might surprise yourself.
This is the sort of track i particularly struggle with when it comes to feedback. Because on one hand, you've created a great vibe, a great feeling with this music. It drips that '80s electro/freestyle house vibe that, as a guy born in the mid-70s i absolutely love. On the other hand, however, what i love about those '80s freestyle classics isn't just that feeling that house DJs started aggressively sampling Speak & Spells (Google it, if you're young). It's that they also used these fantastic textures and grooves to create fully-conceived, and sometimes phenomenal songs. Check this link, if Fluence lets you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QIAW7tz0oA Listen to those vocal hooks! I say this especially in response to your work because, as much as I love the feeling and sound, 1. it does't really take me anyplace. Even without vocals I'd push you to make the track more epic, build in some pacing, take the song places. And 2. that little hint of a (i think) female vocal sample you use is one of the more compelling parts if the track. So in short: good start, but find a singer and build a song out of this. This track deserves it! Good luck...
This music is very good at evoking feelings: anxiety, mystery, claustrophobia, intensity. Definitely makes me curious to hear more. I'd like to know if you ever apply this voice and these textures to more conventional song-writing approaches. Bloggers are kind of a ground game. I think identifying and targeting a small handful at a time of those who wrote about the sort of music you make is an obvious starting point. Bloggers generally don't respond well to being spammed (who does?), so a personal note that shows a knowledge of their blog and why your song or songs would make sense for review there would probably go a long way. Similar advice for labels: find the smaller ones releasing the kind of music you make, and start there. From this one song, it doesn't sound like you're making music with an especially commercial goal -- this doesn't sound like top 40 -- so keep that in mind when thinking about labels. Good luck!
You've got a decent idea for a hook here with the "so much easier if you could read my mind" chorus. And overall, this is a simple, happy little effort. But in general I think the song and performance needs some work if what you're seeking is commercial success. The writing is a little predictable in its ABAB rhyme scheme plodding. Can you find less cliche
I feel lame because I don't have much to add to this from a constructive POV. Because it's really stunning, enchanting and a lot of other words that sound dangerously like cliched hyperbole. But this is some of my favorite sort of music, a new form of pop that doesn't necessarily seek (and certainly doesn't take its cues from) radio. Hooks are present but not insipid. The point of the songs is an much to communicate a feeling as a lyrical notion. And the video's artfulness lives up to the song. In short, after I'm done with this session I'll be looking to see what other songs are available. If I force myself to come up with something constructive to say, I could maybe push you on the lyrics; I think writing can always be more clear, more poetic, more metaphoric, more something. But really, this is a beautiful track. I'll add it to playlist full of guitar-meets-synth freshness, and maybe use Chvrches as a reference point for friends. I have to think music supervisors would love this for its tempo and atmospherics. Kudos!
its hard to give feedback without knowing what your goals are for the song. im impressed by the ability of this song to create a feeling and a distinct energy; feels very 60s surf meets punk/shoegaze. i like the feel. the buried distorted vocals means this isnt for the masses. is radio a goal? pull out a chorus and clean up the vocals a bit. is synch a goal? you might want some of the lyrics more clear so they can better define a scene. are you just making music to follow your own vision? then youve done ace work!
Love the texture, love the dreaminess. Some producers go too far with it and it becomes too whimsical but this is nicely grounded by the beat. Wish you gave it a full 3-5 minutes because I'd like to see what you layer into this -- where the song would go. The best at this sort of dreamscape edm are plaid (check "not for threes"), aphex twin's prettier moments, mixmaster morris and a few others in that oeuvre. Good luck!