Atlantic Records’ Soul Years

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Atlantic Records has a long and storied history based around two popular eras throughout its lifespan: the soul and rock eras respectively. Both Joe Morris and The Clovers were hit acts that kicked off Atlantic’s presence in the soul and rhythm and blues scenes. By the time the company acquired Stax Records, it had already signed and produced hits by the likes of Ray Charles, The Coasters and Bobby Darin.

It was Solomon Burke who really put Atlantic’s soul offerings on the map, kicking off an era of the 60s categorized by some of the most iconic artists in recording history. Dusty Springfield, Pink Floyd, Doris Troy, Aretha Franklin and more signed during this era.

Doris Troy began as a backup act to Dusty Springfield before launching her own recordings. Her song “Just One Look” has been covered by many artists throughout the history of music.

1967 was a new peak for the recording company. Aretha Franklin had risen to become “The Queen of Soul”, and she officially came on board in 1967. Aretha’s husband was rumored to have caused a great deal of tension during those recording sessions, but under the direction of Frank Wexler Franklin made a successful transition back to her roots in gospel. That year, she recorded “I Never Loved a Man,” “Respect”, Baby, I Love You”, “Chain of Fools” and “Since You’ve Been Gone” among others.

The company also signed Sonny & Cher, who would land on the Billboard Top 100 with “I Got You Babe,” a soulful single that would sell more than a million copies in the USA.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn.

Five ways to make a low budget music video

A good music video can really help you get more gigs, engage with your target audiences and make your music a lot more popular. The tips below will assist you in creating a good music video without breaking the bank.

  1. Two cameras are a must – If you’re on a budget opt for two cheap cameras, but this does mean that you will have to shoot in lesser quality. This is not always a bad thing, since once your video is uploaded it would have to be compressed. The great thing about using multiple cameras, is the ability to shoot different angles and have a backup recording just in case you loose footage.
  1. Lighting – Good lighting is vital, since video generally records darker than real life. If the video is shot outside during the day, choose a clear sunny day. If you are shooting at night, include a few extra lights if lighting is dim.
  2. Audio quality – Audio quality is needed for a successful music video. If you can’t afford buying good quality mics, you can rent them for a fraction of the cost. Stay clear of built in camera mics, since the audio tends to be echo-y.
  1. Editing – Basic editing software is sufficient and available for Mac (iMovie) and PC (Movie Maker). If you are unsure on how to use such software, online video tutorials are freely available.
  1. Resize your video – Once you have created your video, you may find that the file size is rather large. Compress them to a image size and quality you think is acceptable. The software mentioned above, will guide you on the quality suitable for web or DVD.



5 road safety tips for musicians on tour

Making sure you arrive safely from one gig to the next is as important as giving your fans your best performance. In order to reach your destination on time and safely, follow the tips below;


  1. Check your vehicle- Gigs can be a fair distance from one another, to ensure that you make your gigs on time, check your vehicle’s fluids, tires (tire pressure and ball joints), lights and windscreen wipers.
  2. Pack your equipment safely- Make sure all your equipment is safely packed at the back of your vehicle. Place the heavier objects at the bottom with the lighter ones on top. Secure your equipment with cables, to ensure that they stay in place in the event of an impact.
  3. Be cautious- Make sure you tailor your driving according to your weather conditions. This means that if you are experiencing very bad weather, stop your vehicle in a safe well lit area, until the weather clears. At least 10 hours prior to driving, make sure your driver is clear of any alcohol or drugs. Designate one of your band members to sit next to the driver to assist him/ her with the GPS and to make sure the driver does not fall asleep.
  4. Take your time- Ensure that you have sufficient time to reach a gig. If possible make sure that on long drives your band can get a few hours rest at a motel. Always designate at least 2 drivers for long drives and alternate.
  5. Be prepared for emergencies – Carry a first aid box, battery cables, a flashlight, flares, warm clothing and a cell phone battery charger.

5 branding tips for musicians

The life of a musician can be a difficult one, with booking gigs, performing and making sure you’re making ends meet. Branding is one of the most important elements of a musician’s success, and one that is often missed or approached wrongly. Brand yourself better with the following tips;

colormusic1Create an image

Make sure you have a clear idea of what type of image you want the public to perceive you as. Understand your personality, your music and ensure you have room to expand and grow within your chosen image.

Do your research

Look for bands and musicians that you relate to as an artist. Research on how they communicate with their fan base.


Make sure the venues and people you associate with represent the image you want to create.

Social Media

When creating your brand and opening up to the public via social media, be cautious. Remember that once you post a picture or your views online, although you can delete it, it would have been viewed by your fan base and most often reposted. Therefore, make sure your posts represent you and your brand. If you are unsure of how your fan base would react to a post, don’t post it.

It’s important to make sure you understand that creating your own brand as a musician takes time, effort and many years of work. This is how all great artists have come to where they are today. So till then be patient, live modestly and work hard.

3 Music Marketing Tips for the Indie Musician

Given the growing the digital landscape, musicians can learn more about various social media distribution channels and boost their career as a result.

Even if you can’t make it to workshops and panels that are available especially for indie musicians, the internet can be a resource to help you get started too.

Here are 3 music marketing tips for the indie musician:

1: Keep something ready to give

No matter how small or insignificant it is, make sure you have something to give. This could be a business card, T-shirts or even CDs for that matter. Also, ensure that it is something that someone remembers you for. It could even be something as weird as sunglasses which doesn’t matter because it tends to be a popular giveaway these days.

colorfastmusic2 2: Be nimble and flexible

It’s very important to be flexible. Something will go wrong. You have to be flexible and nimble in order to roll with the punches. For example, your album might be due to be released but there will be some issues that will cause a delay. Blowing your top over it will not help. Instead, try and put a positive spin to it as this will avoid any controversy or won’t put people off.

3: Don’t neglect the back catalog

In the old music industry, musicians only had a limited time to do what they could to market their songs, thanks to a limited self life. This is gone for good. There have been cases when old songs have received the attention they deserve long after they’ve been forgotten. So, your back catalog is more of an asset than you can imagine. It’s always going to be new to someone. Just don’t neglect it.

4 Tips to Consider When Flying With Your Instrument

The days when a musician could carry his instrument as cabin luggage are gone. You have to check it in at the gate. Unfortunately, airlines have policies that prevent musicians from traveling with their instrument.

Here are 4 tips when flying with your instrument:

1: Know your rights

As of March 2015, musicians are allowed to carry small instruments onboard if there is storage space available. These instruments include violins, guitars, saxophones etc. So, according to these new regulations, your instrument is now considered as normal carry-on luggage.

2: Think about booking an extra seat

You can book another seat as “seat baggage”. Most airlines will accept large instruments like cellos or double basses. In fact, doing so will prevent the payment of airport fees etc. This is truly worth considering if you are booking ahead of time.

colorfastmusic13: Pick the toughest case possible

One reason why airlines do not allow instrument as cabin luggage is because the cases might be bulky. You can consider purchasing compact cases that a number of companies have on offer. One recommendation is to not use a soft gig bag because if they do choose to check it in, your instrument will not survive the trip.

4: Avoid traveling with other musicians if you can help it

It’s not a good idea to travel with other musicians as this will draw attention to the group. Try and separate yourself from the group if you can. Also, remember that if you are traveling during the holidays, airline personnel will be stressed and so they can be less lenient than they will be otherwise.

3 Things Businesses Can Learn From Musicians

Most people attribute the collapse of the music industry to the mp3 format, Napster or even the introduction of the iPod.

Actually, some experts believe that it was John Cougar Mellencamp who brought about this change when he recorded a song titled ‘Our Country’ for Chevy.

This was back in 2006. While people considered him to be a ‘sell out’, he knew ahead of time that the traditional way of reaching out to consumers and making money through his music was all but done.

It’s no different with what happens today as traditional forms of advertising is starting to fade away.

Much like musicians like Mellencamp, it’s important for businesses to stay ahead of the curve too. Here are 3 things businesses can learn from musicians today:

1: Use Social-Media Influencers

Musicians are promoting their own music by developing a sizeable social media following. This also helps them to promote certain products to a large extent. Best part: they’re not considered as sell outs either.

colorfastmusic22: Product placement

Product placement in television shows as well as the movies has been around for a number of years now. Musicians continue to use creative ways to get noticed like this – take for instance, Radiohead that released their album, In Rainbows, for free. This is due to the lack of effectiveness that commercials offer and with more and more people moving to the internet. Of course, with ad blockers introduced recently, it can be difficult to do this but it’s still possible in niche and smaller markets.

3: Think About Using The Medium of Podcasts

Musicians are taking complete control of their product by using the channels available to them over the internet. Spotify and Pandora comes to mind and this is despite them making almost nothing. Yet what it does for little-known artists is that it introduces to millions of people around the world. They’re able to hold the attention of potential consumers – something that wasn’t possible only a decade ago.

4 Tips For Musicians to Land A Gig Quickly

Landing a gig especially when there’s so much competition in big cities can be a daunting task.

Yet it isn’t as overwhelming it feels given that there are so many musicians who have overcome this in time.

Well, you don’t have to face the ups and downs that a number of musicians have faced before you.

1: Professionalism

Professionalism is key to making it happen in the music industry. It doesn’t how good your music is. If you cannot present yourself well either by email, phone or in person, it will not work. If you fail with this, then prepare to be overlooked by a venue or booking agent every time.

2: Quality over quantity

Without a doubt, playing to five empty rooms every month will hardly make your promoter happy. Instead, try and play just one show but to a packed house. This approach will work much better.

3: Collaborate with other artists

When you collaborate with artists who can bring a big crowd, this has all the making of a very successful show. This is probably the best way to land gigs not unless you already have a large following of your own. It’s also a wonderful way to meet other artists who might ask you to play on shows of theirs too.

4: Attend open mic

An excellent way to land a gig is by attending any open mic that are hosted at venues. This way you get to show them your face but also the music that you play. In chatting with the person running the open mic, you can also land a gig or at least, find out how to get one too. Of course, if you’ve landed gig, use an open mic to promote if you’d like.


3 Tips to Consider When Hosting an Audition

There are a number of reasons to conduct auditions. Some of these include screening potential members for an ensemble, awarding scholarships, picking who plays a solo or even placing students in classes and private instructors.

Since there are hundreds of people who will have to be judged at these auditions, it can get a bit tiring and sometimes, overwhelming for the judges involved.

Still it is vital that you make an excellent choice as this can have repercussions later on that might be difficult to deal with.

So, here are 3 tips to consider when hosting an audition:

colorfastmusic21: The Ideal Candidate

Before the auditions begin, ensure that you know what you are looking for in an ideal candidate. Simply put, what should the person be able to do. You will have to test the individual for a number of aspects including sight reading, ear training, improvisation and their knowledge of scales and so on and so forth.

2: Use a Scoring System

First, you determine what criteria you consider important to select a person among those who are auditioning. Then score them according to their importance so as to add up to a total for each participant. In some cases, you might have a few people with the same score. Have a column for ‘Stars’ which is an indicator of special talent. A comments section should also be useful.

3: More Than One Judge

The ideal number is three judges instead of having just one person who does the auditioning. After each audition, you can review notes and scores so as to agree on an overall score. Another advantage with a few more judges is that they can pick up on mistakes that you might not be able to.

3 Costs Associated With Learning Music

Learning an instrument is definitely a sound investment. For the simple reason that an education can never be taken away from you.

In fact, it is just as important as going to school. Yes, taking music lessons should be seen as an important element of your overall education.

But there are costs associated with learning an instrument that you must keep in mind. Here are 3 of these costs that you should consider:

colorfastmusic11: Tuition

This varies depending on whether you want a private tutor or don’t mind take lessons in a group. It goes without saying that private tutors are the most expensive. Tuition for the other type depends on where you enroll. Public schools are less expensive than private ones. One last thing: the length of the lessons will also affect the cost too.

2: Sheet Music

The school or teacher you study with will provide books or sheet music as part of your tuition. If not, you’ll have to buy them yourself. One way to do this cheaper is to photocopy the sheet music instead. Of course, as you develop your musicianship, you’ll start buying music that you want to personally master.

3: Instrument & Other Equipment

Your instrument will be a major investment that you cannot ignore. For this reason, ensure that you choose one that is of high quality and that will last much longer than usual. Also, depending on the kind of instrument you wish to master, you will have to purchase other equipment too. While this might not be necessary when you’re just starting off, make sure you do your research when you reach this point.