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“AFTER DOING SOME USER TESTING AND INTERVIEWS, IT BECAME CLEAR THAT I HAD A REAL WINNER ON MY HANDS… AIRBNB FOR THE CREATIVE SPACES”

Written by: Natalya Davies          Updated: 28th February 2019


Absolutely Audio Founder Natalya Davies sits down with Gabriel Isserlis, CEO and Founder of impressive new music startup ‘Tutti’ “a tool for musicians, made by musicians”.


 

The music industry is a volatile space that is no stranger to the presence of complex issues, notorious for its disruption within the creative community. Luckily for artists, there is always an innovative startup just around the corner, geared with “Robin Hood-esque” armour; to take clout from the powerful and give to the needy.

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Image: Gabriel Isserlis, Tutti

It is only fitting then, that music startup ‘Tutti’ plans to do exactly that.

Tutti, a space rental service otherwise described as the “Airbnb for the creative spaces”, was launched only three months ago in November 2018 and is quickly making its mark in its primary territory; London. With a vibrant background in music and the arts, CEO and Founder Gabriel Isserlis understands the full spectrum of problems faced by the average artist and has made it his duty to make a difference.

On the matter, Isserlis states “Tutti is enabling artists to have access to cheaper, closer, and more inspiring spaces, while also building a community of collaboration and activity”. Alongside this, the company is also providing a unique opportunity and revenue stream for property owners of all kinds to repurpose their free space and contribute to the creative community.

The website, which will likely be accompanied by an impressive app in mid-2019, was created with the aim of providing a wide range of rehearsal spaces for the very specific needs (and budgets) of any creative; amateur or professional. When discussing the subject of consumer benefits, Isserlis notes that while there are many services to aid with performance and live events, the options for large-scale companies which offer services for the development stages, prior to the event, are notably minimal. Therefore, Tutti has devoted its service to nurturing and developing creativity in its early stages.

“TUTTI IS ENABLING ARTISTS TO HAVE ACCESS TO CHEAPER, CLOSER AND MORE INSPIRING SPACE, WHILE ALSO BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF COLLABORATION AND ACTIVITY”

Just as you would expect from a company operating in the very sophisticated 21st century, Tutti’s infrastructure is built on the core values and demands of its target audience, emanating the attention and care towards the consumer and their experience. As a result, even the manner in which the business concept has been monetised reflects a deep understanding of the lifestyle and financial position of the average creative.

As of now, Tutti’s space rental service is completely free up until the point of payment between the artist and the property owner, whom the company then takes a 15% commission from. It is the company’s key objective to make the rehearsal process as easy, secure and cheap as possible for creatives, despite any potential implications it may have on business aspects.

With Tutti, encouraging creativity and a strong sense of community for all really is at the heart of everything that they do, making it a startup which should be on the radar of any artist or industry enthusiast. Luckily for you, we have done some research for you…

 


WHAT IS THE MAIN FOCUS OF TUTTI?

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“Well right now, there are a lot of services that connect people; artists to spaces and people to spaces for their various uses; but all of them focus on end results so, the performance. There’s a lot of them and they all seem to focus on events. None of them are focused on what leads up to the events, which is the practice, the rehearsal, all of that. So that is what Tutti focuses on.


 

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU WISH TO EXPAND YOUR OFFERING?

“One of them is, we will start offering events; networking and collaboration events, gigging and sightreading and some fun stuff for our community members. We’ll do that when I have a team that can help me put those on. We really want to promote collaboration, connectivity and see what forms of art can come out of the connections that we make between our community members. And that’s really exciting.

And then offer just a sense of fun. One thing that so many startups, so many companies out there seem to lose is their sense of fun. We have a colourful website already and we’re actually refreshing it. We’re working on new designs for an even more colourful website that’s coming. So yes, a sense of fun, a focus on collaboration and a very open and welcoming service to all.

“WE REALLY WANT TO PROMOTE COLLABORATION, CONNECTIVITY AND SEE WHAT FORMS OF ART CAN COME OUT OF THE CONNECTIONS WE MAKE BETWEEN OUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS”

Another service we will offer is insurance to the venues that need it. So if they need insurance for bookings, when they set up they can request that. And if they sidestep us, they don’t receive that protection anymore.

And an additional plan is a loyalty reward system, like a coffee shop loyalty card, but for rehearsal spaces. Simple, but useful. The plan is to make this service so easy, so good, in comparison to every other option out there, that there simply won’t be a need for other options.


 

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS IDEA?

“There’s a lot of sides to that. Basically, my family has a background in music. My Dad’s side of the family have been professional level musicians for generations. We also date back to, well, Felix Mendelssohn, the classical composer was in our family tree. I travelled around the world with my Dad when I was a kid, as he was touring, and I got to meet a lot of musicians and I got to hear a lot of music problems and musician’s problems.

When I was in University, I had no intention of going into music. I thought I would stay well clear of that because there was too much pressure. So, I studied film and then got bored of that and decided to do I.T. because I loved technology. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I graduated and then I was like, “you know what, why don’t I combine my knowledges?”. So I combined I.T., with music, with film, with photography, with design, all things I had worked on at University and I came up with an absolute tonne of ideas, and how they could be connected in ways that no one has seen yet. And then, in early last year, in February, I started at an incubator called “Founder Institute” and I told them a lot of my ideas and they said “those are some good ideas but you can’t do all of them at once. Choose one of them”. So they got me to whittle it down to three ideas and then to one idea. After doing some user testing and interviews, it became clear that I had a real winner on my hands: Airbnb for the creative spaces”.


 

WHAT IS TUTTI’S BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

“I think launching it was the biggest achievement. Getting money in the door… I guess when you’re starting a company you hear advice from so many people. One thing that in very early days people tell you, “you need to pass the “mum test”. You need to be able to get someone who is not your mum, or in my case any family member, to pay money for the service and use it. So, a complete stranger needs to use it. About a month ago we had the first complete stranger musician rent the first complete stranger’s space. That was a great moment.


 

TUTTI PROFITS ON A 15% COMMISSION BASIS. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MONETISE YOUR BUSINESS IN THIS WAY?

“Well, I understand musicians and I know so many musicians who don’t have […] spare cash floating around. It doesn’t seem right to charge them any sort of monthly fee or subscription for our service. First that. And secondly, also, rehearsal space is not a consistent thing that people need. They need it when they have gigs. If they don’t have gigs for one month why would we charge them a subscription fee when they’re not going to use it that month. I know that’s probably not the best logic from a business perspective, but from a musician’s perspective, that’s kind of where I was coming from.


 

YOUR WEBSITE CLAIMS THAT TUTTI IS CURRENTLY ONLY OPERATIONAL IN LONDON. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO EXPAND YOUR REACH IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

“Yes. However, that’s not strictly true. My colleagues and I are based in London, so London is where we’ll be able to offer in person customer support. But the opportunity for this business really is global. I am allowing other people to sign up from all over, but also informing them that I will not be able to offer them full support at this stage.

We will be open to anyone signing up and using our booking platform: an idea which is really aligned with our ethos of being open to all. But we will expand support and our official cities in a methodical, and calculated approach. If more people sign up in a certain city, before we officially support it, it will absolutely sway our planned direction.


 

HAVE YOU ANY PLANS TO EXPAND ANYWHERE IN PARTICULAR?

“Well, any city that has major art events that bring in lots of artists who desperately need space at any point during the year. Those would be ideal places. But then, as I mentioned before, we will be swayed by people organically signing up. If a load of people signed up in Minneapolis tomorrow (just to choose a random location), I’d bump Minneapolis way up my road map of cities I’d like to support officially.”


 

MOVING ON TO THE APP THAT TUTTI IS CURRENTLY DEVELOPING. CAN CONSUMERS EXPECT ANY EXCLUSIVE FEATURES?

“When we make the app we will also upgrade the website to match it. I’m not sure if they will launch at the same time or if the website will launch slightly after the app but there won’t be exclusive features on the app that you can’t get on the website because I don’t see a point of alienating half of our users if they would rather use the website.


 

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT OF TUTTI?

“That’s a hard one. I keep on looking back on myself a year ago, every day almost, and I jumped straight out of university to work on this. I didn’t go into a full-time job which some people may think is a mistake. I didn’t have a real appreciation of what a full-time job really entailed. I did have an extremely time-intensive job in university. I was working as an audio engineer and lighting designer for the group on my university campus that ran every single event on campus.

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Image: Bob Dylan, Source: Vulture

We helped set up and run the shows for a number of massive artists like Macklemore, Snoop Dogg, Bob Dylan… all sorts, Maroon 5, big names. Some days, though, that job would be no hours or one hour a day, and some days, we would work from 6am ‘til 2am, with only the breaks we were legally required to take. Partly because we loved the work so much! So that’s the only experience of proper work that I had before going into this. It didn’t teach me about a daily job, but it certainly gave me an appreciation of work and the incredible achievements that can be accomplished by a well trained team, led by competent and dedicated leaders.

I’m certainly glad I don’t have to work quite as crazy hours because I’m older now and I’m not quite as good at bouncing back from a 6am to 2am shift. However, I do still try to work immense shifts 6-7 days a week, because if I don’t do things then they’re not going to happen. I guess that’s another thought: when you’re the founder of a business, if you don’t do things, they simply don’t happen and there’s so many times that I have put things off and put things off because they just didn’t sound appealing. Then, I miss expected deadlines from other people and things in the business fail because of my inability to do something that, yes is boring, but it needs to be done.

So, I guess I didn’t really answer the question but… Just kind of learning how to get over these speed bumps. You have to do the interesting stuff and you have to do the boring stuff.  You really just have to just do everything if you’re going to get this company off the ground. You have to put in the insane hours required. There’s no nine to five and go home and have a drink… there is nine to five at the office, if you want, and then go home and keep working until nine or ten. That would probably be one of the biggest lessons.

I guess the other lesson is I love saying yes to people. I love doing things for people all the time. When I was trying to start this at first I was also trying to be a photographer and I was making websites for people and I was doing all sorts of things. In the last three to four months, I have suddenly had to turn around and start saying no to people which really rather kills me inside but I cannot do other things if I am going to get this off the ground because it is so time-intensive. I’ve done, I think in the last three months now, I’ve done two photo gigs and one of them was for a close friend and one of them was paying me quite well. I just can’t afford the time for them any more. My time is now more valuable than money. Right now everything that’s going into the company is my own money. I’m about to start paying myself a salary but that’s coming from my wallet, going into the company and then coming back out of the company again and into my wallet so… you know.

“I HAVE SUDDENLY HAD TO TURN AROUND AND START SAYING NO TO PEOPLE WHICH REALLY RATHER KILLS ME INSIDE BUT I CANNOT DO OTHER THINGS IF I AM GOING TO GET THIS OFF THE GROUND”

What else? I guess just the ability to learn and intake information actually is a massive one which I have gotten a lot better at recently because everyone sits on the sidelines. It’s like sport. People will be like “why did you do that, that was a horrible idea” or like “yeah you did that, well done”… stuff like that. You’ll get so many opinions from other people who don’t see your perspective. You have to be really thankful to everyone who is willing to offer their opinion but at the same time you have to figure out which opinions to go along with, which opinions to trust in, whose advice to take, whose advice not to take. Finding your path through a maze of advice and suggestions is pretty tricky.

You have to know where you’re going but you also have to be ready to adapt and change that direction if something big comes along or something massive offers you a direction change. In the past, when I was younger, or a year ago, I had this massive plan of where this company was going to go and I was like “I’ve got it all figured out, every date, everything”. I think one percent of that plan actually happened and now I have realised… Yes, I can have lights at the end of the multiple tunnels that I can aim for but if I get offered some alternative direction that seems better, I should take it and adapt my plan. So, I have tonnes of plans and I see which ones fit depending on how things go.”


 

AND LASTLY, ARE THERE ANY BUSINESS ASPECTS WHICH YOU ARE PLANNING TO DEVELOP IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

Image result for datto company
Source: LinkedIn

“Building the culture of the company because right now is when we decide what the culture is. As far as I look online, there’s no rigid way or tactile way of creating a culture but what you can do is hire the people who embody certain values, and you build a culture through the people that you hire. One of my favourite company references for a good company culture is an American company called Datto. They hired people who were passionate about learning and passionate about passing on information to others. And so, they created this company culture of curiosity and thrill of knowledge. I would like to evoke that same culture, so I’m trying to mimic their starting blocks somewhat.”


 

Among the variety of topics discussed within this rather enlightening conversation with Gabriel Isserlis, one message is most prominent; Tutti’s desire to contribute a priceless service to the creative communities. The company’s core ambition to enable artists universal access to affordable and inspiring spaces, while providing an infrastructure for creativity to thrive upon, will likely generate an increased volume of artists to become more involved creatively.

While the music industry has arguably low barriers to entry, problematic obstacles regularly arise, requiring the support and solutions created through innovation, investment and most importantly; passion. The values and objectives described by Isserlis justify that Tutti supply all three vital aspects in abundance (and beyond).

In consideration of this, Tutti could well be the startup that the music industry has been waiting for… And what is most exciting is that this really is only the tip of the iceberg.

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THE LONE STAR STATE BEARS A STAR FOR US ALL: MEET KHALID, THE 19 YEAR OLD REDEFINING POPULAR MUSIC

Written by: Summer Kerlin      Updated: 20th December 2018

 

“Khalid has reinforced that simply being yourself and being honest still sells”

 

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R&B singer Khalid has quickly become a global superstar. The 19-year-old singer from El Paso, Texas began his whirlwind career like many others in digital age – uploading his demos to SoundCloud. In a fast transition, Khalid’s career rocketed, being signed to RCA in the US and Columbia UK, with his first hit, ‘Location‘ racking up 342M views on YouTube, alone.

After the release of his debut album ‘American Teen’, Khalid became fixated to almost everyone’s radar, gaining particular attention from some major artists. Most recently, Elton John has boasted how the 19-year-old is one of his favourite modern-day artists, followed by the legendary singer recording a cover of ‘Young, Dumb and Broke’ for the Spotify Singles series.

Social media has undoubtedly played a significant role in the rise of Khalid’s career. The singer is very active, especially on Twitter and Instagram where he promotes his music by being completely himself and proving that interacting and connecting with fans is vital for success. Moreover, Khalid respects that social media is firstly an outlet for expressing opinions and portraying your true self, and secondly a promotional platform.

 

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How is Khalid influencing the modern music industry?

The emotion and reality behind Khalid’s music creates an escape for millennials who can connect with the struggles he writes about. In contrast to the struggles, Khalid peppers heartwarming splashes of positivity throughout his music, with the aim of reassuring that in the end, everything will work out.

In a 2017 interview, when asked about his music, Khalid stated – “It’s not based on genre. It’s based on mood”. His recent EP, ‘Suncity’ definitely provides us with his nostalgic, loving ‘mood’ towards his home town of El Paso. The simplistic, soulful, yet highly emotional EP has been described as a ‘love letter’ to his home town, showing Khalid’s continued emphasis on the importance of knowing who he is and who made him the superstar he is today.

Who knew in the 21st century an artist who doesn’t promote money and sex could gain such success, but Khalid has reinforced that simply being yourself and being honest still sells.

 

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‘Streams, streams, streams’

It is certainly no secret that the digital age has opened many doors for emerging artists to gain quick entry and success. Some find a way to stay in the limelight, whereas many leave with only a one hit wonder and a career to look back on.

Khalid’s annual Spotify analysis proved his huge success, wrapping up with a rather impressive 3 billion streams. It’s suggestive to say, the digital age has made it possible for artists to become global superstars over night. Not all can say they’ve gained a million, let alone 3 BILLION streams, however it’s made it easier to gain quicker visibility and presence. I’ve got to say I do think Khalid is an exception, but admittedly, it is an exciting time for millennial artists, who can employ the benefits of social media and streaming to their advantage. Particularly with Spotify’s most recent feature – ‘Spotify for Artists’.

 

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The Future of the ‘Gr8 Khalid’

Despite the somewhat unpredictability of the music industry, it is hard to see Khalid falling between the cracks anytime soon, especially with his anticipated second album being set for release in 2019. However, as we all know, one mistake online can cause detrimental effects for an artist’s career, and with Khalid being so prominent online, lets hope he is careful.

Being a millennial myself, I can whole heartily say I connect with his music on an emotional level and personally, I can’t see Khalid going anywhere other than up in the future. I’ll be eagerly waiting for his second album and how he grows in the future.

 

 

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MODERN MUSIC AND MORALITY: THE CONTROVERSY OF CONSUMER EMPOWERMENT

Written by: Natalya Davies        Updated: 17/10/2018

 

Should We Be More Mindful of the Music We Listen to in the Modern Age?

 

Since the debatably controversial movement tested by Spotify regarding hate content and hateful conduct, it appears that the whole industry has been sitting on the uprooted issue of morality – including me. However, just by taking a slight glance at the impact of previous movements in the history of music, it is clear to see that this moral panic is nothing new.

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Mostly the same arguments that are being tested now were also debated in the wake of 1950’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, 70’s Punk, and even the short-lived era of 90’s Grunge. The awareness of music’s ability to reflect our personal qualities, doubled with its potential to influence young minds, is a burden that our modern society carries – one which technology only seems to be complicating, further.

While there is an evident issue of artists securing extreme ‘cult-like‘ power among young audiences through doubling as influential social media figures, the controversy of consumer empowerment in the streaming age seems to be relatively uncharted territory.

In a New York Times podcast discussing late rapper XXXTentacion, Noisey journalist Lawrence Burney introduces this argument, suggesting that the direct role that listeners now possess in the financial success of an artist should lead to more mindful decisions of the music we indulge in. On the subject, he says:

“I really had to arrive at a moment where I realised that even listening to the music, because of how it works now with streaming, is… I’m putting money directly in these people’s pockets […] so I had to come to terms with the fact that, no, I just can’t listen… because if I am listening, I’m supporting. […] every time you hit play, maybe you’re only putting 5 cents in their pocket… but it accumulates”

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In consideration of this perspective, let’s take the time to ask ourselves this: should we be more mindful of the music we listen to in the modern age?

While it is commendable to actively remove yourself from a current trend, deciding that the bigger picture must be addressed, it can be much more complicated than a simple yes or no. When surveying a number of individuals on the matter, it became apparent that there was an inconceivable range of varying opinions, all valid in their own way.

When posed with this question, a contributor suggested that each case is inevitably different and therefore, must be approached and judged completely separately. It is highly likely that the offence and scenario will vary, as well as the level of repentance displayed, therefore, it can seem unfair to place all artists involved with hateful conduct or hate content under one umbrella. Most importantly, it also depends on the degree of what you, the consumer, decide you can look past and what you cannot.

On the other hand, many that were for Burney’s argument testified that choosing to listen to a controversial artist allows them to thrive, undeservedly. As Burney perfectly established, listening means supporting, and as artists are now paid per play, it seems that many feel they are personally contributing to their financial success – or even the victory of a potential offender.

While this is a very interesting prospect, the next question which only seems natural to explore is: How much of an impact do we really have?

Is the power really in the hands of the consumer?

Spotify operate under what can be described as a ‘parimutuel payment system‘; or in simpler terms, a system whereby subscription fees and other revenue streams are combined before royalties are paid out to artists. This also means that the more popular artists of a given time period will earn a large percentage of this figurative ‘money pool’.

This may seem quite apparent, so allow me to support my point with a simple example: Not long ago, CDs were a booming musical format and to obtain them, you would most likely visit a record store, online or offline. Let’s say I visit and purchase “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” by Drake, I pay approximately £9.99 of my money in return for a physical product by an artist of my choice.

 

“In a way, it could be suggested that if you are investing into companies like Spotify, then you are supporting its entire catalogue.”

 

Now, because of this tangible element, the purchase of a CD is much more simple than the streaming world. In this make-belief instance, my money was collected for Drake, and Drake is exactly what I received in return. However, with streaming services, you pay for an entire catalogue of music, which in turn, is what you receive. However, as a result of this “money pool” your money is not just going into the pockets of the artists you are listening to, but also getting paid out to the most popular artists of that period.

So with this illustration in mind, I will reiterate the prior question: Is the power really in the hands of the consumer?

My assumption is no.

With this payment system in place, the consumer’s money is invested wherever necessary, meaning that you most likely are contributing toward the success of an artist you may be abstaining from, to honour your own moral boundaries. So, in a way, it could be suggested that if you are investing into companies like Spotify, then you are supporting its entire catalogue.

The only way to be truly removed from this is to opt out of streaming altogether.

Recognise this as an extreme vantage point, an opportunity for me to be the devil’s advocate. My point does not place the responsibility of a controversial artist’s financial success on any one but the artist itself, and their team, however, it is simply some food for thought for those that enjoy speculation.

 

“With great power comes great responsibility”

 

Now this leads me to my final question, one which I feel we all should take the time reflect upon: Do we have the right to make a moral judgement towards media figures?

This is such a broad question, but its importance should not be underestimated. While I plan to further explore the subject of celebrities and moral obligations at a later date, it has to be expressed that the high expectations entrusted upon them must be a weighty burden to bear; one which many do not wish to carry or even have the option to opt out of.

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My belief is that no one really has the right to make a moral judgement on the occurrences of another’s life, despite it being a large part of human nature to do so. Yes, it is wise to evaluate your personal morals in conjunction with the entertainment that you are indulging in, but it is important to recognise that no one ever really knows the full extent of a story; particularly when it is circulated by press who may have their own preconceptions.

As the famous saying goes: “with great power comes great responsibility“, therefore, you could suggest that, yes, the access model that has spurred the rise of consumer empowerment in the music industry does require greater responsibility from the behalf of each individual consumer. However, if you are comfortable with listening to any and all music, simply for its enjoyment factor, then that too is completely plausible – that is the beauty of morality.

 

 

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RAP RADAR: 10 UK RAPPERS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…

Updated: 23/08/17          Written by: Natalya Davies

Since the breakthrough of Grime into the UK mainstream’s consciousness around 2016, the nation’s rap scene has flourished into something very exciting for music lovers. This breakthrough made way for an appreciation of the drill, dancehall and afrobeat fusions of artists like J Hus, Yxng Bane and IAMDDB, making UK music a serious contender globally.

As a homage to this recent success, I wanted to spend some time putting together a collective of my favourite UK rap talents across a number of different genres, however, I wanted to use my platform to do this differently.

We all know that the AJ Traceys and Giggs’ are HOT on the music scene, so picking artists like this would make for a completely predictable listing; despite their worthiness to be entitled the hottest UK rappers of the modern day. No, for this piece, I wanted to challenge myself to feature only artists with under 100k monthly listens on Spotify* so that I could truly showcase the underground kings and queens that you may be missing out on!

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 rappers you need to know about…

 

10. NOVELIST

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Monthly Listens: 28,000*

For Fans of: Asco, Ambush Buzzworl, Youngs Teflon

First in the list, but last in my ranking is Novelist, a 19 year old MC and producer who has certainly put his stamp on Grime culture in London. Through features with the likes of Skepta, Kanye West and Tom Misch, he is rapidly proving his versatility and potential despite being such a young artist.

“So, if Novelist has worked with the greats, why is he so under-the-radar?” – you may ask. Well, this is likely the result of his devotion to the underground rap scene, assuring that a traditional route (not dominated by social media strategies and D2C marketing) is the way he wants to keep things. Who can blame him?

Recommended track: 10/10

9. JAM BAXTER

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Monthly Listens: 46,000*

For Fans of: Fliptrix, Verb T, Dabbla

If you’re looking for something truly underrated, Jam Baxter’s poetically cryptic and mysterious lyrics versed with atmospheric Hip Hop beats and dark imagery makes for a very interesting mixture – indeed.

“Excellent Donut” featuring Ed Scissor was the track that originally brought my attention to the rapper, its alluring layers yet minimal structure are bound to instantly hold you captive.

Recommended track: For A Limited Time Only

 

8. BARNEY ARTIST

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Monthly Listens: 80,000*

For Fans of: Loyle Carner, Alfa Mist, Chris McClenney

Barney Artist, from East London, is different to anything else featured on this list – a very special addition, in fact. If you are a fan of  Hip Hop, chill vibes and relaxing soul beats, then look no more, Barney is exactly what you have been looking for.

After numerous collaborations with Neo-Soul royalty Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei and Alfa Mist, Barney is quickly becoming one to know within this scene.

Recommended track: I’m Going to Tell You

 

7. NADIA ROSE

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Monthly Listens: 98,000*

For Fans of: Stefflon Don, Lady Leshurr, Yungen

One thing that is apparent in the behaviour of young rappers is the need to be daring  and harness a confidence that is indestructible, however, with Nadia Rose, this captivating swagger is so convincingly natural. Rose, who also happens to be the cousin of Stormzy, has a striking dexterity in the rap game, similar to the likes of Lady Leshurr.

If you want a taste of this addictive prowess, simply head over to her video for “Stations” where you can see her rapping on train tracks – without permission!

Recommended track: Skwod

 

6. MAXSTA

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Monthly Listens: 48,000*

For Fans of: Ghetts, P Money, D Double E

Despite being a rather underground artist, Maxsta is a well renowned and experienced name in the Grime scene – however, his position says nothing about his talent; simply that he is unwilling to compromise his sound to appeal to a larger audience.

His music perfectly encompasses the brutal essence of Grime, in a way that is extremely authentic. For anyone that is even merely interested in UK rap, Maxsta is a must-listen.

Recommended track: Guns and Roses

5. REEKO SQUEEZE

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Monthly Listens: 39,000*

For Fans of: Recky, SL, Harlem Spartans

Originally a member of popular Drill crew ‘Section Boyz’, Reeko Squeeze is a UK rapper that is proving to be one to watch over the next year. Despite finessing the ego and hard edge that is essential in the rapper aesthetic, Reeko possesses a likeability and drive that is likely to win you over, even if the music is not for you.

This infectious drive is sprinkled throughout Reeko’s tracks, mixed with a boyish cockiness, making for an unforgettable combination.

Recommended track: Diablo

 

4. REEKZ MB

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Monthly Listens: 48,000*

For Fans of: AJ Tracey, Abra Cadabra, MoStack

Reekz MB is another truly underground artist, his music often shedding light on the harsh reality of growing up as a young black male in the nation’s capital – without filter. There is an undeniable aggression to Reekz’ style accompanied atop hypnotic drill beats, making him a great listen for those that are big fans of the underground rap scene.

With Drill groups like Harlem Spartans and 67 dominating London’s South-side, it is likely that this is not the last that you will hear of rappers like Reekz.

Recommended track: Blueprint

3. SUSPECT

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Monthly Listens: 86,000*

For Fans of: Avelino, Fredo, Skepta

Labelled an “underground king” by many,  Suspect isn’t your average UK rapper. Not one interested in the fame and fortune that haunts so many younger rappers, Suspect is truly here to establish himself as a serious artist – making music worthy of respect and high regard.

You don’t need to do your research to learn this, however, a quick listen to his albums “Loading” (2017) and “Still Loading” (2018) will tell you this about the rapper. There is an evident natural aggression yet certainty to his sound, similar to the likes of Skepta, projecting the “no messing” attitude which has captured the attention of American audiences.

Recommended track: One Way

 

2. DOUBLE S

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Monthly Listens: 33,000*

For Fans of: Ghetts, JME, Black the Ripper

Double S is another one of these incredible talents that successfully manages to slip under the radar – making him more stylishly distant than underrated. However, despite being somewhat isolated from the public eye, the London MC’s monthly listen count reflects nothing on the gems that are waiting to be discovered in debut album “Double Vision” (2017).

With collaborations from Grime heavyweights JME and Wiley, “Double Vision” is a release fueled with the fastest lyrical flows and an infectious bravado, making this a release which should be on the radar of all grime fans.

Recommended track: Secret

 

1. KNUCKS

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Monthly Listens: 95,000*

For Fans of: Big Tobz, KwolleM, Yung Fume

For an avid music fan, I appreciate nothing more than an artist striving to infuse their own unique flavour into their work, and this much can be said for North-West London rapper Knucks. If his witty yet staggeringly suave nature isn’t enough to have you hooked, then his self-produced soul infused beats should surely do the trick.

Despite releasing a rather typical ‘Afrobeat’-inspired track “Hooper” featuring Not3s, Knucks is one of very few UK rappers that can not be defined – quite similar to rap’s lovable rogue, Dave. Knucks does not limit himself to certain styles and beats, instead, his experimental nature makes for some of the most interesting sounds currently circulating the London scene.

Recommended track: Vows

 

 

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INSTAGRAM… THE MUSIC INDUSTRY’S FRIEND OR FOE?

Updated: 26th July 2018         Written by: Natalya Davies

“It is justifiable to suggest that Instagram is Facebook’s second chance at reaching out to social media users effectively; and music is the answer”

 

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With explosive, new releases from Ariana Grande and Twenty One Pilots, Drake dominating the charts and Cardi B’s baby making an appearance, it must be said that July has already been a busy month for music news. It comes without surprise, then, that other stories have seemingly slipped through the cracks, somewhat unnoticed.

On July 9th, self-proclaimed life guru, Jaden Smith played a role in creating what could be a new potential route for the modern artist; an Instagram exclusive album release. The young artist revealed “SYRE: THE ELECTRIC ALBUM” via his social media page accompanied by six alluring visuals, forming a larger picture, with Instagram being the sole platform of access, at the time. Despite this being a music industry first, so far very little has come from Smith’s creative attempt, therefore, has it simply fallen short by recent music news or is it really just an ineffective method?

 

 

In an attempt to compete with YouTube and its staggering 1.57bn monthly active users, Instagram has recently launched IGTV, an attempt to reach out to content creators of all kinds that are naturally gravitating to the visual worlds of these popular social platforms. However, this is not Instagram’s first effort to bridge the gap between the creation and its audience; in late June, a music sticker was added to its features, allowing their 400 million users to add a 7 second clip of fully licensed music to their posts via Instagram Stories.

With the awareness of the important interaction between Instagram users and music, music has become a key strategy for the enhancement of the social media experience, reinforcing the company’s relevance in the marketplace. Alongside this, as users begin to adopt the music sticker as a soundtrack to their featured moments, a new, potentially effective way for artists to gain compensation and exposure has been created.

“This heavy adoption of music could potentially lead to yet more power in the hands of the IT sector – and with this power, you can never assume that the music industry’s best interests will be taken into account.”

 

It has been argued previously that Facebook’s audience has become increasingly disengaged, particularly with music artists and content creators as the medium lacks the personal touch that Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube encapsulates. In light of this, it is justifiable to suggest that Instagram is Facebook’s second chance at reaching out to social media users effectively; and music is the answer.

The issue that has been identified, however, is that this heavy adoption of music could potentially lead to yet more power in the hands of the IT sector – and with this power, you can never assume that the music industry’s best interests will be taken into account. This move does suggest to be something potentially disruptive, especially considering that the industry has only recently regained stability with streaming services growing in popularity.

While it is easy to predict that users will embrace the fusion of social media and music, it is unlikely to predict whether the Instagram exclusive release will be as successful. It has recently been argued that the opportunity for music windowing (whereby artists release music exclusively to one platform for a limited time) has long gone – it seems that consumers no longer mind the wait for the new music to arrive on their favoured platform. Therefore, this is likely to be an explanation for the lack of success in Jaden Smith’s Instagram “window-like” release.

On the other hand, however, in the past, Instagram has been used as a beneficial tool, particularly for artists seeking high engagement, with little marketing. The method of the “surprise” album release through social media has been a concept adopted by the likes of Drake and Beyonce, and has seen to create large amounts of traction through the audience’s excitement. While Drake and Beyonce are two of the world’s most successful artists of the modern day, this is a great example of how Instagram and similar social media platforms can once again bring the audience closer to music.

However, as the saying goes, everything must be in moderation!

 

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MJ X DRAKE: A HOMAGE OR A MUCH MORE SINISTER REALITY?

Updated:  12 July 2018          Written by: Natalya Davies

“This release does suggest something slightly more unsettling; that the value of a deceased artist is little more than a business asset, one strategized to send shock waves into the music community”

 

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Unless you live under a rock (lucky you), you will surely have heard the news of Drake’s latest album ‘Scorpion’, which dropped on the 29th of June, shattering numerous music records, including those held by J Cole, The Beatles and even Michael Jackson. Ironically, while Drake overtook Michael Jackson’s record for the most Hot 100 Top 10’s achieved by a male solo artist at 31 hits, “Don’t Matter To Me” earned Jackson his 30th.

The unexpected feature quickly stirred excitement among music fans upon the album’s release, earning a number 2 position on the official singles chart. While this may not be the first time that Jackson has made a posthumous appearance, it is clear that the late star is still extremely relevant in the modern music world.

In times like this, it becomes apparent that we live in an incredible time period where we possess the ability and technological resources to glorify and recreate beloved, influential artists like MJ, through the use of unreleased works and even holograms. However, access to such power must call for ethical guidelines: in other words, is it ethical to profit from a part of a late person’s identity?

 

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Before I continue, I will state that I love that the ability to encapsulate the essence of a late, great artist and input them into the modern world, exists. The musical contributions of artists like Jackson, Bowie and even Tupac are, without a doubt, worthy of this kind of glorification and exposure to younger audiences, keeping their existence alive through their music.

Similarly, this kind of collaboration is a great promotional tool for Drake, himself. Despite being one of the most successful artists of the modern age, much of this is a result of the clever marketing decisions made by him and his team. His involvement within the Sports and Fashion industry through the Toronto Raptors and his clothing line OVO (October’s Very Own) has exposed Drake’s presence and music to two varying industries which, otherwise, may not have shown a particular interest in him. In this situation, the collaboration has exposed Drake to a much older audience which are more likely to be stunned by a posthumous release and the nostalgia that Jackson’s distinctive voice brings.

 

“Where is the line between paying respects and seeking to be paid as a result of these respects?”

 

On the other hand, this release does suggest something slightly more unsettling; that the value of a deceased artist is little more than a business asset, one strategized to send shock waves into the music community. It has to be said, the news that Drake has collaborated with unreleased work from a late artist would surely urge a large amount of people towards his latest release; even if they are not particularly a fan. This ‘shock factor’ that is achieved with strategies like this is an extremely powerful ploy to, not only engage interests of many, but also to urge them to spread the word: quick and effective marketing.

Take the 2012 Tupac appearance at Coachella, for example. Who wasn’t baffled by the weekend’s events?

Engagement, however, is not the issue here. It is the idea of blatant capitalisation of a late being’s identity and success. Where, really, is the line between paying respects and seeking to be paid as a result of these respects?

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: ‘DON’T MATTER TO ME’

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Releasing new music or a new project? Email aamusicblog2017@gmail.com or contact via instagram @ABSOLUTELYAUDIO for review/article enquiries. More information is available via the contact button on the homepage.