We have found the future of indie artist music promotion, and it’s New Artist Spotlight
If you’ve spent some time in the music industry recently, you know what it is like out there as an emerging independent artist.
Step 1: You write and record a track that you are so proud of that you gather up the courage to release it to the world.
Step 2: You search the internet for ways to get it added to streaming services, then you pay a distributor to release it out to the world.
Step 3: You proudly ask all of your friends and family to listen to it. After a week or so, you realize that they are the only ones in the world actually listening to it.
Step 4: You search the internet again to figure a way to self-promote, and you are shocked to see how many different companies are willing to guarantee you thousands of streams and followers — for a price. By this time, you’ve probably already spent more on your music than you were expecting, but you bite down hard and pay up the cash, because what’s the use of making music if no one is listening?
Step 5: After a week or two of getting some streams from a handful of cities that you’ve vaguely heard of, they stop coming immediately after the campaign ends. Now, you are right back where you started — except even more broke.
Raise your hand if this sounds all too familiar?
Well, New Artist Spotlight founder Ed Eagle was standing at the same crossroads after the release of his debut single, “The Team,” just after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He had a song that he thought was worthy of an audience, but there didn’t seem to be a way for unsigned novices like himself to find listeners in a sea of hundreds of thousands of new songs being released daily.
Unlike many other new artists, Eagle had a combination of personal background and skillsets that inspired him to want to change the way things worked. A former college administrator and professor specializing in leadership development, he knows how to work with groups of people who share a common goal. He’s also spent the past 20+ years working for a major sports league in North America as that league’s web site has grown from a startup to the industry standard. Eagle knew that it was possible to make changes — big changes — with the right combination of ideas.
“I felt like I either had to help change the way things worked for new artists today, or I might as well just quit making music, because it was deflating to put all of that work into your art only for it to simply fade away,” said Eagle. “I had just started releasing my music, so I wasn’t ready to quit. I saw it as a challenge.”
A MAJOR challenge.
Eagle first had to find other like-minded artists who would join him in his community-garden like approach to promoting each other. This was difficult for a couple reasons: First, people were tired of being ripped off by the false promises of promoters who took their money, and second, the music industry is selfish by design, so getting buy-in early was a slow process.
Like most other brand-spanking-new artists, Eagle was offered numerous follow-for-follow trades in the chat rooms of submission hubs. When he accepted the offers, he also put those artists on his new Spotify playlist, “Ed Eagle’s New Artist Spotlight.” He asked those who were added to play it all the way through once per week. Most agreed, because finding ANY playlists that will accept you early on is a major challenge.
Within a few weeks, there were enough artists who had joined that Eagle had to start an Instagram chat room to communicate with them all. Within a couple months, there were multiple chat rooms. And from these rooms, like-minded artists with similar goals started to stand out from the pack. Eagle asked them to serve as moderators for New Artist Spotlight, which by now everyone just referred to as “NAS.”
“Once we got a mod team in place, it really started to take off,” said Eagle. “The other artists in the group could see that this wasn’t just a normal playlist with a curator who adds and removes people. It was a community effort, and we established from the start a very encouraging climate where folks really did want to help each other.”
Eagle also noticed another common trait among the growing mod team, one that surprised him initially.
“We had a really well-educated and professionally accomplished mod team.” Eagle said. “Our original group had a chemical engineer, medical doctor, an astrophysicist, a guy going for his doctorate in fitness, multiple university students. These were folks who not only shared my love of music and passion for helping others, but they also knew how to get things done.” meet the “New Artist Spotlight Mod Team“
The chemical engineer, DJ Sovrin, who also happens to be a bit of a tech wizard (he’s lovingly referred to as “The Wizard” by fellow NAS members), had the idea of starting a NAS discord server to communicate with each other after the group had grown to need six IG chat rooms. That helped to take New Artist Spotlight to another level in their communication and planning.
Now, NAS is an international community of artists from around the world who’s server boasts close to 600 members from countless different countries.
But how does it work? What does NAS do for its artists. And finally, gulp, how much does it cost?
At it’s essence, New Artist Spotlight serves as the first fan base for many new musicians. They really do listen to each other’s music — though you can join NAS and remain on a NAS playlist without ever streaming if you are active in promoting the group in other areas such as social media.
Since the start, NAS has had its own Top 20 playlist voted on by the artists themselves, and for the past several months, it has even been announced on radio stations in the UK, Spain, Australia and also around the globe on internet radio. The popularity of the NAS Top 20 has grown so much that they now have their own weekly one-hour radio show that has been picked up by five stations in just the past two weeks since the show began.
- Check out N.A.S Top 20 Chart here
The group also works together to promote each other heavily on social media. This is done in numerous ways, including sharing each other’s release information and doing in-house podcasts, interviews (NAS 10 Questions), a weekly song review by the multi-talented artist Charles Connolly (Connolly’s Corner), regular virtual concerts (NASApalooza), AMAs with those who have had success in multiple facets of the music industry, and much more than we can fit in this already lengthy article. Essentially, if there is a way to promote each other, they are either doing it or in the process of figuring out how to do it.
- Check out the “NASApalooza” video below…
In addition to the five main NAS playlists on Spotify, there are also numerous genre, country and vibe-related NAS playlist for artists to join that are curated by members of the mod team, plus other playlists on YouTube, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and Deezer.
“Obviously I can’t do all of this myself — or anywhere close to it,” said Eagle. “I’m more like the CEO now, where I oversee what all of our teams are doing and look big-picture at ways for us to continue to grow. Our mod team is the absolute backbone of NAS. They are what makes NAS work as well as it does.
“We have a social media team, a team that answers artists’ questions, a podcast team, a NASApalooza team, a tech team, a team that handles the Top 20 voting, teams for all of the streaming services. It is incredibly well-organized and astonishingly productive considering we’re all volunteers.”
That’s right: volunteers.
NAS is 100 percent free. Always has been, always will be.
Any money that the group makes comes from Eagle reviewing songs for various submission hubs, which he reinvests into helping to pay for the hosting of the NAS website, YouTube and Google ads (they made their own #IWantMyNAS commercial in house, or course), and subscription payments for some streaming and industry services like Songstats. They’ve even contributed to helping one of their beloved mods get shoulder surgery.
- Check out the #IWantMyNAS video below…
In another example of the family spirit of NAS, the group has tried to help two longtime mods leave war-torn Lebanon by looking into their artists’ contacts from around the world. There is a family vibe with NAS that is real and not just idle talk.
“We care about each other,” said Eagle. “We genuinely want each other to succeed. We push each other to get better, and we encourage each other. It has been by far the best unintended consequence of this group. Many of us have made what will likely be life-long friendships.”
The success of the group can also be seen in the numbers of streams and followers NAS members are getting. Anyone who follows Eagle on IG (@ed_eagle_music) has seen his countless reposts of NAS artists proudly sharing their amazing year-end stats from Spotify. Eagle himself has had nearly a million streams this year, and every mod who has been with the group since the start has six-figure streaming totals for at least one — and usually more — of their tracks.
- Check out an episode of the NAS Podcast below…
And it’s certainly not just streaming numbers that the group can be proud of.
Approximately 20 artists from NAS have had their songs added to Spotify-curated playlists — “which is akin to finding a needle in the haystack 20 different times,” Eagle said. NAS artists have been nominated for a Grammy, have been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine in other multiple countries, have been on different countries’ version of “The Voice” TV show. Eagle himself, thanks to the NAS community’s presence on Apple Music, has had three songs reach the No. 1 spot on the blues charts in multiple countries.
“This is something beyond my wildest dreams,” said Eagle. “It has been amazing to see so many of our artists do so well so early in our existence as a group. But the best part of it all is that we’re all working together, pulling for each other.
“The music industry can be a very lonely business. It’s nice to have a music family helping you to try to reach your goals – together.”
- Check out NASAPASOSA November 2021 video below…