Gary Cunningham is an 18 year old Musician and Composer from Billericay, Essex. He has been playing Piano for 14 years, singing for 5 and composing for 3. Throughout his career, Gary has been a part of various bands as well as his solo performances. He started his musical career seriously when he became part of a band named Ten Point Too whom he was with for many years until his departure in 2011.
After his departure from Ten Point Too, Gary began his solo career by becoming a restaurant pianist at The Ivory Rooms. He also started to take part in various open mic nights (notably Boombox Essex Live Lounge).
In 2014 he found his way back into the band circuit, deciding to form a function band named "The 45's" whom he is still with today, they have various private party gigs coming up over the coming months.
Gary has recently joined a "Pink Floyd" tribute and general covers band named "Not Now John" whom are experiencing success around Essex and South East England.
I have spoken about this young and exciting singer-songwriter from Dublin in previous posts on the blog. I raved about her, and to my excitement she recently released a new song named “Between My Teeth.”
Between My Teeth is a song about a topic I’m sure we can all relate to, in Orla’s own words “it’s a song about trying to save someone; balancing the urge to help with the urge to run.” I don’t know about everyone else but I felt that!
Along with a relatable song topic, Orla has once again crafted some clever and catchy lyrics to compliment a stripped back yet full sounding instrumental arrangement, this seems to be a bit of a Gartland trademark. When friends ask me to describe the song (I talk about it a lot) I say it is Poppy but unique. In fact, that is exactly how I would describe Orla’s entire sound.
You can tell how meticulous she has been when working on the song’s arrangement and production, but you can also hear the chaotic process that every songwriter goes through, its as if I can hear all the rough takes, all the screwed up bits of paper (or deleted phone notes) and I really appreciate how its all come together to create one of the most unique sounds of 2018.
I really hope that Orla starts to get airplay on mainstream radio soon, I honestly think that this crazy, soulful musician from Dublin is the burst of hope that the music scene has been waiting for.
Music and live entertainment, it’s one of those art-forms that is timeless. For decades, generations of people have spent their weekends in venues around the country covered in sweat and rocking out to their favourite bands with like minded strangers. Some of the most successful bands have been discovered and watched at “grassroots” venues like The Dagenham Roundhouse.
The Roundhouse has had bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin through its doors before they skyrocketed to super-stardom. I’ve been fortunate to play on this stage once last year on tour with The Signatures, it was a good venue to add my list.
Unfortunately, during my time on stage at The Roundhouse, I noticed one painful thing; independent live music is becoming less and less popular. Is this because of the increasing popularity of social media? pure laziness from the public? money? who knows.. it just isn’t getting any better. Some of the most famous venues like The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden can be virtually empty on some Friday nights, it’s a sad state of affairs.
The decreasing popularity of independent live music means a decrease in takings for venues, a decrease in money for the venues means they can’t keep up with their costs, and ultimately, this means the venues have no choice but to close. According to The Music Venue Trust; a third of independent live music venues have closed over the last decade falling from 700 open venues to 400 across the UK.
Being in an unsigned band, I know the struggle artists go through, I know how difficult it is playing to 15 people and feeling disheartened beyond belief. A few months ago, me and the guys of Denzeity decided to do some pre show flyer-ing as commuters came in and out of the tube station, the amount of people that ignored us and looked uninterested really got to me, people just simply aren’t interested in going to see or support local grassroots bands and venues anymore, they’d rather watch videos on social media. Whilst this does help bands, there is nothing better than having people take the effort to turn out to your show!
The final question I’d like to ask is: Are venues doing enough for bands?
I know some people will read that and scoff. It’s something that needs to be talked about because I’ve had several experiences of venues preaching in their emails that bands MUST advertise on social media to get people through the door, they MUST bring x amount of people blah blah blah and then? make no effort of their own to do EXACTLY that!
This, for me, is also one of the main reasons venues are closing every month. You can’t put all the blame on the public or record labels, your venue, YOUR responsibility!
I’m going to conclude this post with somewhat of a plea; PLEASE go out and support your local, unsigned bands and artists! A ticket doesn’t usually cost much in grassroots venues, a tenner at the max, that’s cheaper (and a lot more fun) than a meal for two! Live music NEEDS to stay alive, its fun, its good for the soul and the mind and the money you spend on a ticket, merch, CD’S keeps people like me being able to carry on gigging and performing for you all!
Go out and see an unsigned band this Friday, you’ll be surprised at what you hear.
Over the years, technology has seen many changes in the way the music industry operates and functions. One of the most notorious changes has been that of the record label.
What Are Record Labels?
For those of you that don’t know, a record label is a company that is in charge of marketing and distributing the music of artists to digital and phsyical music stores around the world. (HMV, Itunes, Spotify etc). There are still several record labels operating wordwide, but not anywhere near as many as there used to be.
As of 2012, there are only 3 labels that are considered “major”. Major labels tend to sign acts like Adele, Justin Bieber and other successful artists. The “big three” as they are known are: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.
These days, a lot of labels are brought out by these big three and continue as “sub-labels” under either the Sony, Universal or Warner umbrellas. This generally happens in order to enable the labels to continue operating as well as giving them access to the resources available to the big three.
Along with major labels, there are independent or “indie” labels. These labels are not associated with any major or sub label and are generally created by unsigned bands in order to give them a more professional look. Some bands start by distributing their own music and then progress onto distributing the music of other bands.
A local independent label currently gaining popularity is “Cool Thing Records” a label started by Southend based band “Asylums.”
How Technology has changed the need for labels
In the 21st Century music business, there are several companies and websites that enable artists to make their music available on digital platforms such as Itunes and Spotify. The two topped ranked companies for this are CDBaby and Distrokid; in order to make your music purchasable/streamable to the world, you simply pay a small fee, upload your music and artwork and wait for it to appear.
There are several unsigned or independent artists that have seen top 40 success without the help of the big three. The most memorable example of this has got to be U.S Singer-Songwriter Andie Case; she uploaded a song to Itunes and within a few weeks it was being played on the UK Top 40, her career then sky rocketed and she is still experiencing success today.
Previously mentioned Indie band “Asylums” has also experienced great success over the years, being played on John Kennedy’s Radio X show and being able to play some of the biggest festivals in the UK and Europe.
My Personal thoughts
For me, the fact that some of my friends have achieved success without a Universal, Sony or Warner contract says a lot. I feel that perhaps the only major use these “big three” have are their resources and contacts. Of course, in this industry it is all about who you know and not so much what you know but the need of these guys for their contacts could very soon be wiped out by the ease of the internet.
There are artists in all genres that are making a solid living through gigging and Spotify streaming royalties (no major radio airplay) This again, says it all to me. Anybody can distribute their music digitally through the websites mentioned, the only thing that can’t be done without a major label is physical distribution to stores like HMV but they’re dying out slowly anyway.
In conclusion, I think that perhaps in 10-15 years, the big three will be no more, is this necessarily a negative thing? I don’t think so; if you can cut out the middle man and take more money for yourself, why wouldn’t you? Anything is possible thanks to technology these days, you’ve just gotta be brave enough to take the plunge.
Orla Gartland is a 23 year old singer songwriter from Dublin, Ireland. She started to try and build a career for herself at 14 by trying to convince the various bars in Dublin to let her perform, declaring “please! I’ll only drink Squash!” Unable to convince any of the landlords to let her perform, she took to the online medium of Youtube and began posting covers of the songs she liked to listen to.
Gradually, she noticed her videos becoming more and more popular, with audiences constantly demanding new videos. Once she had gained a following, Orla began to post her own original material. This proved to be just as popular as her covers and enticed her audience to not only stay, but grow, she now has 11.5 million views on her videos to date.
I stumbled across Orla completely by accident this morning. There I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across her track “Why Am I Like This”, I was immediately drawn in from the first frame and as the song progressed, I could see the talent oozing from this young genius, she’s only 3 years older than me and certainly puts me to shame!
Deciding to delve deeper into Orla’s social media, I then discovered her latest single ” I Go Crazy.” Once again, I was blown away by this woman’s lyrics and musicality, to say I’m hooked is a gross understatement, Gartland’s music is going to be on a constant loop for quite some time in my house!
Orla is performing various live gigs in the UK and Europe (some as tour support for Hudson Taylor) and I recommend you get down to one of the following UK dates:
It’s no shock to me that Orla is rapidly becoming more popular, will she be a charting artist soon? I hope so! If you need some fresh music to listen to, do yourself a favor and google “Orla Gartland” – you will not be disappointed!
This was a recent topic of discussion and debate amongst members of a musicians Facebook group I am a part of. I must admit it was entertaining to read some of the comments on the thread as people had their egos damaged by some home truths on the matter. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on this never ending argument:
For me, live music, is exactly that, a LIVE band with LIVE instruments fronted by a LIVE singer. When I see a poster outside a pub with the words “LIVE MUSIC FRIDAY NIGHT” I, as a musician and avid gig-goer, expect an entirely live performance! Of course, the singer is live, they are actually singing, using their own voice, but some may argue that they are merely a glorified karaoke singer… I mean this in no disrespect to any of my fellow entertainers, but that is essentially what you are doing.
I understand the use of backing tracks amongst some entertainers, it saves costs and allows the said singer to only have to worry about themselves but I do not agree with venues labelling them as live music, because they are only half live. In the Facebook group, there were lots of arguments amongst members on either side, some people even getting into insults and age difference.. really?! I chose not to add my “2 cents” to the conversation simply because it seemed the group were too immature to have a normal discussion..
Another point raised was that there are many famous acts that choose to mime during this performances, this is a completely different thing and bore no relevance to the discussion, but since it mentioned, I’d like to add that I do not agree with this practice, playing to backing tracks for ease when you can’t ship your whole band across the world, fine, miming to said backing track out of laziness, not fine.
Let’s wrap this one up here with this final point from me; singing to a backing tack does NOT necessarily make you a less skilled performer, you still have to be able to sing to a high standard in order to get booked and re-booked by venues. HOWEVER, I know that I would much rather spend my money watching a live band, wether it be covers or originals, than watching one person sing to a track.
Mental health; one of the most common causes of death in todays Music Industry, yet one of the taboo topics amongst industry professionals. Unfortunately, the idea of mental wellbeing is only discussed when someone does the tragic thing of taking their own life.
The most recent death in todays industry is U.S Rapper Mac Miller, who was only 26 and died of a drugs overdose. Of course, we don’t know if his overdose was a deliberate act of suicide or not and this is still being investigated by police. However, we are aware of Miller’s struggle with mental health throughout his career and his relationship with Singer Ariana Grande.
The music industry can be a high stress environment to be in, especially when you get to the level that Miller and Grande were working at. In my opinion, the artist of today are not being looked after enough by the industry executives, their mental and physical health are being thrown down the drain in order to maintain their careers, they are too scared to publicly talk about their struggles through fear of stigmatization in the media and amongst their fans.
People seem to forget the fact that musicians work crazy, unsociable and even sometimes unhealthy hours. Of course they need to put the work in in order to be a success but I find it shocking that managers aren’t pulling their acts to one side and asking them if they are okay from time to time, it really would make the world of difference.
I sometimes struggle with stress related to work and I’m not working at the rate or level that these “idols” are, thankfully I have friends and family around me to keep an eye on me and encourage me to take time off when its needed, I couldn’t be more grateful.
We’ve seen far too many talented people taken from this world because of mental health and wellbeing being neglected and it needs to change. I am definitely not putting the weight of the tragedy of industry deaths solely on the shoulders of the high industry powers, sometimes people make bad choices all by themselves and refuse the help when its offered, but I am pleading with the industry that I love to start making mental health a more accessible subject to the people within it.
For those of my readers that don’t know, I have been working up in Edinburgh for the last few weeks as part of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Edinburgh Fringe is arguably one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the world, theatre companies come from all over to showcase their productions to huge audiences and reviewers across the whole of the fringe.
I am currently on keys for one of these shows, “Seduction.” Written and perfumed by Ivy Paige (The Voice 2018), it is a mash up of Music and comedy, focusing on the art of Seduction and the empowerment of women in todays society, with a mixture of original material and well known covers thrown in to accompany Ivy’s wicked sense of humor.
This is my first tine at the world renowned Fringe, and here are five important things I have learnt during my time here:
1) It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
This is a phrase I heard continuously from Ivy during the rehearsal period and general build up to day 1 of performances. I must admit I didn’t entirely know what she meant at first, but as we did more shows, had more late nights, it dawned on me how essential it was to rest and get enough sleep.
2) Focus Focus Focus!
As the set up of the shows is literally keys and 2 vocals, it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to hide behind other members of a band if you get stuck. This is why I have to do everything in my power to remain switched on during the show, constantly watching Ivy for different cues for elongating or ending the songs. Writing charts for the show has also helped, doing it from memory just wouldn’t have worked.
3) Develop your own pre-show routines and rituals.
I have always done this for any show run or tour I’ve been a part of but during this show, it feels even more important to the success of my performance every night. I personally like to have a cup of tea and some Nutella on toast before each show, it may sound strange but tea calms me down and the Nutella on toast gives me a little sugar boost. I also walk to the venue every night, this allows me to take in some nice Scottish scenery and clear my head.
4) Network as much as you can
The great thing about being at a month long festival is that you’re surrounded by musicians, producers, directors, sound techs and other creative people from day one. It would be highly beneficial to your career as a musician to get to know all the people on your team, no matter their job role, it could come in handy in the future.
5) Have fun!
Although you are at the festival to work, it is also not illegal to enjoy your time there! Get out and see shows, go to the bars with your team after your show, explore the city during the daytime if you have it free! I have come across loads of great musicians just by walking around the city and happening to hear them busking, I’ve been blown away by the amount of talent Edinburgh has to offer!
I hope these five tips help you first time Fringe Goers to have as much fun as I am!
P.s I have been working on a FRINGE VLOG during my time here, check out episode 1 and two here: