BAND YOU SHOULD KNOW: JAMISON MURPHY
Jamison Murphy is a 23 year old singer/ songwriter who wants to change the world for the better. He writes from personal life choices that have made him grow to be what he is today. He participated in the 5th season of America's Got Talent with his guitarist, Brian Johnson. Even though they were ‘cut’ before the live shows, because they wanted him to come back as a solo-artist, Jamison showed the world what a true loyal friend he is and walked away from it. Besides writing his own songs, he is also a pro at covering popular songs such as The Fray’s “You Found Me”, Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House”, and Gavin Degraw’s “Not Over You”. All of which you can view on his Youtube channel.
Songs to listen to: Obvious, All Your Favorite Words
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been singing/playing music? How did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I'm a 23 year-old singer/songwriter from Lakeville, MN (about 30 minutes south of the Twin Cities). I recently graduated from St. John's University (Collegeville, MN), I currently live in NYC where I'm employed as a model.
I've been singing ever since I can remember, but I first sat down at a piano and picked up a guitar when I was 18 - I taught myself by ear (I still can't read a lick of sheet music ). I've been writing and performing my own music ever since.
The first time I performed one of my original songs was at my senior high school Homecoming Coronation - I was also on the Homecoming Court, so I got to play in a suit! I performed the first song I ever wrote called, "I've Fallen For You." It was about my girlfriend at the time and, as the title so eloquently suggests, it was terribly cheesy. I broke a string right in the middle of the song too - what luck! Regardless, the audience-response was amazing.
I was so grateful and humbled to discover that I could reach out and positively move people through music. To this day, my songs allow me to connect with people on an emotional level deeper than anything else. That's why being a successful artist and songwriter is my dream.
What’s your favorite song of yours? Why?
I like each one for different reasons. My favorites to play live right now are The Inbetween and a new song of mine called, "Anchors" - They're both very dynamic. As far as song-concepts/stories, I like one of my new songs tentatively titled "The 6th" (which is possibly the saddest song I've ever written), and my song, "Obvious" - which I wrote as a sequel to Taylor Swift's song "You Belong With Me." I hope to feature her on that track someday!
What does music mean to you?
Music is everything to me. I live to help people realize their potential and maximize everyone's self-worth. One of my favorite pieces of writing is The Serenity Prayer which reads, "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the thing I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference." I truly believe those words are the key to happiness and fulfillment, and music is a wonderful way to find such serenity, courage, and wisdom. The songs I write are a reflection of the lessons I've learned, who I am, and what I hope for. I think everyone is meant for beautiful and amazing things - My goal is to create music that grants my listeners the mentality and esteem to achieve those things.
Who/ what do you think changed the music industry? Why?
That's a huge question! So so so much has changed the music industry, and it's a very interesting subject because the corporate side (record labels and distributors) of the industry is evolving and barely surviving. Why? The internet and affordable means of recording.
On record labels…
As recent as 10-15 years ago, it was UNHEARD of for a band or artist to "make it" without a record label backing them. I don't mean to say that record labels are obsolete now (as I said, they've evolved), BUT they are definitely not NECESSARY anymore. With the right marketing and promotion, social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and the internet in general, can endlessly benefit an artist at any stage of their career - whether they're just starting out, or established and flourishing. Not everyone is creative, tech savvy, and available enough to take full-advantage of the internet's benefits, but even with minimal effort, an artist can easily get noticed.
My personal example...
I'll be the first to admit I don't have a YouTube presence as strong as it should be, but even with the few videos I've uploaded, I've attracted the attention of reality shows like The Voice and America's Got Talent. I followed through with America's Got Talent too (See below). The amount of exposure those shows could have offered me would not have been possible without the videos they found of me on YouTube.
More on AGT...
I participated in the 5th season of America's Got Talent with my guitarist, Brian Johnson. We made it to the Vegas call-backs and were 'cut' before the live shows in LA. We were never aired because they wanted me to come back as a solo-artist in the proceeding seasons. There were a couple articles written about our Chicago audition in front of the celebrity judges you can find here:
http://www.pureamericasgottalent.com/2010/05/07/americas-got-talent-2010-blue-sky-canopy/ and (search for the paragraph with 'blue sky canopy' in it here: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/bunny-about-town/2010/07/americas-got-talent.html
On radio and "pop" music...
Websites like Pandora are extremely beneficial to up-and-coming artists. The vast majority of people I know rely on these personalized-radio sites to discover new music they like. I believe this will continue to help less-mainstream and more independent artists gain listeners. This trend transcends to recent radio hits too. Bands like Gotye, Foster The People, Florence and The Machine, Kings of Leon, and Bon Iver - 10 years ago, I'm not sure you could have heard artists like them on the pop radio-stations. I don't mean to hate on any current pop-artists (I listen to everything), but in my opinion, the more variety on the radio, the better!
On record sales and labels...
Before online distributors like iTunes, Amazon, and Rhasphody existed, artists had to rely on labels to distribute their PHYSICAL CDs to PHYSICAL stores for the artist to sell anything. Present day, literally anyone can put anything on iTunes and have it instantly available to millions of people to purchase - and the artist gets to see about 90% of whatever's sold. That, accompanied by online piracy, is why record labels have been suffering so much. To survive in present day, labels take nearly all record sales for themselves and drive those sales through radio-play. Unless the artist has solid writing credits on his/her/their song, they won't see much of the royalties from radio-play. This leaves the artist to only reap income, almost exclusively, through touring (i.e. ticket sales and merchandise). Do labels take a lot of work out of the equation for you? Yes. But artists with enough drive and talent can do it independently!
On independent distribution...
Personally, I've been considering releasing some new music for free-download. This is something rappers and R&B artists have been doing for years. They release "free mixtapes" to build hype and gain new followers/listeners, and then they can TOUR! If you gain a wide audience of listeners, touring can be quite profitable - even for a completely independent artist. I think this "free music" trend will transcend genres and a lot of artists will be doing it in the near future.
As if distributing and profiting from your music wasn't hard enough, HAVING music to release is a feat in itself. Recording is very expensive. For someone who has college-loans and bills every month (like me), it's nearly impossible to save enough money for studio-time. In this respect, labels are useful for fronting the necessary funds to record professionally, but that's a dangerous move considering the artist has to pay the label back through record-sales (which are not guaranteed). Some artists have lost everything by running that risk, so many opt to save money, buy recording software/equipment, and record themselves.
On "singles" vs. "albums"...
One random change in the industry is the transition from full-length albums to singles. Focus has shifted away from the full-length albums - only "die-hard" fans seem to buy them anymore. However, your Average Joe will pick up a 'single' off iTunes he heard once on the radio like it's nothing! For artists who are paying for their own studio time (like me), it's a heck of a lot cheaper to only have to pay to record and release one song at a time!
Ultimately, I believe it's better to utilize do-it-yourself (DIY) methods until you can afford to employ your own team of manager(s), producers/publishers, distributors, and bookers. The best advice I can give to any artist in this industry is: No matter what your goals are as an artist, whether you want to get signed or stay independent, PEOPLE are everything - Who you surround yourself with will make or break you. Build relationships with people you trust, people who believe in you, and people you share a mutual respect with.
If you could set up you perfect tour what bands would you want to play with, and where in the world would you want to play?
Sleeping At Last, Stateless, Coldplay, Elbow, and Sigur Rós. AND the BBC Orchestra to accompany us at anytime. We would do a full-world, stadium tour!!
You have a music video for your song “Chapters’. Do you have any future plans to do another music video?
I already came up with the full-concept for my next single's music video - I love it and I think many others will too. The video carries a very strong message that needs to be executed and produced properly, so I want to put an entire team of professionals on the project. Now, I just gotta find the funding somewhere…
Is there a moment that sticks out in your head that made you realize that this is the perfect job for you?
After Brian (@BrianJOnline) and I performed on the America's Got Talent stage to a sold-out Chicago Theater (3.6 thousand people), we were greeted by hundreds of people outside the theater who stayed to express their support. They commended my loyalty to our friendship, took pictures with us, etc. Specifically, a bunch of moms thanked me for showing their children "the perfect example of friendship and integrity." We couldn't go anywhere in Chicago that night without running into someone who'd attended the taping - and they all remembered us. After that night, I realized that my career would depend on so much more than just the music I create; it would also depend on the kind of person I am and the way I conduct myself. That's when I knew this was the perfect job for me. I have no interest in limiting my positive influence to my songs, I want to BE that positive influence as well.
What motivates and inspires you to pursue a career in the music industry?
Anytime someone tells me one of my songs helped them with something in their life - whether it was dealing with a negative thing or taking advantage of a positive thing. I just want to bring as much love into this world as possible, and so far, music's been the best way for me to do that.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned working in the music industry?
As I stated earlier, people are everything, and you attract what you are. If you're a disingenuous person with poor intentions, you'll have trouble building successful relationships. The best way to meet good people is to be sincere, grateful, and humble. Nurture others the way you nurture yourself, and you will be unstoppable. Do your own thing, work harder every day, and people will notice.
Do you have any new music coming out soon?
I do! I'm fortunate enough to record with one of my friends from high school Joe Jacobs (@_JoeJacobs). I recorded my first single, "All Your Favorite Words," with him, and he also mixed and mastered "Chapters" (which was tracked at Barn House Studios engineered by Mike Forbess). I finished tracking my next single just before I moved to NYC - I'm very excited about it (mostly for the music video). I'll be back in MN for the month of August, so Joe and I will mix and master the song then. I want to release it sometime in later August/early September, but no promises. I have 100s of songs - If I had the funds, I would record and release music constantly!
If people want to buy your music, where can they buy it?
iTunes, Amazon, Rhasphody, and pretty much any online music distributor.
Lastly, for people who haven’t heard your music, what song(s) would you tell them to listen to first?
"All Your Favorite Words" and "Chapters" (both on iTunes) have sound the best quality because I recorded them in studios. Everything else I currently have is just demo-quality I created on Garageband. I'd be interested to hear peoples' reaction to "Obvious," though. As previously mentioned, I wrote it as a sequel to "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift. Watch her music video for that song, then listen to "Obvious." I wrote it from the perspective of the nerdy best-friend she left behind.