SPOTfestival in Denmark

I’m currently in the Nashville airport about to board my flight to Denmark to speak at the SPOT festival on Friday. As happens in these conferences, I get hit up by bands asking me to listen and see them play. Normally I ignore these but this time I decided to listen to the artists…but with rules.

I would take all the bands who contacted me and give them all an hour to impress me. This is similar to timeframes that average listeners have. Their time is limited and precious. I am no different. Then I put the songs I heard thru the Futurehit.DNA filter, specifically the quick engaging intro. I ended up giving the bands two hours, so I actually became generous. Want to know the results?

First off…I would suggest all of these artists need to attend my chat on Friday. Basically because almost all artists I heard need it. It’s no surprise they are having difficulties gaining traction. I will largely focus on the music and let my fellow panelist Ariel Hyatt handle the many issues of poor marketing.

So the results? First I had 54 bands reach out to me. This meant each band had 2 minutes to impress me. That includes webpage load time (an issue for many). Keep in mind that while my comments may be harsh, the average listener will give you less time and have harsher opinions.

Only 5 of the 54 bands impressed me. Now a 10% success rate is far better than I anticipated. But that means the other 49 bands have a lot to work to do. Only 15 artists featured songs with intros at 7 seconds or less. Again, really key element to impress someone fast. Of bigger concern is 15 artists that had songs with intros of 30 seconds or more. In this clear cut world, do you really think that people will pay attention as you “set a mood”? Won’t happen.

Only 2 artists engaged in any cover songs. May not seem key but most people don’t want to start with original music. That requires a lot more work. Doesn’t mean you can’t but your music has to be that much greater. In fact the artists with covers had decent originals but my decision to see them was tipped to yes by the covers. Imagine an average person who has a million distractions?

Finally, very few employed video or alternate versions. Needing new versions in order to stoke familiarity is key. If I liked something and wanted to deep dive I would have no reason to repeat a song. You have to get multiple listens while you can. No videos or remixes or alternate versions is a disservice.

I won’t publicly embarrass the 49 artists that failed to impress me. They may indeed be good but if they don’t win the first hurdle I will never know. And my time (and the average listener’s time) is worth more than an unknown band, especially one who promotes to someone unsolicited.

But I will talk briefly about the 5 artists who won me over:

The Bear That Wasn’t

-catchy songs that engage quickly
-interesting story (he’s biking to the festival)
-he does a Mary Poppins cover that is attention getting
-musicially in the Ellliott Smith vein


-short intros quickly engage
-obvious build of fan base evident on page
-well done indie pop

Note: both the above bands are playing at the same time. Grrr…


-quick engagement with short intros
-suggest uniqueness
-images are inviting

Maria Timm

-quick intros
-well written instantly engaging songs
-deftly blends several genres (it’s quirky electro pop)

White Pony

-easily the best song I heard (“Falling”)
-quick intro
-email contained video link which sold the song further
-fun DJ driven dance pop

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