Rockin’ Out with PepperDome and Chatting About What Works For Them

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PepperDome interview – with John, Eric and Vattel

What is the name of your band and how many members do you have?

John: The name of the band is PepperDome and currently there are three members of the band, a drummer that does vocals, a bassist that does vocals and a guitarist that does vocals.

Where are you from?

We are based out of Mebane, NC.

In what genre would you classify yourselves?

Basically we’re a hard rock band, but we’ve got versions of progressive, punk, indie, and alternative influences that come through.

Has it evolved over time or was there a certain sound that you liked and had initially when you started?

It evolved, I guess, because Vattel has a jazz background, Eric is little bit more of a heavy metal guy. I’m a little all over the map, I listen to everything and anything, but I think that’s what makes the music what it is.

What is the collaboration process?

Eric: We kind of tried a couple of different writing styles but right now seems like the one we’re most comfortable with is we’re working on a batch of 3 songs, that is Vattelbrings in something that he’s written and we’ll basically explore that and then I’ll bring in something, we’ll explore that and John will also bring in something.  We’re definitely all involved in writing, but it usually starts with one of us having a core idea, whether it be a riff, a drum beat,  or a metal beat, and we work off that.

Do you ever find it difficult having equal collaboration and contribution?

Vattel, bass player: This situation is one of the most open ones I’ve been in.  Each of us have an idea and if we all band our heads together and make it grow. We all invest in each other’s ideas.  It’s not like I’m more protective of my idea than I would be of John’s idea, or Eric’s idea or PepperDome’s idea. It doesn’t matter who brought in the idea, we’re all more concerned about the end result of what a song is going to be and wanting it to reach its full potential.

John: Basically we have a high level of respect for each other so we understand that as we’re working, if a song or something is not working correctly that we can step up and say wait a minute, something’s wrong here, we have to do something and we will sit down and reevaluate what we’re doing.   Moreso than just saying it’s wrong and there’d be a big battle.  It’s all about the music and what we want to do and again, the end result is the most important part.

Have you toured outside of your area?

For the past year we have been playing shows and touring around probably within an hour and a half radius of where we are based.  Just a few weeks ago we did have the opportunity to head to Tennessee and play in Knoxville and Nashville, but after this album is finished we plan on broadening our horizons and moving out much further–maybe making short weekend tours and try to get out further than the radius we’ve done so far.

How do go about organizing your tours?

Eric: John did most of the legwork regarding the electronic press kits that we send the venues. We’ll e-mail them, send them a press kit.  We’ll have a song and then a lot of press on websites, Facebook, Myspace, Reverbnation. They can review from there and decide if we fit their club or venue or not.  And we’ve also had other bands ask us to play with them.  A lot of networking seems to be very important around this area so that helps a lot too.

You mentioned sending EPKs. What do you include in your press kit?

We have the typical one sheet with the history of the band, we have a couple of pictures, some song samples, a video sample, and there’s actually some interviews and a couple of reviews.

How do you develop your songs?

Vattel: We’ve tried a few different approaches.  We’ve tried starting with a riff or some sort of message idea or scheme or Lego, to put blocks together to create a structure.  Normally we go with what works and get a feel for the lyric and sort of slap that together and bang our heads together to come to some accord regarding what the lyrics are trying to express with our instruments.

What’s the best piece of advice your band has been giving since you started playing together?

We’ve been told to keep writing music, keep experiencing playing together and keep moving forward and really try to meet.  Of course practice makes perfect so the more experience you have with each other, the more you feel how each other plays, the more it makes for better conditions and a better band overall.

What inspires your music?

There’s basically two main themes that are in there–a social awareness of the world around you that could be anywhere from just experiencing life all the way up to some song with a political intent to it or a political message and there’s also other songs that are about self-exploration and how to live to be yourself and don’t worry what other people think of you and to have the strength and power to go beyond whatever restrictions are put on you by society.

If you had a megaphone that you could let everyone listen to one message, what would it be for Pepperdome?

I would say just for people to wake up, understand the world they live in and to be themselves.

Do you have any new releases coming up?

Yes, we are currently working on an album as we speak, almost literally.  We are almost done with what we’re calling the first draft of music.  We’re going to have a full length record by the first of next year, so we’re in the process of putting it together.

And that’s your debut album?

It’s actually the fourth CD in the mix.

How do the songs differ from other CDs?

Vattel: The previous three CDs were written by John himself but he played all the instruments.  This will be the first CD that Eric and I will be participating in the writing of the music so it will be more of a band record than a solo project, I guess you would say.

John: Which is bringing the music to a whole new level.  It’s allowed the music to expand to areas where it hasn’t gone before and hopefully that will grab some people’s attention.

What would you like to say to your fans?

John: Thank you. Keep coming out. We love the support.  We love to see you constantly and hope you bring all your friends.

Vattel: Like us on Facebook!

Anything else you’d like to share?

John: The only other thing we can say that hasn’t been covered already is we are actually looking for a fourth member.  We are currently looking to broaden our horizons and we are looking for a lead vocalist.

Listen to PepperDome’s music now at www.Studio120Music.com/PepperDome

And stay connected with PepperDome at http://www.pepperdomeband.com

How Do You Measure the Impact of Your Social Media?

Everyone knows that social media is crucial to spread your music to the masses. Many use Facebook, Twitter, WordPress obviously, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr and other micro-social media sites such as Posterous or Quora to connect their audience and promote their music. Yet, to constantly expand the reach of your social media you need to effectively measure what type of posts result in the greatest response. Once you’ve determined what is most effective in engaging your network you can post only highly interactive content in your media. So how do you measure the impact of your social media?

With each of your social networks you can try different posting strategies from week to week and month to moth to see which results in the greatest interaction. For each type of social media there are ways to do this for each network.

Twitter: Look at your number of followers, number of times your hash tag is used, and the number who retweeted your posts. Also www.TweetReach.com and www.mytoptweet.com are great tools to measure Twitter exposure.

Facebook: Look at your Reach and People Talking About You in Facebook Analytics to see how many impressions your ads and posts are getting. Also look at the number of likes and comments on individual posts to get a more detailed picture of the engagement of each post. Facebook Insights is great because it provides you not only your reach but also the composition of your audience. This helps you tailor posts to your audiences age and other demographics.

Youtube: Track views, thumbs up, shares, number of ratings, number of comments, and number of subscribers to determine social reach.

Blog: Measure number of visitors, the number of people following you, and number of posts to other blogs you made and the resulting referral traffic.

Website: Google Analytics is the king for website analysis. Also, hosting servers such as 1and1.com will usually have some basic tracking on visits to the websites they host. Yet, unlike more simple site tracking, Google Analytics actually gives the number of unique visitors which is the true size of your audience as oppose to just counting visits where one person can count as multiple visits.

Email: Look at how many people opened the email relative to the number who received it and then how many clicked through the link in the email. Mailchimp.com has great tracking and mail campaigns you can send to your contact list for free.

Finally you need to determine the number of conversions. This can be liking a page, subscribing for a newsletter, or purchasing a product. The conversion rate is the percent of people who actually do the intended final action relative to the total number of visitors.

Sites like Klout.com give a rating on overall social exposure and wildfireapp.com’s Monitor feature enables you to compare your Facebook and Twitter’s to other accounts. Also you can measure your influence on sites like www.socialmention.com, www.radian6.com, and www.lithium.com. Really neat tools!

When considering your influence not only is the number of posts, comments, and shares considered, but also the social reach of those people having that interaction.  So, interacting with those users with the largest following, whether its Pinterest or Twitter or Facebook, results in more people liking and interacting with you. The users with larger more dedicated fan base mean more influence your media has on the social network. Make sure you continually analyze your efforts to improve results in social media. Happy twittering!

7 Things Your Press Kit Should Contain

Logo- Every artist needs a logo that captures their band’s identity. Logos help the public to quickly remember you and they give your band “Brand Identity”. Brand Identity is a name, term design, or symbol which creates a distinct identity in the minds of the consumer. In music, I like to think of it as “band identity”. “Band Identity” is the unique image, style, and logo which people identify with your music. Having this logo and band identity is useful for creating viral campaigns and street team marketing, such as having fans put a sticker with your logo and website all over town.

Business Cards/Flyers- Every artist needs a business cards and flyers, which can promote upcoming events. If a press kit were Cold Stones, then business cards and flyers would be “Gotta Have its”.

Photography/Head Shots- Quality photography is needed for all press kits and anything related to media.

Trifold BrochureA brochure is a very professional way to represent yourself to booking agents, record labels, and venues.

Website/Social Media Pages- Every artists needs a website, giving the public a place to contact you, learn more about you, and what you do. In todays “hyper-connected world”, as writer of The World is Flat Thomas Friedman called it, it is also vital to have and maintain social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Demo/Videos- Obviously a high quality demo of your music is necessary for any consideration of your band. If your site has music, you do not necessarily need to send physical demos, although that is logically more convenient for the listener. Also, videos help get you ranked on search engines and let them see your live performance which is crucial to commercial success.

Presentation Folder- The ultimate way to put your press kit together- a folder that contains your brochure, business card, bio, head shots, and flyers.