How Do Artists Get Views on YouTube?

Melanie Fiona recently did a cover of Drake’s “Started From the Bottom,” creating a simple beat and turning the rap song into an R&B song of her own. Melanie’s already a well-known artist on the scene with two Grammy’s under her belt, so we have to wonder why she’s spending time doing covers. Was she was bored or does she just really like the song? Or, more likely, maybe she’s just staying relevant.

Whether they admit or not, emerging artists care what fans think about their music. After all, fans are the ones that pay the bills. Obviously, Melanie Fiona is not an emerging artist, but she is an artist that knows the importance of marketing. With social media dominating the way young people communicate, word of mouth and the virality of the internet drive record sales. Once an artist releases his music into the ‘cloud’ of the internet, he essentially gives the world permission to disseminate his track in any way it sees fit. Bad or good, publicity is publicity in the world of entertainment.

So what better way than to take advantage of YouTube and the millions of people who are already searching the site for videos? Obviously, musicians take advantage of this everyday. BUT, for some reason, most don’t want to post covers.

The explanation goes beyond fear of people “not liking” the song. You see, musicians are all about finding their own style, and differentiating themselves from others. Think about it – the most successful artists are those that are unique. So when a relatively unknown artist posts a cover of a popular song, she automatically takes away from her “uniqueness” since this is the way in which (most) of the world hears about her. To take an extreme case: imagine covering a Whitney Houston song that soon afterwards goes viral. Next thing you know, everyone in the world starts calling you the next Whitney Houston. Sure, it may seem like a great compliment at first, but it might not be so flattering when the world starts to realize you are not Whitney Houston…at all.

So, question for the musicians out there: what do all of you think about doing covers? Is it possible to make it without appealing to the audience and the songs they already know? Covers seem like an automatic way to get subscribers. If you need to increase your views, does it really hurt to take a shortcut and do a few covers?

Just a few.

Grammy First, College Later (or Never)

Take a look at the Billboard Hot 100 today, March 9th. You’ll end up noticing all of the typical names. From Rihanna to Bruno Mars, it’s not a surprising list. One particular song, “Started From The Bottom” by Drake, has gained a lot of popularity and now sits at #6. In his music video, Drake does a satire on his own lyrics (watch the video above), which makes sense when you think about it. Come on, we all know you didn’t really start from the bottom, Jimmy.

Like every famous artist, Drake ‘hustled’ his way to the top. But he also didn’t graduate from college.

As college students, we have to wonder how much of a return we are getting on our 6-figure “investment.” Artists who show real talent are sometimes faced with a choice of getting an education, or chasing their dreams. Which is more important? Better yet, why do they have to choose? Don’t we go to college so we can chase our dreams, or does the institution hinder us from doing so? Most students wind up postponing their dreams in favor of high-paying jobs. And sometimes, those dreams never become fulfilled.

Take a look again at the Hot 100 (the first 10 songs). #3 – #10: none of these artists graduated from college. Just last year, Drake graduated from high school. #1 and #2: Macklemore and Baauer sit at the top…two relatively new names on the charts, with viral singles. Will they last? Only time will tell. Either way, 80% of the artists on the top 10 did not attend college. These 80% have multiple platinum albums and multiple Grammys to show for it. These 80% have decided to postpone higher education for success.*

So the question is: Where does college fit in for musicians? Is there a correlation between success in this music industry and lack of a college education?
Or is it just pure luck? Seriously, we all know a college dropout who is struggling to make it in the business. Either way, the stats are a little daunting for college musicians lying in a pool of debt.

* will be attending college this year to study computer science

Mackleless, Macknomore: Bwog Reports Macklemore will NOT be at Bachannal

And let the puns begin: “Mackleless” (credit: Olivia Harris), “Macknomore,” “Mackledissed,” “Mackleditched”

Rumor has it that Macklemore will most likely not be attending Bachannal, Columbia’s spring concert. Can anyone be surprised though? CU is known for bringing in has-been’s (i.e. Snoop Dogg) or will-be’s (Wiz Khalifa), so pulling off Macklemore would have been one for the books.

For now, we should probably start thinking of some other options. ASAP Rocky, Meek Millz, Kendrick Lamar, etc. are already being suggested on Bwog’s comments. While we’re reaching for the stars, maybe someone should take the subway/Metro North to one Beyonce’s places and ask her (kidding, kind of).

Who would you like to see perform? Read the original Bwog article here: Bwog Report

BHM Fashion Meets Music

It’s always fun when different forms of art combine to create a production. Last weekend, during the Black History Month fashion show, fashion met music (or did music meet fashion?). The show, headed up by Columbia senior Jasmine Sudarkasa included a lot of artistic elements, from a dramatized pillow fight, to a rendition of the Harlem Shake, and a remake of “GIRLS” (video above). One of my favorite parts though, was what occurred in between the different designers: a jazz band called “Steven Fowler.” The band had a Robert Glasper feel to it, as they began with a basic melody/theme and expanded upon it in each instrument. Each member had his own solo, incorporating the normal jazz elements of syncopation and harmonic dissonance. I didn’t catch the solos on video, although I wish I had. In the end though, the horns blended together to create a smooth sound as the bass line in the guitar carried the band forward. Overall, it was a great show, and it’s always wonderful to discover new bands.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Listen to Morningsiders

MorningsidersIf you go to any of the random music gigs around campus, you already know about the band Morningsiders. And if you don’t, well that’s what Bars and Chords is here for. I first heard them at the Epic Showcase hosted by Sigma Lambda Beta a few weeks ago. Afterwards, my gut (Scandal plug) told me that I have been missing out on some awesome music. Hopefully, I’ll have the honor of interviewing them one day, but in the meantime, I think that telling the world about them will suffice. So here are the top 5 reasons you should be stalking the Morningsiders’ SoundCloud right now:

1. They don’t fit into a genre…”inspired folk-pop and blue-grass” mixed together, with coolness on the side. In other words, they’re DIFFERENT, which is good in the music world in case you didn’t know.

2. Their harmonies are a blend of perfection and serenity. You may even find yourself closing your eyes, transcending into a different realm of music (or something).

3. They made a video for Valentine’s Day.

4. You’re almost always guaranteed a trumpet, fiddle, or some kind of great solo.

5. We live in Morningside so, obviously, it’s our duty to support Morningsiders.

So…if you’re still not quite convinced, go ahead and check out their soundcloud or facebook, and see if you agree.

Some advice for CU Artists: Move the Crowd!

Now that I’m back from China, I’ve taken the past few weeks to check out a few shows and see what’s going on with artists on campus. I have to say, I’m quite impressed with both old and new. From new songs to entirely new EPs and albums, my iTunes playlists are blowing up. However, after attending a few shows, I feel that I need to share some advice with artists…that is, you need to MOVE THE CROWD!! You know, Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff “I Wanna Rock Right Now” style.

We’re in collegeWill Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, right? That means students go to shows to release some stress (esp. at Columbia), have fun, and hear some good music. Most artists have the good music part figured out, but the artists that really stand out are the ones that relate to the audience. How, you ask? Eye contact, call-and-response (you know, Taylor Simone style), reaching out to the audience…literally. Have you ever been at a concert, and the artist screams “Now, wave your hands back and forth like this!” All of the sudden, the crowd moves in sync – a certain energy spreads across the room. Everyone “vibes” together, as if the music unites us. That’s what we need in college. If you’re a rapper and the crowd is quiet, break out a freestyle. If you’re a jazz artist, make sure your instrument is heard in a solo. You’re in a rock band? Make everyone stand up. Impress, impress, impress. Do something’s a live show, and we’re in college. It’s all about fun..right? Engage with the audience, and your show will be that much better.

Who wants to be a role model? Not Rihanna

I’m baaaaack!! I hope you’ve all had a great summer. I’m taking Bars and Chords in a slightly different direction this school year but before I get into all of that, I had to write about the interview with Rihanna and Oprah on Sunday. Simply put, I can’t help but notice that…

No one wants to be a role model!

On Sunday, Rihanna blatantly told Oprah that she doesn’t like the title of “Role Model.” Ever since then, a thought has been running through my mind…how can you have 11 number 1 hits, and not want to be a role model?!   In other words, I doubt she made it to the top without having someone she aspired to be like, so why wouldn’t she want others to follow her now? Still…now that I’ve had a bit of time to reflect, I’m starting to believe that most celebrities (especially music artists) would probably have given the same response.

To society, a role model isn’t just someone who tries his or her best. As RiRi pointed out in her interview, a role model tends to be synonymous with everyone’s idea of “perfection.” Whether you admit it or not, all of us expect perfection–for artists to fit into our mold of the A-List lifestyle. And when someone fails to meet expectations, record sales plummet, sponsors walk away, and your favorite artist is left to crawl to the top again.

Still, I can’t help but think about the words of Jessie J: NOBODY’S PERFECT. Technology allows our generation to gain a microscopic view into the lives of our favorite artists, which means that we can easily (and I mean EASILY) expose their flaws. What’s even more creepy is that we’ve listened to an artist’s entire album before the sound engineer finishes his final touches, an artist’s death becomes a trending topic while he’s still alive, a domestic violence case pulls two lovers apart before they even have time to blink…

So who do aspiring musicians look to in an industry where everyone makes mistakes (surprise surprise), and no one wants to be a role model? I don’t have the “perfect” answer for you, but I do know this: for aspiring artists, don’t focus on being a Good Girl (or boy) Gone Bad…start by creating your own dreams and goals instead of looking to live someone else’s. Also understand that fame is not the ultimate goal. In fact, it is often a by-product of hard work (and luck, or bad luck). Your talents, creativity and passion for music should drive you through obstacles.

So, I leave you with a bit of an oxymoron…

RiRi can’t be a role model, but she is, whether she likes it or not. It’s up to her to do her best to project a REAL image of herself, and up to us to stop asking for perfection.

Disagree or agree? I would love to hear your thoughts/comments below or on the FB page!

Summertime Playlist

It’s summertime, finals are over, and college graduates are wondering what to do with their lives. As everyone starts lining up for BBQs, parties in the city, and horrendous summer internship hours, it seems like only 1 thing will stay constant…the search for good music! To make everyone’s lives easier, I’ve created a playlist of some of the songs I think should be on your radar this summer. All of these artists are either from CU (conveniently highlighted in blue), the showcase, or recently graduated…and awesome. I’ve tried to include a spectrum of genres, but if you have some more artist suggestions, comment below/on the FB page or email 

Let me know which artists you like. Who knows, maybe I’ll do a special feature on one of them. Enjoy!

Note: Click on the artists’ names (or songs) for more info.


1. Taylor Simone – Bottled Up

2. Lucky Chops Brass Band Syeeda’s Song Flute (click song name for link)

3. Sam Yulsman – Violet


3. Jake SniderUnited States of Anywhere (click song name for link)

4. Melaku – Painkiller ft. Donju Min


5. Lubeen – I’m Dope

*Bonus Artists* 

6. Kameron Corvet – Going Under

7. Chance Fischer – Celebration

8. Euro League – P.O.V. (Lost in the City) feat. Ashli James

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this post is to promote these artists and their music. I do not own any rights to the music posted here. Should any of the artists represented here desire their music to be taken down, please email