Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Music Industry Revenue Figures Show a Step Towards the Future – and a Step Towards the Past



We’ve got some bad news for anyone hoping that streaming music services were just a fad: The industry revenue figures for 2014 have been released and for the first time ever, streaming services made more of a profit than CD sales.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s latest report, streaming music services made $1.87 billion in 2014, while CD sales made $1.85 billion. It might not look like much on paper, but that difference indicates a monumental shift in our music industry and culture – albeit one that should not come as much of a surprise. Streaming profits have been steadily on the rise for some time, while CD sales have been on a downward slope.

One fact that may come as a surprise, however, is this: While CD sales are on the decline, physical formats as a whole still make more revenue than streaming services. And no, we’re not counting digital downloads as physical formats.

Just as we see technology pulling the music industry forward, today’s fans appear to be fostering a sense of nostalgia for yesteryear – and that nostalgia is manifesting itself as a bit of a vinyl resurgence. For the first time since 1987, sales of vinyl records reached double-digit percentages in terms of industry profits – and pulled in an impressive $315 million.

We’re entering into a fascinating time when our entertainment culture seems polarized, and people are drawn to both the old and new simultaneously – we have e-readers and hardcover books, state-of-the-art technology and refurbished antiques, MP3s and LPs. And on both sides of debate, fans will passionately defend their preferences.

Meanwhile, the music industry sees some other changes reflected in the new revenue numbers: Ringtones are on their way out, digital radio is up, and digital downloads are still the main breadwinners; however, their profits appear to be decreasing year over year and it likely won’t be long before streaming services surpasses them. Will vinyl continue to rise as well? Only time will tell. In this fast-paced, ever-changing industry, it can be hard to tell what will remain for years to come – and what will prove to be only a passing trend.


For more news and updates from the American music industry, be sure to keep checking back with us right here at HillTop Records.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

No Joke – These Are April 2015's Best Music Festivals



Spring is officially in the air, and we're all itching to spend more time outdoors. Luckily, as the 2015 festival season begins to warm up, we've now got plenty of options for how to spend our weekends filled with live music, great food, and fun under the sun.

Here are our picks:

Easter Gospel Festival (4/5/2015) in Sarasota, Florida
If music is a part of your East Sunday traditions, you will definitely enjoy this timely gospel festival. With live performances by the likes of Shantel Norman and Sheldon Roden, it promises to be a beautiful evening of worship and celebration.

Euphoria Music Festival (4/10/2015 – 4/12/2015) in Austin, Texas
With three full days of live music and camping, this outdoor festival is always a great time – and it's returning once again to Austin's scenic Carson Creek Ranch. No ordinary music festival, Euphoria features stunning visual displays and organized activities like morning yoga and meditation, local concessions, and cutting-edge facilities on the banks of the Colorado River. Attendees may also enjoy this year's unique stage design, improved dance tents, artist workshops and a lineup that includes the Crystal Method, Zeds Dead, and Beats Antique.

Coachella (4/10/2015 – 4/12/2015 and 4/17/2015 – 4/19/2015) in Indio, California
Now so big that it spans two full weekends, Coachella is more than a music festival – it's a major tourist destination. Set in the middle of the desert of California, it attracts crowds of people from all over the country and even the world. Expect to find state-of-the-art installations, unique attractions and activities, incredible food and drink vendors, and unforgettable live music. This year's headliners include AC/DC, Jack White and Drake – and, really, there's something for everyone.

Cloverdale Fiddle Festival (4/11/2015) in Cloverdale, California
Fiddler lovers on the west coast take note: This festival is not to be missed. Located at the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds, the event will pack a full day with fiddle contests, workshops, crafts, and performances by both old time fiddlers and bluegrass bands.

Heavy Seas Island Jam (4/11/2015) in Baltimore, Maryland
"All pirates welcome!" says this festival, set at Rash Field on the Inner Harbor. Join the festivities as local organizers host The Wailers and other great live music acts. There will also be beer, food and activities that will have you dreaming of summer on the high seas.

2015 Austin Reggae Festival (4/17/2015 – 4/19/2015) in Austin, Texas
Headliners of this year's Austin Reggae Festival include Lee Scratch Perry, Yellowman, Alika and New Kingston – and that's just the tip of the iceberg. With three full days of live music at the Auditorium Shores at Town Lake Metropolitan Park, this festival is sure to draw a large crowd – so get there early, and enjoy the show. But first, visit the official website for ticket sales and more information. Three-day wristbands are available for the die-hard fans.

Frogtown Hollow Jam (4/17/2015 – 4/18/2015) in Columbus, Georgia
This two-day music festival, set on the picturesque banks of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, is a local institution – and one that residents of the area wait all year round for. Gather up the family and get ready to enjoy a full weekend of music, food and fun.

ROUND-UP: A Rockin Country Music Extravaganza (4/18/2015) in Simi Valley, California
True to its name, this festival is a true extravaganza. It's the area's largest one-day charity music event, and it offers something for everyone: There will be a large dance floor and back-to-back live concerts, craft and food vendors, line dancing lessons, a kids' area – and, of course, fantastic country music. The venue is the Hummingbird Nest Ranch and the lineup features Diamond Rio, Neon Circus – a Brooks and Dunn Tribute, and Country Nation.

Spring Jam Music Fest (4/18/2015) in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Now in its third year, this event just keeps getting better and better – and this year, it will take place at The Grove, a stunning 3.5-acre green space at Patriots Point. Come enjoy several bands performing on two stages, side show performances, a special Arts & Goods Village, and delicious local food, beer and wine.

North Platte Country Bluegrass Festival (4/23/2015 – 4/25/2015) in North Platte, Nebraska
Do you love bluegrass? Then this festival's for you. Join the three full days of live bluegrass music by the likes of The Grascals and Larry Efaw, jamming, food and craft vendors, activities (including a tot lot) for children, raffles and prizes, and so much more.

1st Annual Music & Awareness Festival (4/24/2015 – 4/25/2015) in Lakeland, Florida
Be there when it all begins. This inaugural event is being held in recognition of April as Parental Alienation Month, and is designed to help encourage loving relationships between parents and their children, regardless of the relationship between the parents themselves. There will be live music by local bands and DJs, workshops and playshops, organized activities, and fundraising efforts to help those parents in need who can't afford classic or other services.

MOVE Music Festival (4/24/2015 – 4/26/2015) in Albany, New York
This exciting event was created to help regional talent gain more exposure through live performances at select venues throughout Albany. It also offers those artists insight on how to conduct their careers while navigating today's independent music scene. It thereby creates a two-way street, providing something for everyone. As an attendee, you may enjoy live music by about 100 bands performing at 10 different venues, as well as merchandise booths, concessions, and more. Meanwhile, those bands may attend networking events, panels and discussions on everything from digital marketing strategies to honing their craft.

Some Kind of Jam 10 (4/24/2015 – 4/26/2015) in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania
With over 30 musical acts on four different stages, this weekend-long festival will have something for everyone – and it might even introduce you to something new. There will be great live funk, bluegrass, folk, blues, rock & roll, reggae, world, jazz, progressive and more – as well as late-night indoor jams, camping, light shows, fire performances, parades, and yoga on a 60-acre rustic fairground complete with trout-fishing waters and nature trails. BYO alcohol and dancing shoes.

For more information on upcoming events near you, be sure to visit festivals.com – and keep following along with us here at HillTop Records as we bring you the latest news and updates from the American music industry.

Monday, March 16, 2015

10 Famous Artists Who Switched Genres Mid-Career


Steven Tyler, American rock legend of Aerosmith fame, recently announced (via Twitter, no less) his intention to record and release a country music album – and much to the surprise of many fans, it appears he wasn’t joking.

Since the initial announcement, which occurred back in October, Tyler has relocated to Nashville and begun collaborating with Brett James, who co-wrote songs for both Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood. He also plans to work with the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston (who is behind hits by Keith Urban and Tim McGraw) as well as other country songwriters.

While it may seem strange that a man known for wearing heavy eyeliner and writing such iconic rock songs as “Misery” and “Wild Thing” will soon be crooning country, Steven Tyler is not the first to change musical genres mid-career. Here are ten others who famously made the switch:

1. Kid Rock
Like Steven Tyler, Kid Rock changed his sound from rock to country when he began performing with the likes of Hank Williams Jr.

2. Nelly Furtado
This Canadian-born singer-songwriter got her start with catchy pop song “I’m Like a Bird.” However, once she successfully made a name for herself, she recruited industry heavyweight Timbaland to record a hip hop and R&B album.

3. The Go Go’s
Typically remembered for ‘80’s pop jams like “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” The Go Go’s actually started off as an all-female punk band.

4. Lady Gaga
She seems to change genres as frequently as she changes outfits. However, the biggest leaps occurred when she went from Broadway to pop, and then (most recently) to jazz.

5. Darius Rucker
Now known for country music, Darius Rucker originally entered the music industry as part of rock band Hootie And The Blowfish.

6. Katy Perry
Not many people know that before pop star Katy Perry began performing in wild, candy-colored outfits, she was actually a Christian music artist.

7. Miley Cyrus
Like other contemporary pop singers, Miley Cyrus experimented with different genres before she found her footing ­– originally following in her father’s footsteps by singing country.

8. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is widely known for both folk and rock music, but the folk part actually came first before the singer-songwriter found his own unique way of putting the two together.

9. Fergie
Most commonly known for being the sole female vocalist of hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie was first a member of the all-girl pop group Wild Orchid.

10. Snoop Dogg
This list just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Snoop Dogg. After years of releasing hip hop albums and being a key player on the West Coast rap scene, Snoop took a brief detour and reinvented himself as Snoop Lion, reggae artist.


It just goes to show you that in the world of music, it’s never too late to experiment with other genres or make the switch completely. For more news and updates from the music industry, be sure to keep following us here at HillTop Records – where we record the songs that America writes.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spring Forward With March 2015 Music Festivals



Spring's just around the corner and with it the 2015 festival season – but that doesn't mean you have to wait to have great fun! This month brings a variety of great music festivals all across the country. Here are just a few that you should definitely consider attending:

Big Nac Music Festival (3/5/2015 – 3/8/2015) in Nacogdoches, Texas
With over 40 bands across multiple genres, this fantastic three-day festival will have something for everyone. Enjoy live country, rock blues, bluegrass and more in four different venues around downtown Nacogdoches that allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture – complete with delicious food and a friendly atmosphere.

Savannah Stopover Music Festival (3/5/2015 – 3/7/2015) in Savannah, Georgia
If you're planning to head to Austin this year for SXSW, consider stopping first in Savannah to check out some of the country's best up-and-coming bands. This three-day celebration of live music is hosted in iconic venues around Historic Downtown Savannah, and it acts as a warm welcome (complete with tons of Southern Hospitality) to everyone on their "stopover" along the route to Texas.

SXSW 2015 (3/13/2015 – 3/22/2015) in Austin, Texas
Of course, this brings us to one of the country's largest and most anticipated live music and interactive events. South by Southwest (SXSW) has grown so big over the years that it is now divided into three components: The interactive event takes place March 13-17, the film festival runs March 13-21, and the world-famous music festival closes out the event March 17-22. With panel discussions, workshops, the live unveiling of new products and services, music conventions and a line-up that includes everyone from AWOLNATION to MURS to The Zombies, this event is sure to be a major highlight for any music lover.

Spring Concert Series (begins 3/6/2015) in Muskegon, Michigan
Not in the American South this year? You may want to instead check out the inaugural evening of the Watermark Live Spring Concert Series. With a full-service bar, local concessions, special perks for kids and plenty of seating, this live music event is fun for the whole family. Bonus: Admission is free with a jar of peanut butter!

Beach Art Centers 5th Annual Bluegrass Festival (3/14/2015) in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Now in its fifth year, this event just keeps getting better and better. It is once again primed to offer a full evening (2:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) of lovely live bluegrass and fun in a scenic setting. So bring your lawn chair and head to beautiful Kolb Park, and remember that while admission and parking are both free, a $5 donation is suggested.

River City Blues Festival (3/20/2015 – 3/21/2015) in Marietta, Ohio
With two full days of live blues indoors, this celebration of American music doesn't need to wait for summer. It will be held at the stylish Hotel Lafayette, where attendees may enjoy a large dance floor, a cash bar, food and a great line-up of mostly nationally known acts. From Zydeco to acoustic to electric blues, every nuance of the genre will be represented here.

Phoenix Lights Music Festival (3/22/2015) in Phoenix, Arizona
Offering a brand-new music festival experience, this event promises to be unlike any other. Drawing inspiration from Civic Space Park's prized centerpiece, the festival will include incredible art installations from over 30 local artists – as well as plenty of live music enhanced by cutting-edge visuals, theatrical stage elements, and other features honoring the festival's key theme: the area's infamous UFO spotting nearly 20 years ago.

Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival (3/27/2015 – 3/28/2015) in Wilmington, Ohio
As the area's only indoor music event, this one is sure to draw a crowd. Attendees will enjoy plenty of live bluegrass and acoustic music from surrounding regions and beyond, in a fun and festive setting. Visit the official website to see the latest version of the line-up, and get there early to secure a prime spot.

For more information on upcoming events near you, be sure to visit Festivals.com – and keep checking back with us here at HillTop Records as we bring you the latest news and updates from the world of American music.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

HillTop Records Introduces New Member Services



HillTop Records, known for producing and promoting America’s up-and-coming songwriters, announces the launch of a brand-new membership program. Membership is free, and it includes access to a wide range of exclusive products and services that songwriters may purchase online to further their musical careers.

New products and services available only to HillTop Records members include a computer-generated printed lead sheet of their original song ready to be presented to artists, publishers and record labels; a custom keyboard arrangement written by professional arrangers for the beginner, intermediate or advanced musician; a professional recording of their song; an expertly produced, eye-catching, high-definition music video for their song available on DVD, Blu-ray and HillTop Records’ own YouTube channel; and the ability to add another instrument (whether that be a lead guitar track, a saxophone solo or synthesizer sound – songwriters may choose from a variety of instruments) to an existing recording.

Additionally, members who have written the lyrics to a song but not the music may purchase an original, custom composition that complements their words. These compositions are written by established artists who work with members to adjust the genre and tempo to suit their preferences. Members then receive a lead sheet of the complete song – and as is the case with all of HillTop Records’ new member services, members retain 100% ownership of the finished product.

To further promote independent songwriters, HillTop Records now also offers custom press release packages. These include the professional creation and online distribution of publicity information specially designed to increase awareness around a song or songwriter. Press releases may work in tandem with HillTop Records’ Unique Songwriter Pages, which many songwriters under contract already use for promotional purposes.

HillTop Records prides themselves on hiring only the best in the business, and players on their team of Los Angeles-based musicians have Gold and Platinum Records, Billboard awards and Grammy nominations. The production company’s new member services offer up-and-coming songwriters the unique opportunity to work with some of the musicians who have recorded and performed with the biggest names in the music industry. Songwriters are encouraged to join free of charge and preview the complete list of new member services and features at http://hilltoprecords.com/.


HillTop Records is always on the lookout for new avenues for songwriters, and it maintains a strong online presence that songwriters under contract may take advantage of. For more information about HillTop Records’ services, including how to have original works produced by the company, visit http://hilltoprecords.com. You can also “like” HillTop Records on Facebook, follow @HillTopRecords on Twitter, or catch up on the latest music industry news and updates on the company’s official blog.