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 – 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

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 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.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Experts’ Music Industry Predictions for 2015

With a new year to look forward to inevitably comes predictions for that year, and music industry professionals are not missing the chance to weigh in. From Forbes to 50 Cent, many big names have already weighed in on what they think (or at least hope) will happen in 2015. Here are some common themes:

Digital services will merge, and big brands will prevail.
The world of online music services has so far been an open market, with countless startups cropping up to compete for a slice of the pie. However, in 2015, it’s likely that some of these will consolidate or be bought out as the biggest names (Apple, YouTube, Amazon, Google) become even bigger. While many have voiced grave predictions about the quality of services like AppleStream or YouTube’s Music Key, that may not even matter as people choose convenience (the platforms offer built-in access to your digital stores) over all else.

Spotify will announce big changes.
There’s already been a bit of buzz around Spotify’s impending IPO, and the changes that typically stem from the public market’s demands. We may see the window for free ad-based streaming shrink, or similar alterations to the company’s offerings. These changes could be good news for artists, as Spotify feels compelled to make (and pass on) more of a profit. Speaking of profit, however: A successful IPO will make all of the company’s early investors and employees a lot of many – which could spur a backlash from artists who have long felt cheated by Spotify’s free streaming service. Time will tell but either way, the company is likely to make major headlines this year.

The RESPECT Act will be reintroduced in Congress.
Here’s a big one for our more mature songwriters and artists. Currently, audio recordings made before 1972 are not covered under federal copyright law – and are therefore not subject to receiving royalty payments. According to, “The RESPECT Act would mend this issue and enable all digital performances of songs – regardless of the year they were recorded – to become eligible for royalties.”

The RIAA will change its platinum album formula to account for streaming.
Despite the modern shift from downloading to streaming, the RIAA has yet to alter its formula for platinum. This is how an artist like Ed Sheeran can be the most-streamed artist of the year on Spotify but only have his album be certified gold. Predictions have been made that 2015 will be the year that the RIAA makes some (arguably necessary) changes to its formula, thus remedying the situation and properly awarding artists.

Regardless of whether you subscribe to the above predictions, one thing’s for sure: 2015 is bound to be an exciting and innovative year for music. For HillTop it will be the year we launch our new Members Online Services, coming within the next 30 days. Follow along with us here at HillTop Records as we continue to keep you updated on the latest news from the American music industry.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome 2015 With one of January's Best Music Festivals

The ball has dropped, the Champagne been finished, and we are officially in a new year. So what to look forward to now? Well, for starters, we've got our picks for the month's best music festivals:

Holy Ship! (1/3/2015 – 1/6/2015) in Miami, Florida and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
If you're lucky enough to have already purchased a ticket to Holy Ship! 2015, then you already know how amazing it is going to be. This year's lineup features the likes of Pretty Lights, Armand Van Helden and Annie Mac – and the setting will be nothing short of spectacular. What better way to welcome the new year than by spending it on a cruise ship, listening to fantastic live music while touring the crystal blue waters around Miami and the Bahamas? This tour has been sold out, but there is a waitlist available on the festival's official website.

MusicFest (1/5/2015 – 1/10/2015) in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Now in its 30th year, this renowned music festival just keeps getting better and better. Join thousands of other music and skiing enthusiasts as they enjoy six full days of live music (performed by 40 bands, including the best of Texas and Americana music) as well as plenty of fresh powder at the beautiful Steamboat Ski & Resort. You'll have so much fun that you won't even feel the cold.

Jam Cruise 2015 (1/6/2015 – 1/11/2015) in Miami, Florida
Another popular live music event takes to the high seas this January, and this one has been going strong for over a decade. It combines the community, spontaneity and fun of a classic music festival with the convenience, luxury and adventure of cruise travel – and the results make for a trip of a lifetime. This year, the lineup features Elephant Revival, G. Love & Special Sauce, Umphrey's McGee, Pretty Lights, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Snowball Festival (1/7/2015 – 7/10/2015) in Lutsen, Minnesota
Lutsen Mountain's largest music event of the year is returning once again this month. Spend your days hitting the slopes and your nights enjoying back-to-back performances and jam sessions by 10 bands apr├Ęs ski. The lineup features Jon Wayne & The Pain, Wookiefoot, Heatbox, and Pert Near Sandstone. Now in its 10th year, this event is sure to be a hit – and you won't want to miss the chance to party with your fellow skiers, snowboarders and music lovers.

Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival (1/9/2015 – 1/10/2015) in Leavenworth, Washington
Timbrrr! returns once again as the wintry counterpart to the ever-popular Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, held in the same scenic location later in the year. Artists scheduled to attend and play this year include Red Fang, Sol, Deep Sea Diver and Prom Queen. There will also be food and drink vendors, and the "show happens, rain, sleet, snow or shine".

30A Songwriters Festival (1/16/2015 – 1/18/2015) in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
The 6th annual celebration of singers and songs has been deemed "the Sundance of songwriter festivals" and with good reason. It offers a place to see and be seen, and network with other likeminded professionals – while, of course, enjoying incredible live musical performances and informative workshops. This year's lineup features Tucker Ewing, Phil Madeira, the Psycho Sisters, Leon Russell and many more. See the official website for the entire list, and make your travel arrangements ASAP.

MLK Youth Parade and Battle of the Bands Competition (1/17/2015) in Houston, Texas
Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned Battle of the Bands? This one will be held at Midtown Houston-BBVA Compass Stadium, and accompanied by a fun-filled parade. Attendees will get to witness the finest local up-and-comers struck their stuff – and the best of the best go home with prizes and accolades. It's sure to be a great time.

Sunshine Music & Blues Festival (1/17/2015) in St. Petersburg, Florida
Tickets are on sale now for this anticipated annual event, which features the best in live blues and (Mother Nature permitting) sunny weather. This year's lineup features such celebrated acts as Grace Potter, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Dickey Betts & Great Southern. Can't make it to St. Petersburg that Saturday? The following day (1/18/2015) the gang does it all over again in Boca Raton, Florida.

OC JazzFest 2015 (1/18/2015) in Fullterton, California
Here's an event that helps you give back while also having fun. The proceeds from this festival will go to the Musicians' Relief Fund of the Musicians' Club of Orange County, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping struggling musicians and their families throughout the Orange County area. The venue is the elegant Steamers Jazz Club and Cafe, and the lineup features Hart & Soul, Quartet Mike Peak's – The Peak Experience, and John Noreyko's TUBOP Late Nite Jam Session.

Northern Roots Festival (1/31/2015) in Brattleboro, Vermont
Say farewell to the first month of the new year with an annual tradition, now in its 8th year. The day-long celebration brings together local and regional musicians representing the best of the northern musical styles: Scottish, Irish, English, and French Canadian. There will also be panel discussions, workshops for all instruments, and a fun-filled Family Dance – so bring the entire family to this lively event.

For more information on upcoming music festivals near you, visit And for more news and updates from the American music industry, be sure to keep following us here at HillTop Records.

Happy New Year!