Tech entrepreneur, Josh Simons, has gone from performing in arenas with artists like Travis Scott and Keith Urban to creating the award-winning app Vampr, the largest and most active social professional network for creatives. Vampr is the go-to platform for musicians to safely connect and collaborate around the world. With over 600,000 active users in 190 countries, Vampr has just surpassed 6 million connections between creatives. If there ever was a super-connector in the music industry, it is Simons. He is joining us here to provide tips to artists on making connections to help take their careers to the next level.
Q: With COVID crushing the live touring income most artists depend on, what career advice do you have for artists?
In many ways artists have always been small businesses, but prior to COVID it probably didn’t feel like that for most. You wrote songs, booked gigs, hit the rehearsal rooms, and recorded with your mates when you had the time. The main difference now is that a large chunk of that routine has vanished, so it’s more prudent than ever for an artist to organize like a small business. This means being on top of your distribution ie. “am I getting the best bang for my buck from my distributor?” Being on top of your publishing opportunities ie. “are my returns justifying how much I’m spending on opportunities or royalty collection?” And being on top of your social media game. If you nail the last part then you will also see a return through your distro and publishing partners. So I think being organized is the big takeaway.
Q: What kind of goals should an artist set for themselves in 2021?
With a gradual re-opening of live venues in 2021, there will probably be a lot of competition to book clubs. There will also be more established acts looking to play in these smaller venues too before arenas and theatres reopen. So I would be working on a unique live show and a unique visual identity. Something that sets you apart from the rest of the pack and that will get the attention of both fans and venue promoters. If anything positive has come from being in lockdown for most of 2020, it’s that we’ve been given the gift of time to let ideas formulate and to work on projects and ideas that perhaps we wouldn’t have completed before. So I’d be looking at my catalogue too and working out how to expand it with exciting, original new music.
Q: How does becoming active in a social community like Vampr help an artist in their career?
Dedicated social platforms like Vampr are designed to deliver practical outcomes for members of the community. In our case we’re trying to connect the John’s and Paul’s of the world, using technology to deliver a result in a significantly shorter amount of time than traditionally possible. I would point to some of our recent success stories. Just this week we learned about a band in Spain who met on Vampr and whose track is now the theme song on a new Netflix show. We’ve also been working with Rae Khalil and Jared Rubens, her producer, who met on Vampr. She has just released a critically acclaimed debut album and also appeared on a Netflix show, Rhythm + Flow, where she got to work with Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak. Anything is possible – we’ve always felt our mission is to give everyone the same tools, lowering the barrier to entry into the industry. From that point on the onus is on the artist to make things happen.
Q: For creatives who are naturally more-introverted, how do you recommend they promote their art in the digital world?
Be your authentic self. For some people that means posting on TikTok five times a day. For others that means carefully curated releases every 3-6 months. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, although as a general rule, if you show up to the party you are creating more chances for opportunity to present itself. The most important thing is you put 100% of yourself into your creative output and believe whole-heartedly in what you’re promoting.
Q: Do you feel it is important for artists to work on globally expanding their careers?
Sure! The great thing about Spotify and other streaming platforms is that you can now visualize your fan base on a world map. Aside from being a cool feature for new artists, it can actually help you to understand your appeal as an artist and open your ears to new sounds and regions you didn’t know existed. Not to mention your future touring plans. Apps like Vampr have this idea of global network expansion in our DNA. Being an artist is no longer a single city affair. There’s almost 8 billion people in the world – the chances that your perfect creative team all live within a five mile radius are pretty slim, so why not expand that search globally?