With social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr presenting a direct-to-fan marketing channel to artists and record labels, ambitious indie artists spend nearly as much time developing their social media presence as they do their music.
“In this day and age, it really goes hand in hand,” says singer and songwriter Laura O’Reilly, aka Miz Metro. Born and raised in NYC, O’Reilly is in her final year at SUNY Purchase, where she’s double majoring in Music Composition and New Media.
“Growing up in the Internet era, I saw the Internet and media coming together, and have been really interested in how social networking would completely restructure the way that music and entertainment was distributed,” she shares. “If you’re an artist today, you can play a really important role in how you’re marketed and distributed. And, for me, that’s part of the creativity of music now — it’s not just people hearing your music, it’s how they hear about your music that I personally find interesting.”
Unlimited: Musical Melting Pot
One swipe into Miz Metro’s first full-length record, Unlimited (get it? like the Metrocard!), and you’ll get flashes of New York City through the eyes and ears of a fresh, young, urban pop persona. The music covers a lot of ground, mixing pop, rock, electro, hip-hop, swing and ska, while Miz Metro’s unfiltered lyrics and vocal attitude comes out in shades of brooding bad girl a la Fiona Apple, Lily Allen Brit-pop and — when blown out by her full band, The Makebelieves — energetic Gwen Stefani-style power-pop.
A blend of live band and dance/pop-production, Unlimited spans a variety of sounds and styles. As intended. “My record can seem a little schitzophrenic,” says O’Reilly. “But this is how I see NYC. The melting pot. I grew up surrounded by so many different kinds of music and it’s not that I’m trying to blur genre lines or stereotypes, but to take the whole concept of Miz Metro as this NYC entity and, musically, push that further.”
With producer Ray Cervanka and engineer Marc Urselli, O’Reilly and band tracked nine songs in one day at East Side Sound, which became the foundation of Unlimited, and what has since become an even further developed live sound.
“I’ve now broken my band into two groups — The Makebelieves, an 8-piece band, and The Insomniacs, which is a three-piece DJ/MIDI set,” she explains. “I’ve developed this alternative three-piece set with DJ Vinyl Richie and bassist Sean Lewis partially because it’s difficult to tour with such a big band, but also because I really love the more electronic side of music and hip-hop, and the ability to mix all kinds of different sounds into one. Vinyl Richie’s mixing in live band samples from my record and Sean’s playing bass and MIDI bass, triggering electronic sounds as well.”
In this club-configuration, Miz Metro performs the songs off Unlimited with the DJ and bassist sampling the actual splits off the record. “We’re taking the concept of Unlimited to another level,” she says, “Everything comes full circle in these DJ sets; the music seems to have even more of a cohesive sound in this format, where on the record, the individual songs explore different musical styles. As a DJ set, it feels like it has it’s own unique sound.”
Life As A Modern Music Media Artist
During CMJ, Miz Metro will showcase both her sounds and her savvy — speaking tonight at the #140 Conf NYC Meetup from 5-7pm at MSNBC (link), performing at DROM at 10pm as part of the Bloom Effect showcase, and then sitting as a panelist at “Rock Fashion Trends & Predictions for 2010 and Beyond” tomorrow at 2:00 pm at the Kimmel Center.
A self-described “modern music media artist,” O’Reilly also recently co-wrote a song for ABC and pens a weekly blog, Miz Metro Mondayz, on the hip-hop-oriented Bloom Blog. It’s a ton of seemingly un-musical work, but all these things and more build the #1 asset and tool an indie artist has: community.
“Community is so huge,” she says. “The more you help spread the word on people you like, by tweeting and re-tweeting, the more they’ll do it in return. It’s really a community effort to get people to come out to shows or check out new videos or a song.”
Her senior project at Purchase will again expand the Miz Metro brand. “I’m creating the Unlimited web show,” she shares. “It’ll be a talk-show on-the-go with a gritty aesthetic, where I’ll be covering music, art and culture in the city. Then, I’ll distribute one of my songs or videos or ring-tones at the end of every episode for free download.”
Follow Miz Metro on twitter.com/mizmetro!