10 Questions with | Sounds On The Couch
Australian based indie music community, Sounds On The Couch is excited to announce the release of its first digital compilation album, 'Independent Discovery (Volume 1)', set to drop on February 1st. The album features a diverse range of emerging and established independent artists from across the globe, showcasing a vibrant and eclectic mix of genres, including indie rock, indie-pop, singer-songwriter, R&B, and more. The album includes tracks from a variety of artists, including the likes of divine&acajou, Elisha Andres, ENNA, Jason Justly, Kaiyah Mercedes, Madi Leeds, Matthew McMahon, Minhy, Ollie Twohill, Patrick McArdle, Riley Cooper and Tillerman Pete.
Sounds On The Couch began in April 2020 by founder and independent singer-songwriter, Karen Harding, as a way for artists to connect with audiences when Covid-19 was limiting the ability for musicians to play live shows. Since this time, the platform has evolved into a community of independent artists, moving towards a common goal, and provides publicity through an online magazine, playlists and YouTube channel, as well as providing periodic workshops and resources to support independent and emerging artists. Indie Boulevard managed to connect with the founder Karen Harding and learn more about this ambitious project.
IB: Hi Karen. It's an honor to speak with you! You are a musician, singer-songwriter, blogger, music PR agency owner, and on top of that, you are leading the release of a very unusual collaboration album with independent artists. Karen, how did your musical journey begin that led you to bring together artists from around the world?
KAREN: Thank you so much for having me! This is such a big question.. everything that I have done with independent artists has flowed naturally and organically. As a musician myself, a big part of the work I do comes from perceiving a need that I’m wanting for myself and within my own music. I am a person that likes to create opportunities and create my own roads, rather than letting them come to me, and it’s through this journey of my own that I have had the chance to discover what can make a difference for other artists. It's been an absolute joy and honour to have the chance to connect with so many incredible independent artists from all over the world and I definitely wouldn’t change a thing!
IB: Your project Sounds On The Couch was launched during the pandemic and immediately gained a large following. Did you think of it before the pandemic or was it a spontaneous idea?
KAREN: Sounds On The Couch was absolutely spontaneous at it’s core.. there was no planning. I literally woke up one morning with an idea of creating a chance for artists to perform online during lockdowns, and set up a Facebook and Instagram page at that moment. Probably, if I had taken the time to plan it out, it never would have happened! But I’m so glad it did:) I don’t feel like we had a large following straight away, however, I think that the timing meant that it was an opportunity for both artists to get involved when they had nowhere else to be, and it was also something different that our audience could take part in to keep them occupied during lockdowns and discover something new. Since that time, Sounds On The Couch has evolved so much.. from live performances to the evolution of Couch Mag, and a beautiful community filled with so much incredible independent music.
IB: All the artists involved in the collation of the album sound fantastic, and 'Independent Discovery (Volume 1)' is a very brave and ambitious project. How did you find the artists and were there any difficulties in the process?
KAREN: Independent Discovery (Volume 1) is the first compilation album that Sounds On The Couch have put together and it is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. The album is a collection of 12 incredible independent artists - divine&acajou, Elisha Andres, ENNA, Jason Justly, Kaiyah Mercedes, Madi Leeds, Matthew McMahon, Minhy, Ollie Twohill, Patrick McArdle, Riley Cooper and Tillerman Pete. Each artist has contributed one of their favourite tracks for the album, in a way of representing the landscape of independent artistry that exists today. Overall, the process has been quite smooth, and it’s a real attribute to the beautiful people that have been involved in the project.. all of them are amazing people to work with and I am grateful for that. IB: During the pandemic, the Internet was the only way to sell music, and home concerts became an important discovery. Did you and your team think of supporting the release of the album with an online concert?
KAREN: Absolutely.. I mean, this is the foundation that Sounds On The Couch was built on! I feel that the pandemic helped us to discover so many new ways of sharing, discovering and selling music and online concerts were a big part of this. We moved away from the online concerts on a regular basis, after the pandemic. The reason for this was that while it was an incredible opportunity for artists and audience members during the pandemic, after the pandemic the same need didn’t exist and time availability of both artists and for myself made it difficult to maintain. For the release of this album, it would have been a great way of sharing, however, for this release I wanted to focus on the experience of developing, sharing and promoting the album. This may be something we look at for future releases. IB: The album features such cool indie artists as Elisha Andres, ENNA, Jason Justly, Kaiyah Mercedes, Madi Leeds, Matthew McMahon and many others. How did the artists react to the idea of releasing this collection of songs?
KAREN: All of the tracks within this release were submitted by the artists for inclusion in the compilation. I shared with my audience, that I was looking at creating a compilation album and put the callout for anyone that would like to be involved. I had a great response, particularly from my email community, and there were so many great submissions. The artists that were included within this album were all selected from the submissions and the tracks have come together so beautifully, in a way that takes the listener on a journey through genres and styles in a representation of independent music within the community.
IB: I think it's just a great idea. To create such a collaboration to tell the world about independent artists who lack publicity. And this is just Vol. 1. How can other musicians become part of the project? What is needed for this?
KAREN: Thank you:) There are some artists included on this album who have great publicity strategies in place and have a wide reach with their fan base. However, I feel that these opportunities always help to be another touch point for artists to be heard by someone new. I have already began receiving some submissions for volume 2 and I truly look forward to creating this album as well. Anyone who is interested can apply at: https://couchmag.life/index.php/digital-compilation-album-application IB: Your Sounds On The Couch project not only helps indie artists get ahead, but also helps them get their music heard. What do you like most about your work?
KAREN: I absolutely love what I do! It definitely doesn’t feel like I am working:) The aspects I love most are that I have the opportunity to connect with incredible artists on a daily basis.. that I have the opportunity to hear some of the amazing art that is created through music. IB: What are the future plans for the Sounds On The Couch project?
KAREN: I don’t have a concrete plan at the moment.. I love the way that the project naturally evolves and I look forward to seeing where it goes. At the moment, we are working through the 100 Indie Artists project, which is a series of YouTube videos and podcasts where independent artists talk through their music marketing experience, helping other artists. I absolutely love where this is going and look forward to continuing this until we reach 100 artists. We plan to release more compilation albums and to continue sharing the amazing artistry that exists within the independent world of music.
IB: It's not easy to manage such an ambitious project. How do you and your team deal with stress?
KAREN: For me, most of the time Sounds On The Couch is not stressful. There is a lot of work, however, I move at my own pace. I have a team of writers that help me with Couch Mag, which are all amazing. The rest is currently organised by myself, and it is a side project from my Rise Indie PR agency, my music and my day job. Having a team would definitely help with the running and would mean that I could get a lot more done, however, there is also a lot of freedom that comes from creating and executing all my crazy ideas myself:) IB: And the last question. Independent artists are very often faced with the situation that after the release of a song they meet with absolute disregard from the audience, even though the artist himself has invested not only his strength but also his soul in his music. How to proceed in such cases? What advice would you give?
KAREN: This is a great question! We are in a world that is saturated with around 100,000 songs being released independently every single day.. It is so hard to stand out, and great music alone is not enough to get the attention of your fans. There are a few things that I would share:
You need to promote your music. If you put it onto streaming platforms and don’t share, no one will find it. This can be through a mix of social sharing, PR, playlists, email marketing, searching for opportunities..
Understand how people connect to music and to artists. We are story based and emotion-based creatures. People want to know that there is a sense of familiarity, or interest in you and your music. You need to develop a story around who you are as a person, who you are as an artist and a story around your release. Once people begin to connect to you, they will want to listen to your music.
Understand that when you are promoting your music, the music itself is the last aspect that potential fans will come across. First, they will be attracted through your images.. you need images that begin to tell your story.. Secondly, they will read your post, read the article, or watch your interview.. Thirdly, if they like what they’ve already consumed, then they will click play on your song. You need to draw people in first.
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