5: Expressing Yourself and Building a Cohesive Brand on Instagram with Spence Hood - Wilde Musicians Podcast

SPENCE HOOD
Singer-Songwriter | Seattle WA
Website / Instagram / Facebook / Spotify

Fresh out of Silicon Valley, singer-songwriter Spence Hood is exploring the Seattle music scene while intentionally building his online following through Instagram where you’ll find him posting rotoscope animation music videos and streams his night night LIVE “Pajama Jams”. Spence and I met when we were both performing on the rooftop of a skyscraper (‘Art on the Rooftop’ event hosted by Justin Blanley) and we enjoy meeting up to discuss branding strategy, especially regarding Instagram and the visuals we both enjoy creating to promote our music.
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BEST QUOTES

“You already know how to do whatever you’re doing very well and the fact that you can concoct an image of what you want is proof that you already 100% are capable of doing it that way pretty much off the bat.” — Spence Hood

“You can’t think about the feedback while you’re working on something. I truly wholeheartedly believe that we are a unique generation of musicians in that social media is a thing for us. And I’ll pat us on the back and say that we’re pioneers for figuring this out.” — Spence Hood

“People are not picking this apart. You are going to affect someone for 10 seconds of their day. So make a big impact, give them a smile and move on with your life.” — Spence Hood

“I had to prove to myself that I could make progress in the music world completely on my own which is why I released the EP before I quit my job. I needed to prove that I am the only person who is standing in my way of writing, recording, producing everything for a release. Once I had that out of the way, my name was on Spotify, I did it all myself. Cool, proof to myself I can do this and now it is purely a matter of how many hours I want to put into it.” — Spence Hood

“If someone is perfecting a craft, honing a craft, I would never want to stop that and I don’t care if that’s learning guitar or piano or learning to produce or use plugins or whatever. If you’re putting in hours and being honest with yourself about your progress and how good you are and how ready you are to put stuff out in the world, do it.” — Spence Hood

WEB496946-CCE648B0-4248-1929-2C0A-D211A0D906AD.jpg
Chamonix Films - Spence Hood and Cha Wilde - Kirkland Marina - Oct 2018-7.jpg

QUESTION FOR OTHER MUSICIANS
“I want to know someone’s take on the popularization of music production. We are now in an age where anyone can music on a laptop in a basement and I’m curious whether people think that learning an instrument and sitting down for 8 hours a day and learning how to play guitar, whether that is a practice that needs to be protected or whether that’s a practice that is not going anywhere. My hunch is that a lot people will say it’s not going anywhere. In twenty years, is it going to be mostly laptops?”

Spence’s Answer:
“If someone is perfecting a craft, honing a craft, I would never want to stop that and I don’t care if that’s learning guitar or piano or learning to produce or use plugins or whatever. If you’re putting in hours and being honest with yourself about your progress and how good you are and how ready you are to put stuff out in the world, do it. As long as you’re working towards creating something beautiful, this is just the way technology is moving. That’s fine. I also realize that I am more of a tech minded person and more in the world of online presence, perhaps more than live presence, and so I would be particularly curious, talking about different communities of musicians, the people that don’t think about social media and think about live performance, I would be very interested what they have to say.”


MENTIONS
Starbucks
Tyler Mays at Irongrove Studios
Tyler Mays at Irongrove Studios
Studio One (DAW)
And the Writer Is (Spence’s Favorite Podcast)
The Head and the Heart
John Mayer
Gary Vee
Crushing It (Book by Gary Vee)
Don’t Wake Daddy
❤ Current Mood (John Mayer’s Instagram Live Show) @johnmayer
Charmaine Olivia -- Instagram: @charmaineolivia
Sunset Tavern
Alie Byland
Scarlet Parke
Avicii -- Wake Me Up


 

TRANCRIPT

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0-10 MINUTES

Cha and Spence are lounging on a pier on Lake Washington in Kenmore, WA and share a grande Starbucks green tea. This is their second time conversation for the Wilde Musicians podcast (the first episode was lost due to dropping the microphone). “When you’re building a following as a musicians, should you be focusing on organizing local shows or building a following online, globally?”

Starbucks

“Everybody is tormented by something. This is what I’m learning as I talk to people.” -- Cha Wilde

Cha uses her paintings and yoga pose photography, and combines them digitally to make the cover art for her Wilde Card songs.

“Your brand as it persists throughout your career vs how it changes from project to project...I feel like I recently finished my EP cover and it feel like it’s a version of me but is it all you need to know about me? No. It pertains to the project alone but that a really tricky thing to balance because there are plenty of people who this is the only thing of mine they will have ever seen or ever will see and so I’m battling with that right now; how closely you need to stick to your brand or how flexible your brand can be or should be.” -- Spence Hood


“As a person, especially as an artist, you have the things that are distinctly who you are and they don’t change or they change slowly overtime, and then you have the moods that are frequently and fleeting.” -- Cha Wilde

Do you only share when something is consistent with your brand? When you stick strictly with your brand, you can start to feel like you’re not fully being seen or expressing your full personality but is that important? You can be consistent with brand, fluctuating with moods or branded per projects.

10-20 MINUTES

“My hunch is that Instagram is in certain ways the new YouTube. The attention span that your average consumer would have had to a 5 minute video is now shortened to a 1 minute video. So I put the same amount of effort in. Have people disagreed with me on that? A shit load. I go back and forth on that but at least I’m putting some high quality content out somewhere, even if it’s maybe on the wrong platform.” -- Spence Hood

“The most effective thing is always short….The beautiful of minimalism is a powerful punch...If it’s a marketing piece, shorter, smaller and quicker.” -- Cha Wilde

Cha’s Wilde Cards have been called “bite sized songs.”

“One minute is power for marketing and for anything else.” -- Cha Wilde

Spence was recently in NYC working with a producer for his next EP and this producer was a big believe that “You already know how to do whatever you’re doing very well and the fact that you can concoct an image of what you want is proof that you already 100% are capable of doing it that way pretty much off the bat. Where it really came into play was when we were doing vocal takes. He was like “I’m not going to let you do thirty takes of this. We’re going to do five and then we’re going to use whatever we get because it’s not going to get better after that. And the more that you do after that, you’re just tiring out your voice or your creative bones or whatever it is. It feels like a risky way of doing it. I paid all this money and I flew across the country and I only get five takes! Of course I want to do this for a day straight.” -- Spence Hood

“Banging your head against stuff is not going to get you that much farther. Maybe it will get 10% better if you spend 10 more days on it but it’s just not worth that 10%.” -- Spence Hood

Tyler Mays at Irongrove Studios

“It’s a more old fashion way of doing things. Take the real take and don’t overproduce the shit out of it.” -- Spence Hood

Tyler Mays at Irongrove Studios

Cha posted two version of a vocal take on Instagram and asked her followers which one they liked better, the perfect one or the more raw one and her followers perfected the raw take because it had more character.

“There’s just some kind of threshold that you have to pass where our bassline is good enough, our average is good enough, so we no longer have to worry about if this is musical enough for people to enjoy.” -- Spence Hood

“If you’re really honest with yourself, most of the stuff you’re so nitpicky about, the stuff that you love when you listen to another album, you can tell they didn’t do that on purpose. You can only manufacture so much before people catch on.” -- Spence Hood

20-30 MINUTES

Rotoscoping is the style of animation technique that Spence uses for all of his music videos. You can see them on Instagram. It involves painting lines over the top of a video. It’s like tracing or doodling. It’s becoming more popular in music videos.

❤ Spence’s Instagram: @spencetunes

How Spence creates his 15-60sec Instagram animated videos which take 1.5hrs to take.
Pick a song and arrange it. (15min)

Film it.
Record other tracks on top (30-45min)
Animation (a podcast and a quarter)


Studio One (DAW)
And the Writer Is (Spence’s Favorite Podcast)

“I would kill to be one of these Instagram bros who go out in a hoodie and they’re basically a male model.” -- Spence Hood

“If someone has never heard you, it’s a lot easier for them to gage if you’re a good musician or not if they already know the song.” -- Spence Hood (regarding covers)

30-40 MINUTES

The Head and the Heart
John Mayer
Gary Vee
Crushing It (Book by Gary Vee)

“In the same way that you act differently when you’re on camera and you perform differently when you know people are watching you, I think I create differently when I know this footage is going up somewhere.” -- Spence Hood

40-50 MINUTES

“You can’t think about the feedback while you’re working on something. I truly wholeheartedly believe that we are a unique generation of musicians in that social media is a thing for us. And I’ll pat us on the back and say that we’re pioneers for figuring this out.” -- Spence Hood

“Eventually you want to get your social media following into your newsletter because newsletter is king.” -- Spence Hood

Spence hosts a night time LIVE Instagram jam session. He sings your favorite show tunes and he takes song suggestions while wearing pajamas. He jokes that he doesn’t know any of the songs that people request. The only thing he plans is a rough list of songs to make sure he has something to play if he draws a blank.

“The first time I went live, I was mid-writing a song and it was very spontaneous. My phone was propped up on my piano and I just clicked LIVE and I was like “Hey guys, I just want to show you what’s going on.” and for me, I was like “I like this. This is like hanging out with people while I do what I do. Then I was talking to a friend of mine and he said, ‘You should really brand this thing and turn it into something goofy.” -- Spence Hood

Don’t Wake Daddy
❤ Current Mood (John Mayer’s Instagram Live Show) @johnmayer
Charmaine Olivia -- Instagram: @charmaineolivia

50-60 MINUTES

“Your Instagram doesn’t need to be perfect but what you’re doing needs to be strong so it carries its own weight.” -- Cha Wilde

“You can’t get to where you want to go just because you want it.” -- Spence Hood

“Think about your best fans, the people that send you messages, that ask when they can buy the song. How did they find you? They meet you at performances, not on Instagram.” -- Cha Wilde

Spence’s die hard fans found him online through one of his songs.

“If you know what it feels like to be really proud of something, then everything else is not that.” -- Cha Wilde

“It’s hard and whenever you are trying to sell yourself as a personality and as a human that goes through moods and weird feelings, that is a tall order.” -- Cha Wilde

“People are not picking this apart. You are going to affect someone for 10 seconds of their day. So make a big impact, give them a smile and move on with your life.” -- Spence Hood

60-70 MINUTES

ADVICE FOR YOUR PAST SELF
For Spence of May 2016, Just Moved to Seattle
“I graduated from college in 201 and I grew up in Colorado, which is also where I went to college. Immediately I moved to the Bay Area to be a “little tech boy” and it was fun and intense and everything you probably imagine Silicon Valley is and I stuck around there for fourteen months and
I just had to try the music thing because I just released my first EP. I sat down and wrote a list of 15 or 16 big music cities that I had heard of and took a couple weeks to cross off the list and Seattle was the winner. So I packed up my stuff and I moved out here and I had a little bit of a financial safety net so I was just going to cruise and not worry about work for a little bit and see what the scene was like.”

“I now realize that there is an overarching community in Seattle but there are subcommunities and I think that it is really important to know which subcommunity you are rooting yourself in and how it’s good to keep in mind that that might not necessarily earn you any points in other communities. I met and got to know a lot of people that were hitting the open mic scene really hard and that was great and that kind of intersected with another community that were doing residencies at bars and cafes and stuff and it was great talking to those people. They could give you advice on which open mics were good and which cafes would pay you. Shortly after Justin Blaney’s party where I met Cha, I started getting introduced to people that whether they had been in the open mic and cafe scene in the past or not, that really wasn’t where their head was at. They were more venues or more opening for people at Sunset Tavern or wineries. The winery musicians is it’s own circle in itself. Was I getting to know the wrong folks? Was I diving deep into the open mic scene when I don’t really want to be a cafe musician. I want to be a venue musician. Well, here are the people you need to talk to, you meet Alie Byland and Scarlet Parke and that’s a whole different world. Understand the different subcommunities and meet at least one person from everyone and figure out which one you want to hit hard.”

Sunset Tavern
Alie Byland
Scarlet Parke

What does it feel like to be in Silicon Valley to go do work and thinking that you might quit to go do music?

“You’re going to see a lot of people laugh it off and I can’t tell you how many people said ‘Oh man you must be a real big sucker for pain trying to go off.’ For a lot of people, if you have a 9-5, you are making it, you are a functioning adult. If you don’t, you are still figuring something out. Everybody would be supportive...but there are many different versions of ‘good for you’. There’s a “Good for You” that’s genuine, where people are like “Good for fucking you, I’m behind you. Go get this thing,” and those are the people you keep real close. And then there are the people who before saying “Good for You” would ask “How old are you?” and I would say “I’m 23” and they would say “Oh Good for you. Go do this and we’ll see you back here in a few years. Good for you, you’re having fun.” Just be ready for a lot of different reactions. In order for me to go off and do this, I had to prove to myself that I could make progress in the music world completely on my own which is why I released the EP before I quit my job. I need to prove that I am the only person who is standing in my way of writing, recording, producing everything for a release. Once I had that out of the way, my name was on Spotify, I did it all myself. Cool, proof to myself I can do this and now it is purely a matter of how many hours I want to put into it.” -- Spence Hood

“The second you get on a streaming platform, people start to take you seriously.” -- Spence Hood

“When something is easy, you’re confident.” -- Cha Wilde

“People do not have time to search for your shit. You gotta make it easy.” -- Spence Hood

“If you need confidence, create something that is regular or more permanent and then suddenly there will be something other than you that is strong.” -- Cha Wilde

70-80 MINUTES

QUESTION FOR OTHER MUSICIANS

“I want to know someone’s take on the popularization of music production. We are now in an age where anyone can music on a laptop in a basement and I’m curious whether people think that learning an instrument and sitting down for 8 hours a day and learning how to play guitar, whether that is a practice that needs to be protected or whether that’s a practice that is not going anywhere. My hunch is that a lot people will say it’s not going anywhere. In twenty years, is it going to be mostly laptops?”

“If someone is perfecting a craft, honing a craft, I would never want to stop that and I don’t care if that’s learning guitar or piano or learning to produce or use plugins or whatever. If you’re putting in hours and being honest with yourself about your progress and how good you are and how ready you are to put stuff out in the world, do it. As long as you’re working towards creating something beautiful, this is just the way technology is moving. That’s fine. I also realize that I am more of a tech minded person and more in the world of online presence, perhaps more than live presence, and so I would be particularly curious, talking about different communities of musicians, the people that don’t think about social media and think about live performance, I would be very interested what they have to say.” -- Spence Hood   

“I want them (instruments and technology) to go forward together.” -- Cha Wilde

“We’ll never lose the acoustic because it is so powerful.” -- Cha Wilde

“Anyone who starts to love music is always going to love that acoustic thing.” -- Cha Wilde
“The life is in the acoustic and there are unlimited creativity and possibilities with the electronic. But they need each other. You’re always going to be limited with the acoustic to some extent...As humans we’re going to evolve and we’re always going to want more but you can’t leave the acoustic behind because it brings life.” -- Cha Wilde

Avicii -- Wake Me Up

WHAT TO DO NOW

“Go home, give your cat a hug. Take a minute. Take a moment to acknowledge that we are in weird place. We are in a weird technological world and no one really knows what the world is going to be like in ten years or what new types of cancer we’re going to have from holding our phones all the time. So just take a minute to be excited that you’re part of a history book right now and then whip out the old Instagram and follow @chawilde and @spencetunes and have a good day.

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