Electro-pop duo Carousel take a break from recording their sophomore EP to explain how they use Next Big Sound and how they have benefited from it.
Deep in the mountains of Northern California, secluded just enough to escape solid cell reception, Jackson Phillips and Kevin Friedman – better known as the electro-indie duo Carousel – are putting the finishing touches on their upcoming sophomore EP. Originally Berklee classmates playing classical and jazz music together, the pair decided about a year ago to start their own band. Ever since, their lives have been devoted to the pursuit of making it as successful musicians – taking them from Boston to Brooklyn to L.A., where they hope to settle after recording up north.
“We played together for such a long time,” says Phillips, who contributes to the band’s dreamy synth and airy vocals. “We knew that if we wanted to really connect with people our age, we needed to gear our music in a way that people would understand.” They found their place with an optimistic blend of electro-pop, pretty far from what they studied and played while studying together in Massachusetts.
As a growing band, they enlisted Next Big Sound to make sure they were connecting with people in the ways they wanted. And though lately, while recording, they’ve had little time to devote to anything but perfecting the upcoming EP (tentatively titled Home), they have been earnestly trying to interact with their fans.
“Since we’ve been using Next Big Sound we haven’t been releasing that much music because we’ve been kind of in a recording state,” Phillips says. “We made it a thing that we would make at least one Facebook status with a picture everyday. Or sometimes we ask questions like ‘what should we do in L.A.?’ and try to make it interactive.” With the help of Next Big Sound, they can see which updates are engaging fans and which aren’t. In their case, they see most of their fan interaction on Facebook.
The pair also finds it advantageous to compare their metrics to other bands of their same size and genre. “There’s so much music online and it’s so saturated – so many up and coming bands – that’s it’s really good to gauge your own statistics against these bands,” says Friedman, the guitarist. “We see what works for them, where they’re getting the most attention on specific sites, and we’ll either try to imitate or recreate for ourselves and cater it to our fans, maybe in a different way.”
It doesn’t have to be just comparable acts, says Friedman adding that even if you don’t have the means of a Katy Perry or Robyn - artists who they look up to - “you can definitely sort of duplicate something on a much smaller level.” And from there, it’s the simplicity, “seeing what you are doing and which device is working on each social media platform and having Next Big Sound’s platform lay it out just so you don’t have to skip to each site - it gives it to you on one page.”
With details down to what gender prefers them and in what states and countries they have the most fans, they can cater to their audience. “We know like what time of day we should be posting, we know how to cater things towards girls or guys - we’re kind of seeing our fans are leaning towards the girls side of it – and then can even use that to cater our lyrics, which is really pretty cool,” Phillips says. Friedman adds that it can help on a tour and actually equate to numbers of fans in the crowd. “Say for instance we’re going to play a show in a random state that we’ve never played in before and we’re not exactly sure of our fan presence in that state,” he says. “Using Next Big Sound and tracking our attention in certain states in the country or in a different country, we can utilize that and cater specific posts to that state or those fans.”
Their next step is releasing the EP in early January and trying to get it featured on as many music blogs as possible. “If they like the music then hopefully they’ll promote it,” Friedman says. The six or so tracks that they will release will be a step in a more focused and developed direction, Phillips says. This is evidenced by the minimalistic and up-beat first track off of the EP, “Stay Awake,” which they released earlier this week. Their metrics since its release have been pretty positive.
Carousel will wrap up their NorCal sessions within the next few weeks and head back to L.A., where they feel most comfortable headquartering the band. “Our goal is to keep making music and get on bigger and better tours and continue doing this full force,” Friedman says. “As long as we can make music for a living, that’s all that matters.”
Billy Mitchell is the data journalism intern for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Mitchell is currently a graduate student at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute focusing on magazine writing. Before joining the Next Big Sound team, the Newport News, VA native worked with CMJ and Rolling Stone.