We caught up with NOT 97 podcast host Matthew Schonfeld to get his advice for up-and-coming independent artists.
Written by Leni - 15 February, 2019
NOT 97 is a music show podcast based out of New York, hosted by three music industry mates with a mission to support under-the-radar artists from around the world.
On each episode, the hosts and a guest meet around a table to discuss new tracks from the depths of the internet, with each host presenting two tracks released in the last six to eight months from artists with under ten thousand followers.
We caught up with host Matthew Schonfeld to chat about their music discovery process and get his advice for up-and-coming DIY artists.
How did the NOT 97 project come about?
Me and my two co-hosts have known each other for years, and have always shared music, talked about music and had some sort of involvement in the music industry, whether it was through production, A&R, or working with music studios. We were all seeking an outlet to share the music that we were listening to and wanted to do it on our own terms. We realised that between the three of us we had a fairly wide network of people in the music industry that we could welcome on the show as guests. The show started very naturally and it grew from there with the support of the artists that we were featuring and interacting with and the guests we were having on the show. We really wanted to just let our community grow organically.
What’s your music discovery process for the show? How do you discover new up-and-coming artists and their tracks?
The artists that we pick to feature on the show are all up-and-coming artists with less than 10,000 followers. I think we all have slightly different ways of discovering new music, Dave is more calculated, setting up spreadsheets and keeping track of artists. I find myself going deep down the Soundcloud rabbit hole of artists that I like and seeing where that takes me. That’s the most fun, because I can just log in and see what people are liking and listening to.
What advice do you have for artists trying to build their brand and create a culture around their music?
I think honesty is very important in young artists. Just trusting themselves and representing who they really are through their music and social media platforms. There’s often a tendency for young artists to fall into a mold, whether it’s their label shaping their brand or something else, but I’m always far more interested in artists who are representing who they really are and have their own unique story to tell. Because ultimately, that’s going to be what sets you apart from other artists. Try to be truly, authentically yourself and tell your own story with what you’re posting online, what your sound is like, and what your influences are. Be true to yourself and trust your own instinct.
Amuse has a mission to support independent artists through their music career — and not just the big shows and high-stream days. What’s your advice for artists who may be struggling with self doubt or are having a hard time balance their mental health with their careers?
We’re in an interesting place in this industry, because when we’re interacting with artists, we’re usually at the same phase of the journey as them. We’re still trying to balance the show with our day jobs and still trying to find time to focus on what we’re passionate about. I think that it’s important to acknowledge self-doubt or burn out, and know when to take a break. You need to have space from your music sometimes or get a second set of ears on something you’re doubting. It’s so important to have some perspective because you can get so lost in your own work.
What’s next for NOT 97?
Before we start recording the next season, we’re taking some time to regroup and put the next set of things in motion. Recently we put on a live showcase where we had three artists that were guests on the show perform, and at the same event we released a ‘zine. We did it outside in the backyard of a Brooklyn cafe and I’d like to do it again so we’re just waiting for the right time, where we can have nice weather and host a fun party outside. We’re spending some time figuring out the next versions of those. We’re aiming to put on our next showcase and release our next ‘zine in spring. We’re also starting to release a video series called Breakfast Sessions where we’re visiting the artists at home, interviewing them, and recording live while they’re performing in their studio space or bedroom. We’re just spending some time developing new and exciting ways that we can interact with our artists and bring our audience into their lives and careers as they grow and develop.