“I think that if you are not a DIY band, you’re behind.”
Philly guitarist Lewin Barringer is talking about going totally independent, and how it is the “new usual” for musicians worldwide. In doing so, musicians have taken it upon themselves to handle the business side of being a band along with, well, actually being a band.
Instead of simply writing, recording, and showing up for their fans (which is not the easiest job in the first place), they must also edit and produce their own work, book gigs, and most of all promote themselves. With YouTube’s rise in popularity as a home video platform with an average of over six billion hours of its videos being watched per month, it’s no wonder that Sunshine Superman – Barringer’s Philly-based folk-pop band – has taken to promoting itself with a YouTube channel of home-recorded performances.
Taking a look at the trio’s channel, SunshineSupermanPA, you’ll see a stream of 28 self-produced videos performed set in a variety of locations and pulling from a variety of genres. The band shows off their plucky originals, like the recent “Baby Give Me Your Hand” video, alongside of covers ranging from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” to Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” Their channel has just over 1,000 subscribers and more than 135,000 total views. Barringer admits that the numbers might not be huge, but he keeps his cup half full by saying, “it’s like playing for 300 people a day.”
The folk-pop outfit consists of a singer from Tuscany, guitarist from Philly, and a bassist from New Jersey. How did they all meet? Barringer met lead singer and frontwoman Valentina Raffaelli while doing his “musician in-the-area kinda thing” in Italy. Raffaelli then finished university in Tuscany and decided to study music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she met bassist Gordon Emma. In need of a drummer, the trio recently brought on Tim Roach of Billy Roach and Political Theater.
The band are purists with their live-to-tape style videos. No lip syncs or voiceovers are used. Because of this, Barringer explained, if it took 15 times to perfect a guitar solo, then it took 15 takes of video and audio to get it. To capture all this, they use two Canon DLSRs and Garageband in a home studio. “I grew up with a four track tape cassette machine like a lot of guys,” Barringer. “I used to love the recordings that I made on that. I’d rather think that the medium you record on is [not] nearly as important as the recording you get. If the band is good, and the material is good, then it really doesn’t matter what you’re recording on.”
Listening to all of the tasks that needed done, I asked if being totally independent is better than being signed with a label. Barringer assured me that it was. “It allows us to do whatever we want from a creative aspect,” he concluded.
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