When Fame on Fire started slapping a heavy cover of Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” before they even intended to be a band (they did not even have a name yet), they had never imagined how powerful YouTube (and later TikTok) could be in the launch and career.
But just like theirs website states that Fame on Fire is NOT a cover band. They have used the proven cover method that has existed for more than half a century to help achieve fame and create awareness about their own original music, and expertise navigate an increasingly difficult music industry climate that does not favor new or upcoming ones at all. artists.
We’re heard it a thousand times, if not more – it’s harder than ever for a young band to make a big breakthrough and find some meaningful success.
But how do we define success at all? The significance of that really depends on what an artist wants to get out of the music they make.
In the case of Fame on Fire, the band members have been able to quit their daily jobs and be financially stable through their own creative endeavors, by making music or using their other creative skills, such as studio and video production.
The reality is that just writing your own music and going on tour will not bring you to the top anymore. This has been the case for more than a decade, and building long-term success requires musicians to do much more work to consistently find ways to engage and relate to fans in order to grow a fanbase.
Singer Bryan Kuznitz talks to Loudwire about how Fame on Fire managed to break the mold and open a new way forward, and singer Bryan Kuznitz was on a Zoom call in the middle of moving to a new house, which of course means he has financial opportunity to buy a house. How did he achieve such an achievement through music? Let’s find out in the interview below.
What was your daily work before the band really started to pick up speed?
I lived in South Florida for a few years and worked at the Guitar Center, then I moved to Orlando and continued working at a new Guitar Center location. I wanted to be a music producer and go part-time, and when I got really good at it, my boss at the Guitar Center was totally cool with it. Shout up to Ray!
I lived with our guitarist Blake and our buddy Arthur in a house, and I had the bedroom because I had the studio in my room. My bed was a futon. DVarious artists literally came into my bedroom to record and I wanted to make a little bit of money here and there. I asked myself, “Okay, what do I need to live?” All I needed was $ 400 for rent and like $ 200 for a car payment. This was just extra free money or whatever.
Are you a self-taught producer?
I definitely have some very strange techniques that are not right. I used to be better at guitar tone as I knew less about guitar tone. It’s such a weird thing.
So you have not spent money on learning to enroll through a school program.
Instead of spending money on recording tuition, I would rather just take that money and buy equipment. When you get out of school, you’ll be $ 40,000 in debt or whatever, and then you will not have any equipment, so everything you produce is going to sound like shit.
At what point did you focus on creating music yourself?
While I was working at the Guitar Center, Alex (our drummer) decided he wanted to make a drum cover, so we recorded the drums for Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally”, and then Blake thought it would be really tricky if it had guitars. on. .
He played it for me and said they were considering making the whole song cover and asked if I would sing on it. I’m not a singer at all – I sang in choirs and such all my life, but I was not like a rock singer. I did not know what to do!
We then shot a video for it and released it and thought nothing of it. Alex then started blowing us up in a group chat a week later – “Gunner, we’re on the radio.”
We won a kind of virtual cover competition and they played us all over the national radio. We saw it was 60,000 views, and I’m talking to Blake, and I say, “What are we doing?” He said, “That’s why I think we need to be in a band now.” He already had the band name – Fame on Fire – ready to go. It made complete sense of what we were doing.
Now people knew me in the recording area because of this cover, so I quit my job at the Guitar Center.
Fame on Fire, “Unconditional” (Katy Perry cover)
It’s funny because some people will get angry and take an elitist stance to cover pop songs. But if you go back 50 years, that’s what everyone did – they covered a popular song and played it on the radio!
How do you decide which direction you want to take next time?
The idea was always to make original music. We wrote a few songs, but they were not as good as we wanted them to be, so we covered Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow” and the lightning struck twice.
We knew we were doing something right with the covers and started learning what makes a song so good as we approached writing original material. With the front pages, we saw some money come in – a check for $ 300, which was huge because it pays off for a music video.
We made more and more covers, which gave us time to work on original music. We learned what it takes to make a really good song, and we had money behind us that we could spend on the equipment we needed to record the songs.
We also had this growing audience who wanted to hear what an original song from Fame on Fire would sound like.
After two years or so of making fairly consistent covers, we dropped the original EP. Without having any kind of audience or a budget to make music videos, it would not have done anything.
Fame on Fire, “Black Widow” (Iggy Azalea cover)
Do you get any backlash where people brand you as a YouTube cover band that also formed an original band? I like how the first line of the biography on your website says in advance: “Fame on Fire is not a cover band.” There must be some misunderstanding to fight with somewhere, right?
What is really good today and age, though, is that no one cares. TikTok has created this thing where you are an artist and you can cover everything – people just want to hear your voice. If it sounds good, they will listen to it. So the stigma has gone away a lot, especially with rock music. EDM has been doing covers / remixes forever – it’s the same shit.
With YouTube, one of the most important things for a band is cash flow – predictable income. The revenue was tough for bands during the pandemic, but you really have that reliability with YouTube. Is there a general understanding of how much money you can expect to come in each month from YouTube that will better help you plan well into the future?
We have a pretty good idea.
You need to be consistent with your content but not annoy people and oversaturate it. I feel that once a month is a healthy amount for what we do.
Let’s say you have 10 covers or original singles out and they generate $ 1,000 each. They will build up and start stacking as the audience gets bigger. You get to the level list when you earn $ 1,000 a month, then $ 5,000 a month, and then it might drop to $ 3,000 and go up to $ 6,000 another month. You can take an average and start planning things, and then you reach $ 10,000 a month.
At what point was everyone in the band able to drop their daily work and make a living from Fame on Fire?
Three or four years ago, we realized we could make a living from this. We had 25 to 30 covers out and everyone could just drop everything.
Everyone in the band also does something creative – I am an engineer and producer, Paul was an engineer and producer, Alex is a videographer and owns his own film company. It also gives us financial freedom to completely fail. We can take risks, we can be artistic with things – not everything is to do or die for us.
With TikTok as the busiest web destination in 2021 (it beat Google), it’s a critical place to be aware of.
What have you noticed about the differences between your audience on YouTube and on TikTok? How do you differentiate your creativity for these two spaces?
YouTube is the serious work where we host our originals and covers.
TikTok is the wild west, where we can literally put everything on there, and it can be random as hell – I sing a song, or we just fuck around. It does not matter. If people see it, they see it, they do not, they do not … TikTok is definitely how many people these days will find you, and then they will go to your YouTube or your Instagram to know more about you .
We made covers because it made sense to us in that era, and that was what worked in that time. With TikTok, you do not need covers if you do not want to.
The key to everything about success for younger bands is that they need to understand consistency and hold yourself accountable for staying consistent, because the moment you stop being consistent, you die.
Parents respond to new Fame on Fire song on TikTok
There have been setbacks from major mainstream artists about record companies requiring artists to focus their creative efforts on social media and TikTok in particular.
What do you think about it, and is there an important distinction to be made on this subject in relation to massive multi-platinum mainstream artists vs. those who work their way up to the top?
I think it’s a very different situation for a minor artist. Yes of course, even our independent label wants us to do TikToks, but the world today is so ADHD that when you stop writing, people forget about you.
For a smaller artist like ourselves, it’s easy to get lost in internet traffic. If we do not do TikTok’s, no one will know about our next release, current tour or upcoming music video. It would be that we just shoot ourselves in the foot for not using the platform.
I do not think it’s so much a brand problem. It’s just how society and social media are these days, and the consistent, one-time flow of information we receive all the time. I feel you need to do TikToks to stay relevant and develop and expand your audience, but at the same time, there has never been such an easy platform to stay relevant on.
I think it’s all pretty stupid when they come from these great artists to be honest. They have all the resources at their disposal and their marketing teams are smart. For me, the only negative side is if the labels say ‘we will not release this song until you get a certain amount of views on this TikTok’, then it’s just stupid.
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