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Interview With Music Producer Kim Nicolaou on DIY Labels

The music industry has changed dramatically, with many labels going out of business and a new model of DIY music production and distribution coming into being, says music producer Kim Nicolaou. We interview him on this new direction and how musicians can help their own careers.

Q: Give us some background about your music career in Cyprus and Europe - your best experiences, your worst experiences and what you have learned about being a better music producer?

Kim Nicolaou: I first came to Cyprus in 1972 with my Rock Band (very briefly) and no-one heard of Marshall amps/Peavy or EV, let alone a Rock Band. But, according to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Cyprus basically, the history of Cyprus rock and heavy metal music begins a few years after the war of 1974, during the late 1970s. This period is known as the First Rock Era of Cyprus. One of the pioneers of the rock/metal scene in Cyprus is the band known as Kimstyle TR (TR standing for Teenage Revolution). This band was the first to bring and introduce live rock shows to the Island. The band's first pop/rock single was called "The Lady & The Parrot" which was so ahead of its time, for the standards of Greece and Cyprus. The lyrics were found offensive; therefore, it was banned by CyBC TV and copies of the single were burnt by the customs authorities. This spawned many teenagers to start forming bands & that brought competitions amongst them in the movie theatres.

Kimstyle and Kim Nicolaou's Rock & Reggae show (first of its kind broadcasted by CyBC), who later influenced the group Armageddon in the mid 1980s. Also, more official reference can be found here http://www.rockap.gr/?p=7568

There is not much of a music career in its true sense here in Cyprus, hence I only did what I did whilst 'visiting'. This was in a BBC interview I had with the late Tommy Vance (the ultimate Rock DJ). There are limitations on how much you can do here. As for my best 'experiences' on the Island, I am proud to say I produced Theano's 1st Album (1st of it's kind at the time in 1985. Now a collectors' piece in Greece & I'm told will be re-leased in limited Vinyl in 2012). Today, frankly, I would say it is outdated but historic at it's time. Worst experience came very recently with trying to get Cypriot musicians and various vocalists to record a song for Cyprus in English. First attempt was for a Xmas release and second by 20th of July. Both were let downs.

Sure, a few friends stood by me, Petros Kizas, vocalist Stella Stylianou & the Rock Band Claws. Nowhere near enough as the song would have been (in structure) the same as USA for Africa or Band Aid, under the name Artists United. That is the worst experience to date.

I find, being a better Producer is to 'listen' to the rawness of the Artists one is Producing, before entering a studio. Go to the Artists or Bands rehearsal and just sit and listen - as many times as it takes. Also when in the Studio and recording your best achievements come when the Sound Engineer does his/her bit and you do yours.

Q: What are your current activities all about - describe your Internet radio project and where people can find it online.

Kim Nicolaou: I'm still trying to do for Cypriot musicians what I have been trying to do since the late 70's. To get them together. The big difference today is that I'm doing it through the Net and we have very powerful tools to do it with. Do what you might ask? Help them get international recognition, rub shoulder to shoulder with other Professionals globally and amidst all this earn some money for their talent. Talking always of a majority, it is difficult, as they are not 'Team Players'. There was a time when they were, but now they are as bad as the DJ's. Just as in Politics they try to show they are 'better than the other'. They are not 'jam' players.

These points, also the reference to using MySpace/Reverbnation and other such sites are covered in my Blog here: http://artistsunited.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/come-together-all-4-1-1-4-all/    And here  http://artistsunited.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/73/

The Artists Internet Radio is part and parcel to Artists United Luke Music and the LukeP2P Community (15000 strong). It's back to the under one roof idea and the diagram you can see at the Artists United main page www.LukeMusicMP3.com The Artists we have get their music played on their Radio (soon video streaming) because, let's face it, if you are unknown and not anywhere in the Top 40, what DJ will play you? We can Link up to local or ANY radio station on line or otherwise to expand our listeners and return the favor. We can have LIVE on line interviews via SKYPE with our Artists as well as talking to a Producer on his/her work.

Artists United Radio is here  http://lukemusicmp3.com/artists-united-radio/

Q:  Describe your record label's mission and how you find artists. Who have you recently signed up for your label and tell us about some of your music releases.

Kim Nicolaou: Artists United mission is to help Unsigned Artists (Bands/Composers/Producers/Video Creators/Indie Labels etc) in getting established in the Music Industry by joining forces as 'ONE' and EARN something along the way. Bring as many Industry Professionals within a 'click' of each other. One big Music Industry 'Yellow Pages' if you like to call it, with the difference that when and if you want to make CONTACT with anyone (signed to Artists United) there is NO CHARGE. I have joined many sites including LinkedIn and bottom line is, that if you ''want'', you 'pay'. Connections, introductions, advice and such are FREE.

At the time of writing Artists United has had 47 sign-ups with a dozen Featured Artists. We have Actors, Choreographers, Producers, Label boss's, Artists that just started out and Artists that have a History we only dream of. You can check out the list at the Label site.

As for releases, we have some from DJ Scotty B, Kismet Ryding, Young Coreleone, Deniz Cem (from Turkey) and very proud to have one of Argentina's top Flutist and composer Adriana Manas http://i-ethnic.com/adriana-figueroa-manas/

Q: What's your vision for Cyprus' music scene? What are some of the major problems as you see them, and your solutions to these problems?

Kim Nicolaou: My vision is of 'greatness' as we have many talented Artists here on the Island. They deserve the chances I had and a break in their lives as Hadjigiannis and Vissi had. Unfortunately it's not so easy anymore as the Labels are going bust and the ones that are in semi-existence don't pay enough for the rent. Referring to the above mentioned Blogs you'll see that Label investment is a thing of the past. We are living in a DIY music industry, which is messy, but, it can be controlled. The biggest problem apart from not being 'Team Players' is simply 'mistrust'. Who are you that we should trust you?

Mmm, tuff question as the ones that ask this question are the younger Artists. When Kim Nicolaou was at his highest productive point from early 80's till late 90's (as in Producing, DJ'ing at VIPs Ayia Napa, Trito Programma, 2nd CyBC channel, concerts and such in Cyprus alone), I used to get the calls. Now, 5-8 yrs away, I'm relying on old friends. The 5-8 yrs away though did not go without achivements as the biggest is the creation of www.LukeP2P.com (LukeP2P community software) which has a following of 15000 people, all potential customers to our Artists United. A solution to the Music problem on the Island and Globally.

Q: How can people join your music community and contribute towards it?

Kim Nicolaou: Joining is easy. Go to www.LukeMusicMP3.com and follow the few steps on the front page. It's FREE. No hidden 'anything'. Straighforward. The point of it all is to use it in a professional manner and to interact. As for contribution, anything to do with your craft. Please, no posting of your favorite dog pic or be a DJ by linking clips you like from YouTube. This is for you - use it with respect. If, anyone, wants to start making money by distributing their works and getting 'one to one' promotion including management/Publishing, the cost is $30.00per-year (Thirty Dollars per Year). By the way, concerning Artists United, if anyone believes they cannot sell more than 5CD's, then they ought to just not be in the music industry. If a Label believed you could sell LESS than 20,000 units they wouldn't give you the time of day.

I am always on hand and can be contacted easily anytime. Google Kim Nicolaou. My phone, email and SKYPE info is there for all to see.

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