Honoring Steve Jobs

Today, the world lost a true legend.

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest innovators of his time and his impact has undeniably been seen and felt for decades. For this generation and likely for others to come, he will be remembered for changing how we use technology, how we listen to music, how we communicate, and in many ways, how we live.

We wouldn't be able to do so much of what we do if not for Mr. Jobs. We salute a great visionary and an incredible man who lived out his calling to make a difference in his world...and therefore, changing ours.

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. Thank you.

-Variance Team

The State of the Music Industry

Q&A with Ben Adelson – Director of A&R, Universal Republic; Manager, Young the Giant

How do you see the future of rock music?
From a management perspective, rock music is in a good place because you can still tour. There are countless bands who can play to 1,500 people in New York City but haven’t even sold 30,000 albums overall. But they continue to tour, they put on a good show, and they put out a good record. Nowadays when you put out music anybody can listen to it for free so there’s no longer that mystery of, hearing one song and needing to go buy the whole album. But you have to write a good record. What we’re starting to see is that there are less one hit wonders in rock. When we look at things from A&R, we’re looking for a band who has a touring base, who has fans. But in terms of selling a ton of records, you’re just not going to have the exposure that pop or urban have right now.

Today you see a lot of bands go the “indie” route before they cross over. From an A&R standpoint, is that something you look for in order to get signed—a band that is established?
Yeah. Whether it’s a major or an indie label, you’re putting up money for a band—investing money for marketing or touring or radio, etc. I’m always looking for a band that has a story, they have something going on. There are fans—period. If you put out music and literally no one reacts or cares, that’s frustrating. And why would a label today want to get behind that? So for us, we are looking for band that has proven something—they’re growing their business, and it’s something we can take to the next level. ‘To the next level’ is the key thing there.

How does a band that doesn’t fit into mainstream pop music find success?
I don’t think genre has anything to do with it, to be completely honest. I think if you write a great record, it will be exposed. There are tons of blogs—there’s Hype Machine, We Are Hunted, BandCamp. Tons of ways to get your music exposed. Look at the top albums this year on iTunes, Adele has dominated. Adele is beating Lady Gaga. Who would have thought? Foster the People—they were an indie hype band last summer and now have one of the most popular songs (and albums) of 2011. If you write a great record, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. The Civil Wars are a great example of this. You don’t even need the radio to be your first doorway for exposure. The advice I give bands: Write as much as you can. Don’t think about the marketing or how you’re going to release it. Sit down and write, and put out an EP or an album where every single song is your best. That’s the thing. Writing good songs is the key to breaking as a band or as an artist. But it’s a great time for music.

How many more Justin Biebers and Lady Gagas do you think we’ll see?
You know, it’s a fair question. But you have to look at the history of music. There have always been stars like this—pop stars who may or may not write their own songs. There’s always a lane for that. I think there will always be pop stars. But again, there is definitely more of a lane for great artists who don’t fit into that category than there has been in a long time.

Labels weren’t quick to embrace “digital.” What’s your view on digital music?
I think you kind of adjust. As Sam Goody, f.y.e., and mom-and-pop stores close more locations, iTunes is the largest retailer for music now. Best Buy is No. 2. So, we know where the exposure is going to be. iTunes is your No. 1 account. I think in terms of distribution iTunes is great because you can put something out rather quickly. In a physical store, you can’t put out a single. On iTunes, you can release one song and see the reaction instantly and track stats in real-time. In terms of physical versus digital, it’s still the same for us. We want to get the album out there as much as possible. The means to do that have changed but the goals haven’t.

With digital music quickly replacing traditional formats, what are your thoughts on services like Spotify?
It’s a good product. But it has a while to go before it’s perfected. They’re missing a good amount of the catalog and there are little kinks. The ability to discover new music isn’t exactly the easiest thing, as far as what’s new and hot—being guided. That’s something I like about iTunes—artists you might like and recommendations. People are talking about music moving to your phone and that’s something Spotify does. I think people still like the idea of owning music and being able to access it even if they don’t have Internet. It’s relatively early, though.

Speaking of getting music “out there,” many bands are releasing free albums and music. What are your thoughts on giving music away?
For rap music, there’s the mix tape and that’s always been around—samplers. Is giving your music away guaranteed to do great things for you? No. If you write crappy music, it doesn’t matter that it’s free. If it’s great music and you give it away and people like it, word will spread. Free is a good marketing tool but it will only work well for you if you have a good product. For a new artist, it comes down to quality.

Where do you see things going for the music industry?
I think there’s potential for the industry to grow. And I think the labels have started realizing what’s working and what’s not…

What would you say isn’t working?
It’s harder now to bring someone from complete obscurity into stardom. That just doesn’t happen. And an artist really can’t expect that to happen anymore either. Simply because of the amount of exposure that new artists get. Now, anyone can listen to any song anywhere at anytime, and it’s less and less likely that someone just emerges from nowhere. It’s forcing artists to go more towards making actual good music. For music fans, it’s definitely an incredible time. The stuff that’s going to surface is going to be better and better. From Florence [Welch] to Two Door [Cinema Club] to The Black Keys, these are artists who are selling albums that are genuinely great music. If we make great records, they will sell much better. It’s an exciting time for artists and fans, and it will only benefit the industry.

Bands you’re watching that aren’t mainstream yet?
I can tell you some of my favorites. The Weekend, from Toronto. He’s incredibly talented and things are only going to get better for him. The band Walk the Moon from Cincinnati is great. If there’s an alternative rock band that could break through next year, I think they would be in that category. They know how to write great songs. Reptar, from Athens, GA, puts on a great live show that’s fun and they’re doing some really interesting things. Boy & Bear are a folk rock band from Australia. They’re great live and they have the potential to do something amazing. And there’s a band from New York called Yellow Ostrich that I really like personally.

Young the Giant to be on Variance October Cover

Young the Giant, the indie-rock band who recently nabbed a coveted performance at the MTV VMA's as the sole non-pop, non-Top 40 act, will be Variance's October cover story. As an indie group in a sea of pop "giants," they are a rare testament in the music industry. After years of fine-tuning their craft and developing a loyal grassroots fan base, the band is now on tour with Incubus and has seen their self-titled album climb the Billboard charts and iTunes, currently sitting at #90 on the Top 200 (and #4 on the Alternative charts this past week). Other features in the October issue will include: Gym Class Heroes, Gavin DeGraw, the Australian favorite Cut Copy, Explosions in the Sky, Mat Kearney, author and blogger Jon Acuff, the YouTube sensation Karmin, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Twilight's Chaske Spencer, Switchfoot, a rare interview with the PIXIES, and so much more. The new issue lands October 1, 2011.

Get $2 Off Young the Giant Album

In celebration of Young the Giant's performance at the MTV VMAs last night, Best Buy is giving fans $2 off their purchase of the band's new album.

The discount is available through this Saturday, September 3. You can print off the coupon or just show them the image on your mobile phone. (Download the coupon here.)

For more on Young the Giant--and to watch their VMA performance, go here. And look for them in the upcoming October issue of Variance Magazine.

Readers: Pumped Up Kicks is Song of Summer!

Every year, there's that one song during the hottest months that either seems to be everywhere you go or you just can't stop listening to it! It might dominate the airwaves...or maybe just your iPod. Either way, you can't help but love it!

We asked our readers to weigh in and vote for their favorite tune of the season--their choice for 2011 Song of Summer. After thousands of clicks, one of this year's biggest radio hits was no match for a song that millions of people can't get enough of! Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" is officially Variance readers' choice for Song of Summer, beating out LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," which recently made chart history.

Thanks to everyone who voted! And just for kicks, here's the song you voted for, brought to you by our friends at Soundcloud.

Katy Perry Makes History: Five #1's from Teenage Dream

It's official. Katy Perry has become the first female artist--and only the second artist besides Michael Jackson--to score five No. 1 singles from the same album (Teenage Dream) on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

With her current single “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” ascending to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart this week, global pop superstar Katy Perry ties with Michael Jackson to become the second artist in the 53-year-history of the Hot 100 chart to produce five No. 1 singles off the same album. Katy is the first female, and only living artist to accomplish this feat.

In addition, on August 1st, Katy became the second artist in modern-day BDS chart monitoring to notch six consecutive No. 1 singles: “Waking Up in Vegas,” (from 2009’s One of the Boys), “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.,” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).”

Perry is currently in the middle of her sold-out "California Dreams" tour. Congratulations, Katy!

August 17 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
August 19 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
August 20 St. Louis, MO Scottrade Center
August 21 Chicago, IL Allstate Arena
August 23 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
Sept 7 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center
Sept 8 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Arena
Sept 10 Louisville, KY KFC Yum! Arena
Sept 11 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
Sept 13 Columbus, OH Schottenstein Arena
Sept 14 Indianapolis, IN Conseco Fieldhouse
Sept 16 Omaha, NE Qwest Center
Sept 17 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
Nov 15 Hartford, CT XL Center
Nov 16 New York, NY Madison Square Garden
Nov 19 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Events Center
Nov 21 Oakland, CA Oracle Arena
Nov 22 Los Angeles, CA Staples Center

Singer Gavin DeGraw OK After Attack

Singer Gavin DeGraw canceled his next two shows while he recovers from an attack "by a group of assailants" in New York that left him with a concussion, broken nose, black eyes and cuts and bruises, his representative confirmed on Tuesday.

DeGraw tweeted on Tuesday afternoon:
"Hi my friends. Honestly, I don't remember much. I only know I can recover from here. Thank u all for your genuine concern. I love u guys."

No arrests have been made, but New York police are investigating.

"Gavin and his family appreciate everyone's concern at this time," his rep said.

Song of Summer 2011

It's hard to believe, but summer is almost two-thirds gone! And if you're one of those going back to school soon, it's basically over. So, we have to ask, what was the song that got stuck in your head the most? What song followed you around like a shadow?

Vote for your favorite song this summer! The provided choices are based on iTunes sales, radio airplay, social media mentions in the last six weeks, & online conversation among Variance readers.

If your choice for "Song of Summer 2011" isn't listed below, tell us in the comments.

REP YOUR CITY: the new local spotlight from Variance

Do you know of a great local bookstore? Would you like to see your favorite music venue or record store featured in an upcoming issue of Variance? We want to hear from you.

We want to bring focus back on the local arts scene, and we need your help! If you know of a great music or arts venue or retail outlet, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell us why this place is the best! You might be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine!

It's time to Rep Your City.

The Civil Wars Announce North American Fall 2011 Dates

The Civil Wars announced Tuesday that tickets will go on sale soon for their North American Fall Tour with very special guest Milo Greene. Presale tickets are available now, in limited quantity and for limited time. Plus, each ticket purchased comes with an exclusive live track.

Tickets can be purchased here: http://thecivilwars.com/presale/falltour2011/

The band also confirmed that additional fall dates will be announced soon.

October 19 Charlotte, NC McGlohon Theatre
October 20 Durham, NC Page Auditorium
October 21 Norfolk, VA NorVa Theatre
October 22 Charlottesville, VA Jefferson Theater
October 23 Washington, DC Lincoln Theatre
October 25 Philadelphia, PA The Trocadero
October 27 New York, NY Town Hall
October 28 Boston, MA Berklee Performance Center
October 29 Montreal, QC Gesu
November 1 Toronto, ON The Phoenix
November 2 Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Theater
November 3 Columbus, OH Lincoln Theatre
November 4 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room
November 6 Chicago, IL The Vic
November 8 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall
November 9 Minneapolis, MN State Theatre
November 13 Vancouver, BC The Vogue
November 14 Seattle, WA The Neptune
November 15 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
November 17 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
November 18 Santa Barbara, CA Lobero Theatre
November 19 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
November 20 Tempe, AZ The Marquee

Join Our Team! Intern Wanted!

Variance Magazine is seeking a creative intern to join our team in the Tulsa, OK offices. If you are a college student, this is a chance to get great learning experience and be a part of this growing project while even earning class credit.

Writing and/or blogging experience is required. Any web/design/Photoshop skills would be great, although not necessary. If you feel you are a creative type and would like the chance to play a role in what we do, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your resume and portfolio or writing samples.

This is an unpaid internship.

Variance Staff

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