A master plan to break into the UK charts

Bitter Ruin

Ben & Georgia, Bitter Ruin

Bitter Ruin are on a mission to get their music into the UK charts on Sunday 9th October.

“We all want that so what’s new”, I hear you say.

Well of course it’s not new but what’s different is Bitter Ruin are seeing the results of a very good piece of planning that everyone can learn something from. Plus there’s the fact that they’re unsigned and doing all of this themselves with grace, enthusiasm and a good pinch of strategic thinking.

Bitter Ruin formed in 2007 in Brighton when Ben Richards and Georgia Train met at music school. Although they understood each other musically through their classical training, they had dramatically opposing music tastes. Georgia listened to Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor and The Talking Heads whereas Ben preferred rock and bands like Metallica. The result? ‘Contemporary Expressionism’ with passion and musical intelligence at the heart of what they do. Their songs are about the darker side of life and their innovative performances come alive with theatricality, strong sparing vocals, harmonisation and raw instrumentation.

Bitter Ruin put in the hours and are persistent. They have a strong belief in themselves. After doing over 500 gigs they were good enough to be paid and they started getting great support slots in bigger venues. They’ve toured before now but it wasn’t the right time for them. This time it was very different.

Their plan was masterful and it payed off. They recorded their single and made a video (the first thing you see when you visit their site http://www.bitterruin.com/). They decided on a release date for the single and went on a three month tour in the lead up to it. During the tour they concentrated on growing their email list and afterwards, back home, they plugged the single using Facebook and Twitter. They are clear about their mission and give their fans clear a ‘call to action’ to support them. Their single, ‘Trust’, is only available in outlets that notch up sales registered in the charts. They know how many sales they need to get to number 1.

All good stuff. Their big break came when Stephen Fry got involved. Then followed radio and TV interviews on local stations.

And their ultimate goal? To have someone do the leg work for them so they can spend more time doing what they love – creating great music for their fans.

10th October update : Bitter Ruin achieved a #19 placing in the Official UK Independent Singles Chart. A fine achievement.




Where the paid gigs are

Simon Scardanelli (photo by Paul Winter)

Simon Scardanelli (photo by Paul Winter)

When Simon Scardanelli started gigging with a band again he made a firm decision – “we don’t play for free”. There are a few exceptions of course, however the large majority of Simon’s gigs are paid. And we’re talking in the £hundreds.

So how does he do it?

Simon Scardanelli is a child of the 60’s. He’s been singing, writing and recording since the age of 16. He’s worked extensively in Europe and the US. Having been signed to both major and independent labels, Simon has an uncompromising attitude to his work and now releases independently through Resonator Records.

A charismatic and engaging performer, Simon’s live shows are peppered with wry anecdotes and dry, self-deprecating humour – he is able to look back on a long and varied career with an ironic appreciation of its highs and lows.

Scardanelli enjoyed chart success in the late eighties with Anglo-Canadian duo Big Bam Boo (MCA). When the band scored a top 20 radio hit in the US in 1989, they re-located to New York. When Big Bam Boo had run its course, Simon stayed on in New York composing installation works for Art Events and experimental films, became a regular at the infamous Lach’s AntiFolk nights at the Sidewalk Café in New York’s East Village and gigged up and down the East Coast. In ‘95 Simon returned to London and shortly afterwards moved to Brighton to study 20th Century Music at Sussex University. Over the next few years he put his energies into experimenting with sonic-composition and was awarded a PhD in musical composition (University of Birmingham).

Returning to the live scene in 2005, Simon released the acoustic album Hobohemia. Working solo Simon found the plethora of “acoustic” nights at pubs and clubs rarely paid, even expenses. So earlier this year when he formed his new band, Dr Scardo, he was determined to play only paid gigs. Even though the band play originals songs, no covers.

“How does my band get paid gigs? That’s the decision I made after travelling all over the country as a solo artist for little or no money. You can’t get the commitment from a band if no-one’s getting paid. We have an up to date EPK on Reverb Nation and we use their venue booking tool. We focus on the quality of the songwriting and the performance. A lot of the songs are up-tempo and we make sure our fans having a good time at our gigs. You have to convince the venue that you’re going to be as a good as or better than a cover or tribute band. Rather than taking any gig that comes our way, we have concentrated on building a good reputation and being good enough that venues are more than happy to pay us to play. Of course it helps that I’ve got a large back-catalogue – that means we can do two 45 minute sets of good originals. What’s interesting though is that most of the paid gigs are not in Brighton – the market is flooded with bands here. Outside of Brighton, fans will fill a venue to see a good band.”

Scardanelli’s most recent album – That Dangerous Sparkle – was released in June 2007. As Maverick Magazine said – “You never know what is lurking around That Dangerous Sparkle’s dark corner, but whatever it is will always shock and surprise. Scardanelli is always prepared to take a risk, and we should all hope that it is this experimentation that is the future of British singer-songwriters.”

Dr Scardo’s debut single is WALL STREET HUSTLE, a song in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It can be previewed at their website.

Further details

Dr Scardo (photo by Paul Winter)

Dr Scardo (photo by Paul Winter)