<![CDATA[The A Cappella Blog]]> http://acappellablog.com/ The A Cappella Blog en Copyright 2016 2016-05-03T14:15:56-04:00 <![CDATA[Sugar, We're Going Down]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/sugar-were-going-down http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/sugar-were-going-down

This week, we present the SUNY Potsdam Pitches performing Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down.”

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2016-05-03T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Fake Outs]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/fake-outs http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/fake-outs

Reason #109: Fake Outs

Plenty of folks who are uninitiated in contemporary a cappella dismiss the form because of preconceptions based in a cappella choirs and the barbershop tradition.

I have a particular soft spot for groups riff off this expectation, slowing the down the tempo or lending a classical flavor to the opening chords of a song before exploding into a rendition far more faithful to the original pop song. Such interpretations offer audiences an entertaining surprise, in addition to demonstrating a group’s range and depth of talent via their ability to achieve both the classical sound and a more contemporary flavor. The approach takes even the most run-of-the-mill song selection and makes it fundamentally more interesting for both the audience and the singers performing it.

I love it!

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2016-05-02T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Student Media]]>http://acappellablog.com/campus-connections/student-media http://acappellablog.com/campus-connections/student-media

In this edition of Campus Connections, our focus is on: student media.

Building relationships with the media is one of the most important connections for any a cappella group seeking an audience and seeking exposure. At the collegiate level, whether it's your school newspaper, TV station, radio station, magazine, or other outlet, campus media tends to have a foothold at colleges--an established name and audience. When you build a relationship with the media, you're setting yourself up for exposure and publicity within your local community on a scale that it's much more difficult to build on your own.

One of the biggest benefits of working with a newspaper is that it affords you space in writing—people are forgetful and having something concrete to look at and transcribe your group’s name, and performance or audition times and locations to make sure they’re getting the details right and can remember them. Moreover, when you get coverage of one of your events in print or on a website, you have a testimonial to refer to later to document your group’s accomplishments and refer other people to someone’s thoughts on your group, beyond the group’s own PR work.

Working with the campus TV station can also help spread the word about your work and document performances. Moreover, TV stations can afford you opportunities to have people with good equipment and a specific set of skills record and polish a performance, which can be great for archival purposes and even for getting performance out on YouTube if you don’t have anyone skilled in production within the ranks of your group.

And then there’s radio. When push comes to shove, a cappella is an aural form, and taking a step away from the visual elements that live performance and videos call attention to, performing on campus radio can be an excellent way of getting your music, in its most distilled form, out to an audience. Moreover, throughout my own undergraduate experience, two graduate degrees, and working on a college campus, I’ve consistently been surprised with just how often people actually do listen to the campus radio station—thus, you might be reaching a larger audience through this medium than you would originally expect.

You may also want to consider massaging relationships with campus media. While I’m not suggesting you should try to bribe anyone, offering free tickets to shows, free CDs, even free t-shirts can be an effective way of wooing attention, and getting campus media to notice and remember your group’s efforts.

There are those a cappella groups that prioritize their art over their exposure, and that is a perfectly natural place to fall, particularly at the scholastic level. That said, for groups that are seeking to build their audiences and recognition on a grass roots, local level, there’s little better way of getting started than to make the most of campus media.

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2016-04-27T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Story of my Life]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/story-of-my-life http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/story-of-my-life

This week, we present The Washington University Sensasians performing One Direction’s “Story of My Life.”

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2016-04-26T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Large Men Who Can Work The Stage]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/large-men-who-can-work-the-stage http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/large-men-who-can-work-the-stage

Reason #108: Large Men Who Can Work the Stage

In contemporary American society, the culture tends to look down on overweight people. They’re seen as lazy or having weak will power, without regard for genetic, cultural, or socioeconomic factors that might be at play.

Despite the stigmas, there are those large people who defy subjugation and own every bit of who they are when they <i>perform</i> on stage. Few people can quite commandeer the attention or capture the imagination of an audience like a man who is truly large and charge when the lights shine brightest—utterly unselfconscious, there to entertain.

I love it!

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2016-04-25T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Trap Queen]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/trap-queen http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/trap-queen

This week, we present The University of Rochester Yellow Jackets performing Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.”

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2016-04-19T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[The Battle]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-battle http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-battle

Reason #107: “The Battle”

In the preceding edition of 200 Reasons to Love A Cappella, we lauded the 2008 Carnegie Mellon University Originals for their wild and creative choreography. A year before them, Syracuse University Orange Appeal brought similar bravado, energy, and outside the box thinking to their treatment of the spiritual “The Battle.” The guys delivered a level of theatricality that that was ahead of its time and achieved tremendous comedic effect, resulting in one of the most memorable collegiate a cappella performances of that year. For a group that, in that era, had built its name on the backs of classically trained voices, this performance showed the group’s most fun side and earned them a well-deserved spot in the thick of the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinals.

I love it!

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2016-04-18T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[LPs vs. EPs]]>http://acappellablog.com/recording-recommendations/lps-vs-eps http://acappellablog.com/recording-recommendations/lps-vs-eps

A cappella recording has become a big business within a budding industry. Indeed, given the improvements in recording and distribution technology, and the increase in professional services available to groups interested in recording, it seems like groups at all levels, from  small high schools to major universities to post-collegiate social groups to full-fledged pros are releasing new  recordings each year.

In Recording Recommendations, we offer our two cents on best practices in recorded a cappella.

In this edition, our focus is on <b>whether to record an LP or an EP</b>.

The designations “LP” and “EP” are largely outdated, but have come back into vogue over the last decade. Originally coined to differentiate vinyl records. Singles feature one song (and often a bonus track or two); LP or Long Play was a full album. EPs filled the space between, with a generally agreed upon length of about twenty-five minutes (or roughly four songs).

In a cappella recording, groups in the last twenty years have focused on LPs, and with good reason. With studio time at a premium, groups often sought to get the most bang for their buck with a full-length album. Moreover, in an era when relatively few groups were marketing their music on a national platform, but rather selling regionally or just within their school communities, there was generally less emphasis on perfect recordings, more emphasis on giving everyone a solo and documenting all of the music a group learned in the past year.

Things have shifted, however. While the EP may not have become the standard, per se, it is no longer an abnormality in the contemporary a cappella recording scene. With more and more (not to mention better) a cappella-centric professional services available, groups are more often able to get tracks recorded, mixed and mastered on a per track or per small grouping of tracks basis, which makes producing EPs more affordable.  Moreover there’s the broader consideration of consumer attention spans, which reaches well beyond a cappella. We Tweet and we text message. We watch five-minute-or-less YouTube clips over full-length films. Thus, it makes perfect sense that a four or five-song EP would provide the perfect balance between showing a range of what your group can do, while still getting the most out of your listeners’ relatively brief attention spans.

Short releases also allow a group to focus on quality over quantity—rather than meticulously spreading the placement of their strongest tracks across an album, and instead <i>only</i> putting out that best-arranged, most polished, best-sung material.

In addition to all of this, for the sheer number of tracks, an EP typically takes less time to assemble and release than an LP, thus a group that records EPs stands a stronger chance of turning around and releasing more recordings, or more effectively splitting its time to accomplish other goals within a short span of time.

The bulk of this column may read like an advertisement for groups should abandon LPs in favor of EPs, and I won’t deny that I <i>do</i> think that’s the best path for most groups, particularly at the scholastic level. All of that said, if your group does the ambition, depth of material, and vision to see through a full-length album, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Determining the length of a recording should be all about crystallizing your goals, making a plan, and seeing it through—and ideally playing to your group’s strengths along the way.

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2016-04-15T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Gone In The Morning]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/gone-in-the-morning http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/gone-in-the-morning

This week, we present Imperial College London’s Imperielles performing Newton Faulkner’s “Gone In The Morning.”

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2016-04-12T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[The CMU Originals’ Boat]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-cmu-originals-boat http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-cmu-originals-boat

Reason #106: The CMU Originals’ “Boat”

Over the years, the stakes of visual presentation seem to have grown higher and higher in a cappella, and that’s particularly true on the collegiate scene. Groups that hope to go far need to think about choreography, movement, transitions, and many points in between.

Along this evolutionary process, particular moments have stood out. They’re the moments not quite like any others that preceded them, and that no one saw coming. One particular such moment arrived in The Carnegie Mellon University Originals’ rendition of “Run, Freedom, Run” during their 2008 ICCA set. A wildly charismatic soloist took the lead, but it was the whole group that truly stole the show by not just singing but putting on a visual show that reached its climax when the guys bent, leaned, and lifted to form a makeshift boat with their bodies.

I love it!

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2016-04-11T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[20/20 Cover Art]]>http://acappellablog.com/newsline/20-20-cover-art http://acappellablog.com/newsline/20-20-cover-art

20/20 A Cappella is a still-new all-male quintet based out of Ellensburg, Washington, and they just released their EP,titled, Cover Art. On listening to the album, I was struck by its bold overarching aesthetic. This is not an explosive album, or one that seeks to infuse rap or dubstep interludes, but rather a mature effort that comfortably situates itself in a mellow space of musical ease—soft, inviting, and a pleasure to listen to.

Cover

The group really hits its stride when the music is softest, sweetest, and most emotionally vulnerable. Their cover of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” comes across as completely earnest, built on brilliant harmonization. Similarly, Ed Sheeran’s “I’m A Mess” proves to be a particularly bright spot, for starting on a simple clean solo over a stripped down track before the guys nicely complicated the instrumentation and arrived at a fuller sound.

Tracks like, Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and One Direction’s “Story of My Life” similarly capitalize on the group’s strengths, taking more raucous, upbeat numbers and adding a dimension of delicacy, even a twinge of sadness to what easily could have been less heart-felt work (besides featuring particularly good solo work).

The closing tracks, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and before that, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Each start on a slowed down, subdued, borderline jazzy take on the song. “Crazy” samples another song before returning to its slowed down groove, while “Shake It Off”—suitably, as the final track, final speeds into a more straightforward take on the original track. While I’d argue that these songs would be better off spaced out on the album so the originality of what the group is doing could stand out more in contrast to tracks doing other things, they’re nonetheless very solid, innovative covers.

If I were to articulate just one complaint about Cover Art, it would have to be song selection. “I’ll Cover You” from Rent was an odd pick, though arguably just dated enough to feel like a fun retro pick. “Crazy,” “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” and Gavin Degraw’s “I’m in Love With a Girl” all felt both dated and already quite over-exposed in a cappella circles, and thus strange picks for an EP released in 2016. I did appreciate the fresh takes the group had on these songs—as the album title calls attention to, literally creating art out of their cover songs, but I’d be interested to hear these guys apply their same creativity and sound fundamentals to some fresher material.

All in all, Cover Art is an easy, enjoyable listen by a skilled young group, with some nice production work from George Wiederkehr and there’s little reason not to check it out given that the group is streaming the album for free on Spotify (though you can also pay what you like at Loudr, or a fixed price on iTunes).

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2016-04-07T05:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Listen to New Music]]>http://acappellablog.com/for-your-own-good/listen-to-new-music http://acappellablog.com/for-your-own-good/listen-to-new-music

One of the coolest parts about being an a cappella fan is getting to hear all sorts of new music through the filter of today’s a cappella groups.  If groups or only singing the same old stuff, though, or sticking to the most mainstream of top 40 music, it’s easy for things to get stale and repetitive. Listening to new music helps spice things up for any group, and by extension its audiences.

Listening to music, like watching a film or reading book is, by many measures, a solitary experience. Two people will hear something different from the same song; they’ll have different gut reactions, notice different favorite pieces. And so, consider listening to music an individual homework assignment to help you, in the long run, work with your group.

Get new song ideas

The most obvious benefit of listening to lots of new music is that you’ll be exposed to new songs you could potentially cover. While most of us love hearing a good a cappella group sing our favorite songs, I’d argue that just as many fans love it when they can hear a sound that is brand new to them.  By being a true student of music, you can identify innovative new pieces to help push your entire group into its next era.

Get new sounds

People who are truly immersed in a cappella  can spend an inordinate amount of time speculating on how they could transform instrumentation into vocals. Consider the case of Northwestern Purple Haze singing Imogen Heap and I Fight Dragons’s “The Process”—the video game-like trill sound is 100 percent electronified. The arranger(s) behind Purple Haze’s version dared to take it on nonetheless and make the sound their own. On a similar note, take BYU Vocal Point’s version of “Meglio Stasera” that they brought to the 2011 ICCA Finals. The rhythms are challenging enough for a capable vocal percussionist—but the masterminds at BYU decided to take the song on fully, tackling vocal maracas, a vocal woodblock, and more.

More and more today, when you listen to new music, you’re opening yourself to fundamentally different instrumentation. These new sounds will allow you to truly create something new for your group.

Reimagine

As time marches on, more and more hit songs are covers of, include samples of, or are heavily influenced by existing classics. On one hand, this might make it seem that music is getting less original and less interesting. On the other hand, for most a cappella groups, covering and reinventing songs is the very essence of what they do. So why not drink in fully instrument-ed versions reimaginings of songs, and take the reinvention that step further with your next a cappella arrangement?

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2016-04-06T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Pretty Hurts]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/pretty-hurts-1 http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/pretty-hurts-1

This week, we present UC Sand Diego’s The Beat performing Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts.”

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2016-04-05T11:56:20-04:00
<![CDATA[​The Cornell University Chordials Surface]]>http://acappellablog.com/cd-reviews/the-cornell-university-chordials-surface http://acappellablog.com/cd-reviews/the-cornell-university-chordials-surface

In recent years The Chordials have established an identity as a haunting, intense act that’s been entertaining crowds well beyond Ithaca, New York, including a trip all the way to the ICCA Finals as recently as 2013. The group’s distinctive style shines through clearly on their new album, Surface.

Surface

As an overarching narrative, the album’s heavy sound, paired with its rippling blue cover art suggests living in the malaise of a life, figuratively, underwater. “Breath of Life,” in the early stages of Surface, therefore comes across as a final breath before submersion. While Florence and the Machine has garnered plenty of play in a cappella circles in recent years, this was excellent use of a non-over-exposed song from the band’s catalog to communicate the complex and conflicted story at the heart of this recording project.

From there, The Chordials did some fine work on “Lovely Day,” riffing off of the Alt-J cover of the Bill Withers song to present a staccato, ponderous version of the song and a showcase for soloist Aaron smith as he works his full dynamic range and builds to each chorus and a lovely take on the bridge. On a related note, the treatment of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”—taking on so much of the song chorally, but over a menacing, steady bass line--added a delightful sense of danger to the track.

One of the tricky pieces of building a thematically and stylistically cohesive album is the likelihood of reaching some points at which tracks, as individually strong as they may be, start to bleed into one another or get lost in the shuffle of superficially analogous songs. Such was the feeling I wound up having for tracks like “Moving On,” “Retrograde,” and “You Know Where To Find Me,” though The Chordials were generally shrewd about track order, for example, plugging the more funky “Choices” after “Retrograde” to mix up the sound a bit more. While Young The Giant’s “It’s About Time” walks this line as well, it weaves in enough different styles of sound, from the whispers of pistols to soloist Jay Grollman’s opening wide at the song’s most epic moments to distinguish the song.

“Trembling Hands” does include some nice water imagery to help bring us back to the album’s core thematic concerns, carrying over from “Waters,” which communicates a nice sense of desperation in the frantic body percussion and pleading way in which the background voices echo the soloist on the chorus.
For me, the sweetest spots of all for this album showed up in its opening and closing tracks. Beyonce’s “Haunted” features an artfully reiterated refrain of “what goes up, ghost around,” overlaying the lyrics and instrumentation in, well, haunting ways throughout a track that spotlights both some of the group’s best vocals, and some of the best production work, courtesy of Steven Goldman at Four Legs Records. “What Now,” originally by Rihanna, also stands out, representing the group’s biggest sound and bits of aural sunshine shimmering through on what is otherwise—as good as it is—a pretty dark album. Better yet, the track benefits from some truly exceptional solo work from Dedzidi Ladzekpo.  

Overall, Surface is a thoughtful, intense meditation on breaking through the surface to rediscover light in our lives. Moreover, it’s largely fresh, and professionally executed a cappella album that feels contemporary and polished. This one is definitely worth checking out.

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2016-04-04T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Paper Airplanes]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/paper-airplanes http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/paper-airplanes

This week, we present Grand Valley State University GV GrooVe performing M.I.A.’s “Paper Airplanes.”

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2016-03-29T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Facebook]]>http://acappellablog.com/social-networking/facebook http://acappellablog.com/social-networking/facebook

Facebook hardly needs the introduction that most of the social networking utilities featured in this column have received. The odds are that you have used it. The odds are use it on at least a weekly basis. Particularly if you’re in a collegiate a cappella group, the chances are good that you use it multiple times every day.

But have you thought critically about how you use Facebook for the betterment of your group?

Though groups use Facebook in a variety of ways, for the purposes of this article we’ll focus on using a fan page, as opposed to a group or an individual-person-esque profile. Groups have grown a bit outdated on Facebook; individual person profiles for groups are frowned upon by Facebook proper, and while there is the benefit that people may more readily accept your group as a friend than commit to being a fan, still, it’s an out-of-context use of the tools at hand.

In using your fan page, make sure you take advantage of Facebook’s capabilities as a microblogging service. Putting up regular status updates helps make you a fixture on your fans’ newsfeeds, and while you don’t want to overwhelm and annoy those fans, you do want to spread the word about upcoming shows, and you should consider how you can connect with fans on an everyday basis—suggesting songs they can check out, asking for their feedback on songs you should cover or how you should change up your attire on stage. Most fan bases have a short attention span, so if you can keep your group relevant through regular updates it will help your cause.

One Facebook’s primary functions comes as a photo-sharing service, so make sure you put your group’s best foot forward by posting albums that feature your group looking it’s best. You may also want to post photos of other groups, and use tagging to help draw more attention to your page. The same principles apply to videos. We live in a sensory world, where people want to do more than read text. Cater to that impulse.

Don’t waste the space available on your info page. Make sure you’re linking to your group’s main website, your Twitter feed, your YouTube page, etc. Each of these platforms has unique functionality and value, and the more you can network them together for the ease of your fans, the better.

Though the tool has become a bit overused, you also shouldn’t ignore Facebook’s capacity to market an event. Set up an event page for your upcoming show and invite your friend—make sure that ignorance isn’t the reason why they’re missing your event. By the same token, keep in mind that you can earn extra good will by being selective and not inviting people who you know won’t be able to come—if you have a friend who lives on the opposite coast, it’s probably a safe assumption he won’t make the trip just for this show, and he’ll appreciate being spared the invite and subsequent updates to it.

As Facebook continues to evolve, there will certainly be more and more efficient ways of using it to bolster your a cappella group. Keep an open mind and stay attuned to these advances. Everyone’s using Facebook, so make sure your group is getting the most it can out of that.

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2016-03-24T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Treasurity]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/treasurity http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/treasurity

This week, we present The Berklee College of Music Charlie Chords performing their mashup of Bruno Mars’s "Treasure" and Zedd’s "Clarity," "Treasurity."

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2016-03-22T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[ICCA Northwest Semifinal at George Fox University]]>http://acappellablog.com/event-reviews/icca-northwest-semifinal-at-george-fox-university http://acappellablog.com/event-reviews/icca-northwest-semifinal-at-george-fox-university

On Saturday, March 19, Bauman Auditorium at George Fox University played host to the 2016 ICCA Northwest Semifinal. You can check out over two hundred photos from the show on The A Cappella Blog Facebook page. Before the review, here’s a quick summary of the event.

The Competing Groups:
The UC Davis Spokes
Central Washington University Nada Cantata
University of Utah Infrared
University of Washington Furmata A Cappella
Oregon State University Outspoken
Brigham Young University Beyond Measure
University of Oregon Divisi
The UC Santa Cruz Hightones

Emcee: Courtney Jensen

Host Group: George Fox University Quakers and Notes

The ever-effervescent Courtney Jensen opened the evening with the standard announcements.

The first competing group was The Spokes. The All-female crew took the stage in all black with neon pink accents and opened with Ariana Grande’s ”Focus.” Nice, sassy attitude on the opener, and a good low end on this one. Really good breakdown bit as the group fell out and shrank down for one, and then another group member to join in again before the group launched in again on the whole. Well-executed choreo here though, it was a little excessive for my tastes and risked undercutting the bravado the group otherwise projected.

Img 2430 Article

The set continued with Marian Hill’s “One Time.” Nice attitude again. I liked the identity the group was cultivating—a slick, confident, urban sound, though I was starting to grow a little concerned that this second song had a little too similar over-arching song to the one before it, which ran the risk of losing the audience’s attention. The soloists demonstrated good personality on stage and, the background instrumentation was solid. Nice reiteration of “one time” in the syllables, and some good little dynamic variation on the bridge.

The Spokes closed with Beyonce’s “Diva.” Really good vocals from the soloist though—on a nitpicky note—I noticed her break character to crack up more than once. I can totally appreciate that that’s the natural upshot of performing a song like this, but it also breaks the illusion of the performance, reminding the crowd it is a performance, and that is one of those small details that separate a very good from a truly great set. Good sound all around on this number and it was a nice way to tie up the set from a thematic perspective—escalating to a bit bigger sound and a bit more sass, while sticking with the style the group had established prior to that point. Nice jazzed up slow down bit to close a good set.

Next up, Nada Cantata, a mixed group clad in black and maroon. They kicked off their set with Britney Spears’s "Circus." Fun perc break down, culminating in the guy inserting “surfboard,” before a seamless transition to Beyonce’s ”Drunk In Love.” Really nice stage presence from the second soloist and good, measured quality to that vocal. The group lined up across stage with arms moving down like the hands on an analog clock, before splitting and leaving space for the soloist to walk from the back up through the line. The vocals got a little shout-y on the finish, but putting that aside it was a good, strong opener.

Img 2445 Article

Next up, “All The Things You Are.” The group started this one chorally, in an arc. I can appreciate the impulse to do a song like this to show off musical chops and this one was very well rendered with a really nice balance, but that went on a little long before upping the tempo, and going jazzy as the group split into clusters of three. In the one, this one felt a little show tune-ish for my tastes, without quite stunning enough harmonies to justify the song selection and execution for the context of an ICCA semifinal.

The set continued with Estelle’s "American Boy."  Cheesy bit of putting on sunglasses on the next verse. I appreciated the impulse to mix up the presentation as the song went on to keep it interesting and the group sold it well. I really liked the choice to insert another brief VP showcase—the vocal percussion was one of the most unique and pronounced talents the group brought ot the stage and it was wise to call attention to it.

Nada Cantata closed with "Hold My Hand" by Jess Glynne.  Good opening, and the group mixed things up, switching to a second soloist. The song skewed a little sharp on the whole. I liked the choice to go for a clap-along with the crowd in the late stages of this song, bolstering the sense that this was an epic closer. Nice soft, subtle, staccato build behind the soloist as she really shined to deliver a memorable closer and the strongest leg of a good set.

Infrared took the stage next in black cloaks over their black and red duds. Suitably epic explosion of sound to follow on the lead in to Taylor Swift’s "Bad Blood" They really went for it on the rap here--not the greatest rap I’ve heard, mind you, but I have to give to a group like this for one hundred percent emotionally investing, in its opener and attacking the stage. Nice interaction between the leads here. The sound was a little shout-y and sharp, but stage presence alone made it immediately memorable and entertaining in a way few songs had been up to that point. Again, let’s talk identity—from the sparkly tops on the women, to the explosion of sound from the group, to the choice to lead off with the most visceral of T-Swift songs, the group was making a statement from the start. My one small criticism on the visual presentation, in fact, came on the finish, when the soloists exchanged a quick smile. While I’ll take “breaking character” after the song is done over mid-song any day, every moment the group spends on stage is still part of the performance, and I’d loved to have seen them maintain their façade rather than conceding it was an act in these “breaks” between numbers.

Img 2470 Article

They followed up with “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith. It seemed like tempo got a little head of soloist here. Nice crescendo into the first chorus. Good facials from the group, selling the intensity of this number. Nice moment as the soloists doubled up, singing at one another with tremendous intensity. I particularly liked the choice for two guys to take on a song that’s ostensibly about two men in love and their loss. Interesting visual with the guys on opposite ends of the stage and the group bobbing in a cluster between them. I like this from the perspective of telling the story of things coming in between them, but wish there were something a little more interesting or coherent going on in that cluster to facilitate telling that story of sadness and separation.

Nice pop of sound, exploding into party mode for the closer, Marc Ronson and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk.” Fun attitude here, before a transition to Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” I really dug the way the group built this one to withhold the chorus of “Bad”—switching back to “Uptown Funk”--for an extra minute before exploding into the payoff.  Fun bit on the “Julio, get the stretch” line, with the guys inching forward like they were in that car. Really fun closer here to do something original and wildly entertaining with song choices that might not have seemed like the most original on paper. Nice power closer.

Furmata A Cappella took the stage next, a co-ed group in black duds. They opened with Alessia Cara’s “Here.” Fantastic attitude and breath control from this soloist for an opening that commanded attention from the get-go. Then there was the male soloist, transitioning to Justin Bieber’s “Roller Coaster.” Nice interaction between the two, and a really slick sound all around here. Compelling visual presentation—a lot of movement on stage, it all felt intentional but not contrived. Nice opener all around. Cool fall out into a swirling sound from the VP guy before the group exploded into the closing motions of the song.

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Nice transition from the group’s staggered position on stage into “Alive” by Sia. The mic was cutting out on the soloist in the early moments here, but very much to her credit, the soloist kept her composure nicely. Terrific solo work to follow, backed by really good variation of dynamics in the background. This was such a story and grew enormous midway through. Killer interaction between the soloist and a second lead as the song grew. As I took in this performance, my only concern was that this song got so big, it would be difficult for the group to follow itself for its closing number.

Furmata had a sterling transition to Nick Jonas’s "Chains." It turned out the group had a secret weapon, with a new soloist walking out from backstage at this point. It was a great dramatic moment, if a bit of a gambit to sacrifice his voice earlier on; of course, he was also performing in some sort of leg brace, so maybe this is an issue of physical limitations. The group transitioned to a mash up, with a slowed down groove on Kanye West’s “Power.” Terrific attitude on the build to this transition, particularly from the rap lead. Just a really fun way to wrap this one up. I particularly appreciated that the group sold this performance as deathly serious and kept a slow, melodic sound beneath it. The group lined up at the front of the stage in the late stages before finishing with just two voices for a sensational finish to a stellar set.

Outspoken closed out the first half of the show. Great reaction from the guys’ supporters in the audience. Really nice, full sound on the opening to Journey’s "Separate Ways." The staging was really artful for this song, with a lot of movement, none of it wasted, all engaging, contributing to the build. Good first solo, and nice build to the second lead taking over with a different vocal quality. This one felt a little long, but nonetheless featured good dynamic variation and visuals to keep it vibrant. Nice intensity on the interaction between the soloists on the “if he ever hurts you” line, and tremendous sincerity throughout—definitely the right call over playing this song for laughs, which is too often the temptation for a song like this. Great start to the set.

Img 2523 Article

Nice, smooth transition to The Lone Bellow’s “You Never Need Nobody.” Really good emotional vigor on this solo and subdued sound from the guys to give this song plenty of room to grow as it went on. Nice soft, broken sound as one of the guys in the background echoed the soloist on the second chorus. Nice push of the tempo on the bridge. Again, this song felt a little long, but I was torn between the sensation of wanting the guys to clip it and appreciating their patience in letting the music enjoy a slow, steady build. Great emotional intensity, particularly from the lead.

Tiny sample of of “Airplanes” en route to Outspoken’s closer, Paramore’s "Brick By Boring Brick." Good solo here and especially good choreography on this one—so much motion, executed so precisely.  Good, big sound from the guys here for a really nice closing number to leave things on an authentically upbeat note. The guys demonstrated excellent sincerity and power in this outing, an even stronger and more polished performance than what they brought to the stage at quarterfinals. Terrific money note on the finish to close a very good set that immediately put the group in a dead heat with Furmata A Cappella for top performers of the night up to that point.

Very cool off-beat opening for Beyond Measure, kicking things off post inter-mission with just a few members on stage and leading things off with some body perc as the rest of the group filed in on Shawn Mendes’s “Stitches.” Really nice, full sound from the group. Killer transition on the “needle and a thread” interlude to another soloist and revisitation on the body perc theme. While I think the group would have benefited from a song with a bit more punch to lead off, or to have clipped this song a little, it was nonetheless a good opener.

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Choral opening on Christina Perri’s “Only Human” before the transition to a positively sensational female lead.  Really nice tone and terrific control on this lead, who was just perfectly suited to bring this song to life. Good, warm harmony work here and a really polished visual presentation with the group crisply reconfiguring. Great emotion, as this set really clicked into its next gear on this exceptional song.

Beyond Measure wrapped up with Owl City’s “Verge.” Another tremendous solo here, and I have to praise the heck out of this group for their excellent execution of some really complex choreo on this song while maintaining such a full sound. It was a polished performance top to bottom, featuring a sensational VP interlude. In the latter stages of this set, the group really clicked into professional grade and may have just elbowed their way ahead of Outspoken and Furmata A Cappella from the first half.

Divisi was the penultimate competing group. The ladies wore black and white with bright red ties. Lovely jazzy take on Jet’s "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." It was the kind of sultry, slow opening that demands the audience lean in a little closer to listen up, and the sound came across as a nudge cleaner here than it had at quarterfinals. Terrific, off-beat creative choice. Some really good punch on the transition to the upbeat section of the song. This one clicked nicely, and best of all it was like no other opener this night. Terrific solo work. I might have clipped the slow jazzy outro here, though it did provide a fluid visual transition to the staging for their next song.

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Next up, Sarah Bareilles’s "Manhattan." the group formed the approximate shape of the Manhattan skyline with their bodies on the intro as the lead maneuvered her way past and around them. This was such a visually compelling piece as the group went on to form an arc with the soloist standing to the side rather than the conventional spot in the middle, which further emphasized her lonesomeness in the narrative of the song. Just beautiful storytelling there. Tremendous control on the solo, impeccable intonation. Lovely double up on solo en route to the bridge. Great emotional earnestness all around for a stellar ballad.

Divisi wrapped up with “Start A Riot” by Jetta. Great sound here, including tremendous heartbeat perc on the heartbeat lyric, and revisited throughout, pulsing with energy. I loved it when the soloist opened up in late in the song sounding more raw and power-driven than at quarterfinals—nice adjustment there for the group on the whole to turn up the volume and really pay off all of the subtlety and care of the set leading up to this point. Terrific explosion of sound in the end game. This was an excellent end to a decisively Finals-caliber set.

The Hightones closed out the competition. This was another all-female group, in sharp black and green attire. They started out with Kimbra’s "Settle Down." Nice soft sound in the early going, giving plenty of room for a soft steady build. They transitioned to a second soloist. Polished song here,  but a little subdued for an opener at this level of competition. I liked the little sample of Beyonce’s “Mine” in the background late in the song. Nice explosion across stage late. They wrapped up the song with a slow outro, which they probably ought to have clipped to keep the set moving.

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Next up, Delta Rae’s "Bottom of the River." Good intensity and power here, especially on the solo. Nice use of the stomp throughout as a driving force, though it seemed to slip just a little out of synch at certain points. While this was a solid rendering of a very good song, in terms of song selection, I struggle to see this one, even performed at the highest level, cracking Finals level in 2016—it’s just been so widely covered and interpreted in the last few years. Little bit of Alison Krauss’s “Down To The River To Pray” buried in the background—and I liked that recurring device of just hinting at other songs, which I hoped was building toward something later in the set.

The Hightones wrapped up with Laura Mvula’s “She.” Nice sincerity on this solo. Interesting bit of soloist weaving between rows of group members, touching shoulders, only for each group member to turn away from her, ultimately clumping apart from her, to leave her alone. Really nice perc pick up and increased tempo toward the end, making the energy spike late into the unaccompanied finish. I didn’t notice a hidden sample on this one, or the other samples coming back which was a bit of a let down from a continuity stand point, but that’s minor complaint for a solid closer.

As the judges deliberated, Quakers and Notes entertained the crowd with a fun set that included “Shut Up and Dance,” “Just Dance,” “Staying Alive,” a fun version of “Watch Me (Whip Nae Nae),” “The Cupid Shuffle,” epic original “Hold On,” “Feel It,” with a spoken word interjection of “Lose Yourself,” “You Have More Friends Than You Know,” “Africa,” and “September.” While this group isn’t entirely polished (and could hardly be expected to be after first coming together just this past fall, their showmanship was on point and the group’s leader, in particular, demonstrated a terrific sense of humor and delivery to make for really entertaining deliberation period.

While the judges deliberated, I made my picks for the evening. In the end, I felt there were four groups in contention. Outspoken continued to polish their set and featured emotionally rich solo work. Furmata Nowhere demonstrated terrific heart and intensity on their off-beat set. Beyond Measure’s final two songs were quite arguably the most polished performances of the night, though their first two weren’t quite as well-conceived. And then there’s Divisi. While I did feel that this show wound up a tight race, I also felt as though Divisi delivered a combination of professional performance, star soloists, shrewd staging, and interesting story structure to set them a nudge ahead of the pack, and the region’s champions.

As it turned out, the judges agreed and Divisi took first place. It was a very good semifinal, and terrific to both see the Divisi franchise return to the Finals once again, and to see a number of new faces knocking on the door.

That’s a wrap for my regional coverage of the 2016 ICCAs. I’m looking forwarding to heading to New York next month to cover ICHSA and ICCA Finals.

Mike Chin's Picks for the Night

Overall Placement:
1. Divisi
2. Beyond Measure
3. TIE: Outspoken and Furmata A Cappella

Outstanding Soloist:
1. Beyond Measure for “Human”
2. Furmata A Cappella for middle song
3. Divisi for “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”

Outstanding Arrangement:
1. Divisi for “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
2. Beyond Measure for "Human"
3. Infrared for “Uptown Funk”/”Bad

Outstanding Vocal Percussion:
1. Beyond Measure for the full set
2. Nada Cantata for the full set

Outstanding Visual Presentation:
1. Divisi for the full set
2. Beyond Measure for the full set
3. Infrared for the full set

Official ICCA Results

Overall Placement:
1. Divisi
2. Outspoken 
3. Beyond Measure

Outstanding Soloist: Divisi for “Manhattan”

Outstanding Arrangement: Beyond Measure for “Human”

Outstanding Vocal Percussion: Beyond Masure

Outstanding Choreography: Nada Cantata

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2016-03-21T05:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Witnessing Someone’s First Solo]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/witnessing-someones-first-solo http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/witnessing-someones-first-solo

Reason #105: Witnessing Someone’s First Solo

Every performer in a cappella group contributes to a greater whole and it’s usually pointless to argue over who is most “important” in a given performance. Nonetheless, when a group performs for the public and particularly casual fans, the soloist tends to attract the most attention—standing at the front of the stage, singing the most readily recognizable part of the song.

Some people get solos from the very beginning of their a cappella careers. Others have to wait years. Regardless, when a group member sings her first solo it’s a moment of vindication and celebration. It’s a coming out party, singling out and broadcasting that particular singer’s voice for the world.

I love it!

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2016-03-21T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Mascots]]>http://acappellablog.com/campus-connections/mascots http://acappellablog.com/campus-connections/mascots

In this edition of Campus Connections, our focus is on: mascots.

At colleges across the country, and particularly at big universities with at which there is a pronounced sports presence, there are few figures more recognizable than the school mascot. Whether it’s Big Red at Western Kentucky, Otto the Orange at Syracuse, or Puddles the Duck at the University of Oregon, these figures are inspirational, lovable, and nothing if not some of the most recognizable personalities on campus.

Making a connection with your campus mascot opens up all sorts of possibilities for publicity. Perhaps the mascot will be willing to take a picture with your group for Facebook, or wear your group’s t-shirt at a small event. In either case, having the mascot affiliated with your group is a magnet for attention.

To take things one step further, there’s a history of groups actually working with mascots on performances. This can be as simple as having the mascot stand outside the performance to help lure in audience members, or as pronounced as the mascot actually taking part in the performance, getting on stage to rouse some extra cheers and, in some cases, even participate in the choreography and make for an unforgettable performance.

Weaving a mascot into the scheme of you’re a cappella group—however briefly and to whatever degree—is like getting a celebrity endorsement. It will draw more ears to your product and make for one of your most entertaining performances.

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2016-03-16T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/my-songs-know-what-you-did-in-the-dark http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/my-songs-know-what-you-did-in-the-dark

This week, we present North Carolina State University Grains of Time performing Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark.”

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2016-03-15T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Hearing a New Song Debuted]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/hearing-a-new-song-debuted http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/hearing-a-new-song-debuted

Reason #104: Hearing a New Song Debuted

Many a cappella groups depend on a mixture of tried and true standards they’ve kept in their repertoires and relatively new pieces they’ve added to their repertoire over the last year or so. This combination makes good, practical sense and serves both an audience of loyal fans who expect to hear certain signature pieces, and an audience that appreciates the newer additions.

For either audience, nothing can compare to the electricity that comes with debuting a great new song. Groups tend to sing brand new material with greater verve, and there’s always the chance that the group will still change up parts or add choreography, which lends audiences the sense that they’re hearing and seeing a work in progress—that they and their reactions to the music are active parts of the  creative process. As a fan that’s a pretty cool place to be. It’s all the better when a group gets a song in “ahead of the curve” singing what will likely become an a cappella blockbuster/cliché ahead of the pack.

I love it!

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2016-03-14T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Rehearsal]]>http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/rehearsal http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/rehearsal

In this edition, the focus is <b>rehearsal</b>.

Drill, baby, drill.

While it’s still not the ordinary state of affairs, it’s also not particularly uncommon to see a group win an ICCA quarterfinal and wrap up the show with an encore that reprises one of their competition songs. I have a buddy who <i>hates</i> when groups do that, insistent that any group worthy of competing at the semifinal level should have at least four songs in its back pocket. I respectfully disagree.

Sure, I enjoy it more when a group performs something new at the end of the night, but I also maintain that a group that is serious about competing is well within its rights to pour its heart and soul into the three or four songs of the competition set. After all, if you don’t have those songs as polished as they can be, what hope do you have of <i>getting</i> to perform an encore as champions?

Group members may complain about getting bored, drilling the same twelve minutes of music over and over and over again. They may say it’s not fun anymore. And that’s fine. Preparing for competition is about hard work, and the fun of succeeding in competition is a rich reward.

Put in the hours.

Most people who sing in a cappella groups are busy. If you’re in a scholastic group, you’re balancing long days of class and homework with your obligations to your a cappella group. If you’re in a post-collegiate or semi-pro group, you’re probably squeezing in a cappella between a full-time job and time with your family and friends. And if you’re in a professional group, you’re probably working your butt off to achieve a level of performance that allows you to sing full time.

It’s perfectly understandable for a group to only rehearse for an hour or two a week under normal circumstances. But when it comes time for competition, and assembling a brief, representative set of music that will show off the very best your group has to offer, there’s really no substitute for time: spending enough time to be truly focused on the music, working as a group to the point that you <i>know</i> one another and every quirk of how the unit sings, singing enough iterations to recognize and resolve every arrangement issue or point when the tempo or blend falls apart.

Stay positive.

Yes, this post has been heavy on the concepts of focus and hard work, and those principles are important when a group prepares to compete. The risk of long hours and many iterations of the same music, though, is that group can grow dispirited. If a group loses its passion for the music or for performing together it’s <i>very</i> difficult to get an audience to feel that passion either. Great groups not only work hard but stay positive: they thank everyone for the time and effort they’re investing in the process, they focus everyone on the same goal, and they remember to have fun—still joking with one another, grabbing a bite after rehearsal, and offering to support if they see someone getting too stressed out to enjoy the experience.

How have you gotten the most out of rehearsals? Where have you seen groups go wrong? Let us know in the comments.

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2016-03-10T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Lucky Strike]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/lucky-strike http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/lucky-strike

This week, we present University of Arizona CatCall performing Maroon 5’s “Lucky Strike.”

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2016-03-08T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Spitting On Mics]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/spitting-on-mics http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/spitting-on-mics

Reason #103: Spitting on Mics

Within the culture of a cappella, there is a distinctive sub-culture of vocal percussionists who, (pun plenty-intended) march to the beat of their own drummer. One of my favorite truisms for the VP folks is that they not only can but should spit on the mic. If they’re going to make the sounds that they should be, spit is a natural byproduct. Moreover, if they’re taking care not to spit, they’re probably too concerned about how they look on stage, not on what they’re supposed to sound like.

Watching a true artist let the spit fly is a beautiful thing and an art form unto itself.

I love it!

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2016-03-07T05:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Sing Karaoke]]>http://acappellablog.com/for-your-own-good/sing-karaoke http://acappellablog.com/for-your-own-good/sing-karaoke

Telling someone in an a cappella group to sing karaoke can seem like telling a Major League Baseball player to play a game of kickball, or trying to sell Philip Roth on the idea of guest writing an episode of Gossip Girl. It’s a silly, layperson’s take on something similar to but not quite the same as what the seasoned pro is all about.

The thing is that sometimes simpler is better, and performing under the most lax conditions possible can be remarkably good for you.

Build your confidence. Singing among people who aren’t trained as such, or who don’t look upon singing as a career (or even a serious extracurricular) can help you gain some perspective on just how special your art is and how exceptional your talents are in an everyday setting.

Sing what you want to sing. A cappella groups need to think critically about song selection so they aren’t arranging songs that have been sung to death, performing something that just doesn’t translate well to a cappella, or making choices that will have a negative impact on their larger image as artists. Karaoke strips away everything that’s serious about a cappella and let’s the singer sing whatever he likes, however he likes. While engaging in song should, itself, be a pretty liberating experience, singing karaoke can underscore how often we settle for treating our passion like a job, and don’t get to do what we’d really like with our talents.

Be less careful. Karaoke is all about having fun. In my mind, the people who don’t “get” karaoke aren’t the bad singers, but rather the people who are too careful with their harmonies, diction, and tuning. A karaoke performance is the perfect time to let loose, sing like a star and rediscover what you loved about singing in the first place.

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2016-03-02T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Crave You/I Need Your Love]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/craveyou http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/craveyou

This week, we present University of Oregon Mind The Gap performing their mash up of “Crave You” by Flight Facilities, and “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding.

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2016-03-01T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[VoxMail]]>http://acappellablog.com/interviews/voxmail http://acappellablog.com/interviews/voxmail

People like convenience. They like things delivered to their door, and find them all the sweeter when they don’t have to ask for, much less order them. In the a cappella world, more and more people like original music. While covers remain a staple for most groups, the success of Grammy-award-winning Pentatonix, not to mention The Johns Hopkins University Octopodes, Centerville High School Forte, and a key subplot of Pitch Perfect 2 have all demonstrated, a cappella can thrive on original songs, and more and more of us are buying into the theory that originals are the future—that original music will pave the way for a cappella to truly break out as its own unique and fully legitimate form of music.

So how does the a cappella world meld our desire to convenience with our drive for new, original music? It turns out that VoxMail, a new service based in Phoenix, Arizona, just might have all the answers. Patrick Watson, who is heading up the new project took the time to discuss it with me.

The idea came to Watson this past holiday season. “Last December, I was looking for gifts online for my wife, and I stumbled upon recommendations to get her a gift box subscription. I ended up getting her a Birchbox subscription which mails her new beauty supplies each month, and she's loving it,” Watson said. “I have a friend who buys a Barkbox subscription where they get new dog toys each month. There's a subscription business where they send you a random vintage t-shirt every month. There is pretty much a subscription business for anything you can think of, even really obscure niches. The more I learned about the success of this emerging business model, the more I began to realize that there might be an opportunity for a cappella.”

Watson worked from the foundation of his directorship for Outside The Vox, a music-based non-profit that aims to “pay musicians for leading music programs and events for the general public and for under-served populations.” The organization boasts its own choir and a cappella group, and is aiming for VoxMail to be a major source of funding for the organization. “We wanted the service to be consistent with our non-profit's overall purpose,” Watson explained, “to serve and compensate musicians for entertaining and inspiring the public through music.”

Consistent with the non-profit’s mission, Watson does intend for VoxMail to pay contributing artists, and will need to involve a large number of artists. “We plan on having ten tracks at most on each monthly album, so that's one-hundred-twenty submissions a year, one-hundred-thirty if you count the planned specialty album for the holidays. We think we can keep getting submissions by continuing to raise the amount we pay to musicians, which we will be able to afford as more people subscribe to VoxMail.” He pointed out that, in contrast to a number of compilations and competitions, VoxMail will not charge groups to submit music, but rather carefully consider all submissions, then honor the achievement of those selected with not only inclusion on one of the organization’s releases, but also payment. The project focuses on submissions from the US not, but is accepting submissions from a cappella artists worldwide. In the longer term, Watson also discussed how the project might expand and diversify. “If VoxMail gets enough subscribers, we could start taking submissions from other original artists in other genres, and start customizing albums for subscribers based on their individual tastes. There's really no end to the musical creativity of the human imagination.”

The project will, for now, focus on original a cappella. “We see [originals] as the future of a cappella,” Watson said. While he paid proper respect to the creativity involved in and importance of covers, he went on to explain, “The human voice is one of the most incredible and flexible instruments in existence, so a cappella needn't be a mere reflection of other genres, it can be its own. As a cappella has grown in popularity, as arrangers have grown more skilled and experienced through crafting covers, as more and more musicians have access to professional-grade recording equipment and software, and as even Pentatonix has pivoted toward all-originals, we believe the moment for original a cappella is fast approaching.” Watson also explained how, both for VoxMail and artists, focusing on originals eliminated the complications that come with copyright law, and that VoxMail would plan to pay artists for limited publishing rights.

Another nuance of VoxMail is a focus on shipping hard copy CDs of their music. “I think it really says something that in an era of instant texts and emails, we actually get excited when we get a package in the mail,” Watson articulated. “For a brief moment, anything could be in there! It's that Amazon thrill! I believe that's partly why these subscription businesses are doing so well. It's fun to get something in the mail. That's it. In an era of digital downloads, how can you send music in the mail and make it exciting? CDs are the only feasible answer. CDs are not as completely obsolete as cassettes as most people still have optical drives on their desktops and laptops, but they're retro enough to carry some degree of nostalgia.” For those who prioritize having digital tracks, Watson also clarified, “VoxMail tracks will also be available to stream and download from a members-only section of the website after the physical copies have been released.” 

Readers who are interested in seeing VoxMail take off, can support the project’s Kickstarter campaign. Artists interested in VoxMail can learn more about the process of submitting material here.

You can learn more about the project at its official homepage, and follow updates on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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2016-02-29T03:30:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Kickstarter]]>http://acappellablog.com/social-networking/kickstarter http://acappellablog.com/social-networking/kickstarter

In virtually any field of entertainment or competition, the most rabid fans tend to be those who have a sense of personal investment in the people they’re cheering on. It’s the sports fans who weathered losing seasons, rain, and snow before getting to cheer their teams to championships. It’s the people who are a part of message boards and forums about a favorite TV show.

And it’s the investors.

There may be no more tangible way for a fan to support a group than by investing money into the cause. For an a cappella group, there are certainly investment opportunities—whether it’s funding the professional recording, mixing and mastering of a new album, putting money toward the travel for a tour or appearance at a far away competition, or sponsoring the special effects for a special show.

Kickstarter facilitates donations by allowing the solicitor to write about the goal, and set a level of money they need to raise in order to achieve that goal. If donors provide enough money, the project is fully funded. If the donations don’t meet the goal, no money changes hands. Groups offer incentives to investors to spur on participation.

The group that wants to use Kickstarter should think about realistic goals and base them around the actual needs of the project. There’s no point in getting greedy, but at the same time, there’s no point in not pursuing enough funding to actually accomplish what the group has said out to do.

Groups should also consider the incentives they will offer carefully. Are the incentives things that people will actually want? Are the incentives realistic and cost effective? In general, the best incentives for a cappella groups to offer are ones that will mean something to the donor that won’t really cost the group anything. A mention of the donor in your CD liner notes is an easy way to appease low stakes donors. Front row seats for one of your shows won’t cost you money, but will probably be a nice perk for a fan. A personalized performance for the donor, autographed memorabilia, or having your group record the a cappella voicemail message for someone may take a bit a bit of time but are nice low-cost returns that give your supporters something unique and special to hold onto.

Kickstarter is a fantastic way for groups to connect with their fans on practical level to raise necessary funds, while giving back something meaningful in return.

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2016-02-25T05:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Baby Boy/Destiny's Child Medley]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/baby-boy-destinys-child-medley http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/baby-boy-destinys-child-medley

This week, we present New York University APC Rhythm performing their “Baby Boy”/Destiny’s Child Medley.

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2016-02-23T00:00:00-05:00