Eckoes has built a blossoming career by following her instincts. Now, alongside the Featured Artist Coalition, she’s trying to help others do the same, disproving the notion that financial viability and creative fullment are mutually exclusive. From a young age, the British artist has been determined to write her own story, rejecting any form of categorisation. What’s resulted is a one-woman powerhouse who writes charting hits as deftly as she leads political rallies. Those who stand in her way—and the FAC’s—can expect a fight to the finish.
“The collective voice and community we provide is invaluable to preserving the music industry,” Eckoes tells us. “We’re fighting for issues important to musicians that don't get much press, like lobbying Parliament to save small music venues or get songwriters adequately paid. For years, musicians have been kept slightly isolated, often in bad deals under the guise of competition with each other, so there was no unified power to change anything. The FAC is combatting that."
Eckoes’ no-holds-barred approach shines through her music. “Black & Red,” the AWAL artist’s most recent release, melds fringe and accessible, spawning an adventurous structure reflective of its maker—”unapologetically free of constraints,” in her own words. Already championed by BBC 6 Music and Record of the Day, the song is a surefire must-listen for any fan of The Weeknd’s legendary 2011 mixtape run. Indie Shuffle, Clash Mag, and Grammy-winning producer Naughty Boy have taken note. Personal accolades don’t hurt, but Eckoes’ passion extends to something much bigger.
“There’s this misconception that artists have two options,” she says. “You’re either ‘signed’ or you’re ‘floundering.’ There’s a burgeoning new space that’s making it possible to run yourself like a business. It’s just that my end product is this beautiful thing called music.”
This antiquated understanding of artistry as profession—what many consider a pipe dream requiring unhealthy business dealings to succeed—fast approaches its final expiration date. Who better than creators to accelerate our industry’s shift to the future?
“[We have all of our FAC events revolve around] peer-to-peer learning. It's run by artists for artists, so you can speak to real people currently living their advice, rather than someone who works for a certain company and has to say a certain thing, but who also has no idea what it’s like to be a musician.”
Artist Entrepreneur Day held in June 2018 feat. Eckoes
“I’m part of the team creating the Artist Entrepreneur Days,” she tells us. “We meet up at the FAC’s offices and go through which areas of the industry we’d like to shed more light on for independent artists—from copyright to royalties, to booking gigs to social media—it’s a real 360 approach. Then at the AE Days, myself and the other Advocate Artists will grill representatives from PR, management, booking, labels, asking questions real artists want to know, in front of a room full of indie artists.”
Thousands have joined the FAC off the strength of its leaders and the value-add they offer. Imogen Heap serves as Artist-in-Residence and Chief Creative Officer; Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Blur’s Dave Rowntree sit on the Board of Directors; and Sandie Shaw is the honorary president. Between strong enrollment numbers and high-profile supporters, the group has managed to accumulate international traction, influencing policy makers while contributing to campaigns at home and abroad that call for creative futures.The amplification of artists’ voices in music business and policy debates (long dominated by traditional institutions), is critical for the betterment of the creative community.
Lucie Caswell, Chief Executive of the Featured Artist Coalition (FAC)
“Our end game is to improve and enhance the environment for artists, at all stages of their careers,” says Caswell, speaking on her company’s mission to supply members with invaluable services, ranging from pro bono legal advice to online courses and peer support. “Unfair deals, opaque accounting, mismanagement and barriers to the market should all be things of the past and we strive to make sure that they are. Artists are innovators and we collectively work for a progressive and healthy future for music”
It takes collaboration across company lines and country borders to ensure a healthier future for artists everywhere. While recent progress suggests steps in the right direction, transparency is far from standard.
Artists of all shapes and sizes, Eckoesincluded, benefit from hand-in-hand progress toward fairer rights, clearer deals, accessible networking and reliable education. The FAC and AWAL wholly align in their proven belief that innovation and a collaborative indie model are eminently viable with the right tools and the right team. Together, we aim to accelerate the widespread acceptance of better business practices in music towards a flourishing and sustainable industry
“It’s very important to us that we’re consistently supporting our members with opportunities for them to grow both as musicians and as creative entrepreneurs,” Paul Hitchman, President of AWAL, says. “Our partnerships with Music Ally, the MMF and now the FAC, are testament to our belief that being an independent artist doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.”
“AWAL brings professional, accessible, transparent solutions for growing artists to manage careers and get paid for their work,” Caswell adds. “AWAL can support those growing artists and we can evolve together to support an environment where artists are partners not just product”
AWAL members will receive discounted access to the FAC, unlocking a suite of resources that artists at every career stage will find worthwhile. There’s no need for creators to ever feel isolated or confused. Eckoes puts it best: “DIY stands for ‘Do It Your Way,’ not ‘Do It Yourself.’
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