Shannon Hope is one of the best examples we can think of when it comes to “how to make it as an indie musician in South Africa”. Shannon is hard-working and manages all aspects of her career – from writing songs to booking gigs to marketing and using the online sphere to enhance her own unique and awesome brand of “art pop”, as she calls it. Check the interview with her below.
Name: Shannon Hope
Family: I’m the youngest of 6 children and love being part of a big, crazy family!
Hometown: Umhlanga Rocks
What’s your musical background?
I started playing the piano when I was 6 and was apparently singing before I could talk, so music has always been a big part of my life. I was trained classically throughout school and joined my first band during my first year at ‘varsity, playing keys and singing backing vocals. I fronted a rock band for about 5 years in my early 20s, and after a few years break from the professional music scene, recorded a solo album in 2009 and have been fulltime and on the road ever since.
How does Shannon Hope use the online sphere to aid your musical career?
The best thing about the digital age is that independent artists have direct access to their audience (a much wider, easily accessible audience), keeping them informed with updates, news, reviews, tour dates and releases. It has empowered musicians and turned their audience into a virtual record company, maximising exposure on a much more personal level than ever before. Aside from the direct-to-fan marketing potential that these online platforms offer, fans act as a virtual street team, sharing content on your behalf, which is an incredibly powerful tool. I use my website as the main source of up-to-date information about my career, channelling additional, more personalised information through my mailing list, blog and platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It has definitely aided the promotion and marketing of my releases and performances around the country and I set aside time every day to interact with the people around the world who are now listening to my music as a result.
You are now sponsored by Kawai Pianos. For up-and-coming musicians who are interested in getting sponsorship, what advice would you give them?
Kawai have been incredible and it is such an honour to be a part of their team in South Africa. I think the most important thing when seeking out sponsorships and endorsements is to ensure that you approach only the brands you truly believe in. It’s very hard to promote something that has no real value to you or your career, but representing a brand that you couldn’t live without is easy. Do your homework. Find out about the brand, what they stand for and what market they are targeting, and figure out what you can offer them in return for their investment. It’s important to build up some kind of reputation before you approach anyone – if you are performing often and are putting in the work to build up your own brand, then it becomes more likely that potential sponsors will take you seriously and take an interest in what you’re doing and what you can offer.
Your new album arrives soon, which many of us are looking forward to. How do you maximise marketing yourself as an indie solo act?
Perform, network and market as much and as often as possible. There are so many online networks that empower me to market and sell my brand, and being available and active in as many of those portals as possible ensures maximum exposure to a worldwide audience. Maintaining an active touring schedule is imperative to my strategy as this keeps my profile fresh in the minds of my audience across the country (with potential for some international touring on the horizon as well). Over the past two years I’ve sourced distribution channels for my first release and will continue to add additional stores with the new release to increase this worldwide exposure.
What does a typical working week consist of for Shannon Hope?
The great thing about this job is that no week is ever the same, so it depends entirely on the week! Having wrapped up the new record in studio, these days I’m spending a lot of my time behind my new Kawai Stage Piano! When I’m not touring, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes admin going on (very often 9-12 hour days), booking tours and managing the day-to-day business side of things. I do some voice over work when I’m in Durban, so I get to spend some time in studio as well. The rest of my time is spent on the road, driving around this insanely beautiful country performing every night (my favourite kind of days!).
Who or what is the most important thing to you?
Describe your ideal weekend.
Friday night show (performing or watching); sleeping in on a Saturday morning or if I’m in Cape Town, a trip to the Old Biscuit Mill; Saturday afternoon braai with mates; sleeping in on a Sunday morning; chilling out watching movies with a home-cooked meal on a Sunday night. I have friends and family scattered around the country so no matter where I am, I can share a bottle of bubbly (or two) with my favourite people.