Brandon Zahursky, aka RIVVRS, joins us to discuss how to make it as a musician, how he makes money in today's music industry, and his advice for aspiring musicians. RIVVRS: Brandon is currently based in Los Angeles but is from San Francisco. He describes how he got started in music when he was younger thanks to Barney. He later got into AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and classic rock before switching to acoustic guitar. How did he learn guitar? By sitting alone and watching Youtube videos. For the first year and a half as a musician, he lived on friends' couches before meeting his manager 5 years ago. Music has been his full-time job for the last 2 years. While focusing on his music, he took a seasonal job at a winery to make ends meet until he was able to pursue music full-time. Writing "I Will Follow You" and having it placed on the show "About a Boy" proved to be RIVVRS' big break and encouraged him to quit his job. When does being a musician become more expensive? On longer tours when you have to go further from home (paying for gas and hotels). Brandon views touring as a promotional tool, not necessarily as a way to make money. What advice would he give to an aspiring musician? Record labels are dying and won't give you a good deal unless you already have a following. Spotify streams are the best way to get noticed (and pay better than many people think). Brandon explains the difference between "Masters Rights" and "Publishing Rights". Get placements in television/film/and video games. Brandon/RIVVRS accomplishes this by having management companies represent him and place his songs (these royalties are referred to as "mailbox money" as the checks accumulate and arrive in the mail). How has living in Los Angeles helped his music career? Originally from the Bay Area/Napa, L.A. is a faster atmosphere than what he would like. But living in L.A. (or Nashville) is extremely important in making connections and being successful in the music industry. RIVVRS has been able to work with more like-minded people and meet more artists/publishers than he would in another city. He would like to live in Nashville eventually, as it would allow him to escape work a little bit more. We learn about the future of RIVVRS and the plans for his next album/potential double EP. How does Brandon differentiate RIVVRS from his competitors? He credits drive as the biggest factor in those who make it in the music industry vs. those who don't get the notoriety. He also believes in slowly building (as Miley Cyrus said - "It's The Climb"). Brandon defines his genre as "Indiecoustica", but enjoys making wide-ranging music that doesn't fit in a box to stay interesting. What does a "typical" day/week look like as a professional musician? Right now, since he's not on tour, Brandon is able to relax and enjoy his downtime. He tries to always start his day early to be more productive. Tip: Brandon sets a timer for 2-3 hours and focuses on playing guitar/songwriting for the entire time without interruption. Last call questions and answers: What advice would your 60-year-old self give you today? You can't make everybody happy, so don't try so hard to make everybody happy. The best thing you have spent money on in the past 6 months: Guitar - Martin D41 2012 Volkswagon Tiguan What media do you recommend: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston Serial podcast And the Writer Is... College Radio stations Song Exploder Favorite thing to drink: Magnolia Brewing Kalifornia Kolsch Montucky Cold Snacks Cider and Jameson Favorite city: New York City Missoula, Montana Pine Creek Lodge in Paradise Valley, Montana Portland, Oregon and Bend, Oregon Special shoutouts and show notes: Jameson Irish Whiskey The National Parks Michael Franti
Be sure to learn more about Brandon and RIVVRS by checking him out at rivvrs.com and on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Also, make sure to buy his new album, Cosmic Dream, in 2018.
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THROUGH COMPELLING SONGS AND CHARISMATIC PERFORMANCES, SINGER-SONGWRITER RIVVRS RADIATES AN ENDEARING AND OPTIMISTIC VISION. HIS MUSIC CONNECTS THE AUTHENTICITY OF AMERICANA WITH THE ACCESSIBILITY OF POP, FRAMED BY THE ARTIST’S EMPATHIC VOICE AND EMINENTLY APPROACHABLE SONGCRAFT.
HIS LATEST FULL-LENGTH COSMIC DREAM IS DUE FOR A 2018 RELEASE, AND THE LEAD SINGLE FROM THE PROJECT “DON’T GIVE UP ON ME” IS NOW AVAILABLE ON SPOTIFY AND OTHER LISTENING PLATFORMS. WHILE MAINTAINING AN EXTENSIVE PERFORMING AND TOURING CALENDAR, RIVVRS PREVIOUSLY TRACKED THE EP HOLD ON, A FULL-LENGTH RELEASE UNFAMILIAR SKIN, AND A VARIETY OF SINGLES TO AUGMENT THESE PROJECTS. NOW CO-PRODUCING HIS NEXT RELEASE IN UTAH WITH JOSHUA JAMES, HE SAYS THAT COLLABORATING WITH OTHER SONGWRITERS IS FULFILLING. “MUSIC IS A CONNECTION, AND IF YOU'RE THE ONLY FORCE IT DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK. CO-WRITING IS WHERE I CAN GET OUT OF MY HEAD AND OPEN THE CREATIVITY UP INTO A PLACE I WON'T ARRIVE ON MY OWN."
A NORTHERN CALIFORNIA NATIVE NOW RESIDING IN LOS ANGELES, RIVVRS -- NÉE BRANDON ZAHURSKY – HAS OVER 30 SONG PLACEMENTS ON NETWORK TELEVISION SHOWS, AND OVER EIGHT MILLION SPOTIFY STREAMS. BEGINNING WITH HIS DEBUT SINGLE “I WILL FOLLOW YOU,” WRITTEN INTO THE SCRIPT OF AN EPISODE OF ABOUT A BOY IN 2014, THESE ONGOING SYNC USAGES ALLOW FOR A FULL TIME LIVING AS A MUSICAL PROFESSIONAL. “IT’S BEEN A REAL PRIVILEGE TO CONTINUE WITHOUT HAVING TO GRIND,” HE SAYS.
BUOYED BY AN ANIMATED ONSTAGE CHARM, HE COMMANDS AUDIENCES WITH JUST HIS VOICE AND AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR, BUT HE BELIEVES THAT HIS SONGS SHINE WITH A FULL BAND. “I LOVE PLAYING MUSIC WITH PEOPLE. TO ME, THAT’S WHERE THE CONNECTION AND CHEMISTRY COME IN, AND WHERE THE SONGS OPEN UP.”
HIS EARLY YEARS WERE SPENT MOVING WITH HIS BLENDED FAMILY ACROSS CALIFORNIA, WASHINGTON AND OREGON, THEN BACK TO THE BAY. IT WAS A NONTRADITIONAL UPBRINGING. HE REMEMBERS AT ONE POINT STAYING IN A HALFWAY HOUSE WITH HIS PARENTS, A SHELTER WHERE ADDICTS COULD GET CLEAN.
RAISED ON CLASSIC ROCK COURTESY OF HIS FATHER, RIVVRS SAYS THAT VISUAL MEDIUMS WERE INVALUABLE IN HIS DISCOVERY OF MUSIC; ESPECIALLY SINGER-SONGWRITERS WITH SONGS ON TELEVISION SHOWS. “I DIDN’T SET OUT TO MAKE PLACEABLE MUSIC, BUT BECAUSE IT’S WHAT I LIKE AND LISTEN TO, AS I BEGAN WRITING I HAD A SIMPLE WAY OF STRUCTURING SONGS THAT APPLIES,” HE RECALLS.
PRIOR TO HIS FULL-TIME CAREER AS AN ARTIST, RIVVRS WORKED IN THE WINE INDUSTRY. LEAVING TO TRAVEL WITH A FRIEND, HE COUCH SURFED, PLAYED HOUSE CONCERTS, AND WAS PERFORMING AT A COFFEEHOUSE IN SAN LUIS OBISPO WHEN ANOTHER ARTIST RECOMMENDED THAT HE ATTEND THE DURANGO SONGWRITERS EXPO NEAR SANTA BARBARA. IT WAS HERE THAT HE CAME TO THE ATTENTION OF THE HOLLYWOOD MUSIC SUPERVISION COMMUNITY.
MOVING TO A NEW CITY, RIVVRS SAYS THAT HE HAS SPENT VALUABLE TIME BALANCING THE EXPECTATIONS AND THE REALITIES IN THE CITY OF THE ANGELS. WHILE HE APPRECIATES THE CREATIVE ENERGY OF HOLLYWOOD, HE IS RELOCATING OVER THE HILL TO THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, WHERE GREEN SPACE IS MORE PREVALENT. “I AM AT THIS POINT WHERE THERE IS SUCH A SILVER LINING -- SO MUCH CHANGE, AND THE OPPORTUNITIES TO MEET SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE,” HE CONFIRMS.
AS HE NOW EXPANDS HIS AUDIENCE THROUGH SUCCESSIVE NATIONAL TOURS, RIVVRS MOVES INTO A NEW PHASE IN HIS CREATIVE FUTURE. “I SPENT THE ACCUMULATION OF MY YOUNG ADULT YEARS CATCHING UP, AND REALIZING THAT I COULD BE THE PERSON I WANT TO BE,” HE SAYS. AND HE BELIEVES THAT INTERPRETATION IS THE POWER BEHIND HIS MUSIC. “I HOPE PEOPLE LISTEN TO THE SONGS THAT I HAVE, AND CAN SOMEHOW HEAR WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THEIR OWN LIVES. EVERYONE WANTS TO FEEL A CONNECTION.”