Ketch A Vibe: Diversifying a Career

On BBC Cymru/ Wales

One of the people with whom I have had repeated discussions in the past year about music and the business of making money is Cardiff's Claire Simone. She's a jazz and soul singer with almost two decades' experience and a lot of fans including BBC 6 Music's Craig Charles.

Good friends, good reputation and a pair of powerfully smoky lungs isn't enough though, and she's vocal about the problems she has making a living out of her music. Read her blog entry 'The seemingly impossible dream to be able to earn a living through making music'.

But she's ever-positive, and she's doing something that musicians are being advised to look into these days: diversifying. Conventionally, this might be to 'open up revenue streams' - self-publish, go into promoting, that kind of thing - but it doesn't have to be.

Simone has turned a passion for music into an internet radio show that has given her an outlet for playing tracks she loves, and also - in a round-about fashion - increased her own profile.

Aja And Claire's Ketch A Vibe is the brainchild of Simone and Anthony Aja Allsop, "a self-confessed soul boy from London's East End". In the world of the internet, so much stuff gets lost, but Ketch A Vibe ("recorded on the top of a mountain in Caerphilly"), with its eclectic music policy and concentration on new, independent and unsigned artists, is punching above its weight.

It's been picked up and syndicated by radio stations across the world and the UK, including in Las Vegas, Birmingham, Montenegro, London and Lithuania. In addition, they've become regular guests on more radio stations also internationally.

"Getting involved with radio has definitely helped raise my profile," she says. "We do not focus on me, or indeed my music, in our shows; it is about exposing all new music, but I do get the opportunity to play my tracks and of course plug my website!

"The job of networking, building contacts and potential working relationships is one of the most difficult things when you're an independent artist. Aja and I receive new music every day from artists and producers from around the world. Having this direct link and contact with them has given me the opportunity to seek out people I could work with and discuss possibilities.

"It has broadened my horizons and subsequently am currently working on projects with a number of great producers here in the UK and the US."

Thinking tangentially about music and the way it can be disseminated is now part of an artist's armoury. It might not add revenue straight away, but it can't be bad to widen your contact base and pool ideas can it?

You can watch Aja and Claire invite submissions and interaction on YouTube (caution: contains adult themes).

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Anthony "Aja" Allsop