A couple of days ago, we had the pleasure to sit down and have interview the ‘biggest independent band on the planet’ – Boyce Avenue. The band, whose new album ‘Road Less Travelled’ came out on April 15th, have accumulated over 2.4 billion views since starting their channel back in 2007 and have covered some of the biggest artists on the planet.
We spoke with Daniel (bass, percussion, vocals) about the amazing journey Boyce Avenue have been on all thanks to their early fame on the digital platform, as well as diving deep into the topic of music and creativity on a website striving to allow every voice to be heard. You can find the whole interview below plus a link to their 200 million strong Spotify stream right here!
WTU: First of all, congratulations to everyone involved with Boyce Avenue for holding the Guinness World Record for the ‘Biggest Independent Band On The Planet On YouTube’! Are there actually other records you’d like to break?
Daniel: You know, we would like to be the first independent band to sell out Royal Albert Hall, and hopefully that’ll happen next year.
WTU: No doubt about it! So, if Boyce Avenue got chance to collaborate with any other artist on the planet, past or present, who would you guys love to work with?
Daniel: I’d say Michael Jackson, because I just think he’s so versatile and he was just so incredibly gifted, both as a figure and a musician. I just think it’d be phenomenal to have been able to work with him.
WTU: Wow, what an amazing choice. What kind of songs do you think you’d like to re-do with him? One of yours? One of his?
Daniel: Oh man, I would have loved to have just done like an original together, some sort of collaboration.
WTU: Talking about music; what do you think about the music scene on YouTube right now?
Daniel: I think there’ll be more breakout artists… I don’t think that we’ve reached that saturation point where you’ve seen everything that you’re going to see. I think YouTube is really hitting its stride and people are just enjoying the freedom and liberty of being able to search for what they want, when they want. So long as people are excited to do that and continue to share things on social media there’s always the opportunity for other talented artists to get recognised and noticed.
WTU: Is there anyone that you have your eyes on in YouTube at the moment?
Daniel: We were really into Hannah Trigwell and Jasmine Thompson last year – actually both of whom are from the UK! We just got so busy with the album and trying to get ready for tour that we haven’t kept up so much lately on the new music scene.
WTU: That’s fair enough! So obviously you started your music career on YouTube – but how you think the platform has changed the music industry at? Has it changed for better or for worse?
Daniel: I do think it’s changed. I think it’s kind of democratised the whole thing a little more, mystified it a little bit as well. It used to be very difficult to understand what ‘making it’ meant and how you could ‘make it’ [big].
WTU: What do you think has opened up the industry so much then?
Daniel: I think now everything is [all about] Pandora, Spotify, YouTube. All the new technology has blown things open so that there are a multitude of ways you can get recognised or noticed or appreciated for your music. There’s not just one path and I think it’s a great thing.
WTU: We agree! So, what’s the secret to Boyce Avenue’s success?
Daniel: There was the moment right when we got of the label. A few months [after we signed with a major label] we felt trapped and really misunderstood and under-appreciated and like we made a mistake. Fast forward another 7-10 months after that, finally getting off of the label became a very liberating and exciting moment for us.
WTU: That’s a huge step – what did you do next on YouTube that worked so well for Boyce Avenue?
Daniel: When we went back to doing what we had been doing on YouTube, we did it with renewed passion and it just exploded for us. I think it was those few months, getting off the label and then noticing that what we were doing before was what we should have been doing all along – that was the lesson that was most important and most pivotal for us as a band and has helped continually affirm for us that being independent and doing it our own way is what we should be doing. We’re very grateful for that lesson.
WTU: Do you think this is a problem that a lot of ‘YouTube artists’ have?
Daniel: It’s widespread among YouTube artists of any genre and not just in music. There is this sort of schizophrenic tendency that I think is completely normal. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished through new media, but also still having the longings or ties to the traditional ways.
WTU: Perhaps then this is an issue all digital media stars have when it comes to a transition into the mainstream. Do you agree?
Daniel: For a lot of YouTubers, if a TV opportunity or record label opportunity comes up, they’ll turn their back on what made them famous and in a few rare cases it will really work – Justin Bieber for example. But in the vast majority of cases, people will end up regretting it. Their channels will languish from neglect. When whatever it was they were pursuing in the more traditional sense doesn’t pan out, it’s often a rude awakening. We went through it, people are still gong through it.
WTU: When YouTube celebrities go into the mainstream media, do you feel that the phrase ‘YouTube Sensation’ is a blessing or a curse?
Daniel: This is something that my colleagues are divided on. A lot of people argue that we need to drop the word ‘YouTube’. I think it’s cool because at the end of the day, it’s embracing the reality that this is all very new and that people are just getting used to the idea and learning about it.
WTU: Do you think we’ll ever move past audiences needing to know a particular artist comes from YouTube?
Daniel: It’s an education process. This is where the young kids are going and this is what they’re turning to. This is what they relate to and if it takes tagging on the phrase ‘YouTube Sensation’ for the older generation to start to understand, then I think that’s of value.
WTU: Thank you so much, Daniel!
Boyce Avenue’s brand new album ‘Road Less Travelled’ is out now, and you can check out their latest single ‘Be Somebody’ over on their YouTube channel. You can see more of Boyce Avenue when they kick start their 25-date tour of the US and Canada later on in the year.