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Andy Grammer performs his opening song 'Fine by Me' on October 30, 2017 in Templeton Blackburn Auditorium. (Meagan Hall | Photo Editor)

Q&A: Andy Grammer talks extensive songwriting method, streaming on Spotify

Andy Grammer played his hits and several new songs to a crowd of his fans in MemAud on Monday night

But before the lights went up and the 33-year-old took the stage, The Post sat down with him to talk about his upcoming third studio album, the songwriting process and the future of the industry. 

The Post: I know that you just wrapped up the leg of your tour that was in Australia and New Zealand. How was that?

Andy Grammer: It was awesome. That’s the first headlining we’ve done outside of the U.S. So, to really have a bunch of big shows with fans singing the words outside of your country is pretty cool. 

P: Did you particularly select Australia for your first international headlining?

AG: Yeah, because I have this song “Fresh Eyes” that did pretty well here streaming, but it did streaming and a big radio hit in Australia, so it made sense to go. It’s funny 'cause it’s hard to tell with streaming and radio what actually hits the culture, and over there it was undeniably a big hit. Here, it was under the radar, streamed like crazy, but didn’t necessarily hit the radio, which is kinda a funny dance.

P: Is this tour in part to generate hype for album three?

AG: I mean, we got a couple little shows. We played a show last night in Long Island that was great. And, then we’re gonna be playing on the Today Show. We’re playing a new single “Smoke Clears” and the title track of the album “The Good Parts.” That’s on Monday.

P: Are “Fresh Eyes” and “Give Love” going to be on the record?

AG: Yeah, those are both on the record. It’s funny because, I know the way that people listen to music, it’s like why make an album? But, for me, it still totally made sense and I think they all go together really well. So, I’m still excited to put out an album.

P: What’s your preferred way of listening to music?

AG: It’s probably Spotify right now. I have a lot of Spotify playlists of my favorite stuff.

P: I know there’s been a debate surrounding Spotify. Like, do they fairly compensate artists? Because when there’s new artists or indie bands, someone that’s not huge yet, they need to use Spotify for promotional reasons. So, how do you feel about that narrative surrounding streaming sites?

AG: The only way the system works, is if you have a huge smash, as the writer, you should get paid a lot. To get a song that gets streamed like 400 million times is really hard to write and is very rare. So, any system that when you get the hardest thing to get, you still don’t get paid a lot, is not good. In any art field, it’s really hard to get compensated and to create demand for what you’re doing. So, even if you create the demand, and you have a song that goes big on Spotify, sometimes, you still don’t make that much money, which is really, really tough. But I think it will eventually work itself out; I think that it has to. I try to always look at the good side of things, and so, say you’re one of these indie bands, and you’re worried you’re not getting paid. But, you also are on the same level of ability to hear it and play it, as Lady Gaga, right off the top. While being paid for the writing is not great, the level of the song winning is great. So the song, I don’t care who you are, you will get a bigger look, but it will not stay unless it’s the best song, and that’s pretty cool.

P: So publicity wise, Spotify will help?

AG: It just levels the playing field more than ever cause it’s all data driven, so the best song wins right now, which is cool. As an artist with some name recognition, having had a bunch of songs on the radio, in an older model, I might be able to use that leverage to create hits. Not forever, but you get a little more leniency. You look at different people that are huge acts right now and they put out music. If it doesn’t connect, you can see it the day after on the Spotify skip rates and it’s like, ‘Well, let’s get another song in there.’ And that’s terrifying and fair, so I’m kind of for that. We just need to figure out how to get the writers paid.

P: So, did you write your new record, production wise, in a similar way to the techniques that were used on the first two records, or did you change it up and try to fit the trends right now? Or did you just do what you thought sounded good?

AG: For me, the most important thing is the song. So, like, does the song capture something about my life or the universal life that we all relate to? I wrote 115 songs for this album, and, in my opinion, all 13 have that piece. Then, from that place I move forward and start to have fun producing it and figuring out, ‘OK, what does it need to sound like? Does it need to have choir on it? Does it need to have trap drums? Does it need to be completely live? Should it just be a lone, electric guitar? All those things are on the album, but really the most important thing is like, what’s the song?’ And then let’s dress it up the way it needs to be dressed up. 

P: So, how does the selection process go? When you have your initial pool of 115 songs that you wrote, how do you narrow it down?

AG: The only chance you have in this business is when you really light somebody up, or somebody gets excited. It’s gotta be all the way high on the richter scale or it’s nothing. You’re hunting for unicorns. If that’s not present, good f--king luck making any money, having anyone want to come see you. And I like that — that’s a fun challenge. That’s why I write 115 — to see if I can get it.


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