With all the recent talk of music streaming services and the issue of artist royalties, inspired predominantly by the dispute between Taylor Swift and Spotify, it’s fitting that singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson would come through town this weekend. After all, Hutchinson owes a lot of his popularity to the Internet, so he’s a vocal cheerleader for accessibility to music on the Web.
“I’ve been pretty outspoken that I support Spotify and streaming sites – that’s how I listen to music and how most people are starting to listen to their music,” Hutchinson said. “I think once everybody is doing it, we’ll figure out the right way to make sure that artists are getting paid correctly. But my job is to write songs and put them out there and make sure everyone can hear them.”
Back in 2007, Hutchinson found himself without a label – he had been signed with Madonna’s Maverick Records, but it quickly folded – and he was forced to release his debut record “Sounds Like This” independently. Internet personality Perez Hilton got ahold of the album and recommended it on his blog, and Hutchinson instantly found himself on the iTunes charts and was soon signed with Warner Bros. Records (which, coincidentally, had previously owned Maverick).
“It was a fantastic week or two,” Hutchinson said of the sudden online attention. “It was an interesting time, kind of like lightning striking. … It really put a spotlight on this album I had just finished and it got the wheels moving. But after that, it went back to nobody really paying attention anymore. So I hit the road and toured for 2 1/2 years promoting that album.”
Hutchinson’s most recent album, “Pure Fiction,” is glossier and poppier than his previous work. It’s heavy on bright, catchy hooks, and Hutchinson blends his soulful, intimate, Jason Mraz-like vibe with bouncy guitar-synth melodies and anthemic, earwormy choruses. One of the only things “Pure Fiction” really has in common with his debut is that it was also independently recorded and released.
“There’s a lot less red tape doing it this way,” Hutchinson said. “My second album (2012’s ‘Moving Up Living Down’) was delayed for about a year and a half after I made it because of a lot of things out of my control – record label politics and stuff like that. So with this album, I just wanted to make it and put it out to the people. And it’s been really nice.”
For Hutchinson, it’s all about adaptation. The conventional methods for recording and producing an album have changed and continue to evolve, and Hutchinson plans to change right along with them.
“I don’t think I could have made this album before,” he says of “Pure Fiction.” “There were some growing pains involved with making it. I grew up a traditionalist – I love the Beatles and Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon – and I felt there was a certain way to make and record music. It took me awhile to realize that those albums are 40 or 50 years old, and those people wouldn’t make music the same way now. It was really trying to figure out how songwriting has changed and how do I still maintain that classic songwriter role but still figuring out how it works in 2014.”
But what’s most important to Hutchinson is that his music is heard, whether it be on Spotify, on CD or at one of his shows.
“It’s an interesting time right now,” he said. “I feel like there’s no right way to put out an album, just like there’s no right way to hear about music. To me, it’s exciting as an artist, because I’m really interested in trying to break the rules and not make music the way it’s been made for the last 50 years. I’m just looking for new ways to be surprised.”
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