Star Spot with Austin Hopkins, singer-songwriter
From Musical Milestones to Digital Landscapes: Rising star, Austin Hopkins
Welcome to this episode of Star Spot! I’m Merry, and in this series, I interview InterContinental Music Awards winners and insiders, bringing you exclusive insights into the music industry. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me Austin Hopkins, InterContinental Music Awards winner, whose remarkable musical journey has captivated audiences around the world.
As an independent singer-songwriter hailing from the vibrant suburbs of Chicago, Austin Hopkins’s talent shines through with a fusion of country twang and modern pop sensibilities, crafting a distinctive sound that resonates with listeners on a profound level.
Driven by his passion for music, Austin Hopkins ‘s path took an unexpected turn when he became a single dad at the young age of 23. It was during this transformative period that he found solace and inspiration in the strings of a guitar, turning to songwriting as a powerful outlet for the challenges and triumphs of everyday life. In 2009, Austin Hopkins made a bold move by entering a local radio contest, introducing the world to his soul-stirring original song, “Beauty In The Breakdown.” This pivotal moment marked the beginning of an extraordinary musical odyssey.
Austin’s single, “Right Now,” has garnered widespread acclaim and continues to climb independent radio charts across the globe. With introspection and emotional depth, the song delves into the intricate complexities of timing in relationships and the arduous struggle of yearning for someone when the stars don’t align.
With each new composition, Austin Hopkins inches closer to his ultimate dream of becoming a professional songwriter in the heart of Nashville, the bustling capital of country music. Fueled by his unwavering talent and unyielding dedication, Austin Hopkins is steadily making strides towards achieving this aspiration, poised to share his unique sound with a broader audience hungry for authenticity and meaningful storytelling. Join us as we unravel the inspiring journey of Austin Hopkins, as he candidly discusses his challenges, inspirations, and the remarkable path that led him to the pinnacle of the music competition scene.
Let’s dive right into the interview summary and tap into Austin Hopkins’ vast knowledge and experience. The full interview is available on Instagram – click here to check it out.
How have you been and what have you been up to lately?
I’ve been doing well, keeping busy with a multitude of live shows in my area. Being from Chicago, Illinois, there are plenty of local venues where I’ve been performing. Additionally, I’ve been heavily engaged on TikTok, as it has become a major focus for me alongside my live performances. Speaking of TikTok, I remember reaching out to you there amidst a flurry of messages, and I must say, it was an incredible experience seeing the enthusiastic response from the audience. However, TikTok has had its ups and downs for me.
A few months ago, there was a phase where it would get busy, but only with around 40 viewers or so. Then, all of a sudden, I felt like I was shadow-banned, as my videos and live streams struggled to gain views, with only about 15 people tuning in. It was quite frustrating, so I decided to take a month off. I refrained from posting and going live, hoping for a reset. And you know what? It actually worked! I came back with a determination to try out different things during my live sessions, and to my delight, TikTok started picking up again, generating a surge of engagement.
What have you been up to? Are you working on anything new? Should we be excited to hear any good news?
Well, I’ve been quite busy lately. Last year, I took the time to record some new music, but I held it back for a while. My intention was to build up my Spotify followers and make sure everything was in place. However, I’m thrilled to announce that on May 1st, I will be releasing my brand new music. Yes, you heard it here first! May 1st is the date to mark on your calendars. I wanted to ensure that everything was perfectly prepared for this interview, so I made sure all the pieces were in place. Rest assured, on May 1st, my new track called “When Her Back Will Be” will be available for everyone to enjoy. It’s an exciting moment, and I can’t wait to share this music with you all.
How long did it take for you to finalize this song?
This song is actually one that I wrote quite a while ago, back in 2018 or 2019, to be precise. It’s been sitting in my repertoire for some time. As many songwriters do, I accumulate a collection of songs, never really knowing which ones will resonate with listeners. So, I played this particular song for a couple of people, and their positive response encouraged me to take it further.
I made the decision to record it, and last summer, I headed down to Nashville to bring it to life. During that recording session, I also worked on another song. Since then, I’ve been patiently holding onto these recordings. But now, I feel the time has come to release them to the world. It’s an exciting moment, and I’m thrilled to finally share this song with everyone.
What do you hope your listeners take away from your music, especially considering its relatability? And as an independent artist, how have you sustained your career?
My hope is that when listeners engage with my music, they find it relatable. Most, if not all, of my songs revolve around relationships. Whether it’s the excitement of a new connection, the challenges of letting go, or navigating through a rough patch, these are experiences that almost everyone goes through. I write songs that I couldn’t find elsewhere, aiming to capture those specific moments and emotions. By sharing my own stories, I hope to provide a sense of relatability and connection to my audience.
As an independent artist, sustaining my career has been a challenge. I must be honest and say that I work part-time jobs to support myself. While I wish I could devote all my time to music, the reality is that I have two additional jobs. Balancing these responsibilities can be incredibly demanding.
For aspiring independent artists, I would highly recommend acquiring diverse skills. Take classes in music production, photography, and video editing. The music industry has evolved, and being a talented singer is no longer enough to get discovered. You need to be a complete package. Producing your own music is crucial because releasing songs can be expensive.
In fact, that’s one of the factors that has held me back from releasing all the songs I’ve written. It can cost up to two thousand dollars per song, and as a part-time artist without significant income from streams or music sales, it becomes a challenge. Last year, despite my songs being streamed, I only made around a hundred dollars. So, being an independent artist requires knowing how to do it all—music production, promotion, and managing various aspects of your career—to make an impact in the industry.
Can you talk about a particular memorable moment you had while performing live? How did it feel, and where did it take place?
There are actually two distinct moments that come to mind—one filled with joy and the other a bit disheartening. Every artist, I believe, goes through these ups and downs.
Let’s start with the positive. One memorable moment was during a live show where I could feel the energy in the room. Despite not being a touring artist, I often perform at smaller venues like bars and restaurants. Typically, I serve as background music, blending into the ambiance. However, on this occasion, something magical happened. As I started singing, I noticed the audience becoming completely engaged. Their attention shifted from casual conversations to the music, and they began showing their appreciation by requesting songs and even dropping tips into the bucket. It was a truly incredible feeling, knowing that my music was resonating with them, and their enthusiastic response fueled my performance.
Now, on the flip side, there’s the not-so-great experience that many musicians can relate to. It’s the moment when you pour your heart into a song, hitting every note flawlessly, only to be met with silence at the end. It’s when you look out into the crowd and realize that nobody is paying attention or showing any response. The absence of applause or acknowledgment can be quite disheartening, leaving you with a sense of disappointment.
It’s challenging to pinpoint a single moment because these experiences can happen at various venues and times. However, what truly stands out for me is the connection I feel with the audience when they actively listen and engage, and conversely, the struggle of performing when met with indifference. These contrasting moments shape the journey of a musician, reminding us that the live music experience is unpredictable but always worth pursuing.
Has you’re the music industry evolved over the years? Has it improved or worsened? What is your take on it?
Absolutely, my music career has evolved over the past few years. Looking at it from around 2016 onwards, there have been significant changes in the industry. Back then, iTunes was a popular platform where people would download and pay for music. However, with the rise of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, the landscape has transformed. While there are pros and cons to this shift, I believe it has both positive and negative implications.
On the positive side, streaming platforms provide an opportunity for independent artists like myself to reach a wider audience. It allows more people to discover and listen to my music. However, the downside is that the revenue generated from streaming is relatively low. Artists don’t make as much money compared to the traditional model of selling albums or downloads.
One notable change that has influenced the industry is the emergence of TikTok. It has played a significant role in empowering independent artists and reshaping the dynamics of the music business. Many artists have gained recognition and built their careers by leveraging TikTok’s platform. They are no longer solely dependent on record labels’ approval and can establish themselves as their own brand. This newfound freedom has opened doors for independent artists to book their own tours, perform in various cities, and cultivate their own fan base.
While some artists eventually sign with labels, the difference now is that they already have a built-in fan base and a proven track record of success. This allows them to negotiate more favorable terms and retain creative control. TikTok has proven to be a game-changer by democratizing the industry and providing artists with the opportunity to showcase their talent and reach a broader audience.
However, it’s important to note that succeeding as an independent artist still requires a diverse skill set. Alongside producing music, artists need to be proficient in creating compelling video content, engaging with their audience, and finding innovative ways to stand out. I personally experienced the power of TikTok when one of my videos, where my son completed the chorus of my song, went viral. This viral moment helped me gain over 50,000 followers. It taught me the value of finding unique ways to capture attention and connect with fans.
Have you considered collaborating with other InterContinental Music Awards artists or winners?
Yes, absolutely! I’ve thought about collaborating with other ICMA artists and winners, and it’s something I would love to do. The main challenge is finding the right timing for both parties involved. One artist I’m particularly interested in collaborating with is Tracy Cruz. She was the winner in the R&B category, and I think it would be fantastic to create a crossover project together. However, I understand that she has a hectic schedule, and I’m quite busy myself. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that one day we’ll be able to figure out a way to make it happen. Fingers crossed!
What advice do you have for aspiring new musicians, considering the current music landscape with platforms like Spotify and TikTok?
My advice would be to stay true to yourself and be original. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to imitate others or follow trends, but it’s important to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Find your unique voice and style that will catch people’s attention. While it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes even doing something out of the ordinary or “foolish” can attract attention and gain followers. However, I don’t mean you should act foolish, but rather, be different and stand out.
As a musician, it’s crucial to make a connection with your audience on a personal level. Let people get to know you as a person, make them fall in love with your personality, and naturally, they will become interested in your music. Building that personal connection is key to attracting a loyal fanbase.
In today’s music landscape, it’s also important to have some basic skills in music production. Even if you’re just starting off, learn the fundamentals of recording yourself acoustically or producing your own music. Invest in a good phone, camera, and microphone to capture high-quality videos and photos. Each social media platform has its own nuances, so understand the differences between Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more. Adapt your content to suit each platform and engage with your audience effectively.
Being a musician in today’s industry requires being a marketer as well. While it can be challenging to master every aspect, having a basic understanding of marketing and promotion will greatly benefit your career. If possible, learn how to produce your own music, but if not, be prepared to invest in professionals who can help you with production. Stay positive and keep an optimistic outlook on your journey. It may take time and effort, but with persistence and authenticity, you can navigate the music industry successfully.
It seems like being a musician in today’s world requires wearing multiple hats and keeping up with technology and various platforms. How do you manage the challenges that come with it?
It’s true, being a musician nowadays involves taking on multiple roles and staying updated with technology and ever-changing platforms. It can be quite challenging, and at times, overwhelming. From writing lyrics to producing music, playing instruments, and handling various aspects of promotion, there’s a lot to juggle.
On top of that, keeping up with technology and understanding how different platforms work can be anxiety-inducing. Policies change, algorithms evolve, and it can feel like a constant race to stay relevant. I sometimes experience panic attacks just thinking about it all.
Moreover, while pursuing a music career, we still have real-life responsibilities. We need to make money, go to work, and take care of our families. The stress that comes with balancing everything can take its toll. It’s important to acknowledge the impact it has on our mental well-being.
I must admit that platforms like TikTok have played a significant role in my career. Prior to TikTok, my streams on Spotify and Apple Music were not doing well. However, once I started going live on TikTok, everything changed. I’ve gained most of my followers through live sessions, and many people discovered my music through those streams. I now have fans who come to my live shows saying they found me on TikTok, which is truly wonderful.
Any final thoughts or messages you would like to share with your fans?
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of my fans who have supported me throughout the years. Your unwavering support means the world to me. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
As I embark on this new phase of my musical journey with upcoming releases, I hope to gather momentum and continue growing together. While it may feel like we’ve reached a plateau, I believe there are still new heights for us to reach.
I want to share my dream with you. It’s not about becoming a superstar selling out arenas and stadiums. My ultimate dream is to sing on Broadway and in the vibrant music scene of Nashville. Just picture me performing at those charming bars, where music enthusiasts gather to listen and appreciate the craft. That’s where my heart truly lies.
Whether it’s singing covers or original songs, I simply want to share my voice and passion with those who love music as much as I do. Whether it’s the lively streets of Broadway or a cozy beach bar in a tropical paradise, as long as I have the opportunity to sing regularly, I will be content.
Thank you again for your continued support, and I hope to bring you joy through my music for years to come.
Austin Hopkins Contact Info:
- Website: https://www.austinhopkinsmusic.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/austinhopkinsmusic/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvREnOrj1iPRWhpMwfX4PkQ
Click here to watch Austin Hopkin ‘s full interview on Instagram
InterContinental Music Awards Team