Ali Spagnola

ALI SPAGNOLA

I’ve been throwing things at the wall, hoping something would stick. And it is what I continue to do.

► That massive growth on Twitter in a relatively short time and without a big outside influence is remarkable. Lucky happenstance or strategy?
Well, sure, I had some strategies. In fact, I had a ton of strategies. And most of them failed. Honestly, I’ve been throwing things at the wall, hoping something would stick. And it is what I continue to do. Just like you can’t write a hit – because it’s not a hit until you’ve put it out there and people buy it – you can’t make a viral video. You can only make a video and hope it becomes viral.

► What is something that didn’t stick?
It’s hard to really say. Maybe Most Googled Song? On average, those videos get about 8,000 views. So maybe that is something that doesn’t work. It depends on how you define it. I’m certainly not getting any one-million-hit videos out of it.

► Well, there is also a steep drop from 1.5 million Twitter followers to 11,000 subscribers on YouTube. Is it frustrating to see that the Twitter following doesn’t translate to YouTube?
Yeah. Of course I’m hoping to bring people over from Twitter to YouTube or build a new audience on YouTube that doesn’t know me from Twitter. But that is something I’m still trying to conquer.

► Do you even consider yourself a YouTuber or more a musician who happens to have a YouTube channel?
No, I totally consider myself a YouTuber. Just because I haven’t done many collaborations doesn’t mean I’m not. You know, l live in Pittsburgh, so that doesn’t make it easier. But I have been to VidCon and met a lot of cool people there, so hopefully that changes in the future. And you cannot forget that my YouTube channel is still small in comparison. Big YouTubers want to work with other big YouTubers, which only makes sense. But I will be on the next season of TableTop and I’ll try to be in L.A. more often in the future.

Ali Spagnola
photo courtesy of Ali Spagnola

► So despite the connectivity the internet offers to the audience, where you live is still a big factor in whether or not you get to do collaborations?
Totally. I mean, I’ve made videos with Fandango, and they are out in L.A.. We sent files back and forth. So it is possible. But for most YouTubers it’s definitely a factor. That starts with making the necessary personal connections that lead to collaborations, which are still best made when you meet in person. Also, I’m guessing that they look more at YouTube – rather than Twitter – and ask the question “What does this other person get from me and what do I get from them in a collaboration?” So if the incentive for someone with subscribers in the six or seven figures is getting the attention of all of my 11,000 subscribers, I get it that just the opportunity to create something cool isn’t enough.

► So what will be something you’ll try next to see whether or not it sticks?
There are a few things. You could say I am the most Type A drunk you’ve ever met, meaning I have lists of the things I want to do or achieve within the next year – where I want to be, what the next steps are, what projects I want to realise. I am working on the next album. I’ve also been talking to a number of literary agents. There is my app that I’ve been working on and that is now out. Obviously there is a tour that is supposed to follow the album. So I know the most definite steps that are to come and that should keep myself busy for a while. At the same time, I don’t like giving details or promising things that I don’t know will happen. Because if it doesn’t happen, I’ll feel like a douche.

► The app then – that is happening. What is it?
The app is a repackaging of the Power Hour album. It has all the Power Hour songs on it, it does all the counting for you, so that you’re free to party along with it and do all the important things while the app works for you. But you can also make your own Power Hours on the fly very quickly, with all the music you already love and have on your phone. You’ll be able to shuffle by genre or artists or use all of your music, add sound effects, make the Power Hour as long as you want – so if you want it to be a Power 52 Minutes for whatever reason, it will immediately do all of that for you and have a completely new, original Power Hour for every party.

► How long has that taken you? A professional app isn’t a matter of just a couple of weeks.
Actually, I bet you could churn it out quickly like that if you are a good programmer and designer. Well, if you have a good team. I don’t think there are a lot of people who can do both the visuals and the coding. In my case, I did the design and visuals, but I got a friend who helped me code. That was part of it too: I’ve been working on it for over two years, but I don’t think that is a good gauge on how long it usually takes. My first programmer totally dropped the ball on me, and I had to find somebody new and start from scratch.

► With one successful crowd funding attempt under your belt and with the growing following, is that a concept you see yourself returning to?
They say … well, ‘they’, as if anyone really knows … some bloggers say that you can do a crowd funding project once a year and not upset your fan base. I think that’s legit, and it’s been over a year for me. So I would feel comfortable doing it again. But for me it is not just about not annoying my fans, it is about having the right project for it. If I felt there was something worthwhile funding, then I would totally go for it again if crowd funding is what it needed to get done. But I’m not going to force something into it.

► What about the next album?
Well, we’ll have to see how that goes. I’m hoping that I get some bigger people interested in that album and use the traditional recording industry dollars, as opposed to my fans. If someone is out there who is interested and who wants to put their money into it, I will be working with them. I definitely won’t be close-minded to the traditional ways of producing and releasing music. Because then I will have some other people who are invested in what I do and who will want to see me succeed. And that is what trying to build a team and being successful is about. :x:

This interview first appeared in issue no.1 of XCENTS.

featured image courtesy of Ali Spagnola

Interview by Ewan McGee.

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