Hugh McIntyre: Writer, Editor, Founder of Pop! Bang! Boom!

Pop! Bang! Boom! Music


Hugh is the founder of the music blog Pop! Bang! Boom! and a Forbes contributor on all things music and music business. He writes for various other publications and blogs around the world and is a member of The Recording Academy.

Check out our interview with Hugh below to learn more about his passion for pop music, his advice for musicians in the digital age, and his resolutions for 2015.


How did you get your start?

I’ve been blogging for fun for about 6 years; it started as a hobby. Then in grad school, I applied for an internship at Billboard and began writing for them. I was living in Boston and I’d come to New York a couple times a month for the Billboard job. During this time, I gradually built up my portfolio. My main gig now is with Forbes about the music industry and the business of music.


Hugh McIntyer on Fluence

Do you think social media is working for or against musicians?

I think it’s very helpful. Back in the day, you either had to have a lot of money promoting you or stick to being a locally known artist, but these days artists can get big because of a fun YouTube video that went viral. Your whole life is different. I like that we’ve seen street teams go away and instead of promoters passing out fliers, now it’s shared on social media with a tweet: “Hey we’re coming to your city.”

Social media has made it a lot more democratic for anyone to have a chance.


What’s your advice for musicians in the digital age?

I think that as much as I don’t want to say it, take every opportunity to make money because you probably won’t sell a lot of records. Count on no money from sales, and focus on getting your song featured in a commercial, do tours. If actual money rolls in from Spotify or Itunes, great!  And focus on brands to hire you.


How’s your experience been with Fluence?

I’ve really enjoyed Fluence. I genuinely like about 75% of the music that is  submitted to me and I’m happy to tweet it out…”hey, I heard this new track on Fluence”.



We saw that Betty Who -“Heartbreak Dream” was your favorite song for 2014; we love that video! How do you decide on your “Favorites” list?

For that list, it’s really specific. It is a favorite list, not a critic list. I look back over the year and I take a look at what I’ve listened to and then I re-listen to it. I think, “Am I happy with this? Do I really like it?” You have to trust your gut. It’s also how I try and review music…sometimes you have to wrestle with it.


On your site, you have a feature called “5 Questions With”. Anyone on your hitlist for 2015?

Gwen Stefani!  As a pop geek, I’m so excited for her comeback.


Why pop music?

When I first started blogging, I reviewed the pop genre more. To know what you’re talking about, you have to know the genre. Starting from a position of not liking it is not fair to the artist or audience. I found myself drawn to pop more, investigating it, learning the history. As I learn more, I find myself thinking, what’s happening in the underground or this reminds me of this artist. You need a certain level of intelligence to cover it well and focus on it.


Any other genres you’re thinking about expanding to?

I end up being connected to EDM music because EDM is pop right now. But then once you’re in the genre, you will get deeper into it. I’m learning about avant-garde electronic and getting more interested in the EDM that isn’t really pop connected.


So 2015 has arrived…any New Year’s resolutions on the professional front?

Yes! I have two…

  1.     Trying to get better at answering emails immediately; I get so many story pitches, ideas from publicists, etc.  I open and read, then forget to respond and I feel so bad.  Even if I say no, it needs to happen right away.  I am getting better at responding, but under 20 unread emails is my goal!
  2.     I get so caught up in writing about business stories, that I will go a week without hearing any new music.  People start asking me, did you hear such and such?  And I’m like, uh, no I’ve haven’t heard anything!  A couple of new records a week is my goal.


You can find Hugh’s Fluence profile here, and see some more people we love on Fluence here.

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Hugh McIntyer on Fluence -

Meet Music Fiend Jeff Miller: Editor of The Thrillist LA

Jeff MillerWhen what you love becomes what you do for a living that’s what we call the dream; Jeff Miller is living the dream.

He edits The Thrillist Los Angeles by day, writes for Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Relix and many more music magazines by night and still finds time to play live music with his indie-rock cover band Black Crystal Wolf Kids.

We’re just happy he made additional time to answer a few questions for us:


What was your career goal as a kid?
I wanted to either be a rock star or write about them, and I sort of have had both dreams come true; I’ve certainly talked to my fair share of my music heroes, and I get to play music, regularly, for screaming fans — though I do have to remind myself that the songs are not mine sometimes.


Who was the first artist you fell in love with? The one you just couldn’t get enough of, and why?
When I was a kid, I was a no-holds-barred Michael Jackson fan. My dad took me to see him when I was 5, my first show ever, and there’s documentation of choreographed dances to Beat It, Thriller, Remember The Time… yeah, it lasted a while.


Who are you listening to these days?
I’m mostly an indie-rock guy. I love Wilco and the Arcade Fire and other bands you’d expect a white dude in his 30s to care about, but my favorite song of the year is Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (which is second only to “Shake It Off,” so I have a pop sweet spot as well).



Have you made any epic discoveries through using Fluence yet? Tell us about it.
I wouldn’t say epic discoveries, but I’ve heard a fair number of artists I’ve really liked. One thing I like about Fluence is that it un-contextualizes, so I can just listen to the music and see the video that the artist is presenting. So much of my life in music writing is based on the story of the artist rather than the art itself, and I love how Fluence gives the art an opportunity to speak for itself.


What do you think you’ll use Fluence for? Who would you like to hear from (what kinds of artists, etc)?
I’m hoping to find my next favorite small local band and watch and help them grow. I was a die-hard, intense fan of the LA band Henry Clay People, who broke up last year; since they broke up I’ve been looking for something to fill the void. Bring it on.

As one of today’s ultimate music fans, it’s an honor and privilege to have Jeff Miller as a curator on Fluence.

Jeff Miller on Fluence

Meet Alex Esser: Entrepreneur, DJ, HMWL Label Boss

House Music With Love - Alex Esser on Fluence

Alex is the co-founder of the electronic label and music blog HMWL, which is part of the VICE music blog network. His entrepreneurial background has intertwined closely with music and technology throughout. He’s now the Marketing Director in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark for the streaming music service Deezer.

Read our interview with Alex below to learn more about his passion for DJing and emerging artists, his advice for musicians, and his favorite artists right now.

You founded HMWL in 2008 – how did it all start?

Honestly, we were two students just goofing around. We run a club night during that time and started a simple music blog where we posted some of our favorite tracks, DJ-sets and would promote our events.

Latest HMWL Set

Over the years it turned into a much more serious music blog. Our main priority today is to write about up-and-coming electronic producers who deserve more attention. We also try to focus more on Nordic Electronic music, featuring nordic producers at least 30% of the times. The blog is quite niche for semi-underground electronica and deep house, on a busy week we get around 5,000 unique visitors on the site. We also get 30+ promo emails every day; we try to read them all.

In 2014 we started HMWL recordings. It came quite naturally as we kept receiving some fantastic demos once in a while among those 30 promos per day. So creating a label empowers us to release the music we believe in 110%. The first EP is approaching 600,000 streams on the streaming platforms and HMWL002 and HMWL003 are to be released in early 2015.

Daytime I’m the Deezer MD for Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Working with music both day and night is really like a dream come true. I think I’m the most happy guy in Sweden right now 🙂

Favorite artists right now?

I want to promote my fellow Swedes: Axel Boman, HNNY, Dorisburg and 1987 are the four main Swedish electronic music geniuses at the moment. Also make sure to keep an eye on these Swedes: Ascorbite aka Edgar Ariza, Gin & Gin, Manifest, MAAL, Rimbaudian, Somoah, Martin Emmes, Slätten, Gidge, Swim, Josefine Hellström HanssonWe Are Legends and last but not least Just.Pau aka Pauline Högberg. These are the next generation ready to blow up.

Advice for musicians and artists in the digital age?

Make quality music without compromise. Spend those 10,000 hours in the studio doing that. Then, make sure to invest either time or money (preferably both) in promoting your tracks. Either by yourself or find a good label / PR agency that can help you find your fans. Bad production won’t fly no matter how much you invest into promotion.

Great music still needs a bit of good PR to reach the right audience in the age of abundance.

Getting your music out on the blogs is a great, free and easy way to make it heard. Make sure to keep your emails short, clean and always include 1 press photo, Soundcloud previews and a short press-text about yourself.

What’s new and upcoming for yourself and HMWL?Alex Esser on Fluence

Currently I’m taking life very slow being on paternity leave with my 1-year old daughter until the end of february. It’s really nice to be focused on just one person. A bit like a detox from my otherwise multitasking lifestyle.

The HMWL002 by South Korean Rust & Dust and and HMWL003 by Swedish MAAL are hitting the stores in Q1 2015. We are preparing a few more releases and also starting a sub-label called Recordings With Love which will release a bit more “daytime electronica” rather than club tracks.

We have the pleasure of presenting you the newest pre-release Rust & Dust track soon to be available in January on HMWL. Listen to the contagious sneak preview of ‘Gaje‘ below to get a feel for what’s soon to come on HMWL.

You can find Alex’s Fluence profile here, and see more people we love on Fluence here.

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Meet Founder of High Voltage: Chelsea Schwartz

High Voltage


We’re excited to welcome the enigmatic and very special Chelsea Schwartz (Founder of High Voltage) to our community of curators on Fluence. Chelsea’s wealth of talents include artist & tour management, music publicity & marketing, artist development, DJing, social media strategy and writing about all things music & nerd culture related since the age of 14. She’s 32 now…

Chelsea Schwartz on Fluence


Besides all that, Chelsea is also the executive producer (engineer and on-air talent!) for the High Voltage Radio Hour which airs twice a week on The Independent FM and is also available for streaming through the iHeartRadio app, Independent FM, Mixcloud and High Voltage website. Many past show archives are available via Mixcloud (whose co-founders Nico Perez and Nikhil Shah are also on Fluence), here’s one of our favorites featuring OK Go as studio guests:



We recently had the opportunity to ask Chelsea a few questions about herself, High Voltage and her advice for artists in the music industry today.

You founded High Voltage in 2003 – how did it all start?

It started when eight OK Go fans, who became friends through the band’s message board, realized we wanted to do something bigger than just attend shows. I had been a music writer for seven years at that point (and done tour marketing for three years), and always possessed that entrepreneur spirit.

We launched High Voltage online to instant success, and with the encouragement of an old boss of mine expanded it to a print format within three years. Somewhere along the way all my original partners left the music world for careers in other industries (or other personal pursuits) and I was left to run the show. That was how it started: music fans wanting to spread the gospel / give back in a bigger way than just being a fan (and possibly not have a boss to report to).

Favorite artists right now?

Newer artists: Nightmare and the Cat, Taymir, and Mother.
All-time favorites: The Black Crowes, Hanson, New York Dolls and Beck.

Advice for musicians and artists in the digital age?

Here’s the biggest piece of advice I can give any artist who is stressed about their social networks or the digital age. At the end of the day, the end goal is still the same: Connection.

The digital age just provides an easier way to connect to your fans. Instead of unauthorized biographies, fanzines and rumors, we have blogs and social networks. Remember that when you’re posting on Facebook and Twitter; let your voice shine through. Don’t just spam your message (‘buy this’ or ‘watch that’ or ‘go here’); build a community and let your fans into it.

You don’t have to giveaway everything; some mystique is fantastic. But you do have to craft a presence that allows your fans to see you’re a human being just like them. Do that and you’ll watch your post reach, retweet count and overall engagement soar; creating a domino effect in everything you do.

What’s new and upcoming for yourself and High Voltage?

High Voltage is a magazine, event production, social media marketing and artist management company. We have a radio show. We even do publicity for music and indie film/TV. We’ve recently started to produce more comedy shows and we’re loving it. Our latest development is bringing lifestyle & nerd culture content to our print issues. We’ll be spending some more time next year in the realm of ultimate fans at various conventions (WonderCon, Comic-Con, etc). I think there’s an untapped market for music there and I think High Voltage can help bridge the gap.

So, what’s new for myself? Sleep! Got a big year ahead of us 😀

Keep up with the latest music on High Voltage here, follow Chelsea on Twitter here, and don’t forget to send Chelsea tracks that rock here on Fluence.


Send Chelsea Schwartz Music