“Crowdfunding sites are great, they have excellent tools, but you have to learn how to use them.”
Boston’s singer-songwriter community is as vast as it is talented. Before COVID-19 disrupted everything, you could often see incredible musicians busking on T platforms and performing at open mics or even billed shows in local venues.
Among the gems on this scene is Prateek Poddar. As displayed on his new single “All The Stars,” he has an amazing voice that complements his songwriting in excellent fashion; recorded at 37′ Productions on the South Shore, the track enlists some other area players to round out the sound.
I spoke with Poddar about how the single came to be, getting other musicians involved in the recording process, and the benefits of crowdfunding and livestreaming.
How were you able to link with 37′ Productions to record “All The Stars”?
It’s a funny story. Sean McGlaughlin, who produced the single and owns 37′, and I have walked into each other through the music scene a bunch of times. I’ve always respected his bass playing and the way he runs his studio, but I’d never thought I’d ever work with him on a recording. For a while I thought I was too small-time because he works with a lot of big acts around New England. Last year back in the spring, he and I were at a Songwriters in the Round event that I performed at and he attended because he’s friends with me and a bunch of other acts. We talked that night, he asked, “So when are we recording something?” And I told him that I had a song that I think he should definitely produce.
I sent him an acoustic demo of “All The Stars,” he really dug it, and several months later we got to sit down and have a preproduction meeting. We immediately clicked and we were talking about a bunch of our favorite artists. We both love Jason Isbell and we both have a lot of overlapping tastes; they’re not exactly the same, but I knew right then that it was going to work out really well. Some good luck, some good friends, and it ended up being a great experience.
The acoustic demo you just mentioned came out in April, and this version of “All The Stars” that came out is a tad different because you have Cody Nilsen from Ward Hayden & The Outliers on lead guitar and pedal steel as well as Taylor Holland and Heather Scott from Hawthorn on backing vocals. Did you have each of them specifically in mind this time around, or did they come to you about getting involved in the recording?
It was a bit of both. In Cody’s case, I didn’t have him in mind, but when I showed the demo to Sean he knew exactly who to get involved after listening to it a few times. I was all for it and Cody was Sean’s call; he absolutely crushed it after four to five takes max. Taylor and Heather were my idea because Sean said he envisioned backing vocals, and I did too while knowing the two people who would be perfect for it. I’ve worked with both of them in the past; I’m lucky enough to call them very dear friends, and they’ve sung backing vocals on my songs before. They also absolutely crushed it.
On Sundays, you’ve been doing a unique thing with livestreaming by having a weekly concert exclusively for members of your Patreon page. What are your feelings on crowdfunding sites like Patreon? Do you think it’s something you have to gain experience in managing to have it become viable for you as a musician?
It’s very much something that does take some experience. Patreon is really great, and crowdfunding sites in general are really great because what they do is put a lot of tools at your immediate disposal. At the end of the day, what crowdfunding really is is selling people stuff. What Patreon does makes it easy to crowdfund not just from people you know but also people all across the internet. To that end, it’s putting tools in your hand, but it’s not putting the skills you need to use those tools effectively, if that makes sense.
It hands you a big well-stocked toolbox, and if you have experience with crowdfunding, project managing, and anything like that then you’ll probably be able to get it up and running right away. As you said, I’ve been doing a patrons-only livestream every Sunday, and it’s called the “Sunday Sweatpant Sessions.” That idea took a really long time for me to get into it and find that it works in order to start building it. I hadn’t had much experience with Patreon and crowdfunding before I started this. I did a crowdfund for a single of mine a couple of years ago, and that was about it, that was the limit of my experience. I think crowdfunding sites are great, they have excellent tools, but you have to learn how to use them.
Do you see livestreaming as a sustainable thing? Or does it make you wish for playing in front of a live audience even more?
Given the current situation, where it’s literally not safe and completely irresponsible to do live shows without any serious social distancing and people wearing masks, I’m very grateful for livestreaming. I’ve also been a big fan of livestreaming entertainment for a while before the pandemic. A lot of YouTubers I really like do livestreaming where they’ll do an “ask me anything” while hanging out with their fans, or they’ll play video games and do a live chat. I think it’s a really great thing and it’s very heartening to see a lot of musicians embracing it, because it has always seemed to me that musicians were pretty slow to adopt livestreaming as a regular part of performing. With that being said, I do miss playing in clubs and playing in front of people a lot.
I think when livestreams go well they allow people to connect in spite of being physically distant and that is a really great thing. It doesn’t replace the experience of being able to perform in front of people face to face. What I’m really hoping for is that when the pandemic is truly over and it’s actually safe to have large gatherings again, livestreaming and clubs can coexist and hopefully not at the expense of either.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they both counteract with each other forward and eventually in a post-pandemic world. With the single being out, what’s next for you? Do you plan on going back to 37′ to make a whole new record, or do you plan on laying low for the coming months?
As far as releasing music, I’m definitely going to be laying low for a little while over the course of the winter. I’m still going to be streaming every Sunday on my Patreon page, so I’m really going to be focusing on growing that along with doing a public livestreaming show series. I’m hoping to get that going in January next year and go from there, but basically I’m going to be focusing on livestreaming for a while before I start working on any new music. I definitely want to work with Sean again, and that will be happening at some point.