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 Commentary Archives Archives  |  Current  

04.14.07 – JULIA NUNES (or, What Can We Learn from a 19-Year-Old?)

So I met this girl at a diner in Vegas at 2am in the morning. Dick & Alayna from Record Archive introduced me to JULIA NUNES, a 19-year-old college freshman from Rochester, NY that is tearing up the internets with her touching, unique, and yes, talented performances on YouTube – so much so, that a lot of her videos have over 100,000 views (including 1.2 million views for a featured original), and not only did she snag an opening slot on an upcoming Ben Folds date, but Ben’s people even invited her to hop on to an additional dozen dates as soon as school lets out this spring!

Anybody detractors out there can call her out as the latest winner of the YouTube Lottery because she covers other people's songs on her ukulele, but you’d be missing the point. This is a NINETEEN YEAR OLD girl writing her own songs and performing in front of her computer from her dorm room in Rochester.

Getting more airplay than the last 20 bands that you just sunk $2 million into trying to get on the radio.

Think about that.

So, what can we learn from a 19-year-old these days?

BE REAL – it’s very easy to latch on to this story and root for the underdog, because she is -- discovering her on your own, without a major push, is part of her appeal. But don’t pretend to be an indie if you are signed. Because once the word gets out, you are TOAST. Julia is a goofy college kid with a helluva personality, a wicked sense of humor, and good bit of talent that will only get better over time.

BE YOURSELF – Julia is not trying to be the next American Idol, and her fans appreciate that. She isn’t all dolled up and put on a pedestal; she has an honest, easy-to-grasp personality that makes her the best friend you wish you had. And that’s drawing a lot of girls and guys to her vids.

BE FUNNY – you don’t have to put on a clown nose and do magic tricks, but make people laugh and feel good about themselves, and they’re a lot more likely to forward your material to friends and come back to see what’s up in your world. Julia is comfortable in front of the camera, and her enthusiasm is very infectious.

BE CONSISTENT – don’t just post one video and expect the world to find out about you. But if you are consistent with your postings (and create good material), people will find out about you as word spreads. Used to be, you could coast on radio or video airplay until the next single. But these days, you gotta feed the monkeys to keep the momentum going.

BE ENGAGING – even though Julia is the performer and you are the audience, that doesn’t stop her from fielding questions every now and then and playing requests. She also keeps all of her channels open in order to receive emails from her various sites.

BE GOOD – believe it or not, being talented helps. As you can tell by the videos she has posted, there are a good number of covers as much as there are originals. As she finds her voice, gets her tour legs, and builds a larger audience by playing live shows, she will only grow stronger as a songwriter and a performer. But in the meantime, how cool is it that your favorite artist can cover Destiny’s Child AND Bright Eyes?

BE DIFFERENT – anyone can pick up a guitar and play in front of a webcam. That’s cool, but if you dig into her videos, you see how Julia has layered her own harmonies into the vids and chops up her videos with her doing more than just playing, so it definitely keeps the viewer always wondering what’s next. Don’t become a gimmick, but definitely differentiate yourself from the pack.

BE SIMPLE – hop on to her website, her MySpace page, her YouTube page, and you’ll notice they’re not flying at you with Flash animation and a million different activities. Yet all along the way, it’s easy to buy her tunes or contact her.

BE PATIENT – building an audience, building a repertoire, and building a history takes a loooong time. Julia has been posting videos for two years now, and as large as her audience may be, this is still just the beginning. Lots of labels have come a-callin’, but this is a marathon, not sprint. Two words for ya: Sandi Thom. Whatever happened to her? It’s nice to be known as the girl discovered on YouTube, it’s even nicer to be known as the girl that has sold out most her shows for the past 20 years.

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