With the pandemic limiting live music opportunities, Worry Club and other emerging acts have turned to the Quadio app to connect with each other and up their social media reach. An in-depth report.
With COVID-19 upending the world of music and education, college musicians have been relegated to their homes, apartments or dorms to ply their craft as the pandemic rolls on.
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But many of these budding artists have taken these quarantine conditions in stride, adapting to the limitations and focusing their energy. It’s given them more time for networking, improving social media presence and releasing more music.
And it has many of them turning to Quadio, a new app and music platform that blends streaming, social media and connectivity with other creatives.
“It reminded us of Soundcloud, but more personal and with better ways to collaborate,” said Chase Walsh, who writes and releases music under the Worry Club moniker. “The day I got my code to get onto the website and make my own profile, it was so cool, seriously.”
“So cool” that Walsh and his team’s work in networking and promoting Worry Club led to some major success in August when one of its latest releases, “Japanese,” was featured on Spotify’s “Lorem” playlist, with more than 640,000 likes.
Dubbed “the college creative network,” Quadio debuted in February as a streaming and networking platform for college artists. Co-founder Joe Welch said that since its launch, the app has been used by nearly 13,000 creatives at more than 900 schools around the country, amassing 20,000-plus songs to stream and share.
Utilizing the platform, musicians can create and share their own music, explore others’ project or connect with creatives for skills that include instrumentation, production and management. Quadio also hosts events to continue to allow creative college students to connect, with event currently taking placed via Zoom.
In Michigan, student campus representatives at Oakland University and Hope College connect budding musicians to the platform and help grow the network.
“Quadio really exists to further the artistic connections and professional growth of the next generation of creative talent,” said Welch, who came up with the idea along with his step-cousin, Marcus Welch. They worked with engineer Bill Johnson to develop Quadio over an 18-month period, rolling out on the Apple App Store in early 2020.
The Quadio website proclaims that the “motto from day one has been #makemusicmakefriends because our mission is to bring the best two things in life together in a way that is fun, easy, exciting and totally free.”
To gauge the effectiveness of Quadio — and as part of our occasional “On Campus” features and series on technological developments in the music scene — Local Spins touched base with several college artists from West Michigan: Worry Club, Sequoia Snyder, Jay Príme and Neuhaus, who’ve found a home in the app. Here are their stories, their experiences and their music.
Chase Walsh is a man of many names, but he’s sticking with Worry Club for now. The senior multimedia arts technology major at Western Michigan University has been involved in a range of music projects since 2016, kicking off Worry Club in November 2019, just before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
Worry Club’s first EP, “Chase’s Hands,” was released in January. By March, when classes were canceled and students were instructed to stay home, Walsh said the circumstances were actually a blessing in disguise.
“During this pandemic and sheltering in place, it kind of helped me put out a lot of music, to be honest,” Walsh said. “I have a lot more time to make music in my basement. It’s obviously a tragedy — it really sucks for a lot of people. I’m fortunate enough to work from home, but it forces me to put out and create a lot of music.”
Focused on conveying a live experience without an audience or venue, Walsh replaced live performances with a handful of singles after his debut EP.
“I think (sheltering in place has) helped me to experiment more with my sound, rather than writing a song, recording it and then going to play it live,” Walsh said. “It adds a live element to the song, but I’m experimenting with how much you can do without playing it live.”
Walsh has spent half his time on social media marketing — the only way to connect with and grow an audience during the pandemic. Over the summer, Worry Club attracted 4,000 monthly listeners, jumping to 35,000 in August alone.
“Making the song is one thing, but then promoting is like 70 percent of the whole process,” Walsh said. “Just reaching out to people, making lists of people you’ve already reached out to and just hoping that you can get something from a blog or a playlist or something. It’s so gratifying to finally see some growth and people talking about it.”
Quadio has been a big part of that growth, after Walsh learned about the app when co-founder Joe Welch visited the Kalamazoo campus. Enhancing the ability to connect with other creators drove him to push his music further, reinforcing the importance of a social presence and networking. It helped put “Japanese” on Spotify’s uber-popular “Lorem” playlist.
“I checked my girlfriend’s phone like, ‘Hey, can I look at this playlist on your phone to make sure that I’m seeing this right?’” Walsh said. “Then I checked on a bunch of different phones and it was on there. It was crazy.”
Worry Club’s blossoming success has pushed Walsh to make more music, with a new single on the way and an EP in the works.
“I kind of always wondered if all of this would have happened if we weren’t quarantining,” Walsh said. “Like if I would have taken a different path, played more shows, I probably wouldn’t have focused on social media this much. In a way, I’m proud that this happened and we took this step.”
VIDEO: Worry Club, “Japanese”
For Michael Neuhaus, sheltering in place during quarantine was about bouncing back.
The media and information major at Michigan State University started making hip hop and rap music in high school after Googling a home studio setup and self-teaching everything from production to mixing. Transitioning to college, Neuhaus took his music more seriously, and he grew his audience while defining his space in the music world.
“Throughout that time, as with every artist, you have to find your sound,” Neuhaus said. “So I started rapping, but I had always loved singing and singing makes me feel — you feel free when you’re singing. Using your voice, really experimenting, and so I started experimenting with different genres.”
Neuhaus used his time at MSU to produce for other artists. And like Worry Club, he joined Quadio, which allowed him to further push his social media presence and connect with other college musicians.
Those connections have been a driving factor in some of Neuhaus’ music, including his recent release of “Sunset in my Dreams” with Gina Livia off of his latest EP, “21 Sunsets.” Livia, a German musician, connected with Neuhaus through Soundcloud.
“She ended up following me on Instagram, and basically any collaboration or artist I work with, we always talk through Instagram video chat,” Neuhaus said. “The thing with Gina is I had a few demos lying around, and I had sent her what is now ‘Sunset in My Dreams.’ That song was originally called ‘21 Sunsets.’ I had stuff written for it and she ended up loving it.”
With “21 Sunsets” being one of the largest releases for Neuhaus this summer, he and his manager, Sara Seryani, had two shows planned to slowly release the project. One was for Mac’s Bar in Lansing, where singer-songwriter Quinn XCII famously first performed.
“[Canceling] both shows stirred me up like crazy because I had done so much preparation,” Neuhaus said. “We were already selling tickets and basically it hit me. It made me think a lot about how things are going to turn out for me because I finally started booking shows and I really thought I could make some movement this year with my music.”
Now, all the young artist can do is hope that things get better sooner. “Me and Sara can’t really plan much other than to make new music and wait,” Neuhaus said. “It’s a waiting game right now.”
VIDEO: “Sunset in My Dreams,” Neuhaus (feat. Gina Livia)
SEQUOIA SNYDER (REDWOOD)
There’s a lot going in in Sequoia Snyder’s world right now, and the root of it all is her music.
Snyder began singing in fifth grade, picked up piano in high school and blended her influences ranging from gospel to soul to jazz to hip hop throughout college at Michigan State University. Her musical volta was winning an Instagram competition that allowed her to perform with the R&B band The Internet, which inspired her to release her own work.
“That was amazing — hearing what they were saying about my musicianship and just how much they liked me and how much they felt that I could be a part of the scene that they’re part of,” Snyder said.
But that was when things were more normal. And when things were normal, she was performing under her birth name for the most part. Now, she’s trying to shift to her stage name, Redwood.
While the pandemic has certainly shifted Snyder’s music production, the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement has entrenched itself in her production as a black artist. She said it’s difficult to remove her craft from her experiences and passion for justice.
“As a black person, I can’t help but have that as a part of my influence and as a part of my music, especially during these times of change and unrest,” Snyder said. “I’m definitely trying to communicate that message and communicate our community’s message.”
The chance to explore music and support the BLM message converged when Ann Arbor’s Canterbury House asked her to perform for a digital event to raise money for the ACLU. Snyder said the live-stream was her first chance to have a cumulative concert that encompassed her experimentation with her sound from throughout sheltering in place.
The other half of her growth came via networking, where platforms like Quadio allow her to connect with musicians of similar experience and size. Snyder said growth as a young musician is all about merging audiences, not just organically growing your own.
“I’m really so glad it (Quadio) exists now because a lot of people say as far as networking goes, you don’t network up, you network across,” Snyder said.
“A lot of times — and even I can fall into this — artists think, ‘I have to meet somebody super out there. I have to meet Beyonce and she can hook me up, and then I’m going to blow up.’ But really, you’re building connections with people who are trying to do what you’re doing and you all rise together.”
VIDEO: “Black or Woman,” Sequoia Snyder
When Jay Príme started making music, people cared more about his feelings.
“At the beginning, I was trash,” Príme said. “There was a time and a place where it was like I was really making music and everyone was like, ‘Yeah, that’s good,’ trying to spare my feelings and stuff. But every artist goes through that because not every artist starts off good … but that’s what really decides if you’re going to be an actual artist, or you’re going to give up.”
After nearly seven years of music creation under his belt, Príme, a senior advertising management major at Michigan State University, said he finally feels like he’s struck a balance with his music. He released his single “Danny Phantom” two months ago.
“I released it and everyone was talking about like, ‘Bro, this is the one,’ without actual cap, you feel me?” Príme said. “I had people who were like, ‘Did you make this?’ and I was like yeah, this is 100 percent me.”
“Danny Phantom” and Príme’s latest releases, “Lonely” and “120,” dropped during the pandemic, which he credits with making him more efficient and consistent as an artist.
On the other hand, Príme said that the hustle to network and collaborate has become harder. “If anything, COVID has really prevented me from working face-to-face networking-wise,” Prime said. “That’s how I see myself benefiting the most in terms of networking because I’m terrible at texting back, emailing back, because there’s so much stuff going on, especially doing everything by myself. I wear so many hats that I forget to put on a hat from time to time.”
So, Prime joined Quadio, with the goal of connecting with other creators. He’s found it’s been crucial to networking.
“There are so many creators in one spot, one location, that I can network with and really benefit from, because when we collaborate, we’re then putting our networks together and creating this type of sound that couldn’t be created individually,” Príme said.
It all has him itching to get back on stage once the pandemic has passed. “It’s really heartbreaking to see where the music is going now because there’s no connection,” Príme said. “They’re starting to move toward virtual concerts and that’s cool, but that’s basically the same thing as listening through your phone. It’s an alternative for sure for people who are trying to make the most out of it, but I just hope things go back to normal, if they’ll ever go back to normal.
“But … you have to appreciate the craft and the work that you put into your art. This art is yourself.”
LISTEN: “Danny Phantom,” Jay Prime
Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC