What made you get into music?
I guess my short answer would be music is life. So I make music because I cherish life. The long answer can be a bit more complex. I have undergone several personal challenges in the last few years. My dad’s passing away in 2010 after a long hard-fought battle with lung cancer really pushed me over the edge. I had also been dealing with some health issues like asthma and allergies, which severely affected my life. After mourning my father’s death for a very long time, I woke up one day and decided that the timing was finally right. This was always my lifelong dream and I was tired of doing nothing about it and watching life pass me by. My main inspiration, however, is to raise money for charity. 33% of all profits from all songs are going straight to charity!
Name one person who has influenced your music, and tell us why- Living or dead.
My dad – he was such a source of will power and stamina and my biggest role model. Other people embrace rock stars, movie stars and athletes as their role models. For me it was always about my dad. I always wanted to be like him more than any other person. (Michael Jackson – he revolutionized music and music videos with Thriller and it was fascinating to see his career reach such highs and lows. It taught me a lot about what to emulate and what to avoid both musically as well as in my personal life. Def Leppard – great performers who interacted well with the audience. They toured well and put on a great show. Even when their drummer was injured, they never stopped and that taught me about perseverance and the power of the human soul.)
What are you trying to do with your music – are you trying to get rich?
Money is honestly something that I haven’t thought about at all. You know the old saying – love what you do and you won’t work a day in your life? Well, here’s me and my music. I have a full time job that takes up at a minimum 60-70 hours a week of my time. I stay up until 12-1 almost every night and wake up at 5-6. But, I don’t even think about it. It’s like I have this hunger inside of me. Music and lyrics come so naturally to me. I love it!
I have never considered it work and I can’t imagine ever doing so. I came up with a simple goal for Sarantos and it really sums up my feelings about what I am trying to do with my music.
My goal with my music is simple. I want anyone listening to my music to feel the need to:
2. Dance or move to the groove.
3. Play the song over and over again.
But there is a secondary goal I have that’s pretty important to me. I am also trying to help people in need. I am proud to launch my music as a way to donate a portion of proceeds to charity, hopefully inspiring other artists to do the same. 33% of all profits from all songs are going straight to charity!
The 11 charities chosen for each song include American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Make-a-Wish Foundation, American Heart Association, St Jude’s, Hellenic Academy, ASERF, American Red Cross, Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago Medical School, Thanioton Society & the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Every time I get a bit tired or worried I might not make it, I get a nice comment or chat or email from a fan and it really makes my day. My song has had over 120,000 music plays on the internet radio in 3 weeks that I know of and I get an email every time someone becomes my fan or joins my fan list. It absolutely thrills me. I love seeing where they’re from, what they look like. It really makes my day! I also cannot imagine how I would have so many fans in Japan, Israel, Philippines and Mexico without the internet…
Do you have any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share with us? Tell us about it.
I am working on something really special for the CD release in November. I think the fans will love it! In the meantime, I am still going to be releasing a new song on the 1st Tuesday of every month, a new music video on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, a new Funny video of the month on the 3rd Tuesday of every month and a new Whiteboard video on the 4th Tuesday of every month. For the entire year! I wanna stay in constant touch with the fans and give them something every week. Of course, besides my really witty social media posts and comments…just teasing!
What are some of the low points you’ve experienced as an artist today?
Well I personally think the music business is really struggling right now. I understand why people pirate music and want it for free. I understand as an artist why you would like to be paid 99 cents for a song you poured your heart and soul into. There is so much time and effort put into it, no matter how talented you are. The one thing I have also come to appreciate is how big the machine is. Labels pour a ton of money into artists and they are a business. They have to make money somehow. I still like CDs and think they are nostalgic. But I know people don’t wanna buy them that much anymore.
Anyway, I am trying to revolutionize the industry. I want to stay in touch with my fans every day, not just once every few years when a new CD comes out. All my songs will be what I consider to be hits. There will not just be 1-2 good songs on the entire CD! I am going to release a new song on the 1st Tuesday of every month and a new music video on the 2nd Tuesday of every month for all of 2014. I interact with my fans via social media every day. On November 18th, the CD will finally be released with all 11 songs o it along with all 11 music videos and a ton of interactive content – personal videos, interviews, just a ton of extras. Basically, my goal is to try and make it worthwhile and something my fans would really want to rush out and buy. We’ll see if it works.
Probably the most discouraging aspect is that there is so much out there right now and it is hard for an artist to know whom to trust. There is really absolutely no way to track any kind of return on investment and that complicates things for anyone other than the largest labels. In business, you can make short term and long terms goals and allocate your investment dollars as you see fit. Obviously, in any business there will be some kind of marketing spend. This can include improving yourself (vocal or music lessons or training), making your music (expenses like producers, mastering, other musicians and backup singers), and then promoting your music. It gets very very expensive. You finally go thru all this time and effort and have a polished set of songs. Then you have to just throw it out to the world and try to market it. Well the iTunes store does not allow anyone access to its analytics. So if someone wants to spend a bit of money advertising on TV, print, google, MTV or anywhere, you will actually not be able to track anything. If you are a big label and can spend $1 million dollars to promote a single artist’s song, you think twice about it but you can do it. If you are an independent artist without a label, all you can do is just try to connect with your fans but it is hard in today’s world to do this without spending any money at all. If you could invest $500 in one area and see it generate sales you can track, that would be easy on you. But you can’t!
Additionally, any artist that has some good songs or look or some real potential is going to usually be naïve and young. They quickly jump at the first label that offers to sign them. They get tied into a bad deal and then it becomes one business decision after another and they quickly lose sight of who they are and what they were trying to accomplish. It can be a vicious circle. Thankfully at this time, I am on my own and have never been with a label. I have said no to 2 of them already. Unless I find someone whom I can trust and a deal that makes sense (meaning I can still do what I want including raising all this money for charity), I honestly can’t see myself joining one. It is tempting but at the end of the day, you have to stay true to yourself. Since I’m not doing this for the money and have a day job, I can just say no. I am doing this all for the music and for my fans!
Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?
I love so many different songs but I am always moved by some of the classics like “Eye of the Tiger”, “Don’t stop believing” and “the rose”.
What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings?
“Eye of the tiger” by Survivor.
The accomplishment that I have achieved and am most proud of is building a loving environment for my family, helping others every day, and finally pushing myself to follow my lifelong dream. I’ve worked hard to achieve my current profession (other than singing) and am pleased to say that I’m happy with what I have accomplished thus far.
Sarantos Facebook artist page:
I am currently working on my next music video launch “Nothing To Hide” which will be released on February 11th, 2014. The song will be released on February 4th, 2014. I have so many things in the pipeline. It’s going to be an exciting 2014 (and 2015)!!
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
Hopefully performing all over the world and continuing to assign a different charity to each song I release so I can raise some money for all the good causes out there.