Independent Songwriter, Dina D’Alessandro for the Los Angeles Alternative rock band ‘Beautiful Things’ talks about the ever changing music business landscape and how she navigates it.
Finding your road as a songwriter can be challenging without guidance; where do you start, and how are you figuring that out for yourself?
The landscape has changed so much since I started out in the early 2000s. It used to be all about trying to impress a record label and now it’s more about running your own business, although I’ve always had more of the indie/business mindset even in the big label days because I prefer being independent. I like having freedom.
There are numerous sources available on the internet to help indie songwriters with career guidance, so whenever I’m lost or want to learn new things, I can usually find the answers there. The distributor I use and have used forever, CD Baby, has always had helpful advice and tools for their artists.
The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is not to compare your career to anyone else’s. That will drive you crazy and be very discouraging. You have to go at your own pace and not worry if you aren’t as successful as others. That is what will make your artistic livelihood sustainable over time instead of crashing and burning, which I’ve witnessed many artists doing over the years.
You have been striving to create music that does not fit into today’s trends but fits you. How would you define what you have created?
I would define what I’ve created, along with the many talented people I’ve collaborated with, as a solid body of work released consistently over the years that has integrity. I’m proud of it because
I stayed true to my vision and didn’t worry about being cool or popular. The only thing I really worried about, and still do, is quality – if the music sounds professional and if it’s well written and performed.
Other than that, I just create what I like, and hope others will too.
Where does your music fit in today’s industry?
I see my music as being very influenced by 80s alternative rock and pop, but in a weird way I think I also fit in with mainstream artists like Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Madonna. If you listen to the Beautiful Things station on Pandora, those are some of the artists that come up. And that’s ok! If I was approached by a concert promoter who wanted Beautiful Things to perform on a bill with these artists or others like them, let’s just say I wouldn’t complain about that!
What has been the reaction thus far?
The reaction to our latest song, ‘It’s All Right’, has been very positive. I think the song’s lyrics and light, 80s retro feel are a little comforting, given all the hardship people have been going through these past two years.
Previous releases have gotten some really positive and also some really negative responses. When I was a solo artist going by my own name and not the band name, critics sometimes dismissed me as a girl whining about her problems. The world has changed a lot since then, which was in, like, 2005. It’s a lot more sensitive now, so I sometimes wonder if the overall reaction would be different if I had released that music nowadays. I take all the critical responses with a grain of salt though. All that matters to me at the end of the day are the sweet emails and messages I’ve received from fans over the years who really “get it” and who make it all worthwhile.
Have there been any hurdles in creating something that is influenced by a flashback style?
Yes. Sometimes musicians and producers I’ve worked with don’t always understand the sound I’m going for. They have their own ideas and styles and that can lead to conflict. Sadly, sometimes the conflict can even lead to the end of the relationship. But then sometimes having someone bring a different sound or perspective than what you think you have to have can be a good thing. Finding that balance is the challenge. When it works it’s the best thing ever. That’s why it’s important for everyone involved to stay open to ideas.
How important is the internet to a musician today? What apps do you feel as necessities to be using and how are you adjusting to this new music landscape?
The internet is the only important space in the musical world nowadays. There is nothing else. As an indie artist, you used to be able at least to have a local “real life” following, but even before COVID, that was getting increasingly tough to achieve, at least in LA. People stopped going to clubs here to discover new music. Having a solid internet presence is crucial to connecting with any audience. It’s become possible to connect with people all around the world, which I think is incredible, and I’ll never take that for granted.
All the apps are essential because people need to have places to go to learn more about you and hopefully buy or stream your music. Having a “brand” that is cohesive across all the apps is necessary to really stand for something and connect with people. Musicians basically need to have MBAs nowadays and not just play music, lol!
For Beautiful Things, I’ve found that YouTube and Spotify have been popular places for people to listen to our songs. Facebook/Instagram are useful places for people to learn about what we stand for, spiritual growth and universal human experiences. We just joined TikTok, like, yesterday. We are really late to the party on that one!
What is the top struggle you face today in the music business?
My biggest struggle right now is creating content. I don’t write very quickly, and nowadays, it’s good to have new music to promote as much as possible to keep your fans engaged. That will be my biggest challenge this year and next – creating quality work quickly.
What is your plan to overcome that struggle?
I plan to spend more time with my guitar every day, more than I ever have, to just enjoy it and remember why I started playing in the first place – to connect with people. There are a lot of forces out there trying to turn us all into robots. Playing the guitar and writing helps me plug into the “source” and tune out the noise of the world. I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me and where it takes the band.
More about this band:
Beautiful Things ‘It’s All Right’ is about getting through tough times