The LACMA, or Los Angeles County Museum of Art — as the blue bloods like to call it — is looking pretty barren on this particular Los Angeles afternoon. People are trickling in and out of exhibit halls and a crew is setting up a main stage where, if I know the LACMA, an Afrobeat jazz-fusion trio will play. Sitting beneath the shadow of the LACMA, Megan Nicole is talking to me about what she calls Bad Boy Records founder Sean “Diddy” Combs. “I usually refer to him as Diddy,” Nicole tells me, which I find deeply confusing. “But, to his face, you call him?” I ask, to which Nicole responds, “Puffy, usually. Most people who know him call him Puffy.” Mystery solved, I guess.
All this talk about “Puffy” and “Diddy” isn’t just to satisfy my inane curiosity; Nicole recently became Bad Boy’s newest act, joining talent like MGK, Los, and French Montana. After blowing up on YouTube in 2009, her unique brand of cover songs have paved the way for a successful career as a singer songwriter. Her most popular cover to date, “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars, has received over 32 million views.
Avoiding the blazing hot LA sun, I sat down with Nicole to talk about dream collaborations and her new album.
You started on YouTube two years ago in 2009 — why did you turn to YouTube to start posting songs?
Megan Nicole: My dad was the one who really encouraged me to post my first video. I had recently just picked up guitar, and “Use Somebody” was the first song that I learned on guitar. And I guess my dad saw some other cover artists doing it, and he was like, “Hey, you should give it a shot,” which is crazy to think that just from posting that video and the journey along these past few years and these amazing opportunities that have come just from posting videos on the Internet.
Do you think YouTube is a good place for aspiring musicians to start? Do you think there are any upsides or downsides to it?
I definitely would suggest starting a YouTube channel. I usually tell people to start a YouTube channel and to take any and every opportunity you can to perform. Before I did YouTube, I used to go out and do open mics a lot, or even during YouTube, before things really took off with that, open mics, talent shows, fairs, just any and every opportunity to perform. But definitely covering songs that are hot on the charts and songs that you enjoy doing, because you don’t want to be covering a song that you can tell you’re not enjoying and having fun with it. But those are the ones that are going to be searched, so that would definitely help with your chances of being found.
What do you think is more important to do, cover songs that are popular or cover songs that you personally love? Do you think one is more creatively rewarding than the other?
It’s always a lot of fun to do songs that you love. I think if you can find a balance of the two, especially if you are just starting off on YouTube and trying to really get things going, it’s really nice when you have built up an audience and you can kind of cover songs that mean something, a lot to you.
Do you see any downsides to posting videos on You Tube? Anything that is negative that would maybe hurt artists?
Nothing that would really hurt them. I guess my biggest suggestion is redoing the acoustic covers, and then you’re going to be coming out, say for me, pop artist is what I’m going for, over time I really like upped my game and started creating tracks for my covers and making it similar to what my album is going to be like, because the last thing I would want to do is to create an audience that really love the acoustic music and then release a pop album. And they’ll be like, “What is this?” So definitely that and of course, another downside is the cyber bullying, I guess, the haters. But you honestly just have to ignore them. But in other cases of cyber bullying, whether it is on your Facebook or Twitter, I would definitely suggest if it becomes an issue to reach out to somebody because it’s not cool. But in my case, ignore it.
Is that how you deal with people trolling and giving hate — just ignore it?
Yeah, you just have to. I mean, honestly you can let it ruin your day or you can think about the positives going on in your life, because it’s so easy to have all these positive things going on and see one negative thing and have it ruin your whole day. So it definitely has to be a choice to ignore it.
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