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Interview with Athenas

The internet has enabled this Argentinian singer-songwriter to target a niche and make a good living from it

Athenas is a Christian catholic singer-songwriter born in Argentina, currently based in Nashville, TN. Since she began her career as a Catholic Christian singer, Athenas has performed in 20 countries, in more than 150 cities in Latin America, the United States, and Europe, and her YouTube videos have reached more than 200 million views combined. After finding her vocation to worship music in the church, she began her solo career in 2012. With her YouTube videos, she quickly became well known within the new wave of contemporary Catholic music.

In 2013, Athenas performed in Brazil at the World Youth Day, on one of the main stages in front of over 2 million people. The following year, she released her debut album, “Cristo Reina” (2014), followed by “Me Basta Tu Gracia” (2016) In 2018, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, she released her third production "Todo Es Tuyo", the first one self-managed with her husband Tobías Buteler, with whom she has composed all of her songs since then. She is currently working on her fourth album, "Alfa y Omega” in Nashville TN, from which several singles have already been released.

Where are you today and where would you like to be?

Right now I’m so happy to be able to work on my new album here in the Nashville area. I’m blessed to be able to work with Shawn Williams, our current producer, and Chari Films, with whom we’re producing the new music videos. I feel our work is reaching a whole new level since we got here. I hope this can continue to grow, both in an artistic and professional sense, as well as the impact this music makes on people’s lives.

Athenas standing on stairs

Tell us about your latest release, what's it about?

Our latest single is a song of hope, and confidence in God. It is called "Acaso No Soy Yo Aquí" inspired by the words Our Lady of Guadalupe said to San Juan Diego. This particular devotion is very popular all over the Spanish-speaking world, specially in Mexico, where a huge part of our audience is. This song invites us to trust in God and to have faith that he is in control of whatever we’re going through in our lives. Through this difficult time, I feel we all need more than ever to try to find a deeper meaning in our lives, and we hope this song can help people to do that.

How did you record it?

After writing the song with my husband Tobías, we came to Tennessee to work in person with award-winning producer Shawn Williams at his studio Papercastle Records. He has a lot of experience working with several artists and brands, and my husband and I feel we really understand each other and work as a great team. We met with guitarist Matt Podesla at Shawn’s studio to work on the electrics. He’s recorded with a lot of great Christian music acts, including Matt Redman, Matt Maher, Passion, etc. Was great having him!

For the mix, we worked with Danny Ventura, who has mixed for great Latin Christian music artists, and for mastering, we had NY-based Drew Lavyne from A.L.L. Digital Mastering, who is also a favorite master engineer among Christian musicians.

How did you distribute it?

For distribution, we work with CD Baby, who has been really great with us. I feel their services are pretty convenient for independent artists.

Athenas wearing red striped dress

How did you promote it?

For promotion, we launched a pre-save campaign and announced it through my social media, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. That’s how we came to know Songwhip! My husband was looking for music link services and found this wonderful platform. We are very happy with the way it works.

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, where do you see it heading?

We feel right now there are complementary tendencies in today's music. On one hand, you have an ever-growing homogeneity in massive mainstream music. Since today the whole world is connected and listening to all that is released, there is like a global or international aesthetic to which some artists relate on certain songs, to reach that broad and diverse potential audience successfully.

At the same time, on the other hand, we are living on the best moment to do a very specific niche of music, because this global reach makes it possible to have any sub-genre you can think of have its own audience. This is great because allows all kinds of artists to explore sustainably their own voice, and thus have them continue to improve in what they do. That’s what happened to us. Contemporary Catholic music is quite new, and it wouldn’t have been possible to make a living out of it before YouTube and all the music streaming services boomed. I think it is a pretty exciting time to be making music, specially if you devote yourself to a specific niche.

What's the most important thing missing from Songwhip?

It would be cool to be able to create custom link pages, in which we could edit not only the background image (which we already can), but also the title, URL, etc, so we could more accurately promote some content that sometimes is slightly different from our releases’ names. We could use this to create links to playlists on different streaming services, or links to chord charts, etc. Would give us more freedom to explore these strategies. But anyway, we’ve found Songwhip to be a great tool for musicians! Is super easy to use, and super fast. We love it!

Which artist do you look up to the most and why?

It’s hard to choose one! But right now all my colleague catholic artists are a huge inspiration to me. We are living the best years for our specific niche, and it’s super exciting to see all the wonderful jobs they’re doing. Each one makes outstanding contributions that allow the rest of us to continue to learn and grow.

What is your advice to other indie artists to help fund their work/produce music?

Crowdfunding has worked great for us on our last two albums. My advice would be, you don’t need to start big, but you need to start somewhere! It doesn’t need to be for a million dollars! If you plan your costs cleverly and create a project that isn’t too big or risky, it will be easier to reach your goal. And once you do, that will build loyalty with your audience. Once they see you make it once, they may help you again once you go for something bigger! And also, raising the money will provide you with a very valuable sense of victory that will give you confidence in your work.

Atenas quote

Anything else you'd like to plug?

The best marketing strategy is a good product. And by product, I don’t mean just making something that sounds great, but that also is fit for the audience you want to reach (specially when it comes to the composition/songwriting). As I was saying before, serving your particular niche listener is the best way to make your career grow. Try to find a middle ground between what you like and what your audience will appreciate. That way you’ll take advantage of the way YouTube and other platform’s algorithms work, and that will help you to reach the right people.

Of course, you need to sound and look as good as possible, but if the song fails to serve our audience, even if your work sounds amazing they will move on to another kind of content. As a friend of mine once said, in music each stage is less important than the previous one. Songwriting is the most important. Production is also important, but not as much. Then Mix is less important and mastering the least of all. If you have a good song, with good production, mix and mastering should be a lot easier, and only will add value to your song if the previous stages are well achieved. So, my advice would be, focus your energy on making great songs for your audience, and then do everything else.