In this episode of Reel Stories with ReelCrafter, co-founder Sam Hulick is joined by LA-based singer-songwriter folk duo . Find out how Reina Mora and Iran Garcia, the artists behind Willow Crest, use ReelCrafter to pitch for festivals and unlock sync licensing and media composition opportunities, and how the platform’s powerful tools like track replacement fit into their workflow.
The duo also share how they discovered a unique and creative use for ReelCrafter to engage directly with their fanbase during the pandemic.
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The interview transcript below has been edited for clarity and readability.
Sam: Tell us a bit about Willow Crest. What do you guys do, and how did you come about?
Iran: We met about 2.5 years ago. We just wanted to write music for sync — we’re both songwriters. Reina had a solo artist career. I was (or still am) a film composer, so I kind of knew my way around the music production world, and we just wanted to team up and write music, songs for other artists.
Reina: Or to use for sync.
Iran: And we just started writing a lot of songs that felt very personal to us. And then people started telling us: “I think you guys have something here, something very original.” And we just gave it a shot and decided to form a duo, and the rest is history.
Sam: Cool, so there was an initial focus on sync music, but it sounds like it kind of morphed into something different.
Reina: Yeah, we kept writing. I was going through a divorce at the time, and so I just felt like [the lyrics] were too personal to give away to other artists, and it also didn’t lend itself towards my solo project (because my solo project was more indie / pop / electronica / alternative). Willow Crest’s stuff is more folk / Americana.
Iran: Much more organic.
Reina: Much more organic, and I was like, “Well, let’s give it a shot. Let’s try to see how we do as a duo”.
Sam: Cool, so how long have you been using ReelCrafter and how did you discover it?
Iran: Personally, I’ve been using ReelCrafter now for 6 years, right? 5.5 years? Since the very beginning.
Sam: It’s changed a lot over those years.
Iran: It’s changed a lot. It’s helped a lot, and it’s saved me a lot of time! With Willow Crest, we started using it when we started reaching out to venues, music festivals and sync agents, or just anyone that requested a music link. Pretty much anyone that requested any information about us. That’s one of the biggest features of ReelCrafter — it has everything in it, so it’s just one link. You don’t need to navigate through anything.
It has everything in it, so it’s just one link
Sam: That’s interesting that you guys use it for many different purposes, whereas a lot of composers, for example, use it purely for pitching (they send off a demo, and they get feedback and they get the gig, hopefully). You use it for a few different things.
Iran: It’s really because of the coding that you guys have done — there’s so much flexibility with how you can format the [ReelCrafter] page. A quick example, and this is something that we used really heavily in 2021… So, in 2021, because of the pandemic, we wanted to do something different with our music, with our community. So we decided to do a Bandcamp initiative where we would write a song every week and publish a demo every month. Then at the end of the month, we’d take it out. And whoever managed to grab the demo, they’d now have something that doesn’t exist anywhere else online. Then, at the end of the year, if you had missed out any of the demos, we sent a ReelCrafter link out to our listeners with all the demos for the year. And the reason we did it with ReelCrafter (instead of any other service) was because of the flexibility. You can add, you can take out. If we had a new mix or a new master of the song, or if we just wanted to tweak it after the fact, we could just swap it out. And then the best part is that our community could just download the songs.
Reina: It was pretty easy. User friendly.
Iran: It’s just very flexible, and with indie artists you want flexibility with anything.
Sam: Yeah, understandable. And you mentioned about submitting to venues using ReelCrafter. What was that experience like? How do you use ReelCrafter to submit to them and how’s that received on their end? Do they come back with feedback?
With indie artists you want flexibility with anything
Iran: I’ve always heard through my mentors: no negative feedback is good feedback. When we reach out to venues, we obviously present a few of our songs, we have our bio we have a music video. But, because a lot of venues ask for it, we also include Spotify links, YouTube links and all that. ReelCrafter has the icons at the bottom for Spotify, YouTube… it’s all there.
Reina: So it’s better… sometimes it replaces a website.
Iran: It replaces about four or five things in just one page, and that’s really the beauty of ReelCrafter.
Sam: That’s awesome. You’ll be glad to hear that we’re adding more features. You’ll be able to add your social following in the ReelCrafter reel. Spotify followers or listeners. We’re going to bring that all into the reel — your numbers, in addition to links. We’re trying to be a one stop shop. Just one place where you can have all your music. Your whole catalog, and you can just send out demos or use it really however you want to use it. It’s getting more flexible and you can use it in different ways.
Iran: Actually, going back to the positive feedback, there was one time that someone acknowledged the custom link. They were like, “Oh thank you, that was a really nice touch. Thank you for doing that.”
It replaces about four or five things in just one page, and that’s really the beauty of ReelCrafter.
Sam: Cool. So, before you discovered ReelCrafter, what were you using?
Reina: Me, personally, I was using SoundCloud. But SoundCloud has its limits and, you know, it got dated real quick, unfortunately. It wasn’t keeping up with the times, so when Iran showed me ReelCrafter I was like: “This is much more user-friendly, it’s easier. Let’s make the switch.”
Iran: That’s right. Personally, I was using a combination of things. I was using a combination of YouTube playlists, SoundCloud, ReverbNation, as well. I remember using ReverbNation for some time to send out demos. And then obviously I would have a website link that had a bio. So in an email, in a single email, I would have 3 or 4 different links. “Check out this for this, this for that, this for that.”
Sam: It was a lot of stuff to juggle — a lot of different tools in different places, which is kind of a pain.
Reina: It was, exactly.
Iran: Yeah. And it’s the common note that supervisors, directors — they all say the same thing: “Just send us one the one thing, a one-stop-shop kind of thing, where it’s just one link, we click it, and it has everything there.”
Sam: Yeah, they don’t want to have the hassle of multiple links or being forced to download something if they’re on the go. They want to be able to just stream it, but have the option to download if they want to.
Sam: So it sounds like ReelCrafter has changed the way you approach pitching and booking gigs. Besides just being easier overall and having different tools, has it changed anything in how you submit to venues or pitch for sync opportunities?
Iran: Yeah, absolutely. When pitching to festivals, especially festivals, they have an audition process. [With ReelCrafter], we can replace a song without them really noticing. But also — probably the most important part — you can see when they hear your song, and what part of the song they heard.
Reina: And where they stopped.
Iran: Right. So it gives you that data. It’s like: “OK, this part of the song works, let’s do more of this. Let’s do less of that.”
Reina: And also for fan engagement, too.
Let’s do more of this. Let’s do less of that.
Sam: Yeah, we’ve had people who do that. They’ll pay attention to what tracks were engaged with more, and then they’ll swap it out for more like that, and update the reel. Then the listener will come back and it magically has more stuff that they like. Play it to your advantage. Do you guys have any favorite features of ReelCrafter that stand out among the rest?
Reina: For me, it’s adding videos and adding live performances. When bookies are looking at the page, they want to see us perform. I think that’s one of the best features for indie artists to be able to showcase to bookies.
Iran: Yes, especially here in Los Angeles, the first question they have is: “Send us a live performance video.” So, within the reel page we put a live performance video and also a music video to give them that option.
Sam: That’s a great pitching tip, actually — maybe people who are new to the pitching game wouldn’t think to include a video. They would just send their music or a recent album. That’s a great idea.
Reina: Plus, it also promotes it.
Iran: It also promotes it. Again, it’s just everything on that one page. For me, my favorite feature is actually the data that we can collect: what part of the song they’ve listened to, and for how long. Whether they skip. It makes you produce better and makes you write better, because you’re collecting [the data] over time.
Reina: And Iran also uses it for his film composing, as well, so it’s not just for us.
Sam: Right, it does everything — or at least we’re trying to. Great, thanks guys, really appreciate you making the time to talk to us today. Thank you and good luck with everything.
About Willow Crest
Having met during a cowriting session, Reina and Iran knew they had something authentic and passionate they wanted to share with their listeners. Now as a collective; this LA-based Indie Folk Acoustic Duo covers all the unconventional yet cathartic verses of a love story. Their music is a journey of what it takes to become the person you’ve always envisioned to be; courageous, brave, self loving, and never afraid to embrace the flaws that make us human.
You can find Willow Crest online here:
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/willow-crest/1540844032