Masks and Legalese

We have just emerged from an intensive and highly fruitful week!  Through the duration of the tumult and productivity, I have personally been involved with two departments in particular:

On the legal front, we researched the registration of trademarks with respect to the labels in all its ambits: payment methods, fees, registration processes, applicable class, and form fulfilment.  Upon the receipt of Berklee’s approbation and the necessary tools and information to carry out such a procedure, the trademark was registered and finalized last Tuesday.  Compiling individual research with resources acquired in the classroom, a contractual agreement has been drafted between the artists involved in the project and the record label.

Concerning the A&R department, I made an evening of realizing a meticulous review of each artist’s interview.  Upon analyzing the information, I selected the four artists that I believed would foster the most synergic relationship with the label, composing a report to qualify and quantify the specific reasons for my selections.  On Wednesday, the class met as a whole to review and compile the collective results of our analyses.  A final decision was taken regarding the number of artists with whom we will collaborate, the division of artists between both division of the label, and we discussed the final product that would be released.  We reached a final consensus that each individual artist would contribute between three and five tracks to the final project, which will be released digitally and ideally compiled to be published as a physical vinyl.

My ventures in video production have become progressively more challenging, albeit rewarding.  Thursday was invested in the recording of my latest project, a music video of The Real World by local artist Kyle Schieffer.  The lyrical content of the song is a stinging diatribe against consumerism and collectivism, inspiring a thorough storytelling of vivid imagery and dystopian themes.  We captured this theme using masks and dystopian imagery in stark contrast against the protagonist, the individual.  This collaboration between myself, Kyle, several other Berklee students, and auxiliary cameraman Miguel López lasted the duration of the whole day, and yielded promising results.

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On a final note, this coming Monday, March 3rd, the team will be hosting a Mini TEDx Application Conference in the Berklee Library at 6PM.  The event itself will showcase potential TEDx speakers who will be presenting the material they wish to present at the event in June. This event is open to everyone who is interested in attending, so mark your calendars. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Record label practicum/iphone/CAA/ICC/djkTunes/survey results — Productive Week!!

This is probably the best title I have created so far ever! Creative genius at its best! :p

Last week was probably one of the most productive week in this semester for me. It was supposed to be MIDEM, but you guys are well aware how productive it turned out to be for me! (There were some good things too..blurred memories and potatoes!!

Productive activity #1 :At the office of Record label practicum last week at A69, we had a great week with many major decisions taken. We decided on the artists, the format of the playlist, an idea for logo, website designs, budgeting (more or less), social media presence, trademark, contracts, basically everything!! (Take that …so called big guns of the industry!!). The only thing yet to discuss is the salary of the employees (a weekly party by Ferran and Ben?).

Productive activity #2: I finally got a phone!! Cannot thank enough to my friend, batch-mate and colleague, Mr. Kareem Clarke!! I can now message again, whatsapp again, take pictures anytime again, call again, receive calls again and most importantly MUSIC 24*7!!!

IPhone_4S

Productive activity #3: CAA- Creative Artists Agency, world’s biggest talent management agency. Their office is ‘lovingly’ called ‘The Death Star” because of the ‘loving’ agents working there! Imagine 100s of Ari Gold in one building!! So I basically filled out an internship form and they had a question ‘Why do think you can be a good agent?’. Well, I had two options, the first one was give reasons like I most people would do (honest, hard-working, loved entourage, have a man-crush on Ari Gold and so on!) and second option was to tell the a story…short, sweet and TRUE. So here it is what i replied..

” When i was 21, i had no experience of promoting my own live shows. But this did not hold me back and i convinced your RA, an agent with you for 20 years, to promote a 3-city tour of Enrique Iglesias in India with me. Please find attached the contracts we exchanged, signed by him and the 3-month long e-mail conversation we had. I am sure, if at 21, I can convince your own executive RA for a 1 million USD deal, imagine at 26, after 5 years of experience, how much I can convince your clients. This is why I can be a good agent.”

Its a long shot but I knew getting into ‘The Death Star’ will not be walk on roses and I am excited for it!

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Productive activity #3: Met with Stine at ICC, atlast!!!! Damn, this was an achievement! We had a good discussion about my resume, cover letter and basically all the queries I had regarding Interships, Jobs and Career in general!

Productive activity #4: After 4 days of productive work, I needed a break..a productive break!! Luckily, we had international DJ from USA in Valencia, djkTunes spinning at Rumbo!!! An awesome set, amazing fun!!

rumbo

Productive activity #5: Our class reps, John and Manuel did an amazing job of representing the issues, we as class are facing in the form of survey to our Program Director, Emilien Moyon. It was a good, healthy discussion between us and Emilien about how to eliminate these issues and have an amazing last few months at Berklee! Good Job Reps!!!

I understand, this blog is too self-centred but sometimes when I think about all of these so-called activities (big or small), what me and my friends here at Berklee Valencia are doing on daily-basis, its over-whelming to see how badly we want to be associated with Music as artists, managers, agents, producers, executives,teachers and what not!! As for Music industry, take a chill pill, THE SUN IS JUST RISING!!! (tush-tush)

THE RECORD LABEL OF BERKLEE IN VALENCIA is becoming a reality!

 

The Record Label of Berklee College of Music Campus Valencia is finally becoming a reality. The students involved in this venture are just waiting for the approval from the Dean and the school’s Board of Directors to have the Berklee name on the label. This is, indeed, very exciting for our community.

I am grateful for the opportunity of being at Berklee while this happens. Since I arrived here I have been witness to the amazing talent of the Berklee students. After a tough pre-selection process, the final ten singers and songwriters were interviewed last Friday. It was really hard to get a favorite one and to choose the students that will record the first records for the new brand label. I cannot reveal the names of the projects yet, but I can say that they are so talented that I’m sure many people will enjoy their music in the future.

Here you can here some of the talented and great music of the Berklee Valencia students:

https://soundcloud.com/groups/music-business-practicum

 

As part of the marketing team we are truly thrilled of working in the creation of the logo and all the social media strategy. By the end of this week we are presenting the different options we chose as and ideas for the logo, colors, typography and everything related to the institutional image of our label. We also will announce that the record label is already set in the most important social networks. We are developing accounts in gmail, youtube, facebook, twitter, instagram, soundcloud among others.

 

What is next?

 

The students of the record label practicum were divided in two teams. Each team have A&R, Legal and Marketing groups that will develop the different strategies for each of the music projects. We have some proposals about how to release the music, one of which is to produce an EP for each artist and then a compilation of all of the projects.  Wouldn’t it be a cool idea to have the compilation released in vinyl?  Let´s see how things flow. What is true, is that this venture will open great opportunities both for those people doing music and for those of us learning about how to get their music out there!

 

The Industry from an Artist and their Manager’s Perspective Pt. 1: The Artist

Last friday at our weekly music business forum we were visited by Cindy Castillo an artist manager and founder of GIGnTIK an artist management company.  Joined by Miss Caffeina, one of the bands she currently manages they all had a lot of insight on how to be successful within the spanish music industry. This weeks post will focus on Miss Caffeina’s insight and next weeks post will be on their managers perspective. So let’s start with Miss Caffeina:

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The band were very opinionated on how to succeed in the industry with the following quotes being a couple of standouts;

“Artists need to understand the business in order to success in Spain specifically.  They need to be interested in how the business works”

I found this very relevant but not only for Spanish artists, I think its a great thing for a band to understand the ins and outs of the way the industry works in their specific market in order to make the best out of their situation.   In the case of Miss Caffeina they are very involved in their business with one of the band members creating a adaptable tour budget that to track the bands revenue streams. I found that very commendable and think that artists should be as interested in their business as Miss Caffeina is.  Their manager Cindy Castillo even noted that the reason they have been so successful is because of the bands insight on the inner working of the industry.  We’ve seen recent stories where artist ended up suffering because of their lack of awareness in the industry, for example Rihanna and the recent revelation that she almost went broke in 2009 .  In relation to this topic the band also discussed how important it was for an artist to think of people in the industry as their enemies when first entering the music industry in order to ensure some type of success and security . Miss Caffeina talked about having their guards up so that people didn’t take advantage of them and that again I think is an important characteristic to have in order to be a successful artists in any industry. The band also went into detail about the way they maneuver between working both the commercial and the independent music markets present in Spain.  Specifying that they try to appeal to commercial radio while keeping an independent integrity when touring live.  I was a little skeptical and confused by how they leverage trying to work within both markets especially when they came across as more of a commercial band after hearing them perform a couple of their songs.  But this strategy seems to be working and in a market that is difficult to proposer in due to current economic and internal industry factors.

Check out some of the bands material below!

When I Lost a Debate About Spotify.

Is Spotify Killing the Music Industry?

I recently took part in a class debate where our team was arguing that ‘Yes’ Spotify is killing the music industry.

With a class of music lovers, who predominantly use Spotify to listen to music everyday, it was always going to be an up hill battle trying to convince them.

Our team of three, brainstormed many different arguments but couldn’t find any validity in that the decline in the music industry is solely due to Spotify, as it takes up such a small market share. Instead, we decided to use our passion, what I like to call the Thom York approach and go for the emotional tact. The three of us do not use Spotify and are quite passionate that it is the devil. Trying to articulate that proved pretty hard.

Below is my section of the speech, it gets quite convoluted at times, I hope however, that the audience were entertained and could see some valid points in my argument:

Today, we are not going to use the aid of a slide presentation to tell you why Spotify is killing the music industry. As a class of music aficionados, passionate, next generation leaders, we hope to prove why Spotify is killing the music industry  – creatively, through the choice paralysis and finally the hit song complex.

Here we have a brothel more commonly referred to as the music industry. The major labels are the pimps and the whores are the artists. You can buy that more desired worker, but for a larger price. Or you could just pay for that indie band who you wouldn’t brag to your mates about.

In comes spotify, the STD known as chlamydia that is slowly infecting the music industry. And no, I’m not talking from personal experience.

Amanda Palmer, our favourite TED talker said not to ask an artist about Spotify. “He’ll go on about the glory days of vinyl and recording to tape”…Spotify started in 2008 as a band aid solution to illegal downloading and has killed the value of songs and albums that I Tunes were offering. Just like video killed the radio star, Cd’s killed the vinyl star, Spotify is killing the music industry. Palmer says not to ask the artist but without the artist and their creativity, where would the industry be?

We define the music industry as a creative industry that over the last ten years has seen a detrimental downturn.  The industry is not measured in sales, it’s measured by creativity. We saw at MIDEM music conference, the need for innovation and new business models but the underlying theme of the festival was nostalgia. These big dogs of the music industry were crying out for a need to go back to the model of the 80’s. But why did it ever stop? It is the the global mega stars, often with one hit wonders, that Spotify holds (excuse the pun) – major  biases for that are killing the industry.

Yesterday, Kid Cudi released his 4th studio album. Blogs across the internet cleverly marketed it with a “download here”  button tat automatically directed the user to I Tunes. On I Tunes, Cudi sold it for $10 as a buy album only. Where we were once saving our pocket money for that new parental advisory album our parents didn’t want us to buy, we now pay the same amount to play millions of albums once, make a quick assessment of whether there’s a ‘Gangnam’ hit on it or not, then dispose of it. It is in this quick disposal of music the creative side of the industry is being killed.

Needless to say, we were crushed in the debate, the opposing team spoke well and used many figures proving that Spotify are currently doing some good in terms of sales for the music industry.

We concluded the debate with:

The record industry has been a cold twitching corpse for a long time now, Spotify has just given them a chance to choose their coffin.

I enjoyed the way the results were announced by our teacher over Twitter and the conversation that ensued:

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Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala Can Feel the Changes

“If music stay on the underground for so long, you gonna always complain about the mainstream because that type of music [underground music] will never cross over to that. So, what I’m trying to do is put that space, you know, this type of feel and that sound so that everyone can understand it. “ Yes Kendrick. And although this was said in a Pitchfork documentary last year, you are still sticking to that goal. Consequence of Sound posted two days ago about the collaboration with Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala. My jaw dropped as soon as I heard the news. I was a little disappointed to find out that their sent-by-god-miracle partnership was for a sci-fi sound track. I thought to myself, “Wait, but why? If this is supporting another Will Smith or Tom Cruise Sci-fi I’m outta here Kendrick, maybe I’ll just pretend that this song was never on a soundtrack.” But then I saw the trailer for Divergent and my jaw dropped a little further. The entire collaboration of the movie and music is a mix that one wouldn’t have expected in a good way, which makes it all the better to support. Let me just say, Kendrick’s music and work philosophy is something to aspire to because truthfully I’m just tired of hearing the same techno-pop songs with the same drop on the radio. Here is the list of songs that will be on this glorious soundtrack. Let’s keep the awesome collaborations going.

Divergent Soundtrack Tracklist:

01. Zedd – “Find You” (feat. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)
02. Ellie Goulding – “Beating Heart”
03. Pia Mia – “Fight for You” (feat. Chance the Rapper)
04. Ellie Goulding – “Hanging On” (I See MONSTAS remix)
05. Snow Patrol – “I Won’t Let You Go”
06 Woodkid – “Run Boy Run”
07. Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar – “Backwards”
08. M83 – “I Need You”
09. A$AP Rocky – “In Distress” (feat. Gesaffelstein)
10. Pretty Lights – “Lost and Found” (ODESZA remix)
11. Skrillex – “STRANGER” (feat. KillaGraham From Milo & Otis & Sam Dew)
12. Big Deal – “Dream Machines”
13. Ellie Goulding – “Dead in the Water”
14. Woodkid – “I Love You” (Deluxe Track)
15. Banks – “Waiting Game” (Deluxe Track)
16. Ellie Goulding – “My Blood”

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kendricktame

Berklee Record Label Thoughts

Okay, so my last post was a little negative. This time around, I’ll try to be a more upbeat and optimistic.

 

If you’ve read some of the previous blog posts from my fellow students, you’ll know that Berklee is working towards building an in-house record label. The process, so far, has been fun, frustrating, and everything in between. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how this experience compares to some of my favorite labels as well as the construction of my own record label with a friend from back home.

 

One of my favorite labels for years has been Stones Throw Records. To me, Stones Throw epitomizes what it means to believe in what you put out. Over the years, they have offered opportunities to some amazing new artists that have gone on to do big things (Mayer Hawthorne, Aloe Blacc) and have dusted off and repackaged works by legendary artists that otherwise might have not be introduced to a younger digitally inclined audience (Steve Arrington, Gary Wilson). Stones Throw is a label for DJ’s, by DJ’s, and I believe much of their success can be attributed to their creating a diverse, yet consistent, catalogue.

 

I am trying to emulate the same sort of spirit with my personal label, YoungBloods, based in the US. My friend ( co-owner) and I both have similar tastes and know what we like when we hear it. To that end, we are signing artists we believe in, regardless of the size of their fan base. As I’ve found with DJing, if you love what you are playing, chances are someone in the crowd will understand what you’re doing.

 

Disrupcion Records (the Berklee Valencia run label) has offered a different sort of experience. Naturally, it differs in that I am not working towards putting the label together with one close friend. Instead, I’m working with a large group of friends, all of whom have different tastes and expectations. While it is complicated to coordinate with everyone and come to a consensus regarding operational methods and music, it has been an exciting challenge to try to establish a consistency.

 

Things have been slightly tumultuous lately. There has been miscommunication that has caused confusion with who is doing what. However, I think that after we get in the groove of things we eventually might be able to achieve the same sort of organizational consistency that is present in a label like Stones Throw. It may be more difficult than working with a few close musically likeminded friends, although it will be interesting to see how the rest of the semester turns out. 

MIDEM

Thanks Alexandre for being so chouette!

Thanks Alexandre for being so chouette!

 

Nicole a.k.a. partner in crime

Nicole a.k.a. partner in crime

 

141a management represent!

141a management represent!

 

Supporting Andrew!

Supporting Andrew!

 

Nicole and Daniel beautifully singing Love Song.

Nicole and Daniel beautifully singing Love Song.

 

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It may be a little late to write my review about Midem, but it was such an impressionable weekend that the experience feels like it happened just yesterday. I went into Midem not really having a lot of expectations. I just knew that I wanted to go and learn about the music industry. One of the first conferences I attended was at the Brands & Fans Central area. The topic being presented was about marketing. I learned that marketing nowadays has to dive into emotions and impact people through feelings as opposed to using straight to the point facts and science. Launching a product has to be impactful and cool. The experience aspect has to be real, easily understandable, and emotional. The innovation process has to become part of a sharing economy. With all of these qualities in a marketing campaign, creativity, new relationships, and value are added to the product. Well, cool stuff to hear, I thought to myself. After this, my friend Nicole and I decided to hit up the speed meetings. We ended up meeting Michael Bisping from a.s.s. concerts and promotions. He was quite a lovely guy who answered our question “What advice can you give a college student before graduating?” He said to get an internship. Pretty much every person we asked that question to gave us this same answer- such disappointing advice. Michael actually ended up sitting with us for a little while during his lunch break and we talked about how record labels are slowly going downhill. He stated that record labels should head towards entrepreneurship in order for them to rise up again which was far more insightful than our speed meeting conversation. Nicole and I finished the day attending another marketing clinic hosted by Berklee’s very own Emilien Moyon. We went over the RIVE mapping to direct an artist with a pretty decent fan base into the direction of superior fame. It was a challenging task but our team was very persistent and creative in finding the best career path for our assigned artist. The next few days at Midem were spent pretty much doing the same. I saw and interview with Lyor Cohen, founder and CEO of 300 and heard Martin F. Frascogna speak about the art of deal making. I also heard Rita Ora speak about her experience in the music industry. I’m not going to lie; a lot of the information I was hearing at the conference was stuff I had already learned about from studying at Berklee. Although I knew this, I made sure to take this seriously because it was a very new experience for me and had never been surrounded by so many music professionals. For the most part, my Midem experience was positive but there were a few unpleasant experiences that made me question the professionalism of the music industry. It was difficult to hear many negative opinions as to where the industry is going. Although there were many inspirational speakers, some of them seemed to be spewing long winded rants that went in circles or just trying to sell their business in some sly way. At the after parties my eyes were opened to the dirt you hear about the industry and how those who held high ranking positions are perceived. I did meet some very genuine people who had my best interest at heart and wanted to maintain contact to potentially work with me in the future. However, there were some who abused their status and seemed more interested in trying to chat up the women. The behavior of some of the intoxicated music business professionals put me a little on edge due to their lack of maintaining boundaries from one colleague to another. Midem definitely had its ups and downs but I feel like I put my best foot forward and received the most that I could out of the experience.

“G I R L” by Pharell – Bound 4 success

Pharell has been in the music industry for over two decades. In that time we have seen him have his hand in too many monster records to count as a producer, singer, and/or rapper. However he has only released one solo project in 2006 entitled “In my mind”. The album debuted at #3 when it came out and went on to sell nearly 900,000 copies.

On February 18th Pharell, released a video showing that he will be releasing his second solo album on March 3rd.

 

In the past year, Pharell has been popping up everywhere. The success of songs Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Get Lucky by Daft Punk put Pharell and his involvement with the Jay-z album Magna Carta Holy Grail at the forefront of the music industry in the first half of 2013. In the second half of 2013, we saw the rise of the song Happy. Originally a song for the movie Despicable Me 2, Happy blew up with the music video, 24 hours of happy website, and the many remakes. Since the beginning of 2014, Pharell has already performed on the Grammys, the Brit Awards & the NBA All-Star game.

pharrell-williams-girl-album-artwork

Now, we have the announcement of his second debut album (album artwork is above). The only single on the album is Happy, but it is bound to be an EPIC piece of work. Daft Punk returned the favor and helped Pharell on his Album (ironically being released exactly a year after the release of Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”). Other features include Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus (2 artists who have also released albums and very important to music in the last year). After receiving 4 Grammys, one of which was for producer of the year, I think it is safe to say that Pharell is at the top of this game and this album is likely the culmination of the last year and the beginning of another one.

I respect Pharell as one of the most talented artists and producers in the industry right now. I am truly excited to see how the album sounds, but either way it is an album bound for international chart success.

 

-Kareem

 

 

 

 

 

SHAZAM-The New Record Label

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I’m at a restaurant and in the background, I hear a music that I like. I get my phone out and I start my SHAZAM. Shazam, which has 420 million users in 20 countries, is probably one of my favorite apps. With one simple click, I can find out the title of the song and the artist that I’m hearing the background.

This week other than facebook’s relationship with my other favorite app Whatsapp, Shazam has announced yesterday that they will be partnering up with one of the top major labels Warner Music Group. This will include a Shazam branded Warner Music Group record label.

Yes, Shazam is now a new music label. According to appadvice, Shazam will now discover new acts and sign them to a Shazam branded label and both Shazam and WMG will coordinate on marketing efforts. Now the users will discover new acts by exploring what songs were tagged the most, and those acts might get signed to a new Shazam label. Basically, people will act as an A&R team which I think it’s a cool concept. It is a first crowd sourced label, and with 420 million users, WMG has nothing to lose but gain the data from Shazam. WMG will benefit by finding out what songs are hot and trending and also it will be helpful for them to discover the current or even future hits.

Rob Wiesenthal, COO/Corporate, Warner Music Group stated

“By partnering with Shazam, a brand which is synonymous with music discovery for fans all around the world, we have forged a potent proposition: the first crowd-sourced, big data record label.”

Rich Riley, CEO, Shazam noted

“We are also eager to use our deep data and advanced promotional solutions combined with exclusive content from WMG to help artists engage with their fans and sell more music.”

Traditional major music labels needed a better way to engage with the fans, find out what people are liking to hear. Some artists don’t see the need to be signed to a huge major label, they publish their music and market their music by themselves. They just want to be heard. With this partnership, I strongly think WMG made a perfect move, teaming up with one of the most used music discovery app in the world, and stepping forward with the technology industry.