Young Guru & Sean C: A&R Tips

For my culminating experience, I am working on a A&R / Artist management project. I’m not fully participating as an A&R for the Disrupción records, but that’s the field I want to learn the most about.
 
When Sean C and Young Guru came to Berklee few weeks ago, I tried to attend most of their sessions and workshops. I felt like their workshops were very helpful even though I didn’t really get to actually talk to them for hours. Just hearing their experience, how they started in the industry, how much they love working in the music industry, I was very inspired.
One of the biggest take aways  from their sessions was that “If you want to be an A&R, be an A&R NOW, Don’t wait for someone else to hire you and make you do the job. Sean C said just look for talent now and act like you are doing the job already. There are plenty of talented artists around us and we may not realize it, but also we need to force ourselves to make sure we are surrounded by talent. To become an A&R, we need to have the ear for the talent, and budgeting, learning how to balance can come later. Of course, you have to know how to put the record together.

We need to learn why other people fall in love with certain records, it’s easy to fall for music that we specifically like however, as an A&R, we need to figure out why other people like and why they are popular. Even though you don’t like it, you need to know that. The example they gave us was Ne-yo how he puts himself into other people’s situation. He would write songs as if he is in a female perspective. They told us to think about why other people are attached to some records. Also Young Guru was saying he brings his songs to his usual Barber shop so he can get other people’s opinion because they are the most honest people around him who would tell him they like the song or not. 

These advice may sound typical, but to me it was a wake up call. I really try to listen to whatever I want to listen to. I easily shut down the music genre I don’t like even if they are all over the radio. I always rather listened to new songs, but most likely repeat the songs I like. Before I go to bed, I should really try to think over why people like Pitbull so much now. 

August Alsina:: Testimony

I remember listening to TLC when I was young while living in Korea, I had no internet,  and didn’t have a lot of money to really buy CDs. I was watching AFKN (American TV station in Korea) , saw the music video and fell in love. Ever since then, my favorite music genre was R&B. I went to the states and it was a heaven. I had Destiny’s Child, Brandy, and Aliyah. For a while, Mario, Craig David, Ne-Yo, Usher and other R&B artists kept my CD player busy. I was driving to Canada from New York for 8 hours, I remember purchasing Ne-Yo’s album and put on Because of You on repeat for 8 hours. Trey Songz, Chris Brown made me drive down to NYC to see their shows. There aren’t a lot of artists who are doing R&B anymore. I miss it but I know not a lot of people are into it as much as before. I had Frank Ocean and John Legend but I had to hear Pitbull once in a while because I was forced to. 

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I was checking itunes album chart and found out about August Alsina. I thought it was interesting because he was number one on the album chart and it’s not EDM. Then few days ago, I read an article about this artist that his debut album “Testimony” debut on Billboard 200 at number 2. I went on Spotify (sorry) listened to the whole album and today, I just purchased his whole album plus  previous EPs. I hardly really purchase whole albums on itunes unless they are Pharell, Drake or Frank Ocean. August Alsina sold more than 63000 copies the opening week. 

New Orleans artist August Alsina is just 21 years old who’s under Radio Killa (The -Dream) and Def Jam. Initially , he approached me as an artist who sounds like the old Chris Brown.
I feel like..he is probably the only R&B artist who is singing about real struggles, and problems today. He talks about his childhood, drug abuse, growing up in the hood, and of course love. His songs are honest and it’s about his life which made me open my wallet to actually purchase the whole album. A lot of the R&B song are about sex and some songs don’t even make sense to me. 

“The date of the the album’s release, April 15th, holds special meaning to Alsina because his brother was shot and killed on that same day a few years ago. On the album’s intro, “Testify,” he sings about how his brother’s death has inspired him to keep grinding. “Heard my brother got gunned down, and it hurt me to my heart/ So I kept grinding’, kept pushin’, he told me to go far.” In fact, a large portion of the album’s subject matter is about the struggle, and Alsina’s past days on the corner selling dope. It hasn’t always been easy sailing for the singer, as he describes on the following track, “Make It Home”.

The album Testimony is definitely a strong debut for August Alsina. All the songs are well presented, produced, well ordered too. Of course I have some favorite tracks but I did not skip a track. Some people won’t agree and probably don’t like the genre but I can’t help myself repeating the whole album since yesterday. If you like R&B, you absolutely must check August Alsina out!

August Alsina-I Luv This Shit (Explicit) ft. Trinidad James

 

It’s All Or Nothing! O-Town is coming back

On Ryan Seacrest’s website today, as well as Justin Timberlake’s management facebook page, there was on announcement stating the following “NSYNC announce reunion: 2 new songs, tour coming in 2015.”

*NSYNC are saying “Bye Bye Bye” to their 12-year hiatus. On Tuesday, the mega popular boy band — who came together for an epic medley performance at the MTV Video Music Awards last August — announced that they will be reuniting once again, but this time for a world tour and new music. “Do you want us back??? Get ready for more of that dirty pop in 2015!!!!!” tweeted @NSYNC, which is run by Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, and Chris Kirkpatrick. As for the group’s fourth album, it will reportedly be a greatest hits collection plus two new tracks, one of which will be a collaboration with Miley Cyrus. There have also been rumors that the “Wrecking Ball” singer will also serve as *NSYNC’s opening act when they launch their There Are Still No Strings Attached world tour next year. *NSYNC split in 2002 after seven years together. Their three albums produced scores of Top 20 hit singles, including “It’s Gonna Be Me,” “Bye Bye Bye,” and “Girlfriend.”

I got  excited, I gasped and told my roommate to what he responded by saying “It’s probably an April Fools joke.” And Yes, it was.. They had put out the article but also said *April Fools! The above story is just a fun fabrication … hope you had a good laugh with us. –

Scoff to that.

 

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Through my search to find any evidence that this Nsync reunion was true I discovered that O-Town another boyband from the 90s IS reuniting after 10 years, not as 5 member group but four of the original members minus Ashley.

 

They say “This time is different clearly for one reason — there is only us. There’s no big manager. There’s no big label. There’s no big networks. There’s no big music mogul. It’s just us and our love for music,”
I’m curious to see how this will turn out since it’s without the most popular member, and no label support or manager. Will they bring back the late 90, early 2000 boy band sound or release something completely different? Not a lot of the previous boy band members did well after the break ups except for Justin Timberlake so I’m looking forward to seeing how the industry and the audience react to their comeback once there are more details.

By the way! Happy April Fools!

MUSIC STREAMING UNDER ATTACK

Three major labels in Korea YG, SM and JYP had filed a report to ministry of culture against the manipulation of digital music charts back in 2013. In 2011, South Korea was the only country that digital sales surpassing the offline (CD, tapes) sales. If we argue that digital is killing the physical, South Korea was the one that really initiated that movement. Everyday, number one song on the main music online sites changes. It’s not surprising anymore to see a really good song is number one just for a day. That’s why the Korea’s leading online music site melon has a chart called the “live chart” where it shows what customers are listening at the moment.

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Some companies have made complaints that they see problems with some agencies have powers to control the charts by increasing the number with how many times the song has been downloaded or streamed. Some songs unrealistically rank the at top of all music charts, and these songs are easier to get more attention from the customers. Of course when you log onto music sites and see an unknown artist’s song, you get curious to listen to the song and make your own judgement. This leads to more exposure for the artist and for the song to become even more popular. It’s difficult to pinpoint  any artists or companies until there’s evidence. There are so many new artists releasing songs every day. To gain attention from the public is one of the hardest thing today for most of the KPOP artists.

How does this whole manipulation business work? It takes 500,000,000won (about 520,000 USD) for new artists and 300,000,000won (about 320,000 USD) for existing artists. They ask some marketing agencies to purchase thousands of usernames, and also create auto streaming program to bring the song top to the chart. This will lead these artists to be able to go on TV programs and live performance shows.

The labels that filed the report have stated that the manipulation must be stopped as soon as possible because it’s not fair for the artists and allows for unfair advantages. If this keeps on going music listeners and the over listening public will lose their respect towards these online music sites. Sometimes, I go on Melon or other sites to check what’s popular now and I cannot believe or agree with some of the songs that’s on Top 10.  The chart manipulation does not make for fair competition for the artists, and ruins the healthy music market

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.

MIDEM:: Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale

Starting January I tried to schedule meetings with industry professionals attending MIDEM this year.  I emailed to participate in Rethink workshop, instead of participating in it, I got to volunteer and help out during the first day of MIDEM. About 30 successful music industry experts joined the workshop that was organized and executed by Allen Bargfrede and Emilien Moyon from Berklee College of Music. Those participating  were tasked with coming up with an innovative business idea for one of 5 artists presented to them that day. The workshop gave me the opportunity to network with some participants especially when I got to meet a past high profile business partner from my previous job whom I’ve only known via email.

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I also had an opportunity to help out at the Korean Pavilion throughout this year’s MIDEM. There were more than 30 companies who attended from South Korea and 4 artists/team scheduled to perform at the “K-pop Night Out”. After PSY’s success in 2012, I heard people got more and more interested in KPOP and that was evident with the various producers, songwriters, and labels from all over the world that came to the booth willing to do business with Korea. Adding to my surprise was the fact that the media wanted to do interviews with the Korean artists. It was nice to see the Korean booth crowded, filled with meetings trying to do business with all the companies, and people showing lots of interests in KPOP. 

I ran into a friend who were on a tour with me back in 2010! You meet everyone at MIDEM!  
I got a text from my parents who are in Korea currently saying they saw me on the news. And also an article was released in Korean with my name on it!, about how MIDEM is a “must go conference”, approximately 30 of Berklee Valencia students referring us as the future music business leaders. I feel proud about it J I even had the honor of translating and helping out Kpop artists which was a great experience and seeing them perform that night was even better. I was already a huge fan of Dynamic Duo but now I’m crazy about them.

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There were several sessions I attended, one of my favorites was “Artists Speak to Artists: Dynamic Duo and VIXX, Building an Artist’s Career”. As a person who is interested in A&R, I really enjoyed the Building an Artist’s Career session because they discussed the strategies they used to seek out artists or songs. One thing I took away was the important of someone working in A&R having a strong commitment when they discover someone who they really believe in. I think some of these key points really will stick with as I move on in my career. They are definitely simple points, but sometimes its easy to get lost in the music industry and lose sight of what you love about your job in the first place.

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The 15 hour bus ride there and back was rough and tiring but the “networking” during day & night mad it well worth it. To be honest, I did not really attend all the workshops or conference sessions I originally planned and promised myself to go on my planner, but I definitely met a lot of people and came back with a stack of business cards. With 2 awesome volunteer opportunities, few meetings (random and planned),interviews, translating, and being in a Korean news article, I think I had a productive time at MIDEM this year. 

Meet:: Chance (Mikey Kim) and Oneway

Oneway with Charm Park-Don’t love Your No More Cover(Craig David)

Chance (Michael Kim) is a 27 year old Korean American songwriter/producer/singer from Los Angeles, California. He went to Berklee College of Music and currently residing in Korea as one of the top producers/songwriter there. He became famous producing JYP Entertainment’s boy group 2PM’s R&B track “Like A Movie”, and then worked with Ichiro Suezawa, an engineer for Bruno Mars, who also went to Berklee College of Music with Chance producing few K-pop songs.

Chance said in his interview that he enjoys listening to D’Angelo, Prince, Stan Getz and João Gilberto and John Mayer.

Chance- Singing Live (Covers)

Chance actually debut as a group name One Way. It’s a contemporary R&B group and Chance was the leader & vocalist. Other members were Peter Hyun (Australian Korean) and Young Sky (Australian Korean). They were known for composing their own songs because not a lot of Korean artists do produce or write their songs.

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He now is a part of Double Sidekick, a producing team in Korea. Boyband, Girl group, R&B, Ballad, dance. All are done by them and they take over the chart now. And they won Songwriter Award at the 2012 Melon Award (this is like…billboard music award in the states)

One Way & Charm Park-Rainy Days ft Jun.K 2PM (English ver.)

Oneway’s music was based on hiphop and r&b, it’s fresh from the other korean artists that’s out there right now. I personally feel like Oneway as a group was super underrated. R&B is not a popular genre anymore in Korea, and for that reason, Oneway as a group is not performing together anymore. All members are more into producing songs for other artists…Other artists like boy groups and girl groups, which makes the producers make more money.

I do miss Chance a lot seeing him in a group as a leader of Oneway,  because I really like his voice. But props to him for doing his own thing, producing all current popular K-pop songs that’s out there. Not sure how much he enjoys performing on stage but he sure is making tons of money by producing and making songs for the renown k-pop acts…He has 13 #1 songs just in 2013!

CHANCE
Twitter: twitter.com/onewaychance

bonus.. this is one of my favourite tracks Chance produced in 2013.

Bumkey-Attraction ft. Dynamic Duo
Dynamic Duo is coming to MIDEM in February 2014!!

Meet:: Lydia Paek

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2NE1-Ugly (written by Lydia Paek, over 19million views)

Singer, Songwriter, dancer, choreographer, she does everything. Her name is Lydia Paek. I am currently obsessed with her. 24 years old Lydia is a Korean American from Los Angeles. She is the only female member from the Quest Crew, season 3 winning team from America Best Dance Crew, though she participated as a member of Boxcuttuhz for the 3rd season of ABDC.  She has been dancing since the age of fifteen, got into breaking, joined the team, and is one of the founding members of the Quest Crew.

 

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Quest Crew @ The Beat Down 2013

Boxcuttuhz Compilation

Lydia wrote songs for one of the most popular KPOP Girl groups, 2NE1, I love You, Ugly, etc. She had mentioned that she is not signed as an artist to anywhere, though she is hired just as a songwriter at YG entertainment. Lydia is working on her own mixtape currently. She is a big fan of Stevie Wonder, Jazmine Sullivan, Jamie Foxx, Prince, and list goes on. Her crew members describe Lydia as a very independent and confident girl. Right now, like I said before, I’m obsessed with this talent bundle. She has a great voice, knows how to write songs, fashionable, and on top of that, she can dance. All the fans she has are waiting for her music to be out and I would be one of them. 

Lydia Paek-Unthinkable Cover (Alicia Keys ft. Drake)

I am an independent type of person – one to strive for things. I want to accomplish so much in life and share it with people I love. I have been dancing for about 4 years, since I was 15 years old. A matter of fact, I was more of a dancer than a singer first. I really started getting into singing when I was in high school. I wish I had vocal lessons but never had the money to do so. I have achieved so much in life already and continue to do so. All I have to say is that, if you enjoy something – strive for it. Nothing is impossible. Just do it. See where it gets you, and keep trying. –Lydia Paek

Check out Lydia on twitter and Youtube!
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/JUUKKES 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thelyddz

Lydia Paek FT. Tablo-Suit and Tie Cover (Justin Timberlake)

Lydia Paek & Crush-Pusher Love Girl (Justin Timberlake)

Meet:: DUMBFOUNDEAD

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Bubba Kush-Dumbfoundead

Cajmere-percolator(original mix)

Dumbfoundead is a rapper/comedian from LA Korean town. He was smuggled in from Argentina with his sister by his mother; first to Mexico and then to Los Angeles. He is probably one of the biggest names in West coast rap (and now in East Coast, too) who’s Korean American in the underground hip-hop scene. Growing up in LA, he started attending Open Mic Nights when he was about 14 being the only Asian there.He would always go to open mics called Project Blowup in LA (South central) which is like an apollo theater for rappers. Dumbfoundead said he first started rapping because he wanted to impress girls at the house parties. And now he is one of the most loved rapper in the Asian American community in the states. He is one of a few Asian-Americans who are succeeding as rappers.

“I think a lot of Asian rappers when they were first coming up, they were specifically trying to cling on to black culture. But it’s really about understanding all cultures, because that’s the route that hip hop went.”-Dumbfoundead


PARKER-BKFAM (Brooklyn For A Month) -(Prod. Esta)
*Rekstizzy is in this video!!! Read Rek’s interview!

Dumbfoundead has his own project he is doing, Knockstudy, he is not signed to any major record labels or a management company. He teaches how to write and DJ, usually to Asian American rappers that are only popular among the Asian American communities in the states.

He has been collaborating with many major Korean artists like Dynamic Duo and Jay Park. ( I went to Jay Park’s NYC show last year in Best Buy Theater NYC and watched them perform together… I was like…omg. that’s Dumbfoundead!!!) Although..Dumbfoundead once stated he has no interest blowing up in Korea.


Dumbfoundead & Jay Park: You Know How We Do


Knockstudy 2013

Through his lable, Knockstudy, Dumbfoundead  invites high school students for free and teaches them MC writing workshops, as well as music production workshops. The Knockstudy has a music lab and the students can come in to jam out and work on their beats. The label’s headquarters are located in Los Angeles for now, but he is looking into spreading out to other locations in the US as well. Free music school for kids? That’s amazing. His motivation to run the Knockstudy was to give back what he received when he was a kid: he was a YMCA club boy and thinks that he can now offer something, teaching and sharing his music knowledge with young people.


Knockstudy Rap session with Dumbfoundead

Dumbfoundead not only embraces American culture but he is not shy at all being Korean. Much respect what he is trying to do, giving out to young kids who want to learn music. Dumfoundead (Parker) is already but will become better known as a successful artist and businessman representing the Asian community in the states. 

On Being An Asian-American Rapper:
“So many Asian artists used to come up to me and be like, ‘Man, it’s so hard for us as Asians in hip hop,’ but it’s actually made it easier because now I’m getting gigs at all these Asian-American organizations. I’m one of the few Asian MC’s really doing it well. It’s funny when they say that and use it as a crutch, because hip hop has always been a vehicle to stand out and look unique. So me being a minority and rapping well — that’s become a big advantage.”-Dumbfoundead

Dumbfoundead
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/dumbfoundead
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dumbfoundead
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dumbfoundead
Website: Dumfoundead.com

Remember Strength In Numbers Projects with producer CHOPS?! Click here!
Here’s the Strength In Numbers track by Dumbfoundead & Paul Kim produced by CHOPS!

Chops x Paul Kim x Dumbfoundead – No Turning Back

Meet:: Jayesslee

Youtube Sensation “Jayesslee”!

 

Gangnam Style- PSY

 

 

Jayesslee is the group name of the two twins Sonia and Janet. The name is “Jay” for J and “Ess” for S and Lee, their last name. The girls are Korean but were born and raised in Sydney, Australia. Janice and Sonia started music in church and got influences from worship music.

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Jayesslee started posting their videos online in 2008, and the cover of “Officially Missing You” (17 million views) by Tamia boost their followers. Thanks to Youtube, their cover videos went viral and they are now number one most subscribed youtube channel in Australia by reaching one million subscribers.

Officially Missing You-Tamia 

 

With their popularity, they covered more songs like… Jessie J’s Price Tag (20million views), Maroon 5’s Payphone (38million views) . They uploaded PSY’s Gangname Style and it has more than 35 million views!!

Payphone-Maroon 5

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The girls have been performing at weddings, colleges and university shows. The duo flew to LA and had their first concert in 2010. Ever since then, they have had shows in the United States, Canada, and Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Their shows are not huge, but get sold out with more than 3500 fans. The girls are inspired to sing and perform about their personal experiences. They aspire to be artists who send out positive messages of hope and freedom through their music.

“We didn’t ever think our platform and success would reach to this capacity and popularity. It’s truly an honour and blessing to see so many fans and people all over the world accept us and admire our music. We thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts.” – Janice & Sonia

Janice and Sonia released few tracks on iTunes & Spotify as well with their studio recorded versions of Officially Missing You, Payphone, Dare You To Move and more.
I just love them. I can listen to them all day!

My favorite!

Dare You To Move- Switchfoot

 

Check out Jayeslee on Youtube, facebook, twitter and itunes! 

Youtube
Facebook
Twitter : @jayessleemusic 
Itunes