Raw talent with professional artist

Nayvia, raw talent in Valencia

Jon and Nayvia rehearsing their song.

It’s very interesting how things are developing so fast. Yesterday, Nayvia and myself met one more time with Jon O’Hara.

A couple months ago, I told Jon I wanted him to meet with a talented girl I was representing, and now they are working in a brand new song tailored to my artists qualities and strengths.

I enjoyed a lot watching this talented guys having such a great time singing together. There’s no doubt music is an universal language.

I’ve noticed a great progress with Nayvia in terms of confidence, voice and attitude. It hasn’t been easy for all of us, particularly to her. Sometimes I notice she gets quite overwhelmed and insecure about her capabilities. It must be shocking to see how people fall in love with things you took for granted of yourself, in Nayvia’s case, that was her voice.

Does Your Next Song Have “Hit” Potential?

Today I ran into an article that introduced me to “HitLogic” – a software that focuses on analyzing music to predict its “hit” potential! Now this is one of those moments when I absolutely love technology. As a performer, having access to such service provides valuable insights. As an artist manager or producer, having access to such service provides valuable insight too. It is basically a win-win tool.

It is technological advances like these that make me appreciate technology. Whether “HitLogic” actually works or not, it is nice to know that there are now resources easily available to positively aid musicians careers.

For more information on “HitLogic”, visit this article – http://www.musicradar.com/us/news/tech/hitlogic-half-price-reports-for-all-607847

A&R – Artists to Watch: Singer-Songwriter Cole Fournier

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Independent and unsigned Canadian artist, Cole Fournier has been making some serious waves off of  his debut release, “One Morning, I’m Going To Wake Up,” the 25-year-old singer songwriter explores age-old themes of love, loss and lust against a lyrical backbone borrowed from the likes of Jesse Lacey (Brand New) and Max Bemis (Say Anything).

The eleven song LP was written over a period of eight years and across four continents, documenting the singer’s life as a busker in Paris, tree planter in Prince George and Camp Counselor in Spain. Co-produced by JUNO nominee Ben Leggett, “One Morning, I’m Going To Wake Up” sees Fournier go beyond his pop roots offering insight into modern relationships (“I’m With You But I’m Lonely”), and loss (“Austria”). The single from the album (“Pegasi”) has garnered Cole a position in the top 24 on CBC Searchlight’s Best New Artist Contest.

Here is a link to what could be one of the best promotional video EVER.

Head over to www.colefournier.com to cast your vote and find out where Cole is headed next.

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. 

Industry Vets: Young Guru and Sean C. Visit Berklee Valencia

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This week students at Berklee Valencia’s campus had the opportunity to meet and interact with two music industry veterans, Young Guru and Sean C.  If you aren’t familiar with their names, you’re most likely familiar with their repertoire. Young Guru has worked as a highly esteemed engineer and has also worked alongside respectable and notable artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West. Prior to meeting Young Guru, I indirectly felt as though as I knew him due to Hov’s various shoutouts throughout the years. One of my favorite Hov shoutouts was when he told Guru to “turn the lights down..let’s keep it smooth” on Party Life (American Gangster album) LOL

Our other industry vet, Sean C. is a Grammy-nominated producer and A&R that has produced for hip hop artists such as Diddy and Jay-Z.  I was especially interested to hear Sean’s perspective on the industry and the future as an A&R since my career interests are specifically in that field. There were various workshops held over the two-day period while they were here in Valencia. One of my favorite workshops was the A&R session that was held on campus in our studio on the film scoring stage.

Berklee Valencia Studio

(Berklee Valencia students pictured in the studio with Young Guru and Sean C. for the A&R workshop)

(Photo Credit: Disrupcion Records)

Both Sean C. and Young Guru provided feedback to Berklee Valencia artists who submitted music. I’m currently working as an A&R for my culminating experience thesis, so I was super excited about the opportunity because both of the artists that I’m working with were chosen to participate in the session.  It was such a humbling experience to receive feedback on their music from industry professionals and to use that info to tweak their projects and to make them even better! This was a great experience both creatively and professionally.  Another workshop focused on innovation within the industry.  During this panel, both guests answered various questions that students had re: career advice, music production/technology, the direction of the industry, and evolving with the industry to ensure your position/career. A highlight for me was Sean’s response in reference to being a woman in a male dominated industry. His consciousness about the issue was indispensable and re-emphasized some of the points that I’ve learned throughout my professional career.

Young Guru and Sean C

This experience was one that I longed for as a student in the Global Entertainment & Music Business Masters program.  The knowledge that both gentlemen dropped on us was absorbed like a sponge and truly invaluable.  It’s a great opportunity to meet people who are working in positions that many of us aspire to be in. The grind continues….

Next Steps: The Future of Twitter in the Music Industry

As cited today by The New York Times, Twitter and Billboard have now teamed up to release a real-time music chart, based on consumer twitter data. This seems to follow in-line with the recent steps taken by Twitter’s increasingly active stake within the music industry. These can be characterized by the deal with the music label / content company 300 and more recently the removal of #music app from Apple’s iTunes store. Twitter has seemed to realign it’s interests to become an imperative player within the music industry.

Key Takeaways:

Usable Metrics and Time Decay: A new shift towards a real-time based music chart places further emphasis on artist’s use of Twitter as a viable means of conversation and visibility. One of the largest issue’s with sharing over twitter is ‘time decay’, depending on the number of users one follows, a ‘tweet’ or ‘retweet’ can appear in any given user’s feed for a variable period of time.

The trending topics sidebar ( although geo-located ) is too holistic in terms of music visibility/ discovery (often only unattainable through unreplicatable events, usually based on an artist or act’s size – see Beyonce ). That being said, if the chart’s are geo-based, there will most likely be a high level of artist repeatability, but may allow for some variability ( hopefully an up-and-coming localized act ). Therefore, it may also spawn greater analytical tools for artists to make adaptations to their outreach / social marketing campaigns.

The removal #music & the marking of a new age: I wouldn’t be surprised with if the missteps associated with Twitter’s #music that popular thought has shifted towards a more integrated user-interface. It would seem that a real-time chart would also lead towards direct purchasing power for twitter users. If your fans are already there, then why would you send them somewhere else?

Have some thoughts? Leave them in the comment section below.

Thanks for the read!

A&R this week – Record Label Practicum

For the past couple of weeks the member of the practicum have been communicating back and forth, in person and via e-mail, through instant messaging and by carrier pigeon – talk about innovative and motivated. The aim of this group discussion was to decide on which artists we were keen on collaborating with for the rest of the semester.

After reviewing 12 interviews – which were all brilliant by the way, and only made the process that much harder – we agreed on four talented individuals.

Avila Santo
Tess Tyler
Stephen McHale
Miranda Inzunza

These four names might be familiar to some, if they are not however, they are definitely about to because the marketing team is prepping some killer plans – but for now, shh.

The A&R teams have met up individually with the artists and also started working on plans and musical directions.
(Un)fortunately plans are synonymous with homework, which means that we need to remain proactive. The artists have to make sure they compile tracks for us to listen to and choose from, but in some cases the repertoire to choose from is quite extensive.

Meanwhile, Beatsmusic acquires TopSpin Media and saves them from what looked like a slow and painful demise. They are hoping to fuse the ultimate experience of music discovery, and data collection and analysis. Listeners can rest assured, their relentlessly uneducated choices on music discovery are made easier than ever before.

On a more musical side note, Animals as Leaders are releasing a new album ‘the Joy of Motion‘ on March 25th and it is shaping up to be monstrous! Here’s the single from this much anticipated release, it is entitled ‘Tooth and Claw’. The composition is phenomenal and the production is nothing short of that either.

Flashback: 2014 MIDEM Music Conference

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Since my first day at Berklee Valencia, one of the highlights for all of the Global Entertainment & Music Business program Master’s candidates was the prospect of attending the Midem conference.  The annual music conference, Midem was held in Cannes, France from February 1st-February 4th.  This conference was the first official music conference that I’ve ever attended and it was also my first time visiting France.  Overall, these two factors contributed to a valuable and enjoyable experience.

Let’s briefly recap the events:

Initially on the first day I tried to remember all of the useful tips that had been driven and embedded to all of our heads. It could have been overwhelming at first sight—but fortunately I mapped out a game plan in advance and upon my arrival tweaked a few things with the assistance of the “Midem Smartphone App.”  My own personal interests were in the following areas: artist & repertoire field, music publishing, and digital streaming platforms.  I planned to attend events that catered to those specific areas.

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The “Midem Smartphone App” was my best friend over the course of the three-day period that I was in attendance.  It sent reminders/alerts for some of the panels and events, and you could also select your favorite events to add to your own calendar within the app.  This allowed me to use my time efficiently in order to maximize my experience by visiting the different exhibitors and attending the panels that were of interest to me.  Many of the topics related to growth, sustainability and innovation since the theme for this year’s conference was “Get back to Growth? Make it Sustainable.”

“The one peculiar thing that struck a chord within me was the lack of music.  We were at a music conference that didn’t play much music at all.  During the evenings on site there were live shows here and there, but music wasn’t heard throughout the course of the day.  On one occasion there was a brief dance number performed by Brazilian dancers and a few drummers.”

One of the Midem Talks that I highly anticipated on attending featured Lyor Cohen and was moderated by Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records.  I really enjoyed the dialogue between Lyor and Tom.  Although I had been following Lyor’s career for some time, it was awesome to hear him and witness him tell it/re-live those moments firsthand.  It seemed as though two good friends were just catching up on old times.  They discussed Lyor’s journey and briefly scratched the surface of his new venture, 300.

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Another highlight was the Midem Talk with emerging UK artist, Rita Ora.  I was somewhat familiar with her as an artist and I remembered her song “R.I.P” from a few years ago and of her Roc Nation affiliation, but outside of that I didn’t know much about her.  It was enlightening to hear about VEVO’s partnership with her to develop her as an artist while promoting her on their platform. She ended up debuting at #1 on the UK charts with the assistance of this partnership.  This showcased innovative ways of how artists are partnering with brands/platforms to assist in launching their careers.

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Ultimately, I met a lot of wonderful people from across the globe and received and handed out numerous business cards.  I had a few successful meetings with different people from different companies.  It was a realistic portrayal because it wasn’t all glitz and glamour.  Two of my other scheduled meetings were no shows for different reasons (one person sustained an injury and the other forgot about it).  These experiences helped to weed out the people whom I would want to keep in touch with after the conference was over.

It was an amazing networking opportunity, and there are people who I’m already in contact with.  I didn’t enter this conference with the mindset of securing a job, but I knew that I would meet people who could potentially share the knowledge and resources that I’ve been looking for in regards to my career interests.

Record Label Practicum – A l’écoute

This past friday we, as a class of 20 something students, took-on the task of shortlisting some of the applicants to the very first Berklee College of Music Valencia Campus Record Label (buzz-wordly named Disrupcion). The total of applicants neared the 30s, and the number of songs approximated 100, while the time we were given to accomplish the task was of about a couple of hours. So as one can imagine, and as expected, this daunting task proved to be challenging.

I’ll spare you the details but the boiled down summary is that without a concise idea of the sound we are looking for, and with a class composed of music-oriented students with a plethora of diverging musical tastes and listening habits, a show of hands was the most appropriate way of reaching a consensus on talent.

We all pulled through in the end anyway, and came up with an interesting list of 12 artists. In my opinion, the shortlist shows an array of styles that could have been diversified a little more given some of the ridiculously gifted people we are lucky to have on campus, but I’m still thrilled with what we came up with and especially what was achieved as a class – and democracy seems to be the last thing withholding us from behaving like apes, so let’s not give it up for the sake of personal taste. Despite my never-ending scepticism, I have to admit that I’m genuinely quite excited at the idea of being a part of this. Especially given some of the artists that were selected on to the following step.

Next step is the audition process. We have designed a series of questions that we have presented to the artists for them to prepare in advance. We have also requested additional information such as press kits or videos, if available. This way we can have a series of quick ten-minute interviews that should allow us to find the artists we are looking for.

The cynical part of me believes that we should have probably interviewed ourselves first to define what it is that we are looking for (amongst other things). But gut-feeling seems to be the trend (panelists from MIDEM can back me up on this one) so let’s just do it like the big dogs and play it solo within a team.

I leave you with this fine tune that should help you get your day started, if it hasn’t already.