Earlier this month, we hosted our first Moving Music Forward panel series, powered by Our Generation Music. The assembly featured over 30 music industry executives and creatives from several critical areas of the music business, sharing the tools and strategies they’re using to build the next generation of superstars. Moderated by our CMO and cofounder David Ponte, the week was packed with actionable insights from some of the music industry’s most innovative minds. Here are 10 key takeaways from the live discussions, available for viewing in full on our Twitch channel.
Embrace the Pivot
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, current times may be odd, but now is the best time to create. History has proven that some of our greatest inventions are the result of extreme hardship. Lou Taylor, business manager to superstars like Travis Scott, Jennifer Lopez, and Brittany Spears, said, “We have such an unusual time right now to be able to pivot … I’ve lived through every financial crisis, and this, too, will pass. Every single one of those events has birthed this new season of marketing.”
Ericka Coulter, VP of A&R at Epic Records, added, “Don’t put that limitation on yourself to be like, ‘I’m going to wait until this...’ Do it now because we don’t know what this situation is going to [turn out to] be.” Take this unprecedented time to tap into your passions and look for new avenues of creativity.
Self-Sufficiency is Key
“Self-sufficiency is key,” according to Justice Baiden, LVRN’s cofounder and Head of A&R. Before asking for help, be confident in understanding that the job you’re seeking to fill could already be done by yourself.
Hitmaka, Atlantic Records VP of A&R and a Platinum-plus songwriter, added, “Doing things yourself, and really, betting on yourself, and investing in yourself is critical and key in these types of times.”
Whether you’re an artist or professional, it’s imperative to understand every aspect of the business. Every position and role provides knowledge and skills that are transferable regardless of the job title. Don’t let a lack of expertise stall your career: “It’s right in your phone, you just need the budget,” said Pete Jideonwo, manager to Trippie Redd, Kid Laroi, and the late Juice WRLD.
Visualize Your Idea From Start to Finish
Scoring a hit record is not an overnight process. “Save a lot of time and energy by putting the goal first,” advised Evan Owens, LVRN’s Head of Merchandising and Production. Being goal-oriented ensures efficiency, which is crucial when transitioning an idea to a marketable product.
“Having a content calendar is essential,” added Drew De Leon, VP of Digital at Alamo Records. Staying organized throughout your creative process keeps you aligned with your ultimate objectives.
Not Every Artist Needs A Manager
The beginning of a career in music is the “prime time to hone in on your craft,” advised Milena Tonis, Assistant Engineer at Record Plant Studios. Before seeking management, spend your time and focus working on your sound and work ethic. “Identify what you’re trying to get across,” added Justice Baiden.
In line with self-sufficiency being essential, artists must craft their sound and understand their intent before requiring management. The purpose of a manager is to provide opportunity and discernment for business and pivotal decisions within an artist’s career. By evaluating yourself first, you’ll know what to look for within a manager. Once an artist has reached the point of needing a manager, seek a partnership rather than looking for management.
A Good Publicist Will Understand You
A publicist’s job is to deliver the message their clients want to convey to their fans. “What a good publicist provides for an artist, first and foremost, is understanding them before carrying out their message,” said Simone King, CEO of Rodeo & Madison Agency. “Every artist has a different story to tell.”
Peter Kadin, EMPIRE’s VP of Marketing, added, “[As a publicist,] you have to do the research and know your artist inside and out.” Internally and externally, the best press stems from extensive research to target the desired audience.
Feed The Hype
Is all press good press? “When they stop talking about you, you should worry,” said Randy Henderson, VP of Publicity at Interscope Geffen A&M Records. Balancing making music with marketing yourself is challenging, but in today’s crowded digital landscape, artists must keep the conversation going. Stay true to yourself, but think of creative ways to get your story out.
“Storytelling has become more unique and collaborative, which is something we’re seeing cross-sector,” said Brittany Concannon, VP of Publicity & Strategy at FYI Brand Group.
Feeding the hype is more than just linking to your new project on social media. “Don’t just promote your music. Have that in-between strategy,” said Dzidzoli Quist, Entertainment Partner Manager at Twitter.
Have a Consumer Mindset
Understand your listeners by thinking like a consumer. “A lot of times, creatives can be stuck in our bubble or universe,” said Arielle Vavasseur, founder and partner of Inside Projects. One of the most important questions an artist can ask is, “Who am I making music for?” ‘Think about what people need and tap into that,” Vavasseur continued.
Evan Owens echoed this sentiment and advised to “create with intention.” Don’t let your creativity be stifled by trying to please everyone. Understanding consumer wants can help fuel both the creative and marketing processes.
To Be Irreplaceable Is To Be Unique
Originality will not only set you apart from the competition, but it will also showcase your value. “What perks my ear up is something unique, and not something that is just recycled,” said Tonis. By the time an artist copies what is popular, “what you’re hearing is already dated.”
Instead, “reinvent old ways, and find new ways of what we’ve already done,” advised Gordon Dillard, manager to Doja Cat. Hitmaka also recommends artists “be truthful in the message you’re conveying.” Whether you’re aspiring to be an artist or a professional, your living truth may be exactly what makes you unique.
No One Has All The Answers
Overcoming obstacles means taking chances and learning from what goes wrong. “If we mess up, we can learn,” said Mid Jordan, Tory Lanez’s creative director. Don’t be afraid to seek advice, either. It’s important to “ask people older than you questions, and not be shy,” said Creative Director Jak Bannon. No one is perfect, and no one has all the answers. Learn by asking and making mistakes.
Be Consistent, Stay Persistent
Believe in yourself by staying consistent. The artists who win are the artists who regularly put out material until something hits. “Take risks; this is the time,” said Sierra Lever, Associate Marketing Director at Columbia Records. “It’s a disservice to go quiet and stay silent.”
“Have ambition and show initiative,” added Omar Grant, Co-President of Roc Nation. You can’t win if you never get started.
For a full, in-depth recap, watch all of our live discussions on our Twitch channel.
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