Guest post by Michael Schreder (UG ’16). Photos courtesy of Emily Becker
Coming into NYU, I’ve always known that I’ve always wanted to help an artist I feel passionate about build their career from the bottom up. I’ve always looked up to the creators of Neon Gold Records, with constant output of breakthrough artists. With such a great inspiration, I began to dig through Soundcloud to discover new artists who were slowly building an audience to be breakthrough acts here in NYC and throughout the U.S. After discovering the massive amount of great talent in the depths of Soundcloud, I needed a place to share the music I found. Looking back on Neon Gold Records, I remember that they run a blog featuring music that they love. I figured that I would give blogging a shot and have a place to post any music that I thought was phenomenal. Thus Oblivious Pop was created.
After starting Oblivious Pop, I searched Soundcloud and other music blogs to see what artist had the star power to drive their career to success. One day, I came across a post on Neon Gold Records about Marlene ∞, a singer/songwriter from Sweden. After taking one listen to her debut single “Bon Voyage” I instantly knew she had the ability to write hit songs and be a phenomenal performer. As with any artist I like I instantly followed them on all social media and stalked the Internet for more information on them. I searched to see whether she had shows coming up in the U.S.; nothing was found. I searched to see if she was signed to any labels here in the U.S.; still nothing found. I even tweeted at Neon Gold Records begging them to book her for their Popshop shows at Santos; still nothing. I figured that in time Marlene ∞ would find her way into the U.S. for performances and I would keep an eye on her.
As school started I still continued searching for new music, with a major focus on music coming from Sweden, which has always been a major output of great pop music. I also focused on discovering music from Australia since that seems to be the craze in music lately. Over time, I let my focus on Marlene ∞ (left) slip into the back of my mind, knowing that I would see any new updates on if she was playing a show in the future. That day came in a weird way; it wasn’t a notification by Bandsintown. It was through a tweet from Marlene asking if anyone could help her book a show in NYC while she was visiting in October. At first when I saw the tweet I though to myself, “Marlene ∞ is coming to New York!” I figured that someone else with more experience would take up the opportunity to help her out, but after a little bit more thought I figured why couldn’t I help her out. I tweeted back at her and thus this crazy adventure of booking my first show for my blog Oblivious Pop started.
Going into booking this show for Marlene came from experience of the Concert Management class I took in the spring. I contacted venues looking for dates that were available for Marlene ∞ to make her U.S. debut. After receiving some messages back, I finally was given an offer from Bowery Electric for October 29th. I messaged Marlene asking if the day worked. When she replied yes, we began looking for other acts to book with her. With the show being so close to CMJ I ran into issues of finding other acts to fill the night, giving Marlene some great names to play with. Most artists were interested in playing the bill, but weren’t able to because they were planning on focusing on hitting the studio after CMJ to work on music or were heading out of the city for other performances or back to their home towns. Many emails later, I got a response back from another artist that I wrote about back in September: a band called Germans (right) from Brooklyn. I contacted the Bowery Electric with the artist I was able to get to commit to the night and they booked two other bands for the night. Everything was set in place and things were ready to go.
As CMJ approached, I knew it would be the perfect time to promote the show and to get some people interested in checking out the acts for the show. I asked my friend Emily Becker, an art major in Steinhardt, to help design the posters for the show and any other advertisements. Kevin Johnson (UG ’15) helped with printing flyers and posters for the show. Along with this, I asked my other colleagues, Erin Simon and Olivia Harris, two other Music Business majors, to help spread the word about the show as much as possible. After powering through and advertising as much as we possibly could on social media and throughout NYC, the night of the show quickly came and the next thing I knew it was the day of.
(Germans, left, and Marlene ∞, right, at the Bowery Electric)
Working to get everything finalized the day of the show was hectic, which is typical. I was in contact with Jeff Pomerantz (UG ’13) who was working to get some attention for Marlene by A&R departments at record labels, to get a list of professionals who were planning to attend the show to scout Marlene ∞. After finalizing the list I headed over to the Bowery Electric, worked through the sound check with my artist, and then it was show time. Marlene ∞ performed as the first of two of the artists that I booked for that night. Starting off her set, she graced us with some new music and her debut single “Bon Voyage”. Typically having a full band behind her at shows back in Sweden, Marlene was unable to fly her musicians out for a single show, so she performed with back tracks. As the only performer on stage, Marlene brought so much star power. She had killer dance moves while giving off the pop queen vibes that make you just melt. Her vocals were flawless and every song she performed were all songs that have the potential to be major hits. After Marlene slayed the audience, Germans came on and gave some moody disco vibes. Having a very unique sound, Germans did an excellent job. They gave some funk and made the audience have a wonderful time.
Overall, my first experience of booking a show on my own gave me some really great lessons. I now have a better grasp on how difficult it is to book shows in New York City. In Concert Management class, I had the name of NYU to help make the show seem more legit, but as a creator of a music blog who’s just starting up it was rather difficult to find a place that would take you 100% serious and understand that perhaps they could be helping premiere and artist who could be the next big thing in music. I also learned first hand some of the things that could go wrong with sound checks and making sure everything was working. The most important lesson I learned from this experience is that if you really believe in an artist and you want to help them find success then you just have to be kind and give as much as you can. Working with Marlene was one of the greatest opportunities I could have ever received. She was extremely grateful, thanking me constantly, but in all honesty, it was her I had to give the thanks to. If it wasn’t for Marlene I wouldn’t have been able to book the show. If it wasn’t for her being the superstar she is the night would not have gone as well as it did. It shows how important relationships are in this industry. Building a relationship with people can be extremely difficult, but if you are truly sincere and appreciative, the return is enormous in the end.
After this show, I am taking the lessons I learned and hoping to be able to book more showcases for my blog and to find other ways to help further my experience in the music industry. I’m hoping that I will cross paths with Marlene and Germans again in the future, but for now I’m not entirely sure what my next plan of action is. I’m looking into booking another showcase while I’m abroad, but I never know what opportunity will arise. This whole experience literally started with a tweet and turned into something amazing. It is an experience I could never have imagined.