Kiah Victoria Joins Tigertown on Village Records Roster

It’s been another exciting semester at Village Records. Following our fall recording session with the Australian band Tigertown, we are now placing the final touches on a project in which we are printing vinyl postcards featuring their song “What You Came Here For” recorded last semester with the VR team. The vinyl postcards will be used for promotion and sent to a variety of influencers in the music industry in order to increase visibility and establish new connections for the band. It is an exciting process and we strongly believe this outreach could lead to future projects for Tigertown.

Village Records has also recently concluded an extensive A&R search, and after reviewing many talented artists we have finally decided to work with the talented Kiah Victoria, an NYU Tisch senior. At such a young age Kiah has already had a great deal of experience in the world of performing. From starring in the Lion King on Broadway at age 10 to being featured in Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby” it is clear Kiah is destined for great things and VR is very excited to be working with her. As a kick-off to the start of this new partnership, VR will be working in collaboration with the Concert Management class to help promote Kiah’s upcoming performance on May 3 at 11:30 pm ET at Joe’s Pub. As a preview before this show VR will be streaming a short acoustic session of Kiah performing in Washington Square Park. This performance will be the start of an ongoing “VR: Sessions in the Square” series produced by VR featuring musicians from NYU and the Greenwich Village area playing under the arch. All session performances will be streamed online through the Stageit platform.

As the semester comes to a close VR looks forward to finishing up work on these exciting new additions to the Village Record brand and welcoming in next semester’s team. Be sure to follow our blog for news on upcoming projects and updates on the Kiah Victoria concert!

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MUSB Students Abroad Report on Global Music Trends & Make Expansion Proposals

During the Fall 2013 semester, five study abroad students participated in an independent study led by Program Director Catherine Moore. Students were in three cities on three continents, literally spanning the world: Prague, Shanghai and Buenos Aires.

As the final assignment for the course, each student proposed to a music company of their choice expansion into the territory in which they were based for the semester. Their proposals describe the opportunity for the company that the students saw in the country they were located. Based on their research and observations over the semester, students justify their choices of opportunity with specific reference to the company’s current situation and explain how the expansion will benefit the company. Furthermore, the reports provide details of a plan for the company to enter the new market.

Students covered a wide range of company types, and the companies originate from many parts of the world. Here are excerpts from the five student reports:

Adam Pyarali (UG ’15): Spotify, based in Sweden, to Czech Republic

Our first year in the Czech Republic will be dedicated to establishing ourselves amongst said target market as the “go to” music service. Continuing on, we will shift our dedication on pushing subscriptions much harder to ultimately accomplish our primary goal of having 15% of Spotify users in the Czech Republic as paying subscribers.

Spotify is a well-known international brand which carries much stature in the majority of the world’s biggest markets. Its introduction to the Czech Republic needs to be pushed hard through an integrated marketing campaign. While almost everyone consumes music on a daily basis, the entire population will not be interested in a digital music streaming service. To avoid overspending on promotion, we will focus solely on our target markets to build a consumer base in the Czech Republic.

To create buzz, Spotify will allow bloggers and journalists early access to the service to publish their thoughts on the company moving to the Czech Republic. These “early adopter” articles will create an initial interest in the service amongst web-friendly consumers. To connect with the Czech youth, Spotify will partner with local high schools and colleges to teach the ins and outs of the music streaming service focusing on four main points: it is cheap, unlimited, legal, and supports your favorite artists. There has been a disconnect with streaming services in the Czech Republic in the past few years with companies failing to make much impact, but we feel Spotify has the means to educate the Czech people.

Editor’s note: In December 2013, just after Adam finished his report, Spotify announced that they will be opening in the Czech Republic.

Nick Kohler (UG ’15): Ultra Music, based in the US, to China

It’s surprising that, with the seemingly rapid expansion of the Ultra Music brand, especially in the festival circuit, China has been left alone. China’s unparalleled economic growth isn’t just helping its powerful government, as it is also reflected in the upwardly mobile middle class who, for the first time, has a disposable income to spend on leisure and entertainment. It’s downright shocking to see that almost every single club in Shanghai is filled every day of the week, and the people filling them aren’t just the old money crowd, but also the young, hip crowd who have found their way in this ever increasing economy of opportunity. These “new-money” young adults are more than willing to spend a sizeable chunk of change, as the frugal stereotype of the Chinese is slowly but surely fading with each passing year. Combine this new wealth with the newfound Chinese love of the global EDM phenomenon, and an entry for Ultra is primed for success.

Expanding into China has distinct benefits for Ultra Music that span beyond profit. As there are currently no labels dedicated solely to electronic dance music in China, Ultra will possess a first mover advantage that will likely ensure its top stake over the other labels that are most certainly going to expand to China later in the game due to its growth. The addition of one of the fastest growing sectors in the nightlife market to this new global EDM empire will certainly solidify Ultra’s position as the largest and most influential firm in all of Electronic Dance Music. Ultra will have the help of Sony’s network as well as the west-obsessed culture of China to minimize the risk of such a major advancement, thus making China the most logical and beneficial location to proceed.

Forrest Durell (UG ’15): The Bowery Presents, based in the US, to Argentina

Argentina has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and as a country moves from the second to first world status, they widen the middle class and citizens are able to spend more money on entertainment. In Argentina, the main clubs are full every night with people dancing – no just moving their hips to the music but actually dancing. They have a vibrant culture full of long conversations, late meals and a recently rich musical history.

Aside from booking some of the bands that have played/are going to play in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Bowery Presents has no relation to this South American city. Buenos Aires is one of the most affluent cities in South America but, unlike Rio de Janeiro, Santiago or Sao Paulo, they don’t have a solid live music scene. Argentines themselves are into music – going out to clubs and dancing to electronic hits, going to small bars and listening to Cumbia or Reggae music and even selling out most every show that comes to their bigger live music venues like Teatro Vorterix (1700 capacity) and Luna Park (5000-8000 capacity). There may be live music infrastructure for when huge acts like Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder or even buzzing indie bands like Tame Impala and Beach House come to Buenos Aires but there’s no system in place to help nurture organic live performance growth for bands from the city/country. If a company like the Bowery Presents could come to Argentina with their business strategy, they could be the catalyst the live music culture in Buenos Aires needs.

Alex Blanton (Stern ’15):  The Pacha Group, based in Spain, to China

Pacha’s opportunity is not only to usurp attention and patrons from Shanghai’s mediocre to poorly managed current clubs, but to also take a leading role in Shanghai’s continued cultural growth. Unlike a saturated market such as New York, Shanghai still has plenty of room for expansion. While most Chinese are already large consumers of entertainment in the form of music, movies, and tv shows streamed over the internet, most are not wealthy enough to enjoy most forms of live entertainment. Currently, most local patrons of nightclubs are of the upper class. China is a nation of great income inequality, and only the very wealthy have the resources and the time to enjoy late nights of drink, dance, and general revelry. However, as China’s middle class continues to grow, more and more Chinese will thirst for live entertainment on which to spend their hard earned renminbi. Another key implication of Shanghai’s growth is that the city’s expat population, which already boasts nearly 200,000 people, will also grow. Expats are the other major group that frequents the clubs of Shanghai, and the city’s economic emergence will only impel more foreigners to move here.

So where’s the opportunity of Pacha in this odd and sometimes confusing landscape? Pacha can find its niche in the city by appealing westerners who thirst for quality music and a participatory, dancefriendly atmosphere, and Chinese to desire big nights out associated with famous brands. The key difference is that Pacha itself will be the brand of celebrity people are attracted to, rather than the international artists who get booked there. It is inevitable that some international club brand will eventually take this approach to succeed in Shanghai. The tablebased, big name artist business model the current big clubs employ is not sustainable and something will have to change eventually. Some entrepreneurs are attempting a new approach by bringing festivals to Shanghai that feature a few big names, but mainly showcase up and coming and underground acts. Eric Zho, organizer of the recent Storm Music Festival in Shanghai, has said “we believe Shanghai’s live music scene is missing the midtier artist shows. Most Chinese are still only exposed to major pop stars from the West. It is still mainly driven by celebrity culture, rather than strictly music.” Pacha could certainly find a niche by pioneering the midtier artist space. By establishing the Pacha lifestyle brand successfully in the city, people will instinctively trust Pacha with providing a fantastic night out even if they haven’t heard of a particular artist playing that evening. That dynamic will not only be financially beneficial for Pacha, but will help increase the music IQ of Shanghai in general.

Michael Chrupcala (UG ’15): C3 Presents, based in the US, to Czech Republic

Prague, certainly a robust music market, has room to grow before matching Chicago or Buenos Aires. Market research shows that the Czech Republic “accounts for 0.8% of European consumer electronics market value” which is comprised of CD and MP3 players, among other devices. As such, C3 would encounter little competition upon expansion. Prague Spring International Music Festival is the sole annual music festival in the city, and it focuses on symphony and chamber music.

To grow brand recognition, C3 Presents is advised to produce an annual festival held in the venues of Prague with capacities ranging from 300-1,000. Styled after CMJ Music Marathon and South By Southwest, a multitude of medium-sized stages would form the bulk of festival programming, since most Czechs will be unfamiliar with indie and alternative Western artists such as Local Natives and Foals. As Lollapalooza is renowned for its headliners, the O2 Arena in Prague 9 (capacity: 17,360) would showcase the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Killers, and Ellie Goulding. Such an approach is necessary; festival attendance will likely meet 20,000, which will only grow along with the long-term development of the market. This figure is determined from the draw of other festivals in the Czech Republic: notably, Colours of Ostrava (30,000) and Mighty Sounds (12,000).

Market entry in 2014 would be highly effective. As mentioned above, the Czech Republic is influenced by the alternative rock that followed grunge, which Lollapalooza seems to currently showcase. To follow our past example, partnership with a local promoter is ideal. Pairing with GEO in Brazil, Lotus Productions in Chile, and Fenix Entertainment Group in Argentina has proved that the expertise of a company immersed in the target location is priceless. Charm Music — the Czech division of Istanbul-based production company Charmenko — may be an effective partner, as they have recently booked the likes of Yo La Tengo and My Bloody Valentine in Prague.

Student Outlook: The Evolution of the Musical Chameleon – George Barbera and Musical Color

Guest post by Chiara Eskew (G ’15). We encourage feedback and commentary on all Student Outlook contributions. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @NYUMusicBiz.

"Sahara" by George and the Barbarians

Just as new species form, we are beginning to see the new species of artists emerge as they adapt to a new musical environment. They are often viewed as underground artists at first, until they prove their “worth.” In the past, we have had similar artists sporadically spring up and adapt well to a competitive environment. Picasso, for example, defined himself as an artist of disfigured images, but he also had his “Blue Phase” during which he expressed a more realistic interpretation of the world. He was careful to separate his phases though. Such artists are like chameleons of the music world, able to change “colors” — or overall image/sound/style — when necessary, but retaining a certain image long enough to produce a high level of success and survival. One such modern artist is the musician named George Barbera. He is a conglomeration of a music producer, a skilled multi-instrumentalist, a singer and songwriter, and a composer of various genres. George has formed a small community around himself to help with distributing his music which he puts together all in his bedroom studio. He mimics the efforts of Macklemore to get his music out to people without using a major record label which would infringe on his artistic freedom. The one obstacle which he is facing is how to convince consumers that his ability to be varying in musical creations and looks is what distinguishes him and makes his music valuable. The idea is far ahead of its time as people are so programmed to see brands as valuable, and yet at the same time they are exhibiting signs of boredom in the branding and formulating of music. George Barbera, therefore, in recognizing this obstacle is working on phasing his artistic creations and choosing to present to consumer one “color” at a time.

His first “color” is Sahara, a single from his band George and the Barbarian’s debut album which is yet to be completed and released. The song is a metal rock song that mixes with an 80’s rock theme. It is expected to be live on iTunes in three to five weeks, but in the meantime it can be viewed on Soundcloud. Check out this song which represents the sound of his band! All the instrumentals, vocals, the composition, and the production of the song were done by George Barbera showing off his all-compassing musical abilities. If you want to see some of George’s other “colors” check out the other songs on his Soundcloud or visit his Facebook page.

George Barbera’s music encompasses music’s evolutionary growth. Just as with organisms on earth, music has evolved. According to neuroscientist Steven Brown, music may have originated as a ritual’s reward system which worked as a cooperative device that enabled the individual costs of producing music to be outweighed by the group survival benefits. Furthermore, it is believed that polyphony (different harmony lines not carried out in unison) predated monophony (harmony lines carried out in unison) implying that “contagious heterophony” was a precursor to human music and speech. “Contagious heterophony” can be found in the howling of wolves. The howls are sequenced and, therefore, do not occur together. Such blending of voices was used to establish group identity, and group communication to solidify social order and teamwork. Thus, the blending of voices was the first step in vocalization which led to both speech and harmonic constructions for the purpose of making music. As humanity entered the world, the complexity of music increased both in intellectual meaning and actual structure. Unison of voices in time and pitch developed, strengthening the idea of unity amongst community. Cycles of polyphonic and monophonic music were incorporated into human cultures with time. New ideas and combinations of old ideas transformed music even more. But still the main purpose to form community remained intact in the music of humans.

In our world today, however, money has become such a huge focus of music’s purpose. This has taken music away, in some part, from its intrinsic communicative element. In order to market to large masses of people, rather than smaller communities, companies have forced artists to become more like a machine; and songs more like products to be mass produced. The problem with marketing an artist is that you often times must brand that artist, give the artist a look, a genre they excel in, a name that brings to mind a certain image to consumers. But all this labeling and defining of the artist limits the artist’s ability to create and takes away a vital part of the freedom of human communication. The artist must limit what he/she puts into his/her music and cannot express the varying parts of him/herself. If the artist expresses too many different styles, consumers find it hard to distinguish the artist and therefore do not value him/her. While initially distinguishing an artist was important to convey to people that the artist was special, a leader of some sort, the ways artists are distinguished has become so formulated and applied to all artists, that artists are becoming less and less distinguished from each other. Music has become less valued as a result and music companies have been suffering. This has led to heightened competition and a need to adapt.

So where does all this leave artists today? Do they have a future? I predict that the new artist will be what I call the “all-encompassing” artist. This artist is one who is able to do a lot of the work him/herself that major labels have been doing. In having this ability, the artist will be able to escape the formalization and mechanization that music companies have been forcing on artists. Furthermore, the “all-encompassing” artist will have the ability to reflect a variety of human communication, changing up styles, looks, etc; and this will be the new distinguishing factor. However, what is important for such an artist, is that he/she recognize the need for organizing these phases of varying creativity; the artist needs a balance between free creativity and ordered marketing. Perhaps, the artist will also return to methods more in tune with music’s origin and join small groups of like-minded people to form a community that will help with the extra responsibilities formerly executed by major record companies. This is the only way I see music continuing in its healthy evolutionary growth, while still retaining its intrinsic purpose of strengthening community and reflecting the society and species from which it comes. And it just so happens that George Barbera is an “all-encompassing” artist.

Eskew is a first year Music Business graduate student. In undergrad, she double majored in music and math. Her senior thesis analyzed music, the brain, and how they apply to the music industry. Eskew is currently interning in Blue Note Entertainment’s Talent Buying department. She plans to pursue a career in the label sector where she can work intimately with artists, and hopes to continue her own musical endeavors as a flutist, singer and composer.

Season’s Greetings

Undergraduates were in the holiday spirit at their potluck Winter Party

While VeloCity is away for the winter recess, continue to check Twitter and Facebook for updates. On behalf of everyone here at the NYU Music Business program, VeloCity wishes you a happy holiday season. See you in January!

Two Solo NYC Debuts: MUSB Blogger Michael Schreder Books Swedish Artist Marlene ∞

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.

(From left: Schreder, Germans, Harris)

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.

(From left: Harris, Ji Nilsson, Marlene ∞, Schreder)

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.

Connect to Oblivious Pop on Twitter and Facebook. Like Marlene ∞ on Facebook

E.S.O. Takes Over Shanghai

Guest post by Matthew Tinkelman (UG ’15)

(Kohler, left, and Blanton playing to a full house in Shanghai)

Electronic Sound Outfit, also known as E.S.O., is a DJ duo made up of Nick Kohler and Alex Blanton, both NYU students. Nick Kohler is a MUSB student (Class of 2015). The DJ duo started making a name for themselves in New York, playing many gigs and weekly residencies around the city. Though Kohler and Blanton began gaining recognition throughout the local underground club scene, they had their sights set on more global opportunities. For the Fall 2013 semester, E.S.O. decided to take their studies and their music to Shanghai. Choosing China as a destination of study was a fascinating and strategic decision. China is an emerging new market for music, and E.S.O. wanted to take advantage of China’s current, fast-paced evolution. E.S.O. is very ambitious, and by the looks of it, is succeeding in their quest to make a name for themselves in an entirely new and exciting market.

NK: Nick Kohler
AB: Alex Blanton

What drew you to dance music?

NK: I remember when I was 7 or 8 my father had two albums on repeat: Moby’s “Play” and Fatboy Slim’s “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby.” It’s the music I grew up with, it’s the music I blasted from the speakers as loud as I could while I played on the trampoline. I don’t know what it was, but even at that age, it made me want to jump. I like to jump, it’s fun. Whatever music makes me want to jump is OK with me. A few years after I started writing acoustic songs, I decided to try to make the music that I wanted to make and that’s when E.S.O began.

Why did you pick Shanghai as the right place to share your music? Was this decision strategic?

NK: We both knew that there was a vibrant nightlife scene in Shanghai, but it is in such an infant stage compared to where it will be in a few years. We figured that if we entered the market now as an EDM duo from New York City, we’d be able to get in early and ride the wave to the top. Because we’ve established ourselves thus far in this emerging market, when we come back in March and June, we’ll have no problem performing and we’ll already have a built in fan-base.

AB: I felt Shanghai was the best location to study abroad for a variety of reasons. As someone interested in business and entrepreneurship (I’m in Stern), Shanghai, and China as a whole, is the place to be in the next 20 years. Nick and I also thought the development of the music industry here would likely mirror the overall economy’s development. We were definitely right with that prediction. The music scene in Shanghai is definitely growing at a rapid pace! We figured it’d be much easier to break into a growing market rather than a very mature one like Europe.

What were your goals when coming to Shanghai and how have you approached and tackled said goals?

NK: The overall goal was to simply perform because we believed that if we were able to get a foot in the door, we’d be able to make a pretty significant mark. Beneath the surface, we wanted to make a significant enough mark to be able to come back to not only Shanghai, but also the rest of China and possibly other countries in Southeast Asia and have people know who we are and want to come see us perform. We still have another month and a half, but I think that so far, we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do and then some.

How have your shows been going? What kinds of shows/venues have you been playing? How has the response been to you and your music? What has this experience taught you about the Chinese market?

NK: I think we’ve played more diverse shows in China than we could have ever even dreamed of even back in the U.S.A. Our first show was on the beach, the second was with French legends Cassius at an underground venue, and for Halloween we performed in the middle of a bamboo forest. In between we’ve played at the local clubs, but we’re having the time of our lives at every show. When we first went to the clubs as spectators, we thought that we would have to tailor our music significantly to fit the general vibe. However, upon deciding to stick to our style, we found that the Chinese public actually really enjoyed it (maybe because it was new). I feel like the Chinese market is incredibly receptive to new experiences in music… what they don’t know doesn’t turn them off, it provokes curiosity.

AB: We’ve played everything from beach parties, to mountain parties, to western style nightclubs, to Chinese styles clubs, to more European-style concert venues. The high-end nightclubs are very westernized and remind me of places in New York. They have an heir of exclusivity and the usual music of choice is vocal house music. The Chinese clubs on the other hand are a bit different. Chinese people don’t like to dance very much but they love to get messed up so these clubs have lots and lots of tables but a pretty small dance floor. The music at these venues is very top 40 (except when we play of course). The concert venue we played when we opened for Cassius was my favorite venue. Huge dancefloor with large bars either side, and only a small set of tables in the back. We played some really old school house music which was a lot of fun.

(Photo courtesy of Mook Shanghai)

What have been some of your highlights while playing music in China?

NK: Our show with Cassius was far and away the highlight of our stint in China so far… I listened to their track “My Feelings for You” when I was like 11 years old and have loved it ever since. We opened for them in front of a sold out crowd and played an underground set. The audience loved every second of that entire show… great crowd, you could tell they just wanted to dance.

What are some key takeaways from your time in China? Have you learned anything about the music industry that you can apply to what you want to do?

AB: The Chinese locals don’t understand modern music or the music industry very well yet. Most of the current development in the music scene is still led by the westerners. There are definitely people working to grow and improve domestic taste and talent so this may start to change in a few years. Overall, China is a great market for new artists to break into. It is much less structured and hierarchical than the American music industry, so for the young and bold there are great opportunities here.

NK: China is an emerging market, but it is “emerging” at a tremendous rate. There is so much demand for great content here and although there is a healthy supply of Electronic Dance DJs, there is not a healthy supply of Electronic Dance Musicians. I was also surprised to find out that there isn’t a single label based in China that’s geared towards EDM, this being despite the fact that EDM is growing at the same rate that the nightlife market is growing. In fact, we’re talking to two entrepreneurs who are trying to launch the first EDM label in China and are trying to be on the cusp of that wave.

For more on E.S.O., check them out at:
instagram: @electronicsoundoutfit
twitter: @esoutfit

Student Outlook: CMJ Remains a Place for Music Discovery Despite Its Fair Share of Critics

Guest post by Matthew Tinkelman (UG ’15). We encourage feedback and commentary on all Student Outlook contributions. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @NYUMusicBiz. All photos courtesy of Matthew Tinkelman

On the final night of the CMJ Music Marathon, I ventured to Brooklyn to end my sleep-deprived week with one of my favorite singer-songwriters of the past few years, Father John Misty (left, at Music Hall of Williamsburg). Already an established and critically-acclaimed musician, the man also known as J Tillman effortlessly captivated an adoring audience with his songwriting, wit, and heartfelt delivery. However impressive his set may have been, there were dozens of sets from newcomers throughout the nonstop marathon of artist showcases, panels, and music industry networking that were easily just as good and awe-inspiring. Even with all of the new talent and excitement overflowing from CMJ, the Internet seemed to be putting its focus of coverage elsewhere this week.

CMJ has garnered its fair share of critics and skeptics recently. In the midst of facing a lawsuit, quite a few popular blogs, most notably Consequence of Sound, claimed that CMJ “has lost its sense of identity,” observing its lack of being able to stand out from other similar music conferences. Others questioned why an entity like CMJ is still necessary, or to take it even further, relevant in the modern DIY music space. In addition to its group of detractors, this year’s event was undoubtedly overshadowed by another music event entirely: Arcade Fire’s return to the stage in Brooklyn. The amount of potential buzz that CMJ is normally able to generate for up-and-comers seemed almost forgotten on the blogosphere in favor of the hoopla surrounding Arcade Fire. Does CMJ still hold an important place in music?

For those who say CMJ no longer serves a purpose, I firmly disagree. CMJ acts as my annual optimal peak for music discovery. Last year’s event led to my finding San Cisco, SKATERS, Deap Vally, Sky Ferreira, and MS MR, acts who broke out in 2013, gaining some of their first and most prominent buzz and traction at CMJ showcases. While talking on the panel “Jam Packed: The Explosion of Music Festivals,” Jordan Wolowitz of Founders Entertainment, the company that puts on Governor’s Ball, stated he discovered Icona Pop at CMJ last year and was so impressed by their live show that he booked them for the festival before they scored a global pop smash with “I Don’t Care.” This year, I passed Wolowitz several times on the streets of Brooklyn running from show to show. Glassnote head and MUSB idol Daniel Glass could be seen laughing with CAA’s Jbeau Lewis (Katy Perry’s agent) while checking out bands at Bowery Ballroom. I engaged in conversation with Mumford and Sons pianist and Communion founder Ben Lovett before he headed to Rockwood to check out some bands. Clearly I’m not the only one sifting through the hundreds of showcases CMJ has to offer to find new music.

This year’s festival remained the constant source of music enlightenment and “I was there” moments that make CMJ so special, distinct, and important. Certain performances, such as Kodaline’s at Bowery Ballroom (pictured above) during the CAA Showcase, felt like the crowd was witnessing a band destined to break within the next few months. Their set-closing rendition of “All I Want” proved that the band is not only radio ready, but also ready to take on America after having conquered their native England. Bands that I had never heard of such as Panama Wedding, PAPA, and Rathborne all delivered impressive sets that turned me into an instant fan. Betty Who, HAERTS, ASTR, and Half Moon Run were ubiquitous in conversation and showcases, apparently impressing everyone who had seen them.

In Consequence of Sound’s CMJ recap article, it blasted the marathon for its lack of “buzz bands that could use this opportunity to break out.” Yet, certain CMJ artists are already picking up steam less than a week after the festivities have ended. Pitchfork gave Ethiopian R&B singer Kelela its sign of approval, labeling her as “rising” after New York Times journalist Jon Pareles and others gave her CMJ performance rave reviews. Suddenly Joanna Gruesome, Lucius, Wet, and the Preatures are now indie darlings, being picked up by dozens of blogs after leaving impressive marks in New York.

International acts made the most of their opportunities to leave their first impressions on the US market. It often makes the most sense to take a first trip to the states during CMJ, where acts can play multiple showcases in the hopes of possibly catching notice. It is a core reason why so many Australian bands attend CMJ, in addition to why CMJ has several Australian day showcases and special events. The aforementioned Australian band The Preatures seized the moment and did just that. Meanwhile, buzz-worthy Swedish pop act NONONO launched its inevitable US takeover with its several well-received first US performances throughout the marathon. Woodkid’s victorious and emotional concert at Webster Hall (right; pictured) proved that he could be a true force in the US market, after already taking over his home country of France. Although these acts were on the radar before their landing at CMJ, they now have the momentum to actually make names for themselves in America. Once the Arcade Fire New York invasion finally disappeared and CMJ closed down its 2013 event, it was quite easy to calculate the impact CMJ had had throughout the week – fans and industry people alike went home with favorite acts and the marathon had done its job.

Toward the end of his performance, Father John Misty ridiculed CMJ bands in his notoriously sarcastic humor for “whoring themselves out to brands and corporation.” In response, a crowd member blurted out, “We love brands!” The music industry has flipped itself on its head since the CMJ organization was first formed. While pretty much everything in the music business has changed, CMJ’s core values remain the same, as it continues to put emphasis on discovering new artists and helping the industry grow and prosper. Though the future of CMJ could eventually be in question, I don’t see how CMJ can ever not be relevant.

Andrew Policastro (UG ’14) Covers Marvin Gaye for YouTube

What do you like about this song that made you want to sing it?

I love soul, funk, and R&B music; they are some of my favorite genres. To me, “Let’s Get It On” blends the best elements of those genres into this killer song. Plus, it’s plain sexy.

Does it have any special meaning to you?

Of course. The whole “Let’s Get It On” album is about love; wanting it, feeling it, making it, and losing it. In Marvin Gaye’s recording, you can feel his deep, sexual desire for this one woman. Being a 20-year old guy, I related to that immediately.

What made you decide to record it and put it out for the public to see?

The main reason is that the song is so fun to sing. But aside from that, I’m planning to use YouTube covers to begin building a small fan base, so that when I finish up my own material, there will (hopefully) be people who want to listen to it.

Do you feel this cover is original?

It’s not really up to me to decide, but I hope that people feel this cover is original. Dan and I worked very hard to make sure we added our own styles to the song. We decided to have a very simple arrangement to act as a backbone to the song, but also decided to leave room for riffing and improvising. We shot about 8 different takes and each one sounded different.

What is your singing background – do you perform often?

I don’t have a formal singing background. I learned how to sing from my friend Teresa who is studying voice at City College. She’s crazy talented. I jokingly asked her to teach me how to sing one night, and she agreed to it. Every time we hung out she would show me something new. Although the way I learned to sing is pretty unconventional, I do have a classical instrumental background. I’ve taken piano from a very young age and studied Oboe under the principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. I was able to draw upon a lot of the information I’ve learned from being trained as a classical instrumentalist when Teresa was teaching me how to sing – such as breath support, phrasing, etc. In terms of performing, I do a lot of open mics around NYC.

Is it nerve-wracking to put yourself out there on the internet?

Absolutely terrifying. I’m pretty shy when it comes to singing. I’ve only been doing it for about a year now and I don’t have a lot of confidence in my voice yet. I wasn’t really nervous while I was recording it – since it was just Dan and me hanging out in a room – but as I was uploading it to YouTube I realized people would end up seeing it. Then the nerves hit. I started criticizing all the mistakes I made in the video and second-guessing whether or not I should put it up. It took some friends to calm me down, but once I finally uploaded the video I felt relieved and excited. It’s by no means perfect, but I’m proud of how it turned out.

Senior Spotlight: Christina Lauro

Where are you from?

Really I’m from a lot of places. I was born in Chicago, IL. I moved to Northern California at the age of 3, at 4 I moved to Rhode Island, and at 5 I moved to Westchester County, NY. At 11 I moved back to Northern CA (Silicon Valley) and stayed there until I graduated high school. I also spent my Freshman year in Florence, Italy. So, typically I tell people I’m from CA just because I lived there the longest and the most recently.

What is your background in music?

I’ve been singing since 3rd grade and that’s pretty much how it started. I had some stints in musical theater, I played the piano for about 5 years, but really for me it’s about the singing. Once I hit high school I started taking singing more seriously and began private voice lessons on top of choir. By my junior year I was auditioning for bigger choirs and by my senior year I was a singer in the CA Coastal Region Honor Choir, a soloist in the CA State Honor Choir, and a soloist in the ACDA National Honor Choir under Tim Sharp. Today I sing for a professional volunteer choir, the Canticum Novum Singers (not affiliated with NYU) under the direction of Harold Rosenbaum and I still take private voice lessons.

Why did you decide to come to NYU?

I’ve always wanted to live in New York City, ever since I had moved to New York with my family—we would visit the city every couple of weekends and even at a young age I fell in love. Over in CA, we’re not too familiar with many of the east coast schools but I knew about NYU from my acting friends. I, of course, begged my parents to make a visit and when I saw Washington Square Park and the campus and the surrounding city I knew I wanted to go. It was my first choice school even compared to higher ranking universities so as soon as I was accepted I enrolled.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

I’m not one of those people who can grab a bunch of names out of the air and swear that they’re truly my favorite artists. I go through phases with my music and I tend to like everything. I guess the artists that have stuck with me the longest are bands like Kasabian, I like some of Muse’s older stuff, The Beatles (of course), Cream, pretty much anything our parents grew up listening to I ended up listening to, so classic rock as a genre sticks with me and has a lot of good memories associated with it. I’ve started getting into the electronic genres too, and I like Thomas Gold a lot right now, but I’m all over the place with this type of music so I can’t really say I have one favorite artist.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

Musical guilty pleasures? I’m guessing this is the stuff we don’t really want the world knowing about…

I sometimes listen to metal… and also Enya.

What have been some of your favorite music business classes/professors in your time here?

I don’t really like playing favorites and I thoroughly enjoyed every professor that I came into contact with in this program. There are some serious industry professionals that I get to see and work with on a weekly basis and that sometimes blows my mind. I think my favorite classes so far are Strategic Music and Branding (taught by Josh Rabinowitz), Music Publishing (Jennifer Blakeman), and Village Music (Larry Miller). SMB was just an awesome class, it gave me a side of the industry that I hadn’t thought about before and actually landed me my first internship. I’ve learned so much in Music Publishing and I’ve actually been able to apply some of what I’ve learned at work which is always really cool to do. In Village Music I think Prof. Miller is doing a good job opening us up to the business side of the industry which, though we learn a lot about the industry in this program and a lot about business in this program, it’s refreshing to see how everything goes hand in hand. But this program isn’t limited to these three professors and classes, everyone I’ve had a class with has opened my mind to something and all of the professors are pretty awesome.

Have you had any really cool music-related moments in New York?

I think one of the coolest music-related moments I had in NY was when I was serenaded by the band Locksley. I had only just started hearing about them when they came into town and a girlfriend and I went to the show and managed to get right up front against the stage. Halfway through one of the songs the lead singer points right at me and we had semi-awkward eye contact while he sang some sappy chorus. It was really fun; I got to meet them after the show and they all seemed like really great guys.

What was your best internship?

I’ve only had three internships and they were vastly different from each other so it’s hard to pick a favorite or which one was “the best”; I think it’s easier if I just talk about why each one was so awesome and what they all taught me. My first internship was at a venture capital tech consulting firm, Alteon Capital, where I was essentially an analyst. It was sometimes a grind, but I learned so much about research, excel, how to write professional emails (a skill that doesn’t always come naturally) and reaching deadlines in a work environment.

My second internship was at Cornerstone, a creative marketing agency that also runs labels for some major brands. Walking away from this internship, I think I learned how to have a decent phone conversation (it’s hard not to be awkward) and to deal with all sorts of people. I ended up working in strategic marketing and helped out with Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound and Bushmills’ ad campaign with Bon Iver (with a little side work on Converse’s Rubber Tracks and Qream’s campaign). Every now and then I would send a handwritten thank you letter to Justin Vernon and his family, the concept of which was neat (though he had no idea it was me, of course). I think the coolest experience I had in this internship was when I had to deliver some props to the photography studio Jack’s Studio. The place was like something out of a movie: there were models everywhere, music was blasting, it was completely white inside with some purple orchids here and there, there was a bar in the studio and I (lamely) got some artisan bottled water. The photographers actually asked my opinion on how I thought the props should be placed (the photos were intended for a Bushmills ad) and I was the only one there from my company so I got to give some input. Of course the entire internship wasn’t all glamor and loud music but some of the experiences were really cool.

My third and final internship was with SiriusXM, and they ended up hiring me at its completion. I worked in a strange branch of business development that is essentially a strategy branch for streaming. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this is a public company, I can’t say much more than that. It was an amazing internship and I would recommend anyone trying to work here, you can find some helpful intern reviews about many different positions in the company

What is the story behind your job at SiriusXM?

I started off as an intern and I worked really, really hard. That, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I showed initiative and independent thinking, and I have a great relationship with the music programmers as well as the engineers, so they asked to keep me on after my internship ended.

What is your dream job?

My dream job will take me years and years to accomplish, and I know that I have to start slowly and modestly, but I think one day I would like to work on the executive level at a major media company. I know it’s hard work, and I have no intention of “running the show” right now—I have so many things to still learn and experience—but I do eventually want to make my way there.

Are you leaving the program with different career aspirations than you had when you entered the program?

When I entered the program I had more of an international slant to my direction—I wanted to do something that allowed an easier collaboration between the US and foreign artists. When I started applying to internships there wasn’t exactly an “international collaboration department” in any company (I did consider going into international departments at major labels, but there was really no mixing between the US and foreign acts and that’s what I wanted to do), so I decided that business development was almost as good and here I am. Now I definitely have a different set of aspirations; working in corporate development has given me a better sense of who I am and how I work and I’m looking more in the direction of major media companies than international music.

What would be your advice to incoming and transfer students?

Work hard, pay attention, and don’t forget that your professors are there to help you inside and out of the classroom; you have their networks at your disposal, so ask them for help. I was a transfer student and I think the hardest thing was fitting everything in so I could graduate on time. Thanks to that, my other piece of advice would be that you really need to plan ahead; things change but it’s always good to have a plan so that you’re working towards something.

Student Outlook: The Case For Killing The Album

Guest post by Philip Vachon (UG ’16). We encourage feedback and commentary on all Student Outlook contributions. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @NYUMusicBiz.

From the minute the music industry started tanking, experts along with decidedly non-experts have decried the end of the album as though it were the end of a slightly larger rotating circle. The separation of albums into essentially twelve “singles” stemmed from the file-sharing of Napster which sent mp3 files individually, as well as iTunes’ $.99 per song model. Critics often say, “an art form is dead” and “today’s ‘now culture’ doesn’t have the attention span for true artistic works.” But if I may be so bold, I’d like to propose a question that seems too simple to yield any results: so what? Yes, yes, I know that jobs and profits have been lost and in The Great Restructuring of the Industry times have been dismal to say the least. But somehow music has survived, thrived even. So, is it possible that the death of the album as-we-know-it was needed to save music? Before the axe falls I will gladly read the charges against the accused.

Imagine there is a new painting by your favorite artist (you may need to imagine first that you in fact have a favorite artist). Not just a painting, but also an entirely new exhibit. You’ve heard from art critics that this exhibit received anywhere from four to five out of five stars, yet all the critics offer are broad descriptions of the works as a whole, maybe only showcasing one painting. Would you buy all of the paintings without seeing them? No. This blind purchasing model is essentially the situation album buyers in the past were faced with. Now of course this metaphor is imperfect because the cost of all of those paintings would probably be substantially more than the average album cost, and for some the full price is worth the risk. The fact remains, however, that in the past albums were one of the few, if not the only products that were bought with essentially no knowledge of the product the consumer was putting money down for. Today, individual tracks that can be previewed on iTunes, uploaded onto YouTube and Spotify, and posted in blogs allows the fan to assess based on more than blind faith whether they will buy.

The characteristic inherent of the album is that the foundation of the argument for its survival as a complete and comprehensive work is singularity. The album, as those on that side continue to see it, is a monolith incapable of being divided or taken apart. The problem with this is the incentive for artists and record labels alike for each song to be good on its own didn’t exist. Many cynics in the industry feel that an album is often a few great songs tied to useless “filler” tracks. True, not all songs are attention-getters from the start and perhaps the necessity of buying the entire bundle encouraged listeners to devote time to those less flashy songs, but today with the ease of listening on YouTube or Spotify listeners and fans still have the access to explore to any degree they want. As listeners are now free to buy or not buy each track, there is a financial necesssity to make each one quality rather than merely album padding, leading inevitably to more carefully crafted songs. This change will affect the creation of music, but how has it affected how we listen?

One seldom-heard topic in the debate over the separation of tracks is the rise of the playlist. Today all of us are able to combine individual tracks to build our own stories and messages in the same way that mix tape makers and DJs have. Creative liberation from the blocky and bound album format has made music listening a more creative and expressive endeavor. Rather than passive consumption of music, listeners today are active and interactive while enjoying their favorite music. By categorizing playlists by mood, genre or activity, we are forced to examine the subtle similarities and differences that make those songs able to interact well inside of that playlist. We can see the positive effects of this increased examination in the rise of “mash up” culture. Artists like Girl Talk and Super Mash Bros. engage in national tours off of their style of music in which components from sometimes dozens of songs all reside on one track. These songs’ origins span decades and genres, re-contextualizing the music they know and breathing a new life into what they do not. This new context has affected not just how we listen, or the music creation process; it has changed how we discover music.

In the past, unless you had a 6-disk CD changer you were stuck listening to one genre, one artist, one at one time. Today with the separation of tracks we are able to jump from Mozart to Motown with a click. This allows for further analysis of the music through comparison, but also breaks down preconceptions that serve as barriers to whole forms of music. Yes, music A.D.D. is very much a reality to a generation that has grown up with that kind of ease of switching. It is entirely possible that being trapped within one work at a time makes listeners devote more attetion to the music, but the diversification of styles and genres on the iPod of a Millennial today is already making for more open-minded fans. Ask a group who grew up with the individual track being the dominant musical format and you’re sure to find many who are fans of Radiohead, Kanye West, and that weird old band their dad told them to look up. This opening of tastes comes with the breakdown of preconceived ideas of what certain grenres sound like and, along with this, what type of person listens to those genres. The significance of breaking down these stereotypes cannot be understated, as completely new forms of art are now open to groups of various types that would never have experienced them otherwise.

All this notwithstanding, there is one argument for the pardon of the non-separated, non-digital album that is a much simpler and literally concrete concept: people like to hold it. It’s tangible. There is a simplicity in giving money and receiving a physical object that appeals in a deeper way that people think to human nature. I may be overcomplicating, but there is a sort of conceptual crisis around the loss of the tangibility of music in the digital age. Throughout its existence music was the tangible: sheet music, wood and metal seats, instruments, vinyl, plastic tapes, 8-tracks and CDs. Today, music is left to this abstract concept of a file that flows throughout the infinity of the Internet and the world with a transience that is unsettling to grip. Many of the problems today in the music industry lie in this renegotiation around “what is music now?”

I am not here to solve the problem, at least not yet. All I’m saying is, this question needed asking. Maybe we have to put it in perspective that music existed before there was a language to write about it in. It is an art based in feeling and no matter how much humans attempt to make it so, it never was tangible. It’s on the edge of its expiration that music always dodges death and mystifies us again. So as the axe falls maybe we will be able to embrace the saying I’ve found to be increasingly appropriate in today’s industry: Music is dead, long live music.