During a visit to Los Angeles, the R.O.A.D. Podcast sat down with legendary DJ, producer, and radio host, Felli Fel. Felli, who has worked on-air for over 20 years, was asked if radio can still break new music in the age of streaming.
Watch an excerpt below and the full episode here.
A-Trak at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco on April 26, 2019 (Source: Facebook)
A-Trak said in the press release:
“Genre-specific stores don’t reflect the DJ landscape anymore. The open-format DJ community has needed a home where we can find all the music we need, curated by like-minded people we respect. Both Beatport and DJcity have been vital to the health of DJ culture for many years, and I’m honored to work with their teams to bring some great products to market.”
He added on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
Here we go! I'm excited to join the board of managers at @beatsourceofficial, the new venture between @beatport & @djcity. There are some challenges that need to be met to improve DJs' experience in shopping for music. On one hand there is curation, and Beatsource will be an open format store. The idea of genre-specific stores is dated. Beatsource is built by Beatport + curated by DJ City's trusted team, followed by DJs around the world. On the other hand there is tech: as the music industry fully embraces streaming, DJs will need solutions to play songs from lockers where their song library is stored offline. This new technology opens the door to a bunch of other advancements: new types of promo pools with tracked plays; even tackling the problem of performance royalties for songs played by DJs. There is a lot at hand here. By joining the board, my role is to give input that represents the entire DJ scene. I'm happy to be involved!
Beatsource President Brian “DJ Quickie” Wong says:
“He is absolutely the perfect fit to help our organization as an advisor. We all know him as one of the greatest DJs ever and as a passionate advocate for the open format DJ, but it’s his creativity in business that is going to be so valuable as our company innovates and leads the DJ world into the streaming era.”
The public beta of Beatsource’s download store is set to launch in September. Its streaming service, Beatsource LINK, is expected to release at the end of 2019. Based on Beatport’s patented technology, the streaming service will integrate the Beatsource music store into DJ software and hardware and will include offline streaming.
McDaniels recently spoke with Music Week about the future of Beatport and DJ streaming.
Beatport Link in Pioneer DJ’s rekordbox (Source: Beatport)
Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels recently spoke with Music Week magazine about the future of the company. The Q&A coincides with the latest issue, which looks at the progress of Beatport Link, Beatport’s new streaming service for DJs.
On Beatport’s transition from downloads to streaming:
“We are still fully committed to downloads. We think it’s a growing business for us and so five years from now there’s still going to be DJs that want to download and use USB sticks, just like there are DJs now that play vinyl. We are committed to the DJ as our customer, however people want to DJ. I’m not saying we are going to start selling vinyl, but in the digital world we are committed to providing multiple, different ways to obtain music.”
On the global opportunity of streaming for Beatport:
“[China, India, South Africa, Russia, and Latin America] are all massive markets all with their unique attributes. We’ve got to be thoughtful about how we do it with pricing challenges. But also if you think about the expense of DJing, the hardware and everything else that goes along with it and learning how to do it is a pretty big barrier to entry. Our hardware and software partners create those entry-level products and we can deliver a content solution that is price competitive. I absolutely think that’s going to be a big part of our future.”
On how Beatport isn’t a competitor to platforms like Spotify:
“You have to remember with Apple and Spotify, their user and license rights with the labels and publishers are limited to personal consumption only. The nature of our business is it’s supplying music to DJs for public performance and for for professionals. From what I understand, the big music streaming companies are not looking at this because it opens up a whole new host of issues with labels and publishers about licensing. This is what we’ve been doing for 15 years, so we are in this very unique position.”
On if vinyl will survive as a DJ format:
“I think so. I love it. It’s still a pain in the ass to carry around those records everywhere. The shift from vinyl to CD, CD to download was a pretty big shift. Streaming is the access model. Not only do you not have to bring anything to the club, but you can curate everything beforehand at home. And then all of the data and information you get by performing, it’s just going to be amazing. It’s a huge leap forward for the DJ community. I think people that may have been holding out are going to make that leap forward.”
DJ E-Man at LIGHT Nightclub in Las Vegas on June 8, 2019. (Source: Instagram)
Coquia, who was formally the interim PD for Power 106 and 93.5 KDAY, will continue to report to Meruelo’s President and COO, Otto Padron.
Padron praised Coquia:
“E-Man is Our-man! After an exhaustive nationwide search that attracted some of the most talented PDs in America, the choice was clear. E-Man had a sensible plan and a vision that aligned perfectly with our goals to disrupt the industry with new hyper local L.A. content.”
“I’m truly excited to continue to lead the incredible winning teams at our two iconic Hip Hop radio stations in Los Angeles: Power 106 & 93.5 KDAY. I’m also enjoying every minute assembling and developing the new Cali 93.9 team. To be a part of three major radio stations in Los Angeles that play Hip-Hop: Current, Classic, & Latin Hip-Hop/Reggaeton is a very dope feeling, especially as a fan of these music genres.”
Related Post: Emmis to Sell Power 106 to Meruelo Group
On this week’s R.O.A.D. Podcast, the crew talks to DJ Nitrane, the official tour DJ for rapper Bas. The Los Angeles-based DJ shares how he got into DJing celebrity parties for the likes of Barack Obama, JAY Z, Jamie Foxx, and more. Nitrane discusses proper etiquette and how he keeps his clients satisfied.
Watch an excerpt of this week’s interview above and the full episode here.
Afro B (Source: Instagram)
Afro B arrives in 2019 with arguably the biggest Afrobeats song to hit the US, and worldwide. “Drogba (Joanna)” is not only catchy, but introduces audiences to the diverse culture of African music while bringing the familiar sounds of R&B and hip-hop.
Currently, the track hails over 100 million streams across all platforms and is No. 13 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. It has also seen remixes from African-born stars French Montana and WizKid.
What people may not know is that Afro B started out as a DJ and event producer. At age 16, real name Ross Bayeto began spinning at a club called NW10 where he built his first fanbase. During a time when dancehall and hip-hop were prominent, the UK-bred DJ stood out amongst his peers, pushing the genre of AfroWave that’s now accepted worldwide.
DJcity caught up with a good-spirited Afro B in his few days in Los Angeles to chat about his come up as a DJ, the AfroWave movement, and the success of “Drogba (Joanna).”
You refer to your style as “AfroWave.” Describe what that is for those who aren’t familiar.
AfroWave is the movement promoting the African culture to people who are unfamiliar, giving a good view on the continent itself. It’s the sound as well, a combination of different elements into one. You might hear some influences from dancehall, influences from old school hip-hop, new-school hip-hop, and a bit of reggaeton. It depends on the vibe on the day you make it in the studio.
How does your background as a DJ influence you as an artist?
I look at things like what would get people moving? What would work in the club and what wouldn’t? The way I tap music, I always think of whether it’d work for a club or not. It helped me work out the structure as well. People like catchy music and vibes, that’s always the angle I hit.
How did you get into DJing?
I was with a group of friends, two of them already knew how to DJ. Kenny Allstar and Rick, we had a group called All-Star Entertainment. They literally taught me how to DJ. I started off using VirtualDJ on my laptop. We started to release mixes on YouTube, and I was getting good numbers. Not many people were using social media at the time. We were throwing under 16 or 18 events, that’s how we were building our fan bases.
A lot of DJs are content with staying DJs. Why did you expand?
You know what? I started off playing keys in church. I also grew up listening to all types of music, not just Afrobeats. From old school rock and roll to Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Akon, Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Popcaan, just a different range of music.
When you were DJing, did you think you’d be where you are now?
I always speak things into existence, so I knew I would get to this point one way or the other. I always envisioned things happening. I did see myself coming; I just didn’t know when it was gonna happen. This “Joanna” [track], that’s the ticket. [laughs]
It wasn’t an instant hit. How’d it grow into what it is now?
Well, I attached a dance challenge to it. I was very strategic with the way I was pushing the track. Social media played a big part in the song spreading into different territories. The dance challenge called #DrogbaChallenge allowed different people all over the world to dance to the record, who weren’t necessarily African as well. Mainly through Instragam, Twitter, and Facebook. Those three platforms helped it spread. Then it started to reach the DJs; the DJs started to play it in the clubs. It was more of an organic build rather than paying for crazy promotion and getting it into people’s faces. It’s been a gradual build.
Was the dance challenge through an app, like TikTok?
Nah, I was pre-recording people dancing to the song in dance classes. Literally the day after the release, I was releasing all the pre-recorded videos on my Instagram. There was one in particular that went viral, like crazy viral.
What was it about that one?
The skill. She did it with style man. That was the one that took off. Then it just had a knock-on effect; all these other videos were going viral.
Wow. Being a DJ yourself, what was your strategy in getting it to DJs?
I literally sent it out and would just connect with them. If someone would add me on Instagram playing the song, I’d thank them for playing the record, connect with them. [I’d] Be like “anything you need, let me know. If you want [a] drop, I can literally record it on WhatsApp. If you need a dubplate, I can record that for you when I’m in the studio.” I understand their value because I am a DJ. I understand the importance DJs are to the music because they really play a big part in spreading the music to the masses. They’re the ones telling the audience, “yeah, this is a cool song” or “this isn’t a cool song.”
Do you feel pressure to have a successful follow up to “Joanna”?
No man! Right now the way I see it is, I’m a supplier. Because the sound is new and people don’t really know many artists or songs in this scene, they’re gonna just look at people who have the song poppin’ right now. “What else do they have out?” Or “what are they bringing out?” So I’ve got an album ready to go in the next two months. I’ve got my next single coming out next month, so I just have to keep providing. Whatever people gravitate towards, that’s what it’s going to be, man. 100%.
“Joanna” might be one of the most popular African music singles ever in the US, but the genre itself has yet to crossover into the mainstream. What could change that?
We just need to keep dropping more records I feel. It’s still early. “Joanna” could be the door-opener to more music breaking through the mainstream. We just need to keep supplying, get more co-signs from the bigger artists, like Beyonce. She just did the Lion King album and featured some African artists on there [Burna Boy]. That’s gonna help it because obviously, she influences a lot of people. If people are watching her do that, they say “okay, so it’s cool to do that.”
What about you? What do you think you can do?
Me? Just keep releasing! Talk to people like you, have interviews with people who are introducing the sound to people who are unfamiliar with it. Not just promoting it [to] people who know about it already. That’s what I aim to do.
You know our team member, Poizon Ivy the DJ? How did you guys connect?
Yeah, that’s my friend! She’s been supporting from early. She picked up on the record early last year. She’s someone that’s been pushing African music from the jump. She’s a cool girl, man. Dope DJ.
Do you guys joke about how the record blew up?
Yeah man, because obviously it’s been out for a year and a half now. She’s been like “oh people are late, but it’s cool man.” She gives me updates on how it’s performing in [Dallas]. She was the first one to play it at an NBA game. I can’t remember what game it was, but she sent me the footage of her playing it. That’s how I connected with her. She showed me the footage of her playing the record at an NBA game. I followed her instantly, thanking her.
Do you still DJ?
Yes. Up to now, I still have a weekly radio Afrobeats radio show on mainstream radio called Capital XTRA. My show’s called Afrobeats. I’m still pushing the genre, other people’s music that’s not my music. That whole Afrowave movement, just pushing the culture to the masses.
Will you be doing DJ sets on top of your performances?
Well DJ sets, I haven’t done one in a while. People been calling me to perform rather than DJ, but later on down the line, once I’ve done my thing with the music, I’ll say “do you want to book me to DJ or do you want to book me to perform?” Give them the choice.
Is there anything else you want to let us know?
[My] next single [is] out next month [and my] album [is] on the way, Afrowave 3. More Afrobeats vibes. [I’m] working on getting some American features on there. I’ve got the French Montana remix out now. I’ve got a Latin remix on the way with Ozuna. Let’s keep breaking down those doors; that’s what I aim to do.
Edited by Anthony Polis
Related Post: GuiltyBeatz Talks Rise of African Music
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