Lil Jon and T-Pain. (Source: Instagram)
Amid the pandemic, the music industry has begun to accept live streaming as a new industry norm. Adapting to platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch as the points of most powerful engagement is unique, and may not last. But for now, these are the leading spaces developing hits.
Recently, digital marketing agency Gupta Media hosted The New Normal, a Zoom panel featuring RCA Records’ Executive Vice President of A&R (and Keep Cool co-founder) Tunji Balogun, Friends At Work founder and CEO Ty Stiklorius, entertainment lawyer Doug Davis, and moderator Bill Werde, the director of Syracuse University’s Bandier undergraduate music industry program.
“We are trying to monetize these things on the fly and not wait for touring to come back,” Doug Davis said. “‘Sit and wait’ is not a good business model for what we do.” Davis has put this theory into practice. In under seven days, he, alongside Balogun, engineered the official release of Usher, Lil Jon, and Ludacris collaboration “SexBeat.” The track was “premiered” during T-Pain and Lil Jon’s Verzuz producer battle on Instagram Live on April 4. By April 10, the track was officially released as a single.
“We have this group chat, where a lot of the A&R team talk about what’s going on, and we were all watching the battle, and as soon as that song started to get previewed, everyone was like, ‘This needs to drop immediately,'” Balogun said. Doug Davis continued, “The beat battle was Saturday, we were doing the record deal on Monday and Tuesday. We had done a three-way record deal, Usher, Ludacris, Lil Jon by Wednesday to get the record out on Spotify by Friday. That’s how fast we are moving and seizing an opportunity. Tunji’s label was unbelievable in how they seized it. That’s how fast it is happening. We are trying to monetize these things on the fly and not wait for touring to come back.”
As for expanding the reach of a hit, look no further than songs like Megan Thee Stallion‘s “Savage” and Drake‘s “Toosie Slide” and their growth via the platform TikTok. Users of TikTok, an app on which two billion people are spending 14 hours a month watching short videos, are isolated in their home recording videos of themselves dancing to hit songs. “Toosie Slide” is particularly well-suited for the platform, as it includes brief dance instructions repeated in the hook. Regarding how TikTok has grown during the COVID-19 era, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the app has “become the great equalizer, collapsing the distance between a ‘capital s star’” and non-star content creators.
Finding ways to monetize this sudden change in content creation is essential. “Tech companies, Instagram Live, are going to get smarter about how to empower artists in those spaces, how to make it worth our while so that we are not just having 300,000 people tune in and not have any access to data around that or access to income from that,” says Stiklorius. “That is going to keep evolving in a way that is long-lasting and will create new revenue streams for artists.”
Twitch’s established growth in the gaming industry as a monetizable platform has intrigued music industry executives during this era. According to Balogun, “The people at Twitch, which is a monetizable platform, unlike Instagram, are working with a lot of different artists and tapping into that technology and looking forward to finding new ways for artists to make money in that space.”
“You are going to see the live stream world continue to grow,” Balogun continues. “It wasn’t really a legitimate form of entertainment until this happened.” Stiklorius agrees, noting, “I can’t imagine that DJs and artists aren’t going to continue doing [live streams].” Moreover, she imagines that “much-reduced” ticket prices will spur the continuation of streaming as a solution.
Social media’s adaptations in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak has led to what The Hollywood Reporter refers to as “a community riffing off each other and inspired by developing amazing creativity.” The music industry appears to be adapting for the speed at which hit songs are being created and spread.
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Brian Foo. (Credit: Shawn Miller/Library of Congress)
In honor of the Library of Congress’ 220th birthday, America’s largest research library has announced Citizen DJ, an online-based sampling and remixing program. DJs, producers, and creatives can access the entire catalog of royalty-free sounds from the library’s audio and moving-image collections to remix or download source material sounds in bulk. A preview is currently available, and the full service will launch this summer.
The sound files can be accessed in three ways: searching by sound and metadata, a music-creation app that allows the collection to be remixed with hip-hop beats, and sample packs full of thousands of clips from individual collections.
Creator Brian Foo is a breakdancer and data visualizer, turned Innovator in Residence at the Library of Congress. He’s also an old school hip-hop fanatic, and Citizen DJ was inspired by DJs digging through crates of records for obscure samples to create unique breaks or new songs. “What is that collective crate that we all own as American citizens?” he said to the New York Times. He continued, “What are these sounds that can be used in an unrestricted creative way?” To Consequence of Sound, he added, “a new generation of hip hop artists and producers can maximize their creativity, invent new sounds, and connect listeners to materials, cultures, and sonic history that might otherwise be hidden from public ears.”
Watch the video below and preview Citizen DJ here.
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OZ. (Source: Billboard)
Emerging Swiss producer OZ has made a name for himself with Travis Scott‘s “Highest In The Room” and chart-topping Drake collaboration “SICKO MODE.” With the current Billboard number-one single “Toosie Slide,” he’s continued to solidify his place in the music industry. He was recently interviewed by Billboard, where the rising star talked about working with Drake, finding inspiration as a producer, and more.
On making “Toosie Slide” in a day:
“‘Toosie Slide”‘didn’t take me very long. I made that in like… a day?, and sent it out to Drake in the middle of January… A week later, he told me he loves the beat and he told me, ‘Yo, this is magical.’ He had some ideas on it and when he sent it back, we all knew it was the single and that this was gonna be special.”
On the difference between networking then and now:
OZ was given Meek Mill‘s email almost a decade ago, and his name grew via word-of-mouth promotion. “People were talking about me in the studio. I’d have a record come out and everyone would hit me, ‘Yo, we need a pack too. We need some beats too,'” he tells Billboard. “Back then, everyone was saying that you have to live in New York or Los Angeles to make it. But now you’re one email or one text message away from a hit.”
On being inspired to experiment with different styles:
“I started making beats in 2005 or 2006… If I had just come up in the past couple years, maybe all I’d have seen and been inspired to make were trap beats. But thanks to that era, like with Pharrell too, I’ve tried my hand at rap beats, pop beats, dancehall beats, all of that.”
On looking up to Timbaland, Scott Storch, and 50 Cent:
“I was making more Caribbean type beats, and even tried more like New York, gangster type beats. Those guys were special — every beat was different.”
On building a name for himself:
“When you don’t have number ones or any name, artists aren’t gonna trust in your sound. They’ll shrug it off like, ‘Eh, I don’t think this is the one.’ But after having different number ones — ‘Highest in The Room’ is way different than ‘Toosie Slide,’ and ‘Sicko Mode’ was different too — I think they’ll believe in me more.”
Read the full interview here.
DJ Envy. (Source: Facebook)
The Breakfast Club radio show’s DJ Envy successfully raised over $106,000 for working DJs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The radio host was able to provide 213 DJs with $500 each as the result of an Easter Sunday fundraiser on Instagram Live to support Envy’s “I Love My DJs” GoFundMe campaign.
Over 12 hours, those who tuned in heard sets from DJ Clue, DJ D-Nice, Kid Capri, DJ Will, Tony Neal, DJ Prostyle, DJ Scratch, and Quicksilva. Furthermore, DJ Khaled gave over $45,000 to the GoFundMe saying via Twitter, “Bless up to the DJs! I saw @djenvy’s go fund me post and heard the goal was to raise 50K for the DJs so I put the remaining $45,255 up. We are here to support each other! We are in this together!”
“During this pandemic, you’ve seen DJs step up to the plate and throw virtual parties to keep the spirits up during this quarantine,” Envy told People Magazine. “It’s tough right now for so many DJs to provide for their families with no bars, clubs, lounges, or events to work. Most don’t have healthcare, savings, retirement plans, or have their businesses set up where they can get a stimulus check. So how can they keep food on their table? I knew I had to help.”
In the wake of the global COVID-19 quarantine postponing this year’s Coachella festival, YouTube Originals has released their Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert documentary. Throughout the documentary, connections are made about the importance of DJ culture to Coachella’s rise. Rave culture helped to establish the festival’s concept, while hip-hop and turntablism played a crucial role in its evolution.
In the documentary, Steve Aoki credits Daft Punk‘s 2006 Coachella performance as being the “birthplace” of modern EDM. A-Trak‘s lengthy history with the festival is discussed, including his 1999 Coachella debut with the Invisbl Skratch Piklz, DJing for Kanye West in 2006, and playing alongside Armand van Helden as Duck Sauce in 2011 and 2014. The documentary also features feedback from the likes of Diplo, Moby, and more.
Watch the Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert documentary above.
Related Post: XXL Magazine Lists Greatest Hip-Hop DJs Of All Time
DJ Drew. (Source: DJ Drew)
Beatport and SiriusXM have partnered on “Pitch Control: Powered by Beatport,” a new weekly radio show airing on Sundays at 11 PM EST on their electronic music channel, BPM. The show debuted this Sunday, April 5, hosted by Beatsource Dance Curator Andrew “DJ Drew” Ortiz. DJ Drew has 20 years of experience programming dance radio at KIIS FM in Los Angeles, making him an ideal host.
DJ Drew’s collaborators for this program include Beatport’s Berlin-based curation team, led by Raphael Pujol, Edwin “DJ Phenom” Paredes, who serves as a Program Director at SiriusXM for Pitbull’s Globalization and BPM channels, SiriusXM’s Vice President of EDM programming, Geronimo, and Program Director, Rida Naser. Tracks will also be selected by taking into account real-time activity on Beatport LINK, the streaming service that’s fully integrated with DJ software and hardware. It allows for songs being played by DJs around the world to be immediately known to the Beatport curation team.
“We are thrilled to enter into this music and broadcasting partnership with SiriusXM, one of the leading music destinations here in the US,” Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels said. “So many U.S.-based electronic music fans are thirsty for the best underground electronic music tracks that will likely be the next big dance floor hits. Our world-class curation team and Beatsource’s expert staff are the perfect combination to deliver the goods on a weekly basis.”
Tune into the show Sundays at 11 PM EST on SiriusXM’s BPM channel.
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