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:
facebook.com/electronicsoundoutfit
soundcloud.com/electronicsoundoutfit
instagram: @electronicsoundoutfit
twitter: @esoutfit

Annual Alumni & Current Student Networking Reception Focus is Creative Relationships in Music Supervision

(From L to R: Flescher, Faber, Young, Rivera, Martin, Tuthill and Trussell. Photo by Chianan Yen courtesy of NYU Steinhardt)

On Friday October 25, the 9th floor of the NYU Kimmel Center for University Life was bustling with Music Business Program students, alumni and faculty for the 13th Annual Alumni & Current Students Networking Reception, an event produced by Professor Shirley Washington. Every year the music business program creates the opportunity for alumni and students to meet or re-connect, update each other on their professional progress, and have a panel discussion featuring our talented and knowledgeable alumni and current students. This year’s panel discussion was entitled “Cue to Cue, Concept to Completion: The Ever-Expanding Role of the Music Supervisor.”

Before beginning the panel, Professor Larry Miller, Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore, Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Sam Howard-Spink and Steinhardt Vice Dean Dr. Beth Weitzman gave attendees updates on recent additions to the program. Among these announcements were Dr. Ron Sadoff’s new appointment to Director of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, and introducing visiting Music Business faculty member Carlos Chirinos. Lastly, Dr. Howard-Spink is leading the process of publishing a journal of NYU Music Business colloquies, to display outstanding work by our graduate students.

Adjunct professor and grad alum Heather Trussell, Senior VP of Memory Lane Music Group, moderated the discussion using her music publishing expertise to ask all the right questions. None of the panelists are music supervisors, but they all work directly with supervisors and this gave attendees insight into how artists, managers and rights holders benefit from sync placements.

This year’s panelists were Seth Faber (UG ’04) of Primary Wave Music, Shira Flescher (G ‘11) of Sony Music Entertainment, Pauline Martin formerly of Spirit Music Group, Nicole Rivera (UG ‘01) of Wasserman Media Group, Chris Tuthill (UG ‘93) of Talent Consultants International and Alice Young, current student (G ’14) and intern at Downtown Music Publishing.

(Panelists and faculty pose before the discussion. Photo by Chianan Yen courtesy of NYU Steinhardt)

The panelists concurred that music supervisors have become the new “it” gatekeepers, building high profile careers and, citing ChopShop’s Alexandra Patsavas, Go Music’s Gary Calamar and Neophonic’s PJ Bloom, even creating their own companies. It’s grown into such a sought-after profession that even basketball star Lebron James is getting into the game, supervising NBA 2K14, due out next year. Over the past five to ten years, successful music supervisors have come to hold the power in creative relationships. The role has become so important that some supervisors can even influence storylines of a film or TV show, such as Jonathan Karp, Judd Apatow’s go-to music supervisor.

The panelists discussed from a musician, label’s or publisher’s point of view, how to pitch music to a music supervisor – a delicate endeavor since the pitch usually happens the opposite way. One should not be too “sales-y” or forceful, and instead listen and know about copyrights. When sending music to a supervisor, make sure the pitch is directed to someone with the right audience for the music, and tag all the metadata with contact and copyright information, making the supervisor’s job easier.

Like the rest of the industry, the panelists concluded that music supervision is a relationship-based business. A good relationship can make or break a placement. Trussell summarized, “if a bunch of songs all fit, they’ll pick the one with the writer, label or publisher they like to work with.” Before opening up for questions, Trussell and the panelists played out mock negotiations between a music supervisor and a label, and a music supervisor and a publisher – a helpful and entertaining way to end the panel.