Indie Down Under — Re-thinking Assumptions About International Music Trends

Guest post by Erin Simon (UG ’16) who is currently studying at NYU Sydney. We encourage feedback and commentary on all Student Outlook contributions. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @NYUMusicBiz.

In the United States, indie pop artists like Vance Joy and San Cisco are known as fast up-and-comers, buzzed about by bloggers and slowly gaining traction on the Billboard charts. But in Australia, these are beloved hometown acts, far from simply having “indie” credibility – Vance Joy’s “Riptide” earned the coveted number 1 spot on the 2013 Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, arguably the most important music event in Australia. Every year, fans vote from all over the country to decide the most popular songs, which are then counted down on Australia Day each January. This year’s number one spot went to Chet Faker, an Australian electronic music act, who also appears to be known only by the most attuned listeners in the USA.

It is easy to think that popular music in America dominates in other parts of the world as well, especially in a place like Australia where the radio charts look strikingly similar. It is easy to think that the New York indie music scene is the place to find out about fresh new acts before anybody else. But as it turns out, a lot of the acts we are just starting to catch on to have been beloved by Aussies long before they made it across the Pacific.

 

So what really makes indie music indie? I always thought it was the underground nature of it, but the definition seems to have evolved to encapsulate more of a musical style than the community that listens to it. It prompts me to wonder how the indie music scene will continue to evolve in the United States, and if a more global perspective may shift the stereotypical mentality of American indie listeners. In the meantime, any indie lovers out there may want to take a peek at the Triple J Hottest 100 list – your next obsession just might be in Australia.

 

Czeching Out the Digital Music Scene: A Comparison Between Czech and American Digital Trends

Guest post by Tara Muoio (UG ’17) who is currently studying at NYU Prague. We encourage feedback and commentary on all Student Outlook contributions. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @NYUMusicBiz.

In my time studying abroad in Prague, I’ve really enjoyed doing research on the
Czech music industry for my Global Music Trends Analysis course. Out of all of the things I noticed many differences and similarities between the Czech and American music
industries, particularly in the streaming and digital music sector. It’s not exactly that the Czech Republic is behind in the realm of technology – it’s just different technology. After taking a second look, the Czechs might even be too immersed in the digital age for their own good.

Since the fall of communism in 1989, the Czech Republic has strived to be
relatively on the same level as much of the rest of the world, whether it be in their government or their everyday lives. Becoming a free country at the beginning of the digital age practically threw the Czech Republic into the realm of technology without warning. Today, the average Czech is tech-savvy, however, they seem to prefer different devices from those that Americans do. Most smartphones that people use in the Czech Republic are either Android or Windows based – not Apple. Even computers predominant computer choice are PC’s running Windows operating systems. In fact, Apple stores are nowhere to be found in the Czech Republic; all Apple products are sold by certified resellers. Many Czechs prefer to buy computer parts that they can take apart and put back together, creating their own device rather than buying one that comes all together. This is commonly the most cost-effective option, which is something that a lot of Czechs prefer. To Czechs, an Apple product is akin to that of a Marc Jacobs. Each of these elements directly impacts the market for digital music and streaming, which is where the main differences between the Czech and American music industries lie.

 

Sure, PC users can load iTunes on their desktop if they have an iPhone or iPod to use, but this isn’t truly mobile unless you have either of those devices. Streaming has become a huge part of the Czech music market with the wide usage of Android and Windows based smartphones because music on these devices is not exactly the most accessible. Music on these devices are only available if you preload songs in mp3 format or use a streaming service–streaming usually being the easier of the two. Top subscription and ad-based streaming services in the Czech Republic include well-known global services like Spotify, Google Play, Tidal, Rdio, and Deezer, but also smaller companies like Mixér.cz, Koule, and Musicjet. All of these services allow access to a wide array of music with of course, the opportunity to listen on the go. It’s worth noting that in the Czech Republic specifically, cell phone companies like O2 are listed as music streaming service providers on www.pro-music.org. O2 has a separate venture for streaming and downloading music, audiobooks, games, and more called O2 Active. This allows users to access their entertainment on the go while connected to their data network or Wi-Fi.

An interesting thing to note is that a Spotify subscription in the Czech Republic is measured in Euros (€5.99/month) instead of the local currency, the Koruna. €5.99 is equivalent to about 165Kc, or about $7 USD. This is less than the price of a Spotify subscription in the United States ($9.99/month). The price of Spotify depends on the region and the demand that specific region presents. In the Czech Republic, the demand is higher because many more people use – and will pay for – streaming at a low price.

In my opinion, I don’t think that the music consumption habits of the Czechs will ever be picked up by Americans, or vice versa. People in general are known to choose whatever option is easiest for them. For Americans, that’s having their music directly on their iPhones via iTunes. For Czechs, it’s much easier and affordable to get their music on their Android and Windows devices via a streaming service. In the end, it all boils down to convenience, affordability, and choice of hardware.

 

Artist j.viewz creates the DNA Project to open up the album-creation process to fans

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

I first came across j.viewz and The DNA Project when I was looking for an innovative figure to profile for the final piece of my Literary Reportage elective class at NYU. After talking with my friend and MUBG peer, Suzanne Rollins—who was interning for j.viewz (a position she found on the MUBG listserv)—she agreed that he would be a great fit for my piece on music innovation, put me in direct contact with j.viewz and the rest is history.

Jonathan Dagan, known as j.viewz, is an Israeli-born, independent songwriter, producer, remixer and visual artist. He has always been frustrated with the music industry’s standard model: spend a year or two recording an album away from the fans, release it, and then tour with a bunch of songs that are no longer fresh. He is challenging this model with the DNA Project website, which is designed to open up the album-making process to fans. The artist explained, “There’s a lot of value in creating an album. I want to share and open that up to the audience.” As a result, the website will enable fans to track the creative process for each song in real time, from inspiring moments on the road to new sounds from the studio and meetings with labels.

Standing at about 5’6, with tousled brown curls, a well-kept goatee, and wide, thin-rimmed spectacles, j.viewz’s physical appearance fits the mold of how one would expect a Grammy-nominated, avant-garde electronic folk artist to look. But don’t expect any brooding here. The multi-genre artist, whose sound has been compared to Cashmere Cat, Young Wonder and Slow Magic, is an optimist at heart who believes in the power of music and using it to elevate communication between the fan and the artist.

j.viewz, born in Haifa, the cultural hub of northern Israel—which is approximately 56 miles north of Tel Aviv—explains that growing up in the country’s third largest city contributed to his proactivity in discovering new music. “When you are into music growing up in Haifa, you have to be really active about getting the music you want. There was no internet, so you’d have to travel to Tel Aviv and go the record store to hear the new Nine Inch Nails record. I had to seek out people with the right records, people who knew about music.” In so doing, the indie artist confesses that he was not affected by Israeli music, but instead his experience with music in Israel made him extremely active in finding and being appreciative of different genres of music.

Prior to moving to Brooklyn, NY, j.viewz found himself in a breakbeat band—unconventional in Israel—where he performed at psy-trance parties. Recalling those early days of his music career, j.viewz explains that such times molded him into the artist he is today: “I had a breakbeat band and the only place they could book us was at psy-trance parties. Now it’s different in Israel, it’s very popular to know good music and the average level of musicianship is really, really high. But avoidance of what was mainstream in Israel back then made me what I am.” Avoiding the mainstream for a deeper path and looking to create music that mattered to him, Jonathan Dagan moved to the United States and became j.viewz.

The DNA Project, which went live late last year, has enabled the indie artist to release music sooner and make it easier for him to respond to his fans. “When you listen to an album, you can’t interact with it. It’s a two, three year-old created product given to you. You’ve got to accept everything that comes with it.” Consequently, j.viewz is using the DNA Project to create an interactive environment where both he and his fans can create, comment and edit music, in real-time.

This isn’t the first time Dagan has experimented with the process of creating and distributing music. He was one of the first to use downloading and direct-to-fan interaction to sell albums and his second full-length album, Rivers And Homes (2011), was released one track at a time to fans who paid to subscribe to his music service. Once completed, Dagan distributed the finished album in physical form to his subscribers and later made it available to the general public. Rivers And Homes was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package, presented for the visual look of an album. Dagan didn’t stop. In addition to recording the music, he shot a video for the title track off Rivers And Homes. The footage, which was shot in New York and Israel, was used to create two parallel videos—a “normal” music video which showed j.viewz walking through a snowy field wearing a cat costume and then another made up entirely by fans holding frames from the “normal” video. Each frame from the normal video was printed and handed out to fans in the audience during his tour in Israel. In total, 300 fans were recruited to hold the still frames and 2,000 images were used in the making of Rivers And Homes, creating an “ingenious animation” within the video. The frames were then reassembled as a stop motion video in which fans could tag themselves via a Taggable Player he designed. Rivers And Homes was nominated for an MTV Music Award for “Most Innovative Video” as well as a UK Music Video Award.

Dagan says that he never innovates just to innovate just as he does not want fans to engage in his work for the sake of engaging; there is a clear, strategic and valuable purpose behind all that he does. As a result, the DNA Project has fans participate at specific times and emphasizes how the fan and the artist are both a part of the same goal; the same journey. According to j.viewz, “an album doesn’t have to be a documentation of something that happened in the past. It can be an interactive experience between artist and fan that exposes the creative process.” Through the Project, the electronic-folk artist is symbolically opening up the studio to the fan in order to make the process of music available to everyone and essentially, make the process part of the art itself. It is a huge leap in the evolution of the artist-fan relationship.

j.viewz is also an advocate of trying new things, being committed to that experience and overall, remaining optimistic. The indie artist explained that days before the Kickstarter page went up to fund what is now the DNA Project website, he jumped out of a plane. “It symbolized jumping into a new experience with no doubts. You can have doubts but you must still be committed at the end.” j.viewz explained that in jumping into a new experience, one must always have one thought in mind: success. However, success, not in the modern sense of the word—which praises money and all things materialistic—but rather in thinking positively, in believing that the outcome you are after will come into fruition and most importantly, in being optimistic that people will support your efforts.

It is this way of thinking that has enabled j.viewz to make human connection become a real and consistent thread weaved throughout his work. In doing so, he has not only contributed to the evolution of the artist-fan relationship but has allowed his fans to become investors in his art and essentially, his career; gradually erasing the role of the fan as a passive and silent investor. What is being created as a result of this evolution is a synergic relationship where the fan becomes more involved in the artist’s career and in turn, the artist uses the relationship to further sustain their career.

Through past and current projects, j.viewz continues to allow his fans to take on the role of what academic Carsten Winter calls “prosumers”—the hybrid of consumer and producer that the digital age has created. The fan, no longer a silent investor in the artist’s career, has become the creator; crafting content that often progresses the artist’s career and simultaneously, creates valuable engagement. “Fan participation creates a bigger togetherness. If I ever had a doubt of putting my heart out there, those events [i.e. the making of the Rivers and Homes video, the DNA Project, etc.] encourage me to do so.” From their roles as collector—one who adds tags to web pages or photos (as fans did in his 2012 Rivers And Homes video) and joiners—those who support the artist through social media, blogs and crowdfunding (as fans did for j.viewz’s Kickstarter page to fund The DNA Project website)—to the ultimate role of creator—those who upload audio/music, videos and artwork that they create (as fans have done for the DNA Project)—the indie artist has made fan interaction his signature priority.

In discussing the double-edge sword role that technology plays—allowing users to interact more frequently yet simultaneously shortening our attention spans as we quickly move onto the next phenom—j.viewz is an optimist. The indie artist explained that with the temporary trait that comes with technology, there is an “impermanence of music” being expressed. Because we, as music fans, are more aware of how brief each moment is, we are able to embrace and appreciate each event. j.viewz romanticized, “There’s something beautiful about honoring the moment together with our short attention spans. It’s all a brief moment—we celebrate, we dance, we die.”

The digital age has radically put a damper on the music industry’s plan of pushing music onto passive consumers. Thanks to digital network media such as YouTube and SoundCloud, ordinary people are now creating value in relation to music, without the involvement of record labels and at lower costs. Everyone is now a prosumer. Using these new media to undertake activities like commenting, criticizing, sharing, producing, posting and publishing, “prosumers” are able to innovate socially and culturally while simultaneously, creating cultural and social value instead of just economic value. Gone are the push-method days of the industry spoon-feeding us which genres to consume. Prosumers are now pulling the music and the artists that they want towards them.

The impermanence of music has enabled music fans to be far more proactive in not only discovering new artists and music but most importantly, connecting with the artist. The growing trend of artists communicating with fans via social media as well as fans supporting their idols through crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter has essentially broken down the barriers of communication between fan and artist. With the door to communication wide open, another fascinating result is occurring: the mysterious, god-like image of the artist is gradually fading. j.viewz proclaimed, “Impermanence of music has reduced the fantasy. The artist is no longer untouchable, inaccessible.” Live-streams of artists in the studio and backstage at shows can now be viewed and shared, personal photos from their everyday lives can be liked, their random thoughts for the masses can be retweeted: transparency is the driver of the new music economy.

Ultimately, j.viewz’s mission is to explore different ways to improve the communication aspect of music and uncover how technology, when used in certain (unconventional) ways, allows us to connect to people in an immediate way. The indie artist continues to radically shape the industry through his persistent, innovative efforts to bridge the gaps between music and technology as well as the artist and the fan. “I think music is the best communication tool. If I want to translate my experience to you, I can do it in words, but there are only so many words. With music, there’s no word for it, but there is a chord for it. When you put yourself and your heart out there, people will respond.”

Connect with j.viewz on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Youtube.

Senior Spotlight: Julia Pernicone

Where are you from?

I’m from Ardsley, NY, just a short train ride outside of the city.

What is your background in music?

I’ve been singing my whole life, but participating in my middle and high school select choirs was where I gained a more serious passion for music.  In high school I started writing songs, playing in a band, and taking more formal voice lessons at Lagond Music School in Elmsford, NY.  It was there that I really started to consider music as a career, and not necessarily only as a performer.  Though I’ve been focused on the business side of the industry throughout the last 4 years, I’ve continued songwriting and performing, and have released an album and an EP of original music, as well as a few co-writes on another artist’s EP.  I’ve also been managing a few acts that I’ve met through NYU which has been an incredible learning experience.

Why did you decide to come to NYU?

I decided to come to NYU because Steinhardt’s Music Business program allowed me to continue my musical training, through music theory and aural comprehension classes as well as private lessons and ensembles, while also receiving an education in business, specific music business classes, and a great liberal arts program as well.  Being in NYC is invaluable for wanting to break into the music industry.  I never would have been able to have the internships and opportunities I’ve had here if I were in another city.  Finally, I just really love the diverse group of people at NYU.  I’ve encountered people studying everything from film, to dance, to global liberal studies, and the music community is so diverse in and of itself!  I love being part of a community of so many talented people following their passions in so many different areas.  Plus, it’s nice to be so close to home!

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

My favorite musician and songwriter is John Mayer.  I also really admire Sara Bareilles.  Lately I’ve been super into jazz, soul, and funk, and some of my favorites are Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nikki Yanofsky.  I’m also a Taylor Swift fan!

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

I grew up listening to pop, and that’s what I write a lot of the time.  So I am not ashamed to admit that you can often find me jamming out to One Direction!

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

My favorite music business class has to have been Music Publishing.  Our professor, Jennifer Blakeman, currently works in the industry, so her perspective is very relevant.  She turned a subject that some consider to be a bit boring into an extremely interesting and fun class, and since then I’ve been working towards pursuing a career in publishing.

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

It is hard to choose just one!  I’ve gotten to attend some great events as a member of GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy’s organization for students of the music industry–like soundchecks for artists like Esperanza Spalding and the Zac Brown Band, and hearing Alicia Keys and her producer speak at the studio where she records.  Last semester I took a class called Topics in Recorded Music: Aretha Franklin & Soul Music, and we got to attend a conversation at the 92nd Street Y with Clive Davis and Aretha herself about her career and newest album.  Finally, a really awesome New York musical moment has to be when I saw Billy Joel play at Madison Square Garden this past summer.  Hearing him play “New York State of Mind” live in NYC was a really emotional experience for me.

What was your best Internship?

I honestly believe I’ve learned something valuable from every one of my internships.  If I had to choose a favorite, it would be Wind Up Songs, where I’m currently interning.  I love how small the company and the roster are.  It allows me to get my hands into all facets of the company’s operations, and do work that’s actually meaningful.  I also love how writer-focused the company is.  Other internship highlights for me include Downtown Music Publishing, and working with artist Garland Jeffrey’s manager.

What is your dream job?

I would love to someday be a working songwriter wth my own production/publishing company.  I want to be able to write for and develop artists, while also fostering the careers of other songwriters.  Kara Dioguardi and Dr. Luke, two of my favorite songwriters, have each done something like this.

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

I definitely think I have a more entrepreneurial spirit than when I came here.  While I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the music industry as a freshman, I definitely wasn’t considering the option of starting my own business.  Now, I manage a few artists and bands, and am looking to start my own publishing company!

 

 

What is your advice for any incoming freshmen or transfer students to the program?

Try everything, talk to everyone, and be aggressive in pursuing your passions.  NYU, NYC, and the music industry are not places where you can expect to get what you want handed to you on a silver platter.  It’s important to take initiative and find out what really excites you, and then go for it!  That being said, don’t take anything too seriously, and remember not to get too hard on yourself.  Have fun, too!

 

Senior Spotlight: Sarah Segner


Where are you from?

Cherry Hill, NJ

What is your background in music?

I began studying the violin at seven and it pretty much took over my life by high school. I also studied piano, mandolin, and guitar, and was in Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and had my own string quartet before I came to college.

Why did you decide to come to NYU?

As a freshman in high school I realized that I wanted to earn a degree in Music Business. I had always wanted to move to New York City, and when I found out that NYU has one of the top Music Business programs in the country, it became my top choice. I wanted to be able to jump start my career while still an undergraduate, and center myself in one of the capitals of the music industry. I also knew I would have a ton of performance opportunities, and that’s proven true; I’m in a band and regularly perform in classical music concerts, usually in the contemporary classical world.

 

 

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

I’ve got a pretty eclectic taste in music. In the rock realm Led Zeppelin, Alt-J, and Nine Inch Nails are favorites. If we get more pop-oriented, I’m very into Rufus Wainwright, Gabriel Kahane and Woodkid. I love folk music, both in the American sense (Dylan, Baez, etc) and the international sense (I’m very into Persian classical music and Eastern European folk music). In the classical world, some of my favorite composers are Igor Stravinsky, Morton Feldman, Jean Sibelius, Gustave Mahler, and Josquin des Prez.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

Oh yeah…most definitely. Does Lana Del Rey count? Also Coldplay. I’m not a superfan but I’m kind of embarrassed that Coldplay is in my iTunes library.

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

I really loved Entrepreneurship. I had been harboring a start-up idea for a few years, and that class really let me learn how to map it out and maybe, hopefully implement it. Larry Miller has so much experience, and he’s a great teacher and mentor. I also loved Sam Howard-Spink’s classes because his brand of philosophy on capitalism fascinates me.

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

There are too many to list. I’ll name two. The sheer energy at a Woodkid show at Webster Hall in 2013 was intoxicating. He hadn’t played in the US for a long time, or at that size of a venue, and it was amazing to see an artist who identifies mostly with a European audience get a huge reaction in the US. It was part of a CMJ showcase, so I had been selling it to people that whole week and I think I got some props from friends for introducing them to Woodkid.

The second moment was a pretty geeky classical music one. I was at the Bang on a Can marathon in 2014, and a friend of mine was clapping the rhythmic pattern from Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music.” David Lang, a co-founder of Bang on a Can and a rock star in the contemporary classical music world, walked by and started clapping the pattern back at our group. Geeky and pretty awesome for us.

What was your best Internship?

I really loved my internship at 21C Media Group. It’s a small publicity/marketing firm that works primarily in the classical music business. Because the company is so small, I got to work with everyone on the team and on some very high profile accounts. While I also enjoyed internships at larger organizations like Lincoln Center, I felt like I was really a part of the team at 21C.

Sarah with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider. Sarah acts as an artistic consultant and coordinator for two of the members.

What is your dream job?

Thinking really, really big? I want to be the Artistic Director of my own festival presented by an organization like Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall.

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

Slightly, yes. I came into the program wanting to produce in the studio. Now, I’m finding that I’m much more interested in the live industry (which is also of course where the money is, so that’s a bonus). I’m still interested in producing, but in the live sense, and I’ve found that I love to curate concerts and festivals, so I’d love to get into the artistic planning end of the classical music industry.

What is your advice for any incoming freshmen or transfer students to the program?

Internships are absolutely key to your undergraduate experience. I’ve held six during my time at NYU, and because I’ve applied myself and worked in a ton of areas within the music industry, I have a very rich contact base already, before I’ve started working full time. Also in relation to internships, try working for a smaller company. Often you will have more involved responsibilities and fewer “intern” duties if you’re at a smaller company, and if you really shine in your position, it’s likely you’ll get asked to stay on as an intern or as a full-time employee. There’s more opportunity to promote yourself and really get to know your co-workers at a small company.

 

Senior Spotlight: Kevin Johnson

Where are you from?

I am from Carmel, NY in Putnam County. It’s about 50 miles north of the city. I’ve lived in New York my whole life!

What is your background in music?

I grew up in a family that loved music. My uncle played the guitar and the banjo, much to my dismay since I hated bluegrass music. So to rebel from learning those instruments, I started playing cello when I was 10 years old and taught myself piano at the same time. I was the type of kid who practiced for 3 hours every single day, solely because I just loved music. I started auditioning for the All-County orchestras at a young age and then moved on to NYSSMA’s Area-All State Orchestra. My true love and background in music, however, was playing piano in the pit orchestra of my high school’s musical productions. It’s an entirely different world of music and I thrived in it.

Why did you decide to come to NYU?

Having grown up in New York my entire life, I knew I wanted to stay close and the city was right there. NYU was always the dream college for me and when I found out that there was a combination of music and business in NYU Steinhardt, it was just the perfect fit. I could study music theory and practice my instruments while I also got to study my second passion of marketing.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

Some of my favorite artists are: Bastille, Mumford & Sons, CHVRCHES, Layla, and to throw in a musical theatre composer(s), Kerrigan & Lowdermilk.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

Not in particular, but I do love listening to musical theatre. I could listen to Broadway show-tunes all day long. I also love doing homework to orchestral soundtracks of films. Currently, The Theory of Everything’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Johann Johannsson is my one of my favorites.

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

As the undergraduate student assistant to the program, I have to say that every professor in the program is my favorite. In particular, I have thoroughly enjoyed Music Publishing with adjunct faculty member Jennifer Blakeman and Interactive, Internet, and Mobile Music with Professor Sam Howard-Spink. Of course, I can’t leave out Dr. Catherine Moore who has been a mentor to me through and through. One of my favorite projects to work on with Dr. Moore was the Global Music Trends Analysis independent study while I was studying abroad in London. We got to choose our topics as we were guided by Dr. Moore throughout the process. My topic was on global music festival marketing and an expansion report of C3 Presents in the United Kingdom.


You work under Dr. Moore as the student assistant. Tell us about your experience working for the Music Business department.

I was hired during my sophomore year as the assistant to the Undergraduate program. I absolutely love working in the office as every day is always something new. We are always brainstorming new ideas and changes for the program. I love thinking of new developments and collaborating with not only who I consider my professors, but also my colleagues and supervisors.

 

 

 

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

One time I was waiting for the L train and there was a violinist on the 8th Avenue-bound platform and a cellist on the Brooklyn-bound platform. They were so far away from each other but they were both playing a piece together across the platforms. It was one of the coolest things I have seen in street performance. By themselves, they sounded amazing and then together, if you listened carefully amidst the rumblings of the L and the uncomfortable voice the L train female announcer, it was even better.

What was your best Internship?

It is hard to choose. I have been very lucky to have had many amazing internships across the theatrical industry as that is my focus in the music and entertainment business—Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, The New York Musical Theatre Festival, and now at The Nederlander Organization. I do have to say that being at NYMF was an extremely life-changing experience. I felt like an essential part of the team at such a small company with big plans. I learned more than I ever did and got to do so much hands-on work with essential people in the Broadway industry.

What was one of your favorite projects at NYMF that you worked on at NYMF?

At NYMF, I had an array of very serious projects, but my favorite was the preparation of a live social media feed for the NYMF Gala. I got to live tweet, Facebook, and Instagram the entire night taking pictures of Broadway celebrities and covering every foot of the theater as fast as possible. It was an extremely hectic night, but an unbelievable success! My other project was a bit more confidential, but I can say that it did involve a lot of work with branding which helped me learn a lot more about a sector of marketing that I didn’t know much about.

What is your dream job?

Ultimately, I would love to leave this program with a job in digital marketing in the theatre industry. I want to move Broadway into the fast, constantly-changing tech industry. To be able to do that in any capacity would be great. Maybe,one day, working in London would be a great chance for a dream job.

When you took the Entrepreneur class your project focused on bringing the tech world into broadway. Tell us about your project.

During Entrepreneurship for the Music Industry last semester, I created a project that digitized the rush ticket policies of Broadway theaters’ box offices. Similar to that of WunWun and Uber, it allowed you to reserve rush tickets for last minute shows and acquire information about rush policies in one consolidated location. Since then, I’ve been able to develop my idea more and maybe one day I can bring it to life.

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

Absolutely. Entering this program, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew I loved marketing and I knew that I loved theatre. I thought the only path for that was to become a producer. However, from being exposed and seizing the opportunities I have been lucky to have, I can see myself and my career path in an entirely new way.

What is your advice for any incoming freshmen or transfer students to the program?

I took Producing Off-Broadway in the Tisch Open Arts program my sophomore year. It was in that class that I got some of the best advice that changed a lot. “Never say no, but know when to say no.” Try to seize every opportunity. No job is too small. Do not let things come to you, but instead, find every opportunity you can and go for it. When you start saying yes, things will start to change. But, know when it has become too much and that you need to breathe for a moment. Last piece of advice? Study abroad.

 

MUBG Alum’s Band Set To Release Fifth Album

Oxygen is a world music band based in Chennai, India and co-founded by Prithvi Kumar (G ’14) in 2003, at age 14. Prithvi serves as both the drummer and lead vocalist for the group. Oxygen represents a fusion of Indian and Western music forms. They place great emphasis on experimenting with different genres of music and strive to maintain a unique and distinct sound.  They have released four albums to date, all of which have been well received. Success of their records led to widespread interest and interviews with leading Indian TV channels including NDTV 24/7, Headlines Today, and Aaj Tak, and features in national newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Times Of India and Deccan Chronicle.

Among their accomplishments is winning a TV music talent contest that was judged by Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winning composer A.R. Rahman. They were then invited to A.M Studios in Chennai to record a song produced by Rahman. VELOCITY sat down with Prithvi to talk about Oxygen’s new albums and how his NYU education has affected his career as an artist.

How did Oxygen form, and how do you stay connected with the band while you’re at NYU?

Oxygen was formed when I met Giri at a cultural festival in high school. It was something equivalent to a Battle of the Bands event in the US. We were from different high schools and were actually competing against each other. Although I forget who ended up winning the overall prize, I won the best drummer award and he won the best keyboardist award. We had a chat after and decided to form a new band. Our “home base” is Chennai and our audience for the most part is based in South India. I keep visiting India every 6 months or so and finish composing and recording while I’m there. It’s usually a three-week trip, which gives us a good amount of time to get things done.

Where and when did you write and record Volume 1?

Volume 1 is actually a culmination of our work over the last five years or so. We had lots of random material in our hard drives and sat down one day and picked what we felt were the most appealing tunes. We found that there were close to 15 tracks that we really liked but couldn’t include them all in one album which is why we decided to split the release. Volume 1 was released in January and we hope to release Volume 2 by July. We have our own studio in Chennai called Aura Studios where were wrote and recorded all of our songs.

What is the concept behind the album?

We wanted to produce a record that had something for everyone. In our newest offering, each of our tracks is based on a different genre. We have two tracks with vocals and the rest are instrumental. The tracks range from rock to classical to Indian folk.

Photo by Swathy Sekaran

Have you toured in the past, and do you have plans to tour to promote the new albums?

We have toured extensively within India and have also given performances in the UK.  We are definitely planning a tour towards the later part of 2014. The reason being, we wanted to wait till we release Volume 2. We believe that with both Volume 1 and 2 out, there will be more variety to present to our audience and hit them with a completely new setlist and experience.

Did being a member of Oxygen play a part in your decision to pursue a degree in Music Business?

It certainly did. I knew what it was to be an artist but hadn’t quite explored the business side of music yet. All of us in Oxygen have undergrad degrees in different fields from engineering to accounting and business. On the other hand, I personally wanted to learn how the music industry works outside the Indian subcontinent, which is why I decided to apply to NYU.

Do the other band members have an in-depth knowledge of the music industry?

They do have a good understanding of the music industry in India. The business model in India is totally different from those used in the US. Its very film-centric and independent musicians don’t get enough recognition when compared to their Bollywood counterparts. This however is slowly changing with new social media outlets and numerous festivals such as NH7 and Sunburn.

Have you been able to apply your NYU education to your band’s career?

I certainly have. In fact, I used some of the material from our A&R class taught by Dr. Moore during the recording of Volume 1 in December. Material from Strategic Marketing in the Music Industry also helped when we were drawing up our marketing plan for Volume 1 and 2.

Did anything surprise you as you went from the performance side of music to the business side of music?

To some extent it did. I interned at Sony Music last year where I was exposed to a completely new side of the music business. My team worked on identifying potential partners in the digital space and strengthening existing partnerships with some of the industry’s leading players. It’s something I would never have been able to experience if I weren’t in New York City and I’m grateful to the people who have helped me so far and continue to support me in all my endeavors.

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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.

Red Bull Studios New York’s Loud Dreams Lecture Visits Collegium

(Photo by Carl Chisolm, courtesy of Red Bull)

Collegium on Wednesday, March 27th, presented by Red Bull Studios, featured a multi-dimensional look into today’s world of hip-hop. Led by respected hip-hop journalist Shaheem Reid of XXL and MTV News, the panelists’ discussion centered on the development of production duo Sean C. & LV’s new album Loud Dreams Vol. 1. Released on Tuesday, the album features hip-hop heavyweights like Pusha T, Bun B, Fabolous, Raekwon and many more. Joining Reid and Sean C. & LV were chief engineer of Red Bull Studios New York Chris Tabron, artist duo CharlieRED, and veteran emcee Styles P. All of the panelists are featured on Loud Dreams Vol. 1.

The panel addressed the evolving role of mixtapes. “The nomenclature needs to be updated, because it’s basically an album,” said Tabron. “To me, growing up, it was a way to hear something exclusive. The difference between a mixtape and an album is in the marketing.” Sean C. added, “People use the term ‘mixtape’ to take pressure off of themselves. They don’t want pressure from the label to have as much success as an ‘album’ even though they’re the same thing.” The once-competitive mixtape circuit has become accessible to anyone. The panelists agreed that success in today’s mixtape circuit lies in one’s connections, networking and social media skills.

Professor Larry Miller introduces the panel (Photo by Carl Chisolm, courtesy of Red Bull)

Given that music creation has become so accessible, Reid asked the panelists to weigh in on the idea of needing the “machine” of a major label. Reid cited Macklemore as a hip-hop artist who achieved success without a label, and in his success, still does not rely on one. Styles P said, “Major labels are machines. But when you’re independent, you become the machine. The majors are now looking at the artist as the type of machine they are. They’ll ask, ‘What’s your Twitter following?’ They want someone who invests in themselves. At the end of the day you’re the machine anyway. It comes down to how much work you’re willing to do.”

But at a time when anyone can make music and use social media, how does an aspiring artist stand out from the crowd and make him or herself valuable? Sean C. stressed the importance of relationships and networking. Tabron added, “Know your audience. And in terms of staying power, you need to be yourself. People respond to sincerity.”

On one end of the table sat Styles P, who has been active in the New York hip-hop scene for over 20 years and offered insightful retrospectives. On the other end were CharlieRED’s Chauncy Sherod and Cobaine Ivory, a young duo who released their first EP in December 2012. The diversity of the panelists offered contrasting points of view, but all of the panelists agreed that New York rap is in a good place, and are optimistic for the future. Tabron justified his optimism with a simple yet thought-provoking argument: “A river is always strongest at the source.”