ON THE RISE: BEATMAKERS, PRODUCERS & ENGINEERS DURDY BEATS, KEYWAY, TOMMY VAMOZ, MIXEDBY MIKE, TERRELL SASS, TEAM NOVA
The Mentor. The Coach. The Guy Who Makes It Happen.
Tight, Cool & Hip!!!
GRAMMY NOMINATED ENGINEER
Empire DISTRIBUTION’S King Maker.
The Man With a Prolific Vision.
❱THE MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT How to Create, Copyright and Monetize Your Music in the 21st Century.
THE GRAMMY GODS ®
GREGORY ‘88-KEYZ’ MANCE//AARON ‘FREEDOM’ LYLES//AYANNA DEPAS//SHAMANN ‘BEAT BILLIONAIRE’ COOKE//CHUCKEY CHARLES//CHRISTOPHER ‘DRUMMA BOY’ GHOLSON//JAMES AUWARTER// JEFF VILLANUEVA//KEITH ‘CLIZARK’ CLARK//KENNY ‘MUNEY’ WILSON//LESLIE BRATHWAITE//RICCO LUMPKINS//DANA ‘ROCKWILDER’ STINSON//SHAMEL HUGHES//TRAVIS CHERRY
S PEC I A L EDI T I ON JOSEPH WENSELL PUBLISHER
SHON MURDOCK EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
SCOTT CRAWFORD A R T / C R E AT I V E C O N S U LTA N T
KARIN HASLINGER INTERNET TECHNOLOGY&VIDEOGRAPHY
KEN HATFIELD GUEST WRITER
Catherine Strickland, Cody Miller, Cory Royster, Erik L. Richardson, Holly Roscoe, James Arena Joseph Arthur, Karin Haslinger, Leo Weaver, Tim Stark, Vladimir Jean-Philippe, Zach Miller
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issuu.com/beatselectormagazine J W P U B L I S H I N G C O M PA N Y, L LC
SP EC I A L ED ITIO N 12
decided to do you a favor and find you a great pair.
Question. Has there been a music publication that has dedicated an entire issue to celebrating the people behind Grammy® winning artists in the past? Possibly, but it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that inside this magazine, you’ll find insightful interviews with the people behind the consoles and the artists.
Warner Music Group goes public, David Guetta’s VR venture, Tiësto signs with Atlantic Records, NAMM Goes Virtual, Spotify x RIOT Games, Carl Cox joins AiMi, Sir Ivan’s $10K gift to working DJs and ICM hires Simon Clarkson.
THE MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT
How to create, copyright, and monetize your music in the 21st century.
PRODUCT REVIEW AIAIAI TMA-2 MODEL
With the headphone market being extremely oversaturated and at the same time expectations being very high, we
THE GRAMMY GODS
Exclusive interviews with several Grammy® nominated and winning Producers and Engineers including Luca Pretolesi, Ricco Lumpkins aka RICCI∆NO J∆MEZ, Leslie Brathwaite, Ayanna Depas, Rockwilder, Beat Billionaire, James Auwarter and Drumma Boy just to name a few that have and continue to shape popular music for more than three decades.
ON THE RISE
ON THE RISE is a new column featuring short interviews sharing the journeys of some of the hottest new beatmakers, producers, mixers, engineers and executives working today.
Shawn Prez went from an intern to Vice President of Marketing and Promotions at Bad Boy Entertainment and was instrumental in breaking records and turning them into Gold and Platinum sales. We catch up with Shawn and discuss his past, present
and future ventures, including his Global Spin Awards and PowerMoves with Shawn Prez series.
Barry Daffurn’s Cinq Music Group is a technology driven music distribution, record label and rights management company that has earned dozens of RIAA Gold and Platinum certifications and received a nomination as Billboard’s Latin Urban Label of the Year.
Delante Murphy is an Empire Distribution A&R Executive who enjoys Yoga, fine cigars, Grey Goose Vodka and red meat! Originally from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Oxen Hill, Maryland, the Atlanta based music executive has quite the storied CV.
In 1994 Chris Jones officially started a career as an A&R rep at Warner Music Group/Atlantic Records. Now he occupies Atlantic’s VP of A&R title. However, his real start actually began a few years earlier.
LUCA PRETOLESI 3X GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATED SOUND ENGINEER & MIXER
THE GRAMMY GODS
he reason why. It all began on February 4, 2020 when I was contacted by Shon Murdock asking about submitting cover stories to Beatselector Magazine. After a conversation discussing Shon’s ideas of a Special Edition of Beatselector Magazine, we began exchanging editorial themes and came up with one that was simple yet important— “The Grammy® Gods.” This Special Edition showcases exclusive interviews with several Grammy®nominated and winning Producers and Engineers including Luca Pretolesi, Ricco Lumpkins aka RICCI∆NO J∆MEZ, Leslie Brathwaite, Ayanna Depas, Rockwilder, Beat Billionaire, James Auwarter, and Drumma Boy just to name a few that have and continue to shape popular music for more than three decades. We also invited New York City musician and resident, Ken Hatfield, to provide some insightful and educational instruction on how musicians should
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JOSEPH WENSELL copyright and monetize their music with help from the Music Modernization Act. Other featured interviews include Barry Daffurn (Co-Founder of CINQ Music Group), Shawn Prez (CEO, Global Spin Awards), Delante Murphy (A&R Executive, Empire Distribution) and Chris Jones (VP A&R, Atlantic Records). Question. Has there been a music publication that has dedicated an entire issue to celebrating the people behind Grammy® winning artists in the past? Possibly, but it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that inside this magazine, you’ll find insightful interviews with the people behind the consoles and the artists, some very good back and forths with a few music industry leaders, and interactive digital content displayed throughout. So, looking back six months ago to February 4, 2020, we have taken this vision and turned it into a reality. Now it’s time to share it with you. ■
INDUSTRYNEWS WARNER MUSIC GROUP CORP. GOES PUBLIC WITH IPO OFFERING
With a legacy extending back over 200 years, Warner Music Group today is home to an unparalleled family of creative artists, songwriters, and companies that are moving culture across the globe. At the core of Warner Music Group’s Recorded Music division are four of the most iconic companies in history: Atlantic, Elektra, Parlophone and Warner Records. They are joined by renowned labels such as Asylum, Big Beat, Canvasback, East West, Erato, FFRR, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Reprise, Rhino, Roadrunner, Sire, Spinnin’, Warner Classics and Warner Music Nashville. Warner Chappell Music - which traces its origins back to the founding of Chappell & Company in 1811 - is one of the world’s leading music publishers, with a catalog of more than 1.4 million copyrights spanning every musical genre from the standards of the Great American Songbook to the biggest hits of the 21st century. On June 3, 2020, Warner Music Group Corp. (the “Company”) announced the pricing of its initial public offering (“IPO”) of 77,000,000 shares of its Class A common stock at a public offering price of $25.00 per share. The size of the IPO was
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increased from the previously announced 70,000,000 shares of Class A common stock. The offering consists entirely of secondary shares to be sold by Access Industries, LLC and certain related selling stockholders. The shares of Class A common stock began trading on The Nasdaq Stock Market on June 3, 2020 under the ticker symbol “WMG.”
The underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 11,550,000 shares of Class A common stock from the selling stockholders. On August 4th, Warner Music Group Corp. announced its third-quarter financial results for the period ended June 30, 2020 on August 4, 2020. Visit https://www. wmg.com/news/warner-music-group-corp-reports-resultsfiscal-third-quarter-ended-june-30-2020-34956. “We’re very pleased with our performance this quarter, especially in light of the global pandemic. Our results highlight the underlying strength and resilience of our business. Streaming revenue grew double digits and our digital transformation continues,” said Steve Cooper, CEO, Warner Music Group. “Our commitment to new artist development is illustrated by the fact that four out of our top five best-sellers this quarter were from artists releasing debut or sophomore albums. Our artists and songwriters continue to create music that moves the world including, in the U.S., the most-streamed song of 2020, as well as the No.1 and No.2 biggest Pop songs during the first half of the calendar year.” “These results are slightly better than our expectations, given the sustained effect that COVID has had on certain aspects of our business,” added Eric Levin, Executive Vice President and CFO, Warner Music Group. “That’s a testament to the incredible ability of our teams, our artists and our songwriters to pivot and adapt, and to keep the hits coming.” ■
Stephen F. Cooper CEO Warner Music Group
INDUSTRYNEWS DAVID GUETTA JOINS SOCIAL VR PLATFORM SENSORIUM GALAXY Grammy award-winning superstar DJ and Producer David Guetta is joining Sensorium Galaxy-a social Virtual Reality platform backed by Forbes-listed billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z’s music streaming service TIDAL.
Sensorium Corporation, in partnership with The Night League & High Scream announces that David Guetta is the first DJ to join Sensorium Galaxy — a social VR platform that redefines the way people interact with each other and experience the arts. When it comes to electronic music artists, they don’t get any bigger than Guetta. Along with headline residencies at the world’s biggest clubs, from Las Vegas to Ibiza, the French DJ/ Producer has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Sia, Nicky Minaj, J Balvin, Justin Bieber and The Black Eyed Peas. Aside from being recognized as one of the leading names in dance music, Guetta is also known for leveraging the latest technologies to deliver memorable experiences for his fans. Earlier this year, the DJ hosted two live streams in Miami and NYC that collectively attracted over 50 million viewers across the globe and raised well over $1.5 million for charities aiding Covid-19 relief. Taking this a step further, VR experts of the Sensorium Galaxy team will be working alongside Guetta to
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create an accurate virtual representation of him to be used in multiple performances prepared exclusively for Sensorium users. This collaboration is pivotal for the development of highquality VR content, as well as to close the physical gap between fans and artists. Commenting on the new partnership, David Guetta, said, “Sensorium Galaxy is going to take dance music and events to the next level so I’m really excited to come aboard! Whilst digital events have come a long way in the last months, I’ve not seen anything that comes anywhere near close to this. VR lets us create a new form of art. It’s a next-level experience that goes way beyond just watching a DJ show on a screen. The shows that I am preparing for Sensorium will be the first step in a series of amazing projects we will release next year. I believe this platform can change the entertainment industry and the way artists communicate with fans forever - prepare to have your minds blown!” Sensorium Galaxy consists of multiple worlds that act as content hubs. All performances by David Guetta will be hosted at PRISM world — a hub for music events developed in partnership with Yann Pissenem, CEO & Founder of The Night League and creator of the world-leading nightclubs Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa Ibiza. “Having David come on board as the first DJ to join PRISM World is sending a clear message: VR is the future of social networking and content distribution. David and I have been working together for more than two decades now. He is a genius that has always been ahead of the curve with music and understands the vision of what we will deliver with Sensorium Galaxy. Working with VR technology allows us to transcend the limits of the physical world and create unprecedented shows that will revolutionize the industry. It is going to be like nothing that has ever come before.” —Yann Pissenem, CEO & Founder of The Night League. This collaboration follows a recent Sensorium partnership with Jay-Z’s music streaming service TIDAL to give artists the chance to distribute their unique content in a VR setup. The public release of Sensorium Galaxy is scheduled for H1 2021. Whether it is by wearing a VR headset or simply tuning in for streaming with their PCs, Macs or mobile devices, users from all over the world will be able to experience the intensity of world-class music shows in Sensorium Galaxy. Visit https://sensoriumxr.com/galaxy.
INDUSTRYNEWS ATLANTIC RECORDS SIGNS GRAMMY® AWARD-WINNING SUPERSTAR DJ/ PRODUCER TIËSTO Atlantic Records announced the worldwide signing of superstar DJ and producer Tiësto to its groundbreaking roster. The GRAMMY® Award winning producer and celebrated with the release of his eagerly awaited new single, “The Business,” out now at all DSPs and streaming services. Named by Mixmag as the “Greatest DJ of All Time,” Tiësto is currently hard at work completing his Atlantic Records debut album, with release slated for 2021. “The Business” marks Tiësto’s first commercial release since the release earlier this year of his acclaimed seventh studio album, THE LONDON SESSIONS, highlighted by such hit singles as Tiësto & Dzeko Feat. Preme & Post Malone’s RIAA platinum certified “Jackie Chan,” which has a staggering 1.5 billion worldwide streams and more than 151 million video views to date. THE LONDON SESSIONS also includes the international blockbuster, “Ritual” by Tiësto, Jonas Blue & Rita Ora, joined by a massively popular companion video directed by the legendary Sophie Muller and now boasting over 110 million views via YouTube alone. Tiësto is of course one of the biggest contemporary stars of any musical genre, a chart-topping, award winning, multi-platinum international icon whose remarkable body of work (spanning myriad albums,
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singles, EPs, remixes, mixtapes, and more) virtually defines today’s electronic dance music. With over 8 billion streams across all platforms– including over 22.5 million monthly streams via Spotify alone – the Dutch DJ/producer has more than earned such extraordinary honorifics as “The Godfather of EDM” Rolling Stone’s #1 “DJs That Rule The Earth,” and DJ Mag’s “Best DJ of the Last 20 Years,” to name but a few. Throughout his remarkable career, Tiësto has collaborated with a truly incredible selection of likeminded artists, from Post Malone, Diplo and Martin Garrix to Busta Rhymes, The Chainsmokers, Gucci Mane, Icona Pop, Tegan & Sara, and Matthew Koma, with whom he partnered on 2014’s RIAA platinum certified hit, “Wasted (Feat. Matthew Koma).” Among his most successful collaborations has been alongside the one and only John Legend, including 2015’s GRAMMY® Award-winning “All of Me (Tiësto’s Birthday Treatment Remix).” Most recently, Tiësto joined forces with Vintage Culture to drop dance-floor, party banger “Coffee (Give Me Something),” it is available now via Musical Freedom for streaming and download here. Additionally, Tiësto’s popular CLUBLIFE compilation series includes five volumes to date, while his radio show of the same name has proven one of the world’s most enduring and popular weekly broadcasts, reaching over 35 million listeners on 149 stations in 90 countries each week. Now, with his exclusive worldwide signing to Atlantic Records, Tiësto is poised to once again lead the next evolution of electronic dance music, as ever exploring uncharted terrain to create what may well be his biggest and boldest music thus far. ■
INDUSTRYNEWS NAMM ANNOUNCES BELIEVE IN MUSIC WEEK, THE GLOBAL GATHERING TO UNITE AND SUPPORT THE INDUSTRY
The industry’s much-loved annual events will now take place during Believe in Music week, as well. The 36th TEC Awards will recognize the individuals, companies and technicali nnovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, films, television, video games and multimedia. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the health and safety of NAMM members as the first priority, NAMM is reimagining how to connect all facets of the industry while benefiting those most deeply impacted by COVID-19 with the launch of Believe in Music: The global gathering to unify and support the people who bring music to the world. Believe in Music, to be held over the week of January 18, 2021, will feature a mix of comprehensive programming and professional education at BelieveinMusic.tv, as well as an interactive marketplace to connect buyers and sellers – all designed to elevate the innovation and inspiration found across the industry while offering support for those most deeply affected by COVID.
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While not The NAMM Show or a virtual tradeshow, the initiative will meet the immediate business needs of NAMM member companies through thoughtleader led education for all segments of the industry, networking and AI matchmaking, and business-tobusiness-focused opportunities to reaffirm and grow business connections, launch new products, share brand initiatives and engage with customers in realtime. Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO, says, “While it remains unsafe for us to gather in person in January, Believe in Music week will use new, intuitive technology to connect us all to harness the incredible energy that happens when we come together. With a robust marketplace to launch new products and share your brand story, Believe in Music will also feature networking and matchmaking for our buyers and our sellers, education for all segments of the industry, and live music and concerts. And just like at all NAMM events, these activities will raise awareness and financial support to serve our NAMM family across our Circle of Benefits model. Believe in Music week will be a critical step for our industry to help us prepare for the new year and new opportunities.” The week-long celebration will welcome domestic and international NAMM members from the music instrument, pro audio, live sound and live event industries, artists, media and policymakers, along with participants from GenNext (college music students and faculty), Music Education Days (school music administrators) and Nonprofit Institute (NAMM Foundation grantees and nonprofit affiliates). Emerging and established musicians and fans are invited to connect with brands and in special music making projects and opportunities to showcase their talents and performances throughout the week, opening the potential to gather music makers in a ■ capacity not restricted by location.
INDUSTRYNEWS SPOTIFY AND RIOT GAMES TEAM UP FOR AN OFFICIAL LEAGUE OF LEGENDS ESPORTS PARTNERSHIP
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game League of Legends is the biggest esport in the world. Last year, tournaments were held in over 37 different cities across five continents, with a record-breaking viewership of 21.8 million average minute audience watching the 2019 World Championship Final unfold. But gamers and fans aren’t just playing: they’re also streaming. The official League of Legends soundtrack racks up over 4.8 million Spotify listeners per month—a sizable number of both gamers and Spotify users. That’s why Spotify and Riot Games, the video game developer behind League of Legends, are joining forces for a first-of-its-kind multi-year partnership. Spotify is also now the official and exclusive audio streaming partner for League of Legends global events. Music is already important in the League of Legends world, but they’re taking it one step further by creating a hub for new and existing music, podcasts, and playlists inspired by the gaming community, including Official League of Legends and Road to Worlds 2020 playlists. Spotify and Riot Games are working to create and launch several new League of Legends podcasts. Untold Stories: Top Moments from Worlds, a 9-episode
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series leading up to the 10th League of Legends World Championship this fall, will be the first. Listeners will be able to hear about the top players and anthems through game highlights, recorded interviews, game sound effects, and new interviews with key players. Thanks to their extended partnership, they look forward to evolving this podcast over the years to come. They’re also providing fans with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Worlds Anthem through the Worlds Anthem Takeover on Spotify. This highly anticipated track is the hero song of the year. It’s released alongside a bespoke music video and is then performed during the Opening Ceremony of the World Championship Finals, setting the tone and celebrating the big event. In previous years, Riot Games has worked with artists including Imagine Dragons, The Glitch Mob and Against the Current. “Music and audio are an intrinsic part of our sport and game, so we are thrilled to partner with Spotify to provide our fans with another platform where they can enjoy the ultimate manifestation of League of Legends,” says Naz Aletaha, Head of Global Esports Partnerships, Riot Games. “As a disrupter in their space similar to Riot Games, Spotify allows us to collectively challenge the limits of possibility as we blend sports, technology, entertainment, and music to create iconic experiences and content that inspire generations.” June Sauvaget, Global Head of Consumer and Product Marketing, says,“Our partnership with Riot Games will create a first-of-its-kind audio universe for the millions of Spotify and League of Legends fans across the globe. As the exclusive—and first ever—global audio service partner for League of Legends, we plan to create a worldclass audio-streaming experience for our users, making discovering both music and podcasts easier than ever before.” ■
INDUSTRYNEWS AIAIAI CUTS 50% CO2 FOOTPRINT IN HEADPHONES, MATERIALS & PACKAGING
With sustainable design, modular functionality, and recycled materials AIAIAI will extend the longevity of every product, and create less waste for the planet - designed to last. Copenhagen-based audio design brand AIAIAI (read Shon Murdock’s Product Review of AIAIAI’s TMA-2 Model on page 42) has announced new initiatives to deepen its commitment to sustainably designed products, to measurably reduce the company’s carbon footprint related to product materials and packaging From its founding in 2006, AIAIAI committed to sustainable design through its modular headphone system which enables music makers and listeners to enjoy long-lasting use of the company’s products by replacing individual components of a headset rather than purchasing an entire replacement of the unit. The company has also committed to sustainability from the start with a timeless minimalistic design true to the company’s Scandinavian heritage and independent of ever-fluctuating audio product design trends. Now, AIAIAI intends to lead sustainable design in the music-making world in even more impressive measures, particularly with regard to product materials and packaging, to be in full effect by the end of the 2020 calendar year. Summary of New Initiatives
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include: Product Packaging that is redesigned with 100% FSC-Certified Materials; Packaging for AIAIAI headphones will now be produced with 100% FSCcertified materials; Average ∆ CO2 Reduction Across All Packaging: 80%; Product Materials Reimagined for CO2 Reduction; Headphones will use high-grade recycled plastic as part of the core components of the headband and earphone casings; Consumers will notice no change in durability, comfort or overall listening experience; Average CO2 Reduction Across All Products: 50% and developing New Collaborations with Industry Partners for Sustainable Product Innovation. AIAIAI is also forming new partnerships with music artists, record labels and festivals to further advance the brand’s innovative commitment to sustainable product development. Collaborations around adaptive reuse of materials for product and packaging development are among various other initiatives under consideration. “Sustainability has been a key focus in our headphone design for the last 10 years,” said Frederik Jorgensen, Founder of AIAIAI. “This next stage of innovation to our products will reduce our CO2 emissions by more than 50 percent, a big leap forward in audio product design, which we are very proud of. We know there is still a long way to go, but with our continued efforts, we are inspired and committed to keep doing things better and smarter.” The newly redesigned AIAIAI packaging entered circulation on June 1, 2020, in all globally distributed products. Product manufacturing will fully incorporate new materials by year’s end. The company will announce individual partnerships focused around sustainability initiatives in the coming months. ■
INDUSTRYNEWS AIMI ANNOUNCES CARL COX JOINS ARTIST ADVISORY BOARD
“I’ve been an avid fan of Carl Cox since I was able to attend my first EDM concert as a teenager,” said Edward Balassanian, CEO of AiMi. “Carl has consistently been one of the top performers in electronic music history and he is widely recognized and respected by his peers and fans alike. It’s truly an honor to have him be part of the AiMi team.”
On September 29, AiMi announced that legendary DJ and world-class producer, and globetrotting performer Carl Cox has joined as the inaugural member of the AiMi Artist Advisory Board.
The AiMi Artist Advisory Board was created to allow artists to have a voice in the continued evolution of the AiMi platform.
AiMi’s mission is to inspire great musical moments for every listener through the power of a dynamic beat. Their vision is to reimagine their relationship with the world’s first and most loved platform for inspiration - music. AiMi was founded in 2019 with offices in Melbourne Australia, Austin and Los Angeles. Considered by his peers as one of the greatest (and most charming) DJs in the business, Carl Cox is a musical ambassador who has elevated the entire electronic music scene. A veteran of the rave scene, a champion of techno, a dance music pioneer, label owner, promoter, producer, live artist, the Three Deck Wizard, King of Ibiza – you name it, Carl’s been there and done it. Always at the cutting edge of technology and innovation, Carl never loses sight of his passion which is sharing his love of music. On September 29, AiMi announced that legendary DJ, world-class producer, and globetrotting performer Carl Cox has joined as the inaugural member of the AiMi Artist Advisory Board.
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The advisory board provides AiMi with direct access to the artist community at large and will help ensure that artist creativity and empowerment are the forefront of the company’s mission. “I was lucky to get to see first hand what AiMi can do and I jumped at the chance to get involved,” said Carl Cox. “AiMi is a way for artists to engage with fans in much the same way we do during live performances and that’s what attracted me. As a founding member of the AiMi Artist Advisory Board I can take an active role in the platform’s evolution and engagement with the artist community.” “Hearing and seeing what AiMi can deliver was like watching Blade Runner for the first time. Like our unique event at Stonehenge where Paul Oakenfold & Carl Cox played within the sacred stone circle, AiMi is a major breakthrough in how electronic music producers and performers can reimagine music and engage with their fans. We are delighted to be supporting the team at AIMI, bringing artists into the fold and engaging with the strategy to fast track the success of the platform is very exciting,” said Alon Shulman, Chairman of World Famous Group and manager for Carl Cox. ■
INDUSTRYNEWS SIR IVAN’S $10,000 MEGAMIX COMPETITION HELPS OUT OF WORK DJS AROUND THE WORLD
Banker–turned–singer, reality TV celebrity and social activist Ivan Wilzig has led a life that Hollywood movies are made of. After twenty years of working in his family’s multi-billion dollar commercial banking business and serving on the bank’s Board of Directors, Ivan left the banking world, reinvented himself as recording artist Sir Ivan, and against all odds became a Top Ten Billboard Magazine Recording Artist. Most recently, he joined the Board of Directors for the College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts (CARTA) at Florida International University (FIU). Sir Ivan has dedicated his recording artist career to remaking the iconic peace songs from the 1960s and was the first to take a Beatles or John Lennon ballad and turn it into an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) song. “Imagine” launched Sir Ivan’s career and all his songs since have gone on to top the charts on Billboard, DJ Times, and Music Week. After weeks of innovative mixing by electronic dance music DJs from around the globe and after his celebrity judges made their final picks, Sir Ivan and sponsoring
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organizations have delivered cash and other prizes to 10 very deserving creators. Sir Ivan, in what ended up to be the most creative “greatest hits” project in history, rewarded 10 DJs from all around the world for taking his top 18 songs from his catalog and producing a 60-minute “mega-mix” in their own individually creative ways. The project was a way for Sir Ivan to help nightclub DJs that have been out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. The top five winners are Plurthlings (Denver, CO USA), DJ Tailik (Melbourne, AU), Donette Gómez (Veracruz, Mexico), Mourin DJ (Buenos Aires, Argentina), and Henry Ortiz (Santander, Columbia). They each received a $1,000 cash prize directly from Sir Ivan. They also received an artist promotion package from renowned public relations and promotion company Matt Caldwell PR. In addition to the top five cash winners, Sir Ivan also awarded five runners-up: Gozu (Eskisehir, Turkey), Paul Ross (Glasgow, Scotland), Mavvwa (Colombo, Sri Lanka), Drop Ground (Mexico), and Tago (Portugal) with a copy of The Dance Music Manual, signed by the author, which is revered as “the bible of electronic music production” by top dance music producers. The giving certainly didn’t stop there as Sir Ivan also donated an additional $5,000 to Insomniac’s “Rave Recovery” fund. The money was earmarked to help even more DJs that are out of work due to the pandemic. With the help of an esteemed “A-list DJ” panel of judges Paul Oakenfold, Bassjackers, DJs From Mars, Tenishia, and Exodus - the MegaMix project reached over eight million people worldwide. To listen to all the contestants’ mixes, visit https://www. mixcloud.com/discover/sirivanmegamix/. ■
INDUSTRYNEWS ICM PARTNERS HIRES MUSIC AGENT SIMON CLARKSON
He brings with him several clients including EDM superstar Skrillex (who he represents in Europe), Alison Wonderland (outside of North & South America), Aluna George and San Holo. Simon Clarkson’s appointment follows the news in March that ICM Partners whose touring roster includes the likes of Khalid, Migos, and Sinead O’Connor acquired London-based music agency Primary Talent International, which counts the likes of Daft Punk, Dave and Stormzy amongst its list of clients. The news of Clarkson’s appointment was announced on August 11 by Rob Prinz, Worldwide Head of Concerts at ICM Partners and Matt Bates, Head of International at PTI/ICM. Clarkson, who will be based in Los Angeles, will head up the agency’s domestic Electronic Music Department (EMD). Clarkson has spent the past eight years at WME and prior to that ran Mainstage Artists. He has also played a key role in developing acts as Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Kygo, Eric Prydz, Adam Beyer and Above & Beyond. “Very excited to join the team at ICM and Primary to fortify and bolster the Electronic Music Department, a genre we all believe we can continue to grow significantly over the
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years,” said Simon Clarkson.
Added Prinz: “We are thrilled to have Simon join the agency to help us build out a domestic Electronic Music Department, an area we’ve long wanted to expand in. His talent and experience are a perfect fit for us.” Matt Bates, Head of International at PTI/ICM, said “Simon is highly respected within our industry, has tremendous clients, relationships, and expertise that perfectly complement our strengths and we could not be happier to have him join the ICM/Primary family.” ■
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THE MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT:
Creation, Copyright, and Monetizing Your Music in the 21st Century â&#x20AC;&#x201D;By Ken Hatfield
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
For the musical ecosystem to be sustainable, content creators deserve more than the meagre less than one percent routinely paid by the digital platforms that profit from monetizing our work!” —KEN HATFIELD
he United States occupies a unique place in world history. We are more than a geographical location. We are a set of ideals based on principles which are inculcated in our founding documents. These principles are the foundation of our rule of law. Adhering to them is a
requisite for participation in our democracy. But our founding documents are not merely a prescription; they are a blueprint intended to guide us toward the creation of that more perfect union we perpetually strive for. Among the earliest laws our fledgling democratic republic legislated was the first U.S. copyright law enacted in 1790. So, what is copyright? Precisely what its name implies: the legal right to make copies. U.S. copyright law grants monopoly protection for “original works of authorship.” It does so with the stated purpose of promoting art and culture. It assigns a set of exclusive rights to authors/creators, including “the right to make and sell copies of their works, to create derivative works, and to perform or display their works publicly.” From the Gutenberg press to blockchain technology, copyright law and technological progress have been inextricably linked. Copyright is essentially an extension of property rights. With tangible physical property ownership is relatively easy to prove. We’ve all heard the expression: “possession is ninetenths of the law.” When ownership is disputed, civilization has developed means of adjudicating such disputes. For example, you own your car. If someone takes it out of your possession by stealing it, society has created methods of proving ownership by means such as vehicle id #s and state registrations. But for something as ephemeral as a song, it can be harder to prove ownership. Ownership of such intellectual property belongs to its creator as a basic moral principle. But how does one prove ownership of a song? That is what copyright registration is: a means of proving authorship and its related ownership of intellectual property, like a song.
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Like most of our laws, copyright has a long history replete with numerous revisions, amendments and the passage of ancillary laws. Since its adoption U.S. copyright law has been amended, revised or rewritten over 110 times. But one thing has remained sacrosanct: if you created it, you own it, and the inherent right to determine its use! The creation of a work predates its use. No one can cover a song that has not been written, nor can anyone sample or remix something that has not been recorded. Many great songwriters and producers are not performers, so they cannot monetize their talents by live performance. If someone makes money from your work, you deserve remuneration. For the musical ecosystem to be sustainable, content creators deserve more than the meagre less than one percent routinely paid by the digital platforms that profit from monetizing our work!
The Music Modernization Act (MMA) is the latest attempt to amend our copyright laws. It does so in light of the changes the digital paradigm shift has brought us. The MMA will usher in significant changes to how the business of music will be transacted in the digital domain. Here are the most consequential: ď&#x201A;&#x152; Significant changes to the compulsory licensing procedures for music, such as how licenses are obtained, how payments are made, and safe harbor eligibility for streaming services. ď&#x201A;? Full federal protection for pre-1972 sound recordings, including adjustments to the length of copyright term, and the pre-emption of state laws. ď&#x201A;&#x17D; New rules regarding payments due to the producers of sound recordings.
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
Under the MMA a new entity called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) was established. The MLC will operate under a renewable five-year charter granted by the United States Copyright Office (USCO). Its duties apply only to digital music, whether delivery is facilitated by download or streaming. Slated to be operational on January 1, 2021, it appears the MLC may launch its user portal in the final quarter of 2020. The MLC is comprised of 14 voting members and 3 non-voting members: 10 voting members that are music publishers, 4 voting members that are professional songwriters, 1 nonvoting member from a non-profit music publisher trade association, 1 non-voting member from a digital licensee coordinator, and 1 non-voting member from a non-profit songwriter trade association. The MLC is designed to: Offer and administer blanket licenses. Collect and distribute royalties payable. Create and maintain a “musical works database.” Coordinate the identification of the rights holders/ rights owners for musical works and/or sound recordings. Process claims of ownership by authors and composers. Collect the “administrative assessment” charge from the digital music providers. Keep track of “non-blanket license” activity. The MMA will also usher in changes affecting the PROs (Performing Rights Organizations), such as ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), etc.
CEO, Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).
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These changes include: The PROs will now have a level playing field to help get their members fairer compensation for revenue generating uses of their music. Judges deciding rate issues will now be selected from a rotating list of available judges in the Southern District of New York. Previously, each PRO was stuck with one judge for life. Market info may now be presented in rate decision hearings. Previously, ASCAP could not present the rate that another judge awarded for BMI (or vice versa) or other market data as an indication of a reasonable market standard.
Unlike terrestrial broadcasts (that only pay composers and publishers in the US), digital broadcasts (like streaming) require four payments: songwriter/composer publisher artists (featured and sidemen) record label/owner of the sound recording
stops” and many start-up streamers relied on underpaid or unpaid interns for both submission and acceptance of music. This resulted in some incredibly sloppy data keeping. This is also exacerbated by streamers all having their own separate databases. The inevitable inconsistencies between different databases compounds the industry-wide inaccuracies and may present a bureaucratic nightmare for the MLC’s proposed database.
The MLC will collect and distribute revenues paid by digital platforms (like streamers) for blanket licenses permitting them to legally broadcast our music. The MLC will create and maintain a reliable, accurate, updatable database to determine who owns the rights to the music they will “sell” licenses for. This database will be the authoritative source for deciding who gets paid for digital uses of our music! The requirements for acceptable verification of rights ownership within this database are: USCO (United States Copyright Office) registration of your song(s)/composition(s). ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codes) for each digital track.
I recommend that all indie and self-released artists who have ever had their music available in any digital format check all data associated with the ISRCs that have been assigned to their digital releases. Correct any erroneous data and keep an updated list of all ISRCs assigned to your recordings (with the corrected data) for future reference. There are several ways to do this. You can wait until the MLC is operational (January 1, 2021) and check their database. But if you want a head start, you can go to SoundExchange’s site https://www.soundexchange.com and check their info. If you’re the featured artist on a large number of songs, check
Registering your songs with the USCO is simple. Just go to: https://www.copyright.gov/registration/ and follow the instructions. For info on obtaining ISRCs visit this site: https://www.usisrc. org/about/obtaining code.html. ISRCs are trickier because for most of the music available online, ISRCs have already been assigned. Once an ISRC has been assigned, you cannot change it or assign a new ISRC for a recording already having one. This can be problematic, especially when errors occur in the meta data associated with ISRCs assigned to your songs, which is quite possible if you or your label relied upon any of the many “one stop shop” vendors that cater to self-released and indie artists for digital distribution. Since digital distribution generally requires ISRCs, these one stops assign them for each track you hire them to digitally distribute. The data they associated with ISRCs can be inaccurate, because in the early days of streaming, many “one
by your artist/band name. Otherwise check by song title. Once you’ve located the song(s), examine the ISRCs to verify the related data fields associated with each song, then correct any errors. Check these four data fields:
songwriter publisher artist record label If you have a record deal, make sure your label does their due diligence and checks all your ISRC data. If you’re self-released, do it yourself. If you decide to wait until after January 1, 2021 (when the MLC is supposed to be operational), there are going to be procedures (yet to be defined) for correcting inaccurate data in the MLC database. But beware that any unidentified music will have only three years to get “claimed.” After that time all revenues left undistributed will be divided among the major publishers by market share. SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
Some historians view U.S. history through the prism of a struggle between property rights and individual rights. Whenever the scales tip too far out of balance, we face inequities that are at odds with the principles set forth in our founding documents. The current pandemic has illustrated the futility of giving away content you create in the hopes of monetizing it via live performance. Content creators need to get paid an equitable share of any revenues our work generates! Without control over our creations, artists are helpless to shape our careers or lives. We are currently living through the most comprehensive expansion of technological change in human history. I believe it is no exaggeration to declare that now, more than ever, we need to insure stable, comprehensive copyright protections that safeguard the rights of all content creators! The MMA is a step in the right direction. ■
RESOURCES Websites & Downloadable PDFs USCO (United States Copyright Office) https://www.copyright.gov/ The SoundExchange https://www.soundexchange.com ISRC (International Standard Recording Codes) https://www.usisrc.org/ Music Modernization Act Pamphlet https://www.copyright.gov/music-modernization/ mma-pamphlet.pdf Royalty Rate/The Trichordist https://thetrichordist.com/category/royalty-rates-2/ Streaming Payouts https://soundcharts.com/blog/music-streaming-rates-payouts
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ABOUT KEN HATFIELD Ken Hatfield is an ASCAP Foundation Jazz Vanguard Award (2006) winning composer honored “For innovative and distinctive music that is charting new directions in Jazz.” He has composed choral works and ballet scores for Judith Jamison, The Washington Ballet Company, and the Maurice Béjart Ballet Company. Ken’s performance and recording credits include artists and ensembles as diverse as The New York Pops, Charlie Byrd, Melissa Manchester, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Stephanie Mills, Pat Benatar, Ben E. King and Toni Braxton among many others. Ken’s journey in mastering his art began with studying the guitar with John Griggs in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia before attending the Berklee College of Music, where he joined the faculty at the age of 19.
WHAT IF GOD HIMSELF HAD HIS OWN PAIR OF HEADPHONES...
AIAIAI AUDIO TMA-2 MODEL ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY/JUNE 2020 ISSUE
With the headphone market being extremely oversaturated and at the same time expectations being very high, we decided to do you a favor and find you a great pair. Undoubtably, 2019 was a remarkable year for the headphone market. Sales reached over 96.7 million, which represents a growth of 53%, but in the middle of all of the blood, sweat and competition, AIAIAI’s TMA-2 modular headphone system stands out and delivers incredibly with enhanced function and performance.
The TMA-2 frequency response is extremely accurate and the low end dynamics are far above average. An audio device with good frequency response is able to play all the low, middle, and high tone correctly and in the proper proportion to each other translating to our ears as rich, vibrant sound and I must say the TMA-2 delivers without a doubt. The overall quality easily places AIAIAI headphones amongst the sound leaders of the audio industry.
So a couple of weeks ago was the “Day of Reckoning,” my AIAIAI TMA-2 modular headphones arrived in the mail.
The TMA-2 modular headphones are an ideal choice for eliminating noise bleeding issues which will work great for any Dj live at a party, on the mix, or even someone doing a little personal listening in public or just hanging out around the house.
The very first time I put them on I felt like I stepped into a different room I really couldn’t believe it. The over-the-ear padding on the ear cushions make for a really comfortable fit, suitable for long-term wear, and also really did a lot for enhancing noise cancellation.
Definitely multi-functional, but the modular system is what makes these headphones a game changer, you can swap out the ear pads, the speaker units, the headband and the cables, making them very fun to have and AIAIAI should easily own the market with these features.
Next was to try out my new toy during an evening recording session that I had scheduled previously and the TMA-2 modular headphones by AIAIAI didn’t disappoint, performing great on isolating highs while I was tweeking a mix in the studio, which was very impressive to me. I actually caught some things I didn’t previously hear in my prior mix sessions.
MY OVERALL IMPRESSION: Very crisp sound quality, comfortable and durable design, along with fun interchangeable parts, allowing you to build your own pair makes the TMA-2 a definite winner. So, let’s say if God himself had his own pair of headphones, I think they would be made by AIAIAI. —Shon Murdock
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SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
GREGORY ‘88-KEYZ’ MANCE GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER & SOUND ENGINEER
regory ‘88-KEYZ’ Mance is an elite and accomplished record producer living
in Atlanta, Georgia with over 30 years of professional experience in the entertainment industry. He has worked with labels such as Hollywood Records, Universal, Disney, Sony, Island Black Entertainment, Elektra Records, Rawkus Records, G-Unit, Def Jam and more. His credits include work with Macy Gray, Alicia Keys, Mos Def, Musiq Soulchild, Tank and more recently, Raheem Devaughn. In this Q&A, Mance reflects on his back successes, memories of working with superstars, gear & technology, advice on what young producers need to do in order to make it in today’s highly competetive music industry, his adult beverage choice and what he was listening to growing up.
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“ALICIA WAS REAL SWEET AND VERY SKILLFUL AND SHE WAS ADAMANT ABOUT GETTING THE JOB DONE. WHEN SHE GOT SIGNED TO ARISTA I STARTED WORKING WITH HER ON “BUTTERFLIES” WHICH SHE WON THE GRAMMY AND I’M STILL EATING OFF OF IT. LOL.” —‘88-KEYZ’ BSM: How did you come up with a great name like 88-Keyz? 88-KEYZ: “My mother gave me the name beacause of the way I used to bang on the piano. LOL.” BSM: How was it working with Macy Gray? And what project did you exactly do with her? 88-KEYZ: “I worked with her on a track but unfortunately, we were unable to finish the record. But she’s real cool people, cool vibes,sweet energy and straight to the point.” BSM: How was it working with Alicia Keys and what was the project? 88-KEYZ: “Alicia was real sweet and very skillful and she was adamant about getting the job done. At the time she was with MBK (my brother’s keepers) when she was with Sony. When she got signed to Arista I started working with her on “Butterflies” which she won the Grammy and I’m still eating off of it. LOL.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? 88-KEYZ: “Tony Mercedes and when I was in Washington, D.C., I hung out a lot at Night Flight Studios and Horizon Studios. Stacy Lattisaw’s husband was a big influence on me too.” BSM: What has been the biggest change in the music industry since you started? 88-KEYZ: “Analog to digital.” BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patrón?
88-KEYZ: “Grey Goose.” BSM: What is your most successful project to date in your opinion? 88-KEYZ: “Definitely Alicia Keys.” BSM: What project did you do with Mos Def? How was it working with him? 88-KEYZ: Mos Def was cool as a mother f*****. His energy is great. He has a lot of collaborative spirit and he really wants your opinion, which worked out very well.” BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio equipment that you can’t live without? 88-KEYZ: “MPC no matter what it is!! The 5 the 3 the 2 or MPC X .... Anything MPC !” BSM: Do you plan on starting your own label one day? 88-KEYZ: “I tried to, but it really didn’t work out. What you really want to do is start a Publishing Company nowadays, which I’m doing now. The digital age has taken over.” BSM: Where are you originally from? 88-KEYZ: “South Carolina, but I’ve spent a lot of my time in Maryland and New York.” BSM: Do you have any new projects you would like to tell us about? 88-KEYZ: “Raheem Devaughn and a couple of movie scores. I’m also in a new film coming up with Kenny “Smoove” Kornegay and hopefully my man Shon Murdock.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“TAKE TIME AND LEARN YOUR CRAFT BETTER. JUST DON’T FOCUS ON THE MUSIC AND STUDIO ASPECT OF THE GAME BECAUSE MUSIC IS TREND BASED. LEARNING THE CRAFT GIVES YOU LONGEVITY IN THE BUSINESS!!!” BSM: Any entrepreneurial endeavors outside of music you would like to tell us about?
88-KEYZ: “Social Media.” BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration?
88-KEYZ: “Club Door 54 with Kenny “Smoove” Kornegay in Atlanta and also Digi Card (the digital download card company), which I helped pioneered in its Inception.” BSM: Do you feel the pure hip hop sound is gone forever? 88-KEYZ: “Every 20 years music repeats itself, just in a different format, but it’s all Hip-hop. Hip-hop is here to stay. It’s what we make of it.” BSM: Do you think traditional R&B will ever make a comeback? 88-KEYZ: “Absolutely yes! R&B is back now. Just like in Japan, they have boy groups singing straight R&B. It will never go away!”
88-KEYZ: “Teddy Riley, he can come up with a hit right now in today’s times.” BSM: With streaming introduced to the business, is producing records still lucrative? 88-KEYZ: “Yes, because you can control your income stream a lot better.” BSM: Any advice for a young up-and-coming producer? 88-KEYZ: “Take time and learn your craft better. Just don’t focus on the music and studio aspect of the game because music is trend based. Learning the craft gives you longevity in the business!!!”
BSM: What’s more important to artists today, great music or a social media following?
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SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
AARON ‘FREEDOM’ LYLES GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER & SOUND ENGINEER
aron ‘Freedom’ Lyles is a native of Queens, New York. His musical journey has led him to high-profile projects as a songwriter, producer and sound engineer for many labels under the Universal Music Group and Warner Brothers umbrella, as well as many other labels. The multi-Platinum and Grammy®Award winning producer/ engineer has worked with some of the most talented recording artists and performers on the planet ranging from the legendary Earth, Wind and Fire and the Reverend Al Green to Cece Peniston, Poppa Large of Ultramagnetic MCs, Angie Stone, Heather Hunter and many, many more. Producing and engineering in genres as diverse as R&B, Soul, Hip-hop, Gospel, Pop and Dance, showcases Aaron’s prolific creative capacity. His talents and skills also extend into composition and scoring for film and television, as well as sound design for pro-audio musical equipment.
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“MAKING A BEAT IS JUST THAT. IT’S NOT AT ALL WHAT PRODUCING ENTAILS. MAKING A BODY OF WORK AND BEING COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE OF THAT WORK UNTIL IT’S COMPLETE AND COMMERCIALLY VIABLE IS MORE THAN JUST A MAKING A BEAT.” —AARON ‘FREEDOM’ LYLES
BSM: Who were your musical influences coming up in the game? AL: “So many. My Mother for one and she happens to be a great talent. I was raised in a family of music lovers spanning Jazz, R&B, Classic Rock, Blues and Modern Rock.” BSM: Do you have any new projects you would like to tell us about? AL: “I’m working with a few independent artists. I can’t speak any further on that until they’re ready.” How did it feel to work on the Cece Peniston project? And what actually did you do? AL: “It was a great time for music and I enjoyed every minute. I co-produced ‘Keep On Walking’ and five or six alternate versions we called ‘Remixes’ back then. But remixes were different then as well, they were completely different versions.” BSM: Do you think with the introduction of streaming, the game has changed?
using Auto-Tune? AL: “It’s a great tool, however, it has been overused and abused and has given lazy and less talented singers a way in. It’s trendy.” BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patrón? AL: “ I don’t drink.” BSM: What is your most successful work to date in your opinion? AL: “ I’ve had some success with music, but everything I’ve worked on is a personal success. Known and unknown.” BSM: What advice do you have for an up-and-coming writer and producer working in today’s industry? AL: “Invest in yourself, work hard and then work harder. Respect the craft.” BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio equiptment for banging out hits? AL: “I love Pro Tools and MPC.”
AL: “I don’t agree with streaming music at all. And yes, it has changed the game a lot, just not in a good way.”
BSM: Are you involved with with any entrepreneurial endeavors outside of music?
BSM: Do you think traditional R&B will make a comeback or is it gone forever?
AL: “I enjoy miniature model painting, through which I have received a couple commissions.”
AL: “Yes it will. Music is a cycle. It will come around again like Soul music returned as Neo-Soul. It’s Soul, just with a new name.” BSM: How do you feel about artists
BSM: If you could work with anybody that you haven’t already, who would that be?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“IT WAS A GREAT TIME FOR MUSIC AND I ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE. I COPRODUCED [CECE PENISTON’S] ‘KEEP ON WALKING’ AND FIVE OR SIX ALTERNATE VERSIONS WE CALLED “REMIXES’ BACK THEN. BUT REMIXES WERE DIFFERNT THEN AS WELL, THEY WERE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT VERSIONS.” AL: “I’d like to work with Rihanna, Melli...Doja would be fire. There’s so much talent out there.”
AL: “For me, it will always be great music. Great music lives forever. Clout chasing is what it is.”
BSM: How did it feel to work with Angie Stone? What did you actually do?
BSM: WHat work did you do with the legendary Charlie Wilson?
AL: “It was a great experience. We had a lot of fun creating music together. I produced and co-wrote several songs with Angie.”
AL: “I produced and co-wrote a song titled ‘Wonderful One’ with Angie Stone.”
BSM: You’ve produced a couple of great records in the “Golden Era” of Hip-hop. How has things changed from then to now?
BSM: How did the Heather Hunter project come about?
AL: “Creativity has changed and the ‘dare to be different’ ideal is gone. In my opinion, the industry is oversaturated.” BSM: Do you think the original sound of Hip-hop will ever make a comeback? AL: “Like I said, music is cycle. It will return.” BSM: What’s more important today, great music or a sizeable social media following?
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AL: “ We’re great friends and she asked me to produce her album, pretty much that’s it.” BSM: What is the difference between a ‘beat maker’ and a producer? AL: “ Making a beat is just that. It’s not at all what producing entails. Making a body of work and being completely responsible of that work until it’s complete and commercially viable is more than just a making a beat.” Courtesy of Corporate Tone (@corporatetone)
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING SOUND ENGINEER
yanna ‘Yanni’ Depas is a Grammy® Award Winning Recording and Mixing Engineer residing in New York City. She has worked with artists including A$AP Ferg, Mary J. Blige, H.E.R., Tiara Thomas, Dave East and many others. Upon graduating from the Institute of Audio Research, Yanni quickly realized that the best way to continue her education was achieving real-time, hands on experience. Landing internships at iconic studios such as NYC’s Quad Studios paved the way to recording and mixing projects with some of the music world’s most famous musicians and performers. In a short 8 years, she has established herself as one New York’s more in-demand freelance audio engineers. Graciously, Yanni takes time out her busy schedule and shares thoughtful insights to a myriad of questions ranging from how it felt to win a Grammy® Award to how the industry has changed during her short career as a major league audio engineer.
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BSM: What entrepreneurial endeavors outside of music are you involved with?
BSM: Do you think traditional R&B will make a comeback or is it gone forever?
AD: “Most of my entrepreneurial endeavors involve music in some way shape or form. Over the last few years I’ve found myself putting on and/or participating in events. I founded an annual event called “Clash of the Beatmakers”—a tournament style beat battle that consists of 16 music producers competing for a $1000 cash prize. It also highlights local artists, comedians and DJs’ from my neighborhood. I’m happy to say we’re approaching our 6th year. Outside of music, I am interested in exploring real estate ventures.”
AD: “I think R&B much like Hip Hop and Rock has evolved so much over the years and it will continue to do so. 40s and 50s R&B sounds different from 60s and 70s R&B and that sounds different from the 80s and 90s… but at its core, it’s still rhythm and blues and you hear influences of all those eras in R&B music today.”
BSM: How does it feel to win a Grammy and what was it for? AD: “I won a Grammy for working on H.E.R.’s self-titled project. It’s a little surreal to be honest. Before deciding to pursue a career in music I wrote out a list of goals and milestones I wanted to reach within a decade, a Grammy was on that list. I am grateful that I can say I won a Grammy in the 9th year of my journey.” BSM: How did it feel to work on the K. Michelle project? And what actually did you do? AD: “It was pretty cool. It was the first commercial release project where I got to see my name in the credits. I was working as an assistant engineer at the time for K. Michelle’s management company’s studio and really appreciated the opportunity to see an album come together from start to finish.” BSM: With streaming introduced to the business is being an engineer still lucrative? AD: “I think, because of streaming, artists now feel pressured to consistently put out music (singles, EPs, albums, etc.) to stay relevant. This pressure can create more work for the recording, mixing or mastering engineer.”
BSM: How do you feel about artists using Auto-Tune? AD: “I’m cool with it. Most of the artist I work with use it more so for the sound or texture it gives, rather than for the sole purpose of pitch correction. Nonetheless it’s a tool and If necessary, you use it.” BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn? AD: “Can’t we all just get along… ‘grins’.” BSM: What is your most successful work to date in your opinion? AD: “My best work to date would have to be myself. We’re all constantly under construction and I not only try to be the best version of myself, but I’m always working on my craft as well.” BSM: Do you plan to start a record label one day? AD: “Yeah, I can see that happening. When I first started my musical journey it was something I had planned to do later in my career, but I see it coming to fruition sooner than anticipated.” BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio equipment for banging out hits? AD: “Hmm…that’s a tough one. There’s so many things, lol. I’m going to say monitors. A good set of monitors or lack there of can really make or break a mix.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“I THINK BECAUSE OF STREAMING, ARTISTS NOW FEEL PRESSURED TO CONSISTENTLY PUT OUT MUSIC (SINGLES, EPs, ALBUMS, ETC.) TO STAY RELEVANT. THIS PRESSURE CAN CREATE MORE WORK FOR THE RECORDING, MIXING OR MASTERING ENGINEER.” BSM: Do you have a favorite studio you work out of or do you have your own? AD: “I do not own a studio at this point in my life but I’m currently on staff as one of the head engineers at The Donut Shop. It’s a cool intimate studio in Brooklyn where I work alongside the talented Grammy®award-winning engineer, Max Morin.” BSM: Who were your musical influences coming up in the game? AD: “Another tough one. There are so many people that have inspired me along the way and for various reasons. Some of these people are not even in the music industry, but if I had to pick one person I gravitated towards growing up it would have to be Kanye West. ‘College Dropout’ was the first CD I ever bought and I always root for the underdog. With Kanye, you could see he was passionate and wasn’t going to stop until he proved his point.” BSM: If you could work with anybody that you haven’t already, who would it be? AD: “Hmm... I’m not really sure. I love working with anyone who
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is passionate, talented, unpretentious and great at his or her craft. I find it inspiring and feed off that type of energy. So, if could work with anyone it would be a person like that.” BSM: Do you think the game has changed since you first started? Can you explain? AD: “Oh, yes, definitely. I started a little bit before music streaming services got popular. That wasn’t too long ago but it changed the industry dramatically in my opinion. It affected how music is made and how the creators are now being compensated. The act of purchasing music has lowered significantly.” BSM: What advice do you have for an up-and-coming engineer in the industry? AD: “If you’re passionate about it, go for it. Don’t let anybody deter you, everyone’s journey is different. Persistence is key. Study your craft, always be open to learning and ‘TRUST YOUR EARS.’” BSM: Do you have any new projects you would like to tell us about?
AD: “I do, but I also don’t want to talk about them just yet… I don’t want to jinx anything (fingers crossed). I’m working with a few independent artists that are releasing new music. It’s exciting because they’re bringing something refreshing to music. It’s been a pleasure to take part in their journey. Artists: RicK the Writer, Dapper Jackson, J Dollaz, and ralph.” BSM: How did it feel to work on the Mary J. Blige project? And what actually did you do? AD: “I only got to work on that project as an assistant, but regardless, it was pretty freaking cool. I grew up listening to Mary so my inner child was jumping for joy. Back then I never dreamed of that becoming a reality and when it did I didn’t realize how much I needed that whole experience.” BSM: What’s more important to being a great engineer, instinct or education? AD: “I feel both are needed to a certain degree. I know some pretty dope self-taught engineers. Trial and error and hands on learning is the best form of education in my opinion. I imagine they would be light-years better had they been properly
mentored. With all the resources available online now, you can always learn the technical side of things. You can’t teach instinct and you can’t teach people how to channel the emotion of a song, they have to be able to feel it on their own. This is super important when mixing a record.” BSM: Can a bad mix kill a hit record? AD: “Good question. I believe it can definitely hurt it. The mixer creates the energy and contributes to how people will experiences the record... how it makes people feel. But in the same vein, I’m sure at some point, we’ve all heard a poorly mixed record reach Billboard’s Hot 100.” BSM: Is getting a record mastered still important? AD: “Yes. Mastering is an art in and of itself. The mastering engineer brings balance, cohesiveness and enhancements to the final mix. Aside from making your record louder (which is what most people only believe they do), mastering also makes a song translate well across all systems, mediums and media formats.” ■
AYANNA DEPAS & H.E.R. SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
SHAMANN ‘BEAT BILLIONAIRE’ COOKE GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER
hamann Cooke also known professionally as Beat Billionaire, is an American record producer. Moving to New York from Richmond, Virginia proved to be the place of opportunity by which Cooke quickly established solid relationships and projects with an impressive list of artists including: Method Man, Redman, Das Efx, K-Solo, and many, many more. Parrish Smith of EPMD fame, introduced Cooke to T.I.’s Grand Hustle leading to work with T.I.,Young Dro, Yung LA, Gucci Mane, and more. Cooke then moved on to sign with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group and has produced hit records for the entire MMG roster. He is best known for producing Rick Ross’ 2010 hit “John Doe,” Wale’s hit single “Bag of Money” and the hit single from the 2016 Motion Picture Suicide Squad, “Purple Lamborghini.” “Purple Lamborghini” also came with a 2016 Grammy® nomination for Beat Billionaire.
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“GOOD FOR THE LABEL BUT BAD FOR THE ARTIST. ARTISTS ARE PRODUCING ALBUMS THAT ARE GETTING LABEL MIXTAPES AND THE LABEL DOESN’T EVEN HAVE TO PAY THE PRODUCER.” —SHAMANN ‘BEAT BILLIONAIRE’ COOKEE
BSM: How was it working with Rick Ross and Maybach Music? And what records did you do? SC: “Rick Ross’ 2010 hit ‘John Doe’ and more recently the hit single from the motion picture Suicide Squad ‘Purple Lamborghini’ which reached number 33 on the charts, number 6 on the hot dance/electronic chart, number 7 on the rap charts and top 100 worldwide. This hit also came with a Grammy nomination.” BSM: Do you think mixtapes are good or bad for the market? SC: “Good for the label but bad for the artist. Artists are producing albums that are getting label mixtapes and the label doesn’t even have to pay the producer.” BSM: Can you tell us about your Grammy nominations and how did it feel? SC: “Man!, I zoned out. I didn’t really feel anything, it was a very surreal feeling...”Lol. BSM: Can you tell us the difference between a beat maker and a producer? SC: “I don’t really think there’s any difference. It’s just a progression of Music. Some people do things differently when they are working on the drum machine, just like playing keys.” BSM: Can a bad mix kill a great record?
Can you explain? SC: “Nope. I don’t think so. We listen to the bad mixes all the time on the radio and they’re hit records.” BSM: What would you say was your most successful project to date? SC: “‘Suicide Squad’ Grammy nomination. To be part of DC Comics is incredible to me.” BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration? SC: “Jay-Z . I want to be able to sit in the studio with him ...” BSM: What is your favorite piece of gear or recording software while in the studio banging out hits? SC: “FL Studio and Pro Tools mostly.” BSM: How important is a good pair of headphones in the studio when working on production and mixing? SC: “Very important. I like using the Beats by Dre right now. They translate the mix very well, and you can hear everything. They’re incredible.” BSM: Is sponsorship and product endorsement important to an artist in the business today?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
[on the importance of using a good pair headphones while producing and mixing]
“VERY IMPORTANT. I LIKE USING THE BEATS BY DRE RIGHT NOW, THEY TRANSLATE THE MIX VERY WELL, BUT YOU CAN HEAR EVERYTHING, THEY’RE INCREDIBLE.” SC: “It’s everything. It gives the artist ‘that look’ that they need to compete in the market.”
BSM: Do you think radio is still important in today’s market?
BSM: What’s more important to an artist success, social media following or great music?
SC: “Not really. People are consuming the music the way they want now, with their own playlist, things like that.”
SC: “Both. They go hand and hand.”
BSM: How was it working on the Boosie Badazz project? And what did you do exactly?
BSM: When celebrating your new hit single are we drinking D’usse, BacardI, Grey Goose or Patrón ...if you had to choose one? SC: ‘I’m gonna say D’usse since Jay-Z owns it and I’m signed to Roc Artist Management. Keeping it in the family.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? SC: “Just the whole Virginia music scene. Brother Pharrell, Timbaland, Teddy Riley and Pusha T.”
SC: “I did the song ‘Mr. Miyagi.’ Boosie is a really cool cat. I think that was the first song he did when he came home.” BSM: Old school Puma sneaker brand has re-emerged in the market. What do you think about their success and visibility? SC: ”They have always been a classic brand. Classics never die. My guy Emory is over there making moves at Puma.”
BSM: Do you plan on starting your own label one day? SC: “Yes.”
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Courtesy of Gloria Holloway PR
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
CHUCKEY CHARLES GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER
huckey Charles is a diverse multi-award nominated film composer, songwriter and top charting record producer that moves fluidly from Pop to Rap to R&B, and has produced, written and worked with Grammy® winning songwriters, artists, and producers from Sean Garrett, Usher Raymond and Dallas Austin to writer/producer Jerry Ragavoy (The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, etc...). He has also produced the soulful sounds of Hidden Beach recording artist Kindred the Family, the Pop and R&B sounds of Capitol Records group Vega, Rap artist Loon and “This Is How We Do It” crooner Montell Jordan, to name a few. Chuckey Charles was born on December 18, 1970 in Chicago, Illinois. He first became interested in music at a very young age beginning with the guitar at 6 and gradually moving on to the piano at the young age of 9. After graduating from high school and attending a brief stint in college majoring in music theory, Mr. Charles started to focus on larger aspirations of the music business and industry.
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BSM: Who were your musical influences coming up in the game? CC: “Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire.” BSM: Do you think product endorsements and sponsorships are important in the industry today? CC: “Absolutely! Anything that will heighten the level of your brand is incredible exposure.” BSM: How did it feel to work with Beyoncé? What actually did you do? CC: “My former production team, I was signed to Redzone Entertainment, did an amazing job on a number of her hit records. It was good to be part of a team that delivered some of her most memorable hits.” BSM: Do you think streaming has changed the game? Can you Explain? CC: “Most definitely it has! The mere fact of having the capability of touching such a broad spectrum of fans and listeners, has been a game changer for the industry.” BSM: Do you think traditional R&B will make a comeback? CC: “In my opinion, the true essence of R&B is forever gone. Even though there are incredible records that find their way on a project, it never sees the light of day in receiving the attention it so deserves, in regards to cracking the top 40, let alone the top 10.” BSM: How do you feel about singers using Auto-Tune? CC: “I’ll just say, it has it’s place.” BSM: Bacardi,Grey Goose or Patròn? CC: “I’m a classic man so I gotta go with Bacardi.” BSM: What is your most successful work to date in your opinion?
CC: “Entering the industry as a music producer, I’ve always challenged myself to dig deeper into the multiple levels of my abilities. So when opportunity arises, I go for it! Whether it’s becoming an A&R for a major record label, stepping out to manage the career of Montell Jordan while out on world tours, or composing and scoring award winning movies and films. I said that to say, I can never pick just that one special or most successful moment. They’re all a blessing in my journey.” BSM: What advice do you have for an up-and-coming writer and producer in the music business? CC: “Stay focused and learn the business of music as much as learning your craft.” BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio equipment for banging out hits? CC: “Logic Pro X is my go to when I’m creating.” BSM: Do you have a favorite studio you work out of or do you have your own? CC: “When I had my home built, I had an addition added just for my studio. When having long sessions, guests can wind down by hitting the exercise room or playing arcades and foosball in the game room. Being relaxed in your creative environment is always key.” BSM: Are you involved with any entrepreneurial endeavors outside of music? CC: “I have a few in the works, keep your eyes open.” BSM: If you could work with anybody that you haven’t already who would it be? CC: “I’m a true R&B dude, so I’d have to say Kem. I’ve always admired his body of work since day one. But then there’s Ella Mae and Snoh Aalegra. Those two, wow!!! True talent.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“WHEN USHER HAD U.S. RECORDS IN MOTION, USHER, MYSELF AND TRICKY STEWART WOULD HAVE THESE WRITING SESSIONS AND COME UP WITH SOME AMAZING RECORDS! BUT AS IT GOES, SOME OF THE BEST RECORDS GO UNHEARD. WHO KNOWS, MAYBE SOMEDAY ‘USHER THE VAULTS.’ LOL.” BSM: How did it feel to work on the Janet Jackson project ? And what actually did you do?
BSM: Do you have any new projects you would like to tell us about?
CC: “That’s a long story.”
CC: “I’ve transitioned into the world of film scoring and composing, so definitely be on the lookout for my body of work to be floating across the silver screen.”
BSM: How did it feel to work on the Usher project? And what actually did you do? CC: “I’ve been knowing Usher since he was 16 and have seen his amazing progression over the years. To see him at such iconic stature is certainly no surprise, he’s always had that ‘It factor.’ When Usher had U.S. Records in motion, Usher, myself and Tricky Stewart would have these writing sessions and come up with some amazing records! But as it goes, some of the best records go unheard. Who knows, maybe someday ‘Usher the Vaults.’ Lol.” BSM: How did your love for orchestral and classical music develop? CC: “That was during my middle school years. I would help score the musical performance pieces for the orchestra with my orchestra teacher and found a true love for it.” BSM: What’s more important today great music or social media following? CC: “Without a doubt GREAT MUSIC!!!”
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BSM: Do you think the fashion industry and the sneaker culture is influenced by the music industry? CC: “Absolutely! It always has been. Fashion and Music is like Peanut Butter and Jelly.” BSM: What’s the difference between a beat maker and a producer if any? CC: “Whew.... This is a day long topic, but I’ll sum it up like this. Just because you dissect a frog does not make you a doctor! See, in becoming a music producer, there are levels to that title. So I encourage every beat maker to aspire to become the highest level of what your craft and profession is. I’ll stop there, like I said this is a whole topic within itself. Thanks for allowing me to express my thoughts with you, BSM.”
Courtesy of Gloria Holloway PR
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews CHRISTOPHER ‘DRUMMA BOY’ GHOLSON GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER & SOUND ENGINEER
hristopher Gholson better known by his stage name Drumma Boy, is an American record producer, rapper, composer and philanthropist. Gholson has worked with an array of artists that span from Hiphop, R&B and reggae. Gholson relocated to Atlanta in 2004 and set his sights on becoming a professional music producer and entrepreneur. Citing his sense of business acumen from his mother, a professional accountant, Gholson founded Drum Squad, an independent umbrella entertainment company that encompasses Drum Squad Productions, a music production company that represents producers and songwriters, Drum Squad Records (a record label), and Drum Squad Films, a film production and distribution company. Gholson also scores for television and film, most recently working on FOX’s hit TV show Empire with Bryshere Gray (Yazz). In December 2013, Drumma Boy was commissioned to create film scores for a new independent film called “Blood First.”
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“OWN IT. OWN IT. OWN IT. DON’T SIGN IT AWAY AND MAKE SURE YOU DO SPLIT SHEETS SO YOU CAN GET PAID. A LOT OF PRODUCERS DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO GET PAID. DON’T SELL BEATS EXCLUSIVELY FOR PEANUTS. DON’T BE TOO EAGER AND KEEP YOUR PUBLISHING!” —CHRISTOPHER ‘DRUMMA BOY’ GHOLSONE
BSM: Congratulations on your venture The House of Fresh. Can you tell us more about it? CG: “The hottest celebrity Boutique in Atlanta. We carry all the celebrity clothing brands like: The Cookies Brand, NBA Young Boys Brand , Lil Babies Brand, Ethika Gazelle, Fila, Adiadora, Akoo, Hustle Gang Staple Pigeon, The Drugs Brand and Michael Cherry just to name a few.” BSM: Are there any other ventures outside of music you’re currently working on you would like to tell us about? CG: “Man, I used to be all over the place, but right now I’m just focusing on The House of Fresh and music.” BSM: How important is it for producers to reinvent themselves in business outside of music? CG: “It’s necessary to first establish yourself as a producer or beat maker then evolve into developing artists and then move on to establishing some trends, maybe even establishing a genre like I was fortunate enough to do with trap music in Memphis. Yo Gotti with the first rapper I worked with.” BSM: Grey Goose, Bacardi or Patròn when celebrating your new hit record? CG: “I’m a faithful Grey Goose connoisseur.” BSM: When you’re in the studio, what’s
your favorite piece of recording software or gear? CG: “Mpc Everything.” BSM: How important are good pair of headphones when in the studio? And what makes a pair of headphones good? CG: “Very important. I like Master Dynamics. They give you a true definition of the sound. Beats by Dre has too much bass and are real heavy on your ears and hurt after wearing them for long periods of time in the studio. I need something light and comfortable for those long studio sessions, especially for lengthy mixing or production projects that go on for hours.” BSM: What studio are you working out of nowadays in Atlanta or do you have your own? CG: “I currently work out of my own studio right from the house, back to the basics.” BSM: Are you currently working on any new projects you would like to tell us about? CG: “The new 8Ball MJG album. I’m the Executive Producer on the ‘Soul Child’ album, the Drummer Boy and Friends album and dropping this winter, a project out of DC with an artist called Noochie.” BSM: How important are endorsements sponsorships and brand Partnerships for artists in today’s market?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“JAZZ BEFORE I’M GONE, EVEN DISCO MAYBE, OR A NEW WAVE OF COUNTRY MUSIC AND BEING FROM MEMPHIS I HAVE TO GIVE THE HOMETOWN A BLUES ALBUM. BEING FRIENDS WITH THE LIKES OF B.B. KING FOR EXAMPLE I HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE TO NETWORK WITH. YEAH, I HAVE TO DO IT ...PLUS THERE’S A LOT OF YOUNG BLUES ARTIST IN MEMPHIS I CAN POOL TALENT FROM.” CG: “All of that s*** is important man. Imagine Michael Jordan without a shoe deal, especially in sports, it fills an income gap. Like Shaq, he makes most of his money off of endorsement deals. A lot of NBA players wouldn’t be able to have their lifestyles that they have if it wasn’t for the endorsement deals. It gives you a little bit more financial flexibility and also it’s a great face card for brand recognition and credibility when you are dealing with a lot of these corporate brands.” BSM: How has streaming changed the music business? CG: “Streaming has changed the business to a more content focused industry and with the progress in technology, like with streaming devices and the way people consume their music, playlists become the thing because people would rather stream their own playlists over buying albums. Even Radio stations are downsizing. DJs do mixes from home now. It takes the experience out of buying the hot new album away in my opinion.” BSM: What are your most successful projects in your opinion up-to-date? CG: “Young Jeezy hands down. Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101
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and Standing Ovation.” BSM: How important is the Atlanta strip club scene to Atlanta’s hip hop culture? CG: “Used to be essential and used to be a must like around 2016 let’s say to mm and 15, but now the way people consume the music is a lot different. People are at home and on devices, so it’s not as important.” BSM: What other genres of music would you like to add to your production catalog to make it complete? CG: “Jazz before I’m gone, even Disco maybe, or a new wave of country music. Being from Memphis, I have to give the hometown a blues album. Being friends with the likes of B.B. King for example, I have a lot of people to network with. Yeah, I have to do it. Plus there’s a lot of young Blues artists in Memphis I can pull talent from.” BSM: Can you tell us how has the Atlanta music scene impacted the music industry?
CG: “From an R&B perspective, first like with SWV, Toni Braxton, Monica, Jagged Edge, there were so many huge R&B artists out of Atlanta. Jermaine Durpi, he rapped also and he had the dope energy reppin his city. He put the city on the map. Many people in Atlanta come together and get money. You can come to Atlanta and get on. Most of the artists in Atlanta are doing amazing things and aren’t even originally from the city. I have always respected that about Atlanta.”
CG: “Originality and work ethic.”
BSM: What advice can you give new producers about publishing?
BSM: How was it working with Young Jeezy and NBA Youngboy?
CG: “Own it. Own it. Own it. Don’t sign it away and make sure you do split sheets so you can get paid. A lot of producers don’t even know how to get paid. Don’t sell beats exclusively for peanuts, don’t be too eager and keep your publishing!”
CG: “I got a call from ‘bird man’ who said he wanted to bring his young boy over to the studio and that’s when I met NBA Youngboy. You know, he went in the booth and did his thing. He’s serious in the studio about his business.”
BSM: Do you see traditional R&B becoming popular in the market again? CG: “It never really left. It’s still out there, you just have to look for it, just like real Hip-hop never really left. You just have to look for it.”
BSM: What do you look for when working with new artist?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
MULTI-GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING SOUND ENGINEER
ames Auwater is a Grammy® Award Winning Engineer who started out as a musician, first on the trumpet and then as a rock guitarist/front man. While attending Stivers High School For the Arts in Dayton, Ohio, interning at ReFraze Recording Studio and finally graduating with a 96.31% GPA, and a degree in Recording Arts from Full Sail University (in Florida), Auwater’s career path was clearly in sight. Returing to the Midwest, and initially taken under the wing of Craig Bauer (owner of Hinge Studios), James began to make a name for himself in Chicago and quickly rose through the ranks. James is known for his diversity and working within practically every genre of music over the years. His ears are highly sought after by leading acts in the Rock, Jazz, Classical, Gospel, and Hip-hop communities, among others. A few of these notable clients have been: Kanye West, Yo-Yo Ma, Kirk Franklin, Kurt Elling, Adam Levine, Tom Higgenson (Plain White Tees), Lupe Fiasco, Hezekiah Walker, Rihanna, Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Saba, and Mavis Staples.
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BSM: Congratulations on your success, how does it feel tohave so many Grammy nominations? JA: “Well, I like to clarify: I’ve been credited on 31 Grammy nominations. NARAS hasn’t actually nominated me 31 times (not sure anyone has ever been nominated that many times, haha). I do have 31 Grammy certificates though, and out of the 31, I garnered one (1) actual Grammy statue. 1 for 31, haha. And I still feel lucky, honored, and humbled to have been recognized for all the hard work.” BSM: Did you go to school for audio engineering and if so where did you go? JA: “Yes, I graduated from Full Sail University in 2003.” BSM: What piece of gear or software is a must have in the studio when mixing a record? JA: “A good listening environment is crucial. That’s made up from a combination of the D/A converters, monitor controller (a lot of people forget about this or under-value this part of the signal chain), speakers, and room acoustics. Beyond that, I’m definitely most comfortable in Pro Tools for my DAW. I have some go-to plugins, sure, but I think the only one that isn’t really interchangeable would be Melodyne. I’m always using a variety of tape emulation/saturation plugins to help create a “feel.” The ones I love and use a lot are Softube’s Tape, Slate’s VTM, UAD’s Ampex, and UAD’s Studer.” BSM: Is a good pair of headphones important while in the studio? JA: “Yes and no. It’s certainly nice to have a good pair of headphones as an additional tool, but for tracking purposes, any decent pair will do really. And while mixing or mastering, the speakers (and the room’s acoustics) are more important than headphones. If you have a good pair of headphones, they can definitely be useful as an additional reference point. All that being said, I do get a ton of use out of my
beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones.” BSM: How important is it for a song to have a good mix? Can you explain? JA: “It’s very important. However, I do not want to overstate its importance either. What’s most important is the songwriting itself...the talent of the artists/musicians... their performance and delivery...the song’s arrangement and production...etc. Then, once all of that is in place, subpar engineering can mess up the whole thing (or at least not allow it to reach its full potential). The whole process is a team sport, and I think it’s important to realize this. If one person, in any roll, isn’t pulling their own weight, it negatively affects the entire song. A great mix can elevate an already good song, certainly...conversely, a really bad mix (or master) can kill a song.” BSM: How was it working on the Kanye project? And whatexactly did you do? JA: “I worked with him off and on for several years back when he was still coming through Chicago a lot. Sometimes I was recording, sometimes I was assisting, sometimes I was mixing, sometimes all of the above in the same day. Overall I owe a lot to Kanye, as the recognition I received from working with him really made my career. They were always hectic times, but undoubtedly worth it in the end.” BSM: What’s the difference between mixing and mastering? JA: “Mixing means taking all of the individual elements, and committing them to fit within the Left speaker and the Right speaker (unless, of course, you’re mixing in surround or other format beyond stereo). In the mix, you use leveling, panning, eq, and effects to complete the vision of the song. You can certainly be creative in this phase of the process (think automation/delay throws, reverb swells, filter sweeps, etc etc). In mastering, you take that final stereo mix file and you sweeten it and perfect it and ensure that it will translate to all playback systems as best as possible.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, IT’S WHO YOU KNOW” RIGHT?? EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT IS KNOWING: IT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE WORTH, IT’S WHAT YOU CAN NEGOTIATE. HOWEVER, EVEN IF YOU’RE GREAT WITH PEOPLE, AND CAN TALK THE TALK, AT SOME POINT YOU’LL HAVE TO PROVE THAT YOU CAN WALK THE WALK. DON’T OVERHYPE YOUR SKILLS AND GET EXPOSED--THAT’S A SURE WAY TO DESTROY ANY GOOD PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP.” BSM: How was it working on the Lupe project and what did you do? JA: “Lupe’s ‘Food and Liquor’ is still to this day my all time favorite album that I’ve been a part of. It’s just so classic. Greg Magors had been his primary recording engineer for years, but I stepped in to play a pretty big role too. I recorded ‘Daydreamin’, which went on to win him a Grammy as well (in hindsight, somehow that’s been his only win, even though he’s been nominated 12 times). I also did a good bit of work on ‘The Cool.’ I tracked parts of ‘Superstar’ off that album, recorded a bunch of other random bits, and of course helped mix the majority of tracks on both of these albums. This was done at Hinge Studios, with Craig Bauer at the helm.” BSM: Are you currently working on anything new you would like to tell us about? JA: “I’ve recently moved to London, and so I’m getting my bearings and setting up shop here which keeps me pretty busy (I still have my Chicago studio open as well). I’ve got a few new things in the works with Ricco Lumpkins at the moment that we’re pretty excited about. He sends over the bulk of his stuff for me to master these days. I’ve also recently completed projects for
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clients from all over the world (South Africa, Philippines, Finland, Norway, and of course the U.S. and here in the U.K.). Additionally, I’m very much looking forward to mixing an upcoming project for a very talented pop singer/songwriter from Canada on Cadence Music Group (which is a sub label of Universal Music).” BSM: Do you have your own label? Do you plan on starting your own label some day? JA: “I do not have my own label, no. I may someday, but it’s honestly not something I’ve given a lot of thought to yet. Maybe I should think more about this! haha.” BSM: How important is maintaining good relationships in the industry? JA: “It is of the utmost importance. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” right?? Equally as important is knowing: ‘it’s not what you’re worth, it’s what you can negotiate.’ However, even if you’re great with people, and can talk the talk, at some point you’ll have to prove that you can walk the walk. Don’t over-hype your skills and get exposed---that’s a sure way to destroy any
good professional relationship.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? JA: “I appreciate and enjoy just about all music, and have found success working in nearly every genre. I grew up on a lot of rock and reggae, but eventually gained an equal love for hip hop. Jazz and classical have a truly great time and place for me. R&B, folk, electronic, they’re all so unique, and I love variety. I even have a soft spot guilty pleasure for a lot of pop songs. Specifically though, growing up, some of the albums that I listened to the most were from artists/bands like: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Bob Marley, Sublime, 2Pac, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Mos Def, Sigur Rós, Blue Karma, etc, etc.” BSM: How was it working on the Rihanna project? And what did you do exactly? JA: “Well, I only very briefly got to work with Rihanna while she was passing through on tour. She’s very professional, and her and her producers are all extremely talented. Although multiple songs were worked on, only 1 made the album in the end. I played my small engineering role, and enjoyed the vibe. To this day, it was the easiest platinum record that I’ve earned, haha. But, given how
grueling it was to complete other notable projects, this was a nice change of pace in deed!” BSM: Pre-Grammy party in L.A., which one are we going to- The Bacardi, Grey Goose, D’usse or Patròn event? JA: “Haha. That’s a good question. I actually don’t drink anymore myself, so I’d just have to play this one by ear. I’d have to see where my peoples were going I guess.” BSM: Do you work alongside the producer of the song/ track when doing a mix? JA: “Sometimes I do, sometimes it isn’t really necessary. It generally boils down to logistics, like if we’re in the same city or not. Especially with streaming abilities directly from within the DAW now via AudioMovers, it makes real-time mix adjustments so easy to do together remotely, when necessary.” BSM: Do you have any Ventures outside of music that you would like to tell us about? JA: “I’m a full time single father to my beautiful 12 year old daughter, Miela Marley Auwarter. This keeps me quite busy.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
BSM: What’s the big difference between analog and digital mixes?
Hypothetically, with streaming, it’s ended The Loudness Wars...however, in practicality, for better or worse, that’s not been case.”
JA: “I personally think that with good analog gear, I can often achieve the desired sound quicker. However, to then document the gear settings and to then inevitably have to recall the gear settings for mix tweaks at a later time, the overall process is actually slower than staying in the box (digital). Also, analog gear is quite expensive, both to purchase and to upkeep, and in general is much more susceptible to unexpectedly causing issues. I love analog gear. I’ll record through every bit of analog gear that’s at my disposal at the time, absolutely, but for me it just does not make sense to mix that way any more. Sonically, when a mix is done by a pro, the end listener will never know (or care) whether it was done analog or digital. It’s just a preference, not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – but analog mixing is not part of my workflow any more.”
BSM: Any advice for up-and-coming engineers mixing at home?
BSM: What studios are you currently working out of? JA: “I do the bulk of my work out of my own studio, Coda Room Audio (www.codaroomaudio.com).” BSM: Has the introduction of streaming changed the business model for the engineer? Can you explain? JA: “From the perspective of the artists and labels, streaming has absolutely changed their business model. And from that, by default, it’s trickled down and affected studios and engineers as well. We’re all in much more of a singles-driven industry, instead of full albums. Also, the turnaround time on a project can be much quicker without having to wait on physical pressings. Sometimes that’s a very cool and useful thing, other times though it can result in a rushed sounding final product. Beyond business, for engineers I think it’s also a lot about logistics and technical standards too. Specifically, I think the mastering engineer needs to be aware of the different LUFS (loudness) standards.
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JA: “99% of the time, do not put a limiter on the stereo bus while mixing! That is part of the mastering process. Mix while you’re in the mixing phase, and master while you’re in the mastering phase. Just cause it’s louder at the moment, does not mean it actually sounds better. Hear me now, believe me eventually. Invest in acoustic treatment for your room first before buying expensive monitors. If you have unideal room acoustics, have playback volumes low-ish (the sound waves will excite the room less at low volumes, making what you’re hearing in the sweet spot between the speakers much more accurate). Gear lust is real. We’re all guilty of it. But don’t make excuses about mixing results due to lack of gear. Yes, some gear makes things easier or quicker perhaps, but there’s almost always a solid workaround to still get the sound you’re after. If you need a tool that is truly necessary (a la Melodyne for polyphonic tuning, etc), then pay for it and move on. When there is budget, definitely let an outside professional master your mix for you. So many reasons for this. Patience. This is an art form that takes time and passion, but eventually I think things just start to click. Stay humble. Stay hungry. There is always someone better than you. I’m still learning every day.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews JEFF VILLANUEVA MULTI-GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER & SOUND ENGINEER
eff Villanueva has established himself as one of the most sought after engineers in the music industry. Jeff’s rise to engineering pre-eminence is a testament to his strong work ethic, raw ability and high energy levels. In his brief musical career he has contributed his work to many multi-platinum albums with some of the music biggest names in the industry such as Beyoncé, Lionel Ritchie, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Carlos Santana, Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean, Jennifer Lopez, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Rihanna, Usher, TLC, Justin Timberlake, Celine Dion, Justin Beiber, Lauryn Hill, Chris Brown, Kayne West and many more, bringing his total albums sales to well over 100 million worldwide. Jeff has also provided high-quality audio to major clients in the TV/Film industry, Video Games industry, Theme Parks, and the Recording industry through audio post-production and original recordings. Jeff is not only used to wearing many hats, he sincerely enjoys it and thrives in an intense team environment, which demands dedication, loyalty and adaptability, positioning him as one of the industry elite “go to” guys.
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BSM: Congratulations on your success, how does it feel to win a Grammy? JV: “Thanks very much! It still feels very much surreal. It’s truly an honor to not only be a part of music history but to be recognized by your peers for it. It’s an accomplishment that will outlive me and live on for all to see who love and share the same passion of music as I do. From experience though just because you’re working with an A list artist like a Beyoncé doesn’t always guarantee you that covenant prize. You have to always put out the same energy into every project and nothing less because that Grammy win will be the one you least expected.” BSM: Did you go to school for audio engineering and if so where did you go? JV: “I did attend Engineering school. For me it was the best thing. I was a musician growing up playing the trumpet for about 11 years prior to engineering but knew literally nothing about the technical end. After some research and visiting several schools I decided on Full Sail University. This prove to be a great experience for me because it’s a programmed designed around real-world scenario. The education staff there brings so much personal experience as well and are willing to share with you while being very hands on the gear. In the end I was not only able to learn in these environments but make mistakes so I could grow and avoid mistakes.” BSM: What piece of gear or software is a must have in the studio when mixing a record? JV: “Honestly, every time I approach the mix, I end up using something different every time As far as plugins go because I’m known for my vocals, I usually start with waves LA2A compressor to get that up in our face vocal feel and the MAAG Audio Eq4 plugin to sweeten up the vocals. For FX processing I was recently turned on to a plug created by my boy Producer/ Engineer DJ Swivel called The Sauce. This plug is amazing! It has everything I need into one plug to creatively transform my vocals and its also great on
drums and instruments. Another Plug that I recently was put onto by another friend Engineer / Sound Designer Tommy Bailey was Symphony 3D by Exponential Audio. This plug right here is by far the most realistic and best sounding reverb I have ever heard.” BSM: Are good pair of headphones important while in the studio? JV: “I have to be honest here when it comes to headphones, I quite haven’t mastered mixing inside of headphones. Something about it for me is feels restricting, but when it comes to recording I look for headphones that offer clear playback for the artist and the least amount of headphone bleed so I can capture a clean recording.” BSM: How was it working on the Destiny’s Child project? And what exactly did you do? JV: “Believe it or not working with Destiny’s Child on their last album ‘Destiny’s Fulfilled’ was one of my first big projects engineering in the industry. I had just recently become Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins Engineer and we were in NYC two weeks prior to working with them taking meetings. We just happen to run into Beyoncé over at Sony Studios in NYC and because Rodney had a prior working relationship with her, she told us about the upcoming project and insisted we be in on it. Two weeks later we were back in NYC and in the studio locked in. Crazy thing about the process of making this album and I have yet been able to see this done again was that project was recorded, mixed, and mastered in just one month. They even dropped the first single off of that album ‘Loose My Breath’ at the end of that month. Of course, it took an army to do this. They had literally locked down seven rooms at Sony at once with some of the biggest producers in the game from Swiss Beats, Rockwilder, Rodney Jerkins, B. Cox, Scott Storch and the girls would bounce from room to room and ask what we had. We play the record and if they liked it one would jump on the verse record their part while the others would be recording in another room. To think between all those producers and time in the studio there were
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“I’VE BEEN REALLY IMPRESSED WITH DIGITAL MIXING LATELY. THE BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO IS MINOR IN A LOT OF CASES NOW A DAYS BECAUSE THEY SOUND THAT GREAT. WITH ANALOG MIXING I DO FEEL LIKE I GET A LITTLE MORE DEPTH FROM THE MIX AND HAS A SMOOTHER AND PUNCHIER BOTTOM END WHEN IT COMES TO THE LOW END OF A MIX BUT AGAIN I THINK YOU WOULD’VE HAD TO SOME EXPERIENCES WITH ANALOG IN ORDER TO TELL THOSE DIFFERENCES.” probably over 70 records cut and only 11 made the final cut. I was fortunate enough to have been part of 2 of the singles off of that album as recording engineer for ‘Lose My Breath’ and ‘Cater 2 U.’” BSM: What’s more important to a successful engineer ..... Education or a good ear? JV: “It’s a balance of both but I would have to lean more on the side of having a good ear. As a recording or mixing engineer, you are an extension of the process. When a client comes to you there relying on you for your sound and expertise. You have to be able to have a thick skin to take constructive criticism when you don’t nail it. A lot of times when I find myself doing too much outside of what the clients want, I always refer back to the clients Demo mix and just get on the phone with them and talk and listen to the record several times. The client will always steer you in the right direction because this is their baby. All you have to do is listen that’s why you have to have a good year. The educational aspect of it comes with being on the job.” BSM: Are you currently working on anything new you would like to tell us about?
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JV: “Over the years I’ve always tried to challenge myself and continue to grow into different aspects of the industry, so I won’t get pigeonholed into being known to only do one thing. Recently I have got myself into recording more orchestra and choir type recordings and less mainstream top 40. It’s something that I’m new at and it’s challenging because it takes all the same principles that I’ve learned over the years of capturing a solid recording, but it multiplied by 80 because I’m dealing with full orchestration. Its almost like I’m learning to engineer all over again.” BSM: Do you have your own label? Do you plan on starting your own label some day? JV: “No, no (laughing). No Label. I thought about it at one point but decided not too because for me running a label means your also running and managing someone else’s livelihood and I didn’t want that responsibility. It’s hard enough to make it on your own. Plus, I believe it can take you away from other opportunities. Might sound like a cop out to most but for me its not.” BSM: How important is maintaining good relationships in the industry?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
clients Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins. Rodney was looking for an up and coming engineer at the time and Ricco helped open that opportunity up for me that I believe was a breaking point in my career and gave me the career I have today. In the famous word of Ricco…Thanks Bro, Bro, I appreciate ya. BSM: How was it working on the Rihanna project? And what did you do exactly?
JV: “Very important! It’s almost all you have at the end of the day to be honest. You may not like them on a personal level or always agree with them but maintaining a professional relationship will always keep them coming back because they know that you can deliver without having to babysit you. Plus, in this industry you just never know. A lot of the people I’ve come up with in the game are now in a position of power to make decisions and this is key because who do you think will be the first people they turn too? The ones they made relations within the beginning, that can get the job done and were all in the same room trying to get put on.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? JV: “Funny thing growing up, I never really had a big musical collection or went to a lot of shows. I mainly just listened to the radio and whatever was playing at the time, so I like a lot of wide range of music. Coming up in the industry though especially after graduating engineering school Grammy Award Winning Producer/Engineer Ricco Lumpkins really played a vital role as a mentor and still very much does so to this day. When I first met Ricco, I was in awe because he had been a part of my favorite albums and records from TLC, Brandy, to Outkast. So, growing up as a 90’s R&B / Hip-hop Head I did whatever I could to pick his brain. He did more than just that by taking me under his wing. Ricco began bringing me into his sessions with major clients to assist for him and later introducing me to one of his
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JV: “Working on the Rihanna ‘Loud’ album was amazing. Lot of factors and motivation behind the making of this album from all the way up from the Top from Rihanna and LA Reid to the songwriter, producers and engineers. First of all, got to give it up to LA Reid. He had something to prove on this album and he did. The ‘Loud’ album had 7 singles off this album. Should’ve won Album of the Year that year in my eyes but competition was tuff going against Adele’s ‘21.’ I engineered 2 records that made this project called ‘Cheers… Drink to That’ and ‘California King Bed.’ Two records that I feel like Rihanna had never done stylistically and wish she would do more of because she sounds amazing on. The ‘Cheers’ record will always be one of the most memorable records I was a part of because of the way it came together. It was literally started with us just going thru songs we grew up on and taking about stylistically what we liked about them until we came across a record by Avril Lavigne called, I’m with you where we sampled a vocal from the bridge and made a song with it. The song references drinking Jameson Whisky, so we got a couple of bottles of that and decided to make the record. By the end of the night we literally had 30 people I didn’t know in a booth taking shot of Jameson and singing drunk background vocals throughout the record. All in all, the song is very simple and the hook plays like 6 times throughout the song, but it just feels so good. I knew it would be a smash. When we were done with the demo. The A&R flipped and sent it over to LA Reid with a bottle of Jameson at 8am in the morning. The ‘California King Bed’ record a lot different approach where in this record feels very like a big country rock/pop ballad but very emotional. I saw this record, no lie, come together lyrically in 15 minutes and was based on a real situation the song writer was personally going through. Again, totally two opposite records when it comes to vibes and two records stylistically Rihanna had never did before. She sounds so amazing on these records and I wish she would go Rock/POP.” BSM: Bacardi ,Grey Goose, D’usse or Patròn when celebrating another Grammy win? JV: “D’usse. I love my Cognac.” BSM: Do you work alongside the producer of the song/ track when doing a mix? JV: “Always! Again, my job is to be an extension of the creativity and bring the music to life sonically. So, I very much enjoy having the Producer, Artist and all involved on the mix. I do usually wait
until I believe the record is about 90% finished before bringing them in because this process for most can be very much like watching paint dry. Having this process for me I believe its most effective because we can nail the mix in one to two passes.” BSM: Do you have any Ventures outside of music that you would like to tell us about? JV: “I don’t at the moment but if any of you have any opportunities out there Holla at you boy! I’m open lol. In all seriousness though that’s one thing I’m consistently thinking about with my career and I’m calling it 2.0. What that opportunity is I don’t know, but I would very much like it to use all my professional experiences I’ve built throughout my career from recording, touring, audio post production and game audio experiences combined.” BSM: What’s the big difference between analog and digital mixes? JV: “I’ve been really impressed with digital mixing lately. The big difference between the two is minor in a lot of cases now a days because they sound that great. With Analog mixing I do feel like I get a little more depth from the mix and has a smoother and punchier bottom end when it comes to the low end of a mix but again I think you would’ve had to some experiences with analog in order to tell those differences. In the end of the day most people don’t know the difference and the records being mixed digitally sound great!”
BSM: What studios are you currently working out of? JV: “Any studio that will have me really. A lot of my time now a days is spent in the studio at the crib but Im willing to go wherever the project takes me even during a global Pandemic.” BSM: Has the introduction of streaming changed the business model for the engineer? Can you explain? JV: “It hasn’t changed for me in the way I make records but where I do feel like it has changed the business model a bit is that its quicker and easier to get your product out there so I believe some production values in making a great sonic recording have suffered and the art of engineering is getting lost a little.” BSM: Any advice for up-and-coming engineers JV: “Hate to sound cliché, but you can’t give up! If it’s a feeling that your passionate about or feel like that’s what your meant to do don’t stop. Position yourself around like-minded people who have and share the same goals as you do. Go where the work is and don’t expect it to come to you in the beginning. After you’ve built up a resume for yourself than the work will come to you. As a creator you have to be honest with yourself not everything you create is going to be hot. If there is 1% doubt in your mind that you do better, then your only 99% done with the job. See it out and finish strong. You only get one chance to make a first impression. ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
KEITH ‘CLIZARK’ CLARK GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER
eith ’Clizark’ Clark is an American music producer who has worked with artists and productions including Snoop Dogg and Tha Eastsidaz, Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss, Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told, and Tha Eastsidaz (album) among others. Clizark coined the name “Clizark” from his love of Mozart and began utilizing his name later on in his career. He’s the recipient of a Diamond Certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. Keith’s musical talents go beyond producing. He’s also an acclaimed engineer, composer and writer. His career began in the early 1980’s as a DJ with the group Beat Control. Between the ages of 17-20, Keith and his Beat Control Crew began working for Rory Kiffman at the first Hip-hop radiio station in Los Angeles, 1580 K-Day. In 1991 Clizark received label placement with Capitol Records for “You Ain’t All That” by the group 3D which landed on Billboard’s Top Ten Dance Spot.
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BSM: How was it working with Snoop? And what records did you do?
headphones to pre-production and mixing?
KC: “Snoop is really cool. I’m a little older, so we hung with a different crowd, but we used to cross paths a lot at VIP Records and at the studio. I did ‘I’ll See You When I Get There’ and ‘Go Away’ off the ‘Last Meal’ album. Also ‘Fuck What They Say’ off ‘The Worst That Can Happen’ soundtrack, plus a track called ‘Dont Do It’ featuring Nate Dog.
KC: “All Producers and Engineers need to invest in a great pair of headphones, it’s very important.”
2. How has the West Coast Hip-hop scene changed? KC: “It didn’t change, it just evolved. We had our own culture from the east. The big difference was there was no sampling in west coast production at the time, although we were influenced by the east coast, we went our own path and then Dre merged the sounds east and west in his productions, so you know things just evolved.”
BSM: Where are you originally from? KC: “Greenville, Mississippi and then at 4 years old I moved to Long Beach, California with my parents.” BSM: Who was the most memorable person you’ve worked with in the studio? KC: “B-Legit from the Bay. He was so lively and upbeat, just a funny person. Kurupt and Foxy Brown were in that session which Foxy Brown came to the studio and wrote an entire verse for Kurupt that he recorded that day!”
BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio gear and production software?
BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration?
KC: MPC anything I have the MPC 4000 right now I love it Def Jeff introduced me to it but also definitely Pro Tools 12 and I use a lot of bass plugins by Trilian and definitely Drum Lords.
KC: “A project with Tray Dee, Bumpy Knuckles and Scarface.”
BSM: Can you tell us about Team Mashn? KC: “I started the company in 1999 to expand my portfolio and we have Mashn Films, a consulting firm and a production company.” BSM: Can a bad mix kill a great record? KC: “No. A great record is a great record. I’ve heard demos with better songs on albums because it’s just a great song.” BSM: What would you say was your most successful record/project to date? KC: “Snoop Dog ‘The Last Meal’ because of the caliber of producers I was amongst, like Timbaland, Dr. Dre, Battle Cat, etc...” BSM: How important is a great pair of
BSM: Has the game changed for the producer in today’s market? Can you explain? KC: “Yes. Producers are out there selling Beats for .99 cents. The producer industry is diluted right now and it’s set up for hobbyists. The industry is so saturated right now and technology has messed it up to where you don’t even need to understand your craft or understand music. You don’t even have to pay for the software anymore or pay your dues.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? KC: “James Brown, George Clinton, Larry Smith—he was a producer for Whodini, RunDMC and Mantronix . Also Marley Marl was the first person I heard incorporate 808 which was very influential on me. Then Teddy
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“THE PRODUCER INDUSTRY IS DILUTED RIGHT NOW AND IT’S SET UP FOR HOBBYISTS. THE INDUSTRY IS SO SATURATED RIGHT NOW AND TECHNOLOGY HAS MESSED IT UP TO WHERE YOU DON’T EVEN NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOUR CRAFT OR UNDERSTAND MUSIC. YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO PAY FOR THE SOFTWARE ANYMORE OR PAY YOUR DUES.”
Riley and Dr.Dre. I wish I was a fly on the wall in those sessions Lol.
BSM: Any advice for up-and-coming producers?
BSM: Do you feel The G Funk Sound/ real Hip-hop has a place in the market today?
KC: “Be consistent. Consistency is the key. They also can book a consultation with me and I can get them some great info and help them navigate their careers.”
KC: “Yes, absolutely. Matter of fact, Warren G is still touring and doing shows. Might I also mention there’s a lot of new artists bringing the G-funk sound back right now on the west coast.”
BSM: Do you have any up-and-coming projects that you would like to tell us about?
BSM: Bacardi Grey Goose or Patron?
KC: “We’re currently working on ‘Operation Green Day’ the movie.”
KC: “Lets go with Bacardi on that one my man.”
BSM: How was it working with Dr Dre? And what did you do exactly?
BSM: Do you think radio is still important in today’s market? KC: “Partly, but not as much. People consume music the way they want nowadays. Like streaming services, YouTube playlists, etc... So, not as much as it used to be.” BSM: Do you have any Ventures outside of music that you would like to tell us about? KC: “We have the patent on our new motorcycle helmets equipped with LED lights and we’re currently looking for licensing deals.”
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KC: “I worked on the Snoop Dog ‘Last Meal’ album for No Limit Records. I did the ‘Go Away’ track. Dr. Dre did the mix and actually allowed me to sit in and took my input which was a great moment for me. BSM: Do you think mixtapes are good or bad for the market? KC: “Very bad. The market is too saturated with mixtapes for them to have any type of impact.”
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
KENNY ‘MUNEY’ WILSON
GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER
enny “Muney’ Wilson is an experienced producer and entrepreneur. He’s worked with CASE, Mary J. Blige and Teyana Taylor among many others. In this interview, Kenny shares how he broke into the music business with Al B. Sure and DJ Eddie from Heavy D and the Boyz, working with Case, Pharrell Williams, and Russell Simmons, as well as addressing technology and tools such as the loved/hated Auto-Tune, the music streaming game, gear, studios, influences and more. Kenny also owns a lounge named DOOR 54 Atlanta, WILLIAM K DESIGNS— an Accessory company featuring Kenny’s designed leather goods and a Recording studio called the WRAITH ROOM Atl.And, if you happen to meet up with Kenny, ask him about teaching King Combs how to fish. We’re sure it’s a good one.
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BSM: What entrepreneurial endeavors outside of music are you involved with? KW: “I own a Lounge called DOOR 54 Atlanta WILLIAM K DESIGNS is an Accessory company. i design leather goods and just built a Recording studio called the WRAITH ROOM Atl.” BSM: How was it working with King Combs and what projects did you do with him? KW: “I knew his dad for years and met King Combs when he was a little kid. I taught him how to fish at puff’s house in Miami along with Justin and Quincy. They were all young kids then. They actually picked my original track from artist CASE called ``Touch me tease” and asked me if I could clear it for use.” BSM: How was it working with Teyana Taylor and what projects did you do with her? KW: “I met Teyana at a high school showcase in harlem. She was standing in the hallway singing by the lockers. I heard her voice before I saw her and I was like “who is that with that voice. Then I saw her and I said you’re a star. I immediately asked “can I work with you?” first thing we did was a hook for a jamican artist. Then weeks later Teyana expressed that Pharell was interested in signing her. Again I immediately asked to produce her first demos. songs “FLY AWAY” “ LEAVE” and ``U MAKE ME”. Pharell heard the songs and did her deal. Teyana has always been super talented on many levels and a professional. I really like working with her.” BSM: How was it working with Mary J. Blige and what projects did you do with her? KW: “Mary is the queen. I love working with MARY. Our first song we worked together on was ‘You Don’t Have To Worry’ for the “Who’s The Man’ soundtrack. Then we went on to work with my artist CASE. Mary and Faith Evans wrote Case’s first demo song called “Don’t Be Afraid’ and I produced it, which got Case his deal. From there Mary and I
developed a creative relationship and we went on to make more songs such as ‘Touch Me Tease Me’ for Case and ‘Sincerity’ for the ‘Share My World’ album.” BSM: Do you think traditional R&B will make a comeback or is it gone forever? KW: “Ithink it’s going to be a long process because the millennials are being musically manipulated by one genre of music which is Rap and now Rap is the new R&B. If it wasn’t for Beyoncé and Chris Brown, it would be totally dead. I blame the radio programmers for killing R&B. They are not giving our new generation a chance by giving us both R&B and Hip-hop. It’s 99% Hip-hop now.” BSM: How do you feel about artists using Auto-Tune? KW: “It’s cool to me because it’s another instrument on a track, not to mention it helps people who need a little help to make the song sound as best as possible. As a listener or a consumer, you’re not thinking technical details, you are only looking for what feels good and sounds great when you hear the completed song.” BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn? KW: “Patròn, but, Pineapple Ciroc really lol.” BSM: What is your most successful record to date in your opinion? KW: ““Touch Me Tease Me’ by Case. That record keeps on living. Still bangs in the Clubs, on the Radio and the artists that reuses it. The track has been used for recent projects like ‘Bad Boys 3’ soundtrack feat Rick Ross and The TV series Boomerang on BET. The song is 24 years old to be exact. I am truly blessed. BSM: Do you plan to start a record label one day? KW: “I had a record company back in the day called Spoiled Rotten Ent./ Def Jam/ Atlantic/ Warner Bros. that signed Case, Changing Faces and Drea. I had 3 deals at one time.
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“I THINK THE STREAMING GAME IS DOPE BUT THEY NEED TO FIX HOW PRODUCERS AND WRITERS GET PAID. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO GET LETTERS OF DIRECTION FROM THE ARTIST TO GET OUR APPROVAL TO GET PAID. THAT’S WHY THEY NEED TO BRING BACK CREDITS FOR THE PRODUCERS AND WRITERS SO WE AUTOMATICALLY GET OUR SHARE, THE SAME AS THE ARTIST.” I now have a company called BORN RICH AGENCY LLC. We manage music producers and television and film projects. BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio equipment for banging out hits? KW: “Logic and MPC.” BSM: Do you have a favorite Studio you work out of or do you have your own? KW: “Yes, I own THE WRAITH ROOM ATL.” BSM: Who were your musical influences coming up in the game? KW: “Teddy Riley, JImmy Jam, Terry Lewis , LA Babyface and Russell Simmons.” BSM: If you could work with anybody that you haven’t already who would it be? KW: “Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Dr. Dre. Also, Shaquille O’Neal from a music
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and business perspective.” BSM: Do you think the game has changed since you first started? Can you explain? KW: “Yes of course. Different ways we sell music, meaning no more record stores and the way we market it . No more street teams, we are in an internet climate, which has some advantages in terms of reaching the world in seconds.” BSM; What advice do you have for an up-and-coming writer and producer in the business? KW: “Be passionate about your craft and don’t do it for the money because when you’re great at something you love, the money comes in abundance. Don’t ever stop, stay focused and be consistent. DREAM BIG!” BSM: What makes an artist hot in your opinion? KW: “Being a star, having talent and having great music.” BSM: What kind of artist turns you off?
KW: “Copy cats. An artist can be influenced by other great artists, but they need to put their own spin on it. Be yourself at the end of the day. BSM: Who gave you your first start in the business? KW: “DJ Eddie from Heavy D and the Boyz started a producer company called the Untouchables and I was a member. Eddie and Al B. Sure taught me how to make beats. Then I met Craig Kalman from Big Beat / Atlantic and he gave me my first production deal. Then I was introduced to Russell Simmons by a video director and now famous Movie director Brett Ratner.” BSM: Is there a difference between a producer and a beat maker in your opinion? C an you explain? KW: “Hell yeah! Beat makers think they are a producer, which let
me say, they are not. They make beats and that is it. Producers orchestrate the entire sound for the artist from top to bottom and they actually work with the artist in the studio to create it. The best records are made when producers make the songs. Beat makers have no direction and wouldn’t know how to tell an artist the first thing to do in the studio. 20) How has streaming affected the business for the producer and the song writer? W: “I think the streaming game is dope, but they need to fix how K producers and writers get paid. We shouldn’t have to get letters of direction from the artist to get our approval to get paid . That’s why they need to bring back credits for the producers and writers so we automatically get our share, the same as the artist.” Courtesy of Gloria Holloway PR
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews LESLIE BRATHWAITE MULTI-GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING SOUND ENGINEER
eslie Brathwaite grew up in a rich musical culture in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Brathwaite’s fascination with the industry began at a young age and led him to Full Sail University. Upon graduating and earning his degree from Full Sail’s Recording Arts program, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. It was there that he started his career full-fledge by assisting producer Dallas Austin, earning credits on albums like Boyz II Men’s “II” and Outkast’s“Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.” From there, opportunities poured in, and Leslie established himself as a go-to mix engineer and producer – working with A-list artists including Jay-Z, Madonna, T.I., and more. Leslie’s impressive list of Grammy awards include TLC’s “Fanmail” (Best Rap Album), Brandy and Monica’s single, “The Boy is Mine” (Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group), Outkast’s “Stankonia” (Best Rap Album), Pharrell Williams’ “G I R L” (Best Urban Contemporary Album) and “Happy” (Best Pop Solo Performance, 2015).
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“USE OTHER MUSIC AS REFERENCE MATERIAL ON HOW YOU WANT YOUR MIX TO SOUND.” —LESLIE BRATHWAITEE BSM: What actually did you do on the Cardi B. project? LB: “I did the mix on ‘WAP’ and ‘MONEY’ It was a pleasure doing it and the project is a great success.” BSM: How long does it take you to perfect the perfect mix?
LB: “I like it .... It’s pretty cool. I also know the guys over there at Antares Audio and they’re really good people.” BSM: What producers have had the most impact on developing Atlanta’s music scene?
LB: “Sometimes a mix can take day, sometimes it can take a few minutes.”
LB: “Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupree, Jazzy Pha, Rock City, DJ Drama, DJ Don Cannon, Organized Noize, Justice League, DJ Toomp, Zaythoven and Drumma Boy.”
BSM: Any advice to young engineers trying to perfect the perfect mix?
BSM: Who gave you your first chance in the business?
LB: “Use other music as reference material on how you want your mix to sound.”
LB: “Dallas Austin. I was an intern at D.A.R.P Studios that actually was around the time you and I met, Shon.”
BSM: Being part of some of the greatest records ever, what was the most successful in your opinion?
BSM: Any plans to start a label of your own someday?
LB: “I received a lot of notoriety from ‘So Fresh And So Clean’ by Outcast, but Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ was my biggest success.” BSM: Bacardi or Grey Goose? LB: “I have to go with Grey Goose man. That’s what DJ Drama and the guys drink.” BSM: What do you think about AutoTune?
LB: “No, not at all ... Too much politics.” BSM: What is the biggest change in the industry since you’ve started? LB: “The introduction of streaming and how people consume music has really changed the game.” BSM: How many hours do you spend in the lab a week? LB: “Not as much lately due to social distancing, so I do a lot of work from home.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
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THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews LUCA PRETOLESI MULTI-GRAMMY® AWARD NOMINEE SOUND ENGINEER
ogging well over 30,000 hours in the studio spanning over 25 years of experience, Luca’s prolific career has led him to his current status as a worldrenowned mixing and mastering engineer he’s known for today. He’s won a multitude of awards ranging from multiple Grammy nominations, Platinum, Diamond, Billboard, and Golden Melody awards, as well as founding and creating Studio DMI, his state of the art facility based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Luca and his Studio DMI brand are synonymous with unrivaled quality and style sought out by the biggest names in electronic and pop music. Luca has had the honor of working with top artists around the globe such as Steve Aoki, Diplo, David Guetta, J Balvin, Snoop Lion, Above & Beyond, G-Dragon, Jolin Tsai and many more. Luca’s Grammy nominations include J Balvin & Willy William’s “Mi Gente” (Record of the Year), Steve Aoki’s “Wonderland” (Best Dance Album), Snoop Lion’s “Reincarnation” (Best Reggae Album).
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BSM: You’ve been called the “Modern Day Da Vinci” when it comes to the skillful art of mixing and mastering a song?
Studio signature sound.”
LP: “It felt great! It’s always nice to be compared to da Vinci! “
LP: “Headphones are important but proper calibration with linear equations curve on them is even more important. I like sonarworks reference 4 for that.”
BSM: Make the case proving how important the mixing and mastering techniques and how they have a direct effect on the success of a song. LP: “It’s very important to have dynamics, contrast, diversity and high polish when crafting a song. And, it is also very important to bring a fresh perspective to the project to turn it out as a masterpiece.” BSM: Early on, you developed your own plug-ins, custom hardware and components. What inspired you and how did you acquire the technical skills to create your equipment? LP: ”I started out using analog and eventually leading digital plugins early on while living in Genoa, Italy. I learned how to use analog and digital tools in unique ways that really separated myself from other producers, mixers and sound engineers. It’s about being being open-minded and using both formats to bring out the best possible results, and of course, utilizing my custom created plug-ins tools to perfect the DMI
BSM: How important are good pair of headphones when mixing?
BSM: Given that you have worked with many accomplished artists and producers, what is the one project are you most proud of? LP: “That’s a difficult one. The two that come to mind are Diplo and Major Lazer.” BSM: Your studio set up looks sweet. What’s the first impression your clients experience upon entering your facility? LP: “My clients love it. The versatility and set up makes the whole process more efficient, not having to get up from behind the desk is a real advantage and importantly, The studio’s space and layout allows for all kinds of flexibility and mobility.” BSM: Who’s on your team at Studio DMI? LP: “Our engineers include Andy Lin, Scott Banks, and myself. Jacob Work handles the bookings and manages the projects. And, we also have a management team in place to
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“I LEARNED HOW TO USE ANALOG AND DIGITAL TOOLS IN UNIQUE WAYS THAT REALLY SEPARATED MYSELF FROM OTHER PRODUCERS, MIXERS AND SOUND ENGINEERS. IT’S ABOUT BEING BEING OPEN-MINDED AND USING BOTH FORMATS TO BRING OUT THE BEST POSSIBLE RESULTS, AND OF COURSE, UTILIZING MY CUSTOM CREATED PLUG-INS TOOLS TO PERFECT THE DMI STUDIO SIGNATURE SOUND.” deal with Record labels and artist representatives.” What are you working on these days? LP: “Recently released some exciting music with DJ Carnage, Vintage Culture and Showtek.” BSM: How important are “Trade Shows,” such a NAMM, to the industry? What was it like for you the first time? LP: “Attending NAMM for the first time was incredible. It’s kind of like thousands of people attending a concert, but the difference being that you can remain behind the scenes, check out new and evolving gear and also conduct business, revisit existing relationships and form new ones as well.” BSM: Name five (5) albums that you cannot live without? LP: “Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ Kraftwork’s ‘The Man Machine’ & ‘Computer World,’ Depeche Mode’s ‘Music for the Masses’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’” BSM: What’s the best thing about living in Las Vegas?
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LP: “The location. Very close to Los Angeles, only an hour away, but Las Vegas is like an island in the middle of the desert. Surrounded by mountains and a lake close by. The landscape is beautiful and it’s one of the reasons I live here.” BSM: Do you have any live events planned for this year? LP: “Well, I did have a few educational events planned, however with the Covid 19 pandemic, obviously those engagements will have to be res-scheduled for most likely 2021.” BSM: Who are 2020’s most musically interesting artists? LP: “Billie Ellish in particular, and other artists that are releasing poppy, yet, ‘Lo-fi’ music.” BSM: Do you have family living in Italy? Do you visit Genoa and Italy for that matter, often? LP: “Yes, I have family in Italy and under normal circumstances, I would travel back home every couple of months or so for business, and of course for family time.” ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews RICCO LUMPKINS GRAMMYÂŽ AWARD WINNING PRODUCER & SOUND ENGINEER
icco Lumpkins has had various songs placed in movies, television shows, and video games - NBA Ballers Phenom, Kangaroo Jack, Couples Retreat, and 3 Strikes. He holds a Masters of Science in Entertainment Business and a Bachelors of Science in Recordings Arts. Ricco is also known for giving back to his community by sitting on music business, production, and engineering panels throughout the metro Chicago area. Other credentials include: Voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences; Member of EARS (Engineering and Recording Society Chicago); Faculty Professor, Music Business Management and Music Production at LA Film School; Former Post Production Instructor at Full Sail University; Former Department Chair SAE Institute Chicago; Former Adjunct Professor, Audio Recording and Digital Audio Workstations at Illinois Institute of Art Chicago; AVID Certified Instructor.
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BSM: Name some of your musical influences and did you have an opportunity to work with any of them? RL: “My main musical influences include Michael Jackson, Prince, Babyface, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Oddly enough, I’ve never worked directly with them, but have met all of them at some point in my career. I have produced, engineered, and co-written on some of the same albums/ artists they were also on. So, it was like one degree of separation. (TLC – ‘FanMail/Crazy Sexy Cool,’ Boys II Men and Millions More Movement). Regarding other producers, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and or learn under Dallas Austin, Rodney Jerkins, Tim and Bob, Arnold Hennings, Debra Killings, Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000 from Outkast, Bobby Brown, Organized Noize, Mobb Deep, Lil G from Silk, and Dennis Ross. Regarding engineering, I rose up the ranks under Neal H. Pogue (NHP Sound/Fulton Yard), Leslie Brathwaite, and Alvin Speights. I also engineered a couple of sessions for Diddy when he was producing 112’s first album.” BSM: What is the most successful record you mixed or engineered? RL: “Although not successful by sales standard, all of my songs that have been placed, checks cleared, and still making me royalties in which I have produced, engineered, mixed and co-written. Most of them were the last ones to close out albums, and most of them were number 7 on each album. The most notable I have co-engineered would be ‘Waterfalls’ by TLC. I recorded Left Eye’s rap, edited and assisted the mix with NHP Sound.” BSM: In your opinion and experience, what sound elements and techniques makes a song HOT? RL: “It really depends on the genre. Defining ‘hot’ is subjective and totally depends on the individual fan/consumer, but there are certain elements that move me. There has to be a nice melodic catchy hook with wellcrafted lyrics. The vocalist has to be able to
sing or rap and have a welcoming tone and presence. I also like nice sub basses, electric Rhodes pianos, a catchy lead synth line, and 808 elements with good sounding drums that cut through the mix. All of it has to be arranged in a nice sensible format – not unorthodox.” BSM: How do you discover new talent and determine which project to take on? RL: “Funny thing is I don’t actively look for talent anymore. I often get referrals from colleagues, friends, and family. However, the most common response would be everyone looks on social media. I actually enjoy going to live showcases and sitting on panels. I also work with various musical educational institutions as an educator. So, often times I get graduating students fresh out of school. Obviously, if a client has a budget, as well as talent, we can work.” BSM: What significant changes have you seen and embraced over the course of your 27-year career as a producer, engineer and a songwriter? RL: “Wow. I have seen and lived through the evolution in technology – a swing from the analogue world of recording to 2” and I/2” inch tape formats to ADATs or DA 88s to the slew of digital audio workstations and plugins. However, although workflow and workstations have changed, the songwriting process has not short of online collabos. I’ve also witnessed and adapted from the downsizing of major labels to the DIY approach.” What is your proudest moment and biggest regret so far in your illustrious career? RL: “When TLC was nominated in 5 different categories and won R&B Album, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. It enabled me to become a voting member of the Recording Academy. I just celebrated my 20th year of membership. My proudest moment is being part of and contributing to the Golden Era of Hip-hop and R&B. I’ve worked with some really talented people – a la TLC, Sammie,
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“YES, THE (CHICAGO) HAWK IS THE WORST! STILL CAN’T GET USED TO IT. I THINK UNTIL WITHIN THE LAST DECADE, CHI DID NOT GET THE RESPECT IT DESERVES. NOWADAYS, WITH THE TELEVISION AND FILM COMPANIES BECOMING MORE COMMON PLACE, THE MUSIC BUSINESS IS STARTING TO GIVE IT A CHANCE. I’VE HAD A COUPLE OF TOP EXECUTIVES ASKING FOR THE NEXT WAVE OF TALENT FROM THE CHI.” Lil Zane, Master P, Boys II Men, Outkast, Cee-Lo Green (when he was in GOODIE MOB), Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, 112, P Diddy, etc. Regrets – I would say not embracing the time as it happened - it flew by super-fast.” BSM: As a voting member of Recording Academy (Grammy’s), you are essentially driving the future success of artists and influencing the populace consumption of music. How does that feel and do you feel “pressure” when making your Grammy recommendations? RL: “First off, it is an honor to be part of that community. I do not take it for granted. Neither do I take it lightly. The system has been in place for 60 plus years, so, I do not think I will rock the boat one way or another. However, when the prenominating and final voting rounds arise, I vote with my heart on the music that personally resonates with me – no pressure.” BSM: Can you name some of the greatest talents that went through DARP STUDIOS - Atlanta? RL: “Unfortunately DARP no longer exists, which I think has recently been purchased by Future. Nonetheless, some of the
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legendary artists (not all inclusive) that have graced those mics are: TLC, Boys II Men, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Babyface, Akon, Bobby Brown, Gwen Stefani, Toni Braxton, Tamar, R. Kelly, NAS, Common, Monica, Brandy, Usher, George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars, Ludacris, TI, Pink, Lloyd, Ciara, Curtis Mayfield, A Tribe Called Quest, Raphael Saadiq, Silk, Metro Boomin’, Gucci Mane, Lionel Richie, Jon B, The Roots, Speech and Arrested Development, Erykah Badu, Jaheim, Destiny’s Child, Keith Sweat, Kelly Price, Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Sugar Babes, Gwen Stefani, Lil John and the East Side Boys, Lenny Kravitz, Puffy, Ma$e, EPDM, Outkast, Nivea, Shanice, Mario Winans, Debra Cox, Blu Cantrell, Aretha Franklin, Tony Rich, Jagged Edge, Lil Zane, Kronic, Felix da Housecat, Stacie Orrica, Vega, UGK, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Ann Nesby, Donell Jones, For Real, Kelis, Sleepy Brown, JT Money, Rasheeda, Da Brat, Leona Lewis, Darlene McCoy, Joi, Debra Killings, Joyce Irby, Sammie, Backwoods Boys, Section 8 Mob, Guccione, Shon Murdock, Bobby Valentino, Mista, Ray Lavender, Collabo, Butta B Rock, Muk Feature, Slim Goodie, VIPER, Royal C, Colin Wolfe, Big Jasper Love, A Few Good Men, Pebbles, LA Reid, Sy Scott, Tomi Martin, Tom Knight, Charles Pettaway, DJ RUKUS, Highland Place Mobster, Derrick Demetri, “Chip” Theopholous Glass, Too Short, Shorty B, Carl Glover, GA, and Another Bad Creation and many more.”
BSM: How has the Atlanta music scene changed since you were there? RL: “During the 1990s to mid 2000s, Atlanta was the music mecca of the south. I am honored to have been a part of that movement. Everything from LaFace Records (La Reid and Babyface), So So Def (Jermaine Dupri), Rowdy Music (Dallas Austin), Organized Noize, DJ Smurf, DJ Jelly, DJ Toomp, etc. had set the scene for R&B, Hip-hop, Pop to 808-Bass music to dominate the music industry. Atlanta took a bit of a dip between 2004-2012, but then bounced right back with the trap sound which in my opinion is an evolution of the 808- bass music.” BSM: So, you are back in your hometown of Chicago. What’s hot in Chicago these days? RL: “Although I used to live off Halsted and Chicago, I am actually from about 70 miles west of there in a suburb called Rockford, IL (Fred VanVleet, Jimmy Wright, Virgil Abloh, Michelle Williams, Ann Nesby, Cheap Trick, Rick Nielsen, Parris Bennett), but I’d say, just like any other city, Chicago has its fair share of talent and really great talent at that! I embrace the live entertainment community. I am working with a couple of gate keepers in the city who sponsor many showcases throughout the region.”
as consultant; A pilot being presented to BET; Negotiating 2 more song placements via Viacom; Working with 2 female pop artists; Working with 2 female R&B artists; Working with 1 male R&B Trap artist/songwriter/vocal producer – John Renaissance; Working with 2 Hip Hop artists from Chicago; Working on a “true” lyrical Hip Hop artist from Queens, NY – Shon Murdock of SMG; Formulating a series of books about production and engineering; Working on a sample library pack; Working with various educational institutions for teaching and development curriculum - At some point, I will be putting together a clothing line.” BSM: How much did you have to sacrifice to make it to the top? RL: “I’ve sacrificed a lot of former friends, girlfriends, an ex-wife, ex-fiancée and quality time with my family. However, I have since re-established my foundation and reconciled with my son, mother, father, and brothers and have found a significant other who has my back. I love them all to pieces.”
BSM: What’s the best and worst thing about living in Chicago? (Besides the notorious “Hawk!”) RL: “Yes, the Hawk is the worst! Still can’t get used to it. I think until within the last decade, CHI did not get the respect it deserves. Nowadays, with the television and film companies becoming more common place, the music business is starting to give it a chance. I’ve had a couple of top executives asking for the next wave of talent from the CHI.” BSM: Name your go-to venue/nightclub in Chicago. Why so? RL: “Again, it depends on what you are looking for. It’s changing all the time. My buddy is a resident DJ at various locations throughout the city. So, I will periodically visit different ones just to see what’s hittin’ for various demographics. I personally like the low-key rooftop lounges. They’re chic.” BSM: Do you have any news to share regarding future projects? RL: “I try not to jinx my opportunities, but I can generally speak on some of the irons in the fire: Focusing on rebranding my imprint as RICCI∆NO J∆MEZ (Producer/DJ); Recently started DJ’ing, and I’m seeking an agent to start performing as RICCI∆NO J∆MEZ; Working on a docuseries of my professional and personal experience in the music business from a producer, engineer, songwriter, to former studio owner, publisher, as well SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
BSM: What is the greatest challenge in mentoring new Talent?
Ozone, R Bass, Lurssen Mastering Tool, Final Plug by Wave Arts, and YouLean Loudness Metering.”
RL: “It all stems from the song and musical vision of the artist, producer, and team. We live in a viral world now. So, going viral is their definition of success. There appears to be a trend where artists think “hard work and dedication” to the craft is not necessary. So, I would say artist development and media training is a bit of a lost art, but the entertainment business mindset of new talent is the biggest hurdle. Brand equity, marketing and promotional campaigns are what assist in longevity.”
BSM: Any Pro recording tips for the home studio engineer?
BSM: How important is it to reinvent yourself in today’s market? RL: “I think it truly depends on what one’s ultimate goals are. If one is trying to be validated by the mass population, then it is all about trying to be relevant, but if one has a hold on self- identity, then reinvention is on its own timeline. Creativity and inspiration will lead the way. Don’t force it.” BSM: What piece of equipment in the studio is your greatest Ally when mixing a hit record? RL: “Well, when mixing I am pretty much within the box now. So, I use various pieces. There is no 1 go-to anymore. I use Ableton and Pro Tools for mixing. I use Ableton and FL Studio Producers Edition for beat-making. I used to be a die-hard Maschine user but recently switched to FL Studio Producers Edition. Some of my current plugin favs are Melodyne, AutoTune, R Vox, Channel Strip, Shadow Hills, Avalon 737, Super Tap, Fab Filter Q2, Izotope
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RL: “Try not to get overwhelmed by the abundance of plugins and gear. Try to perfect the art of recording, mixing and mastering. Then keep it simple by using what gives you the best possible sound and will get you paid.” BSM: Looking to the future, how do you think the roles of a producer, engineer, songwriter and the music industry as a whole will evolve in the next 5-10 years? RL: “Regarding the producer, engineer, and songwriter, I don’t think much. The trend I see happening is they are becoming more of a singular role versus separate entities. Creatives are learning how to streamline and multi-task responsibilities. However, the cybersphere will continue to change regarding digital distribution and how fans will consume. Live shows will continue to be experiential, but video games and VR will be the ones to set the stage.” BSM: Was all the hard work worth it when you look back on your career? RL: “The hard work is the fun part – most times it doesn’t feel like work – feels like passion or the pulse of your heartbeat if you are doing it for real. It is learning how to deal with ‘music business personnel’ that is the real task for most.” ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
DANA ‘ROCKWILDER’ STINSON MULTI-GRAMMY® AWARD WINNING PRODUCER & SOUND ENGINEER
ana Stinson better known by his stage name Rockwilder, is an American Hiphop record producer and rapper. A long term friend of Def Jam rapper Redman, Rockwilder got his start producing for East Coast Hip-hop artists in the mid-1990s. In 1999 Rockwilder produced Method Man & Redman’s hit single “Da Rockwilder.” He has produced at least one track on every Redman album since 1994’s “Dare Iz a Darkside.” Stinson has also crafted records by other artists including Jay-Z’s “Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)”, Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu’s “One,” Xzibit’s “Front 2 Back” and De La Soul’s “I.C. Y’All.” Other artists he’s worked with is a who’s who list of artists and inlcudes the likes of Janet Jackson, Destiny’s Child, and Christina Aguilera/Lil’ Kim/Mýa/Pink Grammy Award winning cover of Labelle’s 1974 “Lady Marmalade” for the film Moulin Rouge. Additionally, Rockwilder scored the movie “How High” starring Redman and Method Man.
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BSM: How was it working with Jay-Z ? What records did you work on? Rockwilder: “I worked on ‘Do It Again,’ ‘NYMP’ and ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent.’ Jay-Z was very professional and he knows exactly what he wants. He and Big Pun were the same.” BSM: How has the New York Hip-hop scene changed? Rockwilder: “A lot of youth, a lot of vibe. The kids have a new thing going on and I think it’s cool. They’ve evolved the art form and the business has also evolved in to many bigger deals. The period of 1988 through 2000 was like the Motown era of Hip-hop for producing classic and timeless music, however, not the greatest when it comes to business.” BSM: What is your favorite piece of studio gear and production software? Rockwilder: “Reasons Studio, Logic, Protools. I use them all and I’m pretty up to date with all the studio tech.” BSM: What’s going on with Musik Park? Rockwilder: “It’s still here. A lot of ventures are on the table. I stay busy with a lot of production work, but Musik Park is still here.” BSM: Are they’re any artist would you say you let get away? Rockwilder: “No, I think things went as planned. I’m pretty awed at my career. I feel blessed to have worked with the people I’ve worked with.” BSM: What would you say is your most successful record to date? Rockwilder: “‘Da Rockwilder: with Method Man and Redman.’ It created my brand and furthered my business opportunities, thus making me a household name.”
horizon of that and looking to make the transition to bigger venues. Hopefully I will be spinning a set for Shon Murdock and Ben Price at an up-and-coming Bacardi USA party with Beatselector Magazine.” BSM: Where are you originally from? Rockwilder: “Queens, New York, baby!” BSM: Who was the most memorable person you’ve worked with in the studio? Rockwilder: “Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis hands down. It was incredible and a different breed on another level.” BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration? Rockwilder: “Quincy Jones!” BSM: Has the game changed for Producers in today’s market? Can you explain? Rockwilder: “Streaming has definitely changed the game, but for producers like myself, Just Blaze, Scott Scorch, Kanye West, etc... have hit records that are timeless that will stand the test of time. I feel grateful that I have made records and a legacy that will take care of my kids.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? Rockwilder: “Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire,Teddy Riley, Curtis Mayfield, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Erick Sermon, The Beatminerz and Pete Rock.” BSM: Do you feel Boom Bap/real Hiphop has a place in the market today?
BSM: Are you an active DJ?
Rockwilder: “It has never left! There is definitely a core audience for it. Vinyl is still strong and going to the next level, but radio will have you thinking that Boom Bap is dead, but it’s far from dead!”
Rockwilder: “Yes! I’m actually on the
BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“..A LOT OF YOUTH, A LOT OF VIBE. THE KIDS HAVE A NEW THING GOING ON AND I THINK ITS COOL. THEY’VE EVOLVED THE ARTFORM AND THE BUSINESS HAS ALSO EVOLVED IN TO MANY BIGGER DEALS. THE PERIOD OF 1988 THROUGH 2000 WAS LIKE THE MOTOWN ERA OF HIP-HOP FOR PRODUCING CLASSIC AND TIMELESS MUSIC, HOWEVER, NOT THE GREATEST WHEN IT COMES TO BUSINESS.” Rockwilder: “Patròn heavy!!!!! (lol)”
would like to tell us about?
BSM: Do you think radio is still important in today’s market?
Rockwilder: “I don’t wanna jinx it.”
Rockwilder: “No! Who needs it with streaming and creating your own playlists.” BSM: Do you have any ventures outside of music that you would like to tell us about? Rockwilder: “RocBattle.com. RocBattle is a beat battling and beat licensing website that connects musicians and producers. You can buy and sell beats on Rocbattle.com.” BSM: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming producers? Rockwilder: “Know your business. Be a better observant of the market, stay focused and save your money!” BSM: Do you have any up-and-coming artists that you
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BSM: How was it working with Janet Jackson? What records did you work on? Rockwilder: “I did most of the ‘All For You’ album. Janet and I are great friends and we have a great vibe way past the business aspects. A lot of artists you think are “Hollywood” are really not!” BSM: Do you think mixtapes are good or bad for the market and the industry? Rockwilder:”Bad actually, because producers are putting together full albums and calling them mixtapes and not being paid for their production. Mixtapes are not shedding enough light on the producers. Today’s mixtapes are like full albums and EPs, but the producer doesn’t receive any publishing royalites.” ■
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews SHAMEL HUGHES GRAMMYÂŽ AWARD NOMINEE SOUND ENGINEER
hamel Hughes is a Recording Engineer, Educator and Entrepreneur from Brooklyn, New York. Shamel has worked with recording
artists such as Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys, Emeli Sande, H.E.R. and many more. He was the apprentice of Tommy Uzzo at Mirror Images Recorders in New York, NY and now mentor others in the arts. Being highly skilled in the recording arts and computer sciences has allow him to work with companies such as Monster Media and Audible Inc. He is also an educator in multimedia arts and has been an instructor at the Institute of Audio Research; the oldest audio school in the world for 8+ years. Other side projects include music production & media arts programs for organizations that support the arts and community development. Hughes is also a certified Avid Pro Tools Instructor, and being as such, curated an adult Music Production education program at PioneerWorks in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His philanthropy work continues throughout the community at Red Hook Initiative where he facilitates a music production & media arts program for middle school and high school students in the Red Hook community.
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BSM: Describe your very first “big break” into the music and entertainment industry and how that felt. SH: “My first break into the business was probably my first assistant engineering credit the first year working in the field. I was working with one of my colleagues at the time who was my mentor in the field. We were working on finalizing this one major record that was like the Latin version to ‘We Are The World’ by Micheal Jackson. This was the Latin version at the time and it was called ‘Nuestro Himno,’ a Spanish-language version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’It was first released as a single in May 2006 as a commentary on the immigration/border debate in the United States. Right after we mixed the record, I delivered the CD to the radio station and headed back to the studio. Within 10-15 minutes the song was played and that experience changed the way I saw the business.“ BSM: What is the greatest lesson you have learned so far working in the entertainment industry? SH: “I’ve learned what it takes to be a team player and what it takes to be a model student of the craft. I believe the greatest lesson I have learned was that there is always someone that is working to take your spot, and I wasn’t having that.” BSM: Under the tutelage of the legendary Tommy Uzzo, how does that experience translate in terms of you now being a mentor to others? SH: “Tommy Uzzo was different from many engineers that I have come across in the field. I learned a lot about the ‘traditional’ methods of the craft and the business practices of running a professional recording studio. I have taken those morals, values, and experiences to educate others who also pursue the craft.” BSM: Name your heroes and how they inspire you to be the best you can be. SH: “My mother is my hero. Despite what she may have felt personally about the music
industry, she wanted me to be the best at whatever I put my energy into. My mother just wanted me out of the neighborhood and do something better with my life. Coming from a place of hardship and being in a tough community to raise a family in, she always encouraged me to do something that I was passionate about. She purchased my DJ set when I was about 15 and it was my way out of that lifestyle; I never looked back.” BSM: What projects are you currently working on that you can share without letting the proverbial “cat out of the bag?” SH: “Several. I have three artists I’m managing Cash Trill, Nottie TG, & Bobby XL that will be performing in the marketplace by the time this is published. Just landed an imprint deal with BMG and releasing recording artist Lil Haiti and Justin Love who won a Grammy for writing ‘Focus’ with artist H.E.R.” BSM: What would you say is your most memorable moment working in the studio? SH: “Most would be my LaBelle session. I was with Sara, Nona, and Patti along with Lenny Kravitz and Ronny Drayton (R.I.P). It was all vibes, storytelling, and talent that I have never experienced before since. Just he energy in the room was so warm and loving that I felt at home with family. “ BSM: Out of all the people you’ve worked with, who left the greatest impression on you and why? SH: “Patti LaBelle, she is the best singer in the business. We recorded her and every take was flawless. When we thought we got the take, she scratched it to do it differently and I never experience a singer since who can flawlessly do perfect takes in different ways. Which makes me appreciate and identify what a modeled singer should be.” BSM: Since 2005, your beginnings, what are your greatest accomplishments and failures (if any)?
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“IT IS A DOUBLEEDGED SWORD. TECHNOLOGY ALWAYS HELPED THE CREATIVE PROCESS MOVING FORWARD IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. WITH ANYTHING, TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES HELPED WITH MAKING CREATING MUSIC MORE FEASIBLE, WORKFLOWS MORE EFFICIENT, AND EQUIPMENT MORE AFFORDABLE FOR INDIVIDUALS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.” SH: “I do not believe I failed in anything, I only grew into the music professional I am today. My greatest accomplishment is being recognized by the Recording Academy for being apart of the success of the Grammy-Award Winning Recording Artist H.E.R. for the Best Album of the Year during the 61st Grammy Awards.” BSM: In your opinion, how has technology helped or hindered the creative process in the studio? SH: “It is a double-edged sword. Technology always helped the creative process moving forward in the music industry. With anything, technology advances helped with making creating music more feasible, workflows more efficient, and equipment more affordable for individuals to participate in the music industry. It has hindered our ability to learn the theories, science, protocols, and the mechanical know-how behind the elements of creating music. Technology has made people “dumb-down” their growth for knowledge and sped up the expectation without understanding the core values of their craft.” BSM: Tell us about your Music Production education program PioneerWorks, your ongoing work with the Red
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Hook Initiative and the Hughes Media Group. SH: ”I have been an Audio Technology and Avid Pro Tools Instructor at the Institute of Audio Research in New York City for 10 years. I took my love and passion to educate others. I was referred by Swizz Beats to work with Brooklyn artists/sculpture Dustin Yellin at Pioneer Works to implement a music education component for their non-profit organization. During the time, we realized Red Hook projects were just one block over and learned there was a nonprofit that supported the youth from ages 10-18 in the community. My company pitches the idea to bring music production to the Red Hook Initiative organization and for 3 years Hughes Media Group facilitated the program teaching the community the different elements of audio production with a variety of content created by our community youth.” BSM: What is your “go-to mantra” when things get tough, hard or overwhelming? SH: “When things get hard or overwhelming I always go back to basics and remind myself why I am who I am today. I ask to be here in this position and to be great at anything you have to accept what it takes to be that. Either buckle up for the ride or get
out and quitting is never an option. BSM: When you are not working, what activities do you enjoy and look forward to? SH: “I really enjoy time with my daughter, family, and friends. I enjoy being outdoors doing things like camping, fishing, and experience what the world has to offer us. Soon as I’m done with the hustle and demand of the industry, I love to escape and enjoy the freedom to have fun.” BSM: In your opinion, who’s the G.O.A.T. musician and why? SH: “James Brown! He was the hardest working man in show business. I like to term the phrase that “I’m the hardest working man in show business since James Brown died”. BSM: What album do you continually play, how often, and does it make you feel like the first time you listened to it?” SH: “JAY-Z ‘Reasonable Doubt.’ Every time I hear it, it brings me back to where I started finding my identity in the streets and who I wanted to become. It makes me feel the hardships I fought my way out of and the gratitude of my success as I strived toward my passion.” BSM: What are your favorite studio foods and beverages? SH: “COFFEE!!!! And more coffee!! I like lost of healthy snacks and foods because we spend days on end in the same location that sometimes you can get out of shape real fast in a short amount of time.” BSM: How did it feel working on the H.E.R. project? SH: “I really didn’t feel any way about it. At this point, I have
worked with so many artists that I was just grateful and excited to be working with a young artist who actually fit the mold of what I was brought up working with. It was refreshing working with steady musicians, producers, and songwriters. Every song and every session was a blessing to be pushing my talents to its full potential.” BSM: What was the first concert you attended? SH: “When I think about it, I never attended a concert. I’m protective of my hearing so I guess that subconsciously keeps me away from attending. However, I have been to a bunch of show or performance and if I ever was at a concert, I was part of the backstage scene.” BSM: How does it feel to win a Grammy? SH: “It feels great being recognize by your colleagues and industry professionals. It felt very rewarding after sacrificing and giving up so much to the passion of the craft that it was actually recognized. Very satisfying.” BSM: What sports are you into and what teams do you follow? SH: “NYG baby!!! New York Giants all day. I love my New York teams, even the Knickerbockers.” BSM: If you were not working in the music industry, what profession do you think you would be in? SH: “Honestly, I would be pushing my company in the field of creative content and marketing. Working with entrepreneurs like CEO Shon Murdock from SMG /The Brand Collaborative , on various branding and marketing solutions for companies. Being inspired by business-minds like Shon and working with teams of individuals he mentored to be.” ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE GRAMMY GODS the interviews
MULTI-GRAMMY® AWARD NOMINEE PRODUCER
ravis Cherry is a multiple Grammynominated American music producer, musician and songwriter. He has worked with artists such as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Keith Sweat, Jennifer Lopez, and J. Holiday. His contributions can be heard on the Goldselling album “Back of My Lac” by J. Holiday and on Jennifer Lopez’s 2007 album “Brave.” He also appeared on Episode 3 of the first season of BET’s TV show Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. Travis also gives his time mentoring youth working with Twin Sports TV and their Stop The Bullying Campaign. A highlight of the interview is when Travis starts discussing a project with J. Holiday, hint, hint, sounds like quite the party! Travis also gives us his opinions on the consequences of “bad production” techniques, Beatmakers versus Producers, and the importance of corporate sponsorships, product endorsements and business relationships in today’s music industry.
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BSM: How was it working on the Jennifer Lopez project? And what actually did you do? TC: “It was an amazing opportunity. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I chopped the sample and made the sequence that is the basis of the song. Adam from The Platinum Brothers played the bass line, and Mike did the drums, along with bringing in a live drummer to do drum fills. But all the sample chops and stabs were me.” BSM: Do you think radio is still important in today’s market? TC: “Not as much. People are discovering music in many more places, and they aren’t limited to the old guard stopping them from being heard.”
because he took a chance on my sound and we had a top 20 r and b record on the radio, and Demetria McKinney “Officially Yours” because it was my first full project that I was EP and Producer on. It was the best experience seeing how people responded and learning how to work with a label on all aspects of a project.” BSM: How important are great relationships in navigating the industry today? TC: “Super important. You gotta network and shake hands to get in certain doors, also having great relationships with artists gets you more placements.” BSM: What would be your dream musical collaboration?
BSM: Do you plan on starting your own label some day?
TC: “Who wouldn’t want to work with the B one time?”
TC: “I’ve been more of a production house the entire time. The Purple Room has been the brand that we have built around the studio. I think it will expand because of the artists we are working with.”
BSM: What’s your favorite piece of gear or software while in the studio banging out hits?
BSM: Any entrepreneurial endeavors outside of music and entertainment that you would like to tell us about? TC: “Mostly giving my time to Twin Sports TV and their Stop The Bullying campaign. I love going to schools and influencing young minds.” BSM: Can bad production kill a great song? Can you explain? TC: “Most definitely. Ive seen songs that were overproduced and lacking feeling many times. Thankfully I got some great advice from No ID early on, and he stopped me from trying to use so many sounds in my beats. It really opened the door for me.” BSM: What would you say was your most successful project/work to date? TC: “I would say a combination between Raheem Devaughn ‘Love Sex Passion’ album,
TC: “I can’t live without MAschine, and KONTAKT. I create a lot of sound kits in KONTAKT and I’m getting ready to upload some.” BSM: Are sponsorships, brand partnerships and product endorsements important to an artist in the music business today? TC: “I’d say it helps with PR. Anything that can make you seem larger than life helps get attention, but I don’t think people buy into it and your music at the same time. Now people care about hype and social media presence.” BSM: What’s more important to an artist social media following or great music? TC: “Probably social media...unless you are a real performer. If you are able to rock stages, then that music better be tight. If you are a fly by night social media rapper, then having great content keeps them looking your away. There’s a lot of ‘stars’ with one great song.
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
“IT WAS LIKE A 12 MONTH PARTY! WE HAD A CRAZY TIME RECORDING AND DRINKING AND WE NEVER FELT LIKE WE WERE MAKING AN ALBUM. PLUS WE WERE WORKING ON K. MICHELLE AT THE TIME, SO SHE WAS AROUND AND SHE MADE IT FUN TOO. I PRODUCED ‘COME HERE’ AND ALSO ‘WHEN YOU GET HOME.’ I ALSO CO PRODUCED THE REMIX TO ‘BED’ WITH TRINA AND JA RULE.”
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BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up?
producer? Can you explain?
TC: “Teddy Riley, Babyface, a lot of the older producers (Isaac Hayes, TSOP) basically anyone who was in my mom’s vinyl collection.”
TC: “HUGE DIFFERENCE! Beatmakers can sit home and make 200 beats day. A great producer spends their time from start to finish crafting a project and developing great talent. Really pushing the artist to be great.”
BSM: How was it working on the J. Holiday project? And what did you do exactly? TC: “It was like a 12 month party! We had a crazy time recording and drinking and we never felt like we were making an album. Plus we were working on K. Michelle at the time, so she was around and she made it fun too. I produced ‘Come Here’ and also ‘When You Get Home.’ I also co produced the remix to ‘BED’ with Trina and Ja Rule.” BSM: Celebrating your next Grammy nomination what are we drinking Bacardi Grey Goose or Patròn? TC: “Jack Daniels neat with no ice!” BSM: What do you think about artist using auto-tune ? TC: “It was cool until it became a crutch for laziness and no talent. I like how some artists use it as instrument, hate how singers use it with no style.” BSM: Is there a difference between a beat maker and a
BSM: Any advice for up-and-coming producers? TC: “Craft your sound. Don’t be in a rush to make it. It’s a career.” BSM: Do you have any up-and-coming artist that you would like to tell us about? TC: “Right now, NIya Rasberry (@niyarasberry) and Lyr-x. (@ thisislyrx)” BSM: Do you think the traditional R&B sound will ever make a comeback? TC: “To quote Case...It didn’t go anywhere, It’s just harder to find now. Just like Love.” BSM: How important are a good set of headphones while in the studio or during production? TC: “Super important. I love my Avantones.” ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
ON e h t N E W T O B E AT S E L E C T O R M A G A Z I N E
RISE 120 B E A T S E L E C T O R M A G A Z I N E
ON THE RISE is a new column featuring short interviews sharing the journeys of some of the hottest new beatmakers, producers, mixers, engineers and executives working today. Premiering in this Special Edition, the Q&A sessions will enlighten readers and make the case why these talented individuals are ON THE RISE! »DURDY BEATS//BEATMAKER »KEYWAY//BEATMAKER »TOMMY VAMOZ//BEATMAKER »MIXEDBY MIKE//SOUND ENGINEER »TERRELL SASS//GRAMMY WINNING PRODUCER »TEAM NOVA//PRODUCER
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
ON THE RISE// DURDY BEATS//BEATMAKER BSM: What cities and studios do you work out of mostly? DURDY BEATS: “I usually work from my home studio in Augusta, GA. or X-Ro Studio in Trenton, S.C.” BSM: What is your most successful work up-to-date? DURDY BEATS: “Kap G ‘Mexico Momma Came From’” https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=GVu-HthszwE BSM: What is your favorite piece of gear or software in the lab for banging out hits? DURDY BEATS: “MPC Live / FL Studio / Logic Pro / Drum Lords.” BSM: Any new projects you would like to tell us about? DURDY BEATS: “‘King Wallace’ https://www.datpiff. com/mixtapes-detail-2015. php?id=946944 ‘Durdy Hussle’ https://www. datpiff.com/mixtapesdetail-2015.php?id=937344 These are 2 Remix projects that I produced and made beats for. They feature familiar lyrics from legends The Notorious B.I.G. and Nipsey Hussle, over beats I made.” BSM:.Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn? DURDY BEATS: “Whats Hannin! Whats Up! Got PATRON in my cup!! Lol.” BSM: Who were your
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musical influences growing up? DURDY BEATS: “The Jackson 5, Jay Z, Kanye West, 112, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Teddy Riley, Dr. Dre, there are so many!” BSM: What are your social media handles where can we find your Beats? DURDY BEATS: https:// soundcloud.com/ kingdurdy85 http://www.datpiff.com/ profile/85durdy https://www.instagram.com/ kingdurdy85/ BSM: Do you think the fashion industry and the sneaker culture is influenced by the music industry? Can you explain? DURDY BEATS: “Absolutely! Artists are walking billboards, especially in the social media age! Hip-hop is the architect of ‘cool’ and ‘being cool’ and all of that goes hand-in-hand with fashion and sneakers.” BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration? DURDY BEATS: “Fela Kuti, James Brown, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.” BSM: How important are a good pair of headphones when reviewing new music? DURDY BEATS: “Great headphones enhance the intended feel of the music that the producers and artists wanted to communicate!” ■
ON THE RISE// KEYWAY//BEATMAKER BSM: What cities and studios do you work out of mostly? KEYWAY: “Greenlight and Pulse recording studios in Augusta, Georgia and I also work out of my home.” BSM: Are you working on anything you would like to tell us about? KEYWAY: “I’m currently working on my Hip-hop Gospel album and also recording a track with Shon Murdock for Grammywinning producer 88-Keyz.” BSM:.What is your favorite piece of gear or software in the lab for banging out hits? KEYWAY: “Protools Protools and Protools!!! Its a must for me I can’t live without it ... I use a lot of other software to make beats like FL Studio and Drum Lords but Pro Tools is my favorite all time studio software for recording and mixing.” BSM: Grey Goose, Bacardi or Patròn? KEYWAY: “If Bacardi is at the party, I’m there lol.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? KEYWAY: “Tupac, Lauryn Hill, Dr Dre, TLC, Kenny G., Boosie, Weebie , Lil Wayne , T.I. and Bone Thugz-N-Harmony.”
BSM: How important are a good pair of headphones when reviewing new music? KEYWAY: “Incredibly important they tell the truth about your mix I used a pair of AIAIAI last week and they were fantastic!” BSM: What do you think about todays video games featuring original tracks from from beatmakers? KEYWAY: “I think it’s incredible it gives producers and beat makers like myself another income stream and a lane to further our careers.” BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration? KEYWAY: “Wow! There are so many greats who are still with us that I would be honored to work with. I’d love to produce for Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill. As an artist, I’d love a collaboration with T.I. and J. Cole. As for the gospel in me, I’d love to do an album with Kirk Franklin and Tasha Cobbs!” BSM: What are your social media handles where can we find your beats? KEYWAY: “You can find my beats online by searching for ‘Beats by Keyway.” They are also on all digital outlets under my artist name, Keyway.”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
ON THE RISE// TOMMY VAMOZ//BEATMAKER BSM: What cities and studios do you work out of mostly? TV: “I work the most in my own studio in Alphen aan den Rijn (the Netherlands).” BSM: Are you working on anything you would like to tell us about? TV: “Oh yes! I work on an album called ‘The Fix’ by Sixman. He is a talented rapper from Detroit, Michigain. There are going to be big names on it, a real piece of art!” BSM: What is your favorite piece of gear or software in the lab for banging out hits? TV: “To be honest, I can’t choose one. It is a combination of tools for me. I start with the Akai mpc 2000 for the 16bit drum punch to add later on some eq from a Teac M15 console and route that to a dynamite compressor to make it bang.” BSM: Grey Goose, Bacardi, D’usse or Patron? Let’s say you had to pick one. TV: “Patron.”
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BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? TV: “Dj Premier, J. Dilla, Pete Rock, RZA, Dj Honda, EA-Ski.” BSM: How important are a good pair of headphones when making new music? TV: “Very important! It isolates you from the world to keep you in the vibe and don’t get distracted.” BSM: What do you think about todays video games featuring original tracks from from beatmakers? TV: “I think that is a great combo!” BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration? TV: “Good one! I think a collaboration with Jorja Smith, D’Angelo and Blackthought from The Roots on one beat.” BSM: What are your social media handles where can we find your Beats? TV: “Instagram @ tommyvamoz, Facebook @ tommyvamoz.”
ON THE RISE// MIXEDBY MIKE//SOUND ENGINEER design sound in endless creative ways that I really enjoy.” BSM: How important are a good pair of headphones when mixing a track? MBM: “A lot of times headphones can be hard to mix out of because they don’t really show you a real room response. I like to mix on monitors at a low level. I would say checking my mix in mono on my small mix cube is more important in my work flow then my headphones.” BSM: Is mastering still an important process? MBM: “Mastering is definitely important especially with the fact that streaming platforms will hit you with a loudness penalty if your mix is too loud. The thing is a lot of aspiring artist do not understand the mastering process and since they are independent they expect the mixing engineer to provide a mastered sounding (Loud) record. For an A-list artist mastering is relevant. For the independent artist they don’t really have the budgets a lot of times. I know mastering engineers probably cringe when they see a mixing engineer offer mastering. The industry has different levels. Technology and the internet has evolved the game and we all have to adapt to survive to be relevant and stay in business.” BSM: What cities and studios do you work out of mostly? MBM: “I go wherever the money takes me. Mainly working from home in a 1 room set up in a small modular office I threw together. I like to mix hybrid so I like to be at my own desk. I like being in a consistent room even if it isn’t the best acoustically. If I know the room and how it translates I’ll get work done faster.” BSM:How long have you been mixing and how did you learn your craft?
BSM: How long does it take you to mix a track? MBM: “It could take me 2-6 hours depending on the session. Different sessions present different challenges. When you do a lot of freelance work you can have some sessions arrive in pretty bad shape. If I tracked the session myself I will get done quicker because I will have quality control on the vocals.” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up?
MBM: “I started recording at the age of 14 with a $20 mic and a program called mixcraft. I never stopped from there. I would say I have been tracking and mixing for 15 years. I was fascinated with recording voices and obsessed with obtaining better sounding audio. Growing up in a small rural town there was no studios. I had to teach myself. I learned through YouTube and GearSlutz forum. Researching and watching tutorials till my eyes bled. Watching interviews of Grammy engineers on pensados place just to hear philosophy or a little gem of info that might help me understand mixing better. I think in experience is the best teacher. When you process and track audio 8-10 hours a day for years and apply the fundamentals your going to get better. I’m still learning everyday.”
MBM: “Tupac, Biggie, Weezy, 50, Drake, T.I., Young Jeezy, Gucci, Plies, Boosie, Webbie, R kelly, T-Pain, Rich Homie Quan, Future, Wiz Khalifa, Young Thug. I guess I’m still influenced ‘til this day, so I could name 100 artist. I like everything that has came out of Atlanta for the past decade. I love the partynextdoor and The Weeknd and all of OVOs sound.”
BSM: What is your favorite piece of gear or software in the lab for banging out hits?
MBM: “I’m really touching as many projects as I can. I don’t have anything I can brag about. I have a lot of work to do. I’m hoping the hard work I put out into the universe comes back and blesses me.”
MBM: “If I had to pick a piece of gear I track a lot of vocals and I really love my Tubetech CL1B. I think it’s the best tracking compressor hands down. For software I would say the FabFilter Saturn. It allows you to
BSM: What are your social media handles?
8. Grey Goose ,Bacardi, D’usse or Patròn? MBM: “Grey Goose.” BSM: Do you have any new projects that you would like to tell us about?
MBM: “IG @Mixxedbymike.” SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
ON THE RISE// TERRELL SASS//GRAMMY AWARD WINNING PRODUCER BSM: What cities and studios do you work out of mostly? TS: “In Atlanta, the studios I work out of are Dogwood Recording, Astro, Patchwerk, Treesound and EOA Digital!” BSM: What is your most successful work up-to-date? TS: “I would say my work in Mya’s ‘Smoove Jones’ album especially since that album was nominated for R&B Album of the Year! BSM: What is your favorite piece of gear or software in the lab when banging out hits? TS: “My AKAI MPC X !!!!!!!! The work flow is amazing and the integration to the software works that Akai made with this machine is seemless! Especially when I’m using samples packs like Drum Lords which is my favorite. BSM: Any new projects you would like to tell me about? TS: “Working on a few things in the movie world that I’m excited about with a new artist named AKAZI.. she is a MONSTER, a fine artist that has deals on the table, and also a VERY “license friendly” project with my guy Shon Murdock!” BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? TS: “WOW!.. Jam & Lewis, Babyface & LA Reid, Teddy Riley, Veronica Sutherland, Darren Johnson and too many other ■ people to name!”
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ON THE RISE// TEAM NOVA//PRODUCER BSM; What cities and studios do you work out of mostly? TEAM NOVA: “We work out of Team Nova Boyz Studio in Queens, New York.” BSM: What is your most successful work up-to-date? TEAM NOVA: Our RIAA Gold Plaque for Troy Ave’s single “She Belongs To the Game we coproduced on that record. We have also worked with 50 Cent, Jim Jones, Maino, and we’ve produced a song called “Make It Official” for DJ Drewski which aired on VH1show Love & Hip Hop NY. We currently have an intro playing on New York’s Hot 97 Ebro In The Morning Show for Laura Stylez Flashing Lights Report. BSM: What is your favorite piece of gear or software in the lab for banging out hits? TEAM NOVA: We love to use Drum Lords, Logic FL Studio and Krog Kronos 2, MPC 5000 and MPC Studio BSM: Any new projects you would like to tell us about? TEAM NOVA: “Yes, Robbie Nova’s album which is out now called ‘Knew I Was A Star’ which we produced from front to back. We also just produced Troy Ave’s new single ‘She Belongs To The Game 2’ which is a follow up to Part 1. With the success of the first one we are back at it with Part 2”. BSM: Grey Goose ,Bacardi or Patròn? TEAM NOVA: Bacardi. BSM: Who were your musical influences growing up? TEAM NOVA: [Robbie Nova]: “R. Kelly because he is a songwriter, producer and singer. Also
Babyface, Prince and Sam Cooke. But music as a whole has been a major influence for me. [Daval]: “My influences growing up in Queens NY are NAS, Run DMC, LL Cool J. I was also influenced by Dr. Dre, Marley Marl, Pete Rock and Teddy Riley.” BSM: What are your social media handles where can we find your Beats? TEAM NOVA: @Daval_Muzik, @Itsthatrobbienova and @TeamNovaBoyz. BSM: Do you think the fashion industry and the sneaker culture is influenced by the music industry? Can you explain? TEAM NOVA: Yes, for example Run DMC with Adidas and fat laces. LL Cool J with Kango hats. And FUBU played a major part with the broad colors and T-Shirts. Music sheds light on fashion and sneakers, music also helps to push both of them forward. BSM: Who would be your dream collaboration? TEAM NOVA: [Robbie Nova]: “For me, it would be Bruno Mars, Drake and possibly one day producing and writing a song for Rihanna.” [Daval]: “I would love to collaborate with Cardi B, Gucci Mane and Jay-Z.” BSM: How important are a good pair of headphones when reviewing new music? TEAM NOVA: “A good pair of headphones are important to use when mixing and mastering a recording. You always want to be able to hear vocals, panning and effects clearly. Your headphones should also translate well between studio monitors and speakers.” ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
SHAWN PREZ! THE COACH. THE MENTOR. THE GUY WHO MAKES IT HAPPEN.
hawn Prez went from an intern at Bad Boy Entertainment, where he quickly rose through the ranks, to Vice President of Marketing and Promotions. During his tenure he was Instrumental in breaking records and turning them into Gold and Platinum sales. Shawn is an entrepreneur at heart and is one who follows his heart and realizes his dreams. Leveraging his innate understanding of core marketing, brand fundamentals and creativity, Prez launched Power Moves Incorporated (PMI), a marketing and promotions company. PMI is known for innovative, authentic, high profile marketing programs and as such became the premiere agency to reach a multicultural audience. Sean Comb Enterprises secured PMI as the promotional arm for all marketing and advertising endeavors and corporate conglomerates such as Viacom, HBO, McDonalds, and EstĂŠe Lauder followed suit. PMI was also responsible for highly successful political marketing campaigns like Vote or Die that positioned the agency, particularly Shawn Prez, as a highly sought-after asset during election years. Prezâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s accomplishments have earned him a reputation as a marketing expert, often called upon by CNN, Fox News, Ad Week, Crain, amongst others, to render marketing analysis. His proudest moments are those that presented the opportunity to mentor employees and witness their growth. Inherently a motivator, Shawn Prez continues to pursue his passion to inspire. The Coach. The Mentor. The Guy Who Makes It Happen.
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BSM: What actually did you do at Bad Boy Records? SP: “I was Vice President and I handled promotions, as well as Puff’s road and booking manager.” BSM: What were the challenges working with Bad Boy in the early years?
" GIVING BACK IS MY CURRENT FOCUS, AS A SPEAKER PROVIDING EDUCATION ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BUSINESS SKILL. I ALSO HOST A WEEKLY WEB SERIES CALLED 'POWER MOVES WITH PREZ' THROUGH WHICH I INTERVIEW HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL EXECUTIVES WITH REALLY DEEP CONVERSATIONS ON WHAT IT TOOK TO REACH SUCCESS." —SHAWN PREZ
SP: “We had very small staffing. Everybody wore a lot of hats and worked 16 to 20 hours every single day.” BSM: What’s the biggest change in the industry now compared to then? SP: “How records are broke and how artists are discovered has really changed. Everything revolves around social media now.” BSM: Do you think product endorsement and sponsorship are important to today’s artists? SP: “It’s important, but not that important. You need hit records. If you can get a lot of endorsements and sponsorships, that’s like the cherry on the top, but don’t forget your day job. Music, an artist’s number one job, is to make hit records. That’s why I have loved Drake for 12 years. No matter how big he’s become, he never forgets to feed his fan base hit records.” BSM: Do you think the fashion industry is influenced by the music industry? Can you explain? SP: “In some way yes. I think the fashion industry is influenced by our culture . Fashion is a different beast, like when everybody switched to the slim fitted clothes, which came from the European culture .... So maybe in some cases, but overall, it’s inspired by our culture.” BSM: Can you explain your Ciroc partnership? Would you work with other brands? SP: “We were hired to do all the grassroots Ciroc promotions. I created the ‘Ciroc Boyz DJ’ campaign and hired the best DJs to promote Ciroc to their followers to make Ciroc hot in the streets. And yes, I will continue to work with other brands.” BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn? SP: “I’m not really a drinker, therefore I don’t prefer any of them.” BSM: What do you think about the Gaming industry featuring today’s top artists in video games? SP: “Both hands wash the other and then both hands wash the face LOL ..... It’s a billion dollar industry to tap into. It’s just smart business, It makes sense.” SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
BSM: Nike, Puma or Adidas?
BSM: Do you plan on starting a label one day?
BSM: What is the secret to longevity in the industry?
BSM: What is the most memorable/biggest project that you’ve worked on to date?
SP: “Stay relevant and up on the music and trends. I truly believe the secret to staying relevant is reinvention. You must to be able to change with the market and the times to survive.” BSM: Can you tell us about the Global Spin Awards? SP: “It continues to be the Grammys for the DJ community. It’s the highest honor a DJ can hope to obtain in the industry and I’m very proud of it.” BSM: Can you tell us about Power Moves Inc.? SP: “Power Moves is a grassroots alternative marketing agency. We specialize in non-traditional tatics. We master creating wordof-mouth buzz and have been going strong for 20 years.” BSM: How important is networking in maintaining good relationships in the industry? SP: “Networking! Networking! Networking! LOL. Your network will determine your net worth and the key to it all is maintaining good relationships.”
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SP: “I don’t know man. I’ve been blessed to work with Bad Boy in its prime, so I’ve worked with so many great people. I’ve also worked with a lot of big corporate brands like Colgate-Palmolive, BEATS, Ciroc, Black Lives Matter. The list goes on and on.” BSM: Any entrepreneurial accomplishments outside of the music Industry you would like to tell us about? SP: “Giving back is my current focus, as a speaker providing education on entrepreneurship and business skill. I also host a weekly web series called ‘Power Moves With Prez’ through which I interview highly successful executives with really deep conversations on what it took to reach success.” BSM: How important is the DJ in today’s market compared to the Golden Era of Hip-hop? SP: “Several months ago I would have given you a different answer, but especially during the lockdown, I’m reminded that the DJ is incredibly important. During quarantine, we are reminded on how important they are to the culture. It’s different
from listening to a playlist and then tuning to a live DJ D-Nice ... Lol ...it’s a BIG difference.” BSM: Any advice for any up-and-coming music executive hopefuls? SP: “Get in where you fit in. Too many think starting at the bottom is a weak thing. The goal is to get your foot in the door, no matter how you get in, and then you navigate your way to the top. Stop letting your ego get in the way of your success it’s okay to work for someone or work under someone. There’s no fast track to success in this business.” BSM: What’s more important to making it in the music/ entertainment industry today, instincts or education? Can you explain? SP: “Well, actually education and instincts mixed together is a recipe for success. Learning from and studying people is also a great way to obtain education from Professionals in the industry.” BSM: Any new projects you would like to tell us about? SP: “Power Moves Prez @PowermovesPrez and watch “PowerMovesPrez” on YouTube” https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UCdCnpypSDN6RiVglRSe5Vqw ■
SHAWN PREZ & SEAN ‘DIDDY’COMBS SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
TIGHT, COOL &HIP!!!
BARRY DAFFURN CINQ MUSIC GROUPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S
inq Music Group is a technology driven, music distribution, record label and rights management company that has earned dozens of RIAA Gold and Platinum certifications and received a nomination as Billboard’s Latin Urban Label of the Year. Cinq Music Group was started as a digital music distribution company in 2012 by Barry Daffurn providing rights management, content creation and label services for recording artists. Janet Jackson released her “Made For Now” music video in collaboration with Cinq in August 2018, the collaboration with Daddy Yankee, returned Jackson to the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time since 2015 and marks her 20th number one on the Dance Club Songs chart. In this interview, Barry shares his entrance in the music business and and the goings on at Cinq Music Group, his Janet Jackson story, working with Master P, and the importance of artist development.
BSM: How important is sponsorship and product endorsement to new artist in todays market? BD: “Fortunately, sponsorships are no longer thought of as “selling out” for an artist, and there are many more creative ways to endorse something without being overt about it. That said, it can be a great avenue for making money, and for exposure. I would say it’s definitely something that each artist should put high on their priority list.” BSM: Can you explain your partnership with Master P? BD: “Well, Master P actually gave us our first records to distribute as he was one of the first independent artists to really see the value of going to digital. So we have worked together for a really long time, and we have continued to work together on various projects ever since.” BSM: Any new projects you would like to tell us about?
In reality, that will always be a niche market. Consuming music in physical format will never be mainstream again, but in a time where everything is moving to digital, consumers still crave a real product, and experience. I would instead look towards merchandise, and doing unique things in the physical world.” BSM: How was it partnering with Janet Jackson on her indie release? Can you explain the partnership? BD: “Working with Janet has been a dream come true. That’s one of those milestone moments when you know you’re at least doing something right. In simple terms, she has her own label, Rhythm Nation, and she has chosen us to be her partner on releasing her music through us. We all work very closely together like one big team. New music is coming, but TBD on timing.” BSM: What were your biggest challenges starting Cinq Music Group?
BD: “It’s always hard to pick just one, but I would say Natanael Cano is doing something really interesting right now, and he is someone that everyone should look into.”
BD: “The biggest challenge is always time, it’s one thing you can’t get more of. How to prioritize your time, be productive with your time, and maintain your focus on the goals. Bring busy is not being productive. The rest is just hard work and luck.”
BSM: What Grammy award winning projects were you a part of?
BSM: Do you think instinct or education is more important to being an successful executive in the music industry?
BD: “There have been a lot now, fortunately. But the first one I would say is most significant, kind of like that first dollar that business owners frame on their wall. That was a rock band called Diamante Electrico, they won Rock Album of the Year in 2016.”
BD: “To be successful you absolutely need good instincts. The problem with that is, people with bad instincts never know they are the one with bad instincts. You only figure that out once you fail. In that case, school is your insurance policy. So there’s no correct answer there, only food for thought.”
BSM: Billboard’s Latin Urban Label of the Year … How does it feel? BD: “We were nominated, and lost to Sony, I believe, haha. But hey, I’ll take a nomination, too.” BSM: Bacardi,Grey Goose or Patròn? BD: “None of the above. I’m a Coors Light guy, seriously, ask anyone who knows me. I like cheap beers.” BSM: How is the Latin music market different compared to others ... if at all? BD: “One of the biggest differentiators of Latin music is how much it tends to over index on YouTube. Some of our artists see upwards of 70% of their income from YouTube.” BSM: Do you think physical records sales will make a comeback or is steaming king? BD: “There is always the talk of vinyl sales making a come-back.
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BSM: How important is it for you to invest in artist development? BD: “It’s no secret that there is a lot less of this in the business today, but there’s an obvious reason for that because there is data attached to every interaction now, and there are seemingly hundreds of artists breaking through each week. Why take unnecessary risk? No matter what phase of their career, though, creators need help with development. It’s extremely important for us the help our creators develop in whatever that means to them, although it might not always be in the traditional sense of what people think of the word.” BSM: How is it working with the Latin Mega star Pitbull? BD: “It’s always a dream come true working with legends.” BSM: Who are the top producers in the Latin music urban genre in your opinion? BD: “I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with most of them, so I don’t want to play favorites here, but if you had to look at who’s the most successful by the numbers, I’d say Tainy, Sky, Haze, and then of course there is the iconic duo Luny Tunes.” BSM: How did you get your start in the music industry? BD: “I started out as a DJ and producer around age 14, and then in college I DJ’d parties to make money. Starting out as a DJ was extremely helpful because you learn what records people like, and why, and how they react to certain songs at certain times. You know pretty quickly if you play a shit record.” BSM: How important is networking and maintaining good relationships in the music industry? BD: “It’s everything. Always remember that it takes a really long time to build relationships, a reputation, and a career - but you can lose it overnight.” BSM: What do you look for when signing a new artist/ project? BD: “Music, vision, and team. Always want to make sure you love the music. We have turned down plenty of projects with great numbers because we just didn’t get it. We’ve also signed acts with no streams at all just based on the music. Next, it’s vision, because the artist needs to know what their goals are and why they are doing it. Then it’s the team. If the manager is lazy, an asshole, and less organized than the artist, then it’s going to be really hard to break that project.” BSM: In your opinion who are the top Latin music icons of all time?
BD: “I don’t have a Latin background, so I’ll just tell you some of my favorites. Daddy Yankee, Hector Lavoe, Joe Arroyo.” BSM: Do you think the Super Bowl performance with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira was big for the Latin genre? Can you Explain? BD: “Yeah, it really signifies that Latin music is now part of the mainstream in the U.S, and the world. As opposed to a Spanish language song breaking through every so often on in the past, you now have tons of collaborations, charting songs, and awards going to Latin music across the board.” BSM: Where are your offices currently based out of? BD: “Our hubs are in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Colombia, and South Korea, but we have employees in over 16 countries around the world in co-working spaces or working remotely.” SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
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BSM: Starting out as an intern at Def Jam Recordings, you worked on projects with Redman and ONYX and then moved on to working with Teddy Riley in a Marketing and Promotions role. Obviously marketing and promotion has evolved into an entirely different model. Do any of the practices of yester-year apply in today’s environment? DM: “In the early days, working with artists and groups like Blackstreet, The Neptune’s, among many others, provided many learning experiences and business practices in the music industry. Experiences which eventually led me to launching my own music company, Hung Lo Productions, while I was a student at Hampton University. It was very successful and afforded me the financial means to build my own studio and office to develop talent. In today’s music business environment, practices are certainly different from 20 years ago. Social media is now the primary marketing and promotion vehicle. However, some practices from the the old days, like support from radio, press, and even ‘pay for play’ for instance, are still important and active in our daily work life. So I’d say, over all, the music business has certainly evolved. with an emphasis on Technology leading the way, playing a major in the music and entertainment industries.” BSM: How do you discover new talent and what do you look for when deciding to offer a signing to a new artist?
is an Empire Distribution A&R executive who enjoys Yoga, fine cigars, Grey Goose Vodka and
DM: “There are so many different ways we discover new talent: Of course the streaming platforms and hanging out in the clubs.” BSM: Which artist signing are you most proud of?
red meat! Of course there is a lot more to this man
DM: “Too many to mention. I’m proud of them all.”
than that. Originally from the Washington, D.C.
BSM: What was your role of the rise of Trey Songz?
suburb of Oxen Hill, Maryland, the Atlanta based music executive has quite the storied CV. Early days working at Def Jam Recordings on projects with Redman, Method Man and ONYX to being instrumental in the global rise of Trey Songz are just a couple of major accomplishments spanning more than two decades working in the music industry. Over the course of an hour and half with Delante, our conversation went in many different directions including business practices of yesteryear versus today, discovering talent, GoGo records, books and Sweeny Todd.
DM: “After graduating from Hampton University, I started managing Trey Songz, as well as Troy Taylor. I was started with Trey’s (Songz’) second album, ‘Trey Day’ and I was one of the Executive Producers for his breakout follow-up album, ‘Ready.’” BSM: Growing up in the Washington DC area, do you remember the Record Retail Chain, Kemp Mill Music with their slogan “Its Amazing, It’s Incredible” Do you miss the days of the record store era? DM: “Oh yeah, I remember Kemp Mill Records in Washington, D.C. and as a kid I used to shop in those stores picking up ‘Go-Go’ records by Chuck Brown and Trouble-funk. Good times.” BSM: What was the first concert you experienced? SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
DM: “It was the Salt N Pepa tour. Public Enemy, Kid N Play, Kwame’ and Keith Sweat.”
DM: “Perseverance, taking risks, follow your dreams and believing in yourself!”
BSM: Here’s one a bit off-queue. Growing up, what was your favorite TV show?
BSM: How did Empire convince you to join their team?
DM: “Disney Channel’s Kid’s Incorporated.” BSM: “If you were to put together a “Super Group” who would be in it?” DM: “Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, James Brown and Maurice White.” BSM: What do you for leisure and relaxation? DM: “I do yoga and work out.” BSM: What is your favorite meal? DM: “A great steak & lobster.” BSM: “Name a recent book that you have read.” DM: “Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ is a must read!” BSM: We understand that you are a cigar connoisseur. What is your favorite smoke? DM: “Yeah, I’m having a smoke right now! Favorite smoke, Dirty Rat Liga Privada.” BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn? DM: “Grey Goose!” BSM: During your formative years at Suitland High School for the Performing Arts, your concentration of study was Voice, studying everything from R&B to Opera. Did you think about performance? DM: “For sure I thought about becoming a performer. The experiences and extensive curriculum at Suitland H.S. focused on all kinds of music learning and concentration. My favorite opera…definitely ‘Sweeney Todd.’” BSM: With your love music, have you seen the Netflix documentary “Miles Davis: The Birth of The Cool?” DM: “No, not yet. Lots of friends have been recommending it though. I’m going to check it out.” BSM: What are the keys to success based on your experience, in life as well as professionally?
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DM: “I met Ghazi while working in the A&R department at Atlantic Records. We became friends and I really liked what he stood for when it came to artist ownership. So when my contract was up he asked me to join his company.” BSM: Empire was way ahead of the curve with audio streaming in its infancy. Has the shift in music consumption reached the plateau that you and the Empire team envisioned? DM: “That’s a good question. What I will say is that the playing field in streaming landed on a even playing field, but as of late, the major labels and distributors have been monopolizing the playlisting.” BSM: How important are brand partnerships and sponsorships for artists in the business today? DM: “I think it’s very important. The right brand partnership can accelerate the success of an artist.” ■
For sure I thought about becoming a performer. The experiences and extensive curriculum at Suitland H.S. focused on all kinds of music learning and concentration... My favorite opera, definitely ‘Sweeney Todd.’”
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
THE MAN WITH A
Atlantic Recor In 1994 Chris Jones officially started a career as an A&R rep at Warner Music Group/Atlantic Records. Now he occupies Atlantic’s VP of A&R title. However, his real start actually began a few years earlier. As a teenager, Jones had a keen eye and ear for identifying “potential” hit songwriters and producers and guided them as a young manager, even before fully understanding the business practices of the music industry. In the early 2000’s, Jones formed key relationships with people during the Atlanta, Georgia music boom which led to his first hit (Gold
rds‘ VP of A&R
Status) “RIAA Certified” hit. He credits that one accomplishment led him to working with industy leaders such as Jean Nelson (President of A&R at Hip Hop Since 1978 Management Group) whose client roster includes international superstars Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, T.I., among others. With his “in the trenches” form of education, gaining management skills from some of the biggest music titans/moguls, sees Jones today managing and breaking his own clients through his own publishing company, Prolific Vision, LLC.
BSM: Where are you originally from? CJ: “Thomson, Georgia.” BSM: What do you think about the Atlanta music scene? CJ: “The Atlanta music scene I consider the birth place for urban culture and influence. There’s not another city like Atlanta, when we are talking music. New artist, producers, songwriters, and executives are birthed like every other week it seems.” BSM: What has been the biggest change in the music industry if any? CJ: “Physical sales to streaming in my opinion.” BSM: Has the artist development process changed? CJ: “I don’t think it has changed that much besides nowadays you have to develop talent way faster than years ago. Develop as you put out amazing content these days. Let development and content work hand and hand in my opinion.” BSM: How did you become an A&R executive at Atlantic Records?
BSM: How important is sponsorship and product endorsements for todays artist?
CJ: “I was ushered into the Warner Music Group system as a “A&R Consultant” by Lanre Gaba in 2014 remotely creating records for the Atlantic Roster from Atlanta utilizing my key relationships with producers, writers, artist, and with my own creative team as well. 2015 Mike Caren “President of Warner Worldwide” at the time, invited me to come live and work in LA for a while taking on bigger key roles of A&R’ing for the Warner Worldwide A&R Team and films such as Fast and Furious 7. In the gaps of 2014 to 2016 I created a forceful in-house creative team that were delivering hits on a lot of artist around the industry and Upon coming back to Atlanta in 2016 Craig Kallman “CEO” of Atlantic offered me the Vice President Role while we were sitting in my office in Atlanta.”
CJ: “I think it’s very important when you are building a brand for the artist. Being endorsed brings more fans to the center focus of the artist “the music” it diversifies the artist faster in my opinion.”
BSM: Who have you signed/developed to date? And who are you currently working on? CJ: “I consider myself an “against the grain” type of executive. While most people signed rap, I went to sign R&B more heavily than rap. I’ve signed Ayanis, Raiche, Ajiona Alexis, all on the R&B side. I also signed Kevo Mune as a collaborative effort with my colleagues Sammye-Ruth Scott and Austin Rice. Kevo is a 19 year old soulful rapper from Memphis. I also signed Tyte, a very talented Florida based rapper. I’m currently A&R’ing Sebastian Mikael as well. He’s like the 2020 version of Maxwell meets D’Angelo . Outside of the acts I’ve signed , I stay working on creating records to help the entire roster. So you can consider me working on everything lol.”
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BSM: Bacardi, Grey Goose or Patròn? CJ: “Grey Goose if I’m just vibing and Patròn if it’s a real turn up.” BSM: What’s more important when it comes to signing an artist, their social media numbers or great music? CJ: “To me it’s great music. I really don’t chase hype with social media numbers. I have to feel the music, understand the vision of the artist and then deliver hits. Social media will follow the great music eventually.” BSM: How has streaming impacted the industry? CJ: “Streaming has impacted the industry in several ways. I think the coolest part about streaming is once you are signed up for a streaming service kids don’t have to worry their parents anymore about using a debit card to purchase a single or album. Also streaming has the revenue up surpassing any time in music which allows more quality investments in tech, staff, etc…” BSM: Who did you grow up listening to who were your music industry influences?
CJ: ”Jermaine Dupri, Puff, Baby and Slim, Master P, Murder Inc., Death Row, Ruff Ryders, etc… I was always fascinated by the master minds behind the brands and the artist. I listened to a wide variety of music from Michael Jackson, Pastor Troy, Da Brat, Biggie, Pac, Ja Rule, Kilo Ali, DJ Taz, Miracle, Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye, etc… BSM: How important is good management to a new artist? CJ: “Good management is the most important thing these days. Most great managers are able to create opportunities to propel the artist forward without relying 100% on a label which is key. If your manager has great relationships and able to make things happen artist tend to take off faster.” BSM: How can bad management hurt a new artist? CJ: “Bad management can make a great artist stagnant. Bad management usually means no key relationships, not knowledgable about how to move or execute and normally relying on the label 100% to create the magic.” BSM: Is being an A&R a competitive position? CJ: “Very competitive.” BSM: Is being VP of A&R of Atlantic Records your first position in the music industry? Did you work for any other companies? CJ: “Prior to working for Atlantic , I reported to Jean Nelson at Hip Hop Since 1978 management firm as a A&R. Their management roster at the time was Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Drake,
Just Blaze, Jeezy, etc… Also A&R’d Roscoe Dash’s debut EP “Juice” off of Interscope / Geffen.” BSM: Do you have any advice for new artist? CJ: “My advice is to get a team of creative people around that believe in the vision and just work hard and put out great content. Do not expect any handouts in this business. 98% of the people in this business are for SELF… So work hard to create a demand for your product and make people like myself come find you.” BSM: Do you think traditional R&B will make a comeback? CJ: “Yes! Stay tuned! I’ll be a helping part of bringing it back.” BSM: Do you think mixtapes help or hurt an artist? CJ: “Helps!” BSM: Are you involved in every step of producing an artist’s album? CJ: “Every aspect from legal to in the studio recording to mixing, mastering to working with marketing and sales and sometimes even taking them to promo. A&R Executives do way more than listen to music.” BSM: How important are great visuals in today’s market? CJ: “Very important. Amazing visuals will create ‘word of mouth’ marketing for you.” ■
SPECIAL EDITION: THE GRAMMY GODS
ON THE RISE: BEATMAKERS, PRODUCERS & ENGINEERS DURDY BEATS, KEYWAY, TOMMY VAMOZ, MIXEDBY MIKE, TERRELL SASS, TEAM NOVA
The Mentor. The Coach. The Guy Who Makes It Happen.
Tight, Cool & Hip!!!
❱DELANTE MURPHY Empire DIstribution’s King Maker.
GRAMMY WINNING PRODUCER/ENGINEER
The Man With a Prolific Vision.
❱THE MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT How to Create, Copyright and Monetize Your Music in the 21st Century.
THE GRAMMY GODS ®
GREGORY ‘88-KEYZ’ MANCE//AARON ‘FREEDOM’ LYLES//AYANNA DEPAS//SHAMANN ‘BEAT BILLIONAIRE’ COOKE//CHUCKEY CHARLES//CHRISTOPHER ‘DRUMMA BOY’ GHOLSON//JAMES AUWARTER// JEFF VILLANUEVA//KEITH ‘CLIZARK’ CLARK//KENNY ‘MUNEY’ WILSON//LESLIE BRATHWAITE//LUCA PRETOLESI//DANA ‘ROCKWILDER’ STINSON//SHAMEL HUGHES//TRAVIS CHERRY