If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will know that I had a sudden surge of social media activity this Saturday… suspicious (stretching the alliteration ;)! The deal was that I was asked by JazzFM91 to be a social media ambassador for their 2015 Music Business Seminar. During the day they brought in a number of industry professionals to offer their insights on the Music Business focussing on the perspective of the independent artist.
I wanted to share with you guys a few take-away points I got from the first guest speaker, Jeff Levenson.
I arrived quite early on the day off because, quite honestly, despite living in Toronto for 4 years now I still remain a transit newbie. However, being early gave me the opportunity to meet and help Mark Micklethwaite of JazzFM91 do some initial set up. This included meeting label executive Jeff Levenson and getting him his morning coffee. When I asked him if he would like a medium or large coffee, he looked at me and laughed, “Ilsa, Ilsa… a large please”. Lesson learned. New York folks take their coffees in large. 🙂
Jeff started his lecture by asking some questions to the audience about who they were (artists, producers, publicists) and what they like and who their influences were. The first question was easy — “Who are you?”. The majority were musicians and of them most were vocalists. The next, not quite as simple. Nobody could answer who their favourite singer or instrumentalist was. A lot of people may have been scared that their tastes would be judged by others, some may have just felt genuine confusion (as nowadays there is so much music out there), or a few may have never really thought about it before. Whatever the case, I believe Jeff brought it up because it is so important for musicians to know what they like and who they aspire to be musically.
Later on, someone in the audience asked Jeff what inspired him to dedicate his life to music. He paused, thought about it and then recalled a specific moment as a kid listening to a song on a beach in New York. He knew how old he was, the name of the song, the group, the name of the beach itself, and as he was speaking I felt the whole audience recalling their own memory of a moment when music impacted them. It made me think that innately people must know their influences and impactful musical experiences but that recognizing them can be an entirely different thing. One of the first pieces of advice Jeff gave the group was to “pay attention”. Again, sounds simple but I think observation is an increasingly rare skill. Now more than ever, this is what artists need to do in order learn to “fulfill the potential of the moment” (Another Jeff tidbit of wisdom).
Until next time,
“Music is not an album, the same way words are not a book. An album is an album.” — Jeff Levenson