Play MPE is once again pleased as punch and as ever to partner up with Christian Music Broadcasters for the always enlightening, engaging, and illuminating Momentum. We’re always so struck by the content of the panels in particular, so we’re thrilled to again be onsite recording them for your Play MPE account so that we might, well… spread the gospel. Fancy that!
If you are in attendance, however, make sure you say hi to the intrepid Laurie Gail. You’ll have the chance to compare notes on this year’s bevy of thoughtful speakers across all manner of industries, including photographer Jeremy Cowart. Huffington Post, Forbes, and Yahoo recently named Cowart the “Most Influential Photographer on the Internet.” The entrepreneurial Cowart gained notoriety launching a global photography movement called Help-Portrait. Help Portrait is described as a global movement of photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists using their time, tools and expertise to give back to those in need. Like many ideas, this one is both simple and clever: “give people who otherwise couldn’t afford photography, a chance to capture a moment, a memory…’
Which is all very much in line with Momentum’s vibe, of course. It is, after all the flagship event of CMB, whose stated goals are in part “to provide ideas which will help the business of Christian media to thrive, to improve competence through education, and to sustain the Christian radio format as an effective tool for communicating the Gospel with the intent of leading as many people as possible to spiritual growth and salvation.”
The only conference devoted solely to Christian music broadcasting, Momentum itself, meanwhile, has since 2009, CMB proudly shares, been “packed with applicable best practices, actionable advice and multiple networking opportunities, representing radio and record industry professionals dedicated to the success of Christian music broadcasting, representing 30+ million weekly listeners.
With so many thoughtful minds under one roof, ideas are bound to flourish– especially against the backdrop of inspirational talks from folks like Tim Miles. Described as part Dave Barry, part Dave Ramsey, Miles’ blog and Funny Business Podcast have reached audiences across 37 countries, and every continent but Antarctica. The key to Tim’s pearls of wisdom? One family business owner shared “Tim Miles is the least full of crap guy he’s ever heard talk about marketing, management and motivation.” Sign me up!
“This year marks Christian Music Broadcasters’ 15th anniversary,” CMB Executive Director Michelle Younkman proudly shared. “We’ve been celebrating all year and plan to bring the celebration to our premiere event, Momentum (Sept 6-9 at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando). Momentum will be packed with applicable best practices to equip our attendees for excellence in radio. There will be 700+ radio and record industry professionals together under one roof who are dedicated to the success of Christian music radio. We are thrilled to have speakers such as Daniel Anstandig, Paul Jacobs, and Lori Lewis (plus many more!) invest in the Momentum attendees. Christian radio’s favorite artists will be performing as well, including Matthew West, Matt Maher, Mandisa and more. It’s going to be a great Momentum experience!”
Those stations will indeed have a chance to tackle all that and more, at the house Mickey built in just a few weeks. For more deets on Momentum, head to cmbonline.org/momentum-2017/
Industry Spotlight: Don’t Worry, Be Nappi
While there’s nobility to be found in and reverence to be felt for all manner of occupations, fields and trades and means by which we support ourselves and loved ones, the unique charge that comes from speaking with someone truly happy in their work cannot be understated.
One such person is clearly Tommy Nappi, Senior Vice President of Promotion, RRP/Atlantic Records. With a nice guys finish first resume boasting the likes of Madonna, John Mellencamp, and now Kelly Clarkson as office mates, Nappi’s Mt. Rushmore career trajectory is a template to be reckoned with. Before tackling his own history, Nappi was thrilled to share the Kelly Clarkson scoop. “It’s really, really exciting. She’s a wonderful person. Anybody you speak to in the business, in the industry, has nothing but great things to say about her. She’s a hard worker and it obviously is going to be a major priority for us here and I’m looking forward to the challenge and working it and really getting in the trenches and hopefully putting her on the map again as is so deserved.”
We were thrilled, meanwhile, for the chance to hear the some of the secrets of his success, not least of which stem (not surprisingly for a hard-working lad) from his folks.
“When I was 15 years old my dad bought me DJ equipment. I wanted to be a DJ. That’s how I started. My dad was a salesman and had nothing to do with music, but he was very passionate about music. We always had music in our family, in our house, you know playing the drums, you name it. Always had music on. So when I was 15, he buys me the stuff, and– cut to the chase, I end up a few weeks later DJing a party for $50, a sweet 16. I couldn’t even drive to the gig! My dad had to drive me, drop me off. The house ended up really liking me- they’re like ‘Kid, what are ya doin’ next Saturday? We got another party in here. We’d love to use ya- how much ya want?’ I said ‘50 dollars.’ They said ‘We’ll pay you $75. Be here at 7 o’clock.’”
With an infectious chuckle, Nappi graciously and gratefully reflects on the path that took him for mobile DJ to club DJ to radio DJ to VP (at times, all concurrently). “I was ranked in the top 100 club DJ’s where I was a reporter to Billboard magazine which takes the best 100 DJ’s that they consider are out there playing, and I was working 6 or 7 nights a week. It was my main source of income, being a club DJ. So, at that point I started a production company. I wrote and produced some songs that were out there.”
It was the fateful connection with Billboard that led to Tommy’s gig at Polydor, where he ran the dance department, and subsequently served as the New York regional for Mercury. (“I went on the interview and was pretty much a wiseass and they called me back the next day and offered me the job (laughs) and I took it!”)
Lesson being, boys and girls? Be yourself. For Tommy, being yourself has led to a myriad of surreal experiences during the arc of his career, notably he mentions a Deftones show “where I hafta meet Madonna outside the club and then go and physically watch the show with her. You’re like looking at yourself like…I’m with Madonna right now watching The Deftones as there’s a mosh pit going on and people are killing each other out there. It’s things like that that. The memories are amazing.” (Did we mention Nappi’s 7 years running promotion for Madonna’s Maverick Records? That preceded his time at Sony where he ran Top 40 for Epic for about 7 years, moving on to Universal subsequently before planting his feet at Warner Music Group. (“That’s the Reader’s Digest version.”)
And quite a ride it’s been. He’s a grateful traveler and quick to vocalize the gratitude. “I have to thank my dad because he so much instilled music in our lives. My brother right now to this day is a mobile DJ and he basically took my business over and now he has a huge successful mobile DJ business. So, I thank my father for what he did for my brother and I… Look, I was in the music business when he was alive, but, I know he’s smiling up there because it was his passion that drove us to do what we do.”
A father himself, Nappi joyfully shares a recent memory of bringing his daughter to see Kinky Boots, featuring Brendon from Panic At The Disco “My daughter’s been a huge Panic at the Disco fan and I took her to the show and he was amaaazing. The show gets done and we’re gonna go backstage. I didn’t tell my daughter any of this and 5 minutes after the show, we’re literally on the stage. She looked at me and said ‘Dad, we’re on stage right now.’ (laughs) We go back and we’re in his dressing room and it’s just me, my daughter, and him and, it’s like, things like that you’ll remember your whole life.”
I ask Tommy if he was always nocturnal, if that played a role in his work ethic and the course he charted.
“Oh yeah. I was a worker bee always. When I was 11 years old I had a paper route, would get up at 4:45 a.m., wrap my papers, put ‘em in the bike, fall over the top of the bike because the papers weighed more than me and be on the bus to go to school at quarter to 7.” Eventually, that same drive translated to post-class, pre-gig power naps, to keep him energized spinning club gigs. With music in his heart and mind always, Nappi seems destined for the gig he holds now.
“Working here at Atlantic, they allow our artists to really have vision as to what they wanna do and we just try to fit in, guide it to the level we need to get it to. There’s some great artists I get to work with here and I know I’m lucky and blessed to have that. I have a great team of people I work with. Our field staff is amazing. My boss, John Boulos is unbelievable. Our leadership from the top-Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman who are the Presidents of Atlantic– they’re the best leaders I’ve ever worked for. It makes it just wonderful to walk into this building and do what we do. Ya can’t do it – nobody does it on their own. This team that they’ve put together, it really is amazing. All the departments are great, they really are.”
Like with like. Given the breadth of understanding Nappi brings to the table, it seems no surprise he’d be surrounded by like minds who understand what it takes to “make” a record…and often that means patience. “I always say this – every day I get up, there should be a smile on my face. Look what I get to do. Here, it’s been amazing. Here at Atlantic, our roster is so loaded and so diverse. It’s been a great run. We’ve had some really, really great things. Like 21 Pilots we’ve been working from the ground up and I remember begging people to come to shows to see them where there were maybe 40 of 50 people in the room and then, you know, as it graduated, maybe a year later we’re playing a bigger venue and a year later we’re playing the next one, and you know this is the last time you’re gonna see ‘em in a room this size. They’re gonna wind up playing Madison Square Garden and Staples Center, all those places.”
Kind of like starting out delivering newspapers and DJ’ing Middle School dances.
Faces of Play MPE: Right Said Fred
Fred Vandenberg’s soft spoken, mild manner belie the near unbridled giddy pride and audible esteem in which holds the company he now oversees. Like a kid in a candy store, Play MPE’s erstwhile CFO and now CEO holds the keys to a kingdom about which he can’t wait to shout from the hills.
A seasoned accountant, Vandenberg was introduced to Destiny Media by way of his tax practice. Once a client, Play MPE has been home to him for the past 12 years. “The controller at the time left and I took over his duties and hired some staff when Play MPE was starting. It was just an idea at the time.”
An idea which of course took flight, to the delight of music aficionados everywhere, including Vandenberg. A diehard U2 and The Tragically Hip fan, Fred has seen both bands in the past year. “That’s a big thrill, the Joshua Tree tour. The Joshua Tree is probably my favorite album.” As for The Hip? “I don’t think they ever got much exposure outside of Canada. They were on Saturday Night Live one time and I thought ‘Oh, this is great- they finally are gonna get some exposure to the U.S., but they just never seemed to take off.’
It’s a running theme, the idea of artists receiving deserved exposure…and one Fred sees as veritable marching orders for the company. He explains: “Have you ever watched the documentary Searching for Sugar man? I just saw him (Rodriguez) in Vancouver last Saturday. He was at the Orpheum in Vancouver, which is a small venue. I was pretty much close enough to touch him. It’s a really cool story actually, about a guy- I think he’s from Detroit. He was probably around late 20s or early 30s when he released a couple of albums in the early 70s and they did nothing in the United States, but they took off in South Africa. But he (Rodriguez) never knew about it! So he lived his life without ever knowing that he was really really wildly popular in South Africa. Anyway, the story is about these guys who start looking for him because they wondered what happened to him. They found him- eventually. And now he’s touring and singing his songs. It’s really good music and I just can’t help but think that that’s a really topical story for our business. How we can get music out to more people. That’s sort of the overriding theme of how we develop our tools. How do we expose more music to more people and break an artist or help somebody become successful, or well-known. Especially when they have really good songs. His songs are really good. But for whatever reason they just didn’t get the traction (in the US) they did in South Africa.”
Having transitioned recently from CFO to CEO, Vandenberg has big plans for music and Play MPE both internally and externally. “I think it’s time to celebrate the industry we’re in. We have a bit of a shifting focus on what we’re working on and we’ve got a lot of cool product ideas for Play MPE that I think are going to help our customers even more, which I’m excited about.” Fred gives a glimpse of some developing details on the technical side. “The biggest single development is we’re going to be issuing a web encoder, the encoder that people send the music out on, they’ll be able to access it online so they can use Macs and PC’s. It’s going to be a lot more user friendly so I think there will be lots more functionality. It’ll be really easy to use as opposed to maybe a tool that you need to be a little bit more trained in using right now.”
The celebration of the industry will take place within the office walls, as well, with more music playing in the halls, and even music trivia nights. (I warn him to get ready if he’s up against Laurie Gail.) “The challenge has been laid down. That’s good-maybe I can get her on my team, then.” (laughs) We speak of the multigenerational nature of the industry and organization, the breadth of musical taste experience each employee brings to the table. “I talk about listening to 8 track tapes in the car with my mom. Lots of people hear that and have no idea what that is.”
Vandenberg reflects on those 8 track years, and the career path his childhood may have otherwise led. “I grew up in a hockey town so there’s guys from my home town that made the NHL that I grew up with and that’s just something I did.” (Vandenberg can still be found on the ice most weekends.) “I never really concentrated on music. I loved music, I loved listening to it. My brothers had stereos. There’s all sorts of things that bring me back to certain eras. You hear a song– ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ brings me back to driving around with my mom in the pale blue Valiant with the 8 track tapes. I can’t hear “We Don’t Need Another Hero” without thinking about driving across North America when I was 17.”
While the 8 tracks may be retired, music (alongside film and photography) will always be a passion. “I do have a guitar that has been wanting desperately to be played. I can only string a few chords together. I’ve been wanting to learn it ‘cause I love the sound of an acoustic guitar. I think my talents lay in business, but I certainly hold a passion for music. I have a good ear for music but I don’t know if I’d have a good talent for playing it. It’s not something I learned as a child and I wish I had, you know? My nieces and nephews all play multiple instruments and they have a piano. I see them play and I’d love to get one of my nieces on the drums and my nephew on piano or something like that… and then me on the guitar and do a song- that would be awesome.”
Indeed, just another way to get the music to the people.
Dr. G. Yunupingu 1971-2017
The music world lost a legend last month. Blind from birth, Dr. G. Yunupingu has been revered as one of the most important figures in Australian music history. His music has reached well beyond his native Elcho Island, selling over half a million albums worldwide. It must be noted that out of respect for Aboriginal custom, his given name and images are absent from coverage of his passing last month at the age of 46, after a long illness.
The highest selling Australian Indigenous artist in history, Dr. G Yunupingu emerged from the Galiwin’ku community off the coast of Arnhem, earning a platinum album in Australia with his debut. Singing in his native language, he went on to reach silver in the UK, and chart across the world, singing for audiences including Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama. His singing could be heard both in Yolngu languages including Gälpu, Gumatj or Djambarrpuynum as well as in English.
Known most perhaps for his voice, he counted among his fans, not surprisingly, Elton John, Sting and Bjork. Yunupingu was a veritable virtuoso, with skills extending across multiple instruments. He played keyboard, drums, guitar (a right-hand strung guitar which he played left handed), and didgeridoo.
Though his meteoric success took him far and wide from his Elcho Island origins, Dr. G. Yununpingu never strayed far from his community, serving as the backbone of the Yunupingu Foundation, serving young people in the Northern Territory.
Joining many in public tribute, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took to social media, sharing “Dr. G. Yunupingu was a remarkable Australian sharing Yolngu language with the world through music. Prayers for Galiwin’ku & family & friends.”
Mark Grose, managing director of Yunupingu’s label Skinnyfish Music, reflected “In this day of too much noise, Dr. G. Yunupingu showed us that music is a powerful force for reconciliation. One of the greatest achievements any of us can have is to touch the hearts of others. And this is what Dr. G. Yunupingu did over and over and over again.”
Stephen Green, Director of SGC Media which represents Play MPE in Australia said: “Dr. G. Yunupingu was more important than just a musician. His work bridged a chasm in our nation, creating a window for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to begin to understand each other. His legacy is as big as his heart and the ripples of his work will continue to be felt in this country and around the world for decades to come”.
Get your roots down: AmericanaFest
As perennially cool genres go, Americana consistently delivers. So, naturally, our own Laurie Gail will be there representing at AmericanaFest, paneling it up! Happening September 12th through the 17th, the 18th Annual gathering will feature a treasure trove of twang not to be missed.
It’s the flagship fest of the Americana Music Association, born in 1999 out of a gathering of about 30 volunteers from the radio, label, and media sides, descending upon Austin to brainstorm their mutual cause: to help American roots music assume an elevated and secure place in the artistic and commercial life of the nation. Americana, indeed. More formally speaking, the association “works closely with those in (the) industry, whether artists, labels, radio stations, retailers, print media, festivals, agents, publishers, etc. to help organize and build the infrastructure necessary for (the) genre to achieve success both creatively and financially.”
The 18th Annual strummy soiree aims as ever to tackle the interests of those in its community, all with a killer soundtrack of over 230 live performances across nearly 40 Nashville venues.
We were pleased to check in with AMA Executive Director Jed Hilly for his perspective on the upcoming week. “Americanafest 2017 is shaping up to be the best event ever… we have added almost 80 bands to the festival lineup bringing the total of showcase performances up to 300 over the 6 day event.” Jed helped to paint a vivid picture of the nuances of the event. “Its curation is driven by the Association… you won’t find label, agency or corporate sponsored showcases at this event. Every act and every slot has been carefully selected based on their creative merits.”
This year’s celebration of the genre is packed with gems for everybody’s tastes, from Shelby Lynne to Robyn Hitchcock. (To say nothing of Robert Cray, Iron & Wine, Lori McKenna, Blind Boys of Alabama, Colin Hay, Nicole Atkins…you get the drift). From Jed’s perspective, that broad swath is what it’s all about. “If I had to point to my favorite part of Americanafest, it’s that it features legends and the next generation of stars sharing stages and venues… but most, Americanafest is special because of the discovery element. I challenge anyone to know all 300 acts that will be featured this year, and guarantee, that regardless of the venue, you will find a band you have never heard of that all become your next favorite artist!”
For all the 411 on the AMA and the Americanafest line up, click here: http://americanamusic.org/about-americanafest
True to a format with a reverence for things both established and groundbreaking, this year’s Triple A Convention promises to represent the format mightily. Hosted as ever by FMQB, this year’s chillaxing will include performances by nearly 3 dozen artists.
Attendees August 9-12 can get their mojito on, courtyard style at the St. Julien Spa and Resort. (Go big or go home right?) A format that caters to intelligent adults… well, they know their audience and their programmers. (Just remember the altitude, kids. Stay hydrated).
Equal parts class reunion, festival, and symposium, this year’s festivities promise to deliver once again. With appearances from nearly too many artist to mention, triple a-ers will have lots to chew on post-panel, including Spoon, Justin Townes Earl, LP, The Lone Bellow, The Band of Heathens, Portugal.the.Man. and dozens more. Good luck trying to pinpoint this convention…and format… after all these years.
This August also provides the opportunity for an audience with a Mt. Rushmore figure in format: David Dye (yes, that David Dye). Fresh from passing the mic to Talia Schlanger this past spring, Dye comes to Boulder armed with 25 years of reflection on hosting the legendary World Cafe.
Having begun his broadcasting career in Philly, at WMMR, Dye built a following early on as a tastemaker with a distinctly laid back presentation. Following a five-year stint in Maine, Dye was welcomed back to Philly at WHYY, and then WIOQ. Come ‘89, everything changed, when Dye landed at WXPN, hosting “Sleepy Hollow.” Called upon to explore whether or not a new musical format had legs, Dye was charged with spearheading the creation of a diverse, intelligent destination for radio listeners. And thus, the celebration of musical expression World Cafe was born. The now legendary and nationally acclaimed show reaches audience across over 250 public radio stations across the states.
So between the always informative panels, and the delightful drinks-served music meetings, programmers from across the US will have an audience with the likeminded Dye, sharing pearls. With such a vivid convention, lush with performances and panels, it’s hard to think of Triple A as the underdog it’s sometimes perceived to be. (it wasn’t until 2008 that Billboard began their Triple A chart). Boulder will once again provide the space for the music nerd herd to reflect, perfect, and rejoice in their diverse programming.
And hey, when you’re at The Fox, or in the courtyard, make sure you say “Hi” to Laurie Gail, Play MPE’s VP of Label and Radio Relations!
Music: The Gathering
The Gathering. The Multiverse is a boundless expanse of worlds, each different from the last. These worlds, called planes, differ as wildly as imagination allows. One plane might be covered entirely in dense jungle, while on another, nature may have been entirely replaced by a vast network of cityscapes. Neither are they united by common laws of physics: They vary from infinite expanses of matter to tiny specks of empty space to logic-defying inversions of reality.
Ok, so that’s from Magic, the Gathering… and not…The Gathering…. But, The Gathering, held in Louisville June 15-17 , finds the alt masses… well, gathering on the hollowed, hoof-trodden grounds of the legendary Kentucky Derby. There, they bask in 3 days of music, networking, commiseration, and frivolity amongst today’s brightest minds of Alternative music.
The Gathering is the brainchild of CO5 co-owners Tracy Brown and Todd Sievers along with the CO5 staff, all industry veterans.
Tracy Brown caught up with us about all things The Gathering. ”This is for the alternative radio format . The reality is that as music fans we all know that we may love a song but everything comes together and we actually love a band after we’ve seen their live show. That’s really what it’s all about.” Holla! And not just that– but to see a band in said environment? With your peeps? “It’s 3 days, we did 26 bands at 8 different venues. The thing is, labels like to showcase their artists and most of those showcases happen in NY or LA, both of which have hundreds of miles that you have to go before you find the first or the next alternative station. So for the amount of money these labels spend outside of the travel for them to get into the market which they would have to do regardless of whether they showcase in NY or LA, there’s no way they would put their band in front of this many programmers any other way but how we did it.”
We spoke about the unmistakable camaraderie that comes within that format. “It’s about the community that is the alternative format. We don’t have Gavin anymore, we don’t have R&R… every other format has a conference that’s geared toward them except for alternative. Myself, I’ve always been a huge fan of alternative music- those are the stations that I’m tuning into when I go into other markets and I love seeing these guys who don’t get to see each other very often- especially after they move around. Not just when they move around in markets but when they changed companies. So if you worked at CBS for a long time, and there’s CBS programmers meetings you get to see your buddies when you go there, but if you move to another job at another market, and you end up at iHeart or Entercom, you’re not seeing those guys anymore. So once a year, we’re bringing this community together, to hang out to talk, to watch music, to get to see each other and just go and have fun. We like these guys to be like Laurie Gail was. To come back and be like “Great music, and a great time. We were so excited to have Play MPE represented and showing. Laurie came, the company put up a banner. We had that banner at every event we did and a few times she’d be like “I’m not sure I like where my banner is. I’m like where you want it? you feel free to put that banner wherever you want it.”
It was no accident that Louisville was the chosen host: with its famous whiskey distilleries, racetracks, and of course the slugger, it’s a place where names are made. (I mean c’mon- they even kick off festivities sounding a ceremonious bugle at Churchill Downs). Tracy and the umbrella CO5 crew share a goal of building a “benchmark event to highlight rising artists and hold thought-provoking discussions about the challenges of today’s music industry.” The event draws alt fanatics across the worlds of promo, music supervision, blogging, and of course radio. Ross MacLeod, PD at Toronto’s CFNY shared high praise for the Alt love fest:
“First of all, it was one of the most organized events I’ve ever attended. I haven’t been to an event in a very long time that has your entire time planned for you with all of the things you’d want to do anyway! Secondly, I think the level of bands was amazing. Several of the bands left me wanting more. Isn’t that what we all want from our audiences – them to need more of what we provide? And finally, and equally as important, it was just great to see and hear the perspective of all sides of the business so we could develop a better understanding of how we can work together in different ways that benefits everyone.”
Tapped for performances this year across the notable venues including Churchill Downs are a treasure trove of alternative acts breaking through, all cleverly named, as is often the case in that world. (Silent Rival, VanLadyLove, The PictureBooks, Little Hurricane, and Juiceboxxx, to scratch the surface.)
Amidst the fervor of the music, is the chance to connect over something equally transcendent– a good old fashioned ball game. “There are no panels. There’s no music meeting. There’s no sizzle reel. There is a softball game. And I will tell you– these guys are dead frickin’ serious about it. Last year we didn’t have enough players so we had one player who just pitched to both teams. This year we had so many players that we divided teams up East coast, West coast and we will continue it that way. It was so big this year that next year we’re actually getting different colored baseball shirts and different colored caps for the teams. We want major league baseball caps that these guys can wear all year long, nothing with the pull tabs or the velcro clip and belt we have on this year. Let’s get ‘em real baseball caps. Let’s get real baseball shirts. They are so into that softball game and it’s a mixture. Its programmers, it’s promotion guys, some of the bands came out and played in it. We had some of the music supervisors come and play in it. It’s a really fun game and on the flipside since it rained all night and since it’s hot in June in Louisville , most of the ladies decided they were going to stay back at the hotel and have a very civilized breakfast in the air conditioning.” Also, holla.
Again, this is its own format. With a distinct band of programmers and a paradoxically well-defined and hard to pin-point audience. “This is alternative radio. It’s not pop radio. They need to know that the bands they’re gonna play and get a slot on their playlist which we all know is very coveted, we all fought for those slots, those bands when they come in their market, they can deliver for their listeners.” And serving that community, as Tracy says, takes a village.
“Certainly I managed and oversaw this but the entire CO5, Black Dog Music Marketing and MX 2 crew, everybody pitched in, everybody pulled their weight, everybody did what they had to do to make this happen. Some people had very special and specific talents that we put to use, to get this all together and other people just said whatever you think I need to do I’ll do. We are the sum total of all of us and this conference was amazing because I am surrounded by amazing people at this company who give a huge shit about how this is gonna come off and really put their heart and soul in it.” Now that’s… what I call alternative music.
Industry Spotlight: Michael Quvang – The Quay to Success
Every now and then, synchronicity in music means more than well-kept tempo and harmonies well rehearsed. On that rare occasion, it acknowledges a symbiotic relationship meant to be. And that’s certainly the case with regards to Play MPE’s match made with one man music marketing machine Michael Quvang. We had the pleasure of catching up with Michael about his role as Play MPE’s go-to Nordic man, and all that led up to it.
The son of a press photographer, the entrepreneurial and soft spoken Quvang moved around in an artist’s world as far back as his teen years. Musical himself, Michael channeled his passion towards the business side of things as a young man.
During a breezy walk amidst birds chirping near his house north of Copenhagen, Quvang was kind enough to share a bit about the trajectory that led to his more than appropriate role representing Play MPE to clients across Scandinavia and throughout Europe.
“I’m from a small island, called Bornholm. I started out in the music business in 83 as sales rep for this wholesale company selling cassettes and CDs – actually that was before CDs (laughs) – it was cassettes and vinyl.” Later and with a marketing education under his belt, Michael channeled his experience into marketing new releases from the record companies to the record stores.
Then he decided to take a break and went on a one year trip around the world, which landed him in Sydney, Australia and he stayed there for a period working at a restaurant on Circular Quay right across the Utzons Opera House. The restaurant was called Phantom of The Opera, so even here it had a touch of music.
“By the time I got back to Denmark, it was like ok what to do …my heart has always been with music. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 years old.” So, Michael reached out to his prior employer: ”They had acquired the mechanical rights to these well known Danish acts and needed a way to exploit it. Hence it was a distribution company only, a record company needed to be set up. And I suddenly saw my self in charge of that. The company was named Kick Music inspired by my recent stay in Sydney and INXS, but also due to the energy and urge to entertain in the name.
At that time in the early 90’s, TV commercials in Denmark were brand new and we were the first one to do a TV commercial for a Danish artist (John Mogensen). The market for this sort of marketing was wide open and the campaign and release became a massive hit. The seeds were sown and the company established for real, and we agreed that besides exploiting older material we should also focus on new material, and since my heart belongs to rock’n’roll, the path was obvious.
“One of the first things I did, and that was in the heydays of grunge, was a Danish band called Boghandle. They supported Mudhoney, those days with Nirvana and Mudhoney, and some other ones. I went to New York with them and sold them to most of the world on license basis.” That summer in ’92 we came back from NY and Boghandle as well as Nirvana played Roskilde Festival, and Denmark won the European Championship in soccer during the festival as well. What a summer!!!”
“I’ve been attending various music fairs like Midem, Popkomm, SXSW over the years both for meetings, networking and getting inspiration and for example, in Austin 2006 at SXSW and at Emos I just saw Gogol Bordello….and i went up to these guys backstage. A deal was made with Side One Dummy records and later in the summer of 2006 Gogol Bordello was playing Roskilde Festival.
“I managed the record company until 2008. At that time, I had a big roster with both international and Danish artists. The roster was a mix of licensed and distributed acts like Ida Corr, Gogol Bordello, Kaizers Orchestra, Gaslight Anthem, Jesse Malin, Richmond Fontaine, Eva Cassidy a.o. as well as homegrown artists such as Michael Falch, Mike Tramp, Nekromantix, Defectors a.o.
We were having a really big hit with Ida Corr and Fedde LeGrande, “Let Me Think About It’ … but I could tell we were not gonna make a decent income to cover the cost of promotion work and running a independent record company since it was all going digital and mostly through illegal filesharing or on services like Napster. Digital development at the time was still not fully realized and much of it consisted of piracy.
So, I went in the market and decided to sell the record company to Sony Music.” That summer of 2009, Kick Music now under the umbrella of Sony Music had 5 acts playing at Roskilde Festival, the largest in Northern Europe.
Following his time at Sony, Quvang began to explore various projects. “I started looking at all this DIY scene that was emerging around the music industry and decided to do some management and other consulting because these artists and these musicians still need proper tools; they still need proper people to work with them and actually get them out to radio, to press, and media and get them to the right promoters, and get them to the right everything, booking agents etc.” So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
“So, I started up this company called Music Quay. I settled in with Warner Music, still being independent but being able to use their distribution and promotion set up. Following the merger of Warner and Parlophone, Quvang needed to set up physical digs elsewhere.
At the time when I left my office at Warner Music, some artists contacted me and said What can we do and how do we get to radio. I said actually, I’m not a promoter but we have this really, really good tool called Play MPE…”
“At that time I didn’t have an appointment with Play MPE but I just filed a message on the web and the day after they called me. They had a look at my profile and said ‘Oh Michael, maybe we should talk some more.” And the rest is history. “That was the reason why I really started with Play MPE, because I could tell there was a market for this in Scandinavia, a need for this, a need for my company as well, and a chance for Play MPE to get more exploitation in Europe and Scandinavia. And then I ended up representing Play MPE because I could tell from the position I was in that this tool was needed in Denmark and Scandinavia …it’s obvious. ”
Besides Play MPE, Michael is also representing Nordic Wristbands in Denmark. The company delivers wristbands to festivals, venues, events a.o. But not only wristbands, the company embraces most things regarding access control and registration also with RFID/NFC. Michael also is partner for Scandinavia for the company Music2Deal, a network platform for artists and music business people.
Icon Mike Peters of the Alarm is the focus of the new documentary film Man in the Camo Jacket, and Play MPE couldn’t be more pleased to share music from the soundtrack. With proceeds going to 3-time cancer survivor Peters’ charity Love Hope Strength Foundation, the soundtrack includes the song “Strength,” featuring English Beat’s Dave Wakeling, Billy Duffy from the Cult, and Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom. Given INGrooves motto “We power creativity,” the release feels a natural fit.
The film itself tells the story of the legendary Peters and his band’s rise in popularity, as well as Peters’ battle with cancer, ultimately leading him in 2007 to found Love Hope Strength, known as the world’s leading rock and roll cancer foundation. It was Peters’ vision along with co-founder James Chippendale that they would “save lives, one concert at at a time.”
The impassioned but direct approach of the charity meant funding not the broadly termed “research,” but rather to allow for the purchase of the nuts and bolts items like medical supplies, along with of course raising awareness through concert events and ultimately the surrounding media coverage. Such coverage has resulted from notable feats such as 2007’s “highest concert on land,” at Mt. Everest. Three million witnessed the celebration at 18,536 feet! There’s plenty of brawn and muscle behind the organization itself, too. Amongst the board members is Alex Coletti, former head honcho at MTV and legendary producer of Unplugged.
The foundation’s “Get on the List” campaign has brought attention to efforts to sign folks up for the International Bone Marrow registry. (LHS is onsite at countless concerts each year, making this happen. Just a quick “cheek swab” is involved). They’ve registered 129,000 music fans and counting, with 2,400 potentially lifesaving matches.
About to kick off dozens of shows as part of his U.S. tour, including Warped dates, Mike Peters is in the midst of a busy summer. Alongside Alarm dates are special events surrounding the release of Man in the Camo Jacket, including post-screening performances and an appearance at the Grammy Museum.
The film will be available on iTunes and VOD through XLrator Media. CEO Barry Gordon shared “This remarkable film shows Mike Peters to be not only a brilliant musician, songwriter and performer, but a tireless humanitarian who has dedicated his life to helping other cancer survivors through the charity he co-founded, the Love Hope Strength Foundation. Their work has helped thousands of people around the world. Mike is an inspiration to all of us to make the most of every day. We are so proud to bring this uplifting film to audiences who know Mike’s musical legacy or are discovering him for the first time.”
Head to your trustee Play MPE player to hear some tracks for yourself, including “Strength,” “Devil Inside”, top ten hit “45 RPM” and “Coming Backwards.”
How you like them apples?
“Folded into,” is a phrase heard more and more in this industry and age of consolidation. But sometimes, that phrase can represent more of synergistic marriage than a swallowed whole.
In a behemoth move amongst behemoths, Sony Music has consolidated its independent distribution with Play MPE partner The Orchard, and RED Music, worldwide.
The move means a literal move for current RED distribution folks who will head to The Orchard HQ in NYC. It’s part overall of Sony’s RED Essential now falling under Orchard umbrella in the UK. The change will see The Orchard employ over 300 peeps across 30 offices worldwide. The deal also makes The Orchard officially the largest distributor in the world.
The Orchard CEO Brad Navin will continue to man the ship, sharing “Our newly merged company is unique in structure, scale and reach. Coming together as one company that is both truly global and locally-focused will allow us to take the service we provide to our artist and label partners to the next level.”
The Orchard proudly lays claim to being the “only global comprehensive digital and physical distribution platform with its own delivery, sales, distribution and reporting systems built specifically for independent clients. With a single deal clients have the ability to deliver their music to every leading global and local digital and physical retailer and reach music fans around the world.”
Two decades in, as The Orchard’s messaging proclaims “We’re a 21st century distribution company with a global presence and a local feel.” From the start, The Orchard’s goal has been to provide independent artists with the ability to sell their music to mainstream audiences. As such, The Orchard naturally and quickly become the first independent distributor to hit one million paid downloads and streams.
Meanwhile, Sony RED will now morph into RED Music, a dedicated full service marketing agency and label services company. President Bob Morelli stated ““For our label and artist partners in the U.S., we are significantly multiplying the levels of quality service we provide with these exciting new changes.”
‘Stache Media, the indie marketing and promotion group stands along frontline label services group (formerly RAL), providing marketing, promo, and release planning to Sony backed labels and joint venture imprints. Launched in 2007 out of New York City in NY, they went on to put down roots in Nashville. They proudly lay claim to marketing efforts behind artists including Ingrid Michaelson, Santana, Shaggy, and Joey Bada$$ to name a few.
Sony reps have shared that they are giving independent labels a “single point of entry into a global distribution system with an end-to-end solution through the entire supply chain to digital services and retailers around the world.”
For releases across all corners of RED and The Orchard, of course log onto your handy dandy Play MPE Player.