The Music Surgery with Kwame Kwaten by Love Lee
What. A. Day. Or should I say: What a fulfilling and in depth exchange of questions and words of advice in the space of a couple of hours!
Today, multi-dimensional music man, Kwame Kwaten, whose background surrounds performing in bands, music producing (D-Influence, whose first song ‘I’m the one’ was aired on radio by Tim Westwood; signed wrote for and produced Shola Ama) and leading onto artist management (Rumer, Laura Mvula, Shannon Saunders, Hollie McNish, The Night VI) hosted ‘The Music Surgery’ at the ATC management offices in London.
Budding singers, songwriters, aspiring producers, engineers and artist managers sat casually around the navy blue corner sofa in Kwame’s glass enclosed office. A relaxed yet eager atmosphere, I must say.
Kwame involved the listeners by requesting they give him 5 minutes to give a bullet pointed account of his creative journey (Yep, 5 minutes!)
“Name two things, don’t think about it too hard, two things that you really want to get out of this sitting,” was next on the agenda. A resounding answer was connections, networking and the business side of the music industry. Due to the eclectic mix of individuals present, many entities were touched on that I will mention.
Having been a very shy kid himself, Kwame understood the challenge of networking within a very harsh and judgemental industry. “I had to force myself into situations because I was very shy and hated small talk.
He could not stress this enough: “Forcing yourself into deliberately uncomfortable situations is the way and it is terrifying.” It’s literally about throwing yourself into the deep end and making yourself “The eye of the storm”. Once you conquer that fear of ‘throwing yourself to the sharks’, so to speak, in a way, you’ve overcome one of the biggest hurdles.
Kwame shared stories that involved a lot of guts and initiative. Knowing when it is a good idea to break the rules sometimes for people to notice you in a professional setting, tactics in how to accumulate an audience, having confidence in yourself and following your gut instinct.
“Its sometimes as basic as asking yourself: Where is the excitement and how can I apply myself to that excitement and then transfer it to the music industry around me?” – Kwame Kwaten
Subjects such as the economic state of the music business, comparisons between the US and the UK, which have polar opposite ways of acting. In the UK, you are constantly trying to prove yourself in a place where you have to be ahead in order to keep up. How one copes with the changes, and knowing that, ultimately, everyone is ALWAYS learning. Kwame accentuated and reassured everyone that nobody knows everything and to not be afraid or to feel inferior if you do not know something compared to someone who, in your eyes, appears to know a lot more. Tomorrow, there will be something new that they have no idea about!
There was discussion around stats and “the age of liquid” where it seems music alone is no longer tangible. “An age where 1 million views on YouTube equals $2000” in shared ad revenue; the past and current climate for independent artists and the different types of record deals that are out there (‘50/50 deal’, a plain distribution deal, ‘360 deal’ etc – different ones suit different people)
“Get yourself a lawyer. If you are unsure about the lawyer, get another lawyer to look at what your lawyer is doing.” – Kwame Kwaten
Also, when a good time to get a manager would be in an era where self- promotion is so time consuming. The notion of a ‘ready made artist’ is extremely attractive to record labels, as they look at stats constantly, yet not necessarily to a manager. Kwame says: “Hold onto your private parts! You will know when your stuff is ready for people to hear and ready to go.”
Another interesting topic was how people get into song writing for artists. Kwame went back to basics from the viewpoint that nobody is interested. Understanding and knowing how to build the skeleton is crucial and puts you in a powerful position – doing the work from the ground up.
“You’re creating your own shop window, a creative network.” – Kwame Kwaten
Starting your own label also came up – what to know about payments via different outlets: “Make sure you join the societies. PRS, PPL to start with.” Kwame pressed upon this.
And please! Read as much as you can on PRS rights! This is very important.
So, in all, Kwame explored the many aspects of the music industry on a very personal, story telling-like manner. It wasn’t a case of ‘an audience and a speaker’. It was much more vocally interactive and very much catered around what the participants wanted to know. Questions were fired, giggles were had with the injection of humour. The audience got a detailed insight into specific scenarios, which will help them evolve and confirm their past moves and future plans. A very animated and informative Music Surgery.
The session ended with an impromptu listen to some of Kwame’s artists. A little taster, if you will of the calibre of talent he is working with. A perfect way to end such an inspiring workshop!
I could go on and on!
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Exposure@cre8ingvision.comby: Love Lee | August 14, 2014 | News