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Previously, a musician was limited to either booking concerts at small local venues or one of the lucky few to sign on to a major label and start filling larger clubs and arenas. But in recent years, streaming services and social media have practically leveled the playing field. I have personally seen this confirmed, as there has been a huge increase in inbound requests from my PR agency for advertising and marketing services for emerging artists and independent labels.
Cody Colacino in his home-in-his-home studio.
And since I need to stay in the know and understand what’s going on behind the scenes to provide the best possible service to our customers, I decided to reach out to respected industry veterans Cody Colacino and Bugz Ronin to get the inside scoop. . Colacino is known for his production and development work with Universal Music Group. Hs credits extend to Lil Xan, Lil Keed, Ski Mask the Slump God, Trippie Redd, and Tyla Yaweh. Ronin produced Lil Uzi Vert’s double platinum album Eternal grip, among other notable collaborations.
Colacino and Ronin made their names by taking relatively unknown artists, creating their sound, creating their brand, and making deals with majors. But it never seemed fair to them that by signing with a major, the artist had to cede his masters, essentially losing control over the financial gains of the recordings (see: Taylor Swift’s very public battle with Scooter Braun).
Motivated to create a different path for emerging artists, Colacino and Ronin used the advances they received from these major deals to launch their own imprint, Pure Sinners Ent. They have since signed their first artist, Bad Neighbors, and plan to follow the same success plan as in the past.
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I recently visited the headquarters of Pure Sinners, a beautiful hillside mansion in Los Angeles where artists can come and record. Colacino greeted me before going back to “cooking” or making music in the studio. I watched as he created a rhythm from scratch, switching from his guitar to the keyboard while making adjustments to the audio files on his computer. Then the magic happened: Colacino started recording the artist singing to the beat he had just made while creating the sound as she sang. The whole process took about 90 minutes.
âWe are first and foremost producers and engineers,â explains Colacino. âWe’re really in the studio with our artists day and night to sculpt the sound. Our free time from the studio is spent growing our business and managing the label. It is rare to see a label producing, recording, mixing, mastering, branding, marketing, distributing and financing its artists. Usually all of these roles are split across multiple teams for a single artist. “
According to Colacino, there are three main areas to focus on when launching a new artist.
Develop a music catalog
âBy developing a catalog of music, you can ensure that there is consistent sound and direction,â says Colacino. “Once you have a few hundred songs, then you can start narrowing them down to the ones that should be released in a specific order.”
However, as Colacino attests, be forewarned: developing a music catalog doesn’t come cheap. Studio time, production, and mastering can cost several thousand dollars for each song. Building strong relationships with producers and sound engineers is essential to ensure your investment is well spent.
Build a brand in tune with the music
âBuild a brand that visually complements the sound of music,â says Colacino. âMake sure all of your content is consistent and has a tone that matches music, videos and photos to logos and merchandise. Your brand should look and feel the same across all platforms. “
Being an integral part of Colacino’s advice, I always suggest creating a mood board with visual representations of the look artists want for their brand. Once you’ve established a brand, you can create branding guidelines that contain all of your colors, fonts, logos, and dos and don’ts for others working on your brand.
Market and exhibit your artist
âOnce your music and your brand are strong, you need to work on marketing and exposing your artists to the appropriate demographics that will resonate with their music,â suggests Colacino. âShowcase your artist in media, industry blogs, music podcasts, etc. “
From my own experience, I can confirm that putting your artist’s music on playlists is a great way to tap into a new consumer base. Develop relationships with playlist curators early on and share music with them that you know will resonate with their audiences. Many playlist curators have their social networks logged in, but if not, you can just search for them and send a message directly.
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Whether you are an artist, producer, label owner or manager, there is no doubt that choosing to be in the music business is a labor of love. There are never any guarantees, and you could devote your heart, soul, and bank account to streaming music and see very little, if any, financial return. However, if you are passionate about what you do and strive to be the best, this is an incredibly lucrative and fulfilling industry.