I remember it as if it was yesterday. I got off stage after performing 2 songs at Webster Hall in New York City, and there was this gentleman, an A&R from the Universal Music Group, and we started having a conversation, which changed my perspective towards my music forever.
”You got a face and sound that is easy to promote, your hair is attention-grabbing and your stage presence is energetic. For how long have you been promoting this brand image?” he asks sincerely. ”Uhm… Actually when I started I was dark-haired and kept it straight. The blond color and frizzy look is fresh.” I say confused. ”So… half a year or something?” he continues, ”no, more like 2 months”. To which he pulled out his business card and says ”when you’ll have promoted your look for at least 6 months, give me a call”. At this point I am mortified: ”excuse me, but I don’t get it?!”, he answers pretty formally to this ”there’s nothing to get really, you’ve changed your brand image so now your past fans will have a harder time recognizing you. For me to consider someone seriously, they have to have a stable image for a longer period of time”. ”Oh! I understand. But my numbers are pretty high you know? I got over 4 million views cumulatively, over 50k fans and even FM airplay” I say confidently. The gent asks ”when did these achievements take place?”, and, without thinking too much, I tell him the truth: ”within the past 4 years”. ”You see young lady, we don’t care about that. We don’t care about the timeline. We care what you’re doing NOW, are you getting new fans NOW, are you getting millions of views NOW, are you collaborating with bigger artists NOW, are you on the radio NOW? Just like Hollywood judges an actor based off the latest movie he did, we judge artists based off their latest single. So what are you doing NOW?” he asks me looking straight in my eyes and keeping on a serious poker face. My brain is rushing with millions of different replies, with tons of questions, and even more confusion than when the conversation started: ”Well, I just moved to the States, so I’m promoting my past material”. To which he says ”Don’t. Waste of time and money. Get a new song done and promote it. If I was your manager I wouldn’t have even let you perform stuff that’s older than 12 months.” Mind you, I was only 18 years old at the time and was fighting for dear life inside my head not to cry in front of him. ”Well, thank you for your advice sir. Have a good night” – I say with the last pieces of a shattered ego I have left inside me and turn around and leave.
This conversation haunted me for a long time. It made me understand that what I achieved in the past has no relevance to what is happening TODAY, and that TODAY is the reason why some artists get signed overnight and the rest of the artists are shelved. When a song becomes viral, you got that TODAY right now and you can use that buzz to get to a better place financially and musically. All else before it, is irrelevant. It is a business and people want to invest in what’s hot RIGHT NOW, not in what was hot YESTERDAY. This is the reason why even A listers fall off and can’t seem to be able to get that buzz again. It is crucial to have a, what I call, continuity plan, because you don’t want to get that momentum and get caught off-guard with just one single. That is a terrible scenario. You get what many dream of, and you lose it with a high risk of never having it again, because you were not ready. Always have multiple singles on hold and ready to be released in case you catch fire.
Article by Mariana Berdianu
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