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Musicians In Tech
8 minutes | Jun 16, 2020
Becoming a 2x Platinum-Grammy Nominated Music Producer w/ KQuick
KQuick explains how to become a successful music producer, going from selling $20 an hour studio time in his dorm room to 2x Platinum/Grammy Nominated record producer, working with major artists like Chris Brown, Nelly, Jeremih. KQuick's Bio: Kaleb “KQuick” Rollins is a Multi-Platinum Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer/engineer raised in the Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts who currently resides in New York City, USA. KQuick discovered his affinity for music at the young age of 14. Under the mentorship of renowned producer/artist Ryan Leslie, he honed his skills as a producer and a songwriter, landing placements on a Grammy Nominated album while in college. After graduating from New York University’s Clive Davis Institute Of Recorded Music, KQuick has worked with artists including Chris Brown, J Cole, Nelly, Jeremih, Alessia Cara, Queen Naija and Bas. He has also written and produced songs for numerous placements in film and television, including scoring a Sundance Film Festival short film selection. Now signed with Sony ATV as a writer and producer alongside his business partner Marc Soto as production-duo/band ClickNPress, KQuick is busy developing a sound for the current and next generation of music creatives. High Level Discussion Flow: K Quick’s Origin Story Making Music Your Career You’re “in” the Music Biz - Now What? Behind The Music Biz - Major Labels + Technology Disruption Building a Brand (as a producer) Important Links: KQuick - Instagram KQuick - Twitter Musicians in Tech - Instagram Musicians in Tech - Twitter Musicians in Tech - LinkedIn KQuick's Baseball Card Stats: Singer/Songwriter/Producer/Engineer/Musician - how many instruments do you play? Video Director / Producer Signed to Sony-ATV Publishing - writer/producer Credits: Chris Brown J Cole Ryan Leslie Nelly Jeremih TV / Film Gaetano's Music Jay Lex's Music Important Takeaways: KQuick started producing with Fruity Loops in high school and learned the basics of live sound engineering in church. This was when he knew he wanted to do music for the rest of his life. KQuick says that going to school for music gave him a leg up on the competition because it taught him the mechanics and technical skills. He says you don’t need a degree to make it in the music business, but if you can afford the risk, it’s definitely worth it. KQuick says he never had a real “9 to 5” When he was at NYU he started hustling by building a small little studio and selling studio time in his dorm room for $20 an hour. He was 17 when he stopped selling beats online. Even though his sound click was getting millions of streams (NO HACKS) but he didn’t know how to leverage that to make money. After moving out of the NYU dorms, KQuick started producing artists and selling studio time out of his apartment. From there KQuick saved enough money to rent an official studio space in Brooklyn for $900. In order to make enough money to get by, HE WOULD RUN 4-5 STUDIO SESSIONS A DAY to make revenue to sustain and pay back loans and become profitable. Should you quit your day job and do music full-time? KQuick says - you need multiple revenue sources outside of music that is giving you enough to sustain. But the key to unlocking revenue is a brand strategy. Everything around the music should bring you money. Shows, merchandising, etc. KQuick says being a one trick pony will hurt you. Specialization is good, but you need diversity in order to succeed. When are you “in the music industry” ? As soon as you make music and put it out. Take ownership of that. KQuick's first placement - Chris Brown’s “Famous Girl” with Ryan Leslie in 2009. First royalty check was 1 cent. It was so low it didn’t even pass the threshold of cutting a check. ASCAP just sent him a notification. He then got a deal with VIACOM which gave him an “aha” moment. KQuick says the relationships are the #1 key that enabled him to produce for Chris Brown, J Cole, Nelly and others. Keeping your network fresh and doing as many favors for people as possible is what enabled him to work with “major artists.” KQuick says that working with up and comers is critical to career success - because you never know who the next big star, or next big executive will be. “When you start skipping steps is when you land somewhere you’re not ready for, and that’s when you get knocked down and it’s a lot harder to get back up.” Popularity vs Talent - Do A&R’s need to get back to finding real talent, versus scouring for “viral” singers / rappers on Instagram and YouTube? KQuick says - the A&R’ing is happening on the creative level now. It’s producers and songwriters finding talent. You don’t have to rely on labels to tell you what’s hot anymore. It’s the other way around. The culture tells the labels what’s hot. Your Instagram should be a highlight reel of your career. Consistent and focused. Biggest problems independent musicians make is that they’re too erratic on social media, which is a symptom of poor strategy. They post too much, too often, and about too many different things. On the flip side of that, not posting enough can hurt you as well. Dreamville is the poster child example of a brand that’s leveraging Instagram the way a label or brand should be. Creativity is the most important thing about the music industry. Without the creativity, there is no industry. Without the creatives, there’s nothing to sell and nothing to buy. Making music your career: Jay - You went to NYU Tisch School of Arts and got a degree in music - most of your peers in the game didn’t go that route. What do you feel were the benefits of going that route vs the school of hard knocks that most of your peers have taken? G - What was the point when you realized you didn’t need a “9 to 5” or “day job” to support yourself. How did you make that transition to where music became your passion + your bread winner? What advice would you give to upcoming artists who want to quit their “day job” to do music full time? G - Music business is such a grind - many people early on take a lot of L’s and call it quits. Did you ever have that moment where you thought maybe this business wasn’t for you? You’re “in” - Now What? Jay - What was the first moment where you felt like “OK - I’m really doing this” - was there an artist or producer you were working with, a placement, etc? G - What was the amount of your first royalty or publishing check? G - How do you even get to work with artists like J Cole and Nelly? Was it a plug? Manager? This is the holy grail for music producers. This is what every single person is trying to do. How did you beat out the thousands if not millions of other people trying to do this? Jay - You have spent a lot of time in the studio with some pretty big names. But you continue to work with a lot of independent artists like Gaetano and myself. You’re obviously at a point in your career where you can afford to be selective - why do you continue to work with indie artists and what are the things that you look for when deciding which ones to work with? Behind The Music Biz - Major Labels + Technology Disruption G - So Quick, you have a lot of experience working with artists who are signed to major labels with record deals. From your perspective, what is the common pattern among artists who are getting signed now, vs artists who are not? In other words, what are the big companies looking for when deciding on what types of artists to sign? Jay - On the other end of the spectrum are indie artists who now enjoy a larger platform than ever before as a result of platforms like Spotify, Soundcloud and social media i.e. Instagram, that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Talk to us about the impact that technology has had on the industry and is it truly the great “equalizer” for unsigned artists to get exposure. G - Let’s talk about popularity vs talent for artists - there’s a lot of debate of what it means to be an “A&R” today. Is it just a bunch of interns sitting in a label office scavenging through YouTube looking for the next big viral thing? Is it really just all about numbers? Or is there still some element of - “this artist has star potential, works hard and has remarkable talent. I believe we have something here that’s worth taking a shot on, despite very low followers counts / views on social media.” Building a Brand (as a producer): Jay - Aside from all the accomplishments and accolades - there is something notable about the KQuick brand. Visually, your instagram feed has an aesthetic. Your Tweets have a distinct style and tone. Is this something you intentionally think about, or does it come naturally? G - What are some of the biggest mistakes you see upcoming artists, songwriters and producers make when it comes to building a brand for themselves? Jay - How are you doing this for your group, Click n’ Press and are there any other examples of artists in the game who are doing it right, indie or otherwise? What’s Next? G - Quick, you’ve already done sooooo much, but we know you don’t sleep! What are some projects you’re working on right now that you’re excited about? What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years. Jay - Do you have any regrets? Anything you would have done differently? Any situations with major fuck ups on your part? Have you ever been burned by anyone in the industry? If so, what happened? G - What’s the #1 piece of advice you have for business leaders or entrepreneurs today who are building a brand or company, or simply striving to achieve something great in their life or career? Jay - What’s the #1 piece of advice you have for creatives / musicians that are seeking to take their career to the next level?
11 minutes | Jan 31, 2020
Introducing Musicians In Tech: a Podcast for Professionals and Musicians Alike
Have you ever wondered what the CEO of Goldman Sachs does in his free time? He’s actually a part-time DJ and music producer. And he’s not the only one. Hundreds of professionals are pursuing music and other creative outlets in their spare time. That’s why Gaetano DiNardi and Jay Alexander wanted to start this podcast. On Musicians In Tech, we’re bridging the gap into both worlds. We’re not feeling the same old B2B nonsense anymore. We want to bring creative inspiration into the tech world, and allow unique people to our world to share their stories. We’re talking about how to connect the dots and identify people who are doing incredible things in their careers while also creating art. Want to connect with Gaetano and Jay to collaborate? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with them on LinkedIn.
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