On day four of GRAMMY Camp L.A. Campers had the chance to observe four music industry professionals give their insights into the music industry. The event was moderated by Scott Goldman, Vice-President of the GRAMMY Foundation.
The panel featured Steven Slate, one of the top audio producers, Brian London, a music director for some of the biggest artists, including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Jason Derulo, and Lady Gaga, Ryan Rabin, the drummer and producer for the band Grouplove, and Haley Reinhart, a former third place finalist on American Idol who is now signed with Interscope Records. Goldman kicked off the panel with the question everyone in the room wondered -- how does someone start a career in the music industry? London emphasized networking. He studied Musical Theatre in Chicago then moved to Los Angeles and managed to get his first job all because of someone he was "sitting next to." Slate, however, talked about the risky ways he took to making it big. By attending GRAMMY parties, whether he was invited or not, he was able to give producers his disks and make a name for himself in the business. Reinhart was lucky and talented enough to compete in the television show American Idol and obtain a career as a singer. While she was performing on television, Rabin was sharing his band's songs with friends. After the songs got out, indie music blogs shared Grouplove's music like people share tapas.
As the panel went on, Goldman's questions became more personal. He asked London if there was anyone in high school who helped him. London revealed that it was one of his friends who taught him piano because she was classically trained. As Rabin emphasized later, for his work in production and percussion, a background in piano and music theory is essential. Rabin also mentioned his time here at USC where he studied music law. He didn't go in to much detail, other than saying that understanding contracts and deals is very helpful for artists.
All four panelists kept reinforcing the concept that the music industry is not a simple industry to work in. Following American Idol, Reinhart followed her gut and moved to L.A. She began "speed dating" producers and writers and, even though she signed with Interscope Records, she had met a lot of people with a lot of mindsets. Slate kept the same mindset after he started his own company. He never lost focus of why all his workers and him were at the point they were at. Even though his company bears his name, his business is a team effort. It's similar to collaborating with musicians. London sang, dance and played with Bruno Mars, sang and played for Taio Cruz, and played the keyboards for Lady Gaga. A background in all aspects of the music industry is vital. He needed to learn all types of music, because the artists he worked with would want to talk to him about their favorite artists. The more he could connect with his clients, the easier his projects were. Listening to and living with music is as important as working in music.
Slate brought attention to the changes in the music industry. Before, an artist would have to do "x, y, and z" to get a record contract. Now, however, there's the internet. The internet demolished the old standards to help artists get contracts because of Youtube and blogs.
The panel ended with some words of wisdom by the professionals. College is great, but it can also be time-consuming. It's important for someone to understand his/her current situation and his/her future as an artist before making any significant decisions. And as an artist, it's important to keep all audiences in mind. Reinhart put herself in another person's shoes for her song "Undone" off her album Listen Up! Sometimes, it's necessary to "act" and embody a certain vibe and mood to get an emotion across.
As students filed out for lunch it was clear, all 77 GRAMMY Campers left with a greater understanding of the music industry.
Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy®/WireImage.com, photo by Jesse Grant © 2012