I was recently asked to speak at a music networking panel discussion and showcase in the Boca area of South Florida and jumped at the chance to do it immediately. I must admit, I get excited when I get invited to be a part of events like this. It’s part the performer in me, part the chatterbox in me, and part the emerging mentor in me that gets me so eager to participate. As an entertainer, I feel safe being as transparent as possible in front of an audience, and I get a thrill from the energy ebb and flow between audience and performer-or, in this case-speaker. I also get to meet and sit alongside other panelists from different aspects of the entertainment industry, exchange ideas and perspectives with them, talk about topics I am incredibly passionate about, and, hopefully, share some knowledge I have picked up along the way to some people who might appreciate it. Needless to say, I had a great time, and by the end of the night, I was reminded how powerful networking in the music (and any) industry is, and how valuable this in-person exchange still is in this high-tech age.
This particular event was organized and hosted by a young musician-turned-entrepreneur name Arielle Cohen. I met Arielle several months back through IDA’s founder, David, and immediately felt drawn to her spirit. I found her to be so bright, ambitious, hard-working, and forward-thinking. She seemed to possess all the qualities successful people share. To give a little more backstory, Arielle is the founder of a music industry networking app called Zuke Music. In a sea of start-ups, what I found so interesting about Zuke from the start was the simplicity in it’s purpose. It just bridges the gap between artist and team. Basically, it facilitates exposure, discovery, file swapping, bartering, and/or payment for services between a wide array of (as of now carefully curated) collaborators, breaking it all down by location, genre, and necessity. Oddly enough, I still hear complaints from young artists explaining that it is still very difficult, with social media and all, to find quality, like-minded collaborators. Zuke lays it all out, song split forms and all, providing access to high-level industry pros (as well as like-minded amateurs down to put in quality work) and the tools necessary to make these collaborative processes smooth and painless.
I cannot stress the importance of collaboration enough. When I was starting my career, I started working with a very hungry and talented musician/songwriter/producer who believed in what I had to offer as a singer/songwriter and vice versa. We both wanted to put in the work, and we both had the same top-level goals and drive to reach them. We immediately partnered up and got to work. He brought on board his multi-talented wife as back-up vocalist on recordings and in-house photographer, a very gifted best friend who handled all the graphic design for web and print (yes, we still printed stuff back then), another best friend who knew everyone in the night club scene and worked as head of street team and promotions, and yet another best friend’s wife to handle PR. All this work was in good faith….pro bono. Everyone believed in the other’s abilities and wanted to create great art and success together. It was pretty powerful. With our little (but mighty) 5 person team, we made some pretty cool stuff happen. We put a record out with a feature performed by one of the OG’s of reggaeton (just as the genre was on its major mainstream rise), I booked a hosting gig on a nationally syndicated TV show, we garnered rotation on local radio stations, a ton of press, top charting video play in over 20 different countries, club play, and we were building a substantial following, all while on a shoestring budget. Looking back, it might seem so small, but it felt so huge to us. We were a fully functioning record label, publisher, marketing, management, and promotion team based out of apartment 6B in a building located in a modest area of Miami. We were “The Bureau,” and no one we dealt with at the time would have known who or what this “Bureau” really consisted of. Like I always say…build your network, build your net worth. Now, I know this kind of chemistry and unity doesn’t fall from the sky, but, I do believe that if you want to create it badly enough, you can attract and manifest the right team and make amazing things happen.
Now, back to Arielle’s event. I arrived not really knowing what to expect. I was greeted by a young, very organized and professional team, waiting to guide and accommodate the participants and panelists as they arrived. I immediately got to chatting with them as well as some of the other panelists. Everyone was so welcoming and equally as excited to connect and get to know each other. I was impressed by the turnout once we took the stage to start, and I looked up and finally got to take in the rather full house. I was inspired by the young, diverse crowd’s interest in the discussion and Q&A on digital marketing for creatives and the modern day music industry. But, what really got me, was the part after we finished and went to take our seats to check out the performances. We all had some eager guests waiting to introduce themselves, have a little one-on-one time, pick our brains, and hand us their biz cards. I was so impressed by these fresh up-and-comers. Not all millennials feel they are owed something. There are many that still believe in professionalism, work ethic, and getting up off their asses to go to an event like this, share time with each other, support one another, and be humble enough to learn from and meet people who are doing what they want to do as a career. I felt a restored faith in the new generation of music makers, and industry revolutionaries. They’re out there and they want to meet, and connect, and grow. They just have to be given more platforms and opportunities to do so.
Another thing that was interesting to me was that I was very no-nonsense and straight-forward with them in my delivery during the discussion, which I tend to be in general-sometimes to a fault- and, yet, they seemed to appreciate it. They connected to it, and they wanted to hear more. Just when I thought a generation of “softies” was emerging, they proved me wrong.
I’ve been setting up follow-ups with the people who came up to me that night because I feel that they sincerely earned my time and advice. They really have the right attitude and approach, and that goes a long way in my book. While I know we can reach many more people via social media, I, personally, want to dig further into my own hometown of Miami and its surrounding areas and get more one-on-one time with these talented hopefuls that will create things like Zuke and change the way we are exposed to and consume this kind of talent and authenticity. I can’t wait to see what Arielle and others like her can and will make happen in a near future, and it all begins with the power of networking.
About the Author, Liza Quin:
Liza Quin began performing at the age of five. She has since worked behind the scenes in the music industry; writing songs, recording back-up vocals, & singing alongside several superstars such as Jennifer Lopez, Nelly, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Alejandro Sanz, Jon Secada, Ziggy Marley, Jencarlos Canela, to name a few. As a songwriter, her credits include collaborations on several world renowned songs including Gloria Estefan’s Grammy nominated “Out of Nowhere,” as well as songs for the likes of Mandy Moore, Ricky Martin & MSM (Miami Sound Machine). After vocal producing & coaching for many of the artists she had written songs for, including international mega stars like Belinda & Paulina Rubio, Quin got the chance to work as vocal director & coach for the Orianne and Phil Collins Little Dreams Foundation gala with the likes of guest stars Phil Collins & Lou Gramm (Foreigner). Quin has recently branched out further, working as creative director of artist development for All Access IDA & IDA records (WEA).