Every up-and-coming musician and songwriter should be acquainted with Youbloom. The music festival helps independent musicians meet with industry insiders through top-notch panels. They can also perform at live shows around Los Angeles and be part of a network that aims to impart valuable skills to its members.
The third Youbloom Music Summit and Festival took place last week Sept. 29 to Oct 1 with panels at Hamilton High School for the Arts. Shows were held at various venues such as The Lexington, La Cuevita and Griffins of Kinsale over the three nights. More than 80 bands from across the country as well as from countries such as the UK and Brazil performed.
The brainchild of Phil Harrington, Youbloom founder and CEO whose aim was initially to build a strong database of artists. Youbloom began in 2010 as a song competition in Ireland that was judged by Sir Bob Geldof. It has since become an annual music festival and summit, held in Dublin and Los Angeles. Harrington believes in closing that gap between the one per cent in the music industry that makes all the money and the majority that finds it hard to eek out a living as a singer/songwriter or musician in a band.
He explained: "Just to get things in perspective 75 per cent of revenues goes to a few hundred artists, and 5 per cent to 7 million artists. There's a huge imbalance in the music industry. And the whole idea behind Youbloom is to try and shift that. Historically, we see that when an artist is breaking out and starting to get signed, that is the time where they need the most help to get outside their own locale, to have a sustained reach and to be able to build on it." Hence, Youbloom is dedicated to emerging and independent artists.
Youbloom's summit kicked off with a morning panel that saw industry big wigs such as the Assistant VP at ASCAP Loretta Munoz, Associate Director at BMI Justin Seiser and VP at SESAC, James Leach. These aren't names that a songwriter sitting in their bedroom writing songs might necessarily know but at the conference, participants realize that PROs or Performing Rights Organizations are there to aid them and the three big ones were represented at the festival.
They all recommended participants do some research into the various PROs, sign up with one that they feel most comfortable with and take the opportunity at the festival to introduce themselves. Networking and building relationships can be just as crucial to working artists and ones starting out as writing a clutch of good songs.
Leach who worked with Michael Jackson when the singer was at the pinnacle of his career, runs SESAC which unlike the other two PROs is by invitation only. He said: "It's not as mysterious as it sounds. We're a small boutique company and it's all about the song and passion. If someone is an architect who likes to write music as a hobby we're obviously not going to invite him."
And once your songs start to get some traction or airplay, these are the services that go out and make sure a band gets paid for a song played at a cinema, shopping mall or live event.
The panel that followed "Sync or Swim" gave useful advise on how to get in touch with a music supervisor that is responsible for placing your song in a film or television show. Often just getting hold of their e-mails do not get artists any closer to their goal, a personal introduction is what might get you a leg up. Music supervisors for successful shows such as "Pretty Little Liars" have bulging inboxes and often go by recommendations from those in the industry or friends. But there were practical tips like if an artist is going to send their music file then make sure to meta-tag it with all their details.
In fact, the music industry with all its glitzy awards shows and rarefied air, at the conference felt very much like a cottage industry. More than one panel speaker revealed that they listened to music on the recommendation of friends, or that they booked a band for a residency because they simply liked the music. It may be a job but most people were still doing it for the love of it.
Music supervisor, Matt Linsky said: "I'm here because of Phil. He is doing Youbloom for all the right reasons and he has really put himself on the line for other artists and musicians. And events like this - they are the healthy part of this community. Someone like Loretta Munoz these kids come in not knowing just how powerful she is - she is the top of the food chain, to get a chance to introduce yourself to her that is priceless ."
A driving force and champion of the local indie music scene for almost two decades is Spaceland Presents. They book shows for venues such as The Echo and The Regent. It's Event Producer and Talent Buyer, Liz Garo was introduced as the fairy godmother to the scene's up-and-coming artists. Though she admitted to loving Americana music and Johnny Cash at heart, she has been instrumental in helping to break new acts. She said: "I can also enjoy sonic noise. And I will sometimes take chances on a band even if the music doesn't really appeal to me. We are not Goldenvoice or Livenation so we can take those risks. But I still like to see a new band do their homework."
She recommended that bands go play smaller shows, print fliers to get word out, get on on a music blog, upload music to Soundcloud - all these things will help create that buzz on the street. And it just might find its way to someone like Garo.
To keep up to date with Youbloom, please visit www.youbloom.com