The fourth annual FlashFWD Awards will take place May 22 at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City. The event, presented by SoundCTRL and 'stache media, will include special performances by Glassnote-signed EDM artist Robert DeLong, up-and-coming rapper Joey Bada$$, dance crew iLuminate and more to be revealed in the days to come. Jesse Kirshbaum, the man in charge of the event, took a moment to discuss with Billboard his thoughts on music and technology.
Billboard: Let’s talk about SoundCtrl and FlashFWD. How are you involved with each of these entities?
I'm the CEO of NUE Agency, and we came up with SoundCtrl because we were exploring new revenue models for our clients and were very interested in the potential of the digital space. When I moved back to New York from LA, I noticed there was a lot of community action happening in Silicon Alley (NYC), but nothing centered around the convergence of music & technology.
We created SoundCtrl to break-down business models, explore trends, bounce around ideas that were taking shape in technology, and amplify different companies and individuals who were shaping the new music business.
It started a lot more informally as think tanks, meet-ups, etc., and it ended up evolving to include more structured events, a website with daily news stories and the FlashFWD Awards.
SoundCtrl wouldn't be made possible without the support of our board, the community and the music and tech entrepeuers continuing to push the needle and shape the new wave!
We have a lot more exciting things in the works, especially as music tech culture continues to evolve.
What is NUE Agency, specifically?
It’s a boutique, international booking agency. We represent about fifty acts exclusively and then do a lot of curation for brands. We work very closely with the college market, as well as brands, festivals, and major & independent promoters. We’ve been around five years, doing concerts, tours and endorsement deals for our clients. Through this type of work we’ve been able to fuel properties like SoundCtrl, our record label aveNUE Music Parnterships, and various other ventures we consult for.
Recently we just launched CRWN, an interview series with Rap Radar’s Elliott Wilson. Our last one with Tyler, The Creator got huge traction on-line. We’re doing J. Cole next Tuesday in NYC, and exploring taking it on the road and interviewing artist in various cities after that. The content feels sort of like “Inside the Actor’s Studio” meets "Homecoming" for rappers.
And you also do the FlashFWD Awards, which is this coming up Wednesday at the Gramercy Theatre in New York. What should we look forward to?
Well first we put together the second annual Music Tech Day at the Internet Week NY headquarters in the Metropolitan Pavilion. We're taking over the main stage to feature different conversations with experts on music and tech, speaking on various relevant topics.
Then that night the 4th annual FlashFWD Awards is an invite-only, one-of-a-kind celebration of music and technology culture. It’s an exciting room and a fun event, meant to amplify six different kinds of trends in music tech this year: mobile & tablet, artist support, discovery, live, gaming and the SoundWav Award, which goes to the influential person of the year. I have been going to music events for a long time now, about ten years, and when you go to record event releases these days (for example) it just doesn’t have the same energy music tech does. There’s just a really cool, hip energy and you’ll feel that in FlashFWD. It’s going to be tech entrepreneurs, it’s going to be chief marketing officers, it’s going to be branding agents, it’s going to be artists, it gonna be music folks. It just gonna be this kind of fun scene built around a well-produced show.
What are some of the highlights? What are some of the most important nominations?
Robert DeLong is opening the event with a couple of songs, then our presenters are a hip hop comedy duo ItsTheReal. Just some of the people we’ll have are Nate Auerbach, the music evangelist from Tumblr, in from LA. We’ve got Instagram, winning for their work on mobile and tablet. We’re honoring Pitchfork for their Soundplay project with Intel that connected artists like M83 and Passion Pit with game developers. And then we’ve got Questlove coming in as the SoundWav award winner, following in the foot steps of Scooter Braun (2012) and Troy Carter (2011). Also excited about Joey Bada$$, Charles Yang and our surprise closer.
Each of these areas, from gigging platforms to listening and radio services to search/discovery apps, have all played an important role in defining the music and technology space. Which of these were the most important in 2012?
I think that each of them are extremely important and are continuing to move the needle. Instagram has really been able to impact music by giving people a view into what’s going on in their favorite artist’s world. Tumblr has become the de facto way for an artist to create and share their content in a more meaningful way than Twitter, even. It’s not like there is just one breakout hit right now in music, it feels like it’s coming from multiple avenues.
These companies are creating a whole new landscape, and that’s why FlashFWD is important. It helps to shine a spotlight on these new companies that are starting to really impact the way music is consumed and enjoyed.
What is in the horizon in the years to come for SoundCtrl and FlashFWD?
This is the fourth annual FlashFWD. We launched SoundCtrl at Internet Week five years ago and it was the only music event [during] Internet Week. Now there’s a full day dedicated to it, and music is tied into all their different awards and events and parties.
SoundCtrl plans to ramp up its editorial coverage to become an Internet culture hub for music and technology. As the space grows, SoundCtrl will continue to grow and stay ahead of the curve.
For FlashFWD, this year we’re in the Gramercy Theatre, but next year we have aspirations to further amplify the message with a bigger venue and more content around the nominees leading up to the show. Even broadcasting.