Music content producers on a panel at the Billboard Latin Music Conference on Tuesday (April 26) told an audience full of artists, songwriters and wannabes that there are different avenues to having their music heard. The old radio standard is, well, old.
These days, you can hear a new song in a movie, on a TV sitcom or telenovela or even in an advertisement. Target has become famous for using artists, especially emerging artists, to jam up their TV commercials.
So producers are always on the prowl.
"I listen to everything I get," said Lynn Fainchtein, music supervisor Casete, who has worked on major motion pictures like The Revenant and Birdman as well as independent films like Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien.
"There’s a lot of music out there. Too much," Fainchtein said.
When does she know she has heard something that will work? "In the first 30 seconds to a minute, it has to reach my soul."
Some producers find music through catalogs, like the ones at Sunflower Entertainment Group, a music publishing firm and record label that manages a catalog of music including work from Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Ike Turner, Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding, Frank Sinatra, Thelonious Monk, Marvin Gaye, Duke Ellington, and Charles Stepney.
They also specialize in independent Latin music, however, and were the perfect partner for Netflix when it decided to produce its Narcos series, based on the life of Pablo Escobar.
"We have two catalogues of Colombian music," said Sunflower president and co-founder Jamar Chess, who had to find, for example, a song that Escobar would listen to in his Jeep on the mountainside in 1986.
"That was a good fit for us. Sort of a match made in heaven."
Artists can pitch them directly. "But you have to be smart," Chess said. "Do your homework. Research what shows are being made and, most importantly, it has to be a great song."
Fainchtein went a step further and created a website where artists can upload their music for her to hear. She loves it because it allows her to hear music that is not recorded, even street music. And also because the cost of popular, recorded songs is sometimes out of her reach.
Great songs can even be found on Twitter, said Fainchtein. "I save them in a folder and then review them over the weekend."
The point is that producers have to look everywhere because they never know where the next great song is going to come from."
That’s good news for young artists who are using social media as their springboard, three of which were on a panel about social influencers and how that is shaping our musical future.
"Social media networks are no longer just tools. They are an integral part of the music industry," said Saak, whose very career started on YouTube and who has become an influencer with almost 100,000 followers on twitter ad 114,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. A J Balvin cover he recorded in one take a year ago has had more than 313,500 views.
"We are in a very pivotal moment because people are hearing new sounds. We have the opportunity to bring new things to people," said Saak, who was also on La Voz Mexico.
YouTube and social media allows artists to be playful, said Hector "Bully" Trejo.
"We can experiment. We don’t have that great pressure from the labels to have to submit a perfect product," Trejo said.
And social media allows the artists to connect to the audience quicker than radio, said Sebastian Villalobos.
"If you want the song to be successful, you need a public who hears it," said Villalobos. "If you include them in the creation of your song, then they feel it is also theirs… they will ask for it on the radio."
He says that also creates loyalty.
"We all know videos that go viral that and from one night to the next morning become huge. But they are also forgotten just as quickly," Villalobos said.
He used Ricky Martin Snapchats as an example. "People got to know him."
Said Saak: "People are no longer interested in the untouchable artist. They want artists they can get to know."
Trejo said that including the audience in the creative process also builds strong bonds.
"We are sharing the experience with them," he said. "While we are writing, creating, recording at the studio… they can see the passion we have for a project and then they know if they want to support it."
Journalist Raul Garcia, who moderated the second panel, said it was like having "a focus group without having to pay for it."