A look at Pepsi’s history shows the brand has always known the importance of merging with the music industry (see: its most recent collaborations with Doja Cat and Chloe, in addition to its past sponsorship of the Super Bowl Halftime Show). Now, the brand is stepping into artist development with its newest creation, the Pepsi Music Lab.
In partnership with distribution company UnitedMasters, the Pepsi Music Lab — which took place in New York City on Oct. 25 to Oct. 27 — offered 12 rising artists mentorship and coaching from music industry professionals, brand building workshops, performance camps and more to help hone their craft and allow them to continue on the path to rising stardom.
“Pepsi is a brand that has a proven global track record for minting music superstars and shaping some of the most iconic moments in music and pop culture. Now, we are excited to shine a spotlight on the next generation of artists with our new Pepsi Music Lab platform,” says Todd Kaplan, chief marketing officer at Pepsi. “By removing barriers within the music industry, we can provide these talented artists with the resources, knowledge, exposure, and connections to help accelerate their growth as musicians and further enable their success – it will truly make a positive impact on the futures of the artists we believe will push the industry forward.”
Pepsi Music Lab’s class of ’22-’23 features 12 independent musicians across genres handpicked by UnitedMasters. The list includes:
- AKINYEMI, Rap – New York, N.Y.
- Amira Unplugged, Multi-genre – Stone Mountain, Ga.
- Brian V., Pop – New York, N.Y.
- Cain Lofton, Multi-genre – Chicago, Ill.
- GODBY, Rap – Washington, D.C.
- Kbthesinger, Hip-Hop – St. Louis, Miss.
- Lexie Hayden, Country – Nashville, Tenn.
- Lynnea M, Pop – Los Angeles, Calif.
- NOHEMY, Latin Pop-Urban – Bayamon, Puerto Rico
- Oompa, Hip-Hop – Boston, Mass.
- SERGIO, Pop/Latino – Redwood City, Calif.
- Tarik, Hip-Hop – Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Mentors and Workshops
The artists arrived to Pepsi Music Lab’s location at 10 Jay Street on Oct. 25 for an opening ceremony and gathering at the location. On Oct. 26, the industry hopefuls were treated to a series of workshops, first from independent rapper LaRussell, who advised the singer-songwriters on how to build their personal brand-building through social media and marketing tools.
In the afternoon, the artists had the opportunity to speak with Director X — known for his work on videos for Jay-Z, Rihanna, Drake, Fifth Harmony, One Direction and more — who mentored the rising stars on how they could make visual content that has a lasting impact in their careers going forward.
Sandwiched in between a press training workshop, Roc Nation senior vice president Lenny S spoke to the selected artists about the importance of developing and maintaining their connections, while choreographer Laurieann Gibson gave performance coaching and choreography lessons to help improve their stage presence.
The third day of the training camp (Oct. 27) saw the artists taking headshots with Lenny S, setting up sizzle reels with Director X and recording sample radio spots with Dwayne Crawford, engineer and editor of Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club.
“I’ve been in Nashville for seven years creating country music so being part of this program exposes me to artists from all genres of music and it’s allowed me to be able to create and collaborate with others, in the future,” Hayden told Billboard of the experience. “One of the biggest takeaways I got was from LaRussell… he said, ‘Don’t set goals, work hard — and they’ll come to you and it will happen if you work hard.'”
“I’ve been following LaRussell for a while, and his drive and the way he approaches his social content and holds himself in interviews is really inspiring. It constantly gives me the motivation and redefined my purpose and an artist,” Queens native AKINYEMI added of the the rapper’s Oct. 26 workshop.
Nohemy focused on the choreography workshop in the three day lab, and shared that Gibson’s class was the most helpful to her: “Performing is a very big thing for me, so getting tips from Laurieann is going to make a huge difference in my stage presence and will help me be more in time with my moves and more in control of my energy. For people that know me, I’m very energetic on stage, so being able to know when and how to channel that energy throughout an hour show I think is really important.”
And while getting to sit in on all of the workshops was a great experience for Lynnea M., the connections she was able to cement was her biggest takeaway, saying, “Meeting other artists is going to help us because we have those extra connections — not just with the artists, but with the people in the industry that we met as well.”
At the end of the three-day program, all artists who participated received individual plaques commemorating the time they spent in Pepsi Music Lab’s class of 2022-2023.
“Pepsi has a long history of helping great artists break through, reshaping pop culture and leaving an unforgettable impression on all of us,” says Steve Stoute, ceo and founder of UnitedMasters. “Now in partnership with UnitedMasters, Pepsi is empowering the next generation of creators, helping them hone their craft and develop their talent so that they can generate the next big moment. Connecting independent artists to a brand with this rich legacy is the formula for creating a new future of music.”