“The easiest way to think about VFILES is as a media company,” VFILES CEO and founder Julie Anne Quay tells Billboard. “We’re a global pop culture epicenter.” The social media site, Soho boutique storefront and lifestyle platform connects young creatives both digitally and IRL. Their successful VFILES Runway shows expose up-and-coming designers from diverse backgrounds to NYFW and fashion industry networks, they host free Live at VFILES shows with artists like Lil Yachty and Migos, and they facilitate collaborations across creative communities.
VFILES’ inclusive nature and organic relationships with influential designers and musicians (Young Thug was an official VFILES Runway mentor) has brought the brand to an almost inevitable conclusion: launching the music vertical and non-traditional record label VFILES LOUD.
“Through our DJ championship [competitions] and VFILE live programs, we were starting to see and meet a lot of young artists that were sending us their work and asking for help,” Quay explains. “So we thought we should offer a music incubator where we can create opportunities for them, a music industry disruption kind of program.”
Of course, record label is perhaps limiting a title for the comprehensive services LOUD will offer its emerging musicians ini 2017. It’s a joint project with former Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden and launch partner Converse, meaning each respective entity’s resources will come into play. Converse will provide artists with crucial access to Rubber Tracks recording studio in Boston, while Madden offers a wealth of traditional music industry knowledge from years as a successful musician and MDDN label founder.
Converse, a company deep rooted in street style and youth culture, looks forward to collaborating with a like-minded brand. “We are thrilled to partner with VFILES LOUD on this new platform as we continue our commitment to providing opportunities and unprecedented tools to youth worldwide.” -Julien Cahn, Converse Chief Marketing Officer, said in a press release.
Madden is also a longtime fan and friend of VFILES and shares their passion of authenticity, transparency in business and empowering musicians. “As a company that already has a culture, [VFILES LOUD] provides a great opportunity for artists to be able to share in that and build upon it,” Madden tells Billboard. “I feel like a true, organic connection [between artists and brands] only happens with real cultural movements, and when that lines up, everyone wins — most importantly, the artists that are able to make their art and survive.”
VFILES LOUD will launch with a NYFW pre-show livestream featuring music’s most exciting artists: A Boogie Wit Day Hoodie, Playboi Carti, Lion Babe, Zara Larsson, Cardi B and Dave East. “Cardi B, she’s amazing. She has incredible energy,” Quay says. VFILES has a relationship with most of the bill’s acts – they’ve produced TMI video clips with Lion Babe and hosted a live show at Overthrow Boxing Club with Zara Larsson where she actually performed in a boxing ring. “We come at everything first and foremost as fans.”
The music vertical will then release up to six singles sourced from the VFILES online community where all users are able to submit songs for the opportunity to be managed, mentored, marketed, and represented by LOUD. Tokyo The Producer, a London-based hip-hop artist the team has already discovered through the VFILES digital community, is one of the acts Quay and Madden are excited to work with.
“It’s amazing to see the importance of fans and the power of community,” Quay says. “We just want to blow that up and share this energy that’s created at VFILES with more people.”
The VFILES Runway 8 show — which will feature designers Snow Xue Gao, Strateas Carlucci and Daniëlle Cathari — will be live-streamed on VFILES.com on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. The pre-show will live-stream from noon to 4 p.m. ET.