This episode dives into the world of music streaming with interviews from Jay Troop, who works in Artist & Industry Insights at Pandora, Lyric Rains-Bury, an artist, producer, and student, and Shun Hendrix, recording R&B artist and actor. These three interviews touch on our guests' experiences distributing their music, using music analytic tools, and dives into their overall experiences on music streaming platforms. This episode features music from Ace, the Storyteller.
Jay: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Drop the MIC podcast where we'll dive into conversations with some of the music industry's most established professionals
Like all of our episodes, what you will hear today has been created and curated by Stanford students who are breaking their way into the music scene.
I'm Jay LeBouef and I lead Stanford University's music industry initiatives. Whether you're aspiring to launch your career in the music industry are already a music industry pro, or just curious to learn more. We've got you covered.
N'Naserri: [00:00:27] Thanks for listening to this episode of drop the mic podcast. In this episode, we will be diving into the world of the music streaming industry with Nicole Ike Natalie's Zezza and me N'Naserri Carew Johnson.
Natalie: [00:00:39] This is Natalie. In this episode. You'll hear from Jay troop, working in artists and industry insights, at Pandora.
Lyric Rains Bury, an artist producer and student on Shun Hendrix.
Nicole: [00:00:51] And this is Nicole these three interviews will touch on their experiences distributing their music using analysis tools and their overall experiences on music streaming platforms
Natalie: [00:01:01] our first interview is with Jay Troop from Pandora , an analyst at next big sound and a musician himself, in this interview we'll learn how artists can harness their streaming data and use technology to their advantage while staying true to their core values and creating meaningful art through their music.
I kind of just wanted to start off with asking you, what your role in particular within Pandora and Next Big Sound is, and what attracted you to working in the streaming
Jay Troop: [00:01:29] I started talking to the next big sound, uh, founders back in 2015 and went to work with them there. And then we got acquired by Pandora, and then we got acquired again now by Sirius XM. And so I work for now the Pandora for creators, which were, is like in the transition of like, Starting to work directly with the, with the Sirius XM site as well.
Um, but the, the creator org, then we are a product team. We are an insights team. I, I personally manage the, the data partnerships we have with all of the major labels,
um, and so it's kind of this mishmash of things, but it's all basically with the focus of working with the industry and working with the artist and their teams, both in terms of trying to build tools for them. So they can like understand their fan base on Pandora and on Sirius XM. So they can more easily market to those fans.
And so they can, uh, just kind of. Fully engaged with the audience they have on Pandora, as they're trying to market their, their, their music and grow their fan base in the broader ecosystem of online streaming. So, yeah, so artist and industry insights is the, is the role, but I, I may mostly work as like an analyst and then kind of working out in the industry,
Work with this data, what sort of choices we can make with it and, uh, and, and how it can just help us make our lives easier.
Natalie: [00:02:55] Am I correct in saying that you're an artist yourself?
Jay Troop: [00:02:58] I am. Yeah. So I've been making records, right. And it's why I wanted to work in the music industry in the first place.
And why I kind of made the jump over to the next big sound five years ago. Um, I've been making music my whole life right now. I play bass in a band called Harville, H a R V I L L E. Everyone thinks I'm saying horrible there and it's. That feedback is interesting. Um, but no, so yeah, we've actually got a, an EP coming out on Friday.
Um, and so that's exciting for us. Uh, it's been a challenging time with COVID and all of that, but, definitely the experience of working my own. Records and working on friends records and helping advise on some of my friend's bands, both in New York and LA on how they can better market their music.
Has it given me a really interesting, it's interesting for me the perspective on just how these tools work and how marketing in this industry works? It is definitely a challenge out there. It's hard.
Natalie: [00:03:59] I, you know, do some work with data analytics too, and I think music is such an interesting one because you know, one of the pulls of next big sound is that a can track mentions.
And obviously that is such a valuable insight for many artists because. , different platforms have different listening bases. So for example, maybe Apple music and Spotify have a different listening base than Pandora. Um, so have you found that, if you track your mentions personally on different sites, that it's different?.
Jay Troop: [00:04:24] On Pandora using next big sound, we were able to. Kind of see where our music was starting to play and where, you know, stations were beginning to pop up and people were beginning to listen more and more.
And it's interesting to kind of watch the conversion, right. Because you could, we could with the next big sound map, that's up there. We could start to like, look at where it won't. You know, these people are hearing our song on radio stations that on our own, if they liked it, great, we'll see. And maybe a thumbs up or something and they might come back to it.
But most likely those fans are going to hear your song and not hear it again. Or they're not going to hear it again for, for some time. Um, but it was interesting to watch that then kind of convert and all of a sudden, we've got these clusters of listening around Houston and clusters of listening around Chicago and around Seattle and like seeing.
That okay, well now it's actually, you know, being able to drill down and say, well, this is only, this is 30 people, but they're making up for over a hundred streams there. Each person is listening to a couple of songs or listening to the same song over and over again. And that's when you can start to like, look at, uh, what's going on with your fan base and see like a listener turn into a fan.
Actually the best story I have about Twitter mentions, um, comes from the monkeys of all people. And we were just in the middle of a demo on the monkeys profile. Um, and they have a Twitter account and we had it linked up, and the mentions that they were getting were almost entirely coming from women and the retweets they were getting were almost entirely coming from men.
. And this is the thing that I say to a lot of bands when I'm talking to them about their data. Like, just look through things. If it looks exactly the way you expect, that's really okay. That is. Confirming your assumptions about your fan base, but you have to remember to not trust your assumptions too much,
And he said, well, all the mentions we're getting, we're getting from mostly women who are like, Hey, I'm doing something else in my life. Like it's fond memories from them hearing these songs when they were in high school or in their twenties, or like having com con con come across it later in life.
It's kind of a nostalgia play. But the, the voice of the socials of the folks kind of running the band socials was speaking more to their male fans on to Twitter.
That's so interesting. Do you think that because they had mostly been, you know, targeting males with the retweets, do you think it's within their best interest to change the way that they market themselves based on that, the consumption of the media on Twitter, or do you think they stay true to, you know, the people that they were appealing to originally
I don't think there's any easy answer here. I, I try and frame this in a way. That's not like, are you gonna sell out or stay true to yourself?
Because there are really two aspects at play. There's one, the kind of art you want to make and the relationship you want to have with your fans. And that's something that's deeply personal. It is something that, Only really connects when it's truly authentic. And when it is coming from a place of vulnerability and care and making art is hard, selling art is hard and people can smell something that doesn't feel real from a mile away.
So in that sense, you have to kind of, I think stay true to the core of whatever your mission is.
Natalie: [00:07:58] Actually, I wanted to ask you about, um, how technology influences your creative productivity as well. Because personally, I feel like up to a certain extent, and obviously I'm surrounded by tech every day, but I feel like, yeah. I really just need to remove myself from that sometimes.
Um, in order for me to produce better and more creative results, for my brain to actually start working again, rather than just relying on constant technology technology. Yeah.
Jay Troop: [00:08:21] Focus is really hard to come by. And I think it's absolutely essential to make good art. But every, you know, all of this, all of these things are tools.
I wanted to talk about the, how it changes our consumption too, because I think that on the streaming side, it's just really, really fascinating,
I think all of the software, this like explosion of plugins and, sampling and software, Instruments has made music more accessible. And that is fundamentally a good thing. And it's made, it's opened up music creation to more people. It's fundamentally a good thing.
And then every artist within that, I think needs to find a way to be able to like, You can't just like play with buttons. You have to figure out something to say, right. But it's hard to figure out what you want to say. And it helps to have a rich vocabulary to figure out what you want to say. And so building that vocabulary is playing with those sounds, building that vocabulary is practicing and it's the sitting down to do an hour at a keyboard when you don't want to.
All of the musical ideas that help you inform like the art you then want to go make, but like focus is, is critical. And so like I frequently try and turn the phone up, phones off, leave box tops behind just, you know, kind of mess with the creative process.
So you're not just swimming in tech, um, all, all of the, the time, Streaming has been awesome. Right? It's unlocked so much music to so many people, fundamentally $10 a month, is still a lot of music spending.
It is more than the average American was spending on music at the height of the CD boom. And so that's a lot of money in the music industry. Uh, and, and it also opens up such a breadth of music that people would never have been able to get access to. 25 years ago at that price point. It's great for discovery.
It's great. For all the ways that it builds music into our lives, but also it is unifying our listening in a weird way, instead of dozens and dozens of record stores, or even like tower records. You know, which might have like a local music ban or something on the side, much less all the indie record stores, that used to be all over the country and all over the world.
Now there are a handful of services, and even if you list like all of the big ones, the curators at those services now have an immense responsibility to keep. As much like diversity and breadth of quality music flowing to their listeners as they can. And I think we see like the culmination of where it's going in the last, like two years with TikTok, TikTok, especially last year, has cemented the global monoculture in a way that even a global platforms like Apple music and Spotify and Deezer hadn't yet.
If we like, if we have to rely on Tik TOK to be able to uncover and to be able to equip those people, the next generation of artists to make art like that, that kind of our own get made. And.
Not that any one project is indispensable, but I do think diversity of format is important because some stories are easy to tell in a minute or in 15 seconds when some art is fun as a backdrop to a dance video, but other really important art isn't.
Again, I still think tech is fundamentally a good force. It's just a tool. Um, it's just a tool that we all need to figure out how to, to use. And, and there are communities like Tumblr, which are different from the ones like Tik TOK, which are different from YouTube and vlogs. And, and so it's just going to be a matter of how we figure this out, but I am excited.
And so I think hopefully artists are still kind of experimenting with what they can do next.
Nicole: [00:12:05] What have you noticed about the change in the type of music that trends online like viral versus timeless singles versus albums? and short versus long Music.
Jay Troop: [00:12:17] Um, so I've see a lot of statistics about like, Oh, it's the death of the album, or it's the, you know, at first it was the death of the album and everything's going to be singles.
And then it was like, well, actually people are putting out longer and longer albums with shorter songs on them, because then they can rack up more plays with the same time spent listening so I, I'm not really sure. I think this is an industry that likes to reinvent itself at most, every six years.
We're going, some people are going to want short form and some, some music content works best in short form. And some of it works best in long form.
I think people are trying to figure out the streaming game. They're trying to maximize it and you see, you know, uh, a TikTok hit like old town road, which is still like one of my favorite stories from working in music, like, um, A super short song that just begs to be played again, that
broke out on TikTok.
That was a hit on country radio first, but then got pulled off of country radio because racism, but it only made the song get bigger because it made it a bigger story and a bigger hit. And then it broke every streaming record held by a single for all time. That's great. Right? Like that kind of thing is great, but you still have also, you know, you can't say that, Oh, it's just one minute 30 seconds songs and it's just quick singles.
So yeah, I, you know, I, I think, what would, we've really started to see and this part of what makes timelines across the industry so hard to actually create a really crisp narrative around is that we're seeing people like play to the medium and where they are connecting with fans.
Natalie: [00:13:59] This is a pretty big question. But what do you think, what, or who do you think is the future of the streaming industry, maybe in the next year or the next five years?
Next 10 years. Where do you see it going?
Jay Troop: [00:14:13] I think one of the things we're going to start seeing is more people blurring the lines between like, you know, podcasts and radio shows and commentary around this stuff. I think all of this works together to more fundamentally personalize our artistic experience to each person. I think. Fundamentally the streaming services are going to try and get really good at that.
Um, and it's gonna it's these like two competing pressures of like, we thought that infinite choice would actually increase the diversity of what we listened to and it actually has the opposite effect. I think that this, uh, this is a network effect that's been observed.
There's a number of places, but if you have like six options, People choose between six options. If you have a million options, people choose like two, because it's just, you get overwhelmed and everyone kind of starts doing the same thing. So I think that that tension is still going to exist, but it is so important for services like Pandora and Spotify and Apple music to be able to keep like leading you along a journey of music and music.
Is this awesome. Like deeply connected thing
, and I think that at the end of the day is going to build the music into like new nooks and crannies of our lives in a way that is personalized and in a way that fun, like increases the kind of world of music in which we travel.
Thank you so much for having me on. It's been lovely to, to, to talk about all this stuff. Just like for all the artists out there I worked at, I just thing that I encounter all the time.
So I'll just say it again here. Like don't sell yourself short. And remember to set aside money to market, don't spend all your money on the record. Just like if you have to do a Patreon and you have to get money from friends, if you have to borrow money from somebody, find somebody who believes in you and like work on that, remember to tell people about the art that you make and test.
If you can write down, if you like test what's effective, it'll help you save money in the long run. But like, All of these things are tools. I know a lot of people get intimidated by this data.
It's hard and it's a challenge. But at the end of the day, you're tracking people who like your art or don't like your art, but they heard your art. And I think if we, if we demystify that way, I think that that's super important to me. Like at the end of the day, all of this is just about people finding new music and building a community around your art. If they're your fans, they support you for a reason, find out why connect with them on that.
I think fundamentally like the most successful stuff, the most powerful stuff comes from when we can set that stuff aside and we can just connect with people.
Nicole: [00:16:58] Our second interview was with Lyric, similar to Jay he's also an artist. who balances his love for music with another full-time commitment of being a student. In this interview he spoke or has experiences distributing his music and using streaming platforms. From the artist side, I began by asking Lyric about how he uploads his music to streaming platforms.
How do you upload or sell your music? Is there a specific service that you use?
Lyric: [00:17:25] I use Distro Kid to release all of my music and I, I love it.
Nicole: [00:17:31] Why did you pick Distro Kid? And why do you love it
Lyric: [00:17:34] Well, the reason why I picked district kid is because it allows it's very, up-to-date, it's very, um, caught up with the times, whenever something, a new feature releases, for example, the, I don't know how many people are familiar with it, but the, uh, synched up lyrics on Apple music.
Almost as soon as that feature was released on Apple music Distro kid will made it to where you could sync up your own lyrics to that platform or to Apple music. And so the reason why I picked it is because it just lets me, , as an amateur artist for like, I don't really want to consider myself an amateur artist, but I'm still at that stage.
It takes a long time, but as an amateur artist or a hobbyist, I want to achieve as much sophistication and as much, professionality as I can. And the features that district kid gives its subscribers is beyond, sufficient, like I can upload my album covers. I can upload in any like, uh, capitalization that I want any stylization, it uploads to every single platform that's currently out right now.
, it all updates, which platforms is it? More platforms around the world are released. It makes sure, make sure that they partner with them. And so, yeah, it's just, it's never let me down.
Nicole: [00:18:47] When you create music? Do you ever think about the stream-ability of it?
Lyric: [00:18:52] I actually
Do a lot of the times, particularly my biggest fear. And I don't know if this pertains necessarily to your question is, uh, I think it does, um, a lot of streaming services compress your music. To make it to where it loads quickly make for no matter what you think there's a little bandwidth as possible.
But the issue that I have with that is that the top end or the more higher pitch parts of the song kind of loses quality. And I don't know how many streaming services are very transparent about what the process is behind that. I, if I make my music the way I like it, I don't really want a streaming service to alter that anyway.
So other than like the fact that a lot of times to sit cause they do it to save space and an MP3.
It's usually the platform, the files type. They choose my issue with MP3 to that. It does kill the top and a little bit. It makes it a little bit, I don't know how to describe it. It doesn't sound as clean as the original form, which is usually a dot wave or a dot F Lac. Um, but, , actual song composition and word choice.
I do focus on that a lot as well. I make sure to listen to the trending songs in my genre, which were multiple genres. And so I don't want to exactly, uh, Rip their composition ordering their lyric styles or delivery. But I would like to know, like, what are people listening to? Um, what gets to the point quick enough?
I know a recent trend in streaming music is sometimes songs just start straight off with a chorus or the beats already dropped. As soon as you hit play. I noticed that some people would just want something just like they want to hear something. They don't really not that experience isn't desired, but it's not like.
I feel like maybe in the seventies and eighties, like 10 minutes songs were not very uncommon. Nowadays songs tend to be two to three minutes. Um, I'm usually impressed when I see a four minute song, if I'm being honest. Uh, but of course there are songs still, I think, uh, dying of thirst or sing about me by Kendrick Lamar and good kid, m.A.A.d city, I think is 11 minutes long.
That is not, that's a song. I actually, we own on vinyl here at this house. It's like the only hip hop album I could think of that transcibes. Cause it has a lot of vinyl. Crackle sounds very warm tone to it. And it's not exactly traditional in that sense of the composition, but for contemporary music, I do think about how to start songs off because some people just want to get straight to the point.
I used to do a lot of atmospheric builds and transitions, and I realized I might lose the listener. And a lot of people want to get straight to the action of the song.
Nicole: [00:21:32] That's interesting. What you said about music streaming platforms, compressing. music that it's easier to be streamed. , and it's also interesting that you mentioned songs being shorter. I think that's something that a lot of people have probably noticed as well.
But what's your preferred platform for sharing your music
Lyric: [00:21:54] Yeah. Um, Pardon me. So I favor Apple music, but perhaps I'm biased because that's what I use. Um, but I like Apple music because of the lyric syncing ability. And I also, I'm pretty sure if you type in my name, I'd come up top up higher than on Spotify. There's way more users on Spotify and artists.
Uh, and I think that's because you really don't need a distributor to upload to Spotify, whereas Apple music is required. And so. There are less Lyric on Apple music. And so I do prefer that one, my names, it tends to be pretty hard to find my music just because of my name, but it's legally my name. It's not a stage name, but Oh, well, I'll take what I can get.
But Spotify, the issue is more people use Spotify. I'm pretty sure I haven't really checked the data on that recently, but I'm pretty sure most people use Spotify still. And so it depends on the audience that I'm presenting it to. If it's my close friend. Usually the, most of the people that I know in my circle use Apple music, but if I'm posting to like a fan base or on Snapchat or et cetera, I usually tend to put the Spotify link.
Distro Kid though, does allow for hyper links that, compile all of the platforms onto one link. And that is I've been moving towards. Is that more and more to share my music? Because it just, I know people are going to listen to different things or if they're in a different country, they might not use either one that I'm familiar with. So district kid has this hyperlinks that have made my life 10 times easier.
Nicole: [00:23:24] Do you use any analytics, software or built in services like Spotify artists to see who your fan base is?
Lyric: [00:23:31] Uh, yes I do. I use Apple music or Apple artists or whatever it's called. I think it's just called artists. And then Spotify for artists. I do use both of those apps. I have them on my phone from time to time.
I check the analytics and the metadata and all that stuff. I just try to see whether or not like which demographics, listening to my music the most,
Nicole: [00:23:52] Has seeing the demographics changed anything about how you advertise the music you make or changed anything else for you?
Lyric: [00:24:00] Let's see. , I've been more open to experimenting with my music. I saw that I have a lot, , I think I, majority younger fans of my music. So I think around my age, I think 18 to 24 or something, it was something along those lines that is the most popular age range for my music. And so what I thought to myself is that's like, College kid age, or just like young adult age.
And that tends to be the people who are most open to like change in music and just change in general. And so I haven't been as afraid to expand my musical horizons
Nicole: [00:24:35] do you feel like the main music streaming platforms, for example, Spotify, Apple, or Tidal are fair as far as their splits or pay cuts? And my second question is, is there something about these streaming platforms that you dislike and is there something about them that you do like?
Lyric: [00:24:53] Uh, I have to go with a resounding no, it's completely unfair.
Um, I put, I don't want to use a cliche, but I can't think of anything better. I do put my blood, sweat and tears into my music. I put a lot of effort into it and I don't make enough to survive, off of it. In the slightest. I think Spotify recently, recently was proposing an idea. I think they caught a lot of flack for it. They were going to make it to where artists. Cause sacrifice less stream revenue in order to have a higher chance of getting picked up in algorithms.
And I think that that's a really awful idea. I know here's the thing. I don't think they actually released it because everyone hated the idea. If it did come out, I would have done it. It's like I'm going to critique it, but I'm also going to need it because that's why I'm protecting it because I need that.
Like, I need exposure. And it's really hard. It's a very saturated, uh, the arts in general are very saturated with social media because everyone can see so many different artists now. It's, um, there's so many people out in the world doing different things, but in the end, like there's just a lot to seep through.
And so I think Spotify especially was doing the artists wrong with that suggestion. I less stream revenue, I guess. I don't know. Who's are able to survive off it to begin with , Okay. I don't know if I'm lucky I can buy me like a chocolate bar after an album.
Like, I dunno, it seems like an odd trade off, what I like about them though. I do like that. It have they have algorithms. I like the fact that people can hear music. That's like really, really niche. And yet it can still recognize and find different songs that fit that niche.
And because my music tends to be a little bit weird. Sometimes the algorithm knows my music better than I do. Um, cause I know a lot of people like to make that argument. Like a lot of artists are like, no, I don't want to put myself on a box. I'm like, I get that. I get that sentiment. However. That being put in a box is the best for your marketing.
And so you kind of need a box to be put in in order to market your music. So I like that Spotify and Apple music Tidal. What have you have their proprietary algorithms that hone in on different listeners, cause that if a listener finds a song that fits their niche preference, they're going to return to it.
And returning listeners is like the greatest thing for me. Yeah, those are the reasons, this is the reasons why I hate it. And another reason why I liked them, but I think the distaste outweighs a little bit, um, it just, Spotify put a bad taste in my mouth with that proposition.
Nicole: [00:27:22] Is there anything else you'd like to say about the streaming industry or the music industry in general?
Lyric: [00:27:28] I think one, just one little really nitpicky criticism, especially Apple music.
It does not, even if DistroKid allows it, Apple music really hates stylization and capitalization, but I feel like it indirectly targets, um, up and coming artists. So for example, um, I'm trying to think of, I think the baby Jack harlot, other someone's and like Billie Eilish, they tend to Billie Eilish will do like all lower case for her songs.
And it'll show up like that on Apple music, Jack Harlow had the baby, or I think Kendrick Lamar did it. He had like the period at the end of each song, all caps. Um, they all can do that and it shows up on Apple music. But that technically violates Apple music's terms of service and Distro Kid, When you upload it, like they will put it back to traditional stylization.
It'll correct it. But I think that unfortunately it targets up and coming artists because like, I want that that's part of the art. I think that it compliments it. The lowercase can add more of a solemn tone or, um, like adding Matic, um, tone to it. All caps makes it seem more intense. It stands out more.
Uh, it grabs the eye better. And while those are little things, psychologically, those are important for marketing. And I noticed that it seems like bigger artists are allowed to violate the terms of service. And that's fine because they're already rich and famous, but if you're poor and struggling, you're not allowed to have a better marketing tactic like that.
Cause I've always tried to do that. Almost all of my albums have been screwed over in some regard due to the capitalization. And sometimes it'll just get it wrong. Like it'll like, it'll be an acronym and it'll make like the only, the first letter capitalized, the acronyms even worked.
Nicole: [00:29:09] I'm glad that you pointed that out. Thank you so much for contributing to our podcast today. And for our listeners, you can find lyric on Instagram at lyric dot official dot music and lyric official music with no periods on Tik TOK.
N'Naserri: [00:29:25] Hello everyone. Today we have an exceptional guest, one of my best friends, as well as in an exceptional RNB recording artist here in Atlanta. Here we go. Sean Hendricks. Welcome so much to our podcast.
Shun: [00:29:38] Hello, how you doing? How you doing? What's going on?
N'Naserri: [00:29:40] I'm doing good. How are you doing?
Shun: [00:29:43] Blessed and highly favored. I cannot complain.
N'Naserri: [00:29:45] Thank you for taking the time today to be on our episode about music. We really wanted to highlight and touch on music streaming. I know that you were discovered about a decade ago by T.I. and Grand Hustle. I was curious if you could talk a little bit about how you were discovered.
Shun: [00:30:00] I'm 23 now. I got discovered by Grand Hustle back when I was 11 years old. I was in the back of Phillip's arena with a friend of mine. We see T.I. and his entourage. I run up to them like, Hey, T.I.P I'm trying to sing to you. I want to be on Grand Hustle. He was like, nah, man, not right now. I I think this is where God came into play because he said, you know what lil man do your thing. And I did this song right here. I'm younger than you think so much wiser, than you know I'm slick on this beat Hello my name is Little Shun Hendrix from Hollywood and Mildred. Lanena probably where you'll find me.
N'Naserri: [00:30:41] I think if you sung like that I would have given you a record You hear a lot about people being discovered from Justin Bieber to YouTube but that's definitely a one of a kind story. How has music in terms of streaming and music distribution changed since when you got into the music industry, versus now? As an artist, has it changed for the better or has it made things a little bit more difficult?
Shun: [00:31:07] In life, everything has its pros and its cons however, streaming has allowed to put the power of the business and the music industry back into the artist's hands, because for so long, we've been under the clutches of these high level industries, like ,Atlantic records, Capitol Warner, whoever. They've been running it for so long to the point that when streaming became, a prominent thing for artists, it just made us say, okay, now we finally have the opportunity to own our stuff and not have to have nobody in our situation. So it's really, really a beautiful thing.
N'Naserri: [00:31:40] Thank you for that. I'm curious by having platforms like Spotify Is that better for the artists? Or are artists now losing less money because people are no longer buying records, how they used to?
Shun: [00:31:52] I think it helps because of that specific reason, people aren't going to the stores and buying CDs, like, think about it. We're in a pandemic right now . So that alone says like, Hey man, most people are getting their content, their music from streaming services. Now it just depends on what platform that you go through, what your situation may be, however your distribution is handled. It's kind of a topsy-turvy because, you know, in the beginning we had three 60 contracts. That's how people were , really eating , and they weren't really eating off their music.
So now you put in a situation to where , I can make money off my music strictly through streaming, but it's like pennies on a penny. At first, it doesn't seem as large, but over time, that growth and the more fans you accumulate, the more money that you make.
N'Naserri: [00:32:33] Thank you for that insight. It's absolutely amazing how much power streaming gives the artist and their management in terms of being able to have that exposure, being able to touch on Tik TOK challenges, or being able to be behind the music in a Coca-Cola commercial or independent film. Like it's amazing. But at the same time, you know, are these artists getting paid? How important is it to have other streams of income as an artist in a streaming dominated industry?
Shun: [00:32:58] I would say it's crucially important to have multiple streams of income as an artist, because at the end of the day, you never know what's going to stop. You have to be able to say, all right, how am I going to take the position that I'm in right now and allow it to set myself up for the future endeavors and whatnot. One of the biggest mentors that I have is T.I.P because with him, he took , music, trapping , anything that you can make out of a bad situation, especially as a black person coming up in poverty and turn it into something good. You gotta have multiple streams of income. It is be on important. Personally. I want to like indulgent real estate. Like Airbnb is the way to go.
N'Naserri: [00:33:38] Absolutely. I love that. You definitely gave us a little bit of insight into who have been people who've been really helping and guiding you throughout your journey, especially when you were younger. How important is artists placement in playlisting on music platforms? Like, does it make a difference in a record's performance, please talk about that.
Shun: [00:33:58] I'm going to tell you how crucial playlisting is just on Spotify alone . Artists placement, help you get your fanbase because the more you put your song on different playlist, the more you have access to different ears throughout variety of people. I have people from Amsterdam listening to me, I've never been, but it was because of me being on a playlist , I've accumulated a fan base in Amsterdam. Thankfully enough, Spotify allows artists to be able to see those types of analytics and stats. Especially nowadays in this day and age, that's probably like liquid gold.
N'Naserri: [00:34:31] Thank you for giving some insight into that. Especially , streaming and analytics. I feel like play listing is important, but since I'm not an artist, I wouldn't know the side of how crucial it is so thank you for giving me as well as our viewers, a little bit of more insight into that. You talked about the difference between streaming with platforms like Spotify, Tidal Pandora, and the difference between iTunes. I'm curious would you rather have a million streams?
Shun: [00:34:59] It's going to blow your mind to understand the value of a million streams. I'd rather people go purchase mine on iTunes . So insights, Spotify. Literally, don't quote me if I'm wrong. I think it's like it changes every so often, but a million streams on Spotify is like the equivalent value of $4,500. A million streams on Spotify. Now, if you put up a billion, billion streams, that's a check. I'm not mistaken, that's almost a million dollars. And that's just off your music. That's not coming from any other source of income.
N'Naserri: [00:35:34] That makes sense. And I think that definitely gives more clarity because I've been trying to figure out really what is more impactful so I definitely, see where you're coming from more from as artist's perspective rather than management. I definitely appreciate that. So talking about platforms, I'm curious where you upload your music like, what's that process like? A lot of people really do believe it's just studio record film push out so what does that look like?
Shun: [00:35:59] The blueprint to being an artist has never changed . I personally, this is an opinionated statement here. I personally agree if you take the time to really invest in your craft, if you want to a million streams on Spotify, that is a quick way for you to get a freaking fan base. But if you're just looking for a cheque. Then I would definitely go on Apple or iTunes and stuff like that. But as far as like these distribution companies outside of Distro kid, you've got empire, you have CD baby, I found this other one called muse.
Like it just depends on whatever their company policy is. Distro kid where you can personally go and upload it yourself it just depends on what you're trying to do strategically with your music. At the end of the day, every artist has their own story or their own, situation. So it's best to take your story and figure out the best way to move with it. Just cause somebody blew up on Spotify doesn't mean you're going to blow up on Spotify too. You just have to be able to just sit back and analyze. A part of that also comes from having a good team or at least a good, strong support system to help you understand what you're doing wrong at least.
N'Naserri: [00:37:02] And so just for the viewers who may not understand what these distribution companies are, do you mind sharing what a distribution company like distro kid or empire is and why it's important for artists?
Shun: [00:37:13] Because we have streaming services before them, there were the actual labels, they were the one doing the distributions . So now with streaming, it's just instant. You don't have to wait. Like it's there. It's present, it's accessible. You know what I mean?
N'Naserri: [00:37:24] So now that we're on the topic of distribution companies, I'm curious if you could give an explanation to what a split is and how it's important to both the producers writers and I guess also the artists themselves .
Shun: [00:37:38] So for most people who don't know a song is broken up, like a fricking pie chart. Off back 50% goes to the producer because they make the beat. And then the other 50% goes to people who wrote it, vocals, all the extra sauce that makes us on what it is. Basically splits, just identify who did what and who gets what percentage and the bigger your percentage, the bigger your check. For the most part, there's an average for producers. Like their, our basis is going to be always like be 50%, unless somebody else did something to the beat.
Other than that say for instance, if there's only one writer and one artist and if the writer did all the song, like the writer may get like 35% and the artists get like 15 that's just like basis if you're just like covering what someone else wrote for you.
N'Naserri: [00:38:21] Okay. Cause I know we've heard a lot about things getting real iffy in the industry, but from TLC to so many of our favorite artists, girl groups, boy bands in the nineties, we see how they were manipulated or taken advantage of just because people not having their paperwork together or a lot of people took where they could. I'm curious in a world where all of these percentages matter, are there any ever any exceptions?
Shun: [00:38:48] Honestly, it just depends on who's doing the contract. I have heard so many bad stories about contracts, where someone signed for like 10 years, someone did like an eight album, three 60 management taking 40%.
I've heard the worst of the absolute worst. So honestly, to anybody to step into this industry, I would say you will have to pay your dues. Unless you are just smart enough to not have to worry about any of that and get it by yourself, which, which is the blueprint for nowadays.
N'Naserri: [00:39:21] Thank you. So that kind of leads onto my next question. I know that there's a lot of people let's use Roddy rich, for example. Right? I know you're also very familiar with how all over this and like the song is still playing on some radio stations and I was almost a year or two ago. A lot of people think that these artists get paid as the songs, you know, going out. And so, like, I know, you know that a lot of times artists, producers, writers are not paid for a hit song months and months, months later. How are these artists, funding, tours, their lifestyle, how are they getting this money? If they can not see the money that they would be getting from these hit singles from these hit projects.
Shun: [00:40:00] Hopefully they have a great accountant. That should be your number one thing when, especially when it comes to dealing with money. Also I want people to understand , just because someone's putting on this particular lifestyle, you don't necessarily know what they actually have access to because there's a difference between liquidity and assets. What do you have on hand is totally different.
N'Naserri: [00:40:18] Thank you. So this is a little different, but I'm curious about some of the most important aspects or characteristics of the people to have with you on a team.
Shun: [00:40:29] You gotta have people who are not " yes people ". You gotta have creatives, you gotta have innovators and most of all you gotta have somebody that believes in you. As long as you have those who are truly dedicated to helping make your dream come true. I think that's the biggest personality trait you can have, honestly.
N'Naserri: [00:40:49] Well, thank you so much. I just have one more question to wrap up, but I do want to say thank you so much I know you're a busy person in the studio every week pushing out these records, but , hopefully that just goes to show how dedicated you are and how you put your priorities, where they need them. I've definitely known you for a very long time. You're one of the best, if not the best person I know on the planet. So I appreciate you for taking the time to talk to our viewers.
For someone who is now about to reintroduce himself into the new music industry, as it is now, and reinstate who you are as an R and B artist, what are some of the things that you have been putting into perspective? And then my second and last question, we'll get to, once you wrap that up.
Shun: [00:41:32] Honestly I realized the importance of content. Content is so social, very important, but good content is even more important. I've been loading up my gun, my content, loading up my gun. And now I'm just sitting up here ready to say, all right, what is the day that I want to push that button and let everything loose? From where I am now to where I began, I used to do little singing videos now I've taken, what I've done and I've evolved it into something even more beautiful. The fact that I have people who love me, who rocking with me and supporting me, helping my dream to come alive, it makes it even more just.
So much for sharing that. I'm curious if you could please sing a little snippet of something for our viewers, because I know when their ears perk up, they're going to go follow you at what are your social media shopping for us.
All right. You can go on Google, just type in S H U N H E N D R I X. No relation to future. Okay.
N'Naserri: [00:42:27] All right now. Go ahead and sing a little something and wrap us on out.
Shun: [00:42:30] All right. Cool. Ready? Sings* You so proud of what you do you play me like a fool want to spend a dime on you no. You tried it, dont you try to hide. Want me, falling inside it cant get this bag off my hip get this bag off my hip can get his bag shopping spree, but everything ain't coming free. It ain't fat enough for me to come and get that bag back. And when it comes to me it's me its a mad tax,
N'Naserri: [00:43:06] that was amazing. Amazing. Do you want to tell us what the name of that was so we can possibly go download it.
Shun: [00:43:13] That is my song SHHH cause it ain't out yet.
N'Naserri: [00:43:17] All right. Y'all, y'all heard at first, some exclusive from an industry vet. Thank you so much, Mr. Hendrix, the Shun Hendrix for coming out really just educating us, showing us so much about from artist's perspective, what this industry is really like. What it takes and the information needed for our new artists to get out there and get active. So thank you so much for making time for us. And we hope this is not the last interview we'll have with you.
Shun: [00:43:43] No, not at all. Let's do it.
Nicole: [00:43:44] Thank you for tuning into this episode of drop the mic podcast. We hope after listening to this episode, you walk away with something valuable. I know I did
Natalie: [00:43:53] From Jay, we discovered how streaming services like Pandora can give artists truly unique insights about their listeners and what the future of the industry could look like.
Nicole: [00:44:03] From lyric. We learned about the difficulties and complexities, smaller artists deal with while distributing their music.
N'Naserri: [00:44:08] Sean told us about his experiences streaming for independent artists and how artists monetize and evaluate streaming analytics across platforms.
Nicole: [00:44:16] We'd like to thank. Jay troop lyric and Shun Hendrix for taking the time out of their busy schedules to be interviewed.
N'Naserri: [00:44:23] We really appreciate the three of you for allowing this episode to happen. We'd also like to thank ACE, the storyteller, another student in this class for producing the music for this episode, as well as Jay LeBeouf for giving us invaluable information about the music industry. Have a great day and stay tuned for more from drop the mic podcast.