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GRAMMY GPS Interview Series Features Lvkah Lvciano, PreauXX, Russ P

Artists discuss management and networking in smaller markets

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Underground hip-hop artists Lvkah Lvciano, PreauXX and Russ P were among the participants at the recent GRAMMY GPS: A Road Map For Today's Music Pro hosted by The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter. During the event, Lvciano, PreauXX and Russ P participated in an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, discussing the importance of management and professional development seminars in smaller markets, among other topics.

"You gain a lot of information [and] a lot of insight [at professional seminars], specifically if someone like Talib Kweli comes in," said Lvkah Lvciano. "[Kweli's] been in the rap game for a long time."

Lvkah Lvciano is a rising hip-hop artist on the underground rap scene in his hometown of Memphis. Combining electric rhyming schemes with "Tommy gun lyrical delivery," Lvkah Lvciano has shared the stage with artists such as the Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon, Playa Fly and Kinfolk Thugs. His latest release is Dreamz.Schemez.Green.

"Every student needs a teacher," said PreauXX. "[The panelists] are just trying to teach us and put us ahead of the curve."  

A New Orleans native, PreauXX (pronounced "pro") is an underground artist on Memphis indie label Westham Records. Mixing hip-hop and alternative sounds, his latest project is Mockingbird Mondays EP, an eight-song collection released in May.

"If you're a young artist out there, the information given to you [at seminars] is very important for you next couple of moves," said Russ P.

Russ P has rapped on the Memphis underground circuit for more than a decade and was signed to Universal Motown in 2008. Earlier this year, he released The Russell Polk Project, with Memphis independent label SkyLyfe Music Group. 

 

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GRAMMY GPS Interview Series Features Eric Holt, Emily White

Music industry experts provide advice for breaking talent into smaller markets

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Chiminus Enterprises CEO Eric Holt and talent management specialist Emily White were among the participants at the recent GRAMMY GPS: A Road Map For Today's Music Pro hosted by The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter. During the event, Holt and White participated in an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, providing their advice for breaking artists into smaller markets.

"Technology is really used these days to intensify the marketing and branding of artists coming from smaller markets outside of [larger markets such as Atlanta, New York and L.A.]," said Holt.

A native of Hendersonville, Tenn., Holt is CEO of Chiminus Enterprises, a marketing and consulting company with a client roster that includes Atlantic Records and the Ryman Auditorium, among other companies. He is also a managing partner of Chiminus subsidiary the Lovenoise Group, which hosts Lovenoise, a Nashville-based urban concert series that features live music, poetry and other visual arts, and is held in additional cities throughout the Southeast. In 2012 Holt was elected as an Advisor to the Board of Governors for The Recording Academy's Nashville Chapter. Holt is also among an elite group of music business leaders selected to serve as consultants for the Music City Music Council by the Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

"You can build a career from anywhere," said White. "Whether you're a musician or you're pursuing an industry career, it really doesn't matter where you come from … now with the Internet."  

White is the co-founder of Whitesmith Entertainment, a full-service talent management firm based in Los Angeles and New York that represents individuals in the fields of music, comedy, film, television, and sports. Music artists represented by Whitesmith include Brendan Benson, the Big Sleep, Future Monarchs, Gold Motel, and the Hush Sound, among others. Earlier this year White and Benson launched Readymade Records with a roster that includes Cory Chisel And The Wandering Sons, the Lost Brothers and Young Hines.   

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The Memphis Chapter Is Full Of Soul At 40

Shadowing a robust history that includes the King, Sun Records, Stax Records, and Beale Street, The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter celebrates 40 years as a local community touchstone

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(Editor's Note: Founded in 1973, The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013. In the coming weeks, GRAMMY.com will publish a special content series paying tribute to the Chapter and the surrounding region's rich musical legacy, which encompasses the deepest roots of American music and the birthplaces of blues, jazz, ragtime, Cajun, zydeco, and rock and roll. The Chapter will host a 40th anniversary celebration featuring musical performances on July 13.)

When The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter was formed 40 years ago, gas was 30 cents a gallon and folks everywhere were filling up and heading to West Tennessee. The Home of the Blues and Elvis Presley was thriving as a fertile, diverse musical hotbed.

Mid-South blues Kings B.B. and Albert were reigning as mentors to rock gods such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page. Chips Moman's American Sound Studios was helping bring Elvis back to the charts with recordings such as 1969's From Elvis In Memphis. Johnny Cash, who scored hits for Sun Records, was country's biggest star. Memphis was unchallenged as Soulsville, USA, with Stax, Hi and smaller labels such as Goldwax churning out future classics. Stax expanded Memphis' reach to include Richard Pryor's comedy recordings and Big Star's modern rock offerings.

Memphis was at a commercial and artistic peak in the early '70s as efforts to form a Recording Academy Chapter heated up. The challenge, recalls producer/engineer/studio owner Knox Phillips, was organizing a fiercely independent scene that included the likes of his father, Sun Records head Sam Phillips, Stax Records President Al Bell and songwriter/producer/session musician Jim Dickinson.

"Everybody sort of had their own agenda. There really wasn't much of a spirit of cooperation," says Knox Phillips. "There were people like Chips [Moman] who didn't even want his people to work for any other studio."

Bell says the city had an inferiority complex. "People thought [a Memphis Chapter] was a good idea, but they didn't think it was possible, because the general attitude was, 'We're just little old Memphis, Tennessee.'"

But timing is everything. Knox Phillips represented the Nashville Chapter on The Recording Academy's Board of Trustees and in 1973 Nashville landed the ultimate prize: the 15th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast, which took place March 3, 1973, at the Tennessee Theatre. This marked the first and (thus far) only time Music's Biggest Night strayed from the coasts. The eyes of the world were on Tennessee.

Phillips and fellow Trustee Mike Post played a key role in The Recording Academy adding a sixth chapter in Memphis (which was competing with Detroit, Miami and Toronto, according to Phillips). "Mike Post made the motion for Memphis and the Trustees approved that," says Phillips, who later represented the Memphis Chapter as a Trustee. "I felt pretty good, but there was a lot of work to do."

Phillips, Stax Records' Jim Stewart and local attorney Harold Streibich lobbied relentlessly. Memphis' heritage — including "Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy, WDIA-AM, Beale Street, and Sun Records — proved formidable. And as Stax and Hi continued to yield hits, Memphis tipped the scales as both a hallowed ground and industry powerhouse. "It was the credibility of Stax Records that created the logical step for that to happen," says David Porter, former Memphis Chapter President and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee.

"Most of all, I wanted Memphis music to be recognized for its creative spirit," says Phillips. "That was the thing that was going to allow Memphis music to continue even in the hard times."

Just landing the Chapter was a huge boost, Bell remembers. "It said to us we were being recognized by the recorded music industry. We didn't think we measured up. But when we got a Chapter it was, 'Oh my God!' And it's been, 'Oh my God!' ever since."

Despite success stories such as Ardent Studios hosting recordings by ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin and other notable acts, the '70s saw a shrinking of the Memphis music industry and the Chapter attempted to find its footing. The '80s saw another shift, as major labels rediscovered Memphis with numerous signings of local artists such as Jimmy Davis, Jimi Jamison, Rob Jungklas, Tora Tora, and Xavion. Under Dean Richard Ranta, the University of Memphis expanded its music industry curriculum and Ranta later served as Chapter President and an Academy Trustee.

Everything changed in the '90s, as Academy Chapters morphed from stand-alone entities to one singular not-for-profit entity under The Recording Academy, each with allocated funding. In 1995 the Memphis Chapter opened offices on Beale Street, hired staff and began producing events tailored for members and the community at large.

Jon Hornyak became the first full-time Memphis Chapter Executive Director in 1994 and began producing an expanded Premier Players Awards, an event honoring regional luminaries. Recently, the Chapter has focused on offering members educational and professional guidance initiatives under the GRAMMY GPS banner.

A Missouri native, musician and entrepreneur, Hornyak came to The Academy with a diverse background as the owner of a recording studio and sound and lighting companies, and experience managing artists and serving as founding executive director for the Crossroads Music Conference.

"Jon Hornyak has been priceless," says Bell, who received a Recording Academy Trustees Award in 2011. "He could relate to the musicians. He could relate to the city. He could relate to all of us, and it's still that way today."

Native Memphian, Big Star drummer and Ardent Studios Manager Jody Stephens has seen the Chapter's evolution from the beginning.

"It's become even more vital to musicians. It's been a real catalyst for bringing all sorts of people together," says Stephens, who is a former Academy Trustee.

As the Chapter has continued to evolve, Hornyak says the biggest change has been an increased effort to service and engage the entire region.

"Knox Phillips talked about getting Memphis a seat at the table and one of my contributions has been getting the region a seat at the table and bringing Recording Academy events, programs and community service to Louisiana, Mississippi and St. Louis and getting people involved on our Board as elected leaders and Trustees," he says.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Memphis Chapter stepped in as part of the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Effort, with Member Services Production Manager Reid Wick coordinating efforts in New Orleans. Both cities realized they were better united. "It's really from around that time that the regional aspect of the Chapter began to take shape," says Hornyak, who is now the Chapter's Senior Executive Director.

Hornyak sees the Memphis Chapter's mission today as a delicate balance between "paying tribute to the musical heritage of this area, while trying to pay attention to the present and the future. There is no future unless we learn from the past, but unless we have a vital future, the past won't be relevant. We need to connect the past, present and the future in a significant way."

(Larry Nager is a Nashville-based writer, musician and documentary filmmaker. A proud former Memphian, he is the author of Memphis Beat (St. Martin's Press) and the writer and co-producer of the film Bill Monroe: Father Of Bluegrass Music. He has been a member of the Memphis Chapter for more than 25 years.)

 

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GRAMMY GPS Interview Series Features Steve Jordan, Ken Shepherd

Music industry experts discuss the state of the music industry

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

GRAMMY-winning producer Steve Jordan and Recording Academy Trustee Ken Shepherd were among the participants at the recent GRAMMY GPS: A Road Map For Today's Music Pro hosted by The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter. During the event, Jordan and Shepherd participated in an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, sharing their most memorable GRAMMY moments and providing advice for independent artists, among other topics.

"My favorite [GRAMMY] moment as a performer was playing 'Daughters' with John Mayer and Pino Palladino," remembered Jordan. "It was a special moment [because] John went on to win [Song Of The Year for that song]. Instead of doing the normal 'have the band spread out all big thing' … we made [the performance] a very intimate moment."

A native of New York, Jordan won a GRAMMY in 2007 for Best Pop Vocal Album as a credited producer on Mayer's album, Continuum. Well-known for his work as a drummer, Jordan has performed with the "Saturday Night Live" band and the house band for "Late Show With David Letterman." After appearing on the Rolling Stone's 1986 album Dirty Work, Jordan went on to join Stones' guitarist Keith Richards as member of his band the X-pensive Winos. Aside from touring with Richards, Shepherd has performed with artists such as Eric Clapton, James Taylor, B.B. King, and Bruce Springsteen. He's currently working on Boz Scaggs' upcoming album.

"Management is important for any artist [and] it's really important for independent artists," said Shepherd. "You've got to surround yourself with a team … [because] the business is complex today"  

Shepherd is the managing partner of his own imprint music management company, Shepherd Entertainment, LLC. In 1994 he ended a 20-year career in the radio industry to manage his son, GRAMMY-nominated blues/rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Ken Shepherd is a Recording Academy Memphis Chapter Trustee. He was appointed by the governor to serve on the Louisiana Music Commission in 1992 and again in 2007.

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GRAMMY GPS Interview Series Features Elisabeth Burks, Daniel Gill

Marketing and public relations experts provide advice for breaking into the music industry

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Marketing/branding expert Elisabeth Burks and Force Field PR founder Daniel Gill were among the participants at the recent GRAMMY GPS: A Road Map For Today's Music Pro hosted by The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter. During the event, Burks and Gill participated in an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, providing their advice for breaking into the music industry in the marketing, management and public relations fields, among other topics.

"You need to feel like what you're doing is part of your purpose," said Burks. "There has to be something very deeply within you that resonates with the work you're trying to accomplish."

Burks has been at the intersection of marketing, branding and music for more than a decade. Previously, Burks worked for the artist management firm DAS Communications, where she worked with artists such as Black Eyed Peas, Ke$ha, John Legend, and Spin Doctors. She subsequently worked at Sony Music Entertainment, marketing releases from artists such as America, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, and Yo-Yo Ma. In 2007 Burks founded Royal Media Group, a marketing and branding agency that collaborates with recording artists, top brands, digital platforms, and media outlets. In 2012 Burks launched Circle Media and Marketing, a subsidiary of Royal Media Group specializing in working with iconic and emerging brands to develop a 360 model leveraging the social currency of music through innovative partnerships, programs and platforms.

"The more you know about the business and music in general, the more successful you are going to be jumping into it and connecting the dots," said Gill.

In 2006 Gill founded Force Field PR, a Los Angeles-based boutique indie publicity firm focused on breaking new bands. The company's current clients include artists such as Ariel Pink, Youth Lagoon, Frankie Rose, Dan Deacon, Neon Indian, and Vivian Girls, among others. In the past, Gill has also played an important role in establishing the careers of artists such as the Avett Brothers, Beach House, Blitzen Trapper, Dirty Projectors, Portugal. The Man, Sufjan Stevens, and Tune-Yards, among others.