Berklee alumna Elodie shares some information on breaking into the European music industry in this post.
What was the most challenging about your transition from college to career?
My biggest challenge was and has been to find producers that understand the sound I’m going for with my own music. The challenge was to find someone who is almost as good as my dream producer Richard X, and who is serious and professional, without being impossible to reach out to as a fairly unknown artist like myself. It took me 3 years to find a good team of producers to work with, but it’s been worth the wait. I never wanted to release music just for the sake of releasing music – I wanted it to feel like it was my sound.
How do your degree and your music play a role in your current career path?
When I’m not doing music I work as a social media consultant at a digital communications agency, and I suppose it looks more professional to say that you have a degree in your consultant profile. It’s good to have a degree to fall back on in any case since many companies use that as screening criteria when going through the interviewing process. I can’t say that having a music degree has directly impacted my music career, although when collaborating with producers I find that it’s easier to communicate with them now that I’ve studied the language of music production. Also I can get my ideas out better now that I know my way around Logic.
How has your Berklee experience shaped your view of the music industry? Was it spot on or did you need to shift?
It confirmed my suspicions that my music was more suited for the European market than the American market. It also made me realize the importance of networking since a lot of the homework assignments were collaborative and required outside help. I quickly learned the art of trading favors in school, and the same concepts apply in the real world as well.
Did you participate in an internship? Why or why not? If yes, how did that experience affect your career path?
Well no, not exactly an internship, but I started collaborating with different producers before graduating who were already signed to various labels. Through those collaborations I got some first hand field experience and learned all about the business side of being a singer/songwriter. I started educating myself with the help of Google and reached out to a pro-bono law firm that introduced me to the various types of collaboration deals.
Can you touch on the importance of your networking, skill and talent?
You forgot luck! I think about this question a lot because it comes up a lot in conversation. Networking is everything because it is ultimately the people you know who are going to take you to the next level. In my case, as a singer/songwriter, I need to have relationships with producers in order to make professional sounding music. I need to have relationships with record labels and/or publishing companies in order to get my music out there, whether directly or through my collaborators. I need to have a street team or a good group of friends who are going to help push out my material and spread it to their network. And I need to have a following on Facebook, Twitter and my blog in order to have an audience of my own to reach out to. Since I don’t have a manager handling this part for me, it’s all on me.
Of course, having talent is important, but you also have to be able to offer something new and innovative to the industry. But most importantly – you have to be committed and driven. When you’ve defined what your goals are, and you always have them in the back of your mind, it’s much easier to see the opportunities that arise around you, and that’s where luck comes into the picture.
What is something you’d wish you’d known “then” (before starting Berklee, during Berklee, or your first year out of Berklee)
I wish I had taken more business classes. Maybe interned at a record label to get an insight into how they think and operate. As a musician, I guess you blindly assume someone will discover you and take care of the business side of things so that you can focus on the creative side of things. And even if that’s the ideal situation and definitely one to strive for, most of us don’t get there by hiding out in the studio all day. Plus, even if you wind up with a manager who represents you, you shouldn’t lean on them entirely. The more you know and can do yourself, the more control you have over your career and the more professional you come across.
I also wish I would have been more firm about writing contracts with the people I made music with. You never know when something you make is going to go viral and it’s dangerous to take your friendships for granted and be laid back about it. Because when real money comes into the picture, misunderstandings can easily come about.
What should new alumni focus on as they enter the job market?
Definitely learn how the business works. If you are an aspiring musician like I was, whether you’re hoping to be a songwriter, an artist, or a band member – learn as much as you can about the business and marketing side of music. The wider your knowledge, the smarter the decisions you will be able to make. Also, try to get really good at thinking outside of the box. It shouldn’t be hard to do considering musicians are naturally creative. There is no right or wrong way of breaking into the music industry any more. In Karmin’s case, she started a Youtube series with her boyfriend and the videos went viral. In my case, I reached out to a promising underground dance producer with a growing buzz around him and by lending him my vocals at the right time of his career, he wound up creating a very innovative type of song that became a commercial success, taking both his and my music careers to the next level. Had we made this track a year earlier, the music industry might not have been ready for it, so timing is also an important factor. I try to keep this in mind when writing music with people today and try to have a sense of where the industry is headed and what will be the next big thing.
How do you connect with other people? How much does social media play a role in your career as an employee and artist?
John Mayer once said “It’s not who you know – it’s how well you know them”. I think this is so true because I’ve found that many of the people that have wound up being important to my music career are people who I’ve regarded as friends or interesting people before I’ve regarded them as ‘important contacts’. When in a party setting, for instance, people can sense when you have an ulterior motive for why you’re connecting with them and this method of networking is seldom effective. Always have your ‘pitch’ ready if the conversation leads to that, of course, but try to think more in terms of “How can I help this person?” or “How can this person and I hit it off?” instead of “What can this person do for me?” You come across as more confident, less desperate and you’ll have a lot more fun networking when you adopt that attitude. Some of the more successful networkers I know emit a lot of positivity and attract people simply by being fun people to be around. But when it comes to reaching out to potential collaborators I guess I just email them or their management and explain as short and directly as I can who I am, what I’ve done so far and why I’m contacting them. And I follow up consistently. I look for people whose music I like, and whom I think will like my music. People who are connected to other people I’ve worked with or are signed to the same label as one I’ve released music on. I try to find people who aren’t too much out of my league but that are still serious and making a name for themselves.
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2007, Swedish-born Elodie bravely left her family in the US and moved back to her homeland of Sweden to pursue her lifelong dream of being an artist. She didn’t have to wait very long for things to start happening – after only a few short months, Elodie’s voice was heard in clubs, on the radio and on TV all over Europe. Elodie collaborates with successful producers such as John Dahlbäck, with whom she has released several tracks to date, including the monster club hit ‘Blink’ which took the world by storm in 2007, particularly in France where it has gotten on over 50 compilations and reached number 30 on the national chart. Elodie has also collaborated with producers such as Manuel de la Mare, Tyler Michaud, & Stellar Project, with several Beatport Top 10′s on her resume. Elodie will be releasing a new track on June 21st on Ultra Records so stay tooned!!