From Listening to Licensing: Colombian Seminar Turns Into Custom Music Opportunity 751 words · 4 minute read

From July 1-4, Music Dealers joined professionals from 88 companies and 22 countries at Circulart in Colombia’s tropical city of Medellín to discuss the revenue streams emerging artists can avail themselves to and to review the state of music in Latin America.

“Plataforma Exportadora de Artes Escénicas y Musicales. Es el punto de apoyo y lanzamiento de la diversidad cultural colombiana hacia el mundo,” the event’s Twitter page reads. Translated to English, it states, “Export Program for Performing Arts and Music. It is the fulcrum and release of Colombian cultural diversity to the world.”

Fluent in all things Artes Musicales, Music Dealers VP of Strategy & Major Accounts Josh Burke attended Circulart beside other industry leaders like Seymour Stein of Sires Records, Tracey Gill of CD Baby, and more. Josh spoke on the panel “Las 5 Tendencias Clave en la Sincronización Musical” (5 Key Trends in Music Synchronization) with experts such as Robert Singerman of LyricFind, during which they discussed ways independent artists and labels can leverage sync as a platform for discovery and income.

In addition to the panel discussion, Josh spoke one-on-one with attendees to provide personalized advice geared towards their specific career paths. In fact, each day was loaded with 8-hour shifts of 15-minute Q&A sessions. According to Gabriel Zapata, Special Guests Logistics Coordinator at Circulart, 1,863 speed meetings occurred during the conference.

“The first question I always ask an artist is, ‘What do you want?’” Josh said. “Most artists respond, ‘I want to get my music out there.’”

“I like to focus on the why and how. ‘Why do you want to get your music out there?’ Thinking about and answering that question gets artists passionate about their career, which is important. Indie artists don’t have the same conveniences that come with a label; it’s a very DIY thing. So they need to sustain that passion throughout their journey.”

The ‘how’ in Josh’s model is the discussion of their options, including sync licensing, the details of which many emerging artists might not understand.

Josh walked attendees through the framework of licensing, typical timelines, and what steps they should be taking to pursue it as a profitable option. A key component Josh spoke with artists about was original custom work, during which clients submit a brief to Music Dealers that details what the song needs to do in order to fit the project. Music Dealers then contacts artists it relies on, who can interpret the brief with original music and deliver a full song in a timely matter.

Many times, conferences such as Circulart are meant mostly to educate attendees and provide a setting for networking between artists and music execs. Rarely do real opportunities develop in the short span of one conference, but Circulart became that exception when Josh received an emergency call from a client on Saturday, July 4, requesting an original song by Sunday afternoon.

“The tough part about most conferences is, you meet so many talented people but can’t guarantee a chance to ever work with them,” said Josh. “This time was different. I was able to return to the artists I had spoken with and ask them, ‘Do you want to work on something right now? Like today?’”

Josh worked with several artists to create original songs for the brief, recorded the tracks, and submitted them to the client within 24 hours of the request. One song by a Colombian composer was eventually selected by the client, earning him a few thousands of dollars and the exposure of a TV ad by a high-profile brand.

“The success of this opportunity shows why conferences like Circulart are so important,” said Josh. “We’re not just theorizing about what artists should do. We’re actively working to create real opportunities for emerging artists, opportunities that can change lives.”

“This is exactly why we do Circulart,” said Gabriel. “It has been a great platform for emerging artists and bands. Interacting with professionals from all over the world has made them upgrade their game a lot. In our sixth year, we see them much more prepared for the conference and for the eventual business they make. Of course, we hear all kinds of successful stories of touring, recording, and other deals, which makes us very proud.”

Circulart 2014 reportedly generated $1.5 million in deals due directly to the connections and workshops of last year’s conference, an inspiring feat that demonstrates why educating emerging artists is pivotal to the further growth of the music industry.

By: Zach Miller, Music Dealers