Words: Lauren Dehollogne
Apple Music exec, radio personality and legendary DJ Zane Lowe dropped by BIMM London last Monday 7th to share his wisdom at an exclusive masterclass. He shared stories from his beginnings at MTV, his influential gatekeeping days at Radio 1 to his current post, helming Apple Music’s Beats 1, a modern take on radio in the age of streaming. An enthusiastic character, he guided us through the ever-changing music industry.
Enthusiasm always comes first. Once you’re passionate about it you can start looking into which tools and methods to use.
- Diligence and instinct
To grow into your career, you need to follow your gut, but you also have to be smart about how to handle it.
- The music industry is changing
Everything is happening faster than ever before. It’s now up to the fans who they like and listen to and algorithms pick up on that.
- Wait for your moment… but don’t take too long
The streaming era has made it incredibly easy to upload your own music. If you are completely happy with your finished work, you should go for release right away. But you could also create a slow build-up strategy, as Billie Eilish was able to do, and wait for the moment when your music will make an impact. It all depends on your situation and what you think is best.
- Free is good, but you need to know when to monetise
Platforms such as SoundCloud are extremely beneficial for unknown artists and underground musicians. They can gather a major fan base, at times big enough to tour without even being signed to a label. After that you need to know when to switch to a different platform. Again, this all depends on your own personal trajectory.
- Never say no to new opportunities
The music industry is big but the market is even bigger. What is something that no one has ever done before? What is something people are still craving?
- There are four different types of music listeners
1) The super fans: People who live and breathe music, the active fans.
2) The ones who love music: People who love spending their free time listening to
music but who wouldn’t go as far as to call themselves obsessed.
3) The ones who like music: People who like listening to music at times but wouldn’t
really prioritise it. They might prefer sports, films, books, etc.
4) The ones who don’t like music: They might be rare but there are some people
in this world who don’t even like listening to music.
- As long as you’re persistent there will be a job for you in the music industry
Millions of people listen to music every day, making for a big music industry. It might not be easy at first but as long as you keep trying, it will happen.
- If someone turns you down or doesn’t reply, keep doing what you’re doing
You need to be happy with the what you release; no one else has to. There are many different places to go to nowadays. One person doesn’t determine whether you will or will not make it.
- Gatekeeping has completely changed over the last few years.
People don’t solely rely on radio anymore. Every piece of music is now available at your fingertips. Algorithms and moderated playlists are the new ‘big’ thing. This broadens your view on music because everything is less confined.
Zane Lowe can be found at @zanelowe on Twitter and at Beats 1 via iTunes.