It's always nice to be recognized for your achievements, but none of it would have been possible without the support of my peers and colleagues.
Run down the list of current projects your working on and future projects coming down the pipe
Current projects: Looking for songs and tracks for Prince Royce. Looking for romantic songs and tracks with Latin flavor in the direction of Robin Thicke/Jon B/Babyface. Acoustic guitars in the songs and tracks are great. Production shouldn't be too heavy sounding. Uptempos should sound organic, not like dance songs.
We're also in the process of wrapping up Flo Rida right now. Any incredible uptempos with big pop chords and different (NON-four on the floor) drum patters would be awesome. I'll accept tracks with or without hooks, but if anyone wants to submit tracks with hooks, they should study all prior Flo Rida hit choruses for melodies as well as keep the lyrics sexy and provocative.
Also looking for songs and tracks for Laza Morgan, who is our Jamaican artist that is beginning to blow up internationally with the song "One by One". He's looking for Jamaican/island pop records a la Maxi Priest. Iyaz/Sean Kingston type songs won't work for Laza.
How long have you been in the business and how did you get your start?
After a few months of interning for the A&R department, Mike took notice of my abilities and had me work on specific projects for him. As time progressed, Mike began to trust my ear and my work ethic and offered me a job to help run his fledgling publishing venture Artist Publishing Group. Law school was officially out the window. I got paid in contacts, experience, a cool title, and a small monthly consultancy check. After working at APG for a while, I started my own producer management company to help supplement my income. I had some success managing producer/DJ/radio personality DJ Felli Fel, for whom we secured a record deal with Def Jam and a publishing deal with Notting Hill Music Publishing.
After gaining more contacts and experience, Mike wanted me more involved in APG and gave me a promotion. After a few more years of learning about the industry, refining my ear, developing strong relationships, and learning tricks of the trade from my fellow A&Rs at Atlantic, I ultimately helped place a few big hits that got me to my current position today.
Give us a typical 24 hours in the shoes of Benjamin Maddahi
9:00am - gym
10:00am - shower and eat
10:30am - head to studio
11:00am - start writing session. Session typically goes until 7pm 1:00pm - 7:00pm - while popping in and out of the session, I will take meetings, make calls, return emails, eat lunch at my desk, etc. 7:00 - take a break and eat dinner, recharge my batteries 8:30pm - often I have another writing session, but many times I hang around the studio/office or go home to continue doing work. 8:30 - 12:30 - listen to demos submitted throughout the day, give feedback on music, return emails, work on long-term projects, tie up loose ends, etc. 12:30 - 1/1:30am - watch TV. Something funny to help decompress - The Office, Parks & Rec, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc. 1:30am - sleep
Describe your relationship with Atlantic Exec VP of A&R and APG founder Mike Caren
Mike is my mentor, boss, and partner. He was one of the first executives in the music industry to take note of my desire to be an A&R and an entrepreneur. He helped both mold me by example, while also giving me the freedom to explore my own entrepreneurial endeavors throughout our working relationship. He was always incredibly supportive of my moves and continues to be someone I look up to when I think about cutting-edge executives in the entertainment industry.
Last year, after about 5 years of working together, Mike offered to make me partner in APG as part of my most recent promotion. At that time, he and Craig Kallman hired me as an A&R for Atlantic and I was appointed Director of A&R, which made Mike my boss on the label side as well.
Is there a difference in approach when scouting to sign artists as oppose to producers and songwriters?
There are many similarities. In both, you strive to find talent who seems ready for the "big time" but also may need a little bit of development. Both Atlantic and APG are known for their artist development and commitment to helping mold great songwriters and producers. On both fronts, we also strive to find people with a unique sound. When scouting, we also look closely at the artist/producer/songwriter's mindstate and work ethic, the team that surrounds them, and their overall commitment to being the best. Those are big factors.
How has utilizing the PMP help in your day to day A&R duties and can you name some of the producers you've worked with and/or are interested in?
I routinely comb through PMP for hot producers and songwriters. Some of our best and brightest producers on APG (Artist Publishing Group) were found on this very site.
How has the role of the A&R change compared to when you first started and what changes do you anticipate moving forward?
One big change is that there are definitely fewer A&Rs in the industry now as opposed to when I first started out. The role has changed in that an A&R nowadays can't only be a great judge of incoming records, but part producer, part songwriter, part manager, and part online research analyst...while being efficient at doing all at the same time. The balance is the tricky part and nowadays if you want to get to the best artist first, close that crucial deal, or turn that B+ song into an A+ song, you better be a well-rounded A&R.
So far in 2011 overall music sales have been up for the first time since 2004. What do you think is the leading factor for this improvement and what can be done to keep the momentum going?
I think it's a combination of interwoven factors that have led to the upswing in music sales:
a. search engines making it harder to download illegally as well as music companies getting savvier about shutting down piracy more quickly
b. the downturn in the last 7 years caused labels to make more informed and wise decisions on artists they were going to sign, which probably led to signing stronger artists who were more "sure bets".
c. the internet determining artist/song popularity. The people have spoken; leaks, youtube comments. youtube plays, etc are all helpful feedback in helping labels decide where and on which songs/artists they should spend their marketing and promotion efforts when releasing songs and putting songs up for sale. Also the artists' ability to connect directly with their fans; Twitter is a perfect example. The stronger connection a fan feels to the artist, the more likely the fan will be to purchase their music/merch/concert tix, etc.
d. Better music: Through weeding out the weak artists and feedback from fans online, the cream has risen to the top. Artists like Wiz Khalifa, Taylor Swift, Drake, Nicki Minaj are all relatively new artists who have had major success bringing their great music to light with the help of the internet.
Earlier this year parent company Warner Music was purchased by Access Industries for a little over $1.0 Billion. Is there now added pressure for an increase in profits from Atlantic and other subsidiaries and if so how does that affect what you do on the A&R side?
There is always pressure to perform, regardless of what is going on upstairs in the executive suite. We're supposed to always be on.
Can you give some career advice to the producers and writers on the PMP?
New producers and writers - make tracks and songs with particular artists in mind. Do you, but make sure that your music has the likelihood of actually getting cut by an artist. A good song that doesn't sound like it's made for anyone probably won't get taken by anyone.
Intermediate producers and writers - Producers: get amazing sounds. That will separate you from the competition. Also, try to find 3-4 artists that can realistically record to any beat you produce. If you make a track specifically tailored for only one artist, there is a smaller chance it will get taken. If you make it apply to a few artists, it broadens the sound and ensures a higher chance of placing.
Writers: TEAM UP! Very few topline writers write hits on their own. It's very helpful to have someone to bounce your ideas off of. First worry about making a hit, then when you're accomplished you can worry about how much publishing you're going to get.
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