kwame the ultimate seminar

How to… make it in the music industry in 2016

Cutting through the noise in 2016 may seem like witchcraft to an emerging artist or songwriter, but industry veteran Kwame Kwaten takes a different view. We glean his top tips...

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 20 Oct 2016
  • min read
Cutting through the noise in 2016 may seem like witchcraft to an emerging artist or songwriter, but industry veteran Kwame Kwaten takes a different view.

The co-founder of Cre8ing Vision, which hosts the annual Ultimate Seminar career and networking day, believes the route to success couples original talent with strong business acumen and a ‘spoonful of luck’.

Having produced and co-written for artists such as Seal, Shola Ama and Mick Jagger, he’s familiar with the upper echelons of UK artistry.

But he’s also attuned to exactly what it takes for a new artist to get a toehold in the business.

Over the years, the Ultimate Seminar has steered dozens of artists, managers and budding music business execs through their first steps, and counts Fraser T Smith, The Staves and Stormzy among its supporters.

With the 2016 edition set to take place on 19 November (more details below), we pick Kwame’s brains about how to make it in 2016…

Be prepared
It’s quick out there. You can have a hit in an instant. You can make a song in your bedroom, put it on SoundCloud, get it onto iTunes and then end up in the Top 20 without even knowing it. Make sure your songs are registered correctly [with PRS for Music and PPL].

Get your head round social media
It’s hard to cut through the digital noise. There are a lot of artists out there, there are a lot of blogs, there are many ways in which people can share their wares. Not every brilliant artist is going to understand social media – but I think it’s very important they do.

Get out there and learn from the experts
You can read all the books, but if you don’t attend the talks from the people who have actually experienced the music industry, it just won’t click.

Register with us
If you can’t make it to the Ultimate Seminar, still visit our website to register. That way we’ll be able to keep you in the loop with our monthly masterclasses, which are all free.

Information overload
You need to process what you pick up. Knowing how to action the information that’s so readily available is a challenge for the modern day artist and manager. If you get in a car and you don’t know how to drive it, chances are you’re going to crash.

To sign or not to sign?
Understand when it’s the right time to do a deal – and when it’s the wrong time. We’re in a grab-me-quick culture, everything is instant, but some things take time. Always get a second opinion.

Keep performance costs down
If you’ve got some live dates coming up, think about your live band and make sure it’s cost effective.

Don’t rush it
New artists should hold on and develop themselves a lot further down the road. You need to get your music to a level where managers will be phoning you, not the other way round. Don’t post your music online unless it’s of an amazing standard.

And, repeat
Don’t just put one amazing track out there, you need to follow it up with another great one. It’s all about being at that stage where you’ve got some really great music behind you and you’re ready to go public.

Make your own luck
There are loads of opportunities for artists if they get it right. Many lucky breaks are born out of hard work. Opportunities will reveal themselves if you’re pointed in the right direction. If you have really hot music, if it’s original, if you’ve marketed yourself correctly, you’re definitely pointed in the right direction.

Alongside Cre8ing Vision, Kwame is also the manager of Ferocious Talent, with a roster including Laura Mvula, Jodie Abacus and Hollie McNish.

The next Ultimate Seminar takes place on 19 November at Westminster University, London.

Capitol Records UK president Nick Raphael will deliver a ‘Be Inspired’ keynote interview at the event.

Alongside Raphael, confirmed speakers include top 10 songwriter Jin Jin (Jess Glynne, Tinie Tempah, Little Mix), artist Yungun, producer Jonathan Quarmby (Benjamin Clementine) and journalist Hattie Collins (i-D, The Guardian, The Sunday Times).

Register for your free ticket here.