ASCAP Expo Day 1: New ASCAP Stats plus Katy Perry, Big Sean & Diplo On Their Early Years
By Geoff Nudelman of Telos Studios.
The Annual ASCAP Expo kicked off yesterday at the Loews Hollywood Hotel with an inspired General Membership Meeting featuring remarks from most of ASCAP’s leadership.
President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams picked up where he left off at the Pop Awards the night before at the Pop Awards. He repeatedly urged all members to rally for better royalty percentages citing an unnamed song that was played 170 million times on Pandora, paying the songwriters $11,869, a number that he says is far too small.
CEO John LoFrumento discussed the financial health of ASCAP, notably saying that they paid $827 million in royalties in 2012.
The panel sessions kicked off with a YouTube-centered discussion on how to get noticed on the popular video-sharing site. Ali Rivera, West Coast Head of Artist Relations at the company said that videos that get the most plays often contain highly creative content that offers something that’s not on the site yet. She added the company is constantly exploring partnerships with a variety of rising artists to curate higher
quality content for the site. Three “YouTube personalities” were also lined up to speak about their route to viral fame. DeStorm Power and AJ Rafael emphasized that they leverage the power of their Twitter followers to promote new content and often schedule meet-ups with their fans to connect on a higher level.
An afternoon of entertaining speakers started with the Expo’s keynote conversation between Katy Perry and ASCAP EVP of Membership, Randy Grimmett. The pop superstar was highly quotable as she discussed her early struggles trying to make it as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles. Perry started in Christian music, singing Gospel at age 9 and often referred to many of her popular songs as “secular music”.
She accredited much of her success to her team, which started at Island/Def Jam, then at Columbia, and finally the hand-picked people she brought with her from Columbia to Capitol Records where she has built her pop hit catalog. “I wouldn’t be here without them,” she said.
EDM superstar Diplo and rising Detroit rapper Big Sean compared notes on their surprisingly similar routes to success in a colorful conversation (part of which is unprintable) moderated by Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde.
One of the more interesting stories was Big Sean’s gutsy play to go with his friend down to a Detroit radio station where Kanye West was making an appearance. Sean explained he had to convince West to listen to him. “He gave me 16 bars – one verse to spit,” he said. West was stopped in his tracks by his flow and took Sean’s CD. After a couple years and plenty of broken promises from other producers outside West’s circle, a member of West’s team offered Sean a contract on his G.O.O.D. Music label.
Diplo explained that part of the development of dancehall/reggae crew Major Lazer was to be an intense live experience, something that couldn’t be replicated often. “Because DJ sets really aren’t that exciting, I wanted (Major Lazer) to be a full-time circus,” he said.
The Expo continues today with a variety of publishing panels and a conversation between RJD2 and Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method.