Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

TheRFW LIVE : SXSW Edition (2011) presents Yellowbirds [Interview & Performance Session]

Yellowbirds is the moniker for the latest musical exploits of Sam Cohen—guitarist/songwriter/vocalist in the psychedelic collective Apollo Sunshine.  Cohen grew up in Houston, Texas, and while the Texas of his teens may have been home to Big Oil, Enron, the Bush family, and the drab grey Astros jerseys of the 90s, he prefers to think of it as the Texas of yore, home to: Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, the Space Program, and rainbow orange Astros jerseys.  It stands to reason, then, that his current home of New York City must be the mythical Empire City: Rocky Mountains of architecture, epicenter of modern art, home to Charles Mingus and The Velvet Underground.  It was with these timeless inspirations in mind that Sam Cohen created Yellowbirds’ The Color. Double-speed auto-harp glissandos, glowing backwards pedal steel, bubbling echo and fuzz guitars coalesce into a warm wall of sound.  As existential lyrical themes emerge, delivered over psyched-out aural landscapes, the picture emerges of a dust-blown, 4th dimensional Future West.  This is Cohen’s quixotic world where “only the purist tones can be heard.”

Links to social networks/website(s)/music online!/pages/Yellowbirds/154845741203734

The Ross Sea Party | TheRFW LIVE : SXSW Edition

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

TheRFW LIVE : SXSW Edition (2011) presents The Ross Sea Party [Interview & Performance Session]


Thursday, March 24th, 2011

TheRFW LIVE : SXSW Edition (2011) presents Jamie Drastik [Interview & Performance Session]

GigsWiz da Golden Ticket

Monday, February 14th, 2011

GigsWiz da Golden Ticket

Contributing Writer : Rashon A. Massey

This past December 2010, I had the opportunity to Skype with Kevin Hartz, CEO and co-founder of Eventbrite, a new, rapidly growing ticketing service [ ].  The video chat came on the heels of our meeting at a Las Vegas conference that not only showcased Eventrbrite, but several other emerging ticketing solutions offering 3rd party assistance to live music promotion and events.

That said, I thought I had witnessed just about every surfacing technology in the ticketing field.  There were booths from Ticket Derby, IN-TICKETING, Ticket Fly, Brown Paper Tickets…I mean…a plethora of options; however, with the New Music Seminar coming up and taking place February 14 – 16 at the Universal Sheraton in Los Angeles, I learned yet another ticketing company would be putting their stub into the collection.

Thus we have GigsWiz.

In conjunction with our coverage of the New Music Seminar, I took time to have a Skype chat with co-founder Joonas Pekkanen at 9 a.m. EST (lucky for him, it was 4:00 p.m. in Finland).  Joonas is a collegiate graduate with a Finance major, but became disillusioned with that scene relatively soon after completing his coursework.  He has dabbled in startups for the last five years, and just over a year ago, started working on the concept for GigsWiz in the spring before last summer.  Joonas, Juuso Vermasheinä and a tight-knit team who developed the company, all come from a social media and tech perspective and found people in the music business to aid in their understanding of how to better the flawed ticketing system by which the music industry is currently utilizing.

Here is my conversation with Joonas Pekkanen:

Where did GigsWiz come from?

We got an initial pre-seed investment which allowed us to quit our jobs and start working on the business idea early on.  The idea came from marketing and how until now there has been no real innovations in how to effectively use social media to promote live gigs, and then we decided to position ourselves as the first and only artist friendly ticketing service.  All of them out there have been on the side of promoters and venues, but to be able to effectively use social media between artists and fans, you have to be working with the artists.  That is where we saw opportunity.

Can you explain more about this chasm between ticketing services and artists?

Promoters and event organizers are having a hard time reaching the fans.  They have little tools to reach audiences – outdoor ads, radio or tv commercials, and still struggling to reach audiences through social media.  Early last summer, we [developing team for GigsWiz] made a quick tool/widget for musicians to start collecting requests from fans of where they should be playing live, simultaneously focusing a business plan towards something more artists friendly.  That took about a week or two.

Promoters can use us for ticket entry management, then GigsWiz eliminates, as much as possible, the work promoters have to do.  The service allows them to post to different gig sites, while also giving tools to the artists those promoters work with.

So you are launching GigsWiz in America at the New Music Seminar in L.A. on February 14, correct?

Yes.  We’re launching publicly in the States at NMS, and two weeks ago we launched in Europe.  Everyone seems to be excited about the concept.  It is something that builds value for the promoter and the artists.  We’re co-sponsoring the seminar and really hoping to reach the independent promoters and musicians.

I was just at a conference that featured several ticketing solutions aiming to stake claim in the music industry.  From Brown Paper Tickets to Ticket Derby.  I was able to chat with Kevin Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite, a steadily rising service becoming wildly popular.  How will GigsWiz position itself as a service different and unique from the others?

Our initial position is for the medium and independent artist’s category.  Obviously Ticketmaster and the big ticketing companies have a strong situation with big venues, owning a lot of those venues, and that is obviously not something we are trying to enter right away.  Festival promoters are one of the positioning segments we are interested in.  A festival with 20 bands, each with 5,000 Facebook followers, well, that is already a direct reach to push the festival itself.  At the same time, we are working with medium sized promoters.

Eventbrite is doing a great job, and they are the only ones doing a good job on the social media side.  They are also doing a great job monetizing ticketing.  It is really easy to set it up and not a real heavy investment.  It’s the data, marketing tools, and the artists being the most important parties according to our philosophy, and we realize them [artists] and management really they need the data most ticketing companies don’t share or offer.

In terms of where we want to be, we want to be a global company in the next few years, getting a sizeable market share in the live music markets.

As a man of technology, are you already thinking about the next ‘thing’?  What will come after GigsWiz becomes a global brand?

We’re so new that right now I think I am just trying to do this to the best of my ability.  There is so much that can be done to really start leveraging social media for ticketing, artists and promoters and I want to make sure GigsWiz is offering the best before I move on.

Thanks for the chat!  Can’t wait to catch up with your colleagues at NewMusic Seminar!

Same to you.  Cheers!

Tom Silverman Interview

Monday, February 7th, 2011


Contributing Writer : Rashon A. Massey

Since TheRFW began, I have had the esteemed pleasure of being able to communicate, learn and grow from many of the key players from both the music and technology industries.

One crucial turning point in the structuring and building of TheRFW came when I attended the 2009 New Music Seminar in New York City, NY.  Co-founded by Tom Siverman, the New Music Seminar became the breeding ground and breaking point for bands and brands such as Nirvana, Dave Matthews Band, SXSW, CMJ and many more.  From 1982 – 1994, the New Music Seminar grew to become the largest intensive music conference in the world, and this all happened simultaneously as a little known community named hip-hop exploded and took over the world.  This is greatly attributed to both the seminar and Silverman’s Tommy Boy Records playing an active roll in discovering and launching the careers of Queen Latifah, Afrika Bambaataa, Naughty by Nature and several other well-known music influencers of today.

“So many great artists are out there that aren’t getting through for some reason.  I was […and been] racking my brain, why aren’t they getting through?  Is it because people are overwhelmed with choices? Has music become too active and not passive?  There isn’t a broadcast medium like radio driving traffic anymore,” spoke Silverman in an afternoon phone chat.  “So that’s what we [New Music Seminar] work on is to try to help artists break through and give tools to help that.”

The seminar took a hiatus from 1995 to 2009 simply because Silverman felt as if the gathering was becoming redundant.  The music industry had reached a leveling point, and there was not much of a reason to continue without being able to change the conversation that was occurring between industry experts and attendees.  Then, at the change of the century, the global community saw the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services such as Napster, Kazaa and LimeWire, and in the couple years following, we witnessed a decade that would usher in social networking.  With such tools surfacing, by the end of the 2000s, an undeniable impact and conversation needed to take place in music.

Today, iTunes has surpassed WalMart as the highest selling distributor of recorded music, and people are still blaming the fall of record labels on illegal downloading.

“Single sells out sold album sales 3.6 to 1 last year.  In the digital world, digital tracks are out selling album sales 15 to 1.  15 tracks that sell for every album that sales,” shared Silverman.  “The single business is a huge business that artists need to look at.  They need to find a way to break a single, a song that defines them and then try to cut an album.”

“If you can have a comfortable life supporting yourself playing your music, how great is that?  You may not be making 100k a year, but you are doing what you want, and that should be enough,” Silverman goes on to share, and that is the foundation of the modern New Music Seminar.

Taking place in Los Angeles from February 14 – 16, the New Music Seminar returns in 2011 stronger than before.  With five movements, intensive workshops, panel discussions, three artist showcases and a plethora of who’s-who of the music industry, this is the place to be whether you are a new artist or established act looking to take their career to the next level, utilizing tools by yourself without the backing of a record label.

“The New NMS has adapted the symphonic model to get across concepts, borrowing from the Ted Conference to teach intensive lectures.  We’ve added a songwriter workshop with Tom Jackson who will select a band, work with them and improve their show.  We’re doing the Artist On The Verge.  These are artists with a fan base with momentum and have some velocity, so they qualify to make a Top 3 to win 50k and all kinds of industry prizes.,” Silverman went on to exclaim with excitement about the 2011 L.A. conference.

“Now is a better time than any to be a musician, and personally, I am always looking for what’s the next thing?  How do we get there?  I get bored with stuff easily, and I get satisfaction in seeing stuff someone else might miss and showing people such as hip-hop or pioneering the new music seminar.  Seeing hundreds of the people come through the seminar and grow to be the leaders of the music business for the next twenty years gives me great joy.”

For more information on the New Music Seminar, visit

February 3, 2011 – New York, NY – New Music Seminar (NMS) announces the exclusive “After Grammy Jammy”, NMS Opening Night Party at The Music Box in Los Angeles, CA on Monday, February 14, 2011, the night following the 53rd annual Grammy Awards.

NMS Opening Night Rock ‘n’ Roll red carpet celebration will kick off with a cocktail reception from 6:00-8:00pm featuring MTV America’s Best Dance Crew DJ, DJ MIA from 7:00-8:00pm. The night will feature all-star performances by Sean Garrett, The Little Death, Blaqstarr, Of Verona, Jessie and The Toy Boys and Ben Hunter from 8:00pm-midnight.

Producer, songwriter, and rapper, Sean Garrett has 17 #1 hits and has worked with today’s biggest stars including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Usher, Fergie, Ciara, Enrique Iglesias, Mario, Ludacris and recently announced he is working on Justin Bieber’s next album. Focusing on his own music, Garrett has recently release his single, “Feel Love” featuring J. Cole on Columbia Records.

Rock/soul/blues band, The Little Death, features Laura Dawn (lead vocals), Moby (bass, guitar), Daron Murphy (guitar, bass, & harmonica) and Aaron A. Brooks (drums.) The band recently released their self-titled debut album to rave reviews from critics: “…incomparably soulful debut album…The Little Death’s sound is unmistakably inspired by classic blues. Voluptuous melodies and evocative lyrics are laced with a robust rock-and-roll edge.” And “One of New York’s best-kept sultry secrets….top notch players and volcanic generosity…singer Laura Dawn’s staging and rocket-fuel is punk…and her powerhouse voice channels blues and gospel…she’s a riveting performer, her own blend of Tina Turner and Janis Joplin…”

Hip-hop artist and DJ Blaqstarr has worked with M.I.A., Diplo’s Made Decent family, and fellow Baltimore MC, Rye Rye whom he discovered. Blaqstarr is releasing Divine EP, his first release for Neet Records, M.I.A.’s label through Interscope.

Los Angeles based Of Verona have been named MSN Music & Clear Channel Online “One To Watch” Artists and Yahoo! Music has names them one of their “Who’s Next” Artists. The four-piece rock-pop-electronic band has garnered positive buzz for their live performances.

Dance/electronica sensation, Jessie and The Toy Boys, who’s recently release single, “Push It” — produced by Jimmy Harry (RuPaul‘s “Supermodel) and No Doubt‘s Tony Kanal is garnering favorable comparisons to Gwen Stefani and Kylie Minogue, among others.

New Orleans singer-songwriter, Ben Hunter, combines elements of jazz, folk, rock, Mardi Gras Indian chants and Caribbean rhythms to create a unique and unforgettable sound. Hunter is gearing up for the release of his new album, “Delta Dub,” recorded at the famed Jack Ruby studios in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

DJ MIA has worked with the Black Eyed Peas’, whose Jeepney Music release DJ MIA’s first mix tape, as well as appeared in videos for Eminem, Nelly, Blink 182, System of a Down, Hoobastank, Black Eyed Peas and JC Chasez. She was also a featured DJ on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar and Nick Cannon’s MTV Wild’n Out.

The world’s first DJ/Guitarist/Producer Dan Morrell, has opened for acts such as Kanye West, Diddy, Justin Timberlake, Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, Kelly Clarkson, Akon, T-Pain, Akon, Rhianna, Shakira, Run DMC, Sean Paul, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliott, and more. Dan Morrell will close the night out with a set starting at midnight.

Indie 103.1 on-air personalities, Wayne Jobson, Liz Warner and Tedd Roman will be the MCs throughout the evening.

For the full line-up and schedule go to

The Music Box is located at 6126 Hollywood Blvd Hollywood, CA.

Registration for the New Music Seminar will be open from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. **You must be registered to attend the NMS Conference for entrance to the NMS Opening Night Party.

NMS Conference Tickets are currently on sale for $295 and available at

See Final Schedule & Speakers here:

About the New Music Seminar

From the co-founder and director of the original legendary New Music Seminar comes a conference with a mission; to create a just, sustainable and profitable music business and to help artists break through the growing glut of artists and releases to success. Artists have never had so much power to control their own careers and build their success. This affordable event gives music business executives, technologists, and artists the knowledge, tools and connections to step into the tomorrow’s music business today.

The two-day, three-night conference includes a symphony of five “movements” (focused discussions) over the course of two days, eighteen18-minute Intensives (presentations) from key industry leaders, 25 mentoring sessions, 3 nights of music showcases, High-Level Industry Summit Meetings as well as the NMS creative workshops focused on Live Performances, Vocal Performances, Producing and Songwriting, with ongoing networking opportunities throughout.

The New Music Seminar is the must-attend conference for the emerging new music industry.  The Seminar will address both the artists’ dilemma of breaking out from the ever-growing glut of music releases and the development of a new business model for a sustainable music business.