Your career has been incredibly successful – you have multiple grammy nominations on your belt – how did you go from a small city in France to the in-depth music world of Los Angeles?
At a young age, my parents noticed me playing with my small instruments along with the radio. It became serious in my teenage years. I started getting classical as well as jazz piano lessons and being mentored by the best musicians in Europe. I quickly got my graduations and got asked to teach classical and jazz piano in 2 conservatories in France at 19.
I developed another strong interest in Cuban music and ended up in Cuba with my mentor Olivier Congar and got invited to play on stage with one of the most famous salsa band at 21.
After playing live with lots of Latin and jazz bands, I noticed I preferred being in the studio.
I started producing a lot and used Myspace to gain a large following and to network. This triggered my 1st song placements with international stars such as Timbaland’s artist DOE ( we placed a song in a Ben Stiller movie) and with Kpop stars TVXQ.
I ended up being invited in Los Angeles by one of the most legendary record producer, Walter A, and music executive Chris Ivery. The 2 albums I worked on during my first two weeks in Los Angeles received 3 Grammy Nominations and sold over 8 million copies worldwide (Leona Lewis and Anthony Hamilton)…I then moved to the US and kept working with tons of people. I also got short-listed for a Latin Grammy with famous Cuban musician Alfredo De La Fe a few years later ( album “Sin Limites”).
You’ve been classically and jazz trained. Do you think that has helped you achieve more based on your skills or does that kill your creativity?
Too much knowledge can certainly kill creativity. But as long as knowledge is being properly digested (just like food, with periods of rest and diversity), creativity should use it to outperform.
I couldn’t have created a video game paying me instantly each time it’s played at no cost to the player if I didn’t seriously study music, coding, social media and blockchain.
You are a Hyperloop investor, a Musicoin ambassador and a coder too. Where do you see the future of technology taking us? A dystopia or a utopia?
I’m quite optimistic. I do see it moving towards a more ‘fair’ world where the power is back to people through community building and decentralization. As you said, I’m exposed to lots of interesting projects, I see tons of things that will considerably improve people’s life.
By now, there are 80 companies mingling with blockchain, cryptocurrencies and music. The successful ones will take a big chunk of the music market in the next years. What do you think is still missing?
Scalable blockchains. That’s the major thing that the most serious players are working towards. The ability to make crypto easy to use and easy to understand for anybody will be key as well.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies still have the bad reputation of being “shady and volatile” technologies. What would make them accepted by the wider audience?
It helps to be curious and have knowledge in different fields to understand what’s happening. Volatility means emotions. We know that massive amounts of money have been made by investing early in crypto and in ICOs. People don’t want to miss out. But it also means that some shady brains are trying to take advantage of the situation by building fake companies/products just to pump their cryptos and to cash out after their promotion (very well known old Wallstreet trick: pump and dump scams). People have to educate themselves and take their own decisions. In this jungle, a few blockchain projects are bringing real world-changing products.
You have regular contact with record labels, publishers, royal collecting agencies and the likes. How is that relationship? Is it as bad as every musician says?
I’m mostly no longer in touch with these kind of companies (besides society of authors). I clearly saw the inefficiency of this world when I got to the US, it blew my mind. If you’re in a circle that doesn’t evolve, you gotta get out fast and find/build new ways! Therefore I started hanging in the entrepreneur circles, it’s been incredibly refreshing. It triggered lots of new ideas on how I could combine my speciality in music with some of my other specialities in other fields. I ended up starting working on projects with a massively bigger world impact than just producing songs by themselves.
You also have music released on Musicoin. What do you think the advantage of it is? Does it empower you to not have to worry about the “bureaucracy” of the music industry?
Musicoin has some obvious revolutionary features:
- Songwriters are instantly paid after their song is streamed, all transactions can be verified (it takes years to receive money using other platforms and nothing can be verified),
- Songwriters stipulate their % ownership of a song when uploading it to Musicoin for instant distribution and payment right after their song is streamed,
- Listeners can tip artists as much as they want. The value of a tip is 1 to a 1000 times the value of a stream; you can now clearly understand how much more money you can make using Musicoin compared to any other streaming platforms…
- You can monetize any webpage with the Musicoin music player. It allowed me to create a video game paying me instantly each time the game is played at no cost to the player. Play it on a computer at http://educationalgaming.org/
It actually blows my mind that only a few thousands artist is aware of this and using the platform now. This is such an obvious major shift for me…
Most of the interests we’re having here at Volareo is from the U.S. Do you think the breakthrough will come from there? What other market you see fit for blockchain based technology companies?
Well, it is known that cryptocurrency adoption is faster in developing countries than in “reach” countries like the US. We could see some world changing things coming out of these places…
What do you think of the idea of buying physical hardware with virtual currencies? Will that make crypto a bit less of a niche?
Any new way to buy things with crypto will certainly help moving towards a wider adoption. Furthermore, it will allow people to understand the value of a cryptocurrency project much better. It probably is the most important. It will help real projects to stand apart from scams.
Going back to your music career, is there something you could have done differently? Is there a milestone that anyone should hit if they want to make it in the music business?
Coming from the french countryside where I didn’t have access to much culture, it’s definitely been a long journey. I certainly wish I started learning business and computer science at a much younger age. Today it clearly makes the difference between a failing and a winning independent artist. The most successful independent artists are clearly running their own business. They understood that relying on 3rd parties like managers/publishers/executives do not work anymore. When you apply this kind of thinking and if you are willing to research and learn every day, the sky is the limit. The reality is very few will make the effort.
Is L.A. a good platform for new talent or is it just ‘plastic-fantastic’ as people say?
I like to remind people that I managed to start working with international music stars when I was still living in the french countryside and by leveraging Social Media.
Tons of musicians/artists come to Los Angeles thinking the city will unlock their career. I think relocating is an inappropriate thing to focus on. To start a serious and well respected career that will last for a lifetime, it starts by focusing on being uniquely good at what you do and then communicating about it using free tools like Social Media. You can do this wherever you are in the world. With that said Los Angeles is a very enjoyable place because of its diversity. There’s definitely a great amount of incredibly talented people but also way too many uneducated ‘daydreamers’ individuals.
On a last note, if there’s anything you would say to your future self, what would it be?
Keep being curious and keep following your instinct!