The foundation of every great innovation begins with a simple question, “Why?” At its core, it’s the very basis for everything in existence. Why are things the way they are. Have they evolved, progressed and continue to challenge and reward or are they ripe to be struck by lightning.
At the start of the millennium, the dilapidated cylinder known as the music industry had been on corporate cruise control for too long. The future was about to ask “why.” And it was an exciting time. In 2003, as iTunes was revolutionizing music consumption, business entrepreneur Evan Stein could read between the lines. The writing on the wall was crystal clear. Why would consumers continue to purchase and collect music in the same laborious way. With traditional revenue models being obliterated he saw the industry having two paths forward, one would be to build a business offering corporate brands and artists fresh alternatives to connect with coveted demographics while also building a foundation with a small but mighty network of post production editors called music supervisors who, in their own way, were re-shaping the music industry.
In 2003, Stein, along with business partner Martin Weiner, formed Experience Music Group, a boutique music licensing, branding and artist management agency that specialized in matching up-and-coming indie artists with brands as well as creatives in film, television and advertising. It’s an apt moniker knowing that music electrifies our lives in a myriad of ways. Stein innately understood its impact. He too had a great ear, and a rock solid gut instinct. He knew how music could transform lives and wanted to be the guy on the other side.
We got a chance to sit down with Evan to chat about his career, and tips for up and coming artists, producers and song-writers!
How many artists do you work with?
Consulting wise I work with anywhere from 6-10 artists a time. Sync licensing wise we have over 100 artists on our roster.
What are the most important things you look at when signing a new artist/catalog?
I look for someone who is dedicated to their craft and is wiling to work as hard as I am.
Do you find that streams and numbers of followers are a big part of signing new artists or does it still come down to just the music for you?
It’s all about the music.
Do you have any networking tips for upcoming producers and song-writers?
Yes try and collab with as many artists outside your genre as possible and support each other on socials.
Where do you find your artists? And how does an artist get your attention?
Honestly most of my clients find me through word of mouth, but every now and then I will stumble across an artist on Spotify that excites me and will reach out to them.
How do you choose who to pitch songs to?
For music licensing opportunities I pitch songs that I think are sync friendly.
What’s your fav song that you worked on and what was your part in it?
I have two favorites. The first one is the song “Good Times” by Latch Key Kid. That song holds a special place in my heart because I licensed it in a Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial, the trailer, opening credit sequence and soundtrack of movie I Love You, Man. The second song is “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons. I pitched that song for sync before anyone knew who the band was and got turned down by music supervisors for a year. We finally licensed it in some TV shows and a few years later the band got signed to Interscope and the song played on KROQ while I was in the car which was a very memorable moment.
What’s a defining moment in your career thus far?
Discovering and signing Imagine Dragons for sync before anyone had heard of them.
How do you feel about the current state of music?
I am HUGE music fan and love listening to music. I prefer the songs that I grew up with or that were before my time, but also love some of the music I hear today.
Any tips for artists looking to get their music synced?
Do your homework. Study the types of music that are used in TV shows, films, advertisements, video games. Make sure your songs (writers and publishing) are registered with a PRO (ASCAP, BMI). Don’t forget to include metadata in each song (writer, pub, contact info).
How do you stay focused and productive?
I absolutely love what I do. I’m super passionate and enthusiastic about working in the music business and being grateful helps keep me focused and productive.
Where do you get inspiration?
Artist success stories inspire me. Whether it’s a brand new artist or a documentary about The Bee Gees.
What’s your process when discovering an artist and then bringing them to the point of release and touring?
The first thing I focus on with an artist is helping them find their “why.” The thing that makes the unique and remarkable. That’s the base of everything.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
The writer Simon Sinek is a big influence of mine. He taught me about the importance of starting with why.
What are you listening to right now?
I am currently listening to The Bee Gees.
Catch Evan Stein every Wednesday from 12-2pm PST on Clubhouse, as he co-moderates our industry talk dubbed, “Industry Professionals: Whats’ Shaping The Future Of Music”.
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