Point Blank Presents: Breaking Into EDM [Ep. 021 - Jonah Berry Of NEST HQ]
EDM.com has once again teamed up with the award-winning Point Blank Music School to present Breaking Into EDM: where your favorite artists and industry-insiders share words of wisdom, tips of the trade, and personal stories of making it and breaking it.
Today we hear from LA-based Jonah Berry. The first-ever industry insider of the Breaking In series, Jonah is the Editor/Co-founder of NEST HQ and Label Manager/A&R of NEST - Skrillex's media platform and free-release imprint, respectively.
EDM.com & Point Blank: For those who aren't familiar, what exactly are NEST and NEST HQ?
"NEST HQ and NEST are two individual entities that live in somewhat of a symbiotic, integrated relationship. NEST HQ is our independent media platform, designed as a space to garner culture through the lens of music and act as a megaphone for lesser known creatives to have their music heard or art seen. NEST HQ is all about quality and positive journalism, so if we like it, we write about how great it is. If we don't like it, we'll just let other folks cover it.
NEST is our free release imprint which we call a "sister label" to OWSLA. While OWSLA focuses on its nuclear family of signed artists, NEST is oriented more to experimental, alternative sounds and promising, emergent talent. In that regard, NEST echoes much of the ethos and sentiment of NEST HQ, which is why the two are integrated so easily together."
EDM & PB: So what's your personal background like? How did you get involved with NEST/NEST HQ?
"I got heavily into dance music in 2006 and began going to as many shows as I could, it was an insatiable urge to see new acts and hear new songs. After scouring mp3 blogs like Missing Toof and Discodust, I decided to start one of my own while I was in college called Gotta Dance Dirty, and that really implanted me into the LA music scene. I headed that up for about five years and became a publicist at Infamous PR during that time. In the beginning of 2013, Sonny and his team hit me up saying they wanted to start a new media company. We met and were totally on the same page about the type of journalism and culture we wanted to create, and a few months later we launched the website."
EDM & PB: Is there such thing as a 'typical' day at NEST? What responsibilities are usually on your day-to-day agenda?
"I wouldn't say there's really a typical day, but on any given day you'll always see me writing. In addition to that, we have a lot of meetings with artists, managers, and other creatives - always trying to find ways to work with interesting people in some new way. Naturally, we listen to a TON of music all day long. Responsibilities range all over the place, from writing features, conducting interviews, and editing posts for the site to issuing release agreements, creating release artwork, and working with my colleagues on creative marketing ideas for the label."
EDM & PB: I'm sure your inbox is constantly flooded with producers/publicists asking you to check their SoundCloud (bruh), what's the best way for an artist to actually get their music heard?
"Ya my email account stays busy with submissions definitely. The best and easiest way for me to listen to as much music as possible is to check private streams sent via email, whether hosted on Soundcloud or Box or similar. My laptop just can't handle downloading 100 tracks a day.
Usually, the submission emails I check the most are the ones that a) are addressed to me/NEST specifically which lets me know the artist believes NEST is truly the best home for their music (as opposed to a blanket BCC email to probably 100 labels) and b) feel genuine and personal. I know the vulnerability that comes with releasing personal art into the world, and when I can sense that someone is proud of their work and believes in it, I'll spend more of my time looking into it."
EDM & PB: What do you think the future holds for electronic music in general? Has the EDM bubble popped?
"Naw I don't think it's popped at all. Many festival headliners are still dance music acts, dance music is being synched all over the place in commercials, TV, movies, video games, etc. Pop stars are being produced by guys on their laptops who DJ clubs on the weekends. Maybe there might eventually be a decline in shows because of the massive saturation in major markets, but as far as the music goes, that's here to stay for a while."
EDM & PB: What genre do you predict will be the next big thing?
"I'd love to see a resurgence in singer/songwriters in electronic music. More songs, less tracks in 2016, that's what I've been hoping for. As the democratization of creating electronic music has allowed for a huge influx of producers, I think the ones that will rise above the rest will be the ones who can write a great song, not just a banger for the clubs."
EDM & PB: What artists will you be keeping an eye on in 2016?
"Love this question. Tennyson are incredible. Every song from them is so inspired, and they're only just beginning. josh pan is always on my watch list, his mind creatively is unpredictable in the best way. Ducky is so talented and she has such a fearless production style. And all the guys from Destiny Bond, super young and already making some huge tracks through their individual and group projects."
EDM & PB: What tips would you give an aspiring artist on breaking into the scene?
"If you can go out to shows in your city, do it. Make friends with everyone in your community, make friends with artists coming through town. With so many people trying to be a producer these days, personal relationships have become more and more important. If you're a dick who just stays at home and tweets your latest remix to people, you won't have the support system you need to succeed."
EDM & PB: And what about an aspiring music industry professional?
"Know your place and don't get ahead of yourself. Learn before you leap. Don't think you can just upstart a label or 'manage' an artist before having an actual job in the industry where you have learned valuable information to benefit that artist. Get an internship and bust your ass above and beyond what is asked of you. If you're equally hungry and respectful of those who know more than you, you'll find that opportunities will come to you in time."
EDM & PB: What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
"Don't fail, just nail."
EDM & PB: And the worst?
"I've actually been lucky enough to only get career advice from intelligent people thus far."
Click here to learn more about NEST and NEST HQ!
For more inside tips and expert advice on everything music industry, check out Point Blank Music School, with courses in London, Los Angeles and online. The award-winning electronic music school boasts former students including Claude VonStroke, Nicole Moudaber, AlunaGeorge, Plastician, and many more. Catch this week's production 'Quick Tip' below and head to their site to sample a course for free.