Austin Kramer has come a long way since his first concert in 1997, when he saw the band Boston in Rapid City, South Dakota.
The former Global Head of Dance & Electronic Music at Spotify now holds over a decade experience in music and has become widely known for breaking new artists and hits to millions worldwide. Sifting through the overwhelming amount of pitches he receives, he listens to over 100 track submissions per day and has even had a track named after his love of coffee ("Kramer's Cup") for consideration.
Last month, Kramer announced his next big stop: an official move to another global music brand, Tomorrowland. On April 5th, the music industry plug began hosting his own One World Radio show, UNreleased with Austin Kramer, which promises to bring 10 never-before-heard, diverse tracks to listeners around the world each Monday.
Combining Kramer's prowess as a master selector with Tomorrowland’s widespread reach, the 30-minute show looks to be the newest platform to help both established and breakthrough artists.
“Consider UNreleased as dance music’s weekly cheat sheet with the 10 upcoming records you definitely should know about,” Kramer told EDM.com. “We’ll be showcasing and premiering the coolest records live from all different genres in dance music.”
As mentioned, Kramer’s first stop as global music curator was at Spotify in 2015. His team of music experts’ day-to-day work involved curating playlists, promoting tracks and filtering through submissions from around the world. In his role as “genre-lead,” he helped pioneer the level of curation that exists on the platform today.
“My main goal was to develop a genre-based suite of playlists representing the subgenres similar to how Tomorrowland and other festivals include varying styles at each stage,” said Kramer. “[After 5 years] of developing that framework with the team I considered it 'task complete.'”
"With on demand listening now being so popular, it’s very difficult to shine a light on a specific artist or style," he continued. "There’s so much to choose from [now]."
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Kramer also missed the artist interaction and getting to hear their stories. This approach, which is markedly more engaging, went a little bit deeper than the playlists would allow. Getting to know artists, their stories and what went into the music they composed provided a more personal, tangible means by which to select and promote.
Kramer had previously hosted radio shows with SiriusXM, but wanted to wait for the right opportunity that connected with his vision. He had been familiar with Tomorrowland’s One World Radio platform, which celebrated its two-year anniversary in February, and eventually set up a meeting with the platform.
Tomorrowland’s One World Radio prides itself on offering strong, unique and eclectic options from all genres. This diversity, impeccable mixing and 24/7 format fit right into Kramer’s mold, so eventually they struck a deal.
At its core, music is about breaking new artists and sounds to add to and help evolve the collective art community. UNreleased for Austin Kramer looks to be just that, offering a hand to artists all of over.
“I had really been searching for a continual stream and interesting programming approach, where all these sub-genres could flow together,” said Kramer,” said Kramer. "To me, Tommorrowland nailed it.”
UNreleased allows Kramer to return to a short-form, bite-size show that offers brand new music that ties into all the different subgenres. As far as submissions, he promises that everyone will be considered, regardless of whether it’s a heralded artist or new artist. Over the course of the first few weeks, he’s been charmed at the amount and type of submissions, even procuring some people’s first-ever tracks.
The extra time provided by his reduced role from "global curator" has allowed Kramer to pursue projects that have otherwise been on the back-burner. He’s working closer with artists and friends on the creative side of things, started two new venue projects, and launched two music scholarships dedicated to students.
Tying a bow on our chat, he stressed that despite his vast pursuit to support a global music community, focusing on personal projects, growing relationships, and giving back is just as important.
“No one really focuses on that and to me, now is the perfect time to do that,” said Kramer. “Because of quarantine, a lot of artists are inside their heads and being super creative. The magic is understanding why they created it. That’s the rewarding part of this for sure.”