We did a quick Q&A with Makzo. He’s a music producer putting a modern twist on old school hip-hop fusing it with R&B and electronic elements. On top of that Makzo is also keeping himself busy working as an A&R for the Lo-Fi focused label College Music. Find out what he had to say about the biggest challenges you face as an upcoming artist, his daily routine as an A&R and much more.
Can you give us a little background story about your journey as a creator?
My family has always been musical. I played piano and drums and was put into lessons from a young age. This gave me a good base of expertise when I eventually got into the Soundcloud scene in 2014. I was just a listener at first, but eventually started to produce full songs and release tracks later on in 2017. I was lucky enough to network with a lot of other producers and Soundcloud collectives, which eventually led me to Chillhop Music. I’ve released two projects and a handful of singles with them now, and they’ve connected me with many artists who I now call friends. I really feel like I’m a part of a big community of beatmakers, which is such an amazing feeling.
You also work as an A&R Manager for the lo-fi focused label College Music. Can you tell us a little bit about your daily tasks there?
I’m always trying to find artists that set themselves apart with their music. I’m constantly reaching out to both new and reputable producers, combing through submissions and giving feedback. Most of my day is spent listening to unreleased music. This is incredible, but can sometimes be a bit tiring on the ears. As the A&R at College Music, I feel as though I keep a pretty high standard, and usually I know right away when I hear something I want to sign (or not sign). When moving forward with a release, I also take part in the art direction, pairing up musicians with visual artists.
Another big aspect of the A&R duties is playlisting. Not only am I looking for unreleased music, but also for previously released music that we can share with our audience as curators. This could be in one of our various Spotify or Apple playlists, as well as uploads to our YouTube channel.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an up and coming artist in the digital age?
There is a lot of oversaturation in the instrumental hip hop scene. In the past few years, an abundance of new pseudo record labels and young artists have come out of nowhere. Of course, I believe everyone can make and release music, but as an artist myself it means I’m always looking for ways to improve and set myself apart.
Name a major mistake you made in your career other musicians could learn from.
As far as mistakes go, I don’t think I’ve made any major ones. Everyone grows at their own pace and looking back on my music career so far, I’m happy with where it’s gotten me today. One regret that I have is that I stopped taking piano and drum lessons, and have certainly lost some theory knowledge since. Although it takes a lot more self-motivation without a formal teacher, I’ve recently been teaching myself and learning a lot.
When you start a new track – what are the first steps?
This is truly different for every track. But typically, I’ll either start jamming with a grand piano or rhodes sound, or I’ll start by laying down some drums. It always depends what mood I’m in or what time of day it is. Also, if someone sends me stems I’ll start with those!
How important are data insights for your (strategic) decisions?
I try not to focus on data insights and numbers too much, however they can be incredibly useful in certain situations. For example, insights from Spotify for Artists and ForTunes can help me narrow down which independent playlisters I should send my songs to, and which ones would likely target the most relevant audience. Other data from DSPs such as listeners per city/country could help decide where to play live sets or where to target ads. Overall, I think data insights are very important when it comes to any artists’ digital marketing and promotion.
What’s next for Makzo?
I’m working on a lot of music with a lot of talented artists and hopefully I’ll be able to share it soon!
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