The U.S. music industry is sometimes hearing-impaired. When a single industry exec speculates incorrectly about which performers are capable of entertaining everyone and get it wrong, that’s a problem. Specifically, those bad calls result in unsold albums, unpaid artists, and even bankrupt labels.
Some industry sources consider decentralization to be the answer. Founder and President, of the Los Angeles, California-based talent agency ISINA, Walter Afanasieff, told the press that it is a better way of “finding musical talent rather” because it doesn’t rely on just “one or two decision-makers.” He explains that a group of people who are experts in a genre can discover “potential pop stars, and” can mentor “promising but inexperienced” performers “through the crazy journey of stardom.”
According to industry association IFPI, marketing and A&R (artists and repertoire) or talent scouting, cost record companies an average of $5.8 billion annually. Music publishers expect returns on their investment. Thus, talent scouting and development are essential elements of a constantly-changing industry currently dominated by digital downloads and streaming.
The ISINA staff think that mentorship and decentralization are the answer. Their platform allows thousands of users to vote on music content and select 30 DJs, instrumentalists, producers, and singers that will be flown to L.A. There, they will take part in a special six-week mentorship program.
All expenses will be paid. Additionally. each artist chosen will be partnered with seasoned experts who have worked with such stars as Celine Dion, Selena Gomez, Ariane Grande, Michael Jackson, and Usher.
Thousands of hopefuls pay $30 to have their efforts put up for the vote. They consider it worth the price since most of them are unable to otherwise even associate with such big stars. $30 is nothing to pay for the chance to win such a “golden ticket.”
To be fair, the company’s blockchain ledger uses a weighted-voting process during the voting phase to prevent the falsification of statistics and cheating. The CMO of ISINA, Alexander Mamasidikov, adds that patience is a virtue in that just a couple of adjustments can be enough to unleash a performer’s potential. He notes it isn’t about “who can sell the most streams and downloads right now.” It’s about the success that can come from “organic and collaborative efforts.”
Unsigned artists often already have significant fan bases and even viral videos on social media at a time when the content distribution is also decentralized. Today digital platforms definitely dominate. Therefore, talent scouting, development, and mentorship are critical. Mentors can enhance existing talent to make a burgeoning DJ, musician, singer, or producer a success.
Afanasieff emphasizes the experience of the experts. He believes that their assistance “is invaluable to young and often naive artists, most of whom are just coming of age, and entering a cutthroat business.” He concludes that “[w]hen things fall into place, you can almost visualize the raucous concerts and cheering fans from the magical synergy taking place on stage.” All of the finalists are offered contracts.