“The Rhythms of New York” is a TV series that examines the unique musical scene that helps make NYC the “Media Capital” of the world. This diverse program, produced and hosted by Dave Brodsky, and Co-Hosted by Dee Jagonase, showcases various Artists and Bands ranging from beginners to highly seasoned professionals from a vast array of cultures. “The Rhythms of New York” will follow respected entertainment industry veteran, Dave Brodsky, as he examines the hugely, diverse range of music genres that exist in NYC. Dave and Dee doggedly scour The Big Apple for Artists and Bands that help to make up its musical heritage and then showcase their performances. These performances will be recorded live and combined with interviews of the Artists. These interviews will enable the viewer to share the dreams, ego, and indecision that are a part of being a musician in the fishbowl that is New York.
Thank you so much for this interview. We want to put a spotlight on committed folks like you who are doing so much to promote the music scene in their city – and New York City is a big city – a long way from the west coast. We got your name from a band that you have given a hand up. The band seemed pretty impressed with you as a person – ‘Good guy!’
Dave, tell us something of yourself and what you’re doing.
I have been in the entertainment business for nearly 25 years. I started off as a compact disc catalog retailer specializing in country music and bluegrass. We were known as “America’s Source for Country Music and Bluegrass on Compact Disc”. Our company was mentioned numerous times on the old TNN (The Nashville Network). We had handled product fulfillment for many artists who appeared the TNN primetime shows (ie Crook & Chase, Nashville Now, etc.).
In order to sell albums, the artist had to create a demand for their product. Many non-major (I dislike the term “indie artist”) artists did not know how to go about creating that demand. So I branched out from just selling CDs to representing artists as their booking agent, manager, publicist, publisher (BMI), and radio promoter. This was in the 1980’s before the “age of the internet”, digital downloads, YouTube, and viral marketing. I became very knowledgeable in all facets of the music business and helped many artists establish their careers. In the mid 1990’s, I decided to concentrate solely on running on “full service entertainment agency” and dropped the retailing aspect.
What drives you to do what you do?
There is good music out there. We just have to find a way in putting this music into the ears of the public. With all of the competition, it is very difficult for an artist go get exposure. About a decade ago I was encouraged by Michael Max Knobbe (now the Executive Director of Bronxnet – the public access network in the borough of the Bronx, in NYC where I live) to develop a music based show for airing on Bronxnet. I had a friend who had an entertainment program on BCAT (Brooklyn, NYs public access network) and I had several of my artists appear on his show. I really enjoyed the exposure and the technical aspects of studio production. I then decided to give it a try. I developed a tv program titled “The Rhythms of New York” and registered the name and concept with the Writer’s Guild of America. The show is s a TV series that examines the unique musical scene that helps make NYC the “Media Capital” of the world. This diverse program showcases artists and bands ranging from beginners, to highly seasoned professionals from a vast array of cultures. These performances are recorded live and combined with interviews of the artists and enable the viewer to share the dreams, ego, and indecision that are a part of being a musician in the fishbowl that is New York. In 2009, “The Rhythms of New York” won the BETA Award for Best Entertainment/Variety/Performing Arts Program. The Rhythms co-host is Dee Jagonase, a well-respected promoter of live music events in the NYC area. “The Rhythms of New York” gives NY based artists the opportunity to present their talent to our vast audience on television as well as streaming on our website www.rhythmsofny.com
Your show is one where local acts, polished folk and newcomers, perform and are interviewed by you. What is the most common complaint you hear from musician/songwriters, as concerns their ability to be seen and heard?
The majority of artists tell me that they are unable to make a full time living out of their music. This is a very complex subject. However, “the cream rises to the top”. And, it’s important to remember that an artist with “talent” MUST be in this business for one reason and one reason only: because they love it and are willing to make sacrifices to become a “success” – however, it is that they define the term “success”. There are no “overnight success” stories. Artists must work hard to achieve “success”. This is what all professionals must do – work hard to achieve their goals. Of course, there are artists that are daydreamers who don’t really possess the talent to rise to the top. In fact, the vast majority of them will never become “Stars” but as long as they love what they are doing, then they are a “success”.
You have accomplished a lot – what else would you like to do in the future?
My experience at Bronxnet, from a technical point (studio production), and executive producing, has furthered my interests in television and film production. I am involved in the Philippine-American (Fil-Am) community (my girlfriend is a Filipina.) I have developed a TV program for the Fil-Am titled “Mabuhay Kababayan!”, an English language talk, entertainment, and variety show. We will be going to the Philippines to tape some segments, and will be taping a weekly studio show in the NY area for worldwide distribution. Furthermore, I am working on a documentary on Philippine barako and civet coffees. I still have DaSBro Enterprise, my full service entertainment agency, and have recently expanded into representing celebrities and athletes for public appearances, conventions, meet and greets, etc.
We have heard that the Internet has ruined the Music Biz. What are your thoughts there?
I don’t believe that digital downloading has ruined the music industry as a whole. Digital downloads have enabled artists to get much needed exposure. Howver, it has obviously changed the old time music industry business model. That is to say that the major record labels (record labels that are defined as major labels because they control their own source of distribution) which are owned by multi-comglomerate diversified companies are in need of a constant revenue stream, Hence there is limited time to develop an artist over the course of several years. Nowadays if a major label artist’s single doesn’t become a hit at radio the first time, there may not be a second chance. It’s important to mention radio, because radio stations are now controlled by major companies and there are few, if any, “mom-and-pop” radio station owners. Radio stations don’t just play new songs by new artists. They test them out first with callouts or focus groups. And the decision to play a song at a local station is not made by the music director, it’s made by the corporate office.
When I was growing up, I heard new music on the radio and on tv shows such as “American Bandstand”. These days people learn of new music from the Internet – not from radio. Justin Bieber became a star from YouTube. And people download (whether legally or illegally) and listen to music on their iPod (and similar devices).
The music business, on the national level, has certainly changed over the years – but local music seems to be surging in popularity, in large towns and small. How do you see the music business working in the next five years?
The “music business” has drastically changed. I put the term in quotes because I think it’s a passe term and much prefer to use “entertainment business” because of the way the music industry has evolved. Now to be successful, an artist must cross over to other platforms such as film and television.
With the CD on it’s way to extinction, major record labels will need to find new revenue streams. My guess is that all artists signed to major record labels in the future will have to sign “360 deals” – whereby the label will control most, if not all aspects, of the artists’ career. As for the non-major artist, I offer this advice: DO NOT PLAY FOR FREE. Playing for free (or a piece of the door/gate or tips) has become the normal for many entry to mid level acts. Artists deserve to get paid! As a booking agent, I can only represent artists that can “command” certain fees. If an artist wants to get ahead, they need a team of professionals behind them, and if the artist isn’t making money there is no chance a booking agent, manager, or publicist will want to work for that artist for free or for little money.
The music scene in New York, LA, and other large cities have always had the population to discover and support local acts, even if unsigned. (Bruce Springstein comes to mind.) The big labels have collapsed. What do you consider the best approach for local acts to promote themselves these days?
Viral marketing is the best way to promote an artist. Keep on putting up videos on YouTube. Engage the fan base on social networking sites. Get merchandise (or go to places like CafePress). Maintain a mailing list. Send out press releases.
How do you find and present the acts you have on your show?
“The Rhythms of New York” has been in production for 3 years. I prescreen all of the artists who appear on the show. We only present the best NY based artists. We have developed a following from around the world. We have had acts from all over the world who watch the shows online and they email us wanting to come to NY to be on our show. However, we don’t have non- NY based acts on the show.
A studio recording (CD, mp3) and a professional “music video” doesn’t show me how the act appears in a live performance or how they come across in an interview. I “scout” potential performers in clubs. I also look at YouTube videos (I perfer the amateur videos). We also get referrals from acts who have appeared. Before agreeing to have an act on the show, I talk on the phone with the leader to see what type of “story” he/she has to tell. We need an act that is compelling interview-wise, as well as music-wise. A few weeks prior to the studio taping, we tape a “teaser” with the front person of the group. We do this for several reasons: (1) we get to know that artist and become familiar with them and their storytelling; and (2) it gives our audience a preview of the artist.
Some Artists who appeared on “The Rhythms of New York”[cincopa AsAAKa6hvtwb]Do you have any advice for local songwriters in New York City to go about having their songs heard?
Heard by whom? Club Goers come out to support the songwriter, and are familiar with the music.
I think it’s important for songwriters/artists to identify their base, ie, their demographic – reinforce their base, and expand their base. The majority of songwriters/artists don’t have the business acumen to do this by themselves. They need to get a team of seasoned professionals to help them get their music heard by “the masses”.
This site is for Songwriters and what is of interest to them. From that perspective tell us about your town – New York City.
New York City has scores of venues that are songwriter friendly, but there is a lot of competition for the decent venues/slots. Go to open mic nights to hone the songs. Develop a fan base. Put together a tight 30-40 minute set of original songs and banter. Play some smaller venues (and get paid). Get a booking agent who will get you into the college circuit.
What kind of music moves you? Do you like it plugged-in, or acoustic… Bands or Singer /Songwriters?
There are only two types of music: good and bad. I like good music, be it a singer/songwriter or large band, all genres. The greatest singer of all time was Frank Sinatra!
Give us some names from your area. The readers would love to look them up and listen!
One of my favorite singer/songwriter/pianists is named Kiyomi Kobayashi (she just goes by the name Kiyomi). She appeared on “The Rhythms of New York” twice. I think that she has the potential of being the next Sarah McLachlan.
Thank you, Dave, for your honest, enlightening view of the ‘Entertainment Business’ and your generosity.
I can talk about this for hours (and often do) but for the sake of brevity, this is where I can use my experience in helping artists gain exposure utilizing old and new media and become relevant in this day and age when all a potential artist needs to do is sit in front of his/her computer, record a song on free or inexpensive software, and upload it for the world to hear and see (simple but effective music videos on YouTube).
What advice would you give Bands and Singer/Songwriters?
Never give up, never give in. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
Sound advice indeed! You are known as a ‘Good Guy’, is there is something you are especially proud of that you would like everyone to know?
I love what I am doing, and whatever I do, it’s always in the best interest of my audience and the artists I represent.
Thank you, Dave Brodsky
To read more about Dave Brodsky you can visit the following:
Thank you Dave for an intriguing and informative interview.
Ken and Dave
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