Reaching listeners across the globe is many artists’ primary goal. From touring, to album sales, to streaming, and sync placements, breaking past Canadian borders can seem like an impossible task. There are showcasing opportunities that put artists in front of international industry professionals but what does it take to be considered "export-ready"? What are labels, agents, and managers from other countries looking for when signing an international act? What are the pieces that should be in place, the numbers that should be reached, and the targets that should be met? International industry representatives Ben Mench-Thurlow, Desiree Vach, Jörg Tresp, and Tim Dellow will be sharing their expertise on how to ready your music for export at our Sep 12 MusicWorks session, Breaking Borders | Becoming an Export-Ready Artist.
Ben Mench-Thurlow is an agent in the contemporary and adult contemporary division of the concerts department at APA, one of the largest diversified talent agencies in the industry with headquarters in Beverly Hills, Nashville, New York, Atlanta, and London. His roster includes numerous acts in the genres of metal, indie rock, and alternative programming. Prior to joining APA in 2012, Mench-Thurlow worked at The Agency Group in London and Los Angeles. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree with an emphasis on music business and management, Mench-Thurlow was recently nominated by the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) for their 2016 Young Professional of the Year award.
Originally from the Rhineland, Desiree J. Vach founded Snowhite Records in 2009. Previously Vach worked for the independent label Kitty-Yo (Peaches, Gonzales, Jeans Team etc.), which closed in 2006. Vach left Kitty-Yo and took over the management of the independent label Weekender Records Germany. In early 2009, Vach ended her activities at Weekender Records Germany and founded Snowhite Records (label & PR). Since 2014, Vach is manager GSA for INgrooves Music Group and also chairwoman of VUT (the association of independent Music-companies in GSA).
Jörg Tresp established DevilDuck Records in 2004. Working with bands from the US, Canada, Scandinavia, and of course Germany, DevilDuck focuses on authentic and timeless artists/bands who have an indie attitude. Tresp also works in label management -- including Sub Pop, Nevado Music, and currenlty for Denmark's Celebration Records -- as well as teaching music business. After studying business and social economics, Tresp worked for different record companies such as edel Records and Warner Music as marketing manager. Their latest project is DanCan, which is a label service in cooperation with Rough Trade Distribution and concentrating on Canadian and Scandinavian artists.
Tim Dellow is one of the founders of Transgressive Records/Management/Publishing and the first elected chairperson of AIM. Transgressive has been working with developing and breaking some of the most exciting artists around for 13 years now, including the likes of Foals, Flume, Two Door Cinema Club, Marika Hackman, Johnny Flynn, Let's Eat Grandma, The Shins, Blaenavon, Alvvays, The Moonlandingz, and Songhoy Blues amongst others, establishing it as one of the UK's premiere independent music companies.
Get to know them better with our little Q+A...
If you were a vegetable what would you be and why?
Ben: Probably would have to be a tomato. Or are those considered a fruit now? I don’t think I have a specific reason for choosing tomatoes besides the fact they are my favorite item in the vegetable world.
Desiree: A pineapple cause I also love to wear my hair up.
Jörg: I really hate most vegetables so would choose a pea as it's small, but important.
Tim: Okra... hard to cook, but delicious when you get it right, and full of vitamins. Also green and furry. I haven't thought this through.
What is your favorite restaurant in your home city and the best thing to order there?
Ben: I’m going to go ahead and veto my home city from Los Angeles to where I’m from in Vermont. While Los Angeles has tons of great options, almost every restaurant you go to in Vermont is farm-to-table. You pay a serious premium for that sort of treatment in L.A. I grew up in a tiny town called Shoreham in central VT and there is a small Inn (ironically called The Shoreham Inn). They have a rotating menu that changes weekly, but the local cut of steak and their burger are probably the greatest thing that have ever graced my pallet.
Desiree: It's called Alt-Wien (Old Vienna) and the huge and superthin schnitzel is simply the best. Although I try not to eat meat, once (or twice) a year it´s schnitzeltime.
Jörg: Maybe it's Gloria as it's just around the corner of our apartment and they have good Schnitzels...
Tim: Oooh... So many favourites in London, but I'll go for Tayyabs today... It's an incredible Punjabi restaurant right behind the Mosque in Whitechapel. We take a lot of our bands there as it's great for sharing, has a unique fragrance that stays with you for days, you can bring your own booze (or have a delicious Lassi if you don't drink). For veggies (or anyone with tastebuds) the baby pumpkin curry is one of the greatest things on earth, and if you're a meat-eater it's got to be the spicy lamb chops!
If you could spend a day with anyone in music who would it be, and what would you do?
Ben: This one is tough. I think I would have to say Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) or if we can also hang with people that have passed on, I would say Kurt Cobain. I like to listen to people’s stories and intrigued by those who just seem a little… off. I’ve chatted with promoters who have promoted Weezer shows in the past and each one has an interesting story about Rivers. And I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit down with Kurt?
Desiree: I would love to hang out with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and we would try to pimp Bach's "Kleine Präludien und Fughetten" into Mozart-style. That would be fun!
Jörg: I'd like to talk to Richard Branson (Virgin) as I have so many ideas and he has the money and seems pretty open.
Tim: Currently I'm spending it with my colleague and good friend Rachel as we are doing a pop-up shop at Soho Radio with Adrian from The Moonlandingz playing obscure Russian psyche on the airwaves behind us... which is a pretty nice way to spend a Saturday. I've been lucky enough to do this once, but I'd love to spend some time in the studio with Brian Eno. That'd be fun. Or maybe with one of our artists being produced by Nile Rogers at Electric Ladyland?
What is the best part about your job?
Ben: This one is easy! My mentor here at APA (shout-out to Craig Newman), pointed something out that I never thought of when I was at a show where one of his clients was performing. It was a packed room of about 2000 people or so. People were dancing, singing along, drinking, and enjoying the moment that they were in. He leaned over to me and said “You know, none of these people would be here if it wasn’t for me". That is it. We as agents have the ability to change people’s lives for a few hours and give them a chance make memories that will last a lifetime. We may not be up on stage with a guitar, but looking out onto an audience from sidestage still gives you a bit of a rush.
Desiree: Working with people who are passionate about what they do.
Jörg: Discovering amd developing artists I love by avoiding the mainstream.
Tim: Supporting artists and building a meaningful creative relationship with them.
What is the most challenging?
Ben: Paperwork. There is a TON of paperwork with this job.
Desiree: Working with people who are passionate about what they do.
Jörg: Developing artists I love as sometimes niches are too small.
Tim: The logistics behind building something out of nothing.