Head of Creative / VP, A&R
Years with Company: 2
Address: 2700 Neilson Way, Suite 1631, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Clients: Dirt Monkey, Adolescents, Evol Intent, Midi Jones, Microsoft, Netflix, NBC, HBO, CBS, Vans Skateboards
After drumming for classic punk band Dr.Know and touring with acts like NOFX, Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys, Eric Vasquez started recording in his bedroom on a 4-track Tascam tape machine. His multi-genre reel grabbed licensing companies’ interest and a new avenue opened. He eventually founded his own licensing company, 411 Music Group, which he sold last year. Today, his focus rests with SyncStories, his synchronization company that also offers publishing and management.
Heart of a Musician
We’re an artist-first company. Even though I’m on the business side, I still run it as an artist. I understand what artists have to go through. There’s a lot of hardship, sacrifice, risk… Those are all things I take into consideration.
I wanted to create a platform that would allow artists to have a presence. When it comes to licensing companies, they really don’t do that. They have hundreds of thousands of tracks and don’t do much to leverage the artist. When I was working for these companies, they weren’t really pushing me in that way; they weren’t really giving me a voice. That’s why I developed SyncStories.
By and For the Creators
Everybody on our team has toured. Everybody has written and produced in studios. We’ve all lived it. We’ve all been there. It’s something we’re very proud of. We’re truly 100% artist owned and operated. I didn’t want to create a corporate environment. I want to be creative. Perhaps you can consider me the CEO, but the title itself is unnecessary. Yes I handle all business affairs and I’m responsible for signing and managing artists, but I’m less interested in corporate titles and much more focused on our creative path forward.
I give our A&R team direction and let them know what the company is seeking. They’re at shows, looking through SoundCloud, through Spotify and all the different platforms. Sometimes, it’s aimed for synchronization; what might work best for TV, film, advertisements or video games. Other times, we’re scouting artists for management.
But when it comes down to what we’re looking for in an artist, it starts with great music, great production and great songwriting, catchy melodies and catchy hooks. Vocals are super important. We also look for artists who have a vision. We gravitate toward artists who are well rounded.
We’re very excited to have published Midi Jones, Berry and Kerry Gordy’s protégé. He’s 23 years old and is a phenomenal producer. I watched him create a track in one day––wrote it, tracked it, mixed it, produced it, mastered it, done. I haven’t seen anything like that in years.
Don’t Seek Stardom
If I pursued music to find fame and fortune, I’d have been out of this business a long time ago. But it’s the love of music that fuels me. I will always be involved with music, no matter what. When I come across an artist who is operating on that same wavelength, it means a lot to me. Those are people I want to work with and invest in.
Doing What’s Best
When it comes to management, it’s my duty to do what’s in the best interest of the artist. If I can get a good deal for an artist at a different label, a publisher or even a synchronization company, I’m going to do it. If we don’t, that becomes a conflict of interest. It’s something we’re very aware of.
What’s Happening Now
For the most part, the synchronization community really follows what’s trending in Billboard and on the radio. Sure, you’re going to get requests for jazz or maybe vintage rock, Christmas music... But overall, the hot item is what’s cool now. And if you have your finger on the pulse of the music space, you can be on the cutting edge and ahead of the curve.
We’re in a good position in that sense, because we’re at the clubs and checking out what’s coming. It allows us to get prepared and position our artists and company for the next big thing.
At the beginning, SyncStories was only a synchronization company. Since then, we’ve expanded to management and also publishing songwriters and producers. I want to continue to build it out as a music group umbrella. Eventually, the next step for us would be a record label.
I’m 36 and I’ve been in the music business for 20 years. Within that 20 years, I’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience in all aspects of the business. Even though SyncStories is two years old, it’s almost like 20 years’ worth of work. That’s why we were able to forge ahead as quickly as we did. We’re in 18 countries. We have partnerships throughout Europe. Our synchronization side is partnered with 5 Alarm Music in North America. We have a robust catalog, our management sector, our custom music sector and also our publishing services.
We’ve been in this game practically more than half our lives, so we have a natural ability to unify all sectors of the business. It’s not something that happened overnight. It took a lot of hard work to get here, but we’re very appreciative that we have this opportunity to give artists a voice and a fair shot.
Devaluation Hurts Everyone
I wish more licensing companies would hold their value and not give away music. I still see a surge in companies that are licensing music for free and giving kickbacks to production companies. It just devalues our industry. It’s a shame companies are bottom feeding and undercutting our market. That’s something I’ve seen more and more, which is very unfortunate.
Quality is of the utmost importance, whether that’s artists or the music itself or the people I work with. Our organization, our team, consists of really good people. And loyalty and trust go a long way.
Catching What Others Miss
The market is oversaturated and there’s a lot of noise. So, how do you stand apart? You have to be very creative. A lot of great artists fall through the cracks, because people are not paying attention. I’m proud that SyncStories is very proactive at finding talent. There are a lot of amazing people out there who haven’t been found. I feel like we have a responsibility to give them a voice.
Working Hard and Being Nice
Don’t burn bridges, even if it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. That’s key, because if you rub people the wrong way chances are you’re going to come across that person at some point. And the last thing you want is for that person to be between you and your next deal.You’ve got to play nice. And stay honest with yourself. Don’t try to be someone you're not. You really have to be passionate about what you’re creating.