Jay Warsinske Founder / CEO 0f Indie Power
Years with Company: 10
Clients: U2, Dr. Dre, Metallica, 2Pac, Eminem, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Madonna, Green Day, Guns ‘N Roses, Ramones, T.I., Lil Wayne, Nirvana.
Besides creating the Indie Entertainment Summit, a conference for young artists looking to break through, Jay Warsinske also created Indie Power, a freelance company that provides promotional services and other forms of career aid both within and outside the major label system.
I saw the Beatles when I was five. At six my parents bought me a guitar, and I turned professional at 11. By 16, I went from playing parties to putting them on. I didn’t want to be a player who could be replaced. I envisioned [myself as] a bridge between business and creative sides.
Wagging the Dog
Indie Power is 10 years old, but it’s a continuation of marketing and promotion I’ve been doing since the mid- to late-‘70s. I rebranded what I was doing when I saw indies were going to flip the industry. The tail was going to wag the dog. No longer was MTV playing music videos, record companies developing artists or record stores growing. Independents could be their own companies. They deal directly with the public, and there were going to be more tools to do so.
Someone Who Stays in Your Corner
You need a team shouting your praises. To get people’s attention, marketing experts figure out angles to cut through clutter. The music has to catch on—find an audience before it can snowball. But the hardest thing is getting that initial campaign and momentum. That’s usually where majors drop the ball.
If you can make a living with what you do, there’s the possibility of quitting your day job. Indie Power is that team for hire. We provide cost-effective services so you’re unencumbered. You don’t have to give up your percentages or any control. You’re always a free agent.
There were five years [in a row] where an indie artist won Album of the Year. Daft Punk and Beck operate autonomously even though they may have contracts with majors. It’s a new day and time. Look at Metallica—they do whatever they want. They can release a single, and it doesn’t have to be part of an album. They can make a movie or tour when and where they want and still have time to raise a family. There’s a way to make a living that doesn’t create energy that can break up a band or cause someone to be the next heroin tragedy.
Expertise for Hire
We’re that independent-minded, mini-major system. We have distribution with the biggest companies in the world. We’re on the cutting edge of technology. I’ve worked alongside the best people in the industry: the best person for publicity, video promotion and radio per genre and per budget. It’s impossible for any act to come in and have the kind of knowledge, resources and access we have. Indie Power doesn’t add to your costs. We’re not a middleman. Even if you hired people to do what we do, it will cost you as much or more, and you’ll probably get a lot less out of it, because you don’t have my expertise and teammates.
The Need for IES
I’ve spoken at over 600 music conferences, and many conventions from the past are gone. We used to have conferences tied to major labels writing checks. There wasn’t anyone comprehensively covering the independent world. Our conference doesn’t talk about old-fashioned record deals, because few people will sign with a major, and, if they sign with a major without an independent success story, they have no leverage—their deal will probably net them zero in royalties. I saw Los Angeles didn’t have a conference like this. There was a niche for a conference that’s not only all independent-oriented, but all entertainment-oriented. It’s not just music; it’s film, TV, touring and technology.
Collaborating and Inspiring
IES is four days in Los Angeles. Starting with year one, 100 of the biggest movers and shakers in the industry participated in seminars, workshops, keynotes, attended showcases and checked out talent. Indies work together—not in competition like Universal against Sony. Indies have always banded together and shared ideas and contacts. The people killing it in the indie world now are open-minded. They’re more open to taking your phone call, especially if they met you at a conference. At SXSW, only a small percentage of artists get to showcase. At IES, every artist, producer and attendee gets a chance to showcase. It’s a chance to be inspired by rubbing shoulders with legends and superstars. You’re not in a ballroom with 1,000 people. You’re in an intimate setting and able to break down how Macklemore went from zero to $40 million in one year. Or Tech N9ne’s team breaks down how he does over $20 million a year when he’s not on the radio.
We’re not genre-specific and our team is built to help everyone. We pride ourselves on offering services and access. At all levels, we help major label artists get out of their deals while developing others. The idea is not to be a gatekeeper or pick and choose.