Music Connection's Favorite Signings of 2015

Dennis DreithDennis Dreith
Label: Perseverance Records
Legal: Brian Cella, Esq. - Cella, Lange & Cella, LLC, 925-974-1112
Web: dennisdreith.com
A&R: Robin Esterhammer

It is gratifying when a labor of love gains the interest of a record label that has wide reach. Well known in the industry as an influential advocate for musicians’ rights, Dennis Dreith served as International President of the Recording Musicians’ Association (RMA) for 15 years and is currently Executive Director of AFM SAG-AFTRA’s Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. On the creative side, he has scored several indie films and composed for TV––but his bread and butter has been as an orchestrator and conductor of top film scores (Jurassic Park, Braveheart). Dreith has provided services for everyone from John Williams and Lalo Schifrin to Marc Shaiman and Hans Zimmer.

But, as he explains, “I had been thinking for quite some time about recording with musicians who played in my band during my formative years.” When he gathered the 14-piece ensemble at EastWest Studios in Hollywood, Robin Esterhammer, founder of Perseverance Records, liked what he heard. But because of the company’s renown as a soundtrack label, Dreith was reticent. He became excited, however, when he heard about the owner’s commitment to developing jazz artists and his distribution with MVD, an international company with a major foothold in Europe, where Dreith hopes to secure major jazz festival dates for his ensemble.

Caked Up Signing StoryCaked Up
Label: Dim Mak
Band Members: Oscar Wylde and Vegas Banger
Management: [email protected]
Booking: Hunter Williams, [email protected]
Legal: Todd J. Mumford, [email protected]
Publicity: Jaime Sloane - Dim Mak
Web: wearecakedup.com
A&R: Dim Mak, [email protected]

It’s cool when your all-time favorite label shows interest in signing you. As big fish within EDM’s remix scene, Oscar Wylde and Vegas Banger have released songs on numerous noteworthy labels, like Mad Decent, Buygore and Fool’s Gold. It is common within the genre to drop tunes everywhere, but there’s one label they’re now proud to call home––Dim Mak. “Every artist I’ve loved has been on that label,” discloses Wylde. “[Label founder] Steve Aoki is why I got into music.” Wylde cites perseverance, keeping up with style trends and releasing tracks when you want as keys to reaching the top in their quirky genre. “And don’t pay attention to people’s bullshit,” he advises. “If people are coming at us, it means we’re doing something right.”

Alberta Cross _Photo by Josh LattanziAlberta Cross
Label: Dine Alone Records
Management: New Community Management
Booking: William Morris Endeavor
Legal: Gavin Maude - Russells Solicitors
Publicity: [email protected]
Web: albertacross.net
A&R: Joel Carriere and Dan Hawie

Are you looking for your first label deal? Petter Ericson Stakee, frontman for rockers Alberta Cross, is way, way ahead of you—he’s signed with Geffen, PIAS and Ark. But he decided it was time for another change when his next label, ATO Records, pushed too hard for commercial success. Having extricated himself from that deal, he secured a publishing arrangement via his manager, then took wing to Woodstock, NY’s Dreamland Recording Studios, where he independently recorded precisely the album he wanted.

Already familiar with the band, Dine Alone Records caught wind of the group’s free agent status. “My management sent them the record, they liked it and there you go,” recounts Stakee. “They seemed into what we were doing. We gelled pretty quick.” And the alt-rocker got what he wanted––a 50/50 deal.

Stakee takes switching labels in stride––to him, it comes with the job. “Don’t be too concentrated on getting signed,” he says. “Concentrate on creating what you think is good, the stuff you burn for. That is more important.”

dorothyPRESS PHOTO 1Dorothy
Label: Roc Nation
Band Members: Dorothy Martin, vocals; Gregg Cash, bass; Mark Jackson, guitarist; Zac Morris, drums.
Management: George Robertson - Teleport, [email protected]
Booking: Marty Diamond, Aaron Pinkus - Paradigm
Legal: Amit Krispin - Krispin
Publicity: [email protected]
Web: itsdorothysucka.com
A&R: Jay Brown - Roc Nation

Dorothy Martin received the call of a lifetime one morning while eating a bowl of cereal in Los Angeles. Soon she was meeting with mentor Jay Z, and later snagged her band a record deal with Roc Nation. But working toward that label deal was fraught with plenty of frustration, delays and all-out anxiety.

“The most difficult challenge for me was to be patient––I want results now. I’ve had my freak-outs, but [the team] calms me down. I actually really love to learn. Even if it’s a really hard lesson, I know it’ll benefit everybody in the end.”

Through it all, Martin can always rely on the support of manager George Robertson, whose expertise drove the band’s eventual success:

“There’s only so much that I know... How to deal with [proper business]—I can thank George for that. He’s worn so many different hats [and] always has great ideas.”

SigningStory-SHY CARTERShy Carter
Label: Latium/RCA Records (via Sony Int’l)
Management: Charles Chavez
Publicity: [email protected]
Web: facebook.com/shycarterofficial; twitter.com/shycarter
A&R: Ben Maddahi and Charles Chavez

It’s so important to get out there and meet people, network face to face. Often “It’s who you know…and who knows you.” After graduating from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Shy Carter moved to Los Angeles to pursue music. Almost immediately, he met a former manager of Nelly’s, who introduced the two. Carter had sang as a child, joined an R&B group and, by age 16, was writing songs and experimenting with production. So when Nelly needed a producer, Carter obliged, producing tracks for Ashanti and Chingy. He went on to work with Rob Thomas, Faith Hill, Meghan Trainor and Jason Derulo.

Those gigs led to a publishing deal with Primary Wave that expanded his songwriting chops. And although he was living the dream he still sought what he calls his “end game”––a record deal. “I wasn’t desperate. I was fine waiting until the right deal came along.”

As it turned out, he didn’t have to wait long. An industry friend told him about Latium Entertainment and said it might be a good fit. A meeting with Latium’s Charles Chavez convinced Carter that he could rely on the company to fight for his music. “I felt that I could depend on them to support my vision,” he says.

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