“People have always said, that the people who are the masterminds are the ones who are fearless and just do it. They don’t listen to others who put a box around what makes sense to them. Maybe it seems crazy, and maybe things might not work out, but if they do, it’s a journey worth exploring.” Alissa Cronau
Music is a magical gateway to moments in life, creating special memories that last forever. Making her start in record store full of collectible vinyl records and surrounded by some of the most incredible collectors, Alissa Cronau’s passion for music was inescapable. As a music lover, former communications and promotion executive for labels and publicity and management companies, Alissa turned her passion for music discovery into a reality. With the launch of her new technology platform, Maven, Alissa hopes to connect even more artists with music influencers all around the world! We had the opportunity to sit down with Alissa on her last trip to Nashville, and left the interview feeling incredibly inspired, and excited for the pending launch of her new company!
How did you get into music?
I got into music from my dad. He worked in the music industry as a radio promoter back in the day at RCA, and was largely responsible for getting ABBA on the radio. He has always had an influence on me. I have always wanted to be in music.
When I was 16 years old, I managed to get a job in a record shop, and to this day, it’s still my favorite job of all time! It was amazing, because back then, people didn’t have the option of actually being able to listen to everything available. And because I was always there, I feel like my music knowledge was so much higher. Because it was a collectors shop, we always had collectors coming in and they were teaching me about their record collections all the time. It was about music sharing.
There’s nothing more exciting than someone telling you the story behind an album or why they love it and why you should listen to it. To me, this is the biggest form of music sharing, at least for people who are excited and engaged. This is what we are trying to do with our platform, Maven.
What is it about music that makes you so passionate?
It has been such an important part of my life and I just want artists to get heard.
I totally understand it’s not everyone’s passion, and I absolutely get that. But to me, music has gotten me through breakups, it’s what makes me happy when I am getting ready to go out for the day or evening, or what I listen to when I am out driving. For me, life wouldn’t be the same without music being a part of it. It captures each and every moment of your life.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
A lot of soul stuff! Bill Withers, all the classic blues guys like Muddy Waters. I am a weird, weird person and love stoner rock, which, for the record, isn’t about getting stoned. (laughs) It’s like Queens of the Stone Age and the next form of blues rock with a really muffled sound. Kyuss is absolutely one of my most favorite bands!
Going back to something you mentioned before, It’s interesting how incredibly knowledgeable vinyl collectors are. There’s nothing they don’t know about music. This doesn’t seem to exist in the same way anymore. Do you feel this changes how people discover and fall in love with music?
I think these people still exist; you just have to find them. Ideally, I would love to find all of them. We started doing a blog with one of our old artists and he was one of those people who collects everything. With the release of his album, we did a series of video blog posts with the top 10 albums that inspired that record. Each week, we put out a blog of him talking about one of them. What we found was that around the country, record stores were selling out of that record, because of the way he had described the effect they had on him. So it does exist. Before, people would congregate in a record shop, and now I don’t know where they congregate, but I do know people haven’t lost that passion to share music. They just need to find each other.
What was the motivation to launch a music technology company?
The idea behind Maven came after running a music management and publicity company for five years. During that time, there was a major disruption for the music industry with the introduction of on-demand streaming services (ie. Spotify, Apple Music). At the same time, the shift from traditional media consumption to social media consumption became much more prevalent and completely altered the way we could market and promote music. What occurred to me in 2014, was while new tools had been created for consumption, nothing had, or has really been, created for promotion. Maven is a publicity tool for the digital age.
How would you describe Maven?
Maven is a music publicity platform that connects music influencers (such as bloggers and radio hosts) with music fans around the world, to form a community of music engagement. Artists and labels can submit their music to the platform to reach the influencers, and potentially (ideally) their community.
You spoke with me when we initially met about Maven having a global reach. Why is this important to you?
Music at the moment is still very geographically based, specifically for long tail (niche) artists who don’t have label support or money to hire publicists in each market. In the age of the Internet, this does not make sense, and thousands of artists are missing out on fans because they’re not able to get broader international access.
My hope with Maven is that it helps boost the music economy and gives artists a tool to bring them success around the world for decades to come!
Being based in Australia, what do you find are some of the biggest challenges for artists finding their break on an international level? What advice would you give artists who are trying to break into international markets?
One of the hardest factors for artists to break internationally is their ability to find the right channels of exposure in different markets. The Internet has also added a new layer of difficulty, because more and more artists are distributing their music online. On one hand, this is great that artists have the opportunity to be heard, but with so much noise, most are getting lost.
We’re seeing some great analytical tools on services such as Spotify, Music Glue and social media where artists can drill down to find their markets and target them specifically around the world. If artists, or their managers, learn how to use these tools they will have the ability to build global strategies like never before. There are so many amazing technology tools already out there to help artists reach their fans and analyze markets. With the addition of Maven, I hope that artists will increase that even more!
With your background in publicity and artist management, what do you feel are some of the things that artists should be doing that they’re not doing to drive their careers forward and what role does technology play?
Artists need to be better understand technology and the tools available to them a lot better than they do, and get educated on how to truly use them. Many artists are being forced into social media and being told they need to have certain accounts, like Instagram or Snapchat, to drive exposure. Some artists just don’t need this. Technology enables artists to understand where their fans are and how to make more informed decisions. As far as an artist goes, you can’t tell an artist to be more mindful of their data or the metadata and analytics. They don’t necessarily need to know that, but their band managers should be learning this more. There needs to be a respect for it, and at the moment, there isn’t. There needs to be more of “this exists” and “how do we work together?”
Outside of social media, what are other ways that bands can get in front of audiences?
It’s really hard. There is no central hub. Back in the day it was radio. Even without the radio, it was mixed tapes. And obviously, this still exists, but it’s really splintered. There are so many different channels that there’s no one particular channel that is more pervasive than the other.
You were recently in Silicon Valley going through a sort of business accelerator or incubator.
It’s called Founder Institute, and it’s not an accelerator because they don’t give us money. It’s an Ideas Incubator and launch program based in the Silicon Valley but with factions around the world. To be selected, you have to take a psych test and send in a video pitch. On average around 25% of people actually get selected and most don’t make it through the course. We started with 28 people and only graduated 7.
What was going through this experience like?
It was interesting, out of 50 people in the program, I was one of 8 women accepted. We were put into groups and mine was around Arts and Culture. This was made up of all women and we all stuck together. We knew we had to prove ourselves just as much. I know one of the main investors did say to one of the women in the group, who happened to be Argentinean, “You are really going to struggle. You are a woman, you are doing art, and you have an accent.” You essentially have to prove yourself twice as much to garner respect, and this was from a major, major investor.
There seem to be two distinctive camps around this notion of “feminism”. One camp feels we need to continue to highlight women and women’s related topics. The other camp is tired of the conversation and being highlighted just for being a woman. What camp resonates with you?
I am in the second group. I am really appreciative of having this conversation and opportunities to share experiences with other people. At the same time, when I was going through Founder’s Institute, for example, I didn’t even think about it all the time. I didn’t have time to worry about someone else’s pettiness. From a personal background, I have only just come out of my shell. I grew up very in the corner.
It’s not being not humble to have a voice and to be visible. It’s ironic, because I find the people who aren’t visible or vocal, are the ones who have something to say.
There are realities of being a women in any field and finding the balance between being too preachy and not vocal enough.
What advice do you give the students you work with?
With most of them, I am trying to help them tap into their passion. A lot of them base their career decisions on what they think they can do rather than what they want to do. There are no female producers. They gravitate towards female driven roles, like publicity or marketing. I didn’t want to do publicity, but it’s what I fell into. I should have gone into Artist Management, but I didn’t believe in myself enough.
How did you learn to be an Artist Manager?
I was working with my business partner. I have to admit, I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t done that. I kick myself sometimes, thinking I needed a man to see my potential, thankfully he did!
What do you see as some of the challenges these days for Artist Managers?
Managers always starve at some point. I have my friends in bands quitting, because they can’t afford to keep going and on the flip side of that, friends who are band managers quitting because they are burned out. It is completely the same as working in a start-up. I have friends in Australia who manage some of the biggest acts/ bands and even they will have three years of awesome and one year of awful.
I have wanted to do some sort of an accelerator for artist management. Management is like being an entrepreneur. These kids coming out of the class I am teaching are amazing, but they don’t know what they are doing. I have had to sit with them after class diligently saying “you need to do this,” “you need to that.” I know, without me, many of them would make big mistakes.
The point is, this could be good income for artist managers already in the business. Rather than being guarded about their information, it’s recognizing we have different bands and it’s what you do with this knowledge and how you execute this knowledge that will help drive not only their career, but the bands they are working with. Instead of having music business conferences, where folks come in and out, the idea would be to develop mentorship even after the program, and helping people connect with resources all around the country, or the world for that matter.
What do you wish people knew about you or your company?
I have a genuine wish that the discovery of music is truly accessible, and that bands and people alike, are able to find as many other bands anywhere in the world that they wish. This isn’t about money or tech or working. Not everyone is lucky enough to have worked in a record store around some of the most knowledgeable music collectors. I got to learn so much! I was fortunate to be in the right circle and for those who aren’t, it’s difficult to find music.
The day I will be happy and feel successful, is when my friends who are band managers, and their bands, are making money. With my company, It’s not about getting $40M funding, figuring out the right exit strategies, or going public. I just want to make a technology that supports the music industry.
More information can be found at: www.mavenmusic.co
Feature Image by
|Emma Frances Logan Barker|