I’m honoured to manage the extremely talented Fox Stevenson, along with my awesome co-managers, Melissa Garcia and Han Kim. Fox is every artist manager’s dream – he’s a singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. I’ve loved being a leader on his team as Fox has put out music on an artist-owed label (Firepower), a sub-major (Spinnin’), as well as via his own label, Cloudhead. I was astounded to find this out when we began working together, as I’m used to label deals being exclusive. Although this label variety is common in dance music, I’ve additionally noticed that some in EDM don’t know how to pigeonhole Fox, because he is talented in so many areas. Thus, my co-manager Melissa and I sat down with Fox to get his thoughts on the biz of EDM and beyond. Here goes!
midemblog: As someone who’s been writing music since you were 11, what are some of the changes you’ve seen in EDM that or great for up and coming producers? What about things that present challenges?
Fox Stevenson: I think EDM exemplifies the way the internet can completely run a career, aside from a lot of modern rap, there’s nothing else quite like it. You can make a track, sign with an online record label, and be promoted through loads of social media channels and end up with a pretty high level of success and sustainability without ever having touched terrestrial means. As far as I know, dance music was the first place this happened. The drawback of this ease is that it’s so attractive to people that we have supersaturation, which comes with the challenges of trying to get yourself seen through it all.
> You have released music with an artist owed label in the US, with a sub-major in Europe, and have your own label, Cloudhead. Generally, labels in other types of music generally only want you on their imprint. Do you think this is good for dance music and do you ever see it changing as the genre continues to spread around the globe?
I think dance music can sustain this model because of the cut and run nature of releases, tracks have a different shelf life based on playability. If you have a big track everyone’s gonna play it out, then eventually it gets old, and for most (especially instrumental) dance music, that’s when the track dies. In terms of labels, they like the idea of things having the right home, and I think that because I don’t just produce one sub-genre, labels are hesitant to jump on signing me exclusively, and generally I don’t consider it anyway. I don’t just want to make one subgenre over and over, it’s no fun.
> You’re a versatile producer with songs on various labels. How has the current EDM landscape made it easy for you to produce what you want when you want? How has it made things challenging for you?
It’s a double-edged sword. Because labels cater to quite specific tastes / sounds it’s easy to find a home for a track when you know whose sound it fits well, and they know who to send it to to get it played / seen. However, when you play too many of these camps, it can confuse the crowds and promoters, dance music is quite separatist, typically a commercial house fan steers very clear of aggressive genres like dubstep, and having had some success in both those spheres it’s hard not to piss people off. I’ve been at a show I was booked for, and the rest of the lineup are house artists, so I play a load of house. I noticed the front row are holding their phones up asking me for my drum and bass / dubstep tracks because they’re not feeling the house music, so eventually I play some and the front rows go crazy, and the rest of the audience look up like “what is this?” and stop dancing.
> You are a singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and artist. Industry folks in EDM often want artists to fit within certain sub-genres and boxes. How do you feel about leading the charge as a multi-dimensional dance artist in 2018? Who are some of your heroes that have done the same?
I think the key to it is finding your voice, which funnily enough for me IS my voice, though it isn’t always like that. Porter Robinson and Skrillex are most recognisable by their mood and sound choices in their tracks even though they have been know to sing on their tracks. Noisia go all over the spectrum of genre, staying completely on brand by holding onto their signature combination of dirt and peerless sonic clarity. Something I think is good for thought though is that all of these acts come from “home genres”, and I don’t think that’s something you can escape in dance music
> Where do you hope to see the EDM industry moving towards in the next 5 years?
I’m always wrong about this, but what I’d love to see is a movement away from genre and towards people’s’ own sounds governing things, I think it’d be nice to see those lines broken down, we don’t classify rock / any other genre by tempo, but in dance music you literally have to stick to the same bpm if you want to work in the same genre, it’s crazy to me!
This is the latest in a series of posts from key industry influencers from the world over, whom you’ll be able to meet at Midem 2018. Stevenson notably speaks on Midem’s closing Global Trends Wrap panel. More soon!