Songtrust Spotlight: Jeremy Zucker

Originally from New Jersey, Jeremy Zucker is an artist, songwriter, and producer based in Brooklyn. Zucker graduated with a degree in Molecular Biology from Colorado College in 2018 while pursuing music as a full-time career. After releasing songs independently and gaining significant buzz online from 2014-2017, Zucker signed to Republic Records in 2017. Over the years, Zucker has collaborated with the likes of blackbear, Quinn XCII, Chelsea Cutler, ayokay, and others. In the last two years, he has performed at notable festivals, such as Firefly, Governor’s Ball, Lollapalooza, and more. His most recent hit “comethru” has received international radio airplay and has amassed over 135 million streams on Spotify alone, where his entire catalog has north of 500 millions streams. Fresh off a collaborative EP with Chelsea Cutler, Jeremy is gearing up to release his debut album sometime in 2019.

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What inspired you to start making music and at what point did you decide it was a viable option to make music for a living?

I’ve been writing music for as long as I can remember… I grew up playing piano and guitar so writing music just came naturally to me. The funny thing is I always knew it was my dream to make music for a living, I just never thought it was realistic.  I studied molecular biology in college and was planning to go to medical school. While taking science classes, I was writing and releasing music in my free time, and that sort of escalated until I graduated from college. And at that point I was just like “I can support myself with music right now, so why would I go to med school”?

You started out with a collective called 3OAK Music - how did this DIY experience differ from your major label experience with Republic Records? What are some obstacles you’ve overcome while being signed to a label, if any?

Being independent was a lot of fun; writing music with no purpose or intent and releasing it just as candidly.  After a few years of releasing music independently, I knew I wanted to sign with a label for a bunch of reasons: I wanted access to the promotional resources and networks of a major label, and I also wanted to invest in my music and vision without putting that financial risk on myself. Republic has been the perfect partner for me so far, but things definitely operate differently.  For example, there’s way more planning that goes into music releases. I still get to be as creative and boundary-less as I want - but we spend a lot of time planning the perfect release strategy. Signing to a major label isn’t for every artist, though. I definitely got lucky with my team at Republic - everyone really trusts my vision.

Going off that - so you’re signed to a label. What drew you to Songtrust for publishing administration? Is holding onto your ownership on the publishing side something that is important to you?

I didn’t feel too uncomfortable signing away ownership of my masters for two reasons: One, I knew my record label would invest a lot of resources into me as an artist - and two, I write all of my music so I still retain ownership of my publishing.  PROs make it pretty easy to collect performance royalties on the publishing side, but I was struggling to figure out how to collect mechanical royalties globally without signing a publishing deal. Not a lot of artists understand the nuances of collecting publishing royalties, but luckily my roommate and Songtrust A&R Ben O’Connell had worked in music publishing and told me all about Songtrust.

You’ve collaborated with a lot of artists - Blackbear, Quinn XCII, and Chelsea Cutler to name a few - what advice would you give to DIY creators seeking collaborations with other artists?

Make it easy for the other artist!! My collaborations with Blackbear and Quinn XCII happened very early in my career, before I had any real buzz at all.  I just messaged them on SoundCloud. Both of those songs were finished before I sent them to bear and Quinn; I just gave them the finished song with an instrumental verse and they were fans of the songs themselves so they recorded their respective parts on top of them.  I would also say that while collaboration at times can be a very strategic move, always focus on your solo work. The more you can do on your own, the better.

Can you speak to how your friendship with Chelsea Cutler has evolved over the years, and talk about the “brent” EP the two of you released in May?

Chelsea and I have been fans of each other’s music before we even met, messaging on SoundCloud.  We met in person at a show I did at a fraternity at the University of Connecticut around 3 years ago. She was visiting a friend for the weekend and just happened to be at the same party I played at.  From there we kept in touch, and coincidentally signed to the same management company. The first time we got together to write music, we wrote “better off”. The second time we got together to write, we made “brent”. It really was that simple. I don’t collaborate with very many people at all - I produce 100% of every song I release, and write about 90%; my friends often help me with lyrics.  I think my process of making music isn’t suited for collaboration from the ground-up. Except with Chelsea - we have this way of communicating through music that surprises me every time. ‘brent’ was this perfect time capsule of this week we spent writing music in Connecticut.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming artists/producers who are trying to make it in the industry?

Here comes the cliche bit: Stay true to yourself.  Don’t hop on “waves”, make your own. If it sounds good, it is good.  Never compromise your artistic integrity. 

What are your goals for the next few years - personal or professional?

In the music business, personal and professional are often intertwined.  Musically, I’m always aiming to do better: improving my production, songwriting and creative vision.  I’m also just starting to figure out how to live my life. There’s a very delicate balance between time spent in the studio, time spent on tour, and time spent with family and friends.  I guess the goal is to figure that part out.

You can only choose one to have for the rest of your life - baby carrots or clementines?

DON'T DO THIS TO ME FAM

Lastly - what is your go-to song or act to listen to right now?

Pinegrove is my favorite band right now.


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