Songtrust Spotlight: NexGen

Songtrust: NextGenNEXGEN MUSIC is a worldwide independent record label group recognized for its pioneering sound representing underground and cross-mainstream music. Converging from countries across the globe, NexGen artists, composers and musicians showcase their talent of creating music that "pushes the envelope."

Through their various imprints the label showcases a wide range of musical genres and styles such as: Downtempo, Chill-Out, Nu/Future-Jazz, Drum & Bass, Bass Music, Dubstep, UK Garage, House, Electronica (EDM), Trap, Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, Soul, Funk, Leftfield, Experimental, Dance, Pop and more.

NEXGEN MUSIC is an artist-centric brand devoted to creating a forward-looking, inclusive and multifaceted musical community. They foster a philosophy of artistic growth, collaboration and experimentation, uniting promising new talent with established music production artists.

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What is NexGen’s origin story?

Forming an independent record label was always a long-time aspiration of mine, born from my introduction and curiosity in underground music back in the late 80's and early 90's. I come from a strong music family background and have been blessed to witness firsthand the evolution of early Dance, Rave, Hardcore, Breakbeat and the later Jungle, Drum & Bass and UK Garage music scenes of a new era. My first foray into music/label management came when I set up an audio production company on my college campus while studying for a sound engineering degree in London. This offered me the opportunity to sharpen my music production and engineering skills while learning the ropes of talent development and artist management.

In 2001, I officially branded the label as NexGen Music, and in 2003 moved the label across the Atlantic to Brooklyn, NY, where I spent several years building prior to moving to the nation's capital (Washington D.C.), where we are currently headquartered.

What is NexGen’s ultimate mission and who do you benefit?

This is a hard question because our ultimate mission has never been explicitly defined. One thing that we are extremely passionate about is the preservation of music as an art. I say this because we feel that the ‘art’ behind music is dying as we know it. In a nutshell, our perception is that a). music as an art has become undervalued and something that just “anyone” can do given the availability of ‘shortcut’ technologies and social media, which offer a low-barrier to entry (which must of course be noted as being a good thing in many aspects). And b). Which expands upon my ‘undervalued’ comment, we feel that music is just so under appreciated. Say, when you walk into a department store or dining out in a restaurant, the presence of music is just expected to be there. It always just “on” in the background and most of the time we do not pay it any mind or take the time to appreciate its existence and how much of it plays a part in the atmosphere and subsequently our moods in the situation. As a species, I believe that we have become almost ambivalent to its presence and meaning.

We like to think of ourselves are music preservationists to the good of all humankind!

What genres do you represent most frequently and which genres are starting to gain more life recently?

We are a true multi-genre indie label specializing in various genres such as, Downtempo, Chill-Out, Nu/Future-Jazz, Drum & Bass, Bass Music, Dubstep, UK Garage, House, Electronica (EDM), Trap, Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, Soul, Funk, Leftfield, Experimental, Dance (and even venturing into Pop!).

We are all about whatever sounds good!

What was the moment do you attribute to NexGen’s first success?

Success for NexGen is yet to be defined. We are an ever involving project that has not realized its full potential as yet.

What is the most rewarding part of representing and supporting a forward-looking, inclusive and multifaceted musical community?

Personally, nothing gives me greater pleasure than providing a conduit for our artists to do what they most love to do, which is to harness the power of sound to create create music - freely and mostly on their terms. We represent artists from various different walks of life, ethnicities and gender identities. It doesn’t matter to us who you are or where you come from, as long as the music is on point and fits our overall direction, you are family.

Why is it important to be artist-centric in your mission?

Nobody needs me to tripe on about how being an artist is tougher than ever before. We all know this and also that is not going to get any easier anytime soon. One of the things that is important to us as a label is to ensure that every current/potential artist on our roster receives the support that they need to maintain a career in music, within the budgets that we are working with. Again, going back to our theory of music being undervalued, undervaluing the art of music is to undervalue the artist as the creator.

What advice do you have for independent artists trying to make a career in the music industry?

I would say that my primary piece of advice is not to undervalue the importance of working with a record label. Our current age of “DIY” has no doubt presented opportunities for artists to go it alone as independents - BUT - it has become very noisy out there…Labels still play a very important part in launching and sustaining artists careers. Besides this, I would say that artists need to have ample amounts of determination, perseverance and tenacity if they are going to “make it.” Be original with your art and network your socks off!

How do you think artists should define success in today’s music industry?

Gosh, I am probably not the best person to answer this one as our focus is so niche and tilted towards the underground and cross-mainstream. I believe that we all have our own individual perceptions of success, however, the ultimate measurement will likely always be how financially successful your are. I do not believe there is any getting away from this.

Where do you see the music industry 10 years from now?

My feeling has always been that with any major shift experienced across any industry or movement, doors of opportunity close and new ones open up. When I first became involved in music in the late-eighties/early nineties, only vinyl records and cassette tapes existed. Record shops, pirate radio and clubs were the primary, ahem ONLY places to listen and learn about new music. Just look how much that has changed today with the advent of portable music devices, digital downloads, streaming, Youtube, etc. As a record label owner, we are in place now that I never would have imagined.

This being said, history has proven that we tend to go around in circles, especially with music. I have this sort of hidden feeling that many of the “old” ways and things that we love about previous generations of the music industry will creep back into existence in some way or form and be incorporated into the newer model that we are experiencing today.

What’s next for NexGen?

Well, we plan to just keep plugging along creating projects that we feel the world should hear and experience. Our business has been growing since we began working with Songtrust and we are very excited about a recent new business venture/partnership with a major Hollywood film and media company.

Lastly - what is your favorite song/album right now?

Oof, I may get some stick for this (selecting/plugging our own music), but it cannot be helped I am afraid…We have a couple of really awesome music projects in the pipeline and ready to drop in 2019.

We have a deep, downtempo, acoustic, experimental EP called ‘The Forest’ coming from one of our artists based in Finland, Neveready. It is an LP several years in the making and will initially drop as a limited edition colored vinyl. I absolutely love this EP!

We also have a downtempo, funk, hip-hop style LP called ‘No More Shooting Stars’ from Undersound, one of our outstanding music production artists. I love this LP as well! 

It is a toss-up between the two on any given day at present.

Songtrust: NexGen Music 

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