Summer Watson has studied as an opera singer at London’s prestigious Royal College of Music, scored a No. 1 album on the U.S. classical charts and performed for royalty and celebrities on the world’s leading concert stages. Now, the native Englander’s launching the next generation of musical talent in her new home of Los Angeles. Watson spoke with the Business Journal about managing up-and-coming local rock band Ulyseas, whose path to success she sees running right through L.A.’s booming tech scene.
Has sung to an immense TV audience of 1.3 billion in China.
Was signed to a $1.4 million recording contract by Sony Classical.
Recorded her album “Summer” at famed Abbey Road Studios in London.
Question: How and why did you pivot from singing to management?
Answer: I’m still a singer and performer first, but I love the business side of things, too, and, having functioned in both segments, feel I can advise clients based on my own experiences and create a plan for them to execute their talent. It’s about connecting them with the right opportunities so they control their own careers rather than waiting to be found. As a manager, nothing beats nurturing and protecting talent and to see people’s dreams come true.
How would you describe the current state of the music scene in Los Angeles?
Currently, there is an explosion of events happening, and it’s such an exciting time here now that many international artists view L.A. as the hub of the music industry, not just the film industry. There’s a melting pot of artists here. Great new venues are creating the infrastructure for amazing events, Placido Domingo is at the L.A. Opera, and now you have all the tech companies here starting to work with bands.
What opportunities does the tech scene in L.A. present for musicians?
Venice and Santa Monica is where the tech world is now meeting the music world. With the tech scene so strongly established here, I think it’s an exciting time for musicians to link their music with different applications. Tech apps are reaching out to artists like Ulyseas, who write their own music, to write music for their content.
How else can music acts generate revenue in an era when record sales are down?
Artists such as these can attach their music to film and television and sell their music not only as performers but as library content. Meanwhile, with apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, the world is fascinated with how people conduct their lives. So now, bands like my clients have the exciting opportunity to be filmed creating their music, rehearsing and performing, which then builds interest for them to have a strong audience for touring. Building their own strong social media profile allows them to create a platform they can control from both a creative and business aspect. As for music releases, it is increasingly the trend to have three to six tracks rather than a typical 12-track album and that enables artists to release product more often.
What challenges does all this present and how are you facing them?
Navigating the never-ending platforms to create an online presence for artists is a challenge, so I’m building a team from the tech world who specialize in following trends. I also talk to other managers and experienced people in the entertainment business for advice.
How do you make money?
By continuing to perform as a classical crossover artist, running my vocal studio, producing new artists who need tracks produced and released on iTunes, and implementing performance opportunities for my managed acts.
Tell us about the rock group you manage and why they are a good fit with you?
Ulyseas is a hard-rock band with many facets reminiscent of the ‘60s and ‘70s while also being a fresh experience for the alternative movement. They’re all good friends in their 20s, and instead of addressing popularity like many modern artists, they’re authentic and very much in touch with their own love and passion for their music, which is very refreshing in a disposable society. They’re also dashingly handsome.
What are your future plans for them?
We will be launching their EP in the summer, and they will be performing in carefully selected venues throughout Southern California. Touring is key for a band such as Ulyseas. Each member of the band writes and they will be composing for film and television soundtracks. We will be connecting them with various brands to build their brand identity. The lead singer, Ray Castro, will also be modeling internationally.
And your own future plans?
Personally, I will be recording an EP to be released this spring of 2016, working with a wonderful young film composer, Taras Tkachenko, with whom I have produced tracks for other artists. I want to extend my artist roster, seek out new talent eager to record and have tracks produced and released. Also to nurture Ulyseas and to continue coaching the next generation of talent.
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