3 Things To Remember When Heading To The Top
Last week, I sat down with our friend Daren Dixon and had a chat with him about what he does in the creative industry. After a long career working for record labels Daren now focuses on connecting talent with brands. We spoke with Daren as part of our Artist Development podcast series and we wanted to know how up and coming creatives can emulate the success of the people he's worked with as well as how creatives; artists, photographers, musicians, can build their brand up to stage that other major household names want to collaborate with them.
Daren has been a friend of Reload Sessions for a number of years and we've collaborated on numerous projects. We first met when he worked alongside the Google team and was tasked with bringing in new musical talent to connect with the Google brand. As part of this we worked with Daren on a number of events in the YouTube and Google spaces in London. Daren connected us with MKS for our first shoot working together, which can be found below. We also worked on a project with Jhene Aiko as well as Dido. We really enjoyed working with Daren and were always intrigued by his industry connections.
After learning a bit more about Daren's work and how he connects artists with brands we always felt he was someone who had good advice, and figured he's be perfect for the podcast series Artist Development. Daren sat down with us to explain not only how he put in the hard work from the early age of 17 but also how the creative industry has changed in the past 5 years. One thing that came across from our conversation with Daren was how creatives really need to be aware of the generation we're in - generation 'now'. Everything is available at the touch of a button, whether that's through Amazon ordering products to buy or through Twitter connecting with your favourite celebrity. The main difference between 2016 and 2011 is that everything is on-demand. As a creative that's something you can't afford to ignore and understanding that trend and using it to your advantage is a big part of pushing your brand out into the public space.
The whole podcast can be listened to here:
Daren also shared a few other bits of knowledge but we've taken a few words of wisdom from the podcast and summed them up below.
1) Know Your Ability
Daren spoke about knowing what you can do, knowing how good you are at what you're doing and being confident with that knowledge. This is key to creating who you are as an artist. You can gauge your progress by looking at others in your industry. Who are the top dogs? Why are they there? What are they doing to get there? More importantly, what are/aren't you doing to get to the top?
2) Learn Your Craft
This is something that we often bring up on Reload Sessions. Daren suggests to dedicate time to your craft to learn the ropes and develop your understanding of your industry. Get stuck in and think of ways to improve what you're doing. In the podcast, Daren tells a story of Beyonce coming back to her tourbus after a show and evaluating her performance, song by song - looking for where she falters or makes slight mistakes, looking at how she can improve for the next show. If Queen Bey took those steps to the top then there's got to be some value there!
3) Record Labels Are A Business
Gone are the days when a label would pick someone up and develop them over a period of years and then sell them to the masses. Financially, it just doesn't make sense to do. In today's day and age labels now pick up an artist who does the groundwork on their own. "A lot of people forget what the music industry is, but as a business why wouldn't you go with someone who has tested the market by themselves (...) someone who has a substantial following". Daren talks about record labels working with musicians or artists who have already established themselves and shown to have promise. He likens the process to a baseball pitch and instead of picking an artist up at first base, they wait for the artist to create and develop organically before showing up at third base with the hope to push their music to a much wider audience.
It should be no surprise by now that D.D has given us some great advice over the years. He actively looks for new talent and tries to connect them with suitable brand. In an industry which can be very unforgiving, Daren is one of the good guys and he dedicates time to help his community and assist young creatives who are on the up. If you want to reach Mr Dixon, connect with him via his info below.