By: Kaley Bonnet
The music business is a fleeting industry. The minute we feel as if we’ve grasped the latest trend, another arises. This presents issues for training up new industry members. How do you teach students about a business in flux without providing outdated information? MUBUTV is working to educate others on the topical issues and technologies being utilized by the Music Industry.
MUBUTV is an online music business insider channel featuring news and original programming designed to inform, educate, and empower artists, bands, and musicians in addition to music industry professionals and fans about all areas of modern music, tech, and the business that surrounds them.[i] Episodes air weekly centered on interviews with producers, A&R, entertainment lawyers, film music supervisors, independent artists, artist managers, and more. I had a moment to chat with Eric Knight and Ritch Esra, the co-founders of MUBUTV to get further details on the series.
Q: What inspired you to create MUBUTV?
Ritch: “What inspired it is that I’ve been in music business education for 30 years. I started teaching in 1985-86. What inspired this is wanting to take education out of the classroom. This is the kind of information that is behind locked doors. The idea was to give people an inside look of how the business operates today. Another aspect was an understanding that I’m still a student of music business. The world we’re living in today is radically different than 5-10 years ago. The new music business systems, platforms, and criteria that artists need to know today wasn’t readily available. It’s a different reality today than it was ten years ago, all the infrastructure is gone and we are overwhelmed with options every single day. We felt there was a need to get the information out there and that we would do that from the point of view of knowing the questions on behalf of artists that may have difficulty getting to them on their own. We live in a world today where there is so much free information and where artists, like every other facet of American business, can have a job in music for life. There is a new condition: in order to have the job for life, you have to be a student for life. You have to be willing to constantly update yourself, it’s not someone else’s responsibility. You can’t just be an artist and write the songs anymore.”
Q: Where and how do you find people to interview?
Ritch: “Sometimes we know them or of them and we reach out via email and invite them to be on the show. Basically, we reach out to them directly. It depends on who the person is and the relationship we have with them. We can’t get everybody exactly when we want them. When we’re shooting, we’ll reach out to them and give them an understanding and reason why we’re coming to them. Because maybe they’re a manager or they did something or their philosophy or attitude or education we want to articulate.
Eric: “We wanted to build this organically. Now as it’s getting bigger, we get people contacting us. This season has been the biggest.”
Ritch: “The other great thing is that the guests we are getting are in the business now and doing it now. It might not be coming from a school where the teachers were musicians before. These are the people that you want to get the attention of. To get the awareness and insight for their philosophies and values.”
Q: Where do you see MUBUTV going in the future?
Eric: “We want this to turn into a much bigger entity. In 2019 we are introducing new content besides the Insider series. We want to branch out and drill down even more offerings of content. We’re going to launch a podcast around April and have courses available to take online. The ultimate goal is to make this the next CNN of the music industry. We want it to become 24-hour content with what happens in the news, cutting edge trends, and bringing in guests.”
Ritch: “A full-service information network for artists, bands, and professionals for news and information that pertain to their world and are of interest. It doesn’t exist in a visual format. It’s the first of its kind. Being that we’re in one of the music centers of the United States it’s easy to draw artists. Music can come from anywhere; we are one of the hubs. Artists and bands don’t necessarily have to live here anymore. New York, Boston, and LA aren’t what they were anymore because of the internet. The infrastructure might be in these locations but with tech we’re seeing that expand. It doesn’t matter where it came from. There’s a new band who after four albums has finally broken out of Columbus, Ohio—They’re called 21 Pilots and they made a scene for themselves.”
Q: What’s the most useful piece of information you learned from a MUBUTV interview?
Ritch: “Probably the most valuable piece of information that is reiterated is preparedness and having faith in yourself. Know who you are as an artist. Another aspect emphasized that often gets lost in the tech talk and new platforms and streaming and internet is that it all starts from the music. If you don’t have good music, none of it matters. The more MUBUTV you watch, you’ll see that fact gets emphasized over and over. It comes down to writing the songs and keeping them strong. Otherwise you’re polishing turds. Study your craft. We all want an easy answer and we think ‘if I just get enough followers…’ I met an artist who had 7 million YouTube views and was signed to Puff Daddy’s label, but it went nowhere. The music wasn’t strong enough. I’m not saying everyone has to write hit songs, but it has to connect with the audience. That’s a very important factor.”
Q: Why do you think this series is helpful to students? What can they expect?
Eric: Where do you start? With the
platform that we’re creating we really try to figure out what the audience
wants via feedback from comments on the videos. We’re always asking what they
want and that’s what we’ll provide. I think at this point it’s drilled it down to
a science of what we ask the guest. We don’t want these to be puff pieces, it
gets into the nitty gritty of what you want to know. What’s unique is that
Ritch and I bring the 360-degree all-encompassing view that we want to provide
since I’m more on the artist side and he’s seen plenty of the business.” Ritch: “We’ve always come from the place that the
viewer is not the casual viewer. We all know music can be a wonderful hobby,
but we’re more geared towards education tor people who want to do it for life.
The professionals will be answering knowing that this is what you want to do
for life, not just six months or the next year. It’s so difficult to break
through the clutter and noise. If you’re not in it for a career, it’s hard to
make an impact. It’s a commitment.”
[i] Pipito. “About Us.” MUBUTV. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://www.mubutv.com/about.