Artist Development with Kayvan Dargheh
It is common knowledge that today's music industry presents challenges for artists seeking success and recognition for their craft. But to Kayvan Daragheh, a young, yet highly experienced, professional in the industry, there are also plenty of opportunities. The Director of A&R (Distribution) at Genius and founder of Kayvan's House (a vibrant online artist community) shares his journey into the music industry, insights and thoughts on the current state of the industry, the importance of transparency, and key qualities independent artists must develop to excel.
Kayvan was a music-loving kid who initially pursued music business formally at Belmont University in Nashville. There, he explored production, PR, and artist management, while honing his skills through internships at a studio and a sync licensing company. His career progressed from CAA Nashville to Genius in New York City, where he worked in artist relations before transitioning into the A&R department. His current role involves managing Genius Distro, a product supporting independent artists, where he is responsible for discovering and signing artists, project management, and supervising digital PR and DSP pitching.
KAYVAN’S APPROACH TO ARTIST DEVELOPMENT
Kayvan adopts a multifaceted approach to artist development, starting with understanding the artist's creative vision and aiding in their self-discovery. He helps artists find their unique sound by analyzing their music, vocal style, and production preferences. However, Dargheh also stresses the importance of the business side of the industry, using data analysis to target audiences and formulating strategies accordingly, while advising against playlist reliance and promoting the building of an engaged fan base through organic growth. He views artist development as a continuous process, allowing artists the freedom of expression while providing consistent support and guidance, thus enabling them to connect with audiences who truly appreciate their work.
ARTIST COVERAGE IN THE MEDIA
For today’s artists and their creative endeavors, Kayvan is not exactly pleased with media coverage shifting towards sensationalism and tabloid-like journalism. He notes a focus on the antics and superficial aspects surrounding music rather than the art itself.
"I feel like this approach does a disservice to the creative community in general. It's rare that you see editorial content that focuses on championing and celebrating the talent/skill of an artist vs. content that has clearly been made to get clicks. It's all apparent in the headline/title."
Kayvan believes that genuine, in-depth coverage of artists and their work is crucial to championing great art and pushing it to the forefront.
PROS AND CONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR EMERGING TALENT
Kayvan is quick to acknowledge the positive influence of social media platforms, particularly in the context of music curation. He commends the emergence of TikTok curators who share niche music they genuinely enjoy, much like he does on his Instagram page and with Kayvan’s House, a massive Discord server Kayvan has built for artists over the years.
While these platforms allow individuals with good taste to build their own platforms and connect with audiences who share their passion for music. Kayvan also points out that the business aspect of social media can distort the curation process and make it challenging for exceptional talent without significant financial resources to break through.
TRANSPARENCY AS A CATALYST FOR CHANGE
Transparency and education play essential roles in challenging the status quo of the music industry. Kayvan emphasizes the need for transparency in sharing experiences and knowledge, especially to younger generations aspiring to enter the industry.
Kayvan highlights the value of candidly discussing the ups and downs of a career in music, debunking misconceptions, and providing realistic insights into the industry. By encouraging artists to think differently, fostering a mindset of collaboration instead of competition, and challenging the gatekeeping nature of the industry, Kayvan believes that positive change that evens the playing field for motivated artists can be achieved.
MUST-HAVE ARTIST SKILLS
Kayvan sheds light on the challenges artists face when it comes to getting noticed and breaking into the industry. He makes note of three important skills for an independent artist to strive for: a great work ethic, a good attitude, and the ability to build/maintain a community.
“You're going to have to do things like booking shows yourself. In the beginning you’re going to have do a lot for yourself. Learn how to be as self sufficient as possible and it’ll help in the long run.”
Connect with Kayvan for feedback or a 1-on-1 video call on Xposure Music. Follow Kayvan on IG @KAYVANMD