Keeping It Real with Izzy Elefant
Izzy Elefant's journey to becoming the Head of Streaming at APG has been an intriguing ride. From interning at a sports PR firm to being a manager for the Syracuse basketball team, Izzy's background in sports was something that he had always been passionate about. However, he found himself looking for a change, leading to a shift in his life that landed him in the music industry.
It started when Izzy came across an ad for Ableton production software on YouTube and threw himself into learning the basics of producing music. He went to music business school, started a band, and self-managed and marketed the band. At their peak, the band had around 250,000 monthly listeners and millions of streams on various songs.
Izzy said, “I was a producer in the band. We didn't have live instrumentation. It was very much electronic based. I programmed a lot of the drums, but I also did keys in some spots, bass, and more.”
Like many, COVID-19 affected the band's career trajectory, and Izzy found that he liked the business side of music, too. He was an account executive at Wavo, a music-forward data and analytics company, for a year. He then moved to Asylum Records to be their Director of Digital Marketing, eventually becoming head of the department. Now, as the Head of Streaming at APG, Izzy's day-to-day life is very relationship-based, where he's busy knocking on people's doors, shooting out emails, and making phone calls to become the trusted liaison between digital streaming platforms and the artists at APG. He's also constantly looking at potential trends, what's triggering upticks in streaming, and where artists are seeing the most support or growth, among other things.
Tips for Breaking through the Clutter on Streaming Platforms
Navigating the world of streaming platforms and playlisting can be a daunting task for independent artists. However, according to Izzy, pitching tools are the key to getting noticed. All editors go to the pitch tool, listen to songs, and read the pitches before making decisions. While labels may have an advantage in pitching due to direct relationships, the pitch tool is still an incredibly important tool for independent artists.
“Make sure you're pitching your songs. Make sure your songs are ingested into Spotify at least two weeks in advance. I would say a month in advance to be really safe and give editors the proper time to make decisions.” Izzy explains.
He also echoes a common sentiment among music industry professionals: don’t pay for playlisting and try your hardest not to fall for scams. Izzy explains the consequences saying, “Spotify will flag that and then they will take your song down or they will take your streams away.”
Building a Lasting Fan Base AS A MUSICIAN
Izzy clarified that while getting playlisted can be nice, it does not necessarily build long-term fans who are loyal to the artist. Playlisting is good for overall awareness, consumption, and getting paid for streaming, but ultimately, engaging content does the heavy lifting when it comes to bringing fans back repeatedly. Izzy says consistency is key in building an engaged fan base of people who follow an artist throughout their career.
Izzy illustrates his point using Drake as an example. “There's a reason that Drake can do fifty different genres now, and that's because he's already Drake. But if Drake started off releasing “One Dance,” and then releasing anything from Honestly, Never Mind, " it would've made his life so much harder.”
Mental Health in the Music Industry (For PROFESSIONALS AND ARTISTS)
When asked what more artists should be focusing on to build their careers, Izzy had a refreshing take: “The first thing that comes to my mind is mental health. Artists don't think about mental health until it's too late or until it's already affected them.”
Izzy goes on to explain that he knows exactly what it’s like to be an emerging artist, and urges artists to try and maintain a part of their life and livelihood that doesn’t revolve around their work.
On the whole, Izzy is balanced about the industry, and looking forward to what’s next. He urges artists to create marketing drivers, building memorable moments, and understand how to consistently grow their careers. Oh, and be patient! “It’s mental health and patience. Those are the two things artists need to focus on.”
Connect with Izzy on Xposure Music and follow him @izzyelefant