Replica brands

A2IM’s Alyssa Mark on what little artists can do for brands

Where you grew up and where you live now.

I was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. I currently live in Brooklyn and have been there for a while now. Brooklyn is the best.

Your first musical memory.

My dad is a musician, so I grew up immersed in music throughout my teenage years. My first musical memory is probably dancing to his interpretations of “Riders on the Storm” or “Linus and Lucy” (he’s a pianist). Either that or always ask to choose the albums we would listen to when we were in the car. This was back in the 90s when CD players were in the trunk of a car and you had to select music before you started driving. As a child, I was obsessed with the Beatles’ White Album, Niçois’ Ars Longa Vita Brevis and many Brian Auger albums.

Your first gig.

My very first gig was the band America at a local outdoor venue when I was 6 years old. It’s crazy, but I still remember dancing to “A Horse With No Name” barefoot on our picnic blanket. My first high production show was Z100’s Zootopia in 1999 at the Continental Airlines Arena. When the tickets went on sale my mom pulled me out of school early and we stood in line for over an hour and a half at the mall’s Ticketmaster window. Looking back, it was such a crazy line-up – Britney Spears, Sugar Ray, UB40, 98°, Joey McEntyre…all at the peak of their careers! I still have my T-shirt from that show.

Your favorite bands/musicians.

I’m a huge Radiohead fan. The next-level obsessed kind who goes to every gig on his tour and cries multiple times throughout the show. I’m completely captivated by their history as a band in the ’90s music industry, their distinctive approach to integrating new technologies with every release, their constant cross-genre experimentation, and their overall craftsmanship and sense of music as a group. It’s such an iconic band for me. I’m also a big fan of Gang Starr, Portishead, Stereolab, Crazy P… In terms of producers and DJs it’s hard to pin down but I probably never go more than two weeks without listening to something like Four Tet, Floating Points, Axel Boman, Moodymann, DJ Harvey or Madlib.

How do you get your music these days.

I’m very lucky to have a job that constantly exposes me to new music. Because I work with approximately 600 independent record labels across the United States, my inbox is always full of promotional emails from all of our members about upcoming releases, early previews, special features, and more. . I’m also a huge fan of online radio— I frequently listen to live broadcasts from local stations like The Lot Radio or Dublab or NTS and always discover new music thanks to the amazing lineup of DJs they do regularly turn.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

I love Manhattan Center in New York, Kings Theater in Brooklyn, and the Public Records Sound Room in Brooklyn.

Your favorite music video.

As evidenced throughout this interview, it’s hard for me to pick just one, so here are a few of my all-time favorites:

I also want to thank Reach Records, who have released some of the most creative videos I’ve seen in years. “Coming in Hot” and “Been About It” by Lecrae and Andy Mineo, “Don’t Worry Bout It” by Wande and Porsha Love… I get so excited every time they release something new.

Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.

Other Record Labels’ Scott Orr puts out a great weekly podcast that’s a mix of interviews with independent label owners, advice for labels just getting started, insights into industry trends, and more. He was kind enough to invite me to speak on the podcast twice to talk about A2IM initiatives—it’s always a pleasure to chat with Scott; he cares so much about supporting the label community.

A recent project you are proud of.

A recent project that I am proud of is organizing the lineup of performers for A2IM’s annual awards gala, The Libera Awards, for the third consecutive year. Every year I book the event, I think it will be impossible to top last year’s lineup of performances, but here we are again, and I’m amazed at the talent that will join us this year, both online and in person. Japanese Breakfast, Brittany Howard, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Sammy Rae & The Friends… and Madlib receives our Independent Icon award. It was a real honor to work on this presentation – he is such a magnificent figure in the independent producer community, and I am honored that we can publicly recognize his work.

Someone else’s project you admired recently.

I’m very inspired by the recent launch of The Rising Artist Foundation, a non-profit grant system for emerging musicians in the United States. They aim to foster growth in the early stages of an artist’s career by providing salaries, health insurance, industry advice and mentorship to develop musicians from underrepresented backgrounds and rural communities. One of my favorite record labels, Nicolas Jaar’s Other People, just announced their first official program with the band – a two-month electronic music workshop in Los Angeles. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this foundation is able to accomplish in the coming year.

How musicians should approach working with brands.

This is by no means a revolutionary answer, but authenticity is key. Ultimately, an artist is his own brand and the audience he is addressing is a fan of that brand. Fans can sniff out the “fakes” in a second, especially the superfans. It’s always good to experiment and push boundaries, but working with brands that align with your mission, sound, and public image will always be the most beneficial approach for both parties.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

You don’t always have to go big to be effective. Think locally. There are so many opportunities to tap into small communities by working with local talent. These artists are the ones who have the support, trust and support of their communities. The power they have to help crack a product, promote an event, etc. should never be underestimated or overlooked. Slow nano-community retention can lead to much greater long-term results and can help expose your brand to audiences you may not have been able to reach before. Little artists are very powerful in their own way.

What music can do that nothing else can.

Act as a transformative form of support – it can be a boost when you’re happy, it can push you to a dark place when you’re down… there are so many different levels and states of emotion you can feel with music that I think are hard to replicate with other mediums.

What you would be doing if you weren’t in the music business.

I would probably like to work in music! But maybe I would work in the cannabis industry or as a private caterer.