INTRODUCING OUVEER: THE NEW, EXCITING MUSIC PLATFORM THAT GIVES 100% REVENUE TO BANDS & ARTISTS 131

In today’s ever competitive music industry, it can sometimes be forgotten that thanks to platforms such as Spotify, the bands and artists who create the music we all love so much often lose out on the financial rewards of their hard work. Now, new music platform Ouveer is determined to make things right, and is fighting for artists and their rights, with its focus directed at offering 100% of sales to the individuals who deserve it. Thisisthelatest spoke with Patrick McClanahan, head of artist and label relations, to find out more.

TITL: Tell me about Ouveer in your own words, and what makes it different from the other platforms out there today?

Patrick McClanahan: There are a few issues with streaming platforms that we really want to try and address and do something about. Spotify, Soundcloud and Pandora all lost money last year with Spotify losing something like $190m. The only reason Spotify is still going is because they’ve given equity to the labels – that’s what they do, and have to do, in order to sustain themselves. It’s not a valid business model. Yes, technology is moving more towards the streaming model that Spotify and other platforms offer, but at the same time, given all the issues, particularly legal ones, it’s not ready to move that way. A lot of the logistics haven’t been figured out, and even the music industry as a whole still hasn’t figured out how rights and publishing work on a grand scale. There are still people who are missing out on payments, and a host of other issues.

All these problems are the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing and launching a platform that is determined to give people and artists the rights they’re due, the payments they’re due and entitled to. We do have a streaming model but it’s not going to be like the ones that are out there right now, but it’s something we have in our long-term outlook. Artists are struggling like crazy. I read somewhere that a third of the artists out there have left their careers as musicians within the last three years, and I think people write it off but in reality, as a society that uses music as a way to help us get through things – it’s cathartic and a major aspect of our economy – the music industry is extremely important. Grant, the CEO, has produced hip-hop beats and hooks for San Francisco, Bay-Area artists and he discovered pretty quickly that, as a producer, you can’t make a lot of money – even if you’ve got a song on the radio. He said “we’ve got to fix this” and that’s sort of how Ouveer originated – the realisation of just how hard it is as a musician to make money.

TITL: Do you think the music industry will ever be able to fix the problems and the issues it’s struggling with right now, and would you agree that that’s what you’re trying to do with this new platform – to give the huge amounts of lost revenue back to the people – the bands and artists – who deserve it most, at a time when everyone, not just artists, are struggling to make ends meet in their daily lives?

PM: With all the things we’ve got planned, both for now and in the future, we just want to be the one stop destination for music, for both fans and artists. We want to provide a lot of services for musicians, whether that’s publishing help, piracy protection software, PR help, and even things like career opportunities for artists, which we will have available through partners like Music Gateway. We want to be the one core resource for musicians in particular and yes, we want to give them what they’re entitled to especially given that so many of them have lost out due to streaming, illegal downloading and things like that. The conversion rates are very poor for streaming and artists are often lucky if they make even just a few cents from each stream of one of their tracks, which is crazy and unfair.

So would you like to see the likes of Spotify and Soundcloud disappear within the next few years or do you think the streaming power that they offer to music fans will keep them going for the foreseeable future?

PM: I’ve been told and also read that Soundcloud may not be in operation by the end of this year or early next year. They may get bought out by Google, but I’m honestly not sure what’s going to happen there. Unfortunately Spotify is likely to be around for a little while longer, but our goal, in the long term is to eventually replace everybody in that sense. If you look at iTunes, they take anywhere from a 30-37% cut of sales from every song and that’s unfortunate, especially when you consider all the people who have put their time and effort into creating it, such as managers, back-up singers, musicians, producers and of course the artists themselves. Music is a product, like so many things in our lives and our belief is that it deserves to be paid for and the artists and the team that have helped create such music deserve to be compensated for their efforts.

TITL: What would you say is your ideal or ultimate market for this platform?

PM: We’re in contact with the three major labels at the moment and have had or are in discussions with roughly 85% of the music market. We think that everyone can get involved, and that’s what we’re hoping for. There’s a destination we’re hoping to get to and we’re eager for anyone who wants to come along on the journey with us as we look to the future and grow this idea we have. This is more of a long-term thing but I feel like we’re in an age now where we now have the ability to do so many things on our own, and I feel like record labels, management companies, printing presses and the like are intermediaries between the creator and their audience and are slowly going to die off. We have the tools now to manage almost anything ourselves from a business perspective. Our whole goal is to create a one-stop shop, a destination where artists can help run themselves as a business, no matter how big or small they may be.

TITL: It could be argued that social media is almost as big of a problem as streaming sites like Spotify because people can share pretty much anything they want on there, including music, so how are you going to use it as a way to grow your platform and make others aware of everything you’re wanting to do?

PM: Social media is and is going to be a huge aspect of our marketing campaign. We’re assembling a group of ambassadors to help us push things forward in those areas. There’s a number of artists we’ve spoken to who would make amazing case studies in terms of what the streaming industry has done to musicians and their careers.

One impressive statement made by the music industry were the 400 artists that banded together with Irving Azoff to make alterations to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. All these issues we’ve been discussing, it’s like, if music was paid for like it should be, as it was even six years ago when iTunes was the market leader, artists wouldn’t be in this position. The one shift in the industry that was driven by the emergence of Spotify, Pandora and Soundcloud, has impacted artists on a massive scale, and not in a good way.

Virtually every artist we have spoken to are huge advocates of what we’re doing. One of those artists is a girl who was living on the streets about three weeks before a producer heard some of her stuff, picked her up and started working with her. Some artists are most certainly more vocal about it than others, and that’s okay – we just want to start a conversation, and a discussion, about the industry today and I think we’re doing that. We want artists to know that our company is trying to fight for them, that we understand the costs of production and everything involved in the process and the struggle, while we’ve got a few radio appearances coming up in the near future, we’re really wanting to talk about that – the issues artists are facing today – and not just the company. Yes, the company is important to us, but the purpose and story as to why we’ve created this company is a huge part of it, and it’s that part in particular, that we want to get across to people; not just artists but music fans too.

TITL: The music industry is constantly changing and evolving, so how are you going to ensure that your platform stays current and even ahead of the curve?

PM: I think what makes us stand out is the fact that we understand the issues on the artists’ side of things very well. Grant’s a former producer, I’ve worked with artists on the creative side. We have met with dozens of artists and individuals in the industry, so we really understand the needs of an artist from a business aspect and I think that by staying close to an artist, both as business people and as fans, we can work on exclusive content, special opportunities and other things like that which no other platform I can think of offers. That’s the best way we think our platform will grow – through us sticking close to the artists, by understanding what they want and what they need in this ever-changing environment, but also by staying very in-tune with our customer base.

We want to make sure that we’re always developing anything that we think is going to push the boundaries. I know that the team and the people we’re going to bring on board are and will be very equipped to deliver all those things, and that can only be a good thing – for everyone.

TITL: A lot of platforms like iTunes in particular, but also sites like Spotify often tend to give most of their attention to bigger name bands and artists who can bring in more revenue for them, so with that in mind, what kind of artist base are you looking for; big names, independent ones or are you just looking to support those in the music industry as a whole?

PM: Everyone. Absolutely everyone. From the banjo picker down the road, all the way to Beyonce. There are some things we can offer to every artist no matter who they are. What we’ve been creating in terms of the analytics aspect is something that no-one else has, we’ve looked at all the figures from various websites and service providers, and what we’re providing is something that when we launch, people will be like: “Wow, this is really helpful information that can help with marketing decisions.” Even the biggest and greatest musicians out there can and do need insight into how to grow their business and that’s what we’re offering.

TITL: Which band or artist would you most like to get involved with this platform?

PM: This answer comes from a combination of the business side but also an admiration aspect. Taylor Swift has been a huge advocate against the streaming model and I think if we could have any artist, she’s definitely the one I’d have on board if we could. She has a massive following, she’s hugely creative, she’s current right now and as I just mentioned, she’s spoken out a lot about the streaming industry and its impact on artists. I think she understands, even at her level, what it takes for an artist to make it through the challenges of the music industry.

TITL: How would you sum up or sell this platform to a fan or an artist in a couple of words?

PM: To a fan I would say that if you want to get as close to an artist as you can without getting your nose wet and have all the opportunities, in a one-stop shop, to have access to anything you want, this is our platform. Use our platform. Of course, the fan side of things isn’t so much about the artist revenue, whereas people such as yourself might get involved because of that aspect, but for a fan, I would just say that we’ve designed this experience for you guys and we’ve everything in one place; ticketing news, merchandise – it’s all here. To an artist I would say that if you want 100% of your sales and want to understand everything about your fan-base to help run yourself as a business, choose us.

TITL: Finally then, what are your current aims for the platform and where do you see it being a year from now? With that in mind, what are your plans regarding its expansion and growth?

PM: If we launched this tomorrow and had all the help in the world, even in a year…these things take time so I think a year from now, I see us having one major label’s support, a healthy fan-base, a healthy artist base and I see us, once we have our feet on the ground, looking into new ideas such as technologies we haven’t even mentioned. There are a few things we see ourselves getting involved with and bringing into our platform model in the future definitely. We’re 100% determined to make this platform the best it can be, so that it benefits not just ourselves, but the artists who come on board with us.

For more information on Ouveer, sign up to the newsletter via the website, like the page on Facebook or follow the platform on Twitter.

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REVIEW: KID KAPICHI – ‘LUCOZADE DREAMS’ EP 27

Kid Kapichi are currently one of the most talked about up and coming bands in Britain, and, on the back of their previous EP, are so with good reason. However, some bands can and do often struggle when it comes to a second release. There’s more pressure and expectation, and sometimes it’s more than artists can handle well. So, how have KK fared with their sophomore EP, Lucozade Dreams?

The intro piece, at just over 46 seconds long could easily have been left off the EP, but given that it’s brashier and bolder than many opening instrumentals featured on albums and the like in recent months, it doesn’t fare too badly. It is however a good thing that “Cinderella” quickly follows on from it and ultimately sets the tone for the EP overall. With it’s big, catchy verses, and a chorus that’s even bigger, combined with a toe-tapping bass undertone, it’s an exciting little number, sure to impress and win over music fans who give it a listen.

The momentum and energy continues through “Puppet Strings” and although the instrumentation is good, ultimately it’s the impressive lyrics that make the track stand out. Meanwhile, anyone looking for a superb riff and a thumping, invigorating beat need look no further than “Jack Jones” and the slick production on “Machine Men” means the EP ends on a rewarding high for both band and listener.

While the group from Hastings might still be considerably unknown to some, they’ve been talked about for some time now, and the amount of said talk is only likely to grow on the back of Lucozade Dreams – a collection that’s fun, fizzing with energy and highlights just how much Kid Kapichi love what they do, and in time, more music fans might just find themselves loving them too.

Lucozade Dreams is available now.

DANIELLE PINNOCK CHATS ‘YOUNG SHELDON’ & THE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT 57

With The Big Bang Theory having proven to be a global hit since its very first episode, it should come as no surprise to learn that its spin-off, a look at the childhood and early years of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, aptly titled Young Sheldon, has also become a phenomenon. With the show about to air its debut season finale, and with season 2 already greenlit, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Danielle Pinnock, who plays Ms. Ingram in the show, to find out about her very first audition, her role as a body activist and how she feels about the reaction to and her being part of the smash-hit series that is Young Sheldon.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to pursue acting as a career? Was there one particular show/actor you watched that made you think ‘I’d like to do that’?

Danielle Pinnock: When I was 19 I was in a production at Temple University called In Conflict. It was a documentary play about war veterans returning home from serving overseas. The show was so incredible. We were even pulled out of school for a year to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway in New York.  All of the vets we portrayed were real people, based on interviews done by journalist Yvonne Latty. The veteran I played, Sgt. Lisa Haynes, was the only one we were unable to get a response from during run of the show. I heard that during her initial interview, her PTSD was so severe once returning home that she may have “fallen off the map.” I didn’t want to accept this, so I took it upon myself to find Sgt. Haynes. I called every VA hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was from, and was able to locate her and her family. During the run of the show,  I flew down to Tulsa and met Sgt. Haynes and her family. When I returned back to New York, I was determined to have Sgt. Haynes see the final Off-Broadway performance. So in the final two weeks of the run I managed to raise $10,000 to get Sgt. Haynes and her family members up to New York to see In Conflict’s last show. It was THAT show that made me want to act for the rest of my life.

TITL: Can you recall your very first audition? 

DP: Yes! Ha! My very first audition was for the middle school production of Aladdin. I played Halima, Jafar’s evil sister. It was like pulling teeth to get me to audition for this role. I never wanted to be an actor growing up, and was super shy as a child. My audition song was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill.

TITL: Which auditions, looking back on them, do you feel went really well or that you struggled with? 

DP: The reason I ended up in Los Angeles is because I auditioned for a production at the Geffen Playhouse called Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. At the time of the auditions, I was still living in Chicago and actually flew up to L.A. to be seen for the project. It was a risky decision and I would not recommend actors doing that, but I knew I had to be on point! I also knew if I was going to move to Los Angeles, I needed a job! Barbecue was one of my best auditions in L.A. Recently, I ran into Colman Domingo and he said: Danielle, you just walked in with your blue dress and commanded our attention. Working with Colman and the cast members was a dream realized. It was an honor to be included in that production.

My most memorable audition that I struggled with also happened in Los Angeles. I was going in for the role of a nurse on a sitcom. A lot of auditions in L.A. happen in “bungalows” which are really just trailers on the studio lots. I only bring this up, because the walls in most audition rooms are extremely thin so you can hear another actors’ entire audition. There was a young woman who went in before me, and her audition was so fantastic that the casting director actually booked her for the project IN THE ROOM! The entire waiting room, full of actors, heard the casting director call this woman’s agent to say the actor had booked it. However, in the waiting room, chaos ensued. People began to leave the audition and I had no clue what to do because I was NEXT! As soon as the actor left the audition room all I heard was: “Danielle Pinnock come on in.”  It was my worst audition to date. I forgot all of the lines and was just unmotivated to even give my all because I knew there was no chance of me getting booked on that project.

TITL: How did you hear about the role of Ms. Ingram for Young Sheldon? What was/is it about the character that made you want to audition for the role?

DP: Funny enough, this was a same-day audition. My manager called me on a Thursday morning and I had three-hours to prepare the sides for an Untitled project. I initially went in for the music-teacher and then Nikki Valko, the casting director, asked me to read for a brand new character they created that week “Ms. Ingram.” It was refreshing to see that casting was considering me, a plus-sized African American woman to play the mathematics teacher. Ms. Ingram is one of my favorite characters to play because she is so quirky, hilarious and extremely no-nonsense.

TITL: The show has proven to be a HUGE success in the US and is also popular here in the UK. Did you or your fellow cast members ever expect the show to get the response and reaction it has? 

DP: It’s surreal! This show is a hit internationally and I’ve never, in my entire career, been a part of such a phenomenon. Chuck Lorre is a genius and absolutely has the Midas touch when it comes to creating successful television! Working with the creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro has been a dream come true. My mom and I were in the grocery store and someone stopped us and said “That’s Ms. Ingram, Oh My God!” In the pilot, my character Ms. Ingram talks about attending Oral Roberts University and the school sent me a gift! I went to graduate school at Birmingham School of Acting UK, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, so it’s really cool for my friends, family and professors to see it overseas as well!

Aside from it’s obvious TBBT connection, what do you think it is about Young Sheldon that has attracted so many people to watch, and keep watching, it?

DP: The show is hilarious and the main cast give masterful performances. Iain Armitage who plays Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant young performer and is such a joy to work alongside. His portrayal of Sheldon Cooper is honest and relatable.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Scandal and This Is Us. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a variety of roles that really put your abilities to the test, and with that in mind, what’s your dream role? Which show would you most like to appear in and why?

DP: Working on those two shows was incredible. I was able to work on Scandal with the genius Kerry Washington; the legendary Viola Davis was the cherry on an already delicious sundae! I’ve had the opportunity to play some fantastic roles both in theatre and on-screen. To be honest, I don’t know what my dream role would be. There are so many great shows out right now. My favorites at the moment: Good Girls, Atlanta, How To Get Away With Murder and SMILF. 

TITL: The entertainment industry is cut throat and competitive, so what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on it? Is there any one piece of advice you were once given that you still look back on?

DP: A colleague of mine once said: “In this industry, you must learn to be plural.” In this industry, especially nowadays, you have to be multi-faceted. This is why there is an uprising of artists creating their own content now.

TITL: Away from TV, you’re an accomplished writer/playwright, and are passionate about creating productions that address life, living and the many issues that come with it. Does your work in that field ever cross over into your acting work and vice-versa?

DP: Absolutely. I’m actually developing an improvised Instagram series with my friend, LaNisa Frederick called Hashtag Booked. Hashtag Booked is a hilarious, raw, and shocking portrayal of what happens during the short period of time in the audition waiting room.  These “characters” are based on real-life experiences.

TITL: How are you finding your role as a vocal activist for body positivity impacting both yourself and those around you? How did you first get involved and would you like to see more individuals, especially those in the public eye, using their status to speak out about important matters as you are?

DP: The first play I ever wrote was a solo show called Body/Courage. Body/Courage was created from over 300 interviews I conducted worldwide, and it was an exploration on body acceptance. This project changed my life. The show is about my journey to find my own beauty through the voices of others. The cool thing about the show is that it introduced a constellation of characters grappling with diverse body issues including weight, illness, disability, skin color, aging, and gender transition. It was this show that got me involved in the body positivity movement. Body/Courage, allowed me to find a courage in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. The body positivity movement already has some fierce voices and it can always use more so I would encourage others to speak out.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

DP: This summer, I’ll be releasing an interview-style podcast called SHOOK discussing true stories of mental health in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a guest contributor for Shondaland, so check out my essay I’ll be writing for them in the next few weeks.

TITL: Finally then, given that the industry is ever changing, sometimes at a pace even fans can’t keep up with, where do you think the business will go and be 5-10 years from now? What would you like to see happen and do you think that such things will? 

DP: My hope for the industry in 5-10 years is that we can begin to bring more stories by women of color to the forefront. I want to see more women of color on set, I want to see more women of color in the writers room, I want to see more women of color as producers and directors. I want to see women of color win in this industry now and in the future.

Young Sheldon is currently airing on E4 in the UK on Wednesdays at 8.30PM. You can keep up to date with Danielle Pinnock via her Twitter. Header photo credit: Joe Mazza.