Swivel will offer his insights into the music business via his monthly column ‘Swivel On This’, for this newly launched magazine.
DJ Swivel has joined the newly launched Headliner Magazine as a brand ambassador and part-time writer, offering his insights into the music business and touching on topics and issues that matter to him most, via his monthly column ‘Swivel On This’. The lifestyle-focused magazine aims to bridge the gap between the gear heads and the casual listener, and has tapped DJ Swivel to help push that agenda forward. Below is Swivel’s article from Issue #1.
My name is Jordan ‘DJ Swivel’ Young. I’m a writer, but not a journalist. My writing tends to be in musical form, so this is a bit of a new medium for me. Most would call me a producer, a songwriter, a mixer, or an engineer; I call myself an ideas man, a creator.My story is not dissimilar to most in the mu- sic business. I grew up in Toronto, loved music, decided to pursue it as a career, went to school, moved to New York, started climbing the industry ladder, had some successes and failures, and here I am, still climbing eight years later; that’s the short, heavily redacted version. The longer version I’m sure will unfold as this column develops, but some of the most notable elements include interning for Ken ‘Duro’ Ifill, one of the best mix engineers in the business; recording with one of my musical idols, Jay-Z; multiple Grammy nominations, including one win; and travelling the world working with one of the most iconic singers of our time, Beyoncé.
I want to keep this column pretty light-hearted, and I plan to touch on a wide range of topics and issues. It might be various trends in music, in technology, the industry, gear, artists, or something else I haven’t quite thought of yet. Most of my friends say I’m very opinionated, and can be a contrarian. I think that’s probably true, so this will be a great chance for me to focus my nature of debate onto something more constructive, as opposed to trying to argue with someone why Kanye is not an asshole, just mis- understood. Which leads me to my first topic, since it’s been widely talked about lately… Kanye West.
Well, not necessarily Kanye West, but more the issues he’s brought to light with his comments recently; specifically, the marginali- sation of artists. I happen to agree with most of what Mr. West has to say on the issue. Creative people are marginalised all the time; when someone has success in one area, people want to keep that person in a box, usu- ally for their own selfish reasons: it could be the executives not wanting to take the financial risk on something new; the fans wanting more of the same music; or the peers not wanting to let someone else into their group. Artists should be free to create anything they want, any way they want; if I did great work in one area, what makes you think I can’t apply that same energy into something else and ex- pect similar results? I think most of us can agree on that. But here’s the thing: nobody owes Kanye, or any of us, anything. I hear the word ‘no’ ALL THE TIME in the music business; it’s some- thing we get used to. Not everyone is capable of seeing our vision, or maybe they see it and don’t like it; but regardless, as creatives, we’re not entitled to a ‘yes’, as much as we think we are. The key here is, do it yourself! We’re in the Kickstarter age. There are so many different oppor- tunities available to us, but it takes a certain type of personality to go and execute on those things. Whether it’s building a business, creat- ing music, or designing a clothing line, all take a significant amount of effort; and nowadays, the idea alone isn’t enough.
Nobody in a position of power wants to risk their own job on investing in something that’s unproven, so the onus is now on the creators to come up with the business plan and execute. For a company, it’s basic risk management; weed out the lazy ones, weed out the untalented ones, and what do you have left? The winners. Then those winners can go and get the deals they wanted in the first place. So take a page out of Macklemore’s book: do it yourself; build the audience; and eventually you’ll get the ‘yes’ you wanted. The thing is, by that time, you may not need it anymore…