Is the music business in shambles? To listen to 26-year old wunderkind Julian Sundby not at all. He thinks he can revitalize the industry from his home base in Ft. Myers, Fla.
In addition to being a radio producer (with several radio shows on in the area), he has launched Julian Sundby Music a full-service production, recording, writing and music company.
He’s attempting to bring fresh business ideas to the music scene. From is recording studio in Ft. Myers, Florida, Julian spoke to TheImproper recently about his plans for the industry.
TheImproper: From the looks of things, you are on the verge of building a major entertainment mecca in Florida. Tell us how it all came about.
Sundby: I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a very musical family. My mother, grandmother and uncle all went to The Eastman School of Music and my father sang professionally. They surrounded me with musical instruments and great music.
I met great musicians in high school and college and realized that music was an essential part of my life. Julian Sundby Music began with a simple idea: Support the arts and the local music scene while building connections to regional and national acts. That builds an avenue for local artists to work with national acts while at the same time, introducing national artists to talented fresh acts. You don’t have to move to a major market to make it in major markets.
With all of the new technology that we have, we can create music more efficiently. We can track sessions with artists from all over the world from separate studios and put it together in a central location. I chose Southwest Florida. I work with extremely talented people here and I work with extremely talented people in other locations. People travel here from all over the country, including many musicians and industry professionals. You never know who you will meet here. I want people to come to Ft. Myers and experience new place with a great musical community.
IM: Who are your business role models in setting up your company?
Sundby: When I was studying music and business at Indiana University in 2003, I was fortunate to have Kelley School of Business Associate Dean, Bruce Jaffee as my accounting professor. He asked the class what was the most common undergraduate degree for CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. His reward for the correct answer was a two dollar bill. One student guessed finance. Another student guessed accounting. When I was called upon, “Music,” I replied.
Jaffee, however, was smiling as he walked up to my desk and handed me the bill. Then, he told the class why I was correct. He explained that musicians can analyze and interpret business trends and patterns better than non-musicians. He continued by explaining that practice develops a good work ethic and that striving for perfection is a trait that most musicians have. These traits are essential for a good business foundation. By the way; I still have that two dollar bill.
IM: What are some of the projects you’re working on?
Sundby: We’re working with several talented artists, producers and industry professionals. Lately, I have been producing a lot of original music with local and national artists. Also, Chris Spann, Zach Tracy and Brian Holtz.
IM: What is your mission statement?
Sundby: Julian Sundby Music’s mission statement is to provide quality music for quality artists. We’re looking for the best new artists there are and be able to take them to the next step; be it with recording, writing, production and distribution, but, foremost, to get them heard.
IM: The area that I find so interesting is that you could even work with more established acts. Who would you like to work with?
Sundby: Let’s say I have a chance to work with a more established act; let’s say Santana.There is something to say about collaboration. When more than one mind is on a project, there are virtually endless possibilities of sounds and styles. Look at his latest album, Guitar Heaven. Clive Davis had yet another brilliant idea. They took some of the greatest artists of our day and covered great songs. They put the Santana touch on every song while still allowing the guest musicians to interpret the tunes. Chris Cornell, Pat Monahan, Gavin Rossdale, Rob Thomas, Nas, Joe Cocker and Johnny Lang all rocked the album. It would be great to work with those guys. I enjoy Dave Matthews and Bob Dylan’s songwriting.
IM: Your PR-man told us about 14-year old Ravyn Clark … tell us about her.
Sundby: Unlike many performers her age, I am confident that she is ready for a professional career. Currently, we are working on three singles and a full album to be completed in December that should be released sometime next year. She is very bright, talented and a joy to work with in the studio. At the age of 14, she gets it; I’m excited for this project.
IM: Tell us how your feelings about the state-of-the-music business these days.
Sundby: I don’t understand why people are saying that the music industry is in shambles. It’s a very exciting time for the music industry. I understand that new technology the business models have changed, but I feel that it raises the bar for quality live performances. The internet leveled the playing field. Write a great tune and it can reach millions of people in a day. Look at what Radiohead did. They allowed listeners to download their music for free and asked for whatever people wanted to pay. I think this was brilliant. I have realized from working in radio that, to quote Reel Big Fish, “Radio plays what they want you to hear.” You can almost predict which bands are heading to town by hearing an increase of spins on a local station. Look to Sirius and eventually internet radio. I believe that wireless internet will eventually be in everyone’s car. You will be able to go to YouTube and play your favorite song for free. Stream music in a car, and CD’s, IPods and radio becomes obsolete.
That is a big part of Julian Sundby Music. We are working on a platform for online radio. I know there are a ton of internet radio stations, but the artists Julian Sundby Music is developing will put our programming in demand. We’re looking at the trends and assembling a network that will compete against the majors.
The reality is that there are more opportunities than ever before in the record industry; you’ve just go to take advantage of what’s out there.
IM: So, we’ll hear you on the charts come 2011?
Sundby: You can count on it!
Check out Julian on the Web.