“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
By Trey Zhong
I met Ann at a rooftop music event hosted by her. My first impression of her was her energy. She was very energetic and welcoming. We were both very talkative people so we bonded in like 5 minutes. I asked her about the meaning of the name for Little Cabin Entertainment and introduced to her what N3XTCON is about, which led to this interview with her in the following week.
Little Cabin and N3XTCON are similar in that we are both focusing on using our resources to help young professionals with developing their careers, and providing support to the community.
The name Little Cabin really got me intrigued when I first heard it. It reminded me of “The Cabin” by Ylvis, very good song by the way. I have a feeling as to the meaning behind it, but hearing it from someone that actually spent 7 years building it and started a company with the concept behind it, it’s just very refreshing and inspiring.
Everybody needs a place to go where you can get out of the city and breathe some clean air. It’s a place to go if you want to feel peace in mind, if you want authenticity, if you want truth, freedom, friendship, safety and honesty. It’s a place where you can sit down and feel completely at peace, surrounded by nature, feeling relief and taken care of. That’s what "little cabin" is about and the concept that Little Cabin Entertainment is built upon. The music business has changed so much and the big labels are slowly losing their power because of the emerging new technologies which allow many creators to make music on their own. However, there are still so many gifted young artists floundering with no support, no financial investors, and no commitment from anybody. What Little Cabin does is not about money, but for the beauty of sharing and helping the young generations. “The way to do business is to be real. I will tell you what sucks, what’s great and what I can do for you. Let’s eat healthy meals, drink clean water and create some good music”. It’s about authenticity. Technology can simplify the process of a lot of things but when it comes to making good creations, you need the power of mind. That’s why in the cabin, there are only round tables, so everybody can feel empowered to speak and communicate freely and as equals. Making music is not like writing software where you can have one person in Chicago, the other person in NYC and the other one in LA then just compile all the work in a big file. Creativity is inspired by good chemistry between people in the team, when people in your group truly like each other, when people in your group are willing to share their life stories and just let that emotion resonate within each other’s heart. And that’s when the whole team can pedal in the same direction and make something great happen. It’s about the communion that all creators have to have.
It’s very interesting to hear what’s the general process of music production from the perspective of an experienced producer like Ann. I have always been curious about how some good artists, for example the Weeknd, don’t get famous until after releasing several albums even though they have some good songs in their early albums. If an artist doesn't have a structured game plan, a great team (or even a family and friend support structure), and a good marketing plan moving forward, it's hard to get ahead.
But it's about the music. It starts with the song. It's about the message of the lyrics. For example, the song “Love is just” by Scott Kirby, amazing song by the way, was originally picked out from 10 songs by Scott. Ann sent the playlist to the “ears”, got the feedback, picked one song that got the most positive feedback, took out the overproduced stuff, and only left the bass track and the drum track, and rebuilt it from the ground up. "Basically, break it down and make it relevant to the style that caters to your target audience and is sonically relevant to today's market." You always need a structured game plan, you need editorial, press, a radio campaign, and you also need to have a good music producer and visual content, and social media presence. With all these things in your game plan, you also need a budget.
I really like the wheel analogy that Ann brought up. Just like many other things in life, running a music business is like a wheel spinning. The creation (the music) is the hub of the wheel. You can take a few of the spokes out and the wheel will still go around. You don’t always need every single spoke for the wheel to spin. As long as that structure of support/work/process is balanced to keep from tipping over. You need to decide who belongs to which spoke, the placement is the key, that’s why you need to bring people together to see if the wheel will spin. If the spoke doesn’t fit, just let it go. Like mentioned before, you don’t need all the spokes to make the wheel spin, but you should always try not to sacrifice the movement of the wheel.
The Rockstar Mentality:
When you go to those high-end networking events, you will meet a lot of cool people, have drinks with them, socialize. You will feel like you are welcomed to the tribe and you are empowered. Don’t feel like you are not good enough. Business people always say, "Get to the next level, and the next next level....", but where is the next level? You are already there. You have to think of yourself as a superstar or you will never be one! You are already there, reaching for what?! When you are working, you put your soul, your heart and your gut in what you are creating. You are already a superstar. You should go in there like you own the room, you belong there. You talk to them like they are your contemporaries. Behave yourself in that manner and it will happen. Be the rockstar that you already are. That’s probably the best mindset you can have.
So make sure you have a game plan, what are you going to be in 5 years, how are you going to make it happen. Break it down to bits and pieces that are attainable, but go in there like you are a rockstar. Everybody has their own wheels, trying to keep them spinning. Be real, and surround yourself with real people. Don’t let anybody push you around. Don’t be afraid of voicing your opinions because it’s not just your opinion, it’s your intent. You want a group of people who focus their mutual attention on your intention. That’s what sparks creativity and brings success.