1. Interview: Chad Hillard, founder of the new record label and management, Dreams Never Die Music Group. Hillard started the music discovery site Hillydilly.com where he was one of the first to find and promote Billie Eilish, among many other emerging artists. This original Q&A is for both artists and executives looking to hear first-hand experiences from this space of the music industry.
What has been the hardest thing for your new label to go from zero to putting out its first record?
The hardest thing has been getting the press, DSPs, tastemakers, radio DJs, etc on board. It's a heavy lift to break brand-new acts and it requires personal reach-outs to really sell the ethos of the label, and properly present all the acts you're trying to break.
My advice for anyone pitching an act is to have your entire release and marketing plan laid out and delivered in advance.
With thousands of artists releasing new music daily, you want to present a nice package to everyone showing you're for real and you're not just dropping a single here, a single there. Most of the time there's no plan and it's tough to get people to care if you don't take what you're doing seriously.
What are you looking for in artists you sign now?
I'm looking for ones that have great songs, uniqueness, an understanding of their aesthetic, and are self-contained — which means they can produce, write, record, and create social media content themselves.
What is the biggest marketing challenge you’ve run into so far?
For any new act, it's just about identifying who your fans are, figuring out who you are as the artist, and where your unique voice fits in the world.
The challenge is figuring it out and being patient. You can market something all you want, but if it doesn't resonate with people, it's not going to work. You will increase your chances of success by making music that is true to you. The public is smart and they'll figure it out.
What social platforms are you bullish on now and where are you seeing the most return come from?
From a paid perspective, I prefer to run my ads solely on Instagram and not Facebook. Targeting ads in the emerging music markets like Southeast Asia has seen a great return.
I have yet to try ads on TikTok, but that is where I will also focus my additional marketing efforts in the coming months.
What music industry trends are sticking out to you right now? What should people be paying attention to?
Everyone is thirsty for something different and weird right now. I always tell my acts, the weirder the better.
I think a lot of people are tired of the same recycled formula of artists that don't take enough risks and are not creative enough. Everything in the alternative space is definitely a great example of that.
Pay attention to the playlists "Lorem" and "Pollen" on Spotify. Those are breeding grounds for the stars of tomorrow.