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“This is the ultimate A&R gig, and hands down the most fun I’ve ever had in 25+ years in the music business. And yes, I’m including that after party in Providence for Motley Crue.”
——Steve Schnur
WHEELS 2.0 PUTS ITS GAME FACE ON
Who Knew EA Head of Music Steve Schnur Was Such a Funny Dude?

This week Wheels takes an in-depth look at music licensing in the gaming world with EA’s Steve Schnur, whose interview follows entries on some killer new talent. Keep feeding the inbox: [email protected].

SPOTLIGHT
Liz Longley
(www.myspace.com/lizlongley) is a Philadelphia native who has emerged as one of the most promising young singer/songwriters on the scene today. Currently enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, and graduating in early April, Liz has already amassed a long list of accolades, accomplishments and rave reviews. Even seven-time Grammy winner John Mayer is a fan. Recently awarded Berklee's top songwriting honor, The Scott Benson Scholarship, Liz continues to impress everywhere she goes. While attending school, she’s playing 100-150 shows a year, many of which she's headlining. Liz's music is authentic in such a way that you sense her vulnerability and can't help but instantly engage with her emotions. With beautiful sweeping melodies and lyrical imagery that is both haunting and picturesque, her songs swell with the kind of honesty not often found in today's music. Liz is currently talking with labels through her management. For more information, contact Bill Hall ([email protected]) or Greg Ruoff ([email protected]).

ARTIST UPDATE
Tiffany Giardina:
We told you this girl was the goods, and she proved it again at this year’s Pop-Con, taking the main stage early for a five-song set. With a strong presence and impressive style, Tiffany commanded the stage with her band. Critics claimed Tiffany as the strongest female vocalist to play at the Pop-Con. At just 16, she stood out against standard pop stylings and seemed natural, vocally and artistically. The singer/songwriter won over her peers with a compilation of original songs. Said her attorney, Thomas Valentino Esq., "I see in Tiffany the same it factor as I did when first encountering Kid Rock."

 

BAND SIGNING
Abused Romance (www.myspace.com/abusedromance): This Hollywood-based alternative band  has signed a distribution deal with Bungalo/Universal; debut album coming soon, mixed by Randy Staub (Metallica, U2); legal rep, Ben McLane, Esq. ([email protected]); mgmt., Kent Jacobs ([email protected]).

EMAIL Q&A WITH EA’S STEVE SCHNUR
For those who are unaware, can you explain exactly what you guys do at EA?
I am President of Music for Electronic Arts. My role is to pursue, create and continuously develop the global music vision of EA Games. Like me, the team—including Cybele Pettus (Senior Music Supervisor) and Raphi Lima (Music Supervisor) —all come from previous careers in label A&R, music supervision and music marketing. We have individual project managers for each title, all of whom have unique relationships with artists, record labels, publishers and sports leagues as well as our game developers, marketing divisions and international offices. At EA, every soundtrack every day starts with a blank page and some of the best ears in the industry. Also, I spend the occasional late morning second-guessing how I could’ve taken the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe record to double platinum back in ’92, while the rest of the team rolls their eyes and argues about where to go for lunch.

On average, how many bands would you say you guys listen to in a given week?
We listen to literally hundreds upon hundreds of bands and songs every week. We spend hours in the studio with Hollywood’s top composers. We listen to music relentlessly. The only rule I have for my team is that we not follow radio or sales charts. Instead, we talk to everybody who works at every major label in the U.S., London, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Spain, Brazil, Japan and everywhere in between. We keep an eye and ear on every independent label. We meet with plenty of publishers. We see a lot of bands and listen to thousands of demos and advance tracks. Most of all, we pay attention to what’s happening as much as we do to what’s not happening in music on a global scale. If a song is currently on the radio or on top of the charts, it’s already past its peak for us. Everything we do particularly all games with a year in the title—must move music forward for the entire year to come. This is the ultimate A&R gig, and hands down the most fun I’ve ever had in 25+ years in the music business. And yes, I’m including that after party in Providence for Motley Crue.

Do you guys ever find stuff that hasn't been submitted that you fall in love with and try to place it?
That’s one of our favorite parts of this gig. You can’t wait for the music to come to you; You have to go out and find new music for yourself, then be willing to take risks with music you love. We first heard Wolfmother on some random comp back in 2005—long before they were signed to Interscope—and immediately put them in Rugby ’06. We came across The Temper Trap in a similar way back in 2007 and placed them in the Rugby ’08 soundtrack. A great current example is K’naan. We fell in love with his stuff in 2005, years before he was on anyone’s radar, and put him in the FIFA ’06 soundtrack. This year, he has an official 2010 FIFA World Cup anthem. These are the kinds of far-reaching judgment calls that have made us global heroes to devoted music fans and football hooligans alike. I ask you, could Simon Cowell ever claim that?

Despite what some labels think, bands who have their music featured in one of your games tend to see reaction, and sometimes instantaneouslylike MeTalkPretty with NHL '10.
We’ve made this kind of instantaneous reaction happen time and time again, for bands like Jet, Franz Ferdinand, Fall Out Boy, Arctic Monkeys, The Hives, Kings of Leon, MGMT, My Chemical Romance and more. It’s the ultimate validation of why we do what we do: When kids hear MeTalkPretty on the radio, we want them to immediately say, “That’s the band from NHL ’10.” In fact, three of the artists on MTV’s current ‘Top 10 to Watch’ list B.o.B, Hot Chelle Rae and Neon Trees—have already been featured in an EA game.

You’ve got to consider that less than 10 years ago, videogames were barely on the industry’s radar as a medium for breaking new bands. But what used to be a basic licensing relationship is now an ongoing series of groundbreaking co-marketing partnerships. Today, labels are launching artists’ entire careers around their inclusion in a top-selling title like Madden NFL, The Sims or Need for Speed. Radio is adding songs based on a band’s inclusion in these games and the familiarity a song tests as having once it’s in an EA game. Video channels are creating their playlists based on videogame soundtracks. Every sports league is using our music selections to guide their future marketing. We are now what Top 40 Radio and MTV used to be: the place where the cool kids come to discover great new music. Youth culture will always re-write the rules of the music business, and videogames have re-written youth culture.

How do bands go about submitting to you guys?
For legal reasons, we cannot accept unsolicited demos. But know that if the music is out there, we will find it. A great A&R department has eyes and ears on the backs of their heads. And some potentially embarrassing Lenny Beer stories in their back pockets.

Do you guys only choose bands who are signed, or do you feature unsigned bands?
Getting behind unsigned artists is key to what we do. We featured Kasabian in FIFA 2004 which was programmed in ‘03 long before they had a record deal. Damian Marley’s “Jamrock” was cleared for inclusion in FIFA ‘06 before he was signed. One of our proudest successes is Avenged Sevenfold. They were a local band signed to a tiny label, Hopeless Records. Their manager, Larry Jacobson, came to see us with the band in 2001 and we talked. After hearing the music, we looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s just put an unsigned band in Madden and see what happens.’ They came out in Madden 2003, and then we put them in seven games that year alone.

Today when we hear a great unsigned band, we sign them to our publishing company, Artwerk. That’s why our roster includes Matt & Kim, Junkie XL, Airbourne, Datarock, Ladytron, Chromeo and Hadouken, all amazing artists we’re promoting and growing for international opportunities that go far beyond gaming.

Boxers or Briefs, Steve? Thongs or granny panties?
We live in the moment, love on the run and rock for the people. Who’s got time for underwear?

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How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES
Not the same as the old bosses (11/11a)
CMA CENTERPIECE
CARRIE UNDERWOOD
This sure feels like her moment. (11/11a)
A TASTE OF RAINMAKERS II:
SARAH TRAHERN
It's a marathon, not a sprint. (11/11a)
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH KANYE
And lo, there was much earned media.
MOE, MARSHMELLO AND MONEY
The story of a "faceless" brand that got very, very big.
THE NEW WORLD OF A&R
The trap they all fell into.
GRAMMY NOMS
Who deserves consideration in the genre categories?
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