As a home to acts such as Kara Marni, RESPONS, and BEXEY, First Access Entertainment is groundbreaking when it comes to their ability to produce raw talent. Even being a home for supermodel Winnie Harlow, First Access’s reach along with their ability to empower their artists, makes them a perfect fit for The Orchard. Now, we set our sights on the team behind First Access Entertainment, and get to know how the company began, and how they’ve connected artists with fans throughout this quarantine period.
How did First Access Entertainment get its start? What advice would you give someone wanting to start in the music business?
First Access Entertainment was launched globally by Sarah Stennett in 2015 as a predominant independent youth culture platform for the future of music, diverse talent and brand development in the industry. Our ethos has always been to find and support creative, unique entrepreneurial artists to partner and build with. In the words of our CEO, the advice we would give to someone starting out in the music business now is “to be brave and embrace your individuality”. You have to believe in yourself, that is key.
You have such a diverse range of artists including Kara Marni, RESPONS and BEXEY. How have you been able to stand out with your music clients and make a stake in the music industry?
By finding incredibly talented, original, hard-working artists who have as much ambition, flair and dedication to their craft as we do. Our roster is highly diverse, and each artist has created their own path, but the common ground between them is their creative genius, work ethic and individuality. We create a nurturing environment and are patient; we give any artist we work with the time they need to develop, along with our unwavering support and belief.
Our entire roster has something very unique to offer, but to really cut through we believe the most crucial ingredient is being your most authentic self as an artist. There’s not as much smoke and mirrors to the business these days. Fans crave connection and want you to open up to them. Likewise, brands want you to bring your personality to the table and resonate with their audiences. Fostering these relationships is just as important as creating highly impactful visuals, so we invest just as much focus and resource into ensuring we’re consistently producing content that delivers this authenticity, beginning to end.
How do you decide which artists to work with?
It’s often led by the passion and belief for an artist from one or many of the team. We have to love the music first and foremost and then we consider everything else – the vision they have for themselves, the spirit and attitude, the community and culture around them, the potential they have to resonate across the world. We never think local, we are always looking for artists who have the potential to make a global impact.
This year has changed the way artists and fans interact. What are some ways your artists connected with fans during this quarantine period?
It really has, and it feels like there’s been a real awakening amongst artists in appreciating the need to build a genuine online connection with fans and understanding its potential to be the lifeblood of their careers during a pandemic. A brilliant example of someone who has not only adapted, but fully embraced this period is one of our priority developments, Kara Marni.
At the start of the first lockdown in March, Kara recognized without the opportunity of live and touring she wanted to create a platform to perform directly to fans and started her own Instagram Live weekly format called Shed Sessionz. Shed Sessionz takes place in the little home studio she built in her garden shed. It’s where she originally started making music for the first time and she properly opened up its doors to fans, calling on them to choose songs for her to cover and inviting and supporting other up-and-coming artists to join her in previewing their new music. Kara established a way to have a direct relationship with her fans that she hadn’t previously had. Shed Sessionz is now a regular series on both her IGTV and YouTube channels. The pay-off has been tremendous to her Instagram, growing by over 10K since lockdown and over 40K across all her platforms.
With offices in London, New York, and Los Angeles – how have the teams been working globally during the pandemic? How were the teams able to remain creative during this time?
The team has adapted incredibly well, and I think we communicate more now as a global business than we did prior to the pandemic! In terms of creativity, it has been a very fruitful and rewarding period for both our teams and talent. We have continued to make records and release music successfully, executing great campaigns and signing new talent across all aspects of the business. We have also extended existing brand partnerships, developed new business opportunities and updated internal processes which has improved our overall productivity as a global team.
What future releases are you the most excited about?
We’re excited about all of them! 2021 will bring new artist projects from seasoned producers Brian Lee and Smokeasac. We have a number of artists who we stay behind the scenes on so that they stand front and center who have fabulous work they have produced in the last few months. We will introduce developing artist Kiya Juliet, and release brand new projects by Kara Marni, Bexey, and RESPONS. Brian Lee’s ability to make a song come to life is incredible, so we’re thrilled to be a part of his project. Kiya Juliet has a pure, raw talent the world needs right now. And Smokeasac has some special projects and intros to share in 2021.
What advice would you give a new artist starting in the industry during the quarantine?
Do what you can to grow your digital footprint. Everyone is currently online, so stake your claim. Stay creative and authentic to who you are and engage with fans to build and foster those relationships. In this new world the only mistake is not to release content. Second guessing what is a “hit” in the traditional sense has become harder than ever, so we believe one of the biggest mistakes is overthinking. Stay true to your vision and stay connected with your audience.
How do your services help foster the artist’s creativity?
We have a team of global executives brainstorming and constantly pitching ideas between each other, spearheaded by Sarah’s leadership, input and vision. If an artist has an idea or comes to us with a plan, we champion that vision amongst partners and help turn it into a reality. We use our digital team to engage our audience, our fashion and branding team to expand our client’s visibility and revenue streams beyond just music or acting, and we use our marketing teams to build campaigns and relationships on behalf of our clients within the industry.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the music industry? Where do you see music going next?
Covid-19 has undeniably had an effect across all facets of the industry. Live performances have turned into live streams, recording sessions have turned into zoom sessions, marketing campaigns have predominantly turned into digital campaigns. The in-person experience has been replaced by the less tangible digital experience. While the world has had to adapt, we’ve noticed that the pandemic has allowed the industry to find more creative ways of tapping into what’s missing. The experiences we are able to offer fans have changed. FAE saw Lion Babe adapt by becoming one of the first artists to introduce a unique and successful “Around the World at Home” virtual tour, complete with online meet and greets and tailored merch offerings. While little can replace the energy and experience of an in-person live concert, we’ve seen new options emerge and think we’ll see even more of this in the year to come. The window many have gotten into the artists “home experience” has also been unprecedented and uniquely relatable. While next year will hopefully bring a vaccine and a careful ease of restrictions, we believe many of our new ways of operating will sit alongside the ways of the industry we knew before COVID.
Who are some newer artists you think people should check out?
Alongside those we’ve mentioned, keep following First Access Entertainment to be introduced to an arsenal of new talent we can’t wait to share with the world in 2021!