In today’s age, we swipe right, scroll down and “like” images faster than we blink. It is in this environment that the music industry must find creative ways to engage its listeners without just focusing on audio.
“Even if you have a great song, you need to have all the elements around it,” said Juan Cristobal Losada, a Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter who visited campus on Tuesday. “The industry is changing every day with technology, and I had to learn everything on the fly in order to be able to evolve with the digital world.”
His appearance was hosted by IVY, a social community dedicated to lifelong learning. At an event at the newly renamed Watsco Center, Losada tried to answer the question that drives today’s music industry: what makes a hit song in this technologically advanced world?
Losada has been involved with the Latin music industry for almost 15 years. He grew up in Venezuela and moved to Miami to study advanced music recording and production at Full Sail University in Orlando.
He now owns his own music studio in Miami, has distribution and publishing deals with music-label giant Sony Music and works with artists like Shakira, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias.
“It’s hard to juggle all these different hats, but in this evolving and changing industry, if you don’t adapt you will die. It’s the survival of the fittest. In my case, I am a studio owner, but the studio is not the end, it’s not the goal. The studio is just a bridge to go to the other side. It’s a tool for me to produce, write and develop the song,” Losada said.
Losada explained that this is a new era for the music industry that is not necessarily about the talent of the artist, but about his or her online followers. Quality is no longer enough to make a song a hit single, unless the song comes with an established online and social-media presence.
“A major label will not sign with you unless they see you have YouTube subscribers, followers on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter,” Losada said.
Because of this emphasis on technology, Losada breaks up the success of a song into two divisions: a “music success” and a “commercial success.”
“A commercial success is a song you hear on the radio so often that you start to like it even if you didn’t at first. But a music success is a song that is so good it doesn’t have to be heard on the radio to love it. The song is successful because when people hear it, they love it and tell their friends. It is based on the word of mouth.” Losada said.
Losada also explained that with this new technology, the music industry and society as a whole has a new level and understanding of cultural integration, which makes being bilingual and culturally aware extremely important.
American pop music now includes reggae, merengue and salsa, which are all Latin rhythms that were not popular in mainstream music a few years ago. Because of this Latin integration, Losada has a leg up in the industry.
“You have big artists like Justin Bieber remixing his hit song ‘Sorry’ with popular Latin artist Nicky Jam, and Rihanna and Drake coming out with dancehall and reggaetón vibe songs. So, many producers are trying to decipher that rhythm, but for me it comes naturally,” Losada said. “I grew up around that music, it is in my system.”
While the music industry does stress digital media along with songwriting and producing, Losada said in order to succeed in musical engineering you should still “use your ears.” Technology allows us to get caught up in graphics, video and images, but it is vital for people in the business to trust their instincts. You must know how to balance using technology and your own knowledge.
And most of all, Losada said, you must love it.
“If you don’t love it, it’s not going to work. It takes a lot of sacrifice, long nights and failures. It’s an endless game of trying and changing, so loving what you do is very important,” Losada said.
To keep up with Losada, follow him on Instagram: @mrsonic_. For more information about IVY Entrepreneur Night and events, visit www.ivy.com/about.
Correction, 3:53 p.m., Nov. 14, 2016: The story originally read “His appearance was hosted by the IVY Club, a social community dedicated to lifelong learning,” and was changed to “His appearance was hosted by IVY, a social community dedicated to lifelong learning,” to correct the name of the organization. “For information about more IVY Club events, www.ivy.com/about,” was changed to “For more information about IVY Entrepreneur Night and events, visit www.ivy.com/about” to specify the name of the organization’s events.