Wes Writer says it runs in the family. His family was traveling musicians, his aunt being a singer and his father a DJ. He wrote his first song when he was 9 years old and started taking music more seriously in high school. He did some local shows, and within a few outings, had people arriving already knowing the lyrics and singing along with him. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he thought.
Now, he’s been a full-time songwriter for 5 years. Being a father and husband, he’s in the unique position of finding opportunities to connect with artists from the comfort of his own home. He’s taken advantage of the opportunities that platforms like SoundBetter and Artlist provide by meeting other creatives and sharing his work on royalty-free websites.
Collaborating with other creatives
Wes initially tried out SoundBetter as a way to find musicians and artists to collaborate with. What he didn’t anticipate, though, was the range of possible artists he could find on the platform.
“True story, I was working on the track, and I needed a whistler. So, I went on SoundBetter and found a guy who could whistle professionally and got him on the track. So, that got my wheels turning, like, if I can go in here and I can find people to do all of these things, I could probably get on here too and do the same,” he says.
He eventually put himself on SoundBetter to find lucrative opportunities with other artists. He loved the chance to work with people from all over the globe, as the music industry is becoming ever more virtual and accessible for burgeoning artists. “You can provide your services, and there are people all around the world who can come and hire you, and you can literally run a whole studio session virtually; you never have to step foot in the same building with another producer or writer or whatever, so it’s really a game-changer for us,” he says with a smile on his face.
Not only was he able to make music from the comfort of his own home, but also the comfort of his own pajamas. The platform allowed him to be both transcontinental and tend to his affairs at home. But while he had the ability to connect to artists, he still needed exposure with the assistance of another platform. Luckily, his work was getting recognition from interested parties.
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An email from Artlist Original
One day, going through his normal routine of checking emails and following up with clients, Wes noticed a message from someone new. “I got this email from Artlist Original, and they were looking to kind of build out this ecosystem,” he says, describing the ecosystem for writers, producers and anyone working in music licensing. At first, Wes didn’t think much of it. He agreed to partner, unsure about his prospects. “I just had absolutely no idea what it was gonna turn into. In the beginning, when Artlist hit me up, they were just kind of looking for another American rapper to fill some holes in their catalog. I don’t even think Artlist imagined what was gonna come of what we created, so we both were just kind of like, ‘yeah cool, we’ll do some stuff.'”
From the other side of this fruitful partnership, Ori Winokur, Head of Artlist Music, recalls that they wanted a topline for an instrumental they had produced, and they looked through SoundBetter…
Interestingly, Wes did not promote himself as a singer/rapper on SoundBetter; he set out to be a behind-the-scenes guy, but Ori recognized his hidden talent. “I knew that he had the potential to become a brand,” he says, “Initially, he was hesitant, and I needed to convince him to come to the front. But, eventually, he agreed to give it a shot, and the rest is history.”
As it happens, Wes stumbled upon a hit with the track Caution, a dark Hop hop banger with heavily chopped beats. It has Azelia Banks grooves and some M.I.A. vibes with bold and confident lyrics. The track has an overall cinematic feel, a perfect fit for sites that license music to filmmakers. “We knew that it was a good song,” recalls Wes. “We knew that there were gonna be a lot of people who are going to connect with this. It was bigger than what we’ve already been doing, but I don’t think anybody could have imagined what would come next, you know?” recalls Wes. “We knew his style would match our users,” adds Ori. And boy, they were right.
Before long, Wes saw his Skrxlla Spotify stats go up from no monthly listeners to more than 70,000 per week! His music was licensed in a New Balance ad, in several Christmas commercials and frequently downloaded on multiple platforms. Not only did his music get greater exposure, but he also got more freelance work as a songwriter and producer. And all that happened without a large playlist push, a serious marketing campaign or the assistance of a label. What Wes saw firsthand was that although the music landscape has changed drastically, there is ample opportunity for artists who are starting their careers.
“I think the biggest thing to take away from looking at the success of Caution,” says Wes, “is realizing the power that indie artists have nowadays in this new music industry. You know, you don’t need some big record label. You don’t need some big fancy budget. All you need is the Internet, be a decent human being, connect with people, and just create and work. And who knows, man, your song could end up all over the globe like mine.”
“All any of us did was upload the song to the platform,” acknowledges Ori. “Once there, it started getting picked for ads, the Shazams started flowing, and the number of listeners got booming.”
Right now, Wes is reaping the rewards of his new artistic connections. Whether he’s rapping, producing or engineering, he’s able to follow his passion through collaborating with others virtually. So while plugging away at his next hit, he is also glad to have found a platform like Artlist that gives him both flexibility and visibility across platforms.
“Wes’ story shows that talented independent artists can reap the benefits financially and creatively, maximize their potential across digital platforms and gain a virtually unlimited number of new listeners,” concludes Ori. “We see that songs on Artlist get a big boost on Spotify. Wes actually built another brand from scratch!” he exclaims. On top of the 4 albums that Artlist and Wes Writer released under Skrxlla, they dropped 9 new trendy albums under the name WEARETHEGOOD with producer Quinten Coblentz and guided by the Artlist Original label. And they jumped from 106 monthly listeners to almost 140,000 monthly listeners as of today.
And thanks to this type of platform, Wes can balance being there for his family and pursuing bigger goals.
“I wanna be able to be at home with my family with my children and my friends and have fun just writing some of the best music of my life and keep my integrity. Keep my soul, not compromise my values, morals, and faith, and just do what I love with no pressure. Artlist allows me to do that.”