The ultimate throwdown of undiscovered producers
BY MARSHA VDOVIN
HOW MANY ways do young musicians/DJs/ producers get discovered? Musician/producer Courtney “Coko” Korinne wanted to do something to help emerging producers and songwriters get into the spotlight, so she created the Soundtrack Beat Battle series in Nashville. Similar to a rapper’s freestyle faceoff , 14 select producers from all over the world make CDs filled with their own music tracks and play some of their best material in front of a live audience, and three judges. The judges usually include a celebrity artist, a label rep, and an established producer—past judges have included Bryan Michael Cox, Nitti Beats, and representatives from Atlantic, Universal, and J Records.
Watching people onstage playing CDs may not sound that engaging, but Korinne explains, “A lot of people think, ‘Okay, a producers’ beat battle, that doesn’t sound fun. It just sounds like somebody just presses Play and stands there.’ But if you watch some of the videos we have up on our site or YouTube, you see that they actually ‘perform’ their beats, so if a guitar part is coming in, they’re jumping around playing air guitar, or if something thunderous comes in, they pound their fists, and make wild facial expressions. They really can get the crowd into it.”
Now in its second year, The Soundtrack Beat Battle takes place bimonthly at the Limelight Entertainment Complex in Nashville, with a Grand Prize winner selected at year end. These winners score a variety of cash and product prizes, but most importantly, they get the chance to produce an album and video for that year’s celebrity rap artist, to be sold on iTunes and distributed to DJs across the country.
Korinne emphasizes that the goal is to get the producers to another level within their career. “Some beat battles are just for entertainment: They just have them, you get on the stage and perform, that’s it, then you’re on about your business. We don’t want to just host a beat battle and send the winner home with a prize. These producers need placement opportunities that will spring forth their career. They need to network and receive as much exposure as they can—that’s our main focus.”
The Soundtrack Beat Battle was inspired by Korinne’s own experience working as a producer and musician. Originally a drummer, she was soon making beats for urban, hip-hop, and R&B artists, but she found that she wanted to get out from behind the scenes but didn’t want to leave her home in Nashville. Inspired by similar beat battles in NYC and LA, she decided to start her own showcase in town.
Hip-hop in Nashville? Not necessarily what you might expect from the country music capital. But these days, Nashville is a melting pot for all types of music from gospel, pop, rock, and soul to hip-hop and R&B. The Soundtrack Beat Battle attracts people from all cities over the East Coast and the outh, including Atlanta and New Orleans.
“I was tired of people telling me that there was no way for an urban artist to get discovered in Nashville,” commented Korinne. “Everyone suggested that I should move to a bigger city. But I knew that we had just as much talent here in Nashville as any other place. Someone just needed to bring the record labels here and let them witness for themselves. Since this beat battle has launched, the music industry reps have been blown away.”
Beat battle prizes are impressive: The grand prize winner wins $2,500 in products from Big Fish Audio and a pitch meeting with the vice president of urban A&R at Sony/ ATV Music Publishing, plus $1,000 in cash and a feature in Electronic Musician. Topping it off , the grand prize winner will produce a record and shoot a video with New York rapper Mims (“This is Why I’m Hot”); the song will be sold on iTunes and distributed to 50,000 DJs across the country via Digiwaxx. The next battle is July 20th; learn more at soundtrackbeatbattle.com/.
Courtney “Coko” Korinne