The first industry spotlight interview of 2016 comes from Warpath Group’s Wilcox Weaver, who has been in the game for a number of years now. Since the early 2010’s, he’s backed some heavy hitters in the scene beyond pure electronic music. From hip hop inspired bass to mainroom house, the roster of acts he represents is both versatile and distinct, with each carving their own path in the dance music industry.
Where did your journey in music begin? What were some of the first groups or styles that attracted you to dance music?
In 2010, I started a small collective of DJs in Boulder CO, I’d help them get frat and bar gigs and eventually that led me into the concert production world in 2011, when I was throwing shows, weekly events, and eventually did a 6 week tour with now defunct act Robotic Pirate Monkey. Max Freeman from Circle and I actually booked, budgeted, and tour managed the entire thing. It was quite a spectacle.
In 2012, I opened my agency with a partner who is now out of the industry. We worked with about 35 acts and in 2014, I was absorbed into Warpath Group as an agent and from their, built my roster out to what it is today.
My first introduction to dance music was Armin Van Buuren’s A State of Trance podcast in high school. My first weekend at CU Boulder, I saw Pretty Lights at our WelcomeFest event and I’d say that really was the beginning of my left of center taste.
Who are some of the artists you represent? Would you say this is an accurate portrayal of your musical tastes?
Omar LinXK TheoryLex LugerKen LoiSevnthWonderKayjoMalcolm AnthonyAutumn In JuneBobby GreenSocial Kid
As you can see, it’s a pretty eclectic bunch, ranging from a don of Hip Hop (Lex Luger) to indie pop (Autumn In June) to large scale Electronic Hip Hop acts like Omar LinX and K Theory, or big name house acts like Ken Loi, soundcloud collective kid SevnthWonder, pop house act Bobby Green or the ever elusive Slow Acid House producer Social Kid.I’d say it proves that if I enjoy the music, I can get behind a project and build it up, and with that, see the variety. Clearly, my tastes range far and wide and have very little rhyme or reason. A lot of gut instinct goes into the whole A&R’ing for an agent.
Working within an agency and management company, one often learns the importance of both working with a team and working collaboratively with people outside your immediate business circle. Do you place an emphasis on collaborative cooperation in the music business? Why is it important to work well with others?
There’s definitely a time and place for collaborative work. In fact, it can alleviate a lot of general pressure when booking a run of dates or a package tour. The only thing I have to say is that generally one agent is stronger than the other, pretty much no matter which way you spin it, so one may feel a bit of a drag from the other, but that goes with any team work situation.I think having a good report across the board. No matter if you are an agent or manager, is important, always being able to pull favors and give back in return for those favors is key in growing your bottom line.
There is a lot of talk right now about Soundcloud and how the internet has responded to new copyright infringement policies? What is your take on this and how has it effected the musicians you represent? (both positively and negatively)
Well, this is a pretty ugly one, as most artists in 2015 have zero idea about the ACTUAL publishing and copyright laws. I was definitely in the dark until I did a few semesters of music business night classes at UCLA with major music supervisors, lawyers and A&R’s acting as professors. Those classes were an in depth look at the legal side of music and are probably the most misunderstood portions of the music biz.That being said, the majors are just trying to make sure that they continue to generate good profit margins. This is a business after all, no matter what way you spin it.
Where do you see electronic music heading in the United States?
Honestly, anyone who claims to know where this scene is going is full of it. There is very little direction in this scene, basically up to whoever wants to work the hardest and smartest to determine where we go next.Trap is staying steady a lot longer than I thought it would.If I had to say one thing that is certain, its that the mid level and more gimmicky artists will begin to get trimmed if their brands don’t far exceed their music. There are a finite amount of venues and dates in a year and as things go, the fat will be trimmed, bands and djs will fall off that aren’t up to snuff. It happens constantly in music. If you dont stay relevant, youre gone.
Working with Warpath, what does it take to be an agent in the modern dance music era?
Definitely have to have an angle on everyone. You aren’t going to want to go in and try and sell shows that go head to head with Lee Anderson or Matt Meyer’s dance acts, you aren’t going to want to compete with Tom Windish and Sam Hunt with their alt and indie guys, and you definitely don’t want to go heads up against Joel Z and his Deadmau5 and Kygo teams. You certainly don’t want to end up trying to fight Hunter Williams for a slot when he has the roster that he does. You have to find your niche and be the best at selling that in order to remain competitive and above water.
Where do you see vibrant dance music scenes popping up in cities around the US? Around the world? Anywhere in particular to keep an eye out for?
Boulder and Denver are epicenters of the bass scene, no question about that.Boise Idaho has been hot the last 18 months, thanks to a few promoters bringing in a massive amount of diverse acts.Toronto has been wild as of recent, Embrace has done a great job up thereAtlanta is wild these days, IRIS, Opera, and the guys at Tabernacle/Terminal West are always bringing in the big showsTexas is basically a breeding ground for good promoters, between C3, ScoreMore, AfterDark and Oh Bleep, its serious down there.
With 2016 right around the corner, what artists do you see blowing up this upcoming year?
Time will tell, but Omar LinX is having quite the quarter 4, after a solid release with Marshmello (is there anyone hotter in the dance realm right now?), a single on Buygore on Nov 24 with remixes from a slew of djs, and an EP in February with HUGE production credits (you can probably figure out who wrote alot of the beats), he’s going to pretty much have that scene on lock.
K Theory has had a massive year, released over 40 tracks, and they have their annual KRISTMAS advent calendar dropping Dec 1 (25 tracks, 1 track a day from Dec 1-25), Malcolm has been out and about releasing solo stuff, which only helps K Theory’s overall brand, and they are about to announce this tour we’ve been working on all fall.Bobby Green has a big single dropping in the near future, his work is about as close to perfect as it gets. He’s got pop sensibility like you wouldnt believe.Autumn in June is probably my most saught after up and comer in that he is currently fending off record labels, radio hosts, and interviewers alike so that he can focus on finishing his 2016 releases. He is someone you will want to keep an eye on, hes my current project, he just SLAMMED a venue in Boise, Idaho last weekend, totally blew the roof off the place. Hardest working solo musician I know. Straight Outta Compton.
What kind of advice would you give yourself when you had just started out in the industry?
Work hard, harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Everyone else is working just as hard, so out do them.