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Published on January 22nd, 2011 | by Hugh Hession

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Interview with Gary Alan, founder of TalentWatch.net

Staying true to our promise to bring you quality interviews from music industry insiders, Making it in Music features Gary Alan, founder of TalentWatch.net.

TalentWatch is the only destination on the web where aspiring artists from all over the world can showcase their talent AND tell their story in an engaging and entertaining video-driven format. TalentWatch fans judge artists on their talent, entertainment and likeability, using a well-designed rating system. Every music artist has an equal chance to rise to the top.

Hugh: Hello Gary. Welcome to Making It In Music’s interviews. It’s great to  have you with us. To start with, can you give our readers some insight on what gave you the inspiration for the concept of TalentWatch?

Gary: Hey Hugh, It’s great to be a part of what you are doing here with Making It In Music. To answer your question, a few years ago I had a vision that I just couldn’t get out of my head. I knew if I could create an engaging experience for music fans, I could provide music artists a tremendous opportunity to be discovered. After googling for days I realized I was on to something pretty significant. In fact one night I started to put my thoughts on paper. I must have started about 9pm and didn’t finish until the next morning at about 7am. I still have the original paperwork to look back on. It’s pretty cool.

Hugh: What do you think differentiates TalentWatch from more of the conventional social media sites like YouTube or Myspace?

Gary: Do you know how hard it is to sift through all that clutter to find legitimate talent on YouTube, Myspace, and the other sites?  This is one of the main reasons TalentWatch was created. TalentWatch effectively brings to the forefront artists who deserve additional recognition and exposure. There’s a few more wrinkles that really make our site stand out.

Besides music videos, every artist uploads a personal video where they tell their story. Where else can you get close and personal with a potential music star?  Imagine knowing “Jewel” in her barefoot, homeless, coffee house days, or knowing “The Doors” when they were just an L.A. house band.

Finally, TalentWatch gives fans the power to decide who deserves to be discovered. In fact, music fans drive our site.  They judge artists on their talent, entertainment and likability, using a well-designed rating system. Bottom line- every music artist has an equal chance to rise to the top. Every single one.

Hugh: Being such a hardcore advocate for music artists, the one question that comes to my mind is this: what can TalentWatch do for me?  Specifically, what are the benefits for being a part of TalentWatch?

Gary: The biggest challenge music artist’s face is getting good exposure. TalentWatch provides a major opportunity for talented music artists looking to be discovered. Since launching our site in early 2010, we are getting attention from record labels, industry professionals, radio stations, talent venues (including NBC’s The Voice) and music fans. We’re getting approached with many opportunities, which ultimately benefit artists on our site.

Hugh: That’s some impressive attention which could open up many opportunities for TalentWatch artists. Speaking of which, it’s my understanding that TalentWatch chooses what talent will be showcased; meaning that just because a music artists goes through the submission process, doesn’t mean they will automatically appear on your site.

Gary: By showcased I assume you mean what gets published on our site. This is another difference between our site and conventional social media sites like Myspace and YouTube. We screen all our artists, so the quality of our talent is impressive.  We want to make sure their videos are tasteful and appropriate. If every other word on a video is foul language or inappropriate, we’re going to reject the video.

From the music artist prospective, they need to jump through some hoops before they appear on our site, however, it’s all in their best interest. Our format enables them to create a stronger emotional connection with their future fans. We’re in this together.

Essentially they attract attention to TalentWatch with their amazing musical talent and engaging personalities and we’re providing the opportunity to put them on the map. It’s a great partnership. We also want to make sure music fans have an entertaining experience. If the audio or visual aspect is poor, we’ll ask the artist to redo their video.

Hugh: One aspect about TalentWatch that I see as being unique is requiring artists to submit a personal video.

Gary: Fans love the personal video!  This human element helps provide an emotional connection to the artist. Any time you can connect with your fans, you benefit big time. Music artists are starting to grasp the importance of the personal video. We even provide tips and ideas on creating a personal video with our own tutorial video. Keep in mind both the personal video and music video(s) will be rated by member fans. In other words, the personal video provides another way to increase an artist’s exposure!

Hugh: The biggest challenge music artists face today in regard to online promotion, is how to segregate themselves from the masses – to stick out of the pack. What advice do you have for aspiring musicians to make themselves more visible?

Gary: Online promotion is not easy. Many artists believe that having their own website will make a big difference. There’s nothing wrong with creating your own site. However, the key is to attract attention to your site. There’s no magic formula. It takes  a lot of hard work, usually more than an artist bargained for. In regards to online promotion, I believe we’re a gold mine for music artists.  TalentWatch helps each artist effectively market themselves. We provide artist’s their own personal page on TalentWatch. They have their videos, sample music, Twitter updates. They can even sell their music and list their performance schedule.

Hugh: Where do you see TalentWatch in the coming year?  How do you see the site’s influence on developing new talent?

Gary: We believe we’re going to lead the music industry in a very exciting direction. As more music artists figure out what we’re doing the talent pool will continue to grow.  In addition, more fans will get caught up in our vision…..where fans decide who deserves to be discovered. I’m so excited about this year!

Hugh: Thanks Gary. We’re just about to wrap it up. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers about TalentWatch?

Gary: Yes.  We’ve got some big plans down the road once TalentWatch becomes a household name. I’ve had plans for phase two ever since we launched our site almost a year ago. After we establish TalentWatch.net as the place where music artists launch their career, we’re going to add another dimension to our site. I have to keep it a secret for now, Hugh!

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About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch (www.talentwatch.net). He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.



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