Face To Face with Emma Peters, recording artist, and Antoine Benacin, manager of the Local label
In this new episode of the Face To Face series, we meet the French musician Emma Peters, signed on Local, a label managed by Antoine Benacin.
At only 25 years old, Emma Peters is one of the new rising figures of the French music scene. She became known thanks to her guitar covers of hip-hop and pop hits that she posted every Sunday on her YouTube channel. Attracted by her talent and her warm voice, several DJs created remixes of her covers that accumulated millions of streams and views on YouTube, bringing the young artist to the front of the stage. Emma is now performing at the biggest summer music festivals and she recently released her first album "DIMANCHE" on Local.
Having previously worked for Spotify and Sony Music, Antoine Benacin now manages the development of Emma's career and of other young artists for the Local label, which is part of the Tôt ou Tard label family. For several years, Tôt ou Tard has trusted Believe for its distribution, and this is also the case for Local.
Speaking with Clémence Azoulay, Label & Artist Solutions Senior Leader at Believe, Emma Peters, accompanied by Antoine, explains how TuneCore helped her get noticed and how the local label is growing her career by leveraging Believe's promotional and data analysis tools.
Clémence Azoulay: Thank you both for being here. I know you because we work together, but I think that the people reading us might not know you yet, or at least not both of you. Emma, can you first introduce yourself?
Emma Peters: Yes, of course. So my name is Emma Peters, I'm 25 years old, I'm a guitarist, and I write songs.
Antoine Benacin: My name is Antoine Benacin, I'm in charge of the label Local and I've been working with Emma for a year and a half, almost two years, on the launch of her first album and the beginning of her career. We are a young production label and we represent emerging talents.
C.A: And the Local label partners with Tôt ou Tard, which is a label distributed by Believe. So we've been working together for several years now.
A.B: That's right, it's the same group. At VF Musique, which is the group, the parent company, there are three structures: Tôt ou Tard, Local and Zouave, which is a tour company.
C.A: I'm going to start by asking you a few questions, Emma. We knew you from YouTube with your covers, Then, there was in particular one remix of one of your covers, released via TuneCore, which did very well...
C.A: TuneCore which is also a solution proposed by Believe, so we've been working together for a while. And you released in March this year your first album "DIMANCHE", on the Local label and through Believe. Can you explain us how it started for you? What made you launch into music?
E.P: I grew up in a family in which there is a lot of music, we sing all the time, we listen to music all the time. My mother played the piano, my grandfather sang a little, he's a big fan of Jacques Brel. It was never professional, but I've always been exposed to music.
My parents paid for guitar lessons when I was seven years old. I had a teacher who came to my house every Wednesday, and little by little, I first started with classical guitar. Then this teacher found out that I was singing, I don't really remember how, and he said “let's take a break from classical guitar and I'll teach her chords”. So, for a year, I learned to accompany myself, and then every week I would cover a different song to sing in class. I progressed like that.
After a while, my family, my friends, started telling me "It would be cool if you filmed yourself and posted it on social media".
At first, I was afraid, because you have to deal with your image; and when you're a teenager, it's not easy. You have to dare to film yourself and post it. And finally, when I was around 17-18 years old, when I started to emancipate myself from that mindset, I decided to put my iPhone on shoeboxes and make videos. I set up a meeting every Sunday night on YouTube and on Instagram, where I would do a cover song, mostly French rap, because I love rap.
The more videos I made, the more people followed me and the more supported I felt. And then it started to grow, the views were piling up on YouTube and I was getting remixed by DJs all over the world. That’s when I realized that something exciting was happening. I started to think something pretty cool was going on. And I had this brilliant idea to combine all these remixes done on social networks to create a small album of ten tracks.
So, I wondered how to make music available on platforms, and after searching the internet, I came across TuneCore. I paid a little over 40 € to have these ten remixes available on Apple Music, on Spotify, on Deezer, on Amazon, on all platforms for a year. As soon as it was available, the word of mouth was crazy. And today there are, I don't know, over 50 million streams on the album.
C.A: You started to release your music through Tunecore, your remixes were released on this solution, which is in fact a technical distribution solution...
E.P: And that is a pretty amazing solution, actually
C.A: So, what was your experience with it? What did it bring you at this point in your career development?
E.P: You have to understand that I'm really bad with all that technology stuff. Actually, my project was released without me knowing, people told me, because I made a mistake in the date
You see, I'm really bad at all this! But with Tunecore, I still found it really easy and really fun. I remember that we had real contacts: there was a person whose email address I had, I could ask him anything. We even called each other. I had the impression that there was a very solid and professional support to release this music. Because indeed, once you are told that it is going to be released, it is really released.
We even called each other and everything. I had the impression while there was a kind of base, a very solid and professional support to release my music. Because indeed, once you're told that it's going to be released, it's really released, and it's true that when you've never released music, you wonder how you're going to do it.
And it's true that when you've never released music, you wonder how you can get music on streaming platforms. And when you see that there is an existing platform that will do it for you, and that really does it, then you say to yourself "Oh yeah, my sounds are available! There's something concrete that is really cool as an independent artist and that you don't necessarily realize. There is this very solid base but at the same time, you remain completely free.
C.A: Yes, you keep the freedom to release whatever you want; whenever you want to, however you want
E.P: Yes, you can choose your picture, every Friday you see the money you earned for the week, you have very cool graphs, with all the streams and listening figures... I also linked my YouTube channel with TuneCore to be able to monetize it. It was very easy for people like me who are pretty clueless.
C.A: Antoine, in your daily activities for Emma and all the artists you are promoting at Local, do you feel that you are supported by the audience development tools provided by Believe? Like Backstage Links for instance. Are these tools that you use and that help you with audience development?
A.B: Everything we do to promote an artist or develop an artist, or even to develop the label, is digital nowadays. We look for artists on the Internet, we look at what's happening on a thousand different social platforms, because there are people like Emma who are out there, who are making music from home and you can see all this talent all over the world, whether they’re accessible and geographically close or on the other side of the world. You can see everybody, you can have access to everybody.
We have promotional tools that are great because we have direct access to audiences. It's no longer an abstract thing where you don't really know who bought that title. No, now we know exactly. No, now we know exactly. We know how old the listeners are, we know when they listened. We can even see crazy stuff like how many people are listening to Emma in real time. We can follow the listening evolution over a day after a track release. The number of tools we have is unlimited.
And yes, tools like Backstage Links are great. These tools already exist on the market, there are similar things, but to have it on our own, proposed by the partner we work with, to be able to give feedback on the tool, to be able to optimize it and to be able to make it evolve, all that is really cool. And at Believe, you are well equipped, so it's really nice for us to have a partner like that too.
C.A: Now Emma, for Believe, you're really an example of an artist who manages to develop quickly, who manages to get visibility very quickly. And thanks to the work of Local and the Believe teams with the platforms, you are the first artist to have obtained all the new talent partnerships.
E.P: That's cool!
C.A: It's pretty amazing and congrats on that, because if it's the result of a joint effort, it's primarily coming from you. So you've been chosen in the "Artist on the rise" program on YouTube, "Deezer Next" on Deezer, "Up Next" from Apple and "Radar" from Spotify, with even a billboard in Los Angeles. Which is not too bad for a young French artist!
E.P: And one in Times Square too.
C.A: Right, in Times Square too with Spotify
E.P: An in the Paris train station Gare du Nord!
C.A: Yes, at Gare du Nord with Amazon. Well, we can say that there was really everything.
E.P: But you know what, I think my favorite par was Gare du Nord. Because Times Square, it's very stylish, but you only get a picture of it. It's great, but it’s not as tangible. But Gare du Nord is my train station. It’s where I spent my life to travel home to my parents. All my family went there, all my friends... so the Gare du Nord for two weeks, it was nice. All my family went there, all my friends... so the Gare du Nord for two weeks, it was nice. It's in my train station, it's really amazing.
C.A: So how does it feel to be on the front page of all the platforms overnight? And in real life, with all these posters being put up
E.P: Well, I'm not sure... it's a little hard for me to realize. You know, I'm very laid back and I have a hard time complimenting myself or congratulating myself. So, I feel like it never happened and I always have to chase something new. And I'm thinking if I start pausing to pay too much attention, it's going to bring me bad luck. So, I move on, but I still find it nice. There are a lot of people around me who help me realize this. My family, they are extremely proud, my friends too. So yes, I do realize and I'm very happy.
On top of that, it's not just a poster in the street, it's a real support. I mean, these are platforms that see 80,000 artists a week and they decide to focus on me for this or that reason. All four of them have different reasons, all four of them, but they're real showcase programs...
C.A: And long-term support programs, yes.
E.P: So it's a real ‘Yhank you’ that I tell them, more than a "Awesome, I'm in Times Square!". The team is growing, and I'm being endorsed by Spotify, by Apple Music, it’s crazy for a debut
C.A: Question for you, Antoine. We have a tool called Backstage that allows you to have access to a platform on which you have data, your financial reports, etc. at your disposal. Do you have the feeling that today these tools help you make the right decisions in the development of your projects?
A.B: They are essential, totally essential. Everything we do daily, we check it with the data we have. That's what's great: we can see how a track is doing, if it is being listened to, if it is being listened to more today than yesterday, how and by whom it's being listened. Today, when you work in the music world and you try to promote an artist, this data is just essential.
And we are lucky that many platforms offer data, whether it is streaming platforms or social media. We still have access to quantitative data, sometimes qualitative. But we can never necessarily exploit it, which is a bit frustrating. Knowing that DSPs and social networks know exactly who our listeners are but that we can't go and find them ourselves and send them what we want, it's a bit frustrating. But having access to the data is already a first step and with Believe, we are well on this subject. We have the tools we need to observe and monitor everything that happens. We don't want to be obsessed with it either, because otherwise we'd go crazy. But we have the material to analyze things and not limit ourselves to suppositions.
I also kind of under the impression that you must focus on one tool. It is a thought I have right now, and maybe I will contradict myself later, but I feel like it is a strength. For example, when Emma started, she was super focused on YouTube, she took the tool and really explored it and made it her own, and it gave her power. You get stronger when you focus on a tool, when you learn to master it well.
Then, if you're a pop superstar, you can have the teams to be both focused on YouTube, doing content with influencers, and super produced stuff on TV. You can do everything at once. That's what we're trying to do as Emma's profile grows. I think people get attached to that, but it's nice to focus on one thing, the two or three channels that we're naturally strong on and do that consistently, continuously, and long term. We keep coming up with content for people on YouTube.. They've been coming for three years and all of a sudden it stops? That's disappointing, so no, let's keep doing that. Instead, we're trying to follow what's already been mapped out. Emma's debut gave us a little bit of a plan to follow.
C.A: I don't know who is going to answer this question, Emma, Antoine or maybe both of you, but Believe has been a privileged partner of Spotify for several years now, and as such, we have set up a program called Discovery Mode which allows us to push tracks on Spotify radio in exchange for a reduction in the remuneration on these radio streams, and on which we have seen ....
E.P: You're using terms that are too complicated, it's going to be for Antoine [laughs]
C.A: I was saying that maybe it was for you because you must have seen beneficial results from the program on your tracks on Spotify.
A.B: It's true that this is a new tool we are exploring with Believe and Spotify, which we have been able to experiment with a little and on which we see positive effects for the moment.
When we took part in Discovery Mode, we did see an increase in activity on the streams of certain tracks. It's useful to have some control over the algorithms, even if we know that we shouldn't play with them too much because they are built so that people who are supposed to discover tracks are well targeted. But it's nice to be able to push them a bit, to give them a bit of power when we need it. To activate a dynamic on a track, it's great.
C.A: So, Emma, you released your album in March this year
E.P: Yes, on March 25th!
C.A: Can you tell us about your upcoming projects in the next few months, now that the album is out?
E.P: At the moment, I'm in the middle of a festival tour for the whole summer, until the end of August. And then, starting in September, I'll be back in the cities where I've already played since February, all the big cities - Bordeaux, Lille - but this time in slightly larger venues. I'm so happy because I can see the evolution. I'm going to come back to the same places, but twice or three times the size, so it's going to be amazing. I can't wait to see people again. And there are a lot of festivals coming up: Solidays, the FrancoFolies..
I also have a brand new song called "C'est bon" which was released on June 15th with a video, and we have a lot of fun singing this song at festivals. And that's about it!
C.A: Thank you both for your time,
E.P, A.B: Thank you, our pleasure!