When up-and-coming artists vie for the attention of A&Rs, producers and managers, it often means being ignored and discouraged, while music industry professionals end up flooded with DMs and emails that are nearly impossible to organize and sift through.
Enter: Xposure Music, a Montreal-based start-up whose goal is to unlock a “new front door” to the music industry by providing a platform that benefits both musicians and those hoping to discover them.
“We see our mission as not only streamlining access, but enabling serendipity,” Gregory Walfish, co-founder of Xposure, tells Variety. “We wanted to compress what might take months of outreach or thousands of dollars to get to the right place at the right time, into an engaging interaction for artists and pros. We want to help people find that breakout moment.”
Walfish and Ryan Garber, both 22 years old, founded Xposure with a “dream to give all artists in the industry an opportunity to get their music in the hands of any high level executive they can imagine.”
How does it work? Artists can join the platform and submit their music to an array of industry insiders, who determine their own prices for various services. Artists can pay for written or video feedback, as well as a live call with an executive. Or, they can submit their music for free without a guaranteed response. This system helps artists prioritize their time and money in regards to outreach and self-promotion, and it helps execs organize music submissions with specific filters relating to genre, engagement, streams, whether the track is a song or beat, and whether it’s released or unreleased.
Among the players on Xposure are Polo Molina, founder of Grassroots Music and manager of the Black Eyed Peas; Nick Jarjour, global head of song management at Hipgnosis; Kate Loesch, director of A&R at Capitol Records; and Steve Aoki’s team. Xposure doesn’t take a cut of any future artist revenue — just 25% of transactions made on the platform.
“I want to find the next superstar, listen to more artists, and help kickstart artist journeys,” says Molina. “Xposure has the tools to do just that. Without Xposure, streamlining the listening and discovery of new artists’ music has been a difficult process. We receive thousands of DMs and emails. With Xposure, it’s easy and enjoyable for my team and me to filter through and listen to these talented artists.”
Alternative rap and rock artist Fayz adds: “This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to have a more experienced ear give me a different perspective. I want an unbiased opinion to tell me if the song is worth it. The idea that I can send my music to executives and other professionals and hear honest feedback, it’s changed the way I create and make music.”
Fayz received feedback from Loesch, Spencer LeBoff (director of A&R at BMG) and Jake Broido (A&R at Atlantic Records), among others. Walfish cites Fayz as an example of Xposure’s aim to “expedite artist journeys and bridge pro-to-artist relationships.”
Adds Garber: “It’s so rewarding to witness the positive interactions happening on the platform already. We’re truly building the future of music industry access, and there’s nothing more exciting than seeing these connections take place in our Xposure ecosystem.”
While it isn’t the first platform to connect artists with music execs, Xposure differentiates itself by focusing on the individual experience.
“Other platforms limit you to a certain number of characters and do little to prevent reviewers from posting unhelpful or even hurtful comments,” Walfish explains. “Others have a low price point, but feedback that’s delivered at scale, which is also not helpful. We wanted to make sure artists got specific, detailed responses that could help them improve their craft and move their careers forward. For example, a UMG A&R exec gave one of our artist beta testers a five-minute video full of advice.”
If the varied price points make gaining professional guidance seem transactional, at least artists on the platform can guarantee they will get what they pay for.
“We need more front doors for artists, where everyone goes in with eyes open and knows what’s up. Introducing the monetary side provides the interaction with just enough structure so that it’s focused on the task, but not overreaching or exploitative,” says Matt McLernon, a senior manager on YouTube’s artist relations team and advisor to Xposure.
In a time when online virality can propel an artist to stardom, Xposure also aims to level the playing field and provide the same — ahem — exposure to creatives across the board.
“Xposure provides artists with a chance to get the same access as a viral TikTok success,” notes Jarjour. “It’s all about challenging the idea of algorithms determining whether an artist is heard by top music execs and leaders in the space. You’re skipping the line to the desk.”
He continues: “The next Adele or Michael Jackson might not be good at social media. They may be talented in other ways. They deserve to be heard.”