Star Spot with Dan Kimpel, a respected veteran of the music industry
An Insightful Conversation with Dan Kimpel on Leadership and Community Building
Welcome to this episode of Star Spot! I’m Merry, and in this series, I interview InterContinental Music Awards winners and insiders, bringing you exclusive insights into the music industry. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me a respected veteran of the music industry, Author, educator, and music journalist Dan Kimpel.
Meet Dan Kimpel, one of the most authoritative voices in the American music industry. As a judge for the InterContinental Music Awards, Dan has a wealth of experience and insights to share about the challenges and inspirations of music competition and contests. In this interview, he will reveal his secrets to success, including how to get noticed by the biggest players in the industry, such as Billboard and the Grammys.
Dan’s extensive career in music has included stints as a musician, staff songwriter, and creative director for the National Academy of Songwriters. His writing and interviews have been featured in numerous publications, podcasts, films, and television programs, making him one of the most sought-after experts in the field. In this conversation, Dan will discuss his journey and provide valuable advice for anyone looking to make their mark in the music world. So, let’s dive in and discover what it takes to succeed in music from one of the industry’s most respected insiders.
Let’s dive right into the interview summary and tap into Dan Kimpel’s vast knowledge and experience. The full interview is available on Instagram – click here to check it out.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your experience interviewing famous songwriters?
Hi, my name is Dan Kimpel and I’m an author, educator, and music journalist. I’ve written six books about the music business and interviewed virtually every major songwriter in the history of American music. From hit makers like Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak to legendary figures like Bill Withers, Holland Dozier Holland, and Leonard Cohen, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with some of the most influential figures in the industry.
How would you describe your work as a music journalist?
My work as a music journalist is incredibly diverse. On any given day, I might be interviewing a classically trained film composer in the morning, a country artist in the afternoon, and a metal singer with horns coming out of his head who sings in demon voices at night. What’s interesting to me is not the differences between these artists, but their similarities. Whether they’re writing classical music or heavy metal, all songwriters face the same challenges and draw from the same inspirations.
How has the music industry changed over the years?
A: The music industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. While it may be easier to get music released or to the public, it’s also more difficult to break through and get heard. In the past, the music business belonged to the elite, with executives making all the decisions. Now, with grassroots elements and democratized platforms, there are more opportunities for artists to get noticed. While it’s still a challenging industry to break into, the playing field is more level than ever before.
What advice or tips do you have for musicians and artists who want to make it big but are far away from major music cities like Los Angeles?
I believe that fortune favors the brave, and there comes a point in your life where you have to take those leaps of faith. However, you can test the waters in certain ways to figure out if it’s right for you. For example, you can visit Los Angeles or Nashville for music events to get a feel for the scene. But it’s important to have a reality check and figure out what you’re creating and how it fits into the larger parameters of the industry. Timing is also critical in the music industry. Some musicians take years to break through, but if you believe in what you’ve got, you have to go for it. Sacrifice and putting yourself on the line to create a career in music make a huge impression on people, and it could lead to opportunities.
Can you tell me about a student from the Musicians Institute that made you especially proud?
I have so many students who make me proud all the time. One that comes to mind is Hunter Scott, who started a company called Trend PR. He began the company in the breakfast room of a house that he was sharing with people on Franklin Avenue. And now he’s purchased an office building in Hollywood for the company. Another student, Mike Gowan, has a company called Milestone PR in Nashville. He is working with some of the biggest artists in the city.
These are just a couple of examples of the many people who have come up through Musicians Institute. We also have a non-profit arm called Musicians Foundation that produces events at the Grammy Museum. I’ve had the pleasure of serving as chairman of the board for that organization. One student that stands out to me is Phineas O’Connell, who I met when he was just 12 years old. He was already writing songs and playing in a band, and I would see him perform in my neighborhood. He now works with his sister, Billie Eilish, and I recently did a cover story on him for Music Connection magazine.
While I didn’t know he would become so successful when he was just starting out, I could see that he was incredibly devoted to music and had a great personality for networking and building a community around his music. That’s something that I teach at Musicians Institute – that great music is always about cooperation, community, and group effort.
How did you get started in the media industry?
Growing up in Lima, Ohio, I was a musical kid who formed a rock band and sang in church. This was my entry into the music industry, and I played the piano, guitar, and fronted bands. After working as a staff writer in Nashville, I moved to New York City, where I made a living as a musician and producer for five years. Later, I relocated to Los Angeles and secured a publishing deal. However, as a songwriter, I felt that I didn’t have control over my career.
This is common for songwriters, and I was forced to reinvent myself. I began volunteering for a non-profit songwriter organization. And when they needed someone to come work for them, they hired me. One day, while selling advertising space in their music publication, I went to a show and wrote a review for the magazine. An editor of books read my articles and asked if I would like to write a book about personal relationships in the music business. I said yes, and over time, I built a substructure of contacts that helped me grow my career.
My involvement in the media industry led to on-camera opportunities, voice-over work, and other things that all worked together to help me grow my career. I encourage everyone in the industry to examine their skill set and say yes to opportunities that come their way. When the opportunity knocks, you must answer the door and say yes.
Can you tell us about your experience with ICMA and why being a part of a music community is important?
Being a part of ICMA has been great for me. As someone who has worked with a company called Taxi, which is an A&R screening service for songwriters, I am used to judging songs and understanding the vibe of a song immediately. So, the judging process for me was easier. What I really like about ICMA is the quality of the music and the international element. I listen to music from all over the world and being a judge of an international competition is interesting to me on that level as I can see what people are creating around the world.
Regarding the importance of being a part of a music community, it’s because we help each other out. I am really tuned into music from other parts of the world, and I think that’s why I appreciate ICMA’s international element. When you’re a part of a community, you’re exposed to different kinds of music and different perspectives. It’s a great way to broaden your horizons and make connections with other people in the music industry. I think it’s incredibly important to be a part of a community, especially when it comes to music.
I must also mention that I am incredibly appreciative of ICMA’s support over the past few years since the beginning. It’s been a great experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.
What is the importance of correct publicity for a musician’s career?
Publicity plays a crucial role in a musician’s career. It is necessary to have correct publicity. Because it helps create a compelling story that relates to the music, and it all begins with the music. The importance of the story is parallel with the music because it provides a hook to emotionally engage the audience with the artist creating the music. To get involved and committed to an artist, it is important to know their story.
One must understand the timing of publicity and how it works, as it is not just about inventing a story but also requires getting the word out through various media platforms. One must be aware of different media outlets. Such as blogs, that are passionate about music and provide a refreshing perspective on it. Publicity can also create word-of-mouth, which is significant in today’s media world. Genre, a definitive voice, fashion choices, and photos are all essential elements that the industry side looks for as keys. However, one must be cautious about grandiose comparisons and comparing oneself to other artists because it is a turn-off for the media.
Do you have any final thoughts?
I just want to say thank you to Merry and the Star Spot team for having me on the show. It was a pleasure to share my thoughts and experiences with the audience.
Dan Kimpel Contact Info:
- Website: https://www.dankimpel.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uncledaninlalaland/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dan.kimpel.5
Click here to watch Dan Kimpel ‘s full interview on Instagram
InterContinental Music Awards Team