Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Pharrell Williams urges new acts to chase ad agencies

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Pharrell Williams ay Midem
Williams' production duo Neptunes were named producers of the decade

Hip-hop star Pharrell Williams has said new acts should be chasing advertising agencies rather than looking for record deals.

Producer Williams, who fronts the band NERD, said budding stars should strike music publishing deals to ensure they get paid whenever their music is used.

Speaking to the BBC at the Midem music conference, he said acts should "market" themselves.

He added they should build websites to showcase their music and personalities.

Asked what he would do if he was starting out today, the singer and producer told the BBC: "I would probably build a site, a home for my music, a destination where people could come and see me and what I do and what I'm thinking about.

"And then I'd probably assemble a team of kids that would go and bug the hell out of advertising agencies and marketing companies to use my music."

But backtracking a little, he added: "It's not that it's necessarily the day and age of independent artists and independent record companies.

"There's a lot to be said for the majors too. The majors still have a purse that the average kid doesn't have. But what a kid has that everyone else has is that same ability to market yourself and get yourself out there."

Williams' production team Neptunes were recently named producers of the decade by Billboard magazine and he has created and endorsed products ranging from clothing and trainers to vodka and furniture.

Pete Wentz
It's kind of the wild west, and as long as you've got a pistol and you're ready to shoot somebody, it's going to be OK
Fall Out Boy singer Pete Wentz on the music industry

Asked whether he would go to ad agencies and marketing firms before record labels if he were a new artist, he said: "Yeah, I would.

"I would want to establish myself and show the world that I have interesting music, but I would create that world.

"The more dimension that you give your music and your website, the more creative it becomes."

Williams was speaking at the Midem music conference in Cannes, France, where executives are debating the future of the industry.

He also said he was not opposed to file-sharing, comparing it to taste tests to encourage people to buy products in supermarkets.

"I think it's cool that people test it out. I think that's a good thing. How would you know what something tastes like if they didn't allow you to test it?"

Fall Out Boy singer Pete Wentz also spoke at the conference, telling delegates that artists can make more money by building a relationship with their fans.

"To me, the more the fan is interacting with you and feels part of the community, the more interested they will be in buying your music or coming out to your shows," he said.

Referring to the lawless nature of the internet, and digital music's unpredictable evolution, he added: "I think it's a great time to be in music, and a horrible time to be in music because a lot of things can go wrong.

"But it's kind of the wild west, and as long as you've got a pistol and you're ready to shoot somebody, it's going to be OK."

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