This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Joey: What’s up, Mr. Ortzy?
Ortzy: Really happy to be here!
Joey: Tell us a bit more about yourself and where you are now?
Ortzy: I’m originally from Columbia and have been a DJ for 15 years. I was initially part of the duo HIIO with an Argentinian partner. We played festivals like Tomorrowland, and released records on Revealed, Spinnin, and Musical Freedom.
Joey: How did you manage to grow as an artist?
Ortzy: The first thing I did was I talked to my partner say, we’re going to build a brand, but it has to look good from the beginning. So we have to take excellent pictures and look international. We were not going to be Latin American DJ’s, we were going to be international DJ’s.
Joey: So you made the outside look better than the inside?
Ortzy: Yeah, completely. It’s all about branding.
Joey: Tell me more about how you ended up working at Revealed?
Ortzy: I think it was November one year ago at ADE. I ran into Sebastien from Revealed, and he later sent me an email asking if I wanted to help him check demos. A few months later, I realized that living in Amsterdam was really expensive, so I sent him an email asking if there was a place at Revealed since I had 15+ years of experience. A week later, he said that I might be able to help with the Revealed Community sub-label. It was growing really fast and was getting a lot of attention. I started working a few days and fell in love with the Revealed team. I’ve now been working full time since February.
Joey: And what is it that you do?
Ortzy: Yeah, so I’m the label manager of the community sub-label. I’m also involved in the main label and Gemstone, which is our other label. First of all, I’m in charge of all the demos for the new artists. So I’m the one who’s taking all the demos that we receive on the platform every day. But it’s super fun – it’s cool to see people from India, Peru, and Indonesia making amazing records.
So I choose the best tracks that I feel that will fit the community label. Some of those tracks are so good that we upgrade them to the main label, or sometimes to Gemstone. After I choose the tracks I like best, we all meet together and discuss which ones are good to release.
Joey: So how do you pick the right song? What are the things that you are on the lookout for?
Ortzy: What I always check is, how original is the track? We don’t like it when we listen to a song, and it’s just a cheap copy of another record. Of course, the quality of the song itself, like mixing and mastering, is important. But sometimes we help master a track if we think the idea is dope.
It’s funny because sometimes I’m in the A&R meeting and we are three people there. And sometimes I say like, hey, guys, I love this song. And then Ivo will say like, oh, man; I hate that one. And then its Martijn who’s going to decide.
Joey: So with your knowledge of the music industry, all the experience that you have as an artist and as someone who’s working in the music industry, how would you say is the best way to get signed to a label right now?
Ortzy: I think most producers only focus on music. And it’s not like that anymore. I mean, it has never been like that, you know? You need to offer something to the market. Why should we sign you?
That being said, I always thought that big labels only signed records to people with a lot of fans or a lot of followers. I remember one of my first meetings with Revealed I had heard a track that was good, not amazing, but the DJ had like 100K followers. I went to the Revealed guys and said we should sign him, and to my surprise, they said it wasn’t a good track and didn’t sign music just because of followers. I felt so bad, haha.
But it was so special because then I realized how unique Revealed was, you know. I know other labels sign based on fanbases.
What I mean is if you’re a fantastic producer, and have a good fan base and brand, that’s amazing. That’s the best option. You can be a terrible producer with a lot of fans, but it’s tough to sell your music if it’s awful. On the other hand, it’s also difficult to sell your music if nobody knows you.
Joey: Balance is essential.
Ortzy: I have seen many artists, not only from Revealed but from other labels. They have released 30 excellent records, but if you go to their Instagram, they only have three pictures. So it’s not about signing an artist that has 1 million followers, but it’s also like, okay, who is your fanbase? Where are your fans?
And that’s what I think is big nowadays. You need to focus on the brand. I also know some artists who aren’t signed to any big labels. They’re good producers, but they have a lot of fans, and people love them. That’s what matters. It’s not only about record labels; if you want to get booked, they will look at how many fans you have. I mean, how many people will pay a ticket to see you?
Our goal is to sell tickets. That’s it. It doesn’t sound romantic. And I think that’s the thing that a lot of people are struggling with. Like that’s not what we want to believe. We want to believe that music is the only thing, but it’s a business.
How do you expect to play in Ibiza if no one knows about you? It’s not about making great music anymore. The same amount of time that you spend in the studio making music should be spent on your brand – getting a nice logo, trying to save some money for good pictures, getting support from DJs.
Joey: What I keep seeing is that all the people that have achieved something in life have spent enormous amounts of time and effort. And that’s the thing that people want to forget. Because they don’t want to spend that time. They want to have that quick fix to get there tomorrow, and not within five years from now. And, you know, Martin Garrix is one in, not even a million – more.
Ortzy: Maybe Animals came at the right time, but then you have to sustain that success. That’s not luck, that’s just hard work and knowing what you’re doing.
Once you get signed to Revealed, that doesn’t mean you’re done. It’s not going to change your life. Now you have to release two tracks on Revealed, and then three, four, you know!
Joey: I want to thank you for having this conversation with me. I really enjoyed talking to you and finding out more about you and your life.