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Professional Demo Review - May 1, 2006

- “This girl has an incredible voice. It's hard to tell that she is a blond, young and very beautiful artist!”

- “Industry types love to see that an artist is out there doing it for real.”

- “At the moment I hear too much of the Anastacias, Mariahs, and the plethora of Church singers around the world, and compared to them she will always risk looking pale as a developing artist.”

picture Three unsigned HitQuarters Artists Of The Week have been reviewed by three successful music industry professionals.

You can read reviews of their vocals, production, composition, visual presentation and overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, as well as advice on how to approach the music industry and improve their tracks.

The three artists are:

HitQuarters ArtistIrina Lamb – Ukraine/UK – Pop/Urban

Ukraine-born Irina, based in London, was recently selected by Radio 1 and In The City to perform at this year’s Best of In The City Urban Unsigned. She is available for record-, management- and publishing deals.

Listen to Irina Lamb – Forgive Me

HitQuarters ArtistJulia Othmer – US – Pop

Julia Othmer recently completed her debut album, “Oasis Motel”, with producer Michael Blum (Madonna, Roger Daltrey). An array of musicians joined her including Johnny Griparic (Carole King), Herman Jackson (Stevie Wonder, Outkast) and Matt Laug (Alanis Morissette). She is available for record-, management- and publishing deals.

Listen to Julia Othmer – Darling

HitQuarters Artist DaNica – US – Pop/Urban

16 year old DaNica began singing and co-writing with her father at 3 years of age. Following a win at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, she traveled to LA, where she has teamed up with producer Renaldo Johnson. She is available for record-, management- and publishing deals.

Listen to DaNica – You’re The One

The industry professionals doing the reviews are:

Allan Wells – Manager – US

Allan Wells is an artist manager based in NY city running his own talent management company, Comino Productions Inc. Signed to Comino are producers Darryl Swann (Macy Gray) and Kaz & Wolf (Ana Johnsson Bonnier/Sony) and international recording artists Anna Sahlene and PRIME STH.

Allan has over 25 years experience in the music business, having started out as a former artist/songwriter/producer and later on getting into the business side of things as a concert/festival promoter, independent/A&R consultant and artist manager. Comino is currently looking to add to its songwriter/producer roster. &

George Samuelson – Producer – Sweden

George Samuelson is the Managing Director of Trakslammer Productions and Studios in Stockholm, Sweden. He is an award winning and internationally renowned producer/songwriter with credits from Alcazar (Top 5 Germany), Chipz (Top 5 Germany) and Darin (No.1 Sweden) and has an executive background with BMG, MTV Networks and Microsoft’s Interactive Media Division, among others.

Robyx a.k.a. Roberto Zanetti – Producer – Italy

In 1983, Italian based Robyx started his career producing "Don’t Cry Tonight" by Savage, which was his first hit. In 1984 he produced “Live Is Life” by Stargo which went to No.1 in France. Two years later, he decided to create his own recording studio, Casablanca Recordings, which was also the headquarters of his production company.

In 1988 Robyx started a new project, Ice MC, which became a great international success. The first songs, "Easy” and “Cinema” were huge hits all over Europe. The year after he created his own record label – DWA, which rapidly became one of the most important dance labels in the following years, collecting hundreds of gold records in various territories.

From 1990-93 Robyx continued to launch an unending series of successes, such as Double You, Corona (“Rhythm Of The Night”) and Ice MC, creating a unique sound that set an example to the dance pop recording world for years to come.

In 1996 Robyx started his successful collaboration with Alexia, the vocalist on Ice MC’s greatest hits. She became one of the most important dance artists in the world, releasing the chart topping albums “Fan Club”, “The Party” and “Happy”.

In 2001 Robyx and his friend Zucchero decided to write songs together which became the first and the second singles of Zucchero’s album “Shake” (“Baila” and “Ahum”).

Reviews on Irina Lamb:

Allan Wells – Grade: 5 (1-10)

Irina has a nice rich tone to her voice. It has power but I think that the vocal could have been more dynamic, especially since the track didn’t seem to build that much and there are no drums. Her accent is quite good being from the Ukraine, but she could use some more coaching, especially since she is singing in the soul/gospel genre. I think that would help make it more believable. The backing vocal gospel parts were nicely arranged and added dynamics to the track. The bluesy guitar licks added a nice southern flavor and didn’t interfere with the melody, which is good.

Overall, I think this song could have used a drum track to build it up. It also would have showed that Irena has the ability to project her voice and push a little more. As it is now, she is pushing with no support behind her.

Irina has a very nice look in her picture. This song is a nice showcase for her voice and puts her in the Joss Stone genre of singers, though it would be nice to hear her on a more groovin’ song that would show off her strong pipes.

George Samuelson – Grade: 3

After listening to Irina’s demo, I have to say that I’m left with mixed emotions. Although, she has a great voice, I feel that neither the style of song or the way she is singing it is doing her vocal capabilities the justice they may deserve. I really think she needs to find her own voice and singing style and develop them both - from within herself.

At the moment I hear too much of the Anastacias, Mariahs, and the plethora of Church singers around the world, and compared to them she will always risk looking pale as a developing artist.

Both the song that she has chosen to record and the demo itself also leave me a bit confused. I’d say if you do want to make a Gospel album, and there’s nothing wrong with that, you might be half way down the road to having a marketable demo. But if you don’t, as I suspect, and you want to cut a record deal for a pop record that has a chance of selling more than a few copies, you need to reconsider your choice of music here.

If you want to be a hit artist, you need to sing hit songs, with melodies, lyrics and a production sounding like something you would actually hear on the radio. This song, even if it was produced to perfection, would not be a commercial DJ’s first, second, or third choice. Irina needs to go back in the studio and capture the energy I hear hinted at in her voice. And she needs to write or find a true hit song that will help her sell her talent. And with that demo, I would be very curious to hear more about her.

Robyx – Grade: 7

This girl has an incredible voice. It's hard to tell that she is a blond, young and very beautiful artist - listening to her voice reminds me of those kinds of "Divas voices" that you usually find in gospel tracks from classical, "fat" and black female artists.

In the meantime, I don't like the song… or, to be correct, the song is quite OK, but it sounds too old, and a young artist like her needs more updated sounds. She'll be perfect to perform pop dance songs, but also commercial R&B or any kind of pop oriented music.

Reviews on Julia Othmer:

Allan Wells – Grade: 6

Julia is really selling this song when she is singing it, without over-singing it. She is sticking to the melody and telling the story. Her voice reminds me a bit of Natalie Merchant. The song is well constructed and has a nice memorable chorus. I think that having the vocal come in a little earlier in both verses would cut down the time of the song and sell it more to radio.

The players in the band are top notch and the rhythm section is driving the song along nicely, sitting in the perfect pocket. The mix of the song is quite good and the recording is punchy. Although I come from an era of worshipping guitar heroes, I think the guitar solo in this song is distracting especially since radio isn’t playing anything with guitar solos anymore, especially if it’s in the pop genre. I wish that would change, but it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. Also, after the bridge, a chorus outro would probably work better for the radio as well.

Julia has a nice look and her bio is telling us that she’s out there performing in many different parts of the country and working it. Industry types love to see that an artist is out there doing it for real. Julia has also recorded her own album, which is great.

George Samuelson – Grade: 7

This was a very pleasant listening experience. Julie has a nice voice filled with lots of personality and charm. It makes me curious to see and hear more of her and it gives me creative ideas on how she could be “A&R-ed”, as well as where the music could be taken in terms of production.

I’d say that if Julia has a stage presence, the looks, age and persona to match her voice, she has a strong case for landing a deal in the near future. I would however be very picky in thinking through which songs to record, and make sure that everything is as tweaked and edgy as possible - from the lyrics to the way the material is sung and produced.

If Julia is lucky enough to find a label that understands exactly what to do with her as an artist, that would help her take the next steps in developing the whole package further, then I think we could see Julia Othmer on stages and record shelves all over the U.S. pretty soon.

Robyx – Grade: 7

Julia has a very good voice. From her bio I understand that she also is a good piano performer, so she is a complete artist. Her song is not bad, but I think that it is not strong enough to be a hit single or to have potential on the radio today.

Also her voice sounds a little bit "common" and she (or her producer) has to work a little bit in order to find a more personal approach on how to perform. Though with a good song and production she could have a great career for sure.

Reviews on DaNica:

Allan Wells – Grade: 5

If I hadn’t seen DaNica’s picture, I wouldn’t have thought that she was a blonde white girl who is sixteen years old. You go girl! DaNica has a lot of soul when she sings and her phrasing is excellent – a must-have in the R&B genre. Though the vocals overall could have been a little higher in the mix.

The chorus of the song was OK, but didn’t blow me away. I would have a hard time remembering the melody to this tomorrow. Having said that, I think the track is well put together. The bridge takes it to a nice place and DaNica gets to let it rip on the high note. The melody for the song didn’t come in for 35 seconds and for radio that’s way too long.

The birds-chirping sound in the verse gets in the way of the melody. I like the mellotron/string lines in the choruses. I can hear a bit of a Beyonce influence in DaNica’s vocals and that’s not such a bad thing.

I would love to see more info in the bio. If there isn’t much to write about what she’s done, I’d like to see info on the kind of artist she would like to be and what her goals are. She has a cute look and nice smile and incredible potential, so I think we’ll be hearing a lot about her in the not so distant future.

George Samuelson – Grade: 5

DaNica’s voice is nice and considering her age I’d say it’s also a plus that she has a few years to develop further, which I think may ultimately be needed, in order for her to actually get picked up by a label. Unfortunately, I don’t think the demo does her talent justice.

With very few exceptions, I recommend developing artists to record up-tempo songs for their demos because it’s always the singles that make or break the artist (especially these days, with a more download oriented market demanding “hits only”). I’d love to hear a quirky up-tempo track featuring DaNica that has a cool catchy hook and matches the smile she has on her picture.

Robyx – Grade: 6

It is incredible to realize that this voice comes from a 16 year old girl. She is very professional and talented! Her song is well produced and good, although it has no potential to be a hit in the European countries.

I suggest she starts with a more happy and fast song, which is more what audiences expect from such a young artist. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she should do dance songs, but definitely something more powerful. Also, I checked her website and she has to delete the photos that are not as professional as the others available there.

Demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To upload your songs, click here.

If you are a music industry professional that would like to participate in the demo reviews, please send us a message.

Previous Demo Reviews:

Professional Demo Review - March 13, 2006

Artists: Gang Of Roses (Urban/US) – Gio (Hip Hop/US) – Ken Fluid (Hip Hop/US)

Professionals: Jermaine Russ p.k.a. Mac G (Producer/US) – Spike Leroy (Producer/US) – Mughal (Producer/Canada)

- “This has hit written all over it!”

- “The bio is a story I’ve heard over and over and over again, same old blah, blah, blah… I’m just sick of rappers thinking they need to put out how bad they were, or how much dirt they did, or how many times they’ve been shot, etc.”

- “He's a nice looking guy, so the ladies would like to buy a magazine that features him, or a nice poster, so he shouldn't have a problem there. He's definitely marketable.”

Previous Demo Reviews:

Professional Demo Review - Jan 16, 2006

Artists: No Silence (Pop/UK – Junk TV (Pop/UK) – Lesley Roy (Pop/Ireland)

Professionals: Gary Cooper (Manager/A&R Consultant/Germany) – David Coulommiers (Producer/France) – Stani Djukanovic (Producer/Germany)

- “She can offer any label a first class artist!”

- “I don’t think the heavier guitars help the song, and they’re certainly too dominant for her vocals.”

- “From the spine-tingling introduction to the huge chorus drop, ‘There’ll Be Angels’ begs the listener to reach for the volume, and is a flawless example of savvy production quality and awesome songwriting.”

Professional Demo Review - Sep 19, 2005

Artists: Melange Edinburgh (Rap/USA) – Kareem (R&B/USA) – Bristh (R&B/USA)

Professionals: Yann Rouiller (Producer/Switzerland) – Prince Valium (Producer/Denmark) – Andrew Lane (Producer/USA)

- “In her case the visual presentation is what can decide whether she gets signed or not.”

- “Kareem has real potential. The fact that he is (almost) self-contained will make his path a lot easier.”

- “The brass parts are really bad and should be played for real instead of the awful sounding programming, and the pitch instrumental parts are a mess and should be deleted or not pitched at all.”

Professional Demo Review - Aug 8, 2005

Artists: Anne Judith (Pop/Norway) – Mooli (Pop/UK) – TonDalaya (R&B/USA)

Professionals: Michael Puskas (A&R/Australia) – Robert Uhlmann (Producer/Sweden) – O-Jay (Producer/Germany)

- “The track has a great commercial hook that drives it straight to the radio.”

- “This song came across as a cliché on top of a cliché.”

- “I love this track - the lo-fi drums, nice string arrangements and bubbling sounds give it a very nice atmosphere.”

Professional Demo Review – Jul 4, 2005

Artists: Exkzile (Rap/USA) – Hazel (Rap/USA) – T.U. Savant (Rap/USA)

Professionals: Steve “Blast” Wills (Producer/USA) – Gabo (TV proeducer/USA) – Mughal (Producer/Canada)

- “She has good potential to be signed by a record label!”

- “He needs a photographer to frame him for industry appreciation.”

- “Please quit while you’re ahead. This ain’t going anywhere!”

Professional Demo Review – Apr 18, 2005

Artists: Mis Marie (Rap/Denmark) – Vladimir Vasileski Cetkar (Pop/USA) – Penny Foster (Pop/UK)

Professionals: Lotte Aagaard (Publisher/Denmark) – Leo Chantzaras (Producer/Germany) – Robert Waterman (A&R/UK)

- “A very catchy song with potential! I like it!”

- “He is a good singer but should try losing the accent.”

- “I would suggest she looked closely at herself and ask, ‘why me? What's special about me?”

Next week: