• About

    Why So Casual?

    The Blog

    The chronicles in this blog are all based on factual events and UAE based. Each blog represents stages of experience in the life of a PR professional learnt from within the professional world.

    Overview

    The blog acts as the reflections of the most valuable moments in my PR life and how it came to be. If you like my blog, please follow and share!. Enjoy your read!

     

    Casual PR guy OUT!

     

    Views From the DXB!!

    Photo Credit: Yasmin Ferdjani

  • Hello & Welcome!

    Make Your Passion Your Workplace!

  • The Stages 

    How It All Started!

    The dormitory where my life took a turn!

    Stage 1: Observation

    The PR meets Artist!

    An amateur PR enthusiast by passion, an individual driven to stand out and a well life experienced mid 20’s character – as great as that sounds, the way the description felt to me, wasn’t so.

     

    My life took a turn the moment I ran into an up & coming R&B artist in a segregated university dormitory. As any other best friend encounter, the first time we interacted was not even close to pleasant. Mind you, he was going to be the drive to make me network in a way that I have never experienced through my social life. Singing a cover of Donell Jones in a hallway, I focused on the vocals he was trying to reach and I saw what most A&Rs consider “raw potential”.

     

    The days passed by and with them the disputes between both parties settled, transforming a college acquaintance into brotherhood. We shared the most intimate thoughts about music and he came to express his little run in the music scene back in his country of origin. Sadly, most of his reflection was primarily negative. Out of excitement and partial sympathy, I blindly promised to get him heard and from his happiness to such news, I turned into his living recording booth.

     

    On a daily basis, he visited my room and covered different songs. “Impress me and you will impress a crowd” I said repeatedly; sometimes to motivate and mostly to get some space from all the music covers he would force me to listen to (JHEEZ).

     

    I came to learn musical terms used in recording sessions by him forcing his music acapella covers on me, which later I came to learn to know as his “runs”. Sounds like another casual story of a motivated up & coming artist and a memoir of an entourage.. well not quite.

    Observation DONE! Still think this is a casual story? How about this strategy?!

     

    Strategy: Now that I had set expectations, and a man’s word is what makes him credible, right? I thought to myself, “How can Casual Man make Mr. Artist relevant?” and there it was, “DJ’s”. I mean they spin music, they have a fan base and most importantly they are the final promotion level by music labels. Casual Man decided to target them, and what a hassle it was I tell you. One after the other, rejection after rejection… I mean had nothing to offer but trying to promote a best friend in a scene which I had no background in.

     

    After a long period of obstacles, I ran into one DJ who was willing to help, primarily out of sympathy. At this point, beggars can’t be choosers and the DJ said he knew a production team in the city which was owned by a friend whom he can contact and put in a good word. Not so casual after all huh?!

     

    This Casual Man came to find out that he was actually learning to become a PR professional in stages. The first step was observation/scouting new talent! Moved on to promotion through networking, I mean it is always known that books never really give you the full gist of things and this life transforming incident proved that fact.

    Getting directed to the studio!

    Stage 2: The Link Up

    Our First Music Experience!

    The Link Up: Now that I had a connection it made me think that I could link anyone up within the music industry. When I got the DJ’s contact information, he was traveling back and forth to his home country and so was the communication between him and I.

     

    Being more excited than a child getting his first ice cream, I passed this information on to the up & coming artist. You know how they say a series of good fortunes usually brings people together? Well this news made us brothers, not knowing later on that further involvement within the industry would cause us to drift apart.

     

    At that stage, the DJ with the link up had said that he knew a producer of the most “happening” DJ in my city and that he would put him in the loop of the situation. Left to anticipation, I got a text with the producer’s number and that he had an expectation of a call from me.

     

    I called… and I can tell you that the phone conversation was shorter than a finger snap. A brief greeting, then this command: “Tell your friend to get his demos ready and come this (specified day)”, phone call ends. I felt offended because I thought it was out of rudeness and arrogance, but then thought to myself big time producers must all act like this.

     

    So… the day came where we had received the directions to the villa where the DJ and his production team resided. We stepped in and the house was filled with people, graffiti on the wall, loud music coming from inside the house, and the entire time in my head, I’m thinking, “How do I interact with professionals in this scene, specifically the characters in front of me?”.

     

    This is when Casual Man learned that in order to be treated as a PR professional you must act like one.

     

    After we stepped into the house we walked straight into a room that was the “studio”. This being the first studio experience (with me holding back my uncontrollable smiles like I was on something), we sat next to a female up & coming artist, and some people that had been on the front porch had come inside.

     

    Introductions were made, the happening DJ came into the room and called the producer while his marketing manager was sitting on a dining table chair with a portable Beats speaker playing music.

    A brief moment of socialising occurred until the producer came back into the studio, then he asked us for the demos to play them. He was impressed (and so was the small crowd in the room with us), he then moved on to playing an instrumental. The producer said that the artist had twenty minutes on the dot to come up with a chorus and by default we all had to leave the studio for the artistic creativity to come to life.

     

    Now we were all out on the front porch while a mix of music was blasting from the Beats speakers in the background. Like any awkward situation savior, I pulled out a cigarette and a lighter and suddenly was being asked for the lighter from the random people surrounding me.

     

    Here I learned another lesson, when in a crowd of strangers, you as a PR professional need to be smart in the way you interact with others. I mean it was just a lighter, but it opened doors to conversations, laughter even confessions on how hard it is for an artist to make it where we comefrom.THANK YOU BIC!

     

    Twenty minutes passed and now it was time to record! So the producer went into his studio and my friend had gotten into the booth and they started recording. Mind you, Valentine’s Day was around the corner and this was a love r&b song that the DJ said would spin on his Valentine’s night. It looked like the perfect superstar publicity moment, unfortunately, this was just the beginning of lessons about the industry I was going to learn the hard way.

     

    The recording was done so quickly, that it surprised everyone and we as an entire crowd came in for a listen to a sneak peak. I was shocked the most to be honest because I assumed the artist had blew it at that moment. Everyone was impressed including myself, I guess I can openly say that my scout skills are on point now, haha!.

     

    Link up done!

    Strategy: The producer said he would mix and master (meaning perfect the recorded track) with the help of another producer and would send us the final mix a couple of days before Valentine’s so that the artist could rehearse for the event. All this time it looked like all you needed was a good voice and a Casual PR Guy and you were set! Right?

     

    Well, the DJ contacted the artist (days later) and said that he had a surprise for him. When the song was released to us for a listen and rehearsal, we came to find out that my friend’s song was in fact, not his. He was actually placed as a feature to the DJ on his own song…

    The Public Stage

    Stage 3: The Introductions

    Casual Man's introduction To The Industry!

    From the Stage 2 incident, another lesson was learned… be knowledgeable of the content you give out to music professionals in the industry. What I mean by that is, know the rights of your songs and make sure to make any musical content you have created, your own product.

     

    Due to the chain of events, Mr. Up & Coming Artist felt like this was a repeat of his past experience with music once again and felt used and disengaged. I am not going to lie, it caused tensions between him and I, and he believed that I was still an amateur and that he was the professional in these situations.

     

    I understood that partially this was true, but despite how much of a misunderstanding the Valentine’s track created, I learned a very valuable lesson in PR which was “Always look out for your client’s best interest”.

     

    Valentine’s Day came and the song created a buzz; crowds started requesting it and wanting it to be played on the radio and at the club. Then a window of opportunity opened, my friend had received a phone call from a manager from another official local record label, and we were invited to watch one of the new label’s artists perform at a public event.

     

    In the mean time, the misunderstanding with ”Happening DJ” was becoming less stressful and as an apology for the misunderstanding he had offered my friend a record deal. By default, I had now become his official manager.

     

    We realised at this point that stalling the offer would be to our benefit because we wanted to see what both parties had to offer. Casual Man at this stage kept learning more and more about the music industry and how it operated – quickly, mostly due to the fact that the chain of these events were almost simultaneous.

     

    The day came and we headed out to watch the artist’s performance. Since the event was public, seating didn’t require a list or anything of that sort and I learned as a manager watching that performance, what made an artist entertaining on stage. From how the songs were played, to the set up on stage, to the crowd participation and mostly what made each performer unique in their stage presence. After the artist’s performance slot ended, we were approached by the manager who made the phone call, the stage artists, the production team and the sound engineer/set DJ.

     

    At this stage, Casual Man learned to present ”just enough” and by that I mean how I had to carry myself to an extent. A lot of praise was given to the artist (for the Valentine’s song) and he would always reference me for making it happen. I appreciated that from the artist and it made me appreciate his craft and hunger to succeed even more.

    I then ran into a friend who did A&R work for a DJ on a local radio show that also happened to be part of the local music industry’s circle. That interaction took some weight off my back and helped me to network & socialise even better.

     

    The lesson learned here was: When you approach a new opportunity, create the perception that you are the asset & not the liability.

    Introductions DONE!!…

     

    Strategy: We were invited to the record label to become more acquainted with each other and hopefully produce music. In between the time of the public event & the record deal rendezvous, the artist and I decided to lay out the pros and cons of each party and separated them in such a detailed way, that even the description of types of vibes each person gave off was considered.

     

    At this point, our experience in the music industry was considered equal and so making the right decision was not in the interest of professional benefit, but more about how good it felt to just belong to a label!

    Getting Directed to the Label

    Stage 4: The Label

    Casual Man's First Record Label Experience!

    Since I am now manager by default, I will go ahead and call my artist friend “my artist” for the remainder of this blog.

     

    The same cycle of preparing the demos again and an official track included was our content to display. We got directions to the label and what we saw on our arrival had shocked us both.

     

    As expected, we thought that the label was going to be just another house or at least an office space rented under the title of “label”. At this point, my artist and I were adjusted to the recording booth situation and were ready just in case another 20 minute challenge had surfaced.

     

    We stepped in and it was exactly how I had pictured it to be: office rooms, a recording studio room, an imprinted logo on the wall and most importantly flyers and pictures of their artists. It felt comfortable to be there and the hospitality ensured our feeling of belonging to this label. As a PR professional and manager, I made myself more casual and social in interaction with the members who had been present at the public performance in the studio that day.

     

    My reasoning was : a person’s social personality makes the audience desire them as an entity.

     

    We carried out engaging conversation in the recording room and came to know each other quite casually … juuust the way I like it!

     

    They asked my artist to display his vocals and he was applauded. At first, I thought the label was really impressed by his vocals, but came to find out it was more of a persuasion strategy (smart I must say)!

     

    The sound engineer joined and the stage artists displayed their tracks (I forgot to mention that the stage artists were a two-brother group with instrumentals, future plans, and music videos released before we even came into the picture…) Well, this display felt more like an indirect advertisement of the label. That specific move taught me that to gain customer retention as a PR, you need to display content that relates entirely to your audience.

     

    Hours on hours were spent in that recording room, I remember one topic after another on all sorts of subjects were discussed.

    Casual amateur PR Guy and his artist were sold, quite simply.

    The label had its successful moments and it felt like the world would hear my artist’s voice. Branding and advertising were the sole purpose of that meeting and we were feeding on the bait. I always wondered how my artist came be to discovered by the label from his Valentine’s Day song. You see, one thing you need to know about the music industry where I reside (and I am talking this genre as it is a small circle), different music professionals in this scene all know each other and usually run into each other at local gigs. It does not come as a surprise to know almost everything happening in the scene so quickly, based on the fact that every professional associated with the industry is considered up and coming.

     

    The rendezvous came to an end and with it a promising tone that my artist might eventually belong to a label.

     

    Label Done!

     

    Strategy: Within that conversation, there were a couple of relevant points to consider: 1. We agreed to come back for a feature recording for a track by one of the artists from the two-brother group. This feature, I would say, would be an implied test of the credibility of the artist to live up to his name and 2. Potentially, I knew that I might need to start networking on my own because eventually my artist would get signed and I acknowledged the fact that there would be a scheduled plan for him with organised management taking on his career.

     

    As a PR professional, I needed to stay in the loop of occasions happening in the scene. Reason: Relevancy is everything in PR, the more you know about your target audience… the better your agenda setting outcome is.

    Stage 5 : The Record Deal

    Casual Man Learning About Record Deals! 

    As predicted, my friend had impressed on a feature once again and was now a (potentially) signed artist. Formal meetings with management took place, and at this stage I started meeting more people in the industry and got acquainted with a number of artists, DJs, producers, promoters and many other different professionals while the decision was still being formulated.

     

    We kept visiting the studio for songs of potential future tracks and plans about what will come next. The final verdict came in and we had made the obvious final decision, this new label was the right choice.

    As a PR professional, I learned that an important factor in joining new firms is understanding terms and conditions in proposals/contracts…etc. I would not say that I was fully aware of how a music contract was set up, but it gave me the drive to conduct my own private research to increase my level of knowledge on the matter.

     

    I knew that the industry was primarily based on a single label entity, unlike 360 deals similar to major labels in the United States which don’t apply to the region, and that the contract of an artist is similar to a sales quota in terms of how many albums/EPs/mixtapes/music videos have to be met on an annual basis. The artist, being very cautious this time around, made sure him and I discussed all those aspects in details.

     

    The day came where my artist went in to the studio and was given the news of being the new member of the label. It was one of Casual Man’s greatest moments, not only because my friend was actually now on the path of pursuing his dream, but also because I came to learn how to become a PR professional strictly from experience and not books.

     

    Record Deal DONE!

     

    Strategy: My artist was set to have certain tasks like the mentioned above in his contract and for the first time, I wasn’t able to be aware of certain details due to the signing of a confidentiality agreement with the label. All I chose to be concerned with was how my artist could escalate to a better vocal level.

     

    So as a previous scout, I made sure that he focused on perfecting his craft now that he was signed. I knew the label would take care of that aspect, but as a friend this time, it was for his best interest. My strategy was simple: DRILL it out of him because most importantly, one needs to prove that what they offer is QUALITY!

    The Music Video!

    Stage 6: The Music Video

    Casual Man's First Music Video Set Experience!

    The Middle East’s English music scene isn’t as grand as other regional genres, not because of lack of potential, but more because of lack of promotion due to consumer preference.

     

    Remember my mention of the two brother group? Well, they ended up splitting up for personal reasons and one of them had eventually chased a solo music career. Talented as a solo artist, he managed to still keep hype around him and from a public relations point of view, from that move, I learned that credibility lies entirely on one’s track record and if there was any advice I would give to any amateur PR out there it is to “Keep your record clean!”

     

    The label had then been approached by a new company to brand its new product by making a music video. Being the label that it is, it was easy to take on this task because it wasn’t something unfamiliar. Another new experience came to life; my first involvement on a music video set. Music video grounds were the best grounds for networking and this again allowed for socialising with many key industry people.

     

    Afterwards, I was invited to a scene from the photographed clip as an extra and after heading out there, what I was able to witness gave me full understanding of the set. From make up, to models, to videography and lighting… I mean my contribution added to my knowledge of how perception marketing looked in real life and I learned that team work is essential when all members come together to market a brand.

     

    Music Video DONE!

     

    Strategy: I now needed to brand myself as a PR professional, individually, and with this use the perception marketing technique I learned with all aspects throughout my stages and apply them. I also needed to separate involvement as the best friend who got his friend a deal and move into the scope and capacity of PR work I could implement.

     

    Sadly, I stumbled, not due to a failed plan but mostly due to personal matters coming in the way of my career goals.

    Stage 7 : The Come Back

    Casual Man's Comeback To The Scene!

    Due to matters in my personal life, I had to leave everything related to music, university and my day job behind. It was tough for me to leave a world that taught me to become a professional so naturally.

     

    Like I mentioned in the previous stages, the artist friend & myself had grown apart due to personal obligations. My priorities consumed my life and it looked like I was not going to become that PR professional I had set out to be. I went back to my hometown, but this time had to repeat my university years once again right from the start.

     

    Looks like a failure’s life story.. well this specific casual one had a different twist. Now that I was no longer majoring to be a health manager, I decided that if my life was going to start fresh again, I would, this time, get into the theoretical side of PR and chase it as a major.

     

    I joined a new campus and this is where my life brought me back to the music scene, surprisingly.

     

    One day in my first semester, I ran into a student who was DJing in the middle of the campus next to all of the classes as I was coming back from the library. I had seen student clubs persuade people to join them, but what made him special was the fact that he was in his moment not really bothered with promoting his club until he took a break from DJing.

     

    I was curious to find out more about this character as I approached him during his break, and we shared a conversation and he asked me what I could offer if I joined. During that phase, I honestly did not think I could do much but knew enough individuals in the industry which I had kept in contact with and could reach out to, to prove I could offer enough.

     

    I joined his club and it had later turned into a multimedia company. Days passed and I started to get acquainted with this individual and the group of people working to build this club into a company. The drive was so high that tasks were divided & I became the music manager of an upcoming multimedia company.

     

    Now it was time to prove my ability to myself, and I believed this was a path set out for me to practice all of the public relation aspects I had put together. When I was assigned as the music manager, my artist went from being signed to being independent due to issues with the label which I do not really want to disclose. He felt like this third music mishap was the charm pushing him to quit so I did what every music manager would and introduced him to the talented DJ (founder) who also was one of the best producers I could openly say to ever come out of the region.

     

    In this industry you have to keep branching your network to reach a larger audience. I honestly was not using my artist friend or the producer to create a product, I simply wanted them to get acquainted. 1. As a friend to the artist, wanting to motivate him to keep pushing with his music by showing him what talent looked like (in this sense referring to the producer); maybe a new source of inspiration would inspire him to keep going. 2. I wanted to introduce the producer to people I knew in the industry to prove my credibility and make them come to his studio.

     

    I know some might think that my artist was the easy option but due to personal issues I had overcome, my contacts were limited to those I knew and that small circle included my artist friend.\

     

    Come Back Done!

     

    Strategy: I wanted the producer to become relevant to the scene and get his instrumentals heard. I brought the artist friend and the producer together for a sit down, and what they decided to do next shocked me. The chemistry between an artist and producer is extremely essential for a regular song to become a hit; they clicked, and it was decided among us 3 that a comeback EP with a different twist was the remedy that could heal all wounds.

     

    The co-founder of the multimedia company was also put on; he was an experienced music manager who worked with a known producer in the Arabic genre of music. The jigsaw puzzle was complete… there was a full team in place with the same target. From experience, I knew that some terms and conditions needed to be applied to the EP since I had previously managed the music. 1. All tracks should be produced in the studio and nowhere else. 2. Mixing should be done in the studio, but mastering the EP could be sent abroad. 3. The multimedia company is only in-charge of the production phase and the rest can come from the artist.

     

    As strict as the terms sounded, it was actually a collective of suggestions and casual talks between the producer, the co-founder, the artist and myself which were agreed upon gracefully.

    Stage 8:The EP

    Casual Man's First EP Experience

    Before I get into this entry, I want to say that I am grateful for your interest and anticipation of my stages of this life journey… your support is greatly appreciated.

     

    Now back to the chronicles of your favourite Casual Man.

    The project was initiated and I can tell you it had a mix of different perspectives, but in regards to the artist’s perspective, he wanted the audience to see the world through his eyes while the producer wanted the listeners to hear a unique new sound.

    For me, personally, I wanted to release the built up agony related to how tough the times had been on me productively and as for the co-founder, he just wanted to bring the best of the label out.

     

    Over time, I heard various artists confess how much work they put into a record and when their record was played… many felt it was missing something… that genuine hard hitting emotion that connected the crowd, and this was something we didn’t want to lose.

     

    The producer decided that the sequel of tracks in the EP should never be predictable. The style selection of each individual track should be diverse so that different crowds of different tastes could be able to listen to something which matched their preference of music.

    I learned from this move that offering diverse choice options to your consumer aids in the creation of brand loyalty and retention.

     

    Every other day, the artist would drive down to the studio after his job and basically work a graveyard shift. The studio had a laid back, brain storm aiding, studio speaker blasting vibe where creativity was the only resident and collective mood.

    Many of sleepless nights were spent in the studio.

    This is where it gets interesting, the EP had a deadline of 4 months, STRICTLY, which meant EVERY DAY mattered.

    Working with the artist was the most memorable part of it all. We composed the melodies, lyrics, chorus & verses together like we had never drifted apart.

     

    During the artist’s engagement in the music scene while I was preoccupied with my new life, he had met a sound engineer who had worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including superstars like Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Celine Dion.. etc. This producer created many instrumentals and the number of tracks was set at 5 by him; further elaboration of our experience with this producer will be kept for another entry.

     

    We decided to record a track in the creative hours of the night, & for the record, the artist still was forcing his singing of covers on the team… I guess old habits die hard, haha!

    In the midst of all the promotional stages of marketing this product, whether it was through personal social media accounts, behind the scenes footage or even test driving instrumentals and melodies, YouTube covers were put into the plan. It took everyone a week to set up the set in a recording room that only fit limited number of people.

     

    The YouTube covers sadly didn’t hit as strong as we expected due to the culture trending quickly with worldwide hits and saturation of covers of the songs of choice!

    As a PR professional, you learn that your culture is collectively short spanned and “seeing is believing”, so providing a visual product is key to brand awareness.

     

    Pressure and minor disputes started to arise which caused all of us to feel like it was not an inspirational cause, but I knew that the deadline was the main factor behind it all. From the immense work load, the project forced our fatigued bodies to lose focus some days.

     

    One day the producer left his production desktop switched on and the mic had been set in the middle of the recording room from the previous recording session of the cover tracks. The next day, as usual, we had gotten into the studio to record and before we initiating, we opened a deep intellectual conversation of what the EP meant to the artist. He explained the earlier mentioned point about his desire for the world to hear his music through his point of view, afterwards, the producer had gone to switch on his equipment and found them already working and a bit heated with the mic already switched on. It had been recording us the entire time and it was a great funny moment which was then edited and put on the EP, straight from truthful confession to documented footage.

     

    Due to the diversity of the EP, a feature was done with another up and coming artist from the industry, another sound engineer/producer friend and an artist under that label who came in to contribute and share perspective.

    The EP was eventually put out as a final product but had yet to be edited.

     

    EP Done!

     

    Strategy: The strategy was for the astounding sound engineer to come in and help mix the entire EP with the help of a contact he had in Canada where it would be mastered. The EP needed to be broadcasted on the radio on a local hip hop show that played every Saturday with a segment made to showcase local artists’ music. There needed to be a launch event with media attendee coverage. An online company with a platform for independent artist music distribution had planned to distribute the product (EP) on 80+ online music platforms and there were plans of a music video at that time (for the artist’s favourite song on the EP), but due to time constraints and an over load of work, the music video was not created. Despite all of that, it was later brought to life when the artist signed with the distribution company. How that happened… is a story for another entry!

  • Social Feed

    Check out my latest updates!

  • The Casual Profile

    Let's Keep it Casual,Shall We?

    Casual Man With Ginuwine!

    Why that name?

    Casual Man Introduces HImself!

    Well...To Answer that question,i say that how i turned to be the person that i am was in a very extremely casual setting. The name of the blog is derived from the change of events, which transformed my life and gave me purpose to pursue a passionate proactive lifestyle. I can also add that casual interactions is the best form of communication and aids in bringing the best out of the community as a collective. Casual for me, is more of a lifestyle and part of the personality build-up instilled in me. If you have reached all the way down to understanding my background, i thank you for your interest and hope to hear more from your feedback and opinion.

     

    Believe me, EVERY.SINGLE.OPINION.MATTERS!!(no exaggeration)

     

    Have a great day!

     

    Casual Man OUT!

  • your casual Feedback!

    Re-Blog & leave a comment!