Richmond remix competition launches its first year

Local music creators talk with Carlos Chafin from In Your Ear Studios. Photos Courtesy of Richmond Remix Competition

Marie Cox, Contributing Writer

The Richmond Remix Competition kicked off on Sept. 17 to help Richmond grow in the music scene by bringing the diverse music community together and foster creativity, according to its lead organizer Johannes Naylor.

The remix competition runs through Sept. 24 at Shift Retail Lab on West Broad Street. It has a three-spot podium where each winner gets a cash prize and a slot in the Saturday concert.

The aim of the competition is to give music creators a space to showcase their creative work, network with other music creators and compete with one another for prizes, according to the event’s website

“Our number one hope is that participants have a good time,” Naylor said. “I also hope everyone gets something out of it whether that be a better appreciation for music, a new music partner, or a better understanding of how to make money in the music business.”

Naylor said he was excited to have the opportunity to showcase Richmond’s talent.

“The idea for the competition came about in a discussion from earlier this spring about how Richmond has some of the best artists in the country but is slept on,” Naylor said. “A remix competition seemed like the best way to get local artists to connect and increase their recognition.”

Naylor co-founded Tapped, a key sponsor that makes the event possible. Tapped is a social network that individuals in the music industry can use to verify credibility and connect with others, according to its Twitter thread. As a Web3 platform, Tapped leverages blockchain technology to express transparency in an artist’s background.

The eight-day schedule, posted on Richmond Remix Competition’s website, included a networking happy hour, a team-building session and various workshops.

VCU’s student organization Blockchain Club hosted a workshop about music NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, on opening day. Club President Francesca Bercasio said she hopes the workshop gives artists a chance to have more control over their time and talent through Web3 technology.

Bercasio’s workshop focused on how NFTs can help artists monetize their work in a new way; artists can earn money directly from their fans by selling NFTs of their songs, according to Bercasio. A music NFT is a unique digital asset that lives on the blockchain and can be bought and sold.

Bercasio said she and Naylor established a professional relationship before the Richmond Remix Competition, starting with the sponsor Tapped.

“The president of the VCU Blockchain Club, Franny, works with me on Tapped and helps do marketing for the competition,” Naylor said. “The music business is pretty ripe for innovation in the blockchain space so it made sense to have her team do a workshop.”

Naylor said the app used to manage the event’s remixing, Audius, is a Web3 app. It is a brand-new streaming platform built for musicians, including ones not signed to a label, according to the app’s website

One competition participant, RedEye REBEL, just started making music in February. He said this was his first year making music and chose to participate in the competition because he had a feeling it was a place where he could network.

“I don’t even want to win; I like being active and getting out here to meet people,” RedEye REBEL said.

“Our second workshop is with In Your Ear Studios,” said lead of operations Shadden Elfiky. “In the future, we’d like to work more with recording studios in the area to bring artists to studios for a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Elfiky said she worked with the competition’s lead designer Denise Adrian on marketing the event.

“Richmond artists say they want to get the recognition and audience, but it’s a little hard when you don’t have the resources,” Adrian said. “By bringing in local studios, the competition provided the inspiration to go for success.” 

To enter the competition and have a chance to win, artists have to remix a stem provided by other local artists, according to Adrian.

Adrian said a stem is a phrase of music that can be deconstructed. Participants can take the different layers —  such as the melody, bass and drums — and make them into whatever they want.

Adrian said artists have all week to work with the stems until Thursday, Sept. 22.

“If anyone wants to submit anything throughout the week that’s okay, they just have to make the deadline,” Adrian said. “People can submit multiple remixes if they have different interpretations of the stem, too.”

Stem artists and the event directors make up the official judging panel, according to Adrian. She said the judges are looking for originality when looking for the winners.

“In choosing a winner, I want to have that one moment where the sound is unique,” Adrian said.

The greater Richmond area is also invited to judge submissions via Twitter throughout the day on Friday, Sept. 23. RVA Remix Competition will announce winners then, before the Sept. 24 concert.

Editor’s note: Executive Editor Katharine DeRosa did not edit this piece because of connection to the alumni who hosted the event.

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