Since as early as 2010, rap artist and music producer Mathieu Lepine, or as he goes by in the industry, Billboard, has had a major influence on today’s generation of favorite artists including Selena Gomez, Arianna Grande, Kesha, and Britney Spears.
With over 78 A-list music credits, today, Billboard has continued to silently produce music, working with artists including The Game, Robyn, Ellie Goulding, Shakira, Dillon Frances, and Chris Brown.
Since music first became digitized with platforms like Napster, Limewire, and iTunes, it has become evermore important for artists to have a producer who is “hands on,” rather than a major label or company that treats the artist as another individual in their catalog of talents.
“Nowadays, you can be an independent artist who’s just starting and have a song on the radio, which is an amazing thing,” Billboard shared with Music Industry’s Andrew Rossow. “The industry had to adapt to the new ways of making and releasing music. As a producer, it shows you that it’s important to work with any artist you like, whether they’re popular or not. Also, I feel like the music on the radio is more diverse compared to 10 years ago.”
But one thing that the industry (and the world, for that matter) never expected was the outbreak of COVID-19, the newest strain of the coronavirus. And it’s definitely kept many producers’ ears wide open, as Billboard have had to adapt and adapt quickly to stay afloat.
“[COVID-19] has forced me out of my comfort zone and I think it’s a great thing. People will be more interested in how to put together a record, alongside writing and producing by themselves since they have no choice. I think we have to see the positive in all of this.”
Billboard was the first to admit that COVID-19 has affected how he intends to work with people in the future. But, the way he sees it is that “[he’s] still able to make music, send it out with the hopes of collaborating that way.”
“I tend to make a lot of music on my own in Montreal anyway. Since I won’t be able to travel to Los Angeles and collaborate with people, we’re gonna have to find a way to work via FaceTime, which is fine. I’m just grateful to be healthy and I get to make music for a living.”
The past six months have been eye-opening for producers like Billboard, who realized that it can in fact be good to slow down a bit. “When it hit everybody back in March, I didn’t really do much for about a week. I just couldn’t focus. Since then, I’ve made it a priority to take several walks everyday and made sure to keep my head sane. I’ve also set a few goals for myself over the next few months, which helps me have a productive routine everyday.”
Indeed, it’s safe to say that the world of music as we knew before COVID-19 will be a completely different beast in 2021, as producers and artists are capitalizing off virtual streaming platforms like Twitch, Facebook, and Instagram while still finding a way to make money.
While nobody will truly know how the industry will change as a whole, we can still venture a guess.
“No one knows for sure. But, for me, I think the biggest change will come from the artist/songwriter side. I feel like the artist and songwriters who were dependent upon other people to make music, will start looking into how to make songs on their own.”
Billboard added that, specifically, it’s all about learning the software and recording themselves at home without the need of a big studio or an engineer. “That might lead to a lot of music with a more personal and intimate vibe to it. I was curious to see how it will have an effect on the music industry.”
Yet, does it go without saying that Billboard and other artists still hope to see a more personalized change throughout industry? With the evolution of technology in just these past six months, the industry is beginning to speak out.
“If there’s one thing I could change about the industry, it’s that I wish people would be more willing to take risks creatively. You often see this when a new artists comes out with a new sound and everyone is excited about it. Then you observe as everyone attempts to copy that sound. I mean, I’ve been guilty of this sometimes by trying to ride the waves of what’s happening right now, but I think its worth taking more risks, creatively. I think the reason why the music in the ’80s and ’90s was so eclectic came from industry people and artists taking more risks on weirder, different projects, even if they might end up losing money.”
As for Billboard’s formula for success, it’s about having a signature sound.
“Having a signature sound that can make you stand out amongst other producers while also being versatile in many different genres was really helpful. It’s good to have a few different angles in your production. I’ve always been interested in many different genres and styles. To this day, I’m still listening to a wide variety of music, just for sounds or chord sequences, or even the way a certain song makes me feel. I think the main lesson I learned through all these years is to always be curious, humble, and to know that there is always more to learn.”
And what a better time than now to sit back, reflect, and look at what we can be doing better. Recognizing this introspection, Billboard concluded our interview by emphasizing that it’s a good time to reflect and refocus on yourself.
“In this industry, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle mode and just constantly working blindly without direction. It’s important to check with yourself to make sure every once in a while you are actually going in the right direction. Making sure you reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to in awhile and taking care of yourself. That’s what I’ve gotten out of this experience. It’s all about coming out strong on the other side.”