Charlie Walk, president of Republic Records and Joe Jonas, lead singer of pop band DNCE, spoke at the Carson Television Center at the Thornton School of Music Friday as part of Thornton’s Popular Music Program Founding Director Christopher Sampson’s “Popular Music Forum” to offer advice to music industry students and promote DNCE’s latest project.
Walk played a music video clip of DNCE’s most successful single, “Cake by the Ocean” and discussed how to distinguish between a Top 40 hit and a regular hit.
“I don’t mean to say this in a cocky way or arrogantly, but we’re not doing classical music we’re doing pop music. ‘Pop’ is a derivative of the word ‘popular,’” Walk said. “I’ve been involved with over 400 number one songs. I know how they started, I know how they broke and every case has been different and there have been casualties along the way, but we’re pretty good at predicting the future.”
Jonas offered perspective on the creative process behind his personal successes and failures.
“There’s been times in my career and I’m like ‘This is the song, this is the one’ and I play it for somebody and they have a different opinion and tell me to go back to the studio,” Jonas said.
Despite the possibility of creative conflict, Jonas highlighted the necessity of trusting your manager as in artist.
“And for years, it was really toward the Jonas years, it was us against the world. We thought we knew everything and I think it’s because we’ve been doing it for so long and you sort of get comfortable in your own little world,” he said. “It’s really important to trust your team.”
This is something Jonas learned from his experience after his solo debut album, Fastlife, failed to take off in 2011.
“I can only speak for my personal experience, having a solo record that didn’t do well. It sold only maybe, a hundred thousand records and that was after a long period of time. That wasn’t really great, compared to what I had with my brothers. It was really screwing with my head, but I had to take a step back,” Jonas said.
Jonas reiterated the importance of trusting his team.
“Even the smallest things, it’s about trusting Republic and Charlie. I think for a lot of artists, especially new artists, a lot of times, they think they know everything,” Jonas said. “But when you walk into it, you have to take a step back. Obviously your art is very important, but these guys know what they’re doing.”
Toward the end of the forum, the duo took questions from students.
A student asked Jonas and Walk whether they believed success was defined as just selling out stadiums and millions of records, as mentioned throughout the talk, or if it was more than that.
“When I was younger, the term was called ‘selling out,’ Jonas said. “There’s a big question: [Do] you want to create something that obviously you’re really proud of, you can play at a stadium and travel the world, sell millions of records, that’s obviously very exciting” Jonas said. “But there’s also, yeah, if you play at a small club in your hometown and you’re still really proud of your music that’s also really great. It’s whatever you want it to be.”
This post was updated at 12:03 a.m. on April 4 for style and grammar.