Amplify nurtures artists through promotion

Black and white image of a woman singing into a microphone with a guitar.

Sophie Feldman aka “Jackson” performed at Amplify’s most recent event. The event drew in a huge crowd and was a testament to the success of Amplify as a premiere organization for fostering student talent. (Photo courtesy of Amplify USC)

From social media campaigns to live music shows, Amplify USC is the on-campus hub for USC’s music scene and artist promotion.

Working to promote the work of USC musicians to the student body, Amplify creates a place for artists to grow their presence and for students to connect with on-campus music culture. Through a variety of media forms such as Instagram, blogging, artist takeovers and live events, Amplify has created a unique space for artists at USC. 

“In this industry, it is really all about passion and supporting other artists. It’s about how connected everyone is within the music industry and how everyone just wants to support each other,” said Ronia Waltl, a senior majoring in communications who manages social media for Amplify.

Waltl described the submission-based process Amplify uses to find new artists to support and promote as well as how design team’s work with the artist. The team creates a “vision board” for the artist, as well as an artist feature that is similar to a magazine spread. 

“The most exciting part is always the support for the amazing artists on campus here. When someone says, ‘I added this artist [to] my playlist because I saw them on your platform,’ that’s always exciting to hear,” Waltl said.

Katie Sunada, a senior majoring in communications, works for Amplify, primarily as a writer. She described what makes Amplify USC an important organization. 

“I think it’s really cool to have a platform that’s just focused on the artists that’s promoting them.” Sunada said. “As a music fan myself, I love having one place that I can go to see who the new upcoming USC artists [are].” 

With the return to campus, Amplify has shifted a lot of its attention to putting on live shows to get more experience and exposure for its artists.

Last Friday, Amplify hosted an event at the venue, El Cid, which featured Casey Malanuk, Ellie Williams and Kate Grahn. This was Ampify’s first live show during the coronavirus pandemic, which was planned over the summer by Waltl and Sophie Feldman, a senior in the pop music performance program. The two began planning the event in June by searching for the right venue and eventually developing a lineup. 

The artists started practicing together over the summer to learn new songs as a group and get back to performing after a long time where live performances weren’t possible. Remi Frogo, a member of the design team and USC Roski student, designed posters and began fervently promoting the event two weeks prior, which included an Instagram takeover with each artist. 

Feldman, who is also known by her stage name, “Jackson,” was one of the performers at Friday’s event. It was her first in-person show since the coronavirus pandemic began and was where she debuted the stage name. The event also marked her first performance with completely original music.

“I was excited to debut all of that material and see it hit an audience for the first time, especially after such a long lapse of having no live music in our lives,” Feldman said. “It was absolutely euphoric to be in that context again.” 

Feldman spent a long time perfecting her originals and went into the performance feeling confident that she was presenting music that belonged to this project.

“At the beginning of spring semester last year, I’ve been working on getting that branding figured out and learning more about marketing myself as an artist,” Feldman said. “So shifting focus more on to myself has been really interesting and all of the songs that I played on Friday were songs that I specifically wrote for me as ‘Jackson.’”

Feldman intends to continue promoting her music through Amplify as well.

“When I start releasing music, I’m planning to definitely promote things through Amplify,” Feldman said. “I love doing the Instagram takeovers with them, so whatever I can do to stay linked and be involved in the USC artists community, I’m going to keep doing.” 

A huge crowd turned out for the performance, with a successful presale and even more tickets purchased at the door. Frogo sold prints of her personal artwork at the show as well, adding to the artistic scene at the event.

Sunada was able to attend the live event and experience Amplify’s production.

“I think it’s always really amazing when you go to shows for artists from USC … because it’s amazing to see your peers and see how talented they are,” Sunada said.

Amplify will continue to throw live events and scout artists within the community to increase its audience and local support. Moving forward, Amplify will place a big emphasis on live events to increase exposure for its musicians, while still following the coronavirus guidelines that had previously hindered live music for so long.

Amplify’s central message is to uplift creatives early in an artist’s career, providing community support and exposure to continue growing their success. Within the USC community, Amplify taps into support for these artists, emphasizing the importance of networking in the music industry.

“I think as a young artist, it’s really important to have that exposure and to get coverage in any way,” Sunada said. “So I think it’s important that we are giving a platform for these artists who are really up and coming.” 

Amplify USC is hosting a second live event — a house show— on Sept. 24 on 29th St.