DJ Ron Slomowicz interviewed Stephanie Karten for About.com And we loved the interview!
“Stephanie Karten is the Manager of A&R and New Media at Robbins Entertainment, the US home of international artists such as Cascada, DJ Sammy and September. They are known for their dedication to working projects on a long term basis such as the Afrojack featuring Eva Simons single “Take Over Control” which is reaching the Top 40 pop chart over a year after original release.”
I love hearing about the inside scoop on how the exec’s make the music go ’round. Thanks DJ Ron for the awesome inside info! Check out the full interview here.
Ron Slomowicz: Why do you go to ADE?
Stephanie Karten: I feel it’s the best dance music conference out there right now, and I’ve seen it grow dramatically since I started going almost four years ago. Plus, the club experience there is pretty incredible, so that certainly doesn’t hurt!
RS: What are you looking for?
Stephanie Karten: I’m always looking for great songs that are first and foremost catchy and memorable, and exciting, edgy, commercial club tracks.
RS: How aggressively do you set up meetings? Are they for every 15 or 30 minutes?
Stephanie Karten: Up until this year I’ve done every 15 minutes which is basically me running around like a chicken without a head. This year I have vowed to do only 30 minutes meetings but already I don’t see that working out. (laughs)
RS: How selective are you with meetings? Will you accept a meeting request from anyone who contacts you?
Stephanie Karten: I’ve gotten a bit more selective with each ADE but that doesn’t mean I won’t have a meeting with someone who I don’t know that contacts me. It’s important to meet as many people as you can, because you really never know where your next hit will come from. I try to fit everyone in and if I can’t meet up, at the very least I have them hand me their CD or flash drive so I can check it out later.
RS: What meetings do you personally go after?
Stephanie Karten: There are definitely some usual suspects – such as producers and labels – that I make sure are locked down. If there is anyone new that I think is producing or releasing innovative things, I will seek them out and set up a meeting.
RS: When listening to something played at ADE, is it usually the first time you’ve heard it?
Stephanie Karten: Sometimes.
RS: Do you only look for completely finished projects? If you hear a really cool track would you get involved with the project and find a top line writer or singer?
Stephanie Karten: Finished projects of course are nice, but If the track is really cool, yes I would not hesitate to get further involved with finding a top line writer and/or singer for it.
RS: At ADE, is there pressure to sign the song immediately, or do most labels wait for several offers?
Stephanie Karten: There are usually one or two “buzz tracks” of the conference and I suppose there is pressure to sign those, but of course they’d have to be right for us. Also, sometimes it’s a real buzz and sometimes it’s a fake one, and you have to be able to decipher between the two.
RS: If you were pitched an amazing song that didn’t have an artist attached, or a studio project, would you still be interested?
Stephanie Karten: Absolutely.
RS: When Robbins signs a project – is it strictly for the US, or does Canada and Mexico come into consideration?
Stephanie Karten: It really depends on the project. If we can grab records/artists for the world we do. We try and grab as many territories as possible in addition to N. America.
RS: If you find an amazing track at ADE, when would it get released in the US?
Stephanie Karten: When we find an amazing track at the ADE, if it was a buzz track everyone was going on about, probably asap. If it was something more on the dl or that needed remixes, might take a bit longer to be released.
RS: If a track is already selling on Beatport, does that affect your interest? Specifically, by its initial buzz vs. potential lost sales?
Stephanie Karten: I think Beatport is a good way of gauging the cooler DJ oriented records and it does pique my interest. I check their charts every week. If something hasn’t been on Beatport long and it’s selling pretty well and we really like it, it wouldn’t stop us from signing it.
RS: Who first discovered “Take Over Control” at Robbins?
Stephanie Karten: Matt D’Arduini.
RS: What effect do you think ADE has had with the current Dutch dance music movement with producers such as Afrojack, Chuckie and Fedde, etc.?
Stephanie Karten: I think with or without ADE, the Dutch are taking over (no pun intended) anyway. Of course I’m sure it helps that the conference is based there, but it’s cool to see all the up and coming DJ’s/Producers doing their thing, and then a couple years later they are blowing up. That happened to me with Afrojack. I saw him open for David Guetta and Chuckie a couple years ago and now look at him!
RS: Aside from Romania and Netherlands, what countries do you think are developing a dance music scene and sound that is ready for a global movement or success in the US?
Stephanie Karten: Well, this has always been true to a certain degree but Sweden really knows what they are doing over there from a pop and house perspective. There is also some great, fresh young talent coming out of France and Australia.
RS: What advice do you have for people attending ADE for the first time?
Stephanie Karten: Meet as many people as you can and enjoy yourself. Get inspired.
RS: When you see US people attending ADE, does that change your perspective of them? In particular, does it change your perspective about the more serious in their craft or business?
Stephanie Karten: It does, because it means they are really putting in the effort and coming to the place where it all happens.
RS: What do you think is the perception of American/US dance music at ADE?
Stephanie Karten: That’s a good question….usually I get asked what is working over here in the states. I think many Europeans find America mystifying when it comes to what works and what doesn’t.
RS: Do you bring US artists/projects to ADE to try to license to other European labels?
Stephanie Karten: Yes, we bring our own ADE licensing sampler with us.
Source: About.com DJ Ron