Innovation in today’s music industry—and on the radio—is most often generated far and away from the corporate confines of the major label machine. To move the needle and genuinely shake things up, takes one part kaleidoscopic vision, a heap of artistic talent and a generous helping of leadership.
That is the missive of burgeoning 360-degree record label and management firm 1520 Entertainment. Based in Los Angeles, the company is that rare modern-day upstart with a fundamental focus on artist development. Instead of relying on its acts to serve up the finished product for marketing and distribution, 1520 is involved throughout the creative process, starting with its 15,500sf North Hollywood recording and production facility.
1520’s services include music production, mixing, mastering, PR & marketing strategies, video production, brand integration, and brand & artist development. Its musical specialities: Pop, EDM, R&B, Hip-Hop and Rock. And here’s where things get interesting: Not only is the firm creating music genre by genre, but it is forging unique collaborations that mesh elements from all of the above.
If change is the name of their game, it all starts at the front door. The company’s name “1520” was inspired by the renowned Bronx address 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, known worldwide as the birthplace of Hip Hop. Yes, innovation, revolution and ingenuity are at the forefront here.
Already making its mark is the label’s first release, a fiery reworking of “Under the Bridge,” the 1992 global hit from Red Hot Chili Peppers. It has been transformed from a moody expose about alienation and drug despondency into a passionate plea—as a duet—for redemption and one’s personal truth. Lyricist Chino XL leads the charge with newly created verses that reinvent the story from an inner city perspective, accompanied by Rama Duke’s rock chorus that sports 8-cylinder gusto via a flaming, fierce female vocal.
The company was founded by four music industry veterans, each offering their own lofty pedigree. Producer Jared Lee Gosselin—who won a Latin Grammy in 2013 for Beto Cuevas’ album “Transformacion”—has also helped guide the careers of Velvet Revolver, Serj Tankian, DMC, Macy Gray, India.Arie, KRS-One and Musiq Soulchild. He notes, “We want our artists be their creative best. Of course, we want to see each one succeed, but we also want to be upfront, work honestly through each step and ultimately, create a cohesive team.”
Platinum-selling producer, songwriter, engineer—and talent manager—Christopher Rosa has worked with such music royalty as Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Sevyn, Luke Christopher, Raven Symone, Luke James, RuPaul, and Tank. In addition to helping guide those acts to Grammy wins, he himself has been awarded two first-place and one runner-up L.A. Music Awards.
Rosa has also worked with advertising campaigns for Pringles and Velveeta Cheese, as a producer for Disney’s “Princess Diaries” and “Cheetah Girls” soundtracks, and with such Disney TV shows as “Shake it Up” and “I’m in the Band.” “By walking the line between creativity and business, 1520 is best able to allow our artists to retain their integrity, while the business end can find success in today’s very challenging marketplace. Our vision has developed the flexibility to accomplish both.”
Third founding partner Shaun Fabos (a.k.a. D1) brings to the stable a career that has contributed to everything from major motion pictures to platinum artists. That includes mixing for Musiq Soulchild, Raheem DeVaughn, Jamecia Bennet, Alicia Madison, and Tina DeCara. He says, “We want to be known as a label that has an artist’s back for real. That’s’ the foundation of changing the industry’s bad rep from the major labels. Thanks to The Fab Factory, we can ensure artists have time to fine-tune their projects to perfection, while keeping everybody’s costs down. We built this cutting edge facility with the highest standards for mixing and production.”
And Steve Fabos serves in the executive role as creator of 1520’s Fab Factory Studio. His goal is to continue as the primary driver to expand the facility as a cutting-edge and idyllic creative space for artists in multiple mediums to produce music alongside all of its auxiliary elements. Regarding the collective goal of the four principals and the 1520 mission, Fabos says, “For many years in the entertainment business, we have worked together and had great respect for one another. We are all keenly aware that this business can be improved—and we recognize that the power of four can lead to positive changes in our industry.”
With such a force field guiding 1520 Entertainment, the label’s roster is quickly taking shape. Partnerships have been signed with Rama Duke, Chino XL, Lexy Panterra, Aaryn Rose, Danny Kash, Jackie Vae, Nova Rockafeller, Javon Armond, Chloe Crush (a.k.a. Chloe Riley) Avehre and “American Idol” alumni Blake Lewis. The company’s goal is to release a single each month throughout 2017, promptly getting artists’ musical wares into the marketplace without fussy overthinking.
With its next bold step forward, Gosselin says, “We are determined to create a major change in music today. That begins with a better way to treat artists so they are inspired to create the best art possible. We are 100 percent behind them to make sure their innovative music is heard around the world.”