We sat down with industry vets, Adam Nierow and Peter Habib of Mr. Fantastic Music to discuss their music roots, how they stand out in such a crowded industry and their deep dive into the burgeoning Chinese music marketplace.
Kyle Warner: How did you and Peter get your start in music?
Adam Nierow: We met in college, where we sang in an all-male pop a cappella group (The Academical Village People at The University of Virginia). Later, we tried different jobs in the music industry, formed a band, and immersed ourselves in the New York music scene. Eventually, we settled on doing what we really loved – creating music in the studio. We like working behind the scenes.
KW: What led to the creation of Mr. Fantastic Music?
AN: It started with a focus on writing and producing for recording artists. We also did some artist development. Soon we realized that we needed to expand our services. So we got into doing music for TV/Film and building a team of top-notch composers, songwriters, producers, and sound engineers.
KW: Mr. Fantastic offers such a wide range of services. Do you feel it’s important to offer a variety of services to stand out and attract top talent in today’s music industry?
AN: I think it’s important to have different revenue streams because this is such an up-and-down business. So I would say that it helps if you can understand what you do well (and keep trying to get better), and then surround yourself with others who can complement what you do. It’s a constant hustle as we continue to grow/enhance the “Mr. Fantastic” brand and our strategic partnerships.
KW: What was the experience like working with such an amazing artist like Jennifer Lopez? Is there a different intensity in the studio when working with such a star?
AN: We find that most star artists tend to work really hard to make it look easy! The intensity comes more from everything ‘around’ the star – meaning an entourage that may tag along (so lots of people in the studio), dealing with press/interviews that may disrupt a session, scheduling around a busy tour, etc.
KW: You have quite an impressive presence in China, how did you establish that and what are your future goals there?
AN: Thank you. We have a dear friend from our college a cappella group who’s been living in Guangzhou, China for about a decade. He encouraged me to visit back in 2012, and I met as many people as I could – not only in the music industry but also media/entertainment companies, ad agencies, government officials, etc. I quickly realized there was great potential in mainland China. China felt like “what’s next” in the world music scene. So Peter and I kept making more and more trips there, and we continue to do so, for a wide variety of projects — songwriting/producing/artist development, consulting on TV shows, scoring films, creating custom music and sound design for ad campaigns and mobile games, establishing an ‘anthems program’ for sports teams, etc.
KW: What were some of the challenges you faced breaking into the Chinese market?
AN: Initially, quite a few doors were “slammed” in my face. I was even told that many other Westerners before me had tried and failed and that I should just go back to the US. But being in the music industry, I’m so accustomed to the high rate of rejection that I wasn’t really fazed. Fortunately, and rather quickly, I met a few key people who helped open those doors for us bit by bit.
KW: What’s next for Mr. Fantastic?
AN: A particular focus has been doing ‘music marketing’ campaigns for brands. We just did one for Volkswagen Jetta. And we’re getting involved with different creative projects that go beyond music. For example, along with a few other creative partners, we’ve been developing a kid’s entertainment property called ZOGOZ (pronounced “zoh-goes”). Chinese-themed content geared for the Chinese market (with global crossover potential). ZOGOZ came about naturally as an extension of our desire to help further bridge China and the U.S. via cultural exchange. Also, we’d love to help break a pop star from the Greater China Region on a global scale!
We have no doubt Mr. Fantastic will accomplish all that and wish them the best of luck!