Industry Spotlight: Andrew West (The Noise Collective)

Hello, everyone. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read about the industry we all contribute to on a daily basis. We have been searching coast to coast for someone working on the kind of project highlighted in today’s piece, and we hope the advice they have to offer inspires others to follow in their footsteps. 

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Growing up in a town known for farming in the southwest corner of Michigan I had absolutely no idea how I would ever meet the kind of people who could help me make a name for myself in music. I asked everyone I knew if they knew anyone in entertainment, but the best anyone in my little world could do was offer was a distant cousin who may or may not have been a stunt double for David Duchovny once upon a time. His name was also David and no, he did not offer much help.

Eventually, I entered college and learned the hard truth that sometimes in life the easiest way to get what you want also requires the most work. I could stand around for years waiting to be introduced to someone who could help me, or I could put myself out there and see what – if any – attention my work would draw. I launched a music blog not long after, which put me in a position to meet publicists, and over the next several years I used my skills as a writer to navigate the industry. Whenever a major event presented itself, such as SXSW, I went with a hundred business cards ready to be dispersed. I knew if I ever wanted to leave cornfields in the rear view mirror I needed to know people who understand what it took to live as a music business professional. It took almost a decade, but I eventually found my way.

If I had stumbled upon a genie or some kind of wish-granting deity while on my journey into the industry, the one thing I would have asked for before anything else would have been an easier way to meet people with similar interests in my desired career field. That kind of magic never came my way, unfortunately, but for the better part of the last two years a group of industry professionals in New York City have been putting on the kind of events that would have made my younger self jump with joy. They’re called The Noise Collective, and in the interview below founding member Andrew West explains how he and his team and doing their part to further unite the industry at large.

If you would like to learn more about The Noise Collective and their plans for the future, please make it a point to follow the group on Facebook. Additional questions and comments can be added at the end of this post.

H: Hello, thank you for joining us. Would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?

A: Sure. My name is Andrew, and I work with The Noise Collective.

H: It’s great to have you with us this afternoon. I know you’re based out of New York, but as the majority our readers live elsewhere I am going to go out on a limb and say many people may not understand what The Noise Collective is based on its name alone. Could you shed a little light on what is you do?

A: A couple of years ago myself and a few others I knew found ourselves in New York City without really knowing anyone there. We were new to the city and we discovered there wasn’t really a mixer or networking event for people in the music industry. So we came up with the idea of The Noise Collective. It’s not really a panel or anything, it’s more like a room where you can hangout and get to know people every month. It’s a chill environment to interact with people from the industry with passions similar to your own.

H: When was your first event?

A: Our first event was around a year and a half ago. I think it was January 2013. It took a few months to plan, between deciding where to hold it and whether or not we wanted to have bands play. We eventually thought that having bands playing would take away from what we were trying to do. Plus, there is so much going on in New York City every day of the week that having live music would force us to compete for venues. Removing the music aspect allowed for us to create a chill networking environment.

H: Do you remember how many people showed up for that first event? How have your numbers developed since launch?

A: We had around 200-250 people. It was packed. We did it at this place called Brooklyn Stable, which is a bar, and everyone was pretty excited about it. Our team was really confident in the event, and we put a lot of effort into the promotion. It worked out so well that we eventually had to move to a bigger venue.

H: Oh wow. That’s really impressive. So where do you hold your events now?

A: Idle Hands. You may not know this since you’re not in New York City, but it’s kind of like THE music bar to go to. One of the owners is very heavily involved in music, and a lot of the bands playing in the area will go there after their show to hang out. They have different theme nights and all kinds of events, so we figured it would be a good place to host our gatherings.

H: You had a CMJ showcase in 2013. Are you planning another for 2014?

A: CMJ is basically New York City’s SXSW. It’s held in October every year, and last year we hosted a showcase that had four artists perform. It was great. There were about 300 people there and again, it kind of took the brand to another level. We’re planning to do it again, and there is a part of us that wants the same venue, but we haven’t actually gotten that planned out yet. That’s something we’re working on this week.

H: You talked a little bit about the goals you had when you launched The Noise Collective earlier. Have those goals and the things you hope to achieve with each event changed since that time?

A: It’s sort of the same goal in general, but we have added some things and taken away others that did not work. For example, we started having a playlist that we play during events. Unsigned bands in New York are encouraged to submit their songs for the list, which is updated constantly, and then when they attend our events there is always a chance their song will play through our system while they’re in the middle of a conversation. There are about 2000-3000 bands on the list, and we do our best to stay in contact with them regularly.

We also have these things called Spotlight Guests. We book 3 or 4 every month, and they’re just people from within the industry offering advice. We have had basically every label in house. It’s different than having a panel because our events are about conversations, not just talking.

So those are a couple of things, and we have more coming. We launched in Buffalo in June, and we are hoping to get more cities in the future. Right now, we’re getting more sponsor for our NYC events and trying to expand in that way.

H: Speaking of expansion, and you touched on this a second ago, have you put a lot of thought into expanding your events into other cities? Do you feel other people should maybe take it upon themselves to launch something similar?

A: Right now we’re building a website and developing our online presence. We did launch in Buffalo in June, and we are planning to move that to other cities in the future. Los Angeles is a big one, and Philadelphia is on the list too. 

I think it would be great to do, it’s just that there are only 6 of us on the team here. We’re hoping to spread the word to other cities where these events can kind of take on a life of their own. A lot of these cities, I think, could really use something like this.

H: Great. Well, that’s all the questions I have for you this afternoon. I think what you’re working on is really interesting and whether or not its nationally recognized I wholeheartedly believe there is a demand for this type of event and hopefully you can continue to spread your efforts.

A: Thank you very much.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.