The growing and diverse talent agency that is PRYSM is a haven for all your music needs. Blossoming as an independent agency can be pretty challenging, especially in our current times, but the driving forces behind PRYSM have scouted throughout genres for the cream of the crop. The thicc roster ranges from artists like B.o.B, DirtySnatcha, Rico Act, SubArtillery, Zubah, and many more rising stars.
CEO, Colton Anderson, began the agency back in November 2019 with a vision to change the way agencies treated their artists, to pay closer attention to their motives, dreams and help their visions come to into fruition.
I wanted to start an agency that was different from the rest. I wanted to develop not just a company but a collective of like-minded people to help artists grow, to really take the time to understand each artist’s specific needs and create tailored approaches for each artist on our roster.Colton Anderson
I got a chance to sit down and learn a little bit more about the leading muscles of the PRYSM company and pick their brain into some wisdom. Dive in as I chat with CEO, Colton Anderson, COO, Paul Yu Asensi, CFO, Justin Lizama, and A&R Director, Lance Dean.
Victoria: How did everyone get started in music?
Justin Lizama (CFO) – I started off going to concerts at a young age, from Michael Jackson to Fugazi to Pink Floyd to Outkast, I have seen a lot of live performances. When I moved to Boulder, for school, is when I actually jumped into the industry via the Fox Theatre where I interned and started a career in audio engineering. From there I jumped to NYC, played in bands, continued audio engineering which led me to some great venues and eventually into 10+ years of touring. I worked hard to work with the best. I know what it takes.
Lance Dean (A&R) – I got started in music in pretty much the most standard manner possible, and that’s joining a band that practiced in our friend’s garage so much the cops came on several occasions. After some time, I realized that style wasn’t my thing and started producing electronic music (dubstep) and the band went and did their thing, and that’s when I started DJing. That eventually turned into navigating the industry with a team and doing a lot more than just producing and performing and eventually I was throwing events, curating remix albums, doing distribution for artists, and here we are doing A&R for the agency. Fun times!
Paul Yu Asensi (COO)- When I was in college at The Ohio State University for Visual Communication Design back in 2003 at the age of 18, I was a bartender at a local campus bar. I know that 18 is an illegal age to bartend, but the owners were Asian so little things like labor laws didn’t matter to them. One night the DJ got into a fight with his girlfriend and she ran away from the bar and he chased after her. Not surprisingly, the music stopped with no one to man the booth. I hopped over the bar and started doing his job. I was thrown into the fire and learned on the spot how to use his Technic 1200s and vinyl’s. Soon after, I grew to love it and decided that this is what I wanted to do instead of serving college kids $1 Cherry Bombs.
Flash forward years later I eventually started getting residencies at local clubs and playing local concerts opening up for touring DJs. My background is in motion and graphic design so I have used the connections I’ve made DJing to do graphics for artists like Nitti Gritti, Henry Fong, Excision, Pitbull, and more.
Colton Anderson (CEO) – In 2015 I started a promotion company ‘SoundFX Presents’ mainly doing EDM shows in the Detroit metro area. Shortly after I began working at Elektricity Nightclub in Pontiac, Michigan.
Victoria: What does being a part of PRYSM mean to you? What does it mean to the artists on your roster?
Justin Lizama (CFO) – Being a part of PRYSM is me expanding my music business knowledge and prowess. I thrive on problem solving and learning. The team is great and everyone supports each other. As for the artists (and even the team) I can be a resource of success and more importantly failure… you can’t have one without the other.
Lance Dean (A&R) – Being a part of PRYSM means a lot to me because throughout my career as a DJ/producer, I had a lot of experience with various agencies and with that came a lot of negative. Now, we get to do things the way we want to and I can make sure those negatives I went through don’t happen to artists we sign to the roster.
Paul Yu Asensi (COO) – I’m very honored to be a part of PRYSM as the COO. PRYSM is a more “boutique” agency, I have a great opportunity to work closer with our artists in a more hands-on fashion which definitely expedites their growth in the music industry.
Colton Anderson (CEO) – Being a part of PRYSM to me honestly feels the same as being a part of a family. We all help each other out. We all push each other to do our best, and when someone is down we pick each other up, I would say these principles are the foundation of our agency, and if all else fails we all know that there is a solid team backing each and every one of us.
Victoria: This one is for Lance specifically. When scouting talent, what are some key things you look for? What should artists keep in mind when entering the industry?
Lance Dean (A&R) – When scouting talent, I don’t just look for big numbers. I look for a cohesive and sense-making branding approach, consistency, and dedication to the craft. I want artists who are in it for the long haul, people who are willing to play the long game. In my opinion, artists should keep in mind that they need not conform what they do to the standards of a company they want to work with. Just do your thing and pursue your passion, and the rest will come. Don’t alienate yourself to try to get close to a particular company or movement.
Victoria: When marketing artists, what is something that everyone should have in the arsenal for content? What are some things that are great for helping growth?
Justin Lizama (CFO) – Having the ability to last, self & capital preservation, outlasting everyone else is another key. Art is hard, how are you going to sell people something they don’t want? Not going away is a start.
Lance Dean (A&R) – When marketing, it’s extremely important to have visually engaging content. Show me sick videos, well thought out designs for artwork, catch my attention within the first 5 seconds of looking at your content no matter what type of content it is. You have to stand out in order for the marketing to be effective.
Paul Yu Asensi (COO) – Since my background is in art & design, I feel like every track an artist puts out needs to be accompanied with visually appealing assets. That will come in the form of matching themed album covers, banners, IGTVs, Snapchat videos, you name it. And the keyword to it all is consistency.
Colton Anderson (CEO) – The best advice for marketing is be as engaged with your audience as possible. Make sure you’re communicating with your fan base. People love that. I would say that above all else is the single best thing to help growth, outside of spending thousands of dollars on marketing material.
Victoria: How have you pushed your artists to adapt in these conflicted times?
Justin Lizama (CFO) – Learn how to invest time & money properly as well as creating an economy around yourself. Keys, pure & simple.
Lance Dean (A&R) – We’ve pushed our artists to adapt in many ways, ranging anywhere from putting more music out more often to even doing live streams, virtual stages or if the CDC guidelines and local restrictions allow, even playing lower-capacity shows. We stay pushing for all of these opportunities versus just aiming for Q2 or Q3 next year like a lot of agencies seem to be. Let’s keep pushing, yeah?
Paul Yu Asensi (COO) – Times are definitely tough right now especially for the music industry where most of your income will come from shows and tours. We’ve been doing a multitude of things like encouraging our agents to make more meaningful connections with other people in the industry as well as having our artists grow in terms of creating more content and collaborating with other artists.
Colton Anderson (CEO) – One of the biggest challenges is to maintain relevance throughout covid. We’ve been actively pushing and helping our artists get label releases, along with making sure once shows do start coming back around we have new visuals, adequate marketing material etc. But the single most important thing is to be patient, let this thing run its course. Because I have no doubt that when shows do resume, we’ll see the best year the music industry has ever seen.
Victoria: What’s something you’d like to see be improved in the industry?
Justin Lizama (CFO) – The industry needs to be more organized like many other sectors. Music is essentially every person or team for themselves. It’s great in lieu of an MBA but sometimes there is not enough common denominator support like well being care, health care, financial stability, etc. I mean look at the COVID relief efforts, music and art shuts down first with limited support and will most likely open last, but we keep everyone else mentally stable. Something doesn’t make sense here. Let’s fix that.
Lance Dean (A&R) – This doesn’t as much pertain to live performances or things a booking agency handles, but I want to see the streaming payouts make more sense. Quit giving artists the cloudy, smoky mirror and pay them justly for what they earn on their streams because the math doesn’t add up in many cases and these larger streaming services give zero clarification or information to back up this vast underpayment.
Paul Yu Asensi (COO) – I’d like to see people be better human beings. So many artists in the past few years have had successful careers only to be cancelled overnight. Do better. Be better.
Colton Anderson (CEO) – Honestly there’s a lot, but I’ll just touch on one point specifically. I would like to see the monopolization of the music industry dissipate, leave room for the little guys to get a bite of the action. Independent promoters are the single most important asset the live entertainment industry possesses in my opinion.
Victoria: Where do you see PRYSM 3 years from now?
Justin Lizama (CFO) – Three years from now I see a diverse collective of individuals helping artists push the boundaries of art. Business is the easy part, connecting with the world for the win is the priority.
Lance Dean (A&R) – In 3 years, I see PRYSM becoming a top-notch and innovative industry entity. We’re looking to cover all corners and provide our artists with opportunities to grow even outside of live performances. We are aiming to be more than just a traditional booking agency and I think we’ll be there in 3 years. We have a great team and a growing roster of talented individuals!
Paul Yu Asensi (COO) – I’m a huge fan of techno and trance so I’d like to see PRYSM expand to other genres of EDM. But I wouldn’t stop there. I’d like to grow to other genre’s outside EDM like hip hop and pop or even outside of music, like comedy and pro gamers.
Colton Anderson (CEO) – The ultimate goal for PRYSM is to be a one stop shop for artists. We would like to hopefully have a management division, open a subsidiary label, and also start a licensing and publishing division. I think in three years most of what I mentioned will come to fruition.
PRYSM‘s mission is “to embolden our artists and aid them in revealing their many facets to dance music communities around the world in order to bring them together and create lasting bonds.” I see the future of the agency being a bright and long one. With these passionate minds behind the agency, I see the exponential growth and forward thinking changes happening, it’ll be a matter of time before the higher-ups start looking towards agencies like this for advice and structure.