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TIDAL Unplugged initiative taps five area musicans

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Raye Williams calls it "a lightning bolt for me" -- and not one she'd mind striking twice.

The Clawson singer and songwriter is one of five metro area musicians selected as the first class of the music platform TIDAL's Unplugged initiative. The five -- also including Olivia Millerschin of Troy, Sam Austins of Novi, Emma Guzman from Mount Clemens and Laurie Love of Detroit -- were chosen from thousands who entered the competition and will receive production grants to record three songs as well as additional money for marketing, promotion and other business and creative needs.

"It's definitely a fire being lit under you," says Williams, who moved back to the area two years ago after spending time in Nashville to forward her music career. "It's really helped me stay super-driven and focused for all of 2019. Even just getting that initial email (that she was a finalist) was so encouraging."

Millerschin, a former John Lennon Songwriting Contest winner who's headed to Los Angeles next week to do some recording, is also thrilled to be part of the TIDAL wave. "When I won this I realized I can work with some of my dream producers," she says. "It frees me up to do what I want to do and not have to worry about it."

The TIDAL Unplugged team will be in Detroit this weekend to meet with the artists, and a live event featuring the five is planned for early winter. TIDAL is an artist-owned music service, spearheaded by Jay-Z.

The Unplugged program is funded by a pair of philanthropists -- Robert Nelson of ARCH Venture Partners and Mark Lampert, founder of BVF Partners and an Ann Arbor native. "We want to reach out to artists and give them the opportunity to get to that next step," says Jason Kpana, TIDAL's Senior Vice-President of Artist Relations. "The only stipulation is they have to let us know what it is they actually need. We'll do everything from helping them book studio time or get additional musicians or writers, vocal lessons. We'll help them with marketing, depending on their needs.

There's really no limitations. Our goal is to help them amplify what they've done from scratch, on their own, and step in and help bring music to life."

The company will also distribute the winners' recordings via its TIDAL Rising platform, possibly start in October. Kpana promises there will be "robust marketing and advertising behind each one as well. We plan to use the full strength of the TIDAL team to get these artists to their No. 1 goal."

TIDAL plans to take Unplugged to other cities in the future, after first evaluating the Detroit program. "We're excited about where we can go next," he says, "but we're not to that discussion yet."

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