Wesley Jensen hails from Denton, Texas. Like other musicians, he creates music to share across the internet and for live performances — it’s a way of life for many working musicians, to record, share, tour and repeat. Oftentimes it can feel like a labor of love, to invest so much of one’s musical craft, to be so committed to something with not a ton of fiscal reward (at least not right off the bat).
This kind of scenario isn’t uncommon for many musicians and it’s one of the reasons Marmoset sets out to improve the music game — focusing on supporting real, touring musical artists through music licensing. Whether it’s collaborating for original composition or placing our artists’ music on viral campaigns, we’re focused on strengthening our community through sustainability.
Every dollar you spend to license a song or invest in original music for your project goes toward a musician’s lifestyle, toward a working artist’s income — so they can focus more time on creating amazing music.
Looking at the journey of the Marmoset dollar, we sat down to chat with Wesley Jensen and learn more about how music licensing has impacted his musical career over the years.
Marmoset: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey in music in general and how you came to Marmoset?
Jensen: My interest in music started back in Jr High and it hasn’t ever stopped; I feel like I’ve been in some sort of band ever since. My first release under my own name came way back in 2007 and Marmoset reached out to me in 2011 about being part of the artist catalog. To be honest, I thought it was spam and ignored it for a bit. Ha! It took a strong pursuit by Ryan Wines to wear me down and he finally won me over after I played a Marmoset Music Fest NW Party. Meeting everyone and seeing how great they were, I knew I had to hop onboard.
M: We’d also love to learn about some creative projects you're most proud of, how do you think they helped define your purpose and desire to pursue music?
Jenson: The music business can be really brutal, so it’s all about the small victories. Ha! Anytime I’ve noticed myself grow as a musician has been important for me. From my first show, to my first album release, to my first national tour, etc, it’s all encouraging and has helped me want to continue on.
As far as specific moments, I’d say around the time I met Marmoset was an exciting turning point for me. That year I had put out my first full length record in which I produced, engineered, and mixed all on my own (which was a lot bigger deal back then as compared to now). It turned out good and was nice to be validated by folks like Marmoset who took it and put it to commercials, etc.
M: What did your introduction to music licensing look like? What do you think are some common misconceptions about the licensing game?
Jenson: Licensing has been amazing for me, it’s opened a lot of possibilities musically. I always try to encourage people to to get involved with it if they have the opportunity. In fact, I think I’ve been a bit of an unofficial spokesperson for Marmoset over the years. Ha!
I think there are quite a few common misconceptions, the first being that it’s scary in any way. As musicians, we’re so protective of our craft that it’s hard to sign contracts and think that your music might be used for something weird. The reality is that there’s nothing to lose, especially if your involved with an agency like Marmoset, it’s only beneficial and full of rewarding possibilities. I’d say that the other misconception is that it’s easy — you make music and it gets licensed, just like that. Ha! It’s not true. There’s a lot of work involved in finding the perfect song for each project so it takes patience to see results. You never know when something’s going to land, but it feels like Christmas when it does.
M: What was your reaction when you first saw your music licensed for a project? How did it compare to something like performing in front of a live audience?
Jenson: I think my first few big licensing hits were commercials. It was weird honestly, but it was cool. It felt good. It’s definitely fun to have family and friends reaching out saying they just heard your music on TV. It’s hard to compare live music to licensing, both are very rewarding I’d say, but different. Live music is very emotionally driven, lots of energy, very in the moment, etc. Licensing is more behind the scenes as opposed to being front of stage, but it’s cool to know you that something you created was picked out of a myriad of options. It’s always fun to win things.
M: What something you would say to an artist new to the world of licensing or just starting out, is there anything helpful you wish you had known?
Jenson: If they’re on the fence I’d tell them to go for it. I’d tell them it’s fun and rewarding and they’ve got nothing to lose. If they were on board I’d tell them not to worry about anything at all, the hard part (making the music) is over, now they get to sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Trust in the people they’re working with and let them find the right opportunities. And if they’re lucky enough to work with Marmoset I’d tell them to say “yes” to anything and everything they’re asked to be involved in.
M: What new projects are you working on right now?
Jenson: I am ALWAYS working on new projects. I just finished up 2018 releasing a 4 part (16 Song) EP collection Something Old, Something New, Something Else, Something Blue, three of the four are produced by Marmoset’s Brian Hall. Currently, I’m back in the studio working on a brand new project that will wrap up later this spring. All good things!
While entering a new year doesn’t grant us immediate immunity from the trailing politics of last year, we’re staying hopeful by celebrating the small victories — focusing on the horizon of new and brighter things like our community, diversity in music, coming together in the name of art. So whether you’re heading straight into a dozen new projects in need of new music or seeking out emerging artists that challenge the structures of genres, here’s a list of brand new music we’re excited for this month.
Orquestra Pacifico Tropical’s genre can be defined as Word/Rock, their music expansive and encompassing of Central to South America’s cumbia presence. A combination of instrumental and vocal song versions, the musical group delivers high energy, frenzied rhythms and Latin percussions. // Listen here.
Experimental, dreamy electric pop — Mïrändä’s creations exude a coolness that’s reminiscent of the Scandinavian pop core movement (think Tove Lo and Robyn). Equipped with years of music producing experience, Mïrändä’s music presents the ups and downs of romance in a vibrant neon glory, guiding listeners straight to the dance floor. Confidence and mood boosting synth pop, Mïrändä is the visionary we’re excited to follow. // Listen here.
Hip-hop artist, Duncan Burnett raps over complex, distorting electronic synths. A cultivation of verses calling on spirituality and heeding one’s purpose, Burnett has been coined as a visionary within his craft. The artist’s collection of work is anthemic, a summation of piercing self-expressionism while paying respects to musical predecessors. // Listen here.
Dance-worth electronic pop, Braden the Young’s music dishes dreamy, moody pop. Listeners and fans of Halsey and Charlotte Lawrence will want to dig into the Braden the Young’s electrifying sound all about living young and free. // Listen here.
As we bid 2018 farewell and leap enthusiastically (or hesitantly) into a new year, we look back once more and shuffle through the haphazardly overflowing playlists we’ve created over the span of these 12 months. We’ve discovered our brazen confidence listening to Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, immersed ourselves into the dreamy lyrics of Beach House’s 7 while continuing to reevaluate the state of current politics with Courtney Marie Andrews’ May Your Kindness Remain.
Scroll down and let the nostalgia wash over you.
Here are our top albums of 2018.
1. Con Todo El Mundo by Khruangbin
Released: January 26, 2018
“Khruangbin was one of the last bands I saw before leaving Chicago this year to move to Portland. The genesis of the band feels like something out of a novel — three musicians who eat at the same Southeast Asian restaurants in Texas start getting influenced by the unique, regional style of funk they hear while slurping down noodles, so they form a band.
An amalgamation of psychedelic rock, hip-hop, and Thai funk, Con Todo El Mundo spoke volumes to me as a work that could have only been created in today's digital age where influential, eclectic sounds and recordings are only a click away.
As I sat with the record, I heard b-boy jams (aka breakdance circles), prom dance floors of yesteryear, and hazy, sweat-filled lounges in my father's homeland of the Philippines. The album has grooves that'll make you boogie in broad daylight and ballads that'll beg you to open that moonroof while on a summertime midnight cruise.”
— Alex Paguirigan, Music Licensing Creative
2. Whack World by Tierra Whack
Released: May 30, 2018
“Tierra Whack is reconceptualizing what an album is and can be. Whack World is a delightful, playful, sensual and hooky romp of 15 one-minute songs that have done what all good art should do, left me wanting more.."
— Laura Hardin, Label Manager
3. Sweetener by Ariana Grande
Released: August 17, 2018
“Sweetener is such an honest record. It's full of happiness, joy and finding light. I can't help but smile when I listen to Sweetener. I love it so much.”
— Casey Wheeler, Project Manager/Creative Services
4. Skulls Example by Dear Nora
Released: May 25, 2018
"It's Katy's expressive and simplistic descriptions of nature that first caught my attention. "White Fur is in the care of no one," I'm walking on that snowy, sunny path in the woods of my childhood home when I listen.
The song, "Sunset on Humanity" describes the juxtaposition between two realities we have created for ourselves. Technological advancements and the natural world that still surrounds us.
Skulls Example is a contemporary example of our complex experiences in life...described in the most appropriately minimal of ways.."
— Jamie McMullen, Music Licensing Coordinator
5. The House by Porches
Released: January 19, 2018
“The House is filled with melancholic lyrics and interludes that make my heart ache, but it keeps me dancing from start to finish. The perfect balance of darkwave and synthpop.”
— Marilynn Wexler, Music Licensing Coordinator
6. Rare Birds by Jonathan Wilson
Released: January 19, 2018
7 . Isolation by Kali Uchis
Released: April 6, 2018
“Isolation features collaboration from a variety of artists from Jorja Smith to Steve Lacy, and it shows in the best of ways. Uchis' debut album mixes genres like funk, soul, and bossa nova (to name a few) into an intoxicating body of work that sounds both vintage and modern.”
— Fiona Kang, Community Ambassador
8 . BbyShoe by BbyMutha
Released: February 22, 2018
“BbyMutha was one of my favorite performances of this year, I saw her in Oakland at Women in Music Fest with a bunch of other talented women/femme performers.
— Jené Etheridge, Music Licensing Coordinator
9. Foxwarren and El Mal Querer
Released: November 30, 2018 + November 2, 2018
“There were so many phenomenal albums this year it's been hard to keep track. My list is going to be jockeying for positions through the end of the year. New on the list this week is the November release, Foxwarren (Andy Schauf's) band of 10 years, which glimmers with chordal structures reminiscent of Elliott Smith. It's emotionally charged and atmospheric. Rosaliá’s El Mal Querer sits at top with equally powerful and engaging Spanish pop constructed from her Flamenco roots. In the face of another adverse and challenging year in the political artists answer the call and continue to deliver their message. Looking forward to what 2019 has in store."
— Eric Nordby, Brand Ambassador + Music Producer
10. Hot Snakes by Jericho Sirens
Released: March 16, 2018
“After 14 years, Hot Snakes are back in town with "Jericho Sirens" - chock-full of Swami John's blistering guitar riffs, brutal beats by J Sinclair and Mario, Gar Wood's guttural bass grooves, and Rick's gnarly vocals. This album is sure to turn the party into a sweaty mess and not clean up after. Notable tunes include Six Wave Hold-Down, Death Camp Fantasy, I Need A Doctor, and Death Doula. I highly recommend giving album one a spin. Guaranteed to shred your ear balls.”
— Rob Dennler, Senior Creative Director
11. Wide Awake by Parquet Courts
Released: May 18, 2018
“Parquet Courts Wide Awake really took me by surprise this year. It takes the catchiness of Jock Jams and stadium rock and puts it through filters of punk rock, a sly sense of humor and raw artful simplicity. Also, you can dance to it (some of the songs are straight up funky).”
— Steve Schroeder, Artists & Repertoire Curation Manager
12. 7 by Beach House
Released: May 11, 2018
“There’s a stark departure in Beach House’s 7, the duo’s new approach being dialed up, shaking up the world of mellow daydreams evoked from their previous work. The masterful layering combined with haunting vocals feel spatially satisfying — ever mellow moment feels welcoming and entrancing from start to finish.”
— Michelle Goldstein, Copywriter
13. It’s A New Day Tonight by Michael Rault
Released: May 18, 2018
“Michael Rault's album It's a New Day Tonight delivers such a unique and timeless take on ‘70s psych pop — it's so refreshing. The melodies are infectious, the lyrical content is heartfelt and self reflective without feeling like a damn Nicholas Sparks novel and the production is next level insane, much due to Wayne Gordon of Daptone I'm sure. Spin if you like Wings, Badfinger, Big Star, and the like.”
— David Katz, Music Producer
14. God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
Released: June 1, 2018
15. Love//Warrior by Frankie Simone
Release: September 6, 2018
“Love//Warrior is a pumped album packed full of empowerment and light. Frankie Simone kicks ass and Barton's production makes you wanna shake yours.”
— Jenna Covey, Community Ambassador
16. boygenius by boygenius
Released: October 26 2018
“Boygenius was short, sweet and sad, which is perfect since I'm a sucker for sad girl music. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus are all phenomenal artists by their own right, but putting the three of them together had some pretty magical results. Such a power trio.”
— Marissa Hernandez, Music Licensing Creative
17. Nearer My God by Foxing
Released: August 10, 2018
“Foxing's Nearer My God had all of my favorite things; distinct instrumentation not typically seen in the genre, sick guitar solos, and more angst than you can shake a stick at. Nothing says 2018 like post-hardcore-sad-boy music because everything sucks and you're just trying to make it to 2019.”
— Nathaniel Schmidt, Project Manager/Creative Services
18. Childqueen by Kadhja Bonet
Released: June 8, 2018
“I love the throwback, psych-soul sound of Kadhja Bonet's Childqueen. It feels comfortable like I'm in a familiar space, yet at the same time it's completely new. I could drown happily in Kadhja's honey voice — I love it so much.”
— Nicole Hooper, HR Generalist + People Operations Team Lead
19. Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Released: June 15, 2018
“Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is a new-ish Australian outfit that makes raw, jangly guitar-driven rock music, reminiscent of R.E.M. the The Clean. Super solid band with somehow a fresh sound even though you can hear their influences.”
— Ryan Rebo , Software Engineer
20. Honorable Singles Mention
“We the Funk” by Dillion Francis feat. Fuego
“Turn up the heat — and turn down the tempo and mood because hey, it’s 2018. Dillon Francis continues to breathe life into Moombahton on this dark and bumping collabo with Fuego: the hi-hats are hooky enough by themselves but the bari sax instead of a chorus seals the deal for me.”
— Michael Van Pelt, Artists & Repertoire Senior Catalog Manager