Emon Hassan

Interview with Ohad Ezer of The Plugg

Emon Hassan

Of course Ohad is also the Co-founder and CTO of YouLicense. Ohad Ezer: [The Plugg] [MySpace] [Linked In] [Twitter]

G: How was your childhood? What did you grow up watching, reading, or listening?

OE: Great childhood…we started in Israel and then moved the US and made the most of it.

Reading: Fantasy and horror books were my thing back then…don't read much fantasy anymore but am still a huge horror buff

Music: It was the 80's…watched a lot of MTV and listened to a lot of hair metal bands.

Watching: Loads and loads of television. Everything we could get our hands on. Before Maor learned English I used to watch cartoons with him and translate them on the fly. One day he just "knew" English and that was the end of that.  We still spent considerable hours in front of the TV. (It's really cold in Boston, you know)

Playing: The legendary NES was everyone's weapon of choice. I think Maor had some kind of business (mind you he was in fourth grade) that ensured we had a steady flow of games.

G: What was your first gig like?

OE: We played the local mall in our town. When the gig was over, all the school thugs grabbed our singer and beat the crap out of him. Our bass player's sister saved him from serious pain that day. I was a great gig though.

G: Your favorite and least favorite performance experience? What went right and what went wrong?

OE: Early on I played bass in this punk band. The singer's claim to fame was that he'd get naked at the end of the gig, walk around for a couple of minutes and then put his clothes on. So this one time he decides to vary it. He does the whole naked thing, puts his clothes back on, we go into a solo and he decides to stage-dive. Only no one is willing to catch the hairy sweaty guy who was just playing with himself naked on stage. He jumps and the crowd moves away. He lands on the hard floor and breaks his arm. I've played with a lot of people, but that guy, as nuts as he was, was the most professional. He got back on stage, arm broken, stood there like a goddamn horror show and kept singing till we finished the set. When the gig was over we drove him straight to the hospital. Good times.

G: How would you describe your brother? How is he similar/different from you?

OE: Being brothers we obviously have the same family values, upbringing etc. We are very different though and actually complement each other. Maor is the cut throat, no fear kinda guy who gets things done fast and efficiently. I'm more of a planner. In the end of the day it balances out quite well.

G: How did you find the contributors to The Plugg and how do you decide who'd write what?

OE: It was supposed to be a once a week kinda deal. I think Andrew (Alibastard) was the first guy who found us. He simply emailed and said he'd like to contribute. Once his articles came rolling in it really upped the game. I then found Kendall on what used to be Netscape.com. I submitted a Plugg story, he messaged me that he liked it and the next thing you know he's part of the family. At that stage we realized that the Plugg can be a great platform for interesting people who want to express themselves. I found D Thompson on Netscape as well…he was just so outrageously funny that I had to convince him to join us. Kendall brought Lee, and Mozzer is also a Netscape guy. Yair is a friend and we are constantly looking for more people to contribute.

G: How has the music and film business changed over the past 10 years? Are you worried or excited about the changes?

OE: The biggest change is obviously technology. All of a sudden musicians can reach out and touch everyone. In turn, music fans are not confined to their local stores and venues. The downside is that everyone is a musician nowadays. It used to be that only the serious (or rich) people were able to record something. Nowadays, you can download some shareware program, buy a cheapo microphone and all of a sudden you're a bona fide musician. You can set up a MySpace page and invite some people in and you're also global. The poor music fan who used to get his recommendation from some sweaty guy at his local record shop, now has to sift through millions of wannabes in order to find what he's really after. I'm personally very excited about this. Yeah, it's a jungle, but hopefully we'll be there to help musicians and music lovers get what they want.

G: Why aren't more artists taking control of their career? How would you advise a new artist to do so with the tools available these days?

OE: There isn't much that an artist can't do these days. The price of recording music is no longer an issue. Artists have more potential fans than they could ever dream of. In turn there are great tools to help artists and great opportunities out there. Why aren't more musicians taking control? 6.5 million artist pages on MySpace…that means someone is doing something. It's only the beginning of course. The days of getting stoned and playing a couple of local gigs in hope that someone discovers you are over. There is lots of talent out there and the artists that will do well are the ones who take charge of their careers. It applies to any profession, but for some reason many artists I've met don't believe in hard work. The thing is, being an artist is very hard work, and if you're going to channel some of your energy into making a name for yourself through the internet then you're already halfway there.  Go find licensing opportunities, manage your fans, get yourself heard by as many people as possible. Yeah, spending a year in a van a collecting 1000 fans is great, but if you take your laptop along with you, you can get 10 times as many fans on the way.

G: What do you see emerging as the business model for the music industry?

OE: I can understand the whole music tax thing. There are a lot of good arguments for it but it also rewards failure. I'm kind of hoping it doesn't happen, but knowing the industry, it probably will. There are tons of proposed models, and anything that tries to listen to what the actual music consumer wants is fine by me. I'd also love to see artists start to perceive themselves as proper businesses rather than handing most of their livelihood to someone else just because they think they can't do it on their own. Whereas this kind of attitude took some very progressive thinking 5 years ago, it is now the only way to proceed, and more and more artists will take control of their destinies.

G: What are your 5 favorite guitar driven albums?

OE: Sonic Youth – Goo

Smashing Pumpkins – Gish

Built to Spill – Perfect from Now On

The Cure – Disintegration

Cursive - Domestica

G: 3 Recent Guitar Albums

OE: The New Year – The New Year

Metallica – Death Magnetic

Stephen Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash

[Update: Check out Ohad's Top 20 albums of 2008 post at The Plugg.]

G: What are you working on currently?

OE: Musically I’ve been helping Naama Hillman complete her album. It should be out very soon and has some really amazing songs on it. Other than that, I’ve been working and working on YouLicense with the aim of making it the best site for music licensing (and earning some real money for artists).