A&R Report had the pleasure of touching base with ‘Jill of All Trades’ – Lola Plaku. Lola is most known for her site iLuvLola and her large role in the Toronto music industry. She has done it all from throwing concerts, hosting events, and markets some of Canada’s most celebrated artists.
Read our interview with Lola below:
Lola, you are a big part of Toronto’s music industry. Tell us, what you have been up to lately and what you have up and coming in the near future?
Thank you! I’m not sure if a lot of people actually know, but I work online and marketing at CP Records so I’m currently working with all of our artists Danny Fernandes, Belly, Mia Martina, Tyler Medeiros, Massari, and JRDN to name a few.. Belly just shot a video with Faber Drive for his song “Hartwin Cole”. Tyler is about to go on tour with Cody Simpson across Canada and we just got off tour with Pitbull and Flo Rida. Mia Martina and Massari both shot two videos in Miami earlier this month, that will be released soon.
All of that keeps me pretty busy. We (iLuvLola) are also doing a concert with Juvenile in Atlanta on Juy 5th and have some other stuff coming up that we can’t really just announce yet, but we’ll definitely have a lot more happening in the next few months!
You definitely have a good eye when it comes to finding new talent. Would you ever take on a role as an A/R?
Thank you for that. I’m not sure. Possibly. I actually had this discussion with a friend of mine not too long ago and he said I would be a great A&R. So I’d say yeah, with the right artist and the right vision, I could definitely do it.
What made you decide that you wanted a career in the music industry? Tell us about your first role in the industry.
When I was going to school at Laurier university in 2004 I met a local hip-hop group that started getting me interested in how the music industry worked. How artists got famous, who put together shows, interviews, press etc. In fact the very first thing I did was a showcase in Waterloo. That’s really what got me started, and then I started writing for HipHopCanada.com. Shortly after I became the writing director managing all the content, I had a radio show on Radio Laurier, I had a column on Swagg News, I was working with Maxamus Entertainment and so on and so on. I was always trying to do as much as I could in every area of the industry possible.
You are definitely a supporter of Toronto talent. In fact, it’s evident. Who would you say is your favorite up and coming artists in the city?
Hmmm, I guess up and coming depends on who you ask. I think The Weeknd is definitely doing some serious damage in the music world, but I think he’s taken off so I’m not sure you would categorize him as an “up and comer”. In hip hop, I think Airplane Boys are building something special, Raz Fresco is releasing some great material and has a pretty loyal following. P.Reign is on that list…DVBBS are extra dope. I work with Tyler Medeiros who has an exceptional following all across Canada and only 2 singles out. I work as online marketing and promotions at CP Records so I work with about 7 Canadian artists all of which have great projects on the way and have my support 100%.
How do you feel about the term ‘Screw Face’ Capital in Toronto?
Well I feel that term really only applies to hip-hop. When it comes to other genres Toronto is very supportive of their artists. There are some amazing and loyal fans in Toronto. I feel that a lot of hip-hop artists have a hard time building that grasroots fan-base and the term “screw face” was born. If you’re a recording artist with sold out shows and fans who support you and root for your success, that term doesn’t even apply. However we do have a very small industry with competitive individuals and a lot of times I see people working against one another instead of working together for overall progression and success of the scene as a whole.
What does the iLuvLola brand represent? What is your primary goal for the brand in the future?
Well initially iLuvLola started as a simple blog/website to support the artists I was personally supporting and working with at the time. It has grown into a marketing/promotions brand and we have a lot of things going on at the moment. What it represents? People. Ideas. Culture. Music…a lot of things. The primary goal is to be able to expand our services beyond Toronto and take on more people and projects under our wing. I’d like to have a solid team of reps that can take on clients under our brand and offer the same loyalty, integrity, and dedication as I’ve been able to do until now.
You’ve accomplished a lot early on in your career. What has been your most memorable moment so far?
I would say our first show with Big Sean. It was our very first concert as iLuvLola so it will always be special to me. It was a very overwhelming experience, but a much needed one and a step in a new direction.
You’ve done concerts for French Montana, Yelawolf, and more. What got you interested in planning concert shows?
I saw Big Sean perform at SOB’s in late 2010 (I think it was November) after I had just gotten back from India and Thailand. Sean was relatively a new artist then, he had just signed to G.O.O.D Music and his fan base was still very underground. Yet when he took that stage those kids knew every single word to every one of his songs. There you had this artist with no mainstream push yet a sold out show, with REAL fans. That really made me realize the difference between a “fan” and a simple “music listener.” There are artists who genuinely build a fan base that supports not only their music, but them as people. Fans who will buy the merch, drive 3-4 hours to a show, wait in line since the morning just to be able to be squished up next to the stage. They tweet, facebook, interact, post pictures, buy magazines and support their favorite artist in any way they can. They’re the best kind of fans and I wanted my brand to be able to reach out to these fans in Toronto and abroad. Plus I wanted to break artists who hadn’t done shows in Toronto and offer not just a show but an experience. An entire experience catered to the fan. That’s why Asap Rocky’s first show in Toronto was at Opera House eventhough it was sold out for 2 months. It was intimate, the vibe was through the roof. That’s why we did the in-store so fans could connect with him. All of those aspects are things I love about doing concerts.
What are your tips for young people planning to start a career in the entertainment industry?
My tips…hmm. I’d say know your strength and know your weaknesses. You can’t do everything yourself. Work hard…work hard like you don’t need the money but know when you’re being used and know how to say no. In this industry people are really good at taking advantage of others, so you just have to know when you are getting something out of whatever you’re doing as well or when someone is just trying to use you and your abilities and/or resources. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS and know how to strengthen them not just abuse them. Be someone people feel comfortable reaching out to, but yet not overly available to everyone. Know what you can offer. Meeting people is great but if there’s nothing for you to bring to the table, you are disposable and replaceable. If you can become someone/something that cannot be easily replaced, people will keep you around. Strengthen your portfolio and your character and remember that respect is harder to earn and much easier to lose. There are a lot of things that people learn in this business, but the main thing for me has always been to remain true to myself, and that my integrity is everything.
What are 3 things people should love about Lola?
I’m honest, reliable, and sincere.
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