Right around the same time that Entertainment Business grad Ethan Curtis joined Orlando’s Plush Studios, the studio’s owner, Aton Ben-Horin (who is also the Director of Global A&R for Warner Music Group), was just starting to work with Avery, a teenage singer he had discovered on YouTube.
“[Aton’s] girlfriend was on YouTube, looking at a cover her friends did of a scene from the movie Stepbrothers, where they’re singing in the car,” Ethan remembers. “She came across one with four 14-year old girls. Avery was in the backseat and she sang the solo and did this little flip with her voice that’s really difficult to do. Aton was walking by right as she was singing and he stopped and was like, ‘Who is that?'”
Aton contacted Avery and her parents through YouTube and expressed interest in working with her, and after a couple of years of talking, the teen singer made her way to Central Florida, where she recorded and made a video for “Love Me or Let Me Go,” which to date has amassed more than six million views on YouTube. It helped her land a record deal with Universal Motown (and she’s now with Island Def Jam). Ethan, who has been working alongside Avery the entire time, has a songwriting credit on “Good Times,” her latest single.
“We all locked ourselves in a room and turned on the beat, and I thought back to my high school years and thought, ‘What did I do for a good time?'” Ethan says, about getting into the mindset of writing a song for a teenage girl. “We came up with some ideas and Avery added a few lines too.”
This trend of discovering talent on YouTube – where someone can be singing in the backseat of a car and then end up with a record deal – is changing the face of the industry, and Ethan considers it an absolute legitimate part of the business. “YouTube is great because it’s eliminated that whole ‘who you know’ factor,” he says. “Anyone can get on there and do their thing and if they’re good enough, they’re gonna blow up. It’s bringing us a lot more artists that are really genuine.”
Ethan is currently working as the Studio Manager at Plush, and he continues to work on new material with Avery and A&R other artists as well.