Listen to this article now
SXSW is a cultural cocktail of almost every industry you can think of: cinema, fashion, tv, transportation, space exploration, sustainable farming, comedy, cannabis, coffee, and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s a convergent celebration of new technologies, where megabrands unveil their newest immersive media; a front row seat to the future, where startups introduce their latest revolutionary developments; it’s a telescope into space and time, as thought leaders from around the globe gather to discuss the implications of a multi-planetary population.
But perhaps the most highly anticipated core element of the festival? It’s music. SXSW stages are home to some of the brightest-shining industry stars, and the breaking birthplace of your next musical muse.
As serendipity would have it, I got a chance to talk to a few rising stars myself, and their brilliance is undeniable. One in particular stood out across my stargazing scope, and will no doubt take rightful place as a major cultural constellation.
Gabe P is the founder and host of On The Radar, a digital platform that invites new musical artists for live performances and interviews. You might have seen some of your favorite artists rapping, singing, or talking with Gabe in what has now become their signature green studio space. Even the comments section of literally every post has entire micro-communities of ideas, discussions, and iconic hot-takes. The series is what I like to describe as a talent incubator–it’s raw, it’s real, and if you’re On The Radar, you’re up next! There’s no denying, this platform is the hottest out right now for upcoming artists.
I talked to Gabe about his skyrocketing success, how they landed on the South By stage, and the innovative ways they’re leveraging new technologies to keep the talent shining bright.
On The Radar got started as a no-frills, lightly-produced studio experience, featuring some of the rawest talent in NYC. People were drawn to your platform for its undeniable authenticity. Now, you’re going global. Can you talk about what inspired this series, and how it has evolved?
I think what inspired the series the most, at least for me, was the fact that when I would go online and watch artist interviews and freestyles, I never saw anyone from my generation hosting them. I think each generation of media, especially in Hip-Hop, has their own talent that people look to as tastemakers and important figureheads in the culture. With On The Radar, I really wanted to create that new platform for this generation that not only promotes what’s currently up and up next, but also bridge different gaps whether it be in musical generations or between genres, like the inclusion of our Afrobeats and Latin series.
What were you working on before this, and how has it shaped your work in the industry?
Trying to fit what I did before On The Radar into one paragraph is extremely tough lol. But before OTR I had done college radio at St. John’s University alongside my fellow radio host, Nyla Symone, where we were discovered by Angie Martinez, and then invited to Intern at Power 105.1. I interned for Angie and eventually Lord Sear at Sirius XM for a few years before becoming a full-time social media manager for Power 105.1. I served in that position while starting On The Radar for probably around 4 years before then being put on the radio and leaving the job to take on my talent career full time. But I’m extremely grateful for all those experiences because everything I learned led OTR to be what it is today.
This was your first time at SXSW! How was the experience overall? What was the vibe?
SXSW for our first year was great! I want to give a big shoutout to Sprat & Starting 5ive entertainment who really helped put together our shows while out there. We had a great synergy of content shoots with our performance series and the shows. Our second night especially had Gloss Up, K Carbon, BigXThaPlug, SleazyWorld Go and crews from Gucci Mane’s new 1017 & 21 Savages Slaughter Gang.
We know SXSW is a great opportunity for breaking new artists and featuring hot talent. What did you want to showcase this year with the On The Radar brand specifically?
I really wanted to showcase that On The Radar is really a global brand. Obviously with our grassroots being in New York City always, I think it’s important to show artists that anyone from across the country and around the world can be on the show.
Your platform has grown exponentially in the past year alone. What do you think is the driving force behind this rise in engagement and excitement for your content?
I think the driving force is that we’re a breath of fresh air in the industry. Our good friend Hynaken from The Bag Fuel podcast called up the new sound cloud because he’s been discovering so many artists from the platform and I love hearing that. From the local artists to having Finesse2Tymes or Icewear Vezzo drop on the same day is really the goal of the show. I want it to feel not that we’re just catering to the biggest artists, but that it’s a blend of both, and that’s really what gets people excited.
What has been the biggest challenge growing On The Radar programming?
I think the biggest challenge we face is just the amount of content we shoot on the regular and putting it out. An average week for us can be from anywhere around 10-20 artists ranging from a variety of different genres (most recently we started shooting DJ sets to start including House and Electronic music into the show). But I always say it’s better to have more content in the vault then to be scrambling to figure out what your next video will be.
SXSW features creatives at the convergence of new industries, looking to the future of tech, cinema, space, sustainable farming, cannabis, and more. Do you see yourself merging your work with new technologies like Metaverse and AI and other virtual realities? Would you do any virtual concerts?
I’m going to be honest–AI scared me. Hahah. But I do think there are a ton of doors that are open now in the metaverse space for music. I think of the recent Biggie concert that was done and I do think that OTR will enter the virtual reality space at some point. Not sure how we would do it but I’m always looking for new ways to innovate my content and stay current so never say never!
Being an artist in today’s world is essentially being an entrepreneur. What is one thing that you think is ESSENTIAL for working in this industry?
Aw man, I could go on for days about this. I think now more than ever the one thing that is most essential in this day and age in this industry is really having some type of social media background, even as an artist. I think of artists who blew up over the last few years like Armani White with “Billie Eilsh” or Pinkpantheress, and the two of them really got their big breaks on Tik Tok because they were consistent with their content and very calculative on how they would post.
I think a lot of people try to downplay social media’s role in an artists career, but we’ve seen it change lives in real time, and the artists who really know how to use it to their advantage are going to be here for a long time.
What can we expect from On The Radar in the future? What are you most excited for?
As for the future of On The Radar, currently we have On The Radar Records headed by my good friend John Nurse. We’ve released over 50 freestyles/performances on DSPs (digital streaming platforms) in just less than 3 months alone (not bad). But you can definitely expect original music coming soon, we currently have a couple collab projects in the works with artists as well as an album.
Also, we recently started our “Plugged In” series which sees artists come and perform their whole projects live, and then along with the video we release on DSPs as a full EP. Shoutout Wolfacejoeyy for kicking that off with us!
As I mentioned earlier this summer, I’m really trying to enter the electronic and house space, so we have a plethora of DJs from NYC and beyond coming in and killing sets for all y’all to listen to as you enjoy the good weather this summer!
Lastly, we’re also working on taking the show On the road to other cities/countries so stay tuned for that!
How can artists participate in On The Radar?
Best way is to reach out to OTRradioshow@gmail.com. Tobby who is an incredible asset to the team is in charge of all talent relations, and if she thinks the artist is a good fit for the show she’ll send to me, and once I approve it’s all a go!
Like all great creatives, storytelling is at the core of Gabe’s work. On The Radar is an organic iteration of his commitment to sharing artist experiences as they exist authentically, elevating voices and empowering a new generation. His passion for showcasing local talent has grown into an international mission, as more and more artist teams reach out from different corners of the globe just to get a chance to be featured on this premier platform. What was once a starting place for performers, is now a fullblown rocket launchpad into the heights of culture and creativity. No doubt, they are blasting off full speed into the future. Thanks, Gabe, for taking time to share more about this revolutionary series!