If you passed Daniel Breland (MSB ’17) on the street, you would think he’s just another Georgetown student. He is a Resident Assistant in Village A. He sings for the Georgetown Phantoms, an on-campus a cappella group. He is studying marketing and management.
Oh, and he recently signed a publishing deal with a record label.
In August, Breland signed a songwriting contract with independent record publishing company Water Music, based in Bloomfield, N.J. The company, founded in 2004, holds publishing affiliations with Sony ATV Publishing, RCA Records and Ultra Records.
“The cool thing about Water Music is that their main business model is finding undiscovered talent and building up their resumes, and then pitching them to larger companies,” Breland said.
Breland has been making and writing music all his life. At 15, he started to post covers and original songs on a YouTube channel. One of his videos, which features a cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” has almost 700,000 views. Breland soon linked up with fellow YouTuber Tre Melvin, who asked him to write the theme song for his comedy show, ‘Certified Funny.’ It gained wide recognition, helping him climb the ladder into the world of music with his take on socially conscious rhythm.
Breland’s contract with Water Music is a year long, but it can be renewed up to two times.
Water Music is known for introducing younger artists to big-name producers, as the company has a joint venture with Sony Music.
Being a student and having a record deal at the same time is no easy feat, so the company did not assign Breland with a songwriting quota.
“They understand I’m a student first, and everything else second,” Breland said. “I need to get my degree because music is a tricky industry… I could be a one-hit wonder or the next big songwriter of our generation. We don’t know.”
Because of this emphasis on education, the time commitment of the contract varies. Every month, Water Music sends a “Who’s Looking” list of major label artists who are looking for songs of a certain genre or with a certain sound.
“I look through the list and see if there’s something I could knock out, something that makes me feel inspired,” Breland said.
Breland also is part of a production team at Amazinz Music Group, which does more of the backtracking of the music.
“I do the lyrical and vocal melody side of things and they do the beats and production side of it,” Breland said.
In addition to writing lyrics, Breland enjoys producing music and performing it around campus and the community. As a member of the Georgetown Phantoms, he and his friends like to make music in his Village A apartment-turned-recording-studio.
“I invested in some recording equipment this summer and re-did my living room into a small studio. Sometimes I’ll have my roommates come sing stuff with me to keep it fresh,” Breland said.
Daniel’s music style varies depending on his mood, ranging from hip-hop to pop to EDM. He even mentioned one production idea of his – “seasonal EPs” – that features music representative of the current season.
“I try to genre blend as much as possible. I’m very rooted in urban and contemporary hip-hop but my influences are more old-school R & B. I’m a big fan of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye,” Breland said.
One of Breland’s latest mixtapes addresses the issue of police brutality in today’s society, with the chilling lyrics: “Life could be / Like an open box of chocolates but it surely seems / That though we fight / as the years are passing by, we go back in time.”
“One of the things I thought was important was having clean lyrics that could be generational, so old people would want to listen to my music because it means something, and young people would want to listen to my music because it’s current,” Breland said.
In the future, Breland hopes to excel in the music business. He wants to start a non-profit that reinstates arts and music programs in public schools, and maybe even start his own record label.
“People are consuming music differently,” Breland said. “We are the ones pioneering the new lane of digital media and downloadable content, and I want to be at the forefront of whatever shift that is.”
Breland said he is excited to collaborate with his friends, take suggestions on his work and inspire others with his music.
“Everyone at this school is here for a reason,” Breland said. “We all have a certain level of talent or greatness. And more importantly, we’re all on this planet for a reason. So take that thing that drives you, the thing that gets you excited when you wake up in the morning, and pursue it 100 percent. Don’t doubt yourself, just go for it.”
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