Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds And UMPG’s Evan Lamberg At USC Master Session

Passion for songwriting, love and mutual respect were key themes of the afternoon at the Songwriters Hall of Fame / USC Master Session on Friday October 14th as the SHOF's 2014 Hal David Starlight Award recipient Dan Reynolds (of Imagine Dragons), and Evan Lamberg, President – North America of Universal Music Publishing Group, presented students with a behind the scenes view of their unique, winning formula working together as writer/publisher partners. Linda Moran, President & CEO of the Songwriters Hall of Fame was on hand to introduce and honor her two “godsons” on the heels of being honored herself in Miami the night before with Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame Founders Award.

The soundstage at USC Carson Center was packed with excited students as Reynolds shared his personal experiences recounting his career journey beginning at age 12 through his success today as the frontman of one of the most popular bands in the world. The valuable support and feedback of his family, in particular from his father who critiqued each work, gave him the impetus to develop his talent, write thousands of songs and hone his craft as a way to cope with the ups and downs of adolescence and life in general. Reynolds’ determination, encouragement and support from his family, producer Alex da Kid, and music publisher Evan Lamberg, helped propel the award-winning artist and songwriter to achieve the superstar status and recognition the band has on a global level. 

At the event moderated by Chris Sampson, Vice Dean, Division of Contemporary Music, Lamberg told USC students the backstory of his first experience hearing Reynolds’ extraordinary demo songs, which drove him to be relentless in signing him to his first publishing deal within days at Universal Music Publishing Group.  “What made Dan unique was his extremely intense and prolific work ethic, his grounded attitude and genuine compassion as a human being, making him stand out as one of the rarest of songwriters,” said Lamberg. 

Reynolds and Lamberg described the initial reaction to Imagine Dragons’ global smash single "Radioactive” as mixed, as the song wasn’t an obvious hit and didn't conform to traditional radio formats. Lamberg attributed the unique creativity and melody of the song as a key to the breakout hit, and emphasized that in instances where you have something truly unique and meet resistance to “not follow the trend, but you set the trend and let others follow you.” “Radioactive” is the record holder as the single with the most weeks (87) on the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.

"It is quite obvious that Evan and Dan have a very special bond based on tremendous mutual respect and trust,” said Moran. “Evan has been nurturing Dan and helping him to achieve his highest potential as a songwriter since he signed him six years ago. It was the absolute best opportunity for the students to see how rewarding a good relationship between a publisher and a songwriter can be. I was thrilled to be able to witness and share in this love fest."

"It was so important for my students to see the dynamic between Evan and Dan,” said Sampson. “They are role models for how positive and genuine relationships can be successful in our industry.  The students came away from the session completely inspired."

Also in attendance at the event from the Songwriter's Hall of Fame were SHOF Board Member and West Coast Events Chair Mary Jo Mennella, SHOF West Coast Events Director Barbara Cane, and SHOF West Coast Committee Members Rebekah Alperin and Casey Robison. The USC Master Sessions, a program in its fourth year sponsored by The Songwriters Hall of Fame and USC Thornton School, is a key component of USC's Popular Music Forum and one of The Songwriters Hall of Fame West Coast committee's educational outreach programs geared to expose the music community and aspiring hit makers to the history, knowledge and life lessons of some of the greatest tunesmith's of our time. Previous Master Sessions at USC have featured Songwriter Hall of Fame Inductees and Special Award Winners Bill Withers, David Foster, Billy Steinberg, Benny Blanco, Graham Nash, Donovan & Ralph Peer and Lamont Dozier.