Max Motley — KCPR’s former General Manager, prior to graduating from Cal Poly in the Spring of 2020 — posted the first installment of his “Rising Artist Series” on his TikTok account, @mostleymusic, on May 8, 2020. The video, which highlighted artists with ten million streams or less at the time of posting (this video in particular recommended the works of Orion Sun and Tora), initially gained 25,200 views.
Motley’s musical expertise is not the only one of it’s kind popping up around the realm of TikTok in recent months. The app’s popularity and accessibility is opening new doors in terms of music discovery. The vast consumption of music is the sole media that TikTok thrives off of, and Motley believes Gen Z holds a unique place in the timeline of how music discovery has changed over the ages.
“I feel like, with Gen Z or maybe it’s just the era that we’re living in, social media plays an increasingly bigger role in music discovery … music discovery through social media is something that Gen Z is really championing right now.” Motley said.
Motley’s own creative processes are not stunted by the constraints of a single genre. The Instagram bio of his account deems “The best of Indie Pop to Hip-Hop,” and his content reflects an appeal to many through the “genre-less” approach of the platform.
“I’m not gonna talk about someone I don’t like, because I think I try to bring a lot of passion [to] the videos that I make and be really excited about them. It would be damn near impossible for me to do that if I actually didn’t like the artist,” Motley said.
The authentic approach to a new wave of music journalism Motley offers is reflected in his content. Although he’s constantly surrounded by artists and music he loves, Kanye West sticks out to him the most as the person who inspired him to pursue the music industry, who Motley saw back in 2014 at Outside Lands, his first music festival.
“He headlined the first night and I was like, ‘this is the best day of my life!’ That was the day where I was like, damn, music is really special to me,” Motley said.
Motley’s ability to tap into the niche of TikTok, and propel what he labels as “genre-less” music selection, provides accessible music discovery for those with various musical interests. His Rising Artist Series proved to be just the beginning of his TikTok expertise.
Since then, Motley has gained over 243,000 followers, 6.5 million likes across his videos, an interview with Rolling Stone, and a robust start to a career in the music industry. He is currently working as an A&R consultant for Interscope Records and works with many up-and-coming acts championing the music scene.
“I’m hopping on phone calls with people I never would have expected to hop on a phone call with. It’s just crazy, whether it’s Spotify or Apple Music, or managers, or labels … it’s crazy,” Motley said, “Never in a million years would have thought that I’d be interviewed by Rolling Stone six months after graduating. Like, that was f***ing nuts.”