Keith Naftaly

Keith Naftaly explains how he can spot a hit and what he thought of this challenge.

on Jun 16, 2011

Hey whatsup it's Keith from RCA/JIVE A&R! I'm psyched to have joined Platinum Hit as a judge on what I feel was a pretty kickass episode.

A couple of quick facts about me. . .First and foremost I am incredibly passionate about music and have earned the reputation for having what's known as "great ears". . .the ability to identify and/or help build hit songs, whether it was programming a musically innovative Top 40 radio station in San Francisco back in the day, or, for the last zillion years, as a record executive, finding hit songs for superstar artists.

We can certainly break down what most say comprises a hit song -- a killer melody, compelling lyrics, something that's super-catchy and "sticky," but for me there's something more. Don't laugh. . .it's a physical feeling of euphoria that rushes through my body, often resulting in chills or goosebumps. Cheesy, but true. And I am incredibly blessed that I've been able to build a fulfilling career around this unique feeling.

I believe that what I add to the panel is a slight reality check. I'm not listening with the ears of an iconic singer/songwriter like Jewel, or a mega-successful songwriter/entrepreneur like Kara. I'm offering the perspective of a regular "record guy" who listens to hundreds of song demos per week, from the hottest songwriters and producers in the world, in the hopes of finding the next smash single for anyone from Usher to Britney Spears; Kelly Clarkson to Jennifer Hudson. And let me tell you, that process defines the cliché "needle in a haystack."

Not having any significant on-camera experience I was kind of a nervous wreck going into this episode. (Not that you'd notice, but I am physically shaking right after Natasha sits down.) Speaking of Natasha Bedingfield, I was so relieved to find out she was the guest judge because (a) she is completely down-to-earth, bright, and talented and (b) I was her A&R for both the "Unwritten" and "Pocketful Of Sunshine" U.S. albums, and we had a blast making those albums. So thankfully her presence had a total calming effect on me, and we got right to work.