Do you really wanna be in the business?
One of the greatest facets of A3C, and all functioning festivals and conferences of its kind, is the ability to translate the gap between the creative and corporate aspects of music into a manageable territory. It also continues to prove that some of the coolest jobs in hip-hop are often behind-the-scenes rather than behind the mic. Panel discussions at this year's A3C, with the likes of J. Prince, Jermaine Dupri, Amina Diop, Chaka Zulu, and Steve Stoute, proved as much.
Naturally, such powerhouses did not leave the Capital of the South without dropping off a few gems for attendees. Yesterday we hit you with tips for independent artists on their grind, but if you're eyeing a different path within the industry, we’ve compiled pieces of advice from top-performing music executives below.
Ready to get started in a career in music?
Keep it realThese words of wisdom came from J. Prince himself. The industry legend and Rap-A-Lot records founder spoke about his extensive career history. In reminiscing on his greatest accomplishments and the advice that he has for younger generations, Prince noted that staying true to oneself lays the groundwork for all that you’ll hope to accomplish with a career in the music industry. It’s important to set the tone for the type of individual and business man or woman that you hope to be. "Don’t allow any and everything to take place because a man is paying you,” he added.
Understand that work behind the scenes is often “thankless”This snippet came from a panel featuring some of the industry’s most accomplished managers and label heads, including James Cruz, formerly of Bad Boy Records, Chaka Zulu of Disturbing Tha Peace and Culture Republic, Leighton Morrison co-founder of Generation Now and manager to Lil Uzi Vert, and G “Fly” Henry of Think It’s A Game Records. It was an especially piece of sound advice for aspiring managers. Cruz who amicably parted ways with Bad Boy and Sean Combs Enterprises after 18 years reiterated that management is not a role for those looking to reap instant rewards. It’s a position that is often overlooked and underappreciated but when done right, can make all the difference in an artist’s career.
You should be on a constant quest for self-improvementIt’s important to continue to reinvent yourself even if it has nothing to do with music sometimes. During an intimate conversation, RZA revealed that he is currently teaching himself on the topic of Quantum Physics out of an effort to better understand how human life is affected at a molecular level, and to have even more things to teach his own children. It all points to the general idea that in this industry, more things are learned through experience than taught in books or classrooms. It’s important to be a natural inquisitor no matter your position in order to better understand your role and how it relates to that of others.
Diversify your portfolioIn the music industry, it’s rare that you will only stick to your job description (if you have one at all). Being an executive in such a dynamic realm involves juggling multiple hats and often sparks the desire to take on more than one hustle. If you find yourself discovering a new role that you’d like try on a frequent basis, it’s perfectly normal. In fact, it’s actually a good thing. It also provides you with the ability to be flexible in an industry that can switch up as quick as social media trends.
Pay your dues“People always send over a resume and quickly give me a list of asks and things I can do for them, but what can you do for me to help me do my job better,” said Whitney-Gayle Benta, Spotify’s Head of Talent Relations during the conference’s "Women in Charge" panel. The nature of the entertainment industry is one that is reliant on the right connections in order to prosper. This doesn’t mean that nepotism reigns supreme, but it translates rather to a realm where others remember what you’ve done rather than what you say you can do. Taking initiative by constantly keeping in contact with your network and offering up services and taking advantage of opportunities—whether paid or unpaid—is a prime strategy in working your away both up and across the table. It’s important to employ patience and continue to display your value at every turn.