Chicagoland’s heaviest hitters in or connected with the music industry Thursday repeatedly embraced alternative marketing, alliances within and between music genres, savvy corporate diplomacy, artist development and more willingness to take risks as the keys to unshackling the local urban entertainment scene from marginalizing ghetto celebrity.
Those observations were the crux of a Midwest Professional Education Series seminar moderated by George Daniels, owner of the West Side music retailer George’s Music Room, that the Chicago Chapters of the American Society of Composers and Publishers and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences co-sponsored at Metro.
Some panelists like prolific hip-hop and R&B producer Xtreme fingered luck as a path to Chicagoland transforming from a vassal state to empire among music scenes. Xtreme’s gold hit beatmaking for the likes of DJ Clue?, DMX, the Lox, Edo G., and Jaÿ-Z was launched by Jaÿ-Z and Clue? heard one of his beat tapes on North Harlem Avenue while the Roc-A-Fella Records stalwarts were asking directions to North Riverside Shopping Mall. Others comments from the likes of Common’s business manager Derek Dudley suggested that aggressively selling the local vision of the scene to the major music industry cartels was a more prevalent reality.
“The biggest challenge in leaving Relativity and going to MCA was to get MCA to believe in our vision [of Common] as an artist—getting them to really believe in him as an artist from the director of marketing to the legal department,” Dudley said, sitting next to fellow panelist Common. “At Relativity, they were prudes, like one vice president who sat down with us one day and say, ‘We don’t know how to market your record.’ Once we got MCA to believe in us, we just put out a good product.”
Entertainment attorney Heather Nelson’s comments suggested that acts and independent labels should retain legal representation capable of litigating larger music power to make fair agreements with them, and Crucial Conflict’s management consultant Calvin Lyons of CMG Entertainment said that the most effective managers are active practitioners and students of entertainment administration. Urban author-journalist Robert “Scoop” Jackson advised the audience to look beyond conventional exposure through commercial radio and print magazine and create homegrown media outlets that get the word out about the scene, such as content and broadband radio on web sites.
Grammy-nominated remixer Maurice Joshua suggested that Chicagoland musicians needed to get over their paranoia about being ripped off by each other and close ranks with alliances that inoculated the scene against the divide-and-conquer tactics of talent-raiding record labels.
The Midwest Education Series is designed to provide practical music business guidance from music industry experts and professionals to local musicians. For information about the next seminar, contact NARAS project coordinator Janielle Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (321) 786-1121 or Midwest ASCAP representative Shawn Murphy at email@example.com or (773) 472-1157.
MARK FITZGERALD ARMSTRONG
11706 SOUTH THROOP STREET
CHICAGO, IL 60643