Monday, April 20, 2009

Sports And Music Like Oil & Water

Professional football players, professional basketball players, professional boxers and other professional sports figures DO NOT make good record label managers and are absolutely not talented artists.

This may sound like a harsh statement however recent history proves it to be correct.

Within the last year I have had the opportunity to observe a professional basketball player and 2 professional football players, let me tell you my story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.


This person, lets call him Mr. J, was a self taught musician. He spent numerous hours in his hotel room while on the road, teaching himself how to play keyboards and making music. As most self taught musicians he never learned theory, harmony or the historical significance of the musical masters before him. What he learned was scales, a few chords and how to make rudimentary songs on his digital equipment. As a self taught musician he imagined that he could sing well. This, in his mind, qualified him to be a virtuoso and he believed that every song he made was a fantastic hit.

What he never learned was how to run a business, how not to let his ego get in the way of his business, and how to delegate authority to seasoned professionals. What transpired within a year was totally his fault. He let his relatives become his label executives yet they had never finished high school, never run a business and had NO connections within the industry. He made business decisions for his label based on who stroked his ego so he spent over $100,000 in radio promotion and never got more than 15 spins nationally. After acquiring a distribution deal he let his ego over power his business sense creating verbal abuse and problems within the distributorship.

You can’t “slam dunk” a record, you need a team of individuals working together on a solid marketing & promotional plan to make things happen. Today Mr. J still believes that he is an artist without any record sales, shows or company structure.


No talent is probably the most used and abused portion of the entertainment industry. Thinking that you can sing or rap because you “feel it” is so far from reality that Never Never Land is closer. Mr. A has absolutely NO TALENT, his voice is raw, out of key, listless and he fancies himself a rapper. Yet he hired some of the best producers, engineers, mastering and web design people in the industry. He put thousands of dollars into a mix cd, not ever thinking about selling anything or owning any of the songs (?) on the cd. He has not once tried to form a music company, establish a publishing house, start a management company or create any type of legal business system for himself.

He has a lawyer, an accountant and a personal business consultant yet he still has thrown away his money on a project that is POOR at best. The people that he pays won’t tell him the truth; they want to continue getting paid.

Being a professional football player means that your image and the image of the team you play for should stay untarnished. Mr. A’s first song was about ALL of the negative things you can find in the streets. Bitches, hoes, guns, fancy cars, fancy jewelry, pimping, you know Keeping It Real. It automatically created the impression that Mr. A was uneducated, socially ignorant and a very poor artist.

You can’t get far with that type of initial endorsement.


Here is a tale of complete abuse and stupidity. Mr. R was a young “baller” years before he attempted to make music. His background was one of deceit, alcohol & drug abuse and physical abuse culminating in the creation of a posse of friends that lived to spend his money. As a professional player he brought the same qualities he grew up with, along with the same friends to his game. This mixture of mayhem, alcohol abuse and drugs made his music become great to his ears and of course his posse, but the music never had a professional technical quality, mix or merit.

His ego told him that he already knew what the public wanted, knew how to make music and really didn’t need anyone critiquing him or his posse. His behavior was that of a little rich brat who expected everyone to bow to his needs. The maltreatment of money in our community makes for a very poor thinking individual. Much like “Ghetto life gone wild” Mr. R became the poster child for bad manners and drunken debauchery.

Once again not having entertainment industry business savvy created a poor working environment, couple this with a massive ego and you have an automatic failure option. This artist (?) never copyright protected his music, never joined a performing rights organization, believed that his partners word was good enough so there would be no contracts. Mr. R had no formal musical training, his producer had no formal musical training and their equipment was antiquated. “Fruity Loops” is not professional recording software, especially when you do not have anything but a computer and no other outboard gear or instruments. When money, alcohol and drugs tell you that you are great, only a complete fall can change you.

Mr. R set his entire musical career up to fail from the beginning.

Why have I told you these stories?

I want my readers to learn from other peoples mistakes. The record industry has changed completely; no longer can you buy your way into the industry. No longer can you abuse industry personnel in one market and believe that you can just move on into another market and do the same thing. The new entertainment business environment includes education, persistence, technology, morals and honesty. Today you must know how to build your own business and create honest, forthright deals that continue to bear fruit for the future. You can not do things by “feel” and believing that the business will run itself.

Today you must have a talented, productive team that is technology savvy to be able to be successful within the industry.

There are too many new artists still doing things in an antiquated way because they think business is run the way it has ran in the past. Do not have a record release party if you don’t have any press, radio, retail, or television people invited. This is a good way to have a FEEL GOOD party for yourself, friends and family, but it won’t jumpstart your career.

Do not talk bad about DJ’s that won’t play your song and expect other DJ’s in another market to treat you with respect. INDUSTRY PEOPLE TALK, and believe me that “tell a lie” travels much faster than “telegraph, telephone or Internet”.

Learn from the mistakes of people who can afford to make them.

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