Prior to 2008, I had no music industry experience outside of being a fan of music. I was working for Deloitte Consulting in Chicago as a management consultant in their Strategy & Operations division. Before Deloitte, I got an undergraduate business degree from UC Berkeley, worked at Wells Fargo as an internal auditor in San Francisco, Goldman Sachs in London, and then went to Stanford for my MBA. All great experiences, but not your typical road to the music industry.
Towards the end of '08, I got laid off from Deloitte and that’s when my brother and a friend of his (Hopsin) reached out and asked me to help them start a record label. I no longer had a job, and I believed in their talent, so we set out to make the dream a reality, building the label one fan at a time. Funk Volume, which I ran for eight years, grew to be a very successful independent record label.
Unfortunately, it all came to a very embarrassing end when my business partner and I had, what I thought, was a very simple disagreement. It quickly snowballed into a lot more than that. He went public, made some false accusations, and at the beginning of 2016, Funk Volume crashed and burned.
This, of course, is the short version. You can hear his version in a video that now has over 45 million views. I've told the entire real story a few times, and I'm always happy to answer questions from those who want to learn from our mistakes, but the most important part is that it has led to my new passion: the Music Entrepreneur Club (MEC).
One of the things that led to the demise of Funk Volume, and what I see is the root cause of many disagreements in the music industry, is the lack of some very basic music business education on one or both sides. Most of the time these disagreements are framed as someone trying to take advantage of an artist. When someone doesn’t understand something, the first assumption is that the other party is doing something “shady” because they have heard of high-profile stories like N.W.A or TLC. I’m not saying that getting screwed over doesn’t happen. It does. However, you can’t be paranoid about everything and everybody. You have to build with people in this industry to be successful.
The solution to not being paranoid and missing out on potential opportunities is educating yourself. That is why I reached out to DJBooth to help launch the MEC.
The MEC is a live, online education platform for aspiring artists, managers, and label owners. We meet twice a week via video conference to discuss various music industry topics, with established professionals occasionally joining the session.
Each week, we tackle a different topic, including but not limited to: music production, marketing, management, merchandising, publishing, touring, networking, public relations, operations, finance, and more. We discuss questions that all artists have at some point in their career and provide answers. How do I find a manager? How can I start touring? What is publishing? We tackle the basics as well as more complex topics as the music industry continues to evolve.
The goal of the MEC is to educate artists so that they can navigate the industry without paranoia, build relationships, and learn to build a business around their art. There are more ways than ever to pursue a career in music, but all paths require a lot more than just good music. You’ll need to learn how to build a business. You must develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
To be clear, we do not sugarcoat the harsh reality of the music business: most aspiring artists are not successful making a career in music. However, even if you eventually decide that a career in music is not in the cards, you should still want to pursue music in a way that opens up the most doors in the future. What you’ll learn in the MEC will be applicable to any business that you decide to launch in the future.
It is my hope that the MEC community will not only be an opportunity for you to learn from myself and the music professionals that you're introduced to, but also from each other. A common mistake a lot of young people make while networking is only trying to connect with people that are more established and forgetting to build with their peers. Your peers today are the next wave of successful artists, managers, label owners, lawyers, etc. Time is going to pass quickly.
The MEC will work to constantly provide opportunities for you to engage and build with one another so you can support each other in getting to your next level.
I will be holding a live information session tonight (September 26) at 7 p.m. PST to answer any questions you have about the MEC. You can sign up by clicking here.
If you would like to join the MEC, visit our website to sign up and use the discount code DJBOOTH for $10 off the monthly rate. We are so confident that MEC is the best online music education and networking platform that we will give a refund to anyone who, after the first month, doesn’t agree.
We look forward to building with you.