The music business is extremely competitive. Big record labels, indie labels and now artists themselves are constantly releasing music into the marketplace and it’s a real battle to find an audience and get them to buy your songs and albums. Add to that the slow economy and the prevalence of free and pirated music and you have very difficult business where every dollar counts and there is no room for mistakes, there are no second chances.
As the owner of several indie record labels, SHP Records and Latin Thug Records, over the years I’ve received a lot of business advice from a range of people, from uneducated street hustlers to Ivy League MBA credentialed executives. I think the best business advice I’ve ever received was from one of our rap producers, someone who grew up with nothing, no father, a crack addicted mother and four brothers and sisters. Someone who now runs a multi-million dollar record label we are partnered with. When I ask how he did it, how he supported his whole family with no education, he laughs and asks me what choice did he have? It was survive or die. Kill or be killed.
He gave me great advice about how he translated that hunger and street hustle to the corporate world of the music business. The specific advice was the that the music business was a war. It too was kill or be killed. Anyone that wasn’t on your team was an enemy to be destroyed and that the war never stopped. Whenever you were sleeping, someone else was out there grinding, working hard and achieving success, so you must work even harder.
This was advice from a millionaire. A millionaire who was now able to take care of his entire family and move them away from the dangerous South Central housing project where they grew up. How did he get it all? From hustling. Hustling on the streets means doing whatever is necessary to get money and to feed himself and his family.
Today, that hustle got him into the rap game where he started to record music, most of which features his friends. He put that hustle he learned on the streets of South Central and made it into an unstoppable positive attitude and work ethic. He works harder than anyone else he works with and everyone knows it. He attacks the marketing and promotion of his music releases with the same intensity and focus as he did the hustle to put food on his family’s table while growing up. It continues to inspire me to work hard and achieve more.
We put this advice to use everyday in the operation of our company. When we have a new music album to produce we have a staff meeting and its like a war room. We even use terms like “battle plan”, “plan of attack” and “strategy”. There is no second best, there is only victory. I had this advice in mind when I launched the company and I try to instill it in my employees.