You will LOVE IT, once you get to where you want to be.
What is the title of your work?
I am the Brand Manager at Delicious Vinyl. I handle all the projects that the label is currently doing and I’ve been here for 4.5 years.
Would you describe what some of those projects are?
Continuous projects that I maintain and manage are:
1. Put out new music. I deal with the artists after the deal has been set.
2. Produce and run Delicious Vinyl TV (an online program that interviews upcoming artists) together with partner, Girl is Tough.
3. Merchandise. I design (logo placements, product development), manufacture and manage the distribution.
4. Live events
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
The fact that I’m able to continue a legacy of one of the most important West Coast label in the world; to be able to work with artists I looked up to and help new artists spread their music.
What is the hardest part about your job?
Being patient. Patience and maintaining is very hard. Even the people with major deals, let’s say, the money isn’t as big as it used to be. People, deals, timing…sometimes it’s very stressful. But I realise that the good things can take time and if you don’t give up, they will come. You just got to hang in. Re-branding the label to fit the times of now is a big challenge and figuring out the financial challenges.
Could you tell us briefly about your past work experiences and what lead you up to your current job?
I started working when I was 14 at a street wear brand carrying shop. I was fascinated by the culture and lifestyle of skateboarding. Years go by, I started working at a brand called Social Studies as a sales rep. The manager there also managed Union x Stussy at a different point in time, who later opened Grey One and designed for the Diamond Supply Co. After that shop closed, I was asked by the LA based artist collective Seventh Letter to jump on board. A brother named Eclipse One, who also runs AWR and MSK, taught me a lot about the ways of life and mind set of how to survive in Los Angeles. I did the merchandising there and that’s part of the reason how I got my job today. Being a DJ/producer while working in the Street wear/fashion industry, Delicious Vinyl was a perfect place to work at, because they were looking for someone to develop product for them.
After learning all those things from your experiences, what do you bring to the label/company today to make the brand stronger? Is there a secret ingredient?
Everything I’ve learned in the past is knowledge. It’s my set of skills that nobody can take away. Fortunately, I had great bosses and inspiring mentors. At the same time, they made me work a lot [laughs].
…Dreams don’t work unless you do.
Right. Since this is an industry that not everyone is going to make it, my thing was to work harder than everybody else. Not to compete, but for my own sake. As for the secret ingredients to make the brand better and stronger? …Ultimately, putting the love you have into it. Not just the creative work side of things, but to employees and interns. My take is to treat them like family, building together, creating a team. My job is to make sure I take care of those people who help taking care of the label.
Speaking of Family, your label family tree grows a long way back. Of having history from old school to new, can you tell us how the newer artists come on board? for example, Illa J or Cazal Organism
With Illa J, that was already situated before I got on with the label. But the way the label got connected with Illa J, is through J Dilla, where we put out one of his biggest records out back in 95. We still have a lot of love for J Dilla (RIP), his legacy and his family. So it was very organic that Illa J would put out a record [through Delicious Vinyl].
With Cazal, he is actually the son of Mellow Man Ace, who is also a veteran artist of the label. The two has a unique father and son Hiphop duo called The ZZYZZX. Cazal is 17 years old but makes beats like he’s veteran. He’s a wiz kid. And with the Beat Scene culture developing in Los Angeles, it made sense to have Cazal on board with the team.
Speaking of teams, I’ll make an analogy to a basketball team. Where Michael Ross is the coach, Me the Team manager, Cazal forward, Yancey Boys being the center, new duo of Tre and Numark (Pharcyde and Jurasic 5) is like Kobe Bryant…and even junior league guys like BudahMonk and Joe Styles from Japan through a digital distribution deal.
Still, we are directing towards something different from what everybody else is doing. Meaning, we are sticking to our own niche which is Neo Soul and Boom Bap (Hiphop), because there’s not enough of it coming out especially from Los Angeles; focusing on making music with a good vibe and it doesn’t have to be club music. We can make remixes that are club tracks, but the main focus is to put out good vibe music with positive messages.
Going back to branding, how do throwing events play into it?
It is the biggest thing to do for interacting with the community; the fans, the followers, the supporters is through having events. You get to see them, give back to them and it’s a way to create your own movement. If you can throw great events it will generate great word of mouth and people are going to want to come to it. It’s a great way to build foundation and continue to make new ones. Even with social networks which is great, but can’t replace real connections.
What do you do to stay afloat during hard times of business?
That’s the truth [laughs]
It’s a very interesting time for the music industry, where it can be big. For instance, there’s a good and bad about digital. CD’s or Vinyl records, there’s physical inventory limit to how much you can carry, but with digital it is infinite. Everybody around the world can purchase it with a click of a mouse. It’s about recognizing value for each medium. A vinyl can remain forever just like a book, whereas digital, can disappear if something happens to your computer or if one day the internet is gone. But either way, we attach digital music files to the physical copies of the music so that the supporters can have both, for convenience. So that would be one strategic development that we are doing including everybody else I’m sure.
Can we get a message for the new comers into the music industry?
For everybody out there that are big fans of the music that keeps the industry going; people who want to come into and want to get involved with this whole movement…my message would be…[with a little pause and thought]…from first hand experience, make sure you have another job [laughs], because music industry is very tough right now. Make sure that you know you have to hustle and know other ways of making money in order to maintain and survive…so be ready for it. You will LOVE IT, once you get to where you want to be.
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