Monthly Archives: March 2008

The Importance of Personal Relationships

Okay, this post might crossover into rant mode, but I have to get this off my chest.

A little while ago, I noticed someone had sent me a friend request on 2 different social networking sites; Facebook and LinkedIn. I know who the person is, but I’m not very familiar with her because we’ve only briefly dealt through someone else in the past. On the few instances that we have spoken, she seemed nice and professional, so I decided to accept her friend requests.

She contacted me with an update of what she’s doing now and we exchanged a few emails over a 2 week period.

As you already know, I have my own business; so I have a few people on the team, but I also keep a short list of freelancers who I’ll outsource work to for certain services. I’ve seen her work and thought her quality of work and price would be a good match for one of my clients.

I called her up and gave her a brief rundown about this potential client and what was needed, but never went into details about who the client is and where they’re from. We spoke a bit and agreed on a rate for her retainer services.

Later that night, I logged into my Facebook account and noticed that she added 3 people from my Friends List. 2 of those guys were the clients who I was discussing the contract for, but I never mentioned their names or any real details about them.

We don’t live in the same area and she works in a very specific niche, so it’s unlikely for us to have many contacts in common.

I thought it was kind of strange but thought maybe she’s just one of those people who treats Facebook like MySpace and adds as many people as she can without making real connections with them.

Then, the next day, I get a call from my client telling me that he just got a message from her saying she can offer him a cheaper price if he goes directly through her.

WHAT?!

How bold can you be?

But wait, it doesn’t stop there.

The same evening, I noticed she joined about 5 groups that I belong to and ended up adding the admins of those groups as well (also people on my Friends List). These were all relatively small, local production companies and labels that don’t really operate within her niche; so again, it’s highly unlikely that she knows them.

The next day, I got some phone calls and emails from a few people telling me that she contacted them also and offered them the same thing. They noticed I was the only “mutual friend” so they wanted to give me a heads up on this back door shyster.

I can’t lie – I was vexed! I was about to pick up the phone and put her on blast. Did she think I wouldn’t find out? Did she think I’d just ignore it?

My blood was boiling at first, but then I realized – these people all called and told me about it. They got this random person who just added them on a social networking site and started pitching them straight from the gate. They don’t know her nor have they ever heard of her. All they know is that the only person they can link her to is me and that they hired my company to handle the services she’s pitching them.

They all sensed a rat and even deleted her from their Friends List as well.

But the fact that I’m the only person they can link her to plays into their perception of me and my judgment. We really have to be careful about who we keep around us. It’s hard sometimes because most of us work in industries that are built on greed and backstabbing. Especially the music business!

How do we know who to trust and when we find those people, how do we know how far our trust should stretch?

Obviously, she can’t be trusted and I’m curious as to how many bridges she’s burned so far, but even though she went directly to some of the artists, managers and indie labels I work with; I’m not really worried. She oversaw my secret weapon – Personal Relationships!

I don’t just walk up to people, hand them my business card and walk away. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I see it all the time at industry events; people walk around and give out their cards like they’re passing out club flyers – they don’t even speak to anyone. A lot of artists and beatmakers are guilty of doing the same thing with their CDs: just put it someone’s hands and walk away. I call that “spam networking”. There’s no point to it; nobody’s going to remember you when you spam network.

For me, I don’t just meet people; I develop relationships. When I look through my address book, I don’t see “contacts”; I see PEOPLE. I see experiences and memories. That’s not something that just takes 5 minutes to build. This is something that takes while to build and that you maintain on a constant basis.

Whether it’s wishing someone happy birthday, taking them out when they’re in town or even just grabbing a drink together because you haven’t seen each other in a while; these things are important. But don’t just do it because you feel obligated or for networking reasons only. People can tell when you’re being fake. Do it because you genuinely want to. Lucky for me, I’ve come across many people who I easily get along with and whose company I enjoy.

So, back to the situation at hand; to her and to anyone like her – you can steal all the contact info you want and try to pitch them, but I can pick up the phone and share a laugh or even ask for a favour if ever needed.

No matter what you do, what industry you’re in or where you are in your career, never underestimate the power of a personal relationship.

Def Jam's Secret To Success

The guys over at The Real have been making quite a bit of noise with their brand of “hip-hop sketch comedy”.

Check out the video below on Def Jam’s Secret To Success.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=815461″ height=”267″ width=”400″ /]

Aspiring Producers Showcased on PMP Mixtape

It’s not easy maintaining a blog when you’re really out there bustin your behind to live up to the title of it.

I think I’ve already written about 5 or so half-posts on my blackberry while out there doing my bids; it’s just a matter of finding the time to post. I should be getting a little bit of downtime this coming weekend, so I’ll sit down at my PC and prepare some stuff for you.

In the meantime, I have something to keep you entertained. If you remember, a few weeks ago, I interviewed Conrad Dimanche from Bad Boy. While we didn’t go into it, he mentioned PMPWorldwide.com during the last portion of our interview.

PMPWorldwide.com is a marketplace for artist and producers to network and get access to other artists and producers looking to collaborate. It also serves as a great resource for producers looking to place music on the records of major label artists.

To further help aspiring producers, PMPWorldwide.com has teamed up with DJ Furious Styles (host of SHINE For The Unsigned on XM Satellite Radio) to release, “The Official PMP Mixtape”, a showcase for upcoming producers with commentary from acclaimed musicians Hi-Tek, Vinny Idol, Red Spyda and 88 Keys.

This mixtape is a great marketing tool, in that it showcases the music of upcoming producers to a larger audience, while also spotlighting PMP and DJ Furious Styles, as advocates of unsigned talent.

Click here to check out the mixtape

How I Discovered Kanye West

Kanye West with gold models

Note: I get a little side-tracked in this post, but it all comes together, I promise.

Have you ever felt connected to and genuinely proud of an artist’s success because you were a fan of theirs before they became major celebrities? You somehow believe you were a part of the movement, even if you were no more than a mere observer.

I have.

I’ve been a fan of many artists before they became stars. As they moved ahead in their careers, I became proud of each of their accomplishments as if I played a role in it. One person in particular is Kanye West.

*Okay, so I didn’t really “discover” Kanye, but you get the point.

The first time I heard the name Kanye West was back in 1999. At this point in my life, I had formed this little group of local artists; 2 rappers and 1 singer. I wasn’t rapping or singing though; I was the “producer/manager”.

We were working on a couple tracks and I started searching online for other artists and producers to collaborate with. I heard this one R&B joint that I thought was bananas. I checked out the rest of the webpage (this was before everybody had their own websites and the people who actually were online had webpages hosted on GeoCities – remember that?), and found out it was from a small R&B group in Chicago. Their contact info at the bottom of the page led me to their producer.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with that song really; I just knew that it was hot and that I wanted it. So, I contacted the producer and told him I wanted to do a remix of it featuring my group. We spoke for a while and he ended up sending me about 5 CDs full of beats. From all those beats, only a small selection were good and I decided to take 3 of them. (I still have those CDs actually. I just checked).

This was during the time when the bedroom producer was really beginning to take reign and the indie game was over-saturated with corny sounding Fruity Loops beats (I’m guilty of that too). This producer’s main pitch was that he wasn’t using Fruity Loops, but actually playing it out on his Triton. Every beatmaker and their mama was about the Triton back then. If you weren’t using it, then you weren’t really serious.

Anyways, after that we ended up speaking on a regular. One day he started telling me how he first got into producing:

“My mentor is Kanye West. You ever heard of him? He works with some big names now. That’s my dude. He taught me to play the keys in our church group. Check him out, that’s my mentor.”

He would mention “Kanye West” every chance he had. I remember asking him about these vocal samples he had in a beat I wanted to buy:

“Don’t worry about those samples. Kanye West doesn’t clear them unless it’s for a big artist with big budget. He told me it’s cool if it’s just for a smaller artist who doesn’t get much airplay. They’ll only catch you if your song gets real big, but by then you should have the money to clear the sample anyways right?”

Whether this guy was for real or not, I kept seeing Kanye’s name pop up after that – magazines, cd & mixtape credits, online forums, etc.

“Isn’t this the guy homie kept telling me about? Hmm.. dude’s moving up.”

When Jay-Z dropped the Kanye-produced, “Izzo (H.O.V.A)”, I felt this weird sense of pride as if it was someone within my crew. I told everybody I knew about it and spoke about it like it was something we should all be proud of.

It continued like that for a while.

A few years later, I was watching RapCity with Big Tigger and they aired Kanye’s first video, “Through The Wire”.

“Dude’s a rapper now?? This joint is siccck. Playa is on point!”

I was all about it. I kept telling people about it like I was making commission.

I guess the label thought it wasn’t getting the type of buzz they needed because the record and video disappeared like it was never even serviced. No mention of it, no traces of it.. nothing.

It re-appeared a few months later and this time, it got major push. Now, the label was fully behind it and talking about an upcoming album. Now everybody knew his name and was all about it.

The Kanye-frenzy began and it wasn’t my little secret anymore.

Coincidentally, I had just began working at the label when “College Dropout” was released and although it was a different division that was responsible for marketing the record, I kept a close eye on the project as if I was protecting my own investment.

The record dropped and the frenzy began. The first tour was damn near sold-out, if not sold-out, in every city. (Side note: John Legend performed a private after-party that night at a tiny africana-jazz bar near my apartment with a maximum capacity of 100 people . One of my favourite music memories, by far.)

The rest is pretty much history.

Now, Kanye’s the biggest name in the game and has everybody waiting on his next word. But even so, as an early supporter, I still kinda have that sense of familiarity with him and feel like I played a role in his success in some weird way… do you know what I mean?

I guess my point is; everybody has experiences like this – so keep this in mind with your own career. Connecting with your fans early on, will not only make them feel more connected to you – but can also help propel your career to new levels.

Chris Lighty Discusses What Hip Hop Is

In this video with hiphopis.us Mr. Violator himself, Chris Lighty, discusses what hip-hop is to him.

By the way, this is the second time I’ve heard someone pronounce Lupe Fiasco as “Loopy Fiasco”. The first being Jay Leno during Lupe’s performance a few weeks back. What’s up with that?

Thanks to Aura for the video.

Black Chiney Vol 8.9 – Free Download

Black Chiney Vol 8.9

Finally! For all the dancehall fiends, Black Chiney finally blessed us with another mixtape after nearly 4 years.

But don’t think they’ve been sleeping. I was talking with my man Supa Dups (Black Chiney’s founding member/producer) last night and the list of production credits he’s building is incredible: Nina Sky, Kardinal Offishall, Collie Buddz, Akon, Pussycat Dolls, John Legend… the list goes on.

If you’re not familiar with Black Chiney mixtapes, they are an incredible blend of dancehall and hip-hop featuring members Supa Dups, Bobby Chin, Willy Chin and Walshy Killa.

Black Chiney Vol 8.9 features Buju Banton, Kardinal Offishall, Shawty Lo, Elephant Man, Kanye West, Swizz Beats, Mavado, Jay-Z , Munga, Busy Signal, Leftside and Snoop Dogg.

Pay attention to the names Supa Dups and Black Chiney; as you’ll continue to see more and more from this crew.

Click here to download the new Black Chiney vol 8.9

5 Tips to Handling Your Business with Sol Guy

1. Find Your Passion

2. Do Your Homework. Know Your History. Understand Your Field.

3. Keep Your Word

4. Find Yourself A Mentor

5. Make Sure You Deliver

Sounds simple enough? Check out the video.

[flv:http://www.mobilejamfest.com/files/content_types/school_tutorials/flashvideo/4209_Handle_your_Business_Tutorial.flv 450 337]

Expert:
Sol Guy

Occupation:
Artist/Television Producer

Sol Guy has been an influential contributor to the rise of Urban Music over the last 11 years. His combined experience of running an independent label, artist management, producing, consulting, and full-time employment at major record labels has provided him with a well-rounded view of the music industry.

Guy has worked closely with some of the highest profile black music artists of our time including Lauryn Hill, P Diddy, India Arie, The Roots, Outkast, Dead Prez, B.I.G. and The Wu-Tang Clan.

His life took a fateful turn in 2001 when he was invited to Sierra Leone, West Africa by Warchild Canada as a featured guest in the award-winning documentary Musicians In The War Zone. Guy witnessed the tragedy of war first-hand and saw potential for artists to raise awareness on global social issues. This was a life-changing experience that propelled him out of the music industry and onto a mission to bridge the gap between social activism and entertainment.

Guy is now focusing all of his experience and expertise on new areas of mass media. His mission is to use music, film, television and hip hop culture as a vehicle for change, promoting self-love and empowerment for global youth. He has recently formed a multimedia company called Direct Current Media that combines socially relevant and commercially viable content to achieve success in progressive social change and economic empowerment for those involved.

Guy has a long-standing history of community service and youth empowerment. He has brought his message to schools, jails and communities around the world. Over the past two years he has traveled extensively, connecting with youth leaders around the world to find ways to connect their work and be a conduit for change.

One of his projects is managing hip hop artist K’naan. A Somali refugee, K’Naan creates urgent “music with a message” and shares Guy’s vision of using his fame to help change the situation in his home country. Pulling from his poet-warrior culture, K’naan has flourished as an artist and is now known around the world.

Guy’s vision has been captured on film and television with the creation of 4REAL television series. 4REAL takes celebrity guests on adventures around the world to connect with young people who, under extreme circumstances, are affecting REAL change. These are the REAL heroes of our time. The show inspires audiences to see their own potential and their ability to affect real change in their own communities.

[Source: Mobile Jam Fest]

Old School Video: Hip-Hop All Stars on Arsenio Hall Show

Back when late night talk shows had a little more flavour. I remember wildin out when I saw this air.

Yo Yo, MC Lyte, Treach from Naughty By Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Fu-Schnickens, CL Smooth, Guru from Gangstarr, DAS EFX, Wu-Tang and KRS One all perform together on The Arsenio Hall Show!

Pop Bottles…..1 Month Celebration!

1 Month Mark of makingthemogul.com

Today marks 1 month since I launched makingthemogul.com!

I originally planned to just put the blog up and start writing whenever I felt like it and build up a catalog of content. I figured, this way I can take my time to get familiar with the whole blog world but also so I can get used to placing it in my regular schedule.

Plans kind of changed.

Word got out and MakingTheMogul pretty much started building on its own. I’m shocked when I look at my stats and see how many unique visitors I’m getting. I mean – it’s not crazy chart-topping numbers, but it’s not what I expected until maybe October or November of this year. It’s already buzzing and it’s only been 1 month!

Thanks to everybody for all the comments and emails I’ve been getting. Also, big shout outs to some of the other bloggers I’ve connected with; Southern Style DJs, Necole Bitchie, Soul Pitch Hustle, Sickamore, Digiwaxx and The Corporate Takeover.

I don’t want to treat my site like MySpace and just add 500 links that don’t make sense, but if you have a blog about music, entertainment, fashion, technology, marketing, business, or you’re just fly enough to talk about whatever you want to and still make it interesting (and it makes sense for me to link you), then hit me up in the comment section below and let’s connect!

Talking with Grammy Winner Steve Pageot

Steve Pageot

Gold and Platinum plaques, a Grammy award and negotiations to work on Michael Jackson‘s next studio album – these are credentials anybody would be more than proud of. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for producer/engineer/musician/composer, Steve Pageot. He’s definitely making major moves and is a mogul in the making.

You’re based in New York, but you were actually raised in Montreal. Do you think having been raised in Montreal influenced your music in any way?

Yeah it has. Because I grew up in Montreal I was able to listen to all types of music. You know, Montreal is a very multi-cultural city. So by being around different cultures, you learn about different backgrounds and wherever you go in Montreal, if it’s on Victoria, you’re going to hear reggae music; if it’s on Cote-Des-Neiges Street, you’re going to hear hip-hop music; going downtown you’ll hear European music, you feel me? So I grew up being accustomed to these different styles of music.

Your father is a musician as well. I heard he had you playing the guitar since the age of 3. Was he strict with you in a boot camp/Jackson 5 type way or was it more of a relaxed environment that gave you the freedom to follow your own path?

It was the Jackson 5 bootcamp. I was an only child and he was trying to make the Jackson 5 with just me. [laughs] It wasn’t easy at all. I think the minute I came out of my mom’s stomach, he had plans for me. Thank God later on my brothers came into the picture and took some of the slack for me. My brother Ric’key is a piano player and he’s actually the musical director for Cirque Du Soleil‘s Delirium show. My youngest brother, Tony, he’s a drummer. He goes to music school at Vanier College in Montreal. My mom bought us the instruments to learn and my father taught us how to play and developed us as musicians. So we’re really a musical family.

In the past, you’ve said that you play the flute on every song that you produce. That’s your signature sound. What made you choose the flute as opposed to another instrument?

Well, after playing the guitar, I started playing the recorder in elementary and when I went to high school, they weren’t teaching the recorder; they had the concert flute. I switched to the concert flute, learned to play it and I’ve been playing it since. It was only right for me to play the flute on every record I produce, you know. To be different, to bring something different to the table. And so far, it’s been a success for me.

Coming from the background of being a musician first, how important do you think it is for a beatmaker to know how to read music?

It’s very important because if you’re mixing… okay let’s say if you have a loop, and you’re trying to put another sample to a loop, then if you’re a trained musician, you’re going to notice that certain samples won’t go with the loop or with another sample, just because your ear has been trained. But you find a lot of beatmakers, they’ll just put loops together and most of the time the loops are going to crash. Or they’re going to try to mix the sample with an acapella and it won’t even make sense, because the harmonies are not going to mesh.

Do you think producers in the traditional sense of those who produce, direct and arrange a song, will become less and less in demand as software and equipment become more affordable for beatmakers to enter the game?

No, because at the end of the day, it’s the real musicians who are going to make it happen. A software can’t make a beat for you. You need somebody with the knowledge of music to make something happen, to make real music. The beatmakers who don’t really know how to make music, they don’t last forever. They’re hot one minute and then the next year, you don’t hear about them. Somebody like Babyface, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis – 20 years from now they’re still going to be making music because they know the fundamentals. Even if you come with a new software, you’re still going to need somebody like them or like myself, to take that software to the next level

You taught yourself how to work the boards and become an audio engineer. Nowadays, you’re teaching at SAE in New York. Having seen both sides, would you recommend a newcomer to the game to go to school for audio engineering, or would you recommend them to go buy the equipment and teach themselves?

That’s a good question. Well, I would tell them to do both. There are certain things that they teach you when you go to school, the technical stuff. But when you learn on your own, you’re learning by trial and error. You get your hands dirty. It’s going to teach you the process of using music equipment. Even if you’re doing it on your own, there’s a lot of reading. You’ve got to put more hours into it, compared to if you were to go to school.

How did you break into producing music for movies, television and video games?

This is how it happened – In 1999, a friend of mine introduced me to a lady who was working for Arista Records. I introduced myself; I told her I produce records and also compose music and she told me about a friend of hers who lives in her building who’s a jingle producer and he’s looking for composers because he has too much work. So the next day, I sent my package to her and she sent it to the jingle producer. He called me a week later and told me he would like to meet me. I played him some of my scores and he loved them. That’s how I got into the game. But working with him, he taught me how to make music for jingles. Making jingles and making records are two different things. In a jingle, you’ve got 30 seconds or 60 seconds to put all your ideas together. But making a record, you’ve got about 4 minutes to express yourself. So by me doing jingles, it made me work faster and smarter. So now when I do records, it doesn’t take me that long to make. Then with the experience of that, I got into making music for TV – for MTV and VH1. But it all started with the jingles.

Is there more money in producing for avenues like television and video games as opposed to producing for artists?

Oh yeah. With a 30 second jingle, I can make $30,000. Actually, there’s a book coming out very soon by Wendell Hanes called The 30/30 Career: Making 30 Grand in 30 Seconds. I wrote a chapter in there about mixing – the difference between mixing music for records and mixing music for TV. That should be coming out very soon.

You won a Grammy in 2003 for your work with Aretha Franklin. That’s a big look! What kind of effect did that have on your career as an engineer and producer?

It made my situation become legit. My phone calls get returned. When people talk to me, they speak to me in a very respectful way. Because of that Grammy, I get free equipment from different companies. Right now I got like 10 major endorsement deals. So it’s a respect thing. Actually, I won the Grammy in 2004, but it was for something I did in 2003. So I got the Grammy in 2004.

What artists are you working with right now?

Right now, I just finished working with this female singer named Jade Ewen. She’s signed to Sony London. I wrote and played the flute on 3 records. And I just signed this girl named Sahara. She played Georgia in the movie Akeelah and the Bee. She’s a 16 year old singer from Los Angeles.

You just signed her? You have a label or production company?

Yeah, I have a production company, Pageot Productions. So I’m going to do her material and then go and shop a distribution deal for her.

Describe a typical day in your life.

A typical day in my life is like.. [pauses] waking up at 7 o’clock. I work out, and then from 9 o’clock it’s the phone calls, making sure I handle my business, you know. Find out who’s doing what, what they’re working on. And then from 12 o’clock, I’ll start making tracks for MTV and VH1. After that, I’ll practice the flute for a couple of hours, and then I’ll have artists come in and work on songs or demo songs. Then at night time, I’ll work on my mixing. It’s a full day for me. From 9-10 o’clock until 4 o’clock in the morning, I’ll go out and party and network, and then back at it again.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Man.. the hardest part of my job, is trying to filter all the ones that’s trying to b.s you. There’s so many people out there who say that they do things, but at the end of the day they just know somebody who knows somebody else who can do something. So, them b.s’ing you makes you waste your time, thinking that they’re the ones who are going to come up with something for you, but they don’t. I think that’s the hardest thing.

Work aside, what artists are you currently listening to for your own pleasure?

Right now, Michael Jackson. I love listening to Michael, you know. Actually, I just signed a management deal with Michael Jackson’s managers, Frank DiLeo and Terry Harvey. So they’re managing me now, and we’re in talks to bring me into the studio for Michael Jackson’s next studio album. I’ve been listening to a lot of James Brown lately and Stevie Wonder. I’m going back into the old school. There’s always something you can learn from it. You gotta know what happened in the past to go into the future.

What’s next for you? What goal do you wish to accomplish next?

You know what I’d really love to do? I’d really love to go around the world and do seminars. Teach people how to play music. Show them that you really got to go to school to learn this music in order to be respected. Don’t just take a drum machine, start playing it and think that you’re a musician. You know, just how all the old school people did; like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, they all went to school to learned how to play music. If you want to go down in history, just do the right thing, you know. My goal is to become the new blueprint of producers. Like what Quincy Jones was to us, I want to be that producer for the next generation – and for this generation.

You can find Steve Pageot at www.myspace.com/stevepageot. Make sure to tell him you found him through makingthemogul.com!

Steve Pageot in the studio

Select Discography

Music Score – Rob & Big Seasons 1,2 & 3 (MTV) – 3rd season currently airing every Tuesday at 10:30pm
Music Score – Miami Ink (A&E)
Music Score – Run’s House Season 2 (MTV)
Music Score – Breaking Bonaduce Season 2 (VH1)
Mixing – Garnier Fructis Commercial with Memphis Bleek
Engineering – 8Ball & MJG “Gangsta” (GOLD PLAQUE)
Engineering – New Edition “All On You”
Engineering – ESPN New Year’s Eve Special with Kanye West
Engineering – Aretha Franklin “Wonderful” (GRAMMY WINNER)
Production – Bone Thugs N Harmony “Call Me”
Production – Krayzie Bone “War Iz On” ft. Snoop Dogg, Kurupt & Layzie Bone (PLATINUM PLAQUE)
Live Instrumentation – Talib Kweli “Listen” (Flute)
Live Instrumentation – Planet Asia “It’s All Big” (Flute & Keyboard)