Cool V, a seasoned music industry veteran sat down with us for an interview to give our readers advice about coming up in this hectic scene everyone seems all too eager to be a part of. You’re gonna want to read this one through, Cool V knows EXACTLY what he is doing and he divulges industry secrets only insiders know through experience!
With over 20 years in the industry, what would you say has been the most valuable lesson you learned the hard way?
There were many, but the most valuable lesson I would say is to always get things in writing. NEVER sign a contact without your attorney (Even get two or more sometimes to review any and all documentations) & take anyone's word in this business without having it on paper. Trust me, this will be an important obstacle you’re going to cross and learn early in this business!
How did you have a hand in creating the world 1st music search engine DJpulse.com with electronic producer Craig Carpenter? Was it difficult? How did the idea come about? Amazing accomplishment!
Thank you. It all started as an idea I had because of my love and passion for music. At that time I realized there wasn't much content for DJs, artists, and musicians. Since my boy Craig Carpenter was a dope techie, I had the dream and he had the tools to help my vision become a reality. We discussed it a few times and decided to do it; and the rest is history!
From what I researched, it looks like you specialize in branding, promoting and marketing. Which, in your eyes, is the way to go? Indie or label?
That is correct. I sleep and eat M&M (Music & Marketing) ^_- and independent is definitely the way to go for industry newcomers and sometime seasoned vets. It just depends on what type of deal you have if you’re a veteran! Just a few years ago, the majors had a monopoly on the industry and you had to go through them for distribution and to be seen in mainstream media. But nowadays things have changed! You can go through bloggers, internet radio, and social media and get noticed overnight! The old chokehold no longer exists. So when artists complain about how hard it is to get in the game, it’s because most don't do their research nor willing to make the three sacrifices (time, energy and money) to make it! To be honest, this is one of the reasons why they were behind the SOPA act so hard and got the government to push ACTA because some are pissed that they lost that control they once had. In return, the labels now offer slave contracts called "360 deals", which have become the mainstream for new artists signing with majors these days. Newcomers must know that an artist can get his/her brand across the globe by a few emails and connecting with the right people, and if so they are branding their product properly. There is a formula to this, but like Snoop says "The Game is to be sold NOT told". That is why there are so many music workshops where they give you snippets like WMC (Winter Music Conference), SXSW (South By Southwest), North By NorthEast, and MIDEM.
You started your career as a DJ. What then made you go from the spotlight to helping others into the spotlight? Who has been an influence in your marketing and branding career?
Wow, you really did your research. I am impressed and loving the questions Ely ;). My first passion for music started as a DJ along with my passion for people impelled me to help others. My grandma always said “there are 2 types of people in this world those that just live in it and those that change it". I feel if GOD blesses you, you can help someone. It’s something you do without question! It's also the reason why a lot of my accomplishments came into existence filling a void. I feel since I have a ton of connections why not use that and my natural abilities to make a difference. In regards to who inspired in my marketing and branding career, I would have to say my marketing teacher in college at ECC (Erie Community College) Dr. Kelly. He affected me more ways than he will ever know. He was the 1st person to believe in me and to truly inspire me to pursue my career in marketing. He told me that I had a gift that I was taking for granted. When I used to come in his class high & hungover from deejaying and drinking at the clubs I was playing at the night before. I can remember like it was yesterday, he said "You’re a good student and got a gift that you don't even take seriously, While other people are studying their brains out you come in here hop right in and stroll by with a B or B- without even studying you are gonna become wasted talent if you don't apply yourself.” He also helped me to understand that I am a natural born marketer by reminding me about the appeal I had on my classmates and peers. He said "You don't realize it but you have a gift how many people can pack a club of 2500 on a Monday and 5k on a Friday just by word of mouth you got not just your classmates but 1/2 the school to sign a petition to help students keep their Tap & Pell grants and you ask me if you got what it takes....What do you think?" After that conversation, a light bulb went on that never stop shining. He was the main reason I exist in marketing because before him I didn't even know I was already branding clubs, people, and events.
I know NAME DROPPING is a no no, but you gotta give me something! Can you tell me a couple artists you have helped along their road to success? Who was more of a difficult client?
::Exhales:: (SMH Ely is nooooo joke smiles only because I don't like doing this but for her and you the readers anything ^_^)!! I have been very blessed to have worked with a ton of artists and help brand them in one way or another as a promoter (threw events), and as a DJ (introducing them on radio and others threw marketing consultation). I have been extremely blessed to work and meet some amazing entertainers from 2Pac, Digital Underground, King Assassin, DJ Skee, Sway & Tech, Craig Mack, The Notorious B.I.G., Common, Jay-Z, Boot Camp Click, UGK, The Outsiders, The Superfriends, Adina Howard, Luke, Cory Gunz, Carl Thomas, Big Sean, B.o.B, Glasses Malone, Richie Sosa, Drake, Kanary Diamonds, Gunplay, Wu-Tang Clan, J Dilla, Slum Village, Emily, Sean Kingston, Mims, Ghostwridah, the list goes on & on. As a consultant I cannot break the code of confidentiality on any of my past clients and threw respect for my peers. I cannot discuss what happens behind closed doors. This is a small industry and I'm still cool with them so I won't blow the whistle ;). However, I can tell you sometimes the higher they go up, the bigger the ego. Some will also forget who helped them along the way while others that always remain a class act! In short, this industry just exposes who you truly are. Money doesn't change you, it just brings out the real you just like when a cat is high or drunk they just let their inhibitions go and let loose. Like T Pain says, "Blame it on the alcohol!" #TrueStory
If you could, what would you change about the music industry?
Wow again! I would change a couple of things, man, this is a dope question! Hmmmmmm.... First, I would make the industry more about the music, less about the politics. Second, I would take some of the cutthroatness out this business because like Q-Tip said "industry number 5080 because record company people are shady", also respect to the pioneers for all their hard work and respect to all the people who truly make it happen: DJs, producers, A&R, managers, promotional teams, label reps, promoters, radio stations and bloggers. The guys who are unsung heroes who make it happen day in and day out people like "YOU", Ely, & College Underground Radio. Also the people who go in day in and day out showcasing people like myself and educating the public while bringing light to what goes on behind the scenes for this, I humbly thank you!!! ::bows::
With so many areas of expertise you specialize in, is there anything you DON’T do in the industry? Either because you realize they would be fruitless efforts or simply because you don’t like to.
Lol. You sound like my Manager (Margaret) who has the hard task of keeping this Tazmanian devil on a leash, haha! JK, but seriously, I don't try to limit myself. I'm an Aries and we like to fly free and test our abilities. I will go anywhere and try almost anything (...within reason of course)! But with age, I have gained wisdom and realize that I am best suited when I stay in my lane. I can freestyle but will I become a rapper..heck no!! That's the job of my artist Tam Tam, Mike White or my little sister Kanary Diamonds. I'm better behind those turn tables or producing a dope beat ^_^! #UHeardTheWhistle But never say never, the future will tell but as for right now its M&M's baby (Music & Marketing), the two things I excel in ;).
We have many independent artists who are readers, half of who are trying to get signed by a label. Do you have any advice or words of caution for those who are opting to get signed by a label?
Great question. My advice is: First, do your research. Do not get fooled by pictures and all the hype. Check their LinkedIn pages and other social networks to see who's referred them. Also, Google them to check their recent accomplishments. Don't trust one lawyer; always get the advice of two or three. Pick up "The hustlers 10 Commandments" by my boy Hotep and apply this in your everyday life. Never assume "just because you never heard of them", they are nobody. Ever heard the term sleeping giants? Well, that is so true in this industry. For example, I'm probably sure you never heard of Justo Faizon and Dru Ha, but there are a ton of us that do big things. They are seldom in the spotlight, but if you’re NOT truly in this industry nor a vet you wouldn't know the wiser. So before you speak to anyone, I urge you to do your research! Second, pleaseeeeee dead the ego and swag thing. Be confident but NOT cocky because there is a difference. Also, you're gonna have to invest in the 3 things I said earlier: time,
energy and money. If you’re NOT willing to do so, this industry is NOT for you! Again, I say leave your ego at the door!!! I also would advise for artists to get qualified people to do the job. Just because your cousin Pookie likes hip-hop and you trust him/her doesn't qualify her as a good manager. I would also recommend for new artists to get a CNA which stands for a "Client Needs Assessment" to create a plan of attack for this business. Time is money and if not utilized correctly, it results in wasted money and wasted time. Please remember YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!! Don't expect maximum results with minimum efforts. Last but not least, STOP taking bad advice. I hear a ton of people loving "THE 48 LAWS OF POWER", but I ask you this how many of you know the author or hear people discussing him? That book has some of the worse advice for straight business. If you want to screw others and look behind your back the rest of your career practice it, otherwise look at it as a manual of what NOT to
do! Why would you follow a book of someone who no one likes? Instead pick up "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by "Robert Kiyosaki", one great book by an even greater man who I admire!
You definitely have an entrepreneurial mind, as is evident in the businesses you have created. What business, thus far, would you say has made the biggest impact on others and how?
I can't pick one because each one has had a different impact and all had success. I would say in contrast to today, Trunk Hustlers definitely made a huge impact not just on the artists, but how others do business in this game because it was one of the unlike many networking and social branding sites. We had feeling and put in a lot of hard work and help promote game changers like Digiwaxx, AllHipHop, Rapstar Promo, Fleet DJ's, BumSquad, VinylBreakers, LordGangDJ's, UIM Magazine, TapWire, DI Impressions, and Skee TV. We introduced a ton of brands and artists to a lot of people. I am proud of the seeds it produced such as Coda Grooves, Rapstar Promo, The Beat FM, 1FM Jams, and Soundload Music. We introduced those brands and many many other brands and game changes you see in the game today!
What quote do you live by? Why?
L.A.E = Loyalty Over Everything because without loyalty you have NOTHING!
I am loyal 1ST to God & family, 2nd then to my trades, my talents but not only am I loyal to but truly LOVE my team and my supporters! This has been the sole reason why I have been able to remain relevant in this industry. I feel people can tell when you’re being fake and when you don't value them so I like to remind myself to stay humble and surround myself with people who share the same belief. I tell my people daily that without them there could be no ME and I am the lucky one to be blessed with such love and surrounded with great energy people love yourself enough to do so. If I can I will end this interview with a verse from one of the songs I wrote years ago.
Thanks For Your Love & Support!