The past month has found me in a really strange head space professionally. You know the saying “be careful what you ask for?” Well, I wanted to be a part of a pretty large project with one of our more established artists, and then I got it. What I also got with it was a large team of people with many combined years in the business and a lot of entitlement and ego (some earned, some not so much) along with it, and I’ve had to repeat to myself more than once recently “You wanted this…you wanted this.”
As you guys probably know, I work with primarily “Urban” artists. “Urban” is a tricky niche to put music in these days because it doesn’t mean the same thing it used to. Urban artists can easily be mainstream pop artists: look at Usher, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Ciara; even Jay-Z, Kanye and Weezy. But, it gets dangerous when you try to ignore the fact that there is still a demo that needs to be served even while they’re appealing to the mainstream. The other thing is that there are executives that know the business of music inside and out, but still don’t understand how urban music works. They either want to relegate it to a little area where all artists with brown skin just belong in the same category, or they want to push out to the masses and shoot for the stars while ignoring, like I just mentioned, the core demo. This is a challenge that I’m dealing with on this project: an “Urban” artist that’s broader than that, but is not yet considered a Pop star either.
This is not an industry for the weak of mind, heart or spirit. A certain amount of confidence is required not just to be an effective label executive but a successful marketer of any kind: you have to be confident that your instincts are right, confident that you’re knowledgeable about what you’re doing, and stand firm against those who disagree (and there are always those who will disagree), and be able to show and prove. Ideally, one is able to have this confidence without it becoming massive ego. That’s a whole other thing. Then you can just be loud and wrong and you don’t care as long as you’re heard. I’ve always considered myself confident, but lately I’ve been second guessing myself, and that’s not good.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about this particular situation, but at the core it comes down to how to get your ideas and opinions across to people who are either senior or have bigger names/reputations and be firm when you know you’re right without stepping on toes. It’s truly a tight-rope, and it’s one I’ve had to walk before (as I’m sure we all have in our respective jobs or in other organizations), but it’s especially challenging this time with me being new to this team. I managed to pull myself out of my funk at some point last night while watching the Real Housewives of New York reunion, and reminded myself that I’m good at what I do! Like, really good! So now I have to hold my head back up and go into battle – cautiously, but confidently.
I wanted to share this not so much to talk about the artist, but just to share that a climb is always tough, in any game, any industry. I think sometimes there is s