WHOOOOSHOUSE: Associate Yourself with Something Greater
by Dave House (@DaveHouseOutlaw)
Rule 1: Associate Yourself with Something, Greater than Yourself
The first rule in, Street Rules in the Office, is that you associate yourself with an entity or establishment that is greater than yourself. This means you should become acquainted professionally or personally with either a music industry executive or a successful artist. As mentioned earlier, Kevin Black was associated with Death Row Records, which became successful with multi platinum sales of “The Chronic”, “DoggyStyle” and the “Above the Rim” movie soundtrack. 50 Cent has gone public to say that he has two of the best “bodyguards” in the building, meaning Interscope, with Eminem and Dr. Dre, and their individual and collective success for the label. Well-known music executives such as Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles have catapulted their careers after working under the tutelage of Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons.
Street Rules in Your Family
Those who have family members in the music business who are executives can possibly create or influence job openings, inherit this rule just because of their relation. If that potential employee decides to make a career in the music business, he or she has an advantage where it will be easier to call a relative than search in the “Help Wanted” ad of a newspaper for an internship at a label. I am not ruling out the fact that the potential employee will still have to work just as hard as anyone who does not have any inside connections to the business prior to arrival. The lucky and well-connected relative may actually have to work twice as hard to create their own identity separate from their family member. As the connected prospect advances their career, they will have the responsibility of becoming identified in the business as their own individual and not of the relative’s kin. Regardless of outcome, the fact will remain the same, it’s easier to get in the building through a family member’s phone call than it is going the traditional route of seeking internship or work at will.
For example, if you were the relative of someone as famous as Russell Simmons, you can possibly have a phone call made from him personally that can put you in place at an entry-level position to secure your seat in the building for employment. With someone who has a history as iconic as the founder of Def Jam Records, Phat Farm, Def Comedy Jam, and many other philanthropist efforts, Russell Simmons has the ability to make a phone call to see if there are available openings around the industry at any given moment. The reverse effect of being related to an executive in the music business, past and present, is that the potential employee may have to live up to the name and legacy of the person they are related to.
With a high profiled reference for the available internship or job opening, a person can “unofficially” be their direct supervisor’s boss, politically speaking. Politics in the music business, is a subject fit for its own nine chapters but to touch on the subject as it relates to Rule 1, is that the hiring supervisor may hire the related prospect due to the pressure of the executive who administered the call. The executive that is about to hire would rather cover their ass and not be the one to piss off a former or current executive that has power. Not hiring or terminating their relative on their own jurisdiction without seeking consultation from someone equivalent to the ranking of the experienced executive can translate into the hiring executive not respecting the authority of the powerful relative. Now, their position is at risk and politics can be played to oust your seating and, at worse, replace you with the intern. In these extreme cases, politics will be played accordingly. You can compare this act to old mob movies where you needed permission to kill or “wack” a boss from a certain family, but in this case where a person is related or connected to the industry professional will instead need permission to “wack” his own underling.
Observing Street Rules
If you are not related to anyone in the music business then you will have to create your own door to walk through to enter. Since walking up to an executive demanding an opportunity is highly unlikely, it is important to align yourself with an established entity that already has a name for itself within the company. Some people resort to joining street teams which are grass root promotion workers, whose job are to maximize the awareness of an artist or project by being hands on with the target fan base in the market. The hip hop magazine called the Source covered a story in the February 1999 issue on grassroots advertising, which is a more professional term for street promotions or street team activity. Founder of Loud Records and SRC, home to artist such as Mobb Deep, Wu Tang Clan, Akon, and Melanie Fiona, Steve Rifkin started street promotions for Spring Records in 1989, revolutionized the act of grassroots advertising. Steve would bypass the DJ and take his artist promotion campaign directly to the target audience and get feedback from the audience. The act of street promotions gave a direct marketing presence for the artist at the meeting grounds of the consumer.
Street teams are well-known for placing artist posters and flyers on telephone polls at events, or handing out small giveaways that are known as point of purchase, or P.O.P, to an audience attending local radio station live broadcasts. A slick way to get inside the building is to join a street team voluntarily that is outsourced by a professional entertainment company, or a major record label.
Guide to Focus
After joining and solidifying your roll as a member of a street team for a record label, you can advance your way into the building by being the first volunteer to pick up extra product if the supervisor of the street team is unavailable or unable to do so himself. The act of being the reliable and dependable when doing such volunteer work will go noticed as your face and name becomes familiar to the office. The authorized visits from the head of the street team will give you an opportunity to identify with the executives in the building, while appearing as if you’re not navigating the your supervisor’s territory by building your own relationships. Once you start building your relationships outside of just picking up POP from the label, you can make your move and ask the questions on how you can be more useful.
I equate this to Tony Montana’s character in the Brian De Palma cult classic movie, “Scarface,” during the Bolivia cocaine-deal scene. When Tony went to visit Sosa, who’s character was that of a drug dealing overlord, his duties was to act as a bodyguard for the character that played Omar, who was sent by the boss to close a major deal with Sosa. Despite Omar trying to close in on a deal to secure for their boss in Miami, Tony started talking to Sosa as if he was sent by the boss himself to make the deal, and not Omar. I would never recommend that one overstep protocol, so all of a sudden, by going over the head of their appointed supervisor like how Tony did with Omar. I would recommend that you keep a level of confidence when in front of certain personnel that will make an impression like Tony made on Sosa. Being reliable and establishing a sense of reassurance is the first step in convincing hiring personnel in the office that your presence will be a asset to the office. Also, creating a little “small talk” on a subject that is not music business related, will always help you, because it is an ice breaker that will help you build your relationship with the hiring executive.
Street Rules in the College
In the U.S., state and federal labor laws forbid businesses from hiring or using the service of a person without some form of compensation that may include college credit, travel, or tuition reimbursement, or minimum wage. A lot of the young and hungry future music executives who want to make a business career in music usually have a desire to work for free. Personally, I have heard questions from potential prospects interested in the music business ranging from, “I’ll do anything to work in the building,” or, “…what do you need for me to do so I can work in the building?” But the fact remains that the law is the law. All major labels, management companies, PR firms, and marketing companies have human resource departments whose job description includes recruiting prospects to become apprentices in the offices for college credit.
If a person really wants to “work for free” or “would do anything,” then that person should use the energy of determination and enroll in an accredited school. By enrolling in a college or university, you will enable yourself to receive college credit by participating in an internship program. Applying street rules in the office will allow the person to realize that once enrolled into an accredited program, their mission is to gain access to “the building”. Since every student in the school has a career counselor, one should build a relationship with the counselor immediately after enrollment. That person would be “the connect” like Omar was connected to Tony’s character in “Scarface.” Similar to the underworld of organized street crime, or the unconventional world of peddling narcotics in the streets, “the connect” is necessary for long-term profits that may unfortunately lead to short-term financial gain. In the internship, your purpose for being in school in the first place is to gain access to the human resources department at a music company and not for the actual recreational activity of being a student. You are only infiltrating your status as a student in an effort to gain access to the career counselor. It’s the duty of the career counselor to place or grant a letter stating that the student for hire can and will receive academic credit to bypass labor laws. The human resource rep will bring you the “the work” that will connect you to the direct hire where you will be interning.
Guide to Focus II
By enrolling in college or working on a street team, you are associating yourself with someone greater than you, such as working under the street team coordinator or building a relationship with the college career counselor. The difference between going the route of college or a street team verses actually being related to a music executive is the job security that was described earlier in this chapter. Your relationships with key executives with power will be the difference maker on how long you can last with your career after you entered the building on your own terms.
Dave House is the founder of WHOOOOSHOUSE WORLDWIDE, LLC. With over 50 Million Records sold/Over 100 Million Spins detected during his career Dave has established himself as a voice in the music industry that you can trust. Follow him at @DaveHouseOutlaw on TWITTER for your WEEKLY MEDIABASE MONDAY REPORT EVERY MONDAY @ 12PM EST/ 9AM PST & MEDIABASE MONDAY RECAP @ 6PM EST/3PM PST