Turning My Greatest Struggle into Success

In the fall of 2012, I became ill very unexpectedly.  Having been a professional athlete for many years, taking care of my health was always very high on my list of priorities.  Sure, I’ve had to nurse myself back from a number of sports-related injuries, but nothing could have prepared me for just how sick I got that September.  

I was on the basketball court when suddenly started to feel an allergy attack coming on.  I also felt a pain unlike anything I experienced in my chest, so I went to the nearest hospital.  I was treated by the emergency staff for an allergy attack and given a steroid for treatment.  In a very unfortunate twist of fate, I wasn’t given the proper dosage of the drug, and this sent my body into complete tailspin.  For the next two to three years (and even still today), I dealt with anxiety and other health issues I couldn’t understand much less even begin to explain.  I could no longer play basketball.  I couldn’t focus on my personal business.  I couldn’t maintain friendships.  I spent every day just trying to get through the day and exist.

I left LA for Denver in early 2013, to get treatment and seek to restore my health at Muscle Pharm, where there was a top-notch doctor (Dr. Kim) who said he would work with me to reclaim my life.  Little did I know this move to Denver would change my world again, but this time, in a good way.  I reconnected with a college friend who was part of a local Denver hip-hop group, Top Flite Empire.  Although the group achieved a great level of success in the local hip-hop scene, they were looking to get their music beyond Colorado.

Music has been my greatest passion since I was young.  In 2006, when I was playing basketball in Australia, I met Simone "Boss Lady" Kapsalides.  At the time Simone was an up and coming journalist, having founded Urban Hitz, Australia and New Zealand’s highest selling on-sale urban music and culture magazine.  I wrote a few pieces for the magazine and Simone and I became great friends.  When she moved to New York to further advance her journalism career, I used to visit her every summer, meeting and mingling with her colleagues in the industry.

When I decided to venture into music management, Simone put me in touch with  some of the very best in music.  I established Fogo Management Group that same year, and since then have signed one more artist, Sabryna, and created an educational music conference, Proximity Music Conference, which is now hosted in partnership with Sony/Blueprint/Maverick.  

If I hadn’t gotten sick, I'm not sure I would have left the basketball court to start a new career in music.  Despite the hardship, music became a silver lining to the most difficult time of my life.

Build Your Network


One of the keys to success in any business is building a network.  I have found, time and time again, that my global network, is one of the most valuable assets of my business.  

 

But why is it so important?  Industry connections, regardless of what line of business you are in, cannot only help you to establish yourself in an industry, but they serve as a primary means for helping you grow.  There is so much knowledge in the world, and there is almost no unchartered territory when it comes to business these days.  What does this mean?  There are a lot of individuals out there in the world who have already tried and failed, who have amassed a lot of knowledge and who know the pitfalls and how to avoid them.  These are the individuals that can help you along as you clear a path for yourself.

 

The music business is no exception.  Have you ever heard someone sing that was just so talented and amazing you couldn't believe they weren't up on a stage singing to a crowd of thousands?  While there are some stories of random discovery out there, by and large individuals in the music industry build networks and seek talent by leveraging relationships they have with others in the industry.  If you want to make it, whether you aspire to sing or dance or be a personal assistant or stylist, you need to know key people in the industry who can help you make inroads.

 

The difficulty with networking in music is that many of those industry people are simply not reachable.  Consumers of urban music have almost zero access to the music industry as a whole, and if they do not reside in such music markets as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Atlanta, or Nashville, they have almost no chance of creating a role for themselves within the industry. Without a role, they cannot fully have an opportunity to participate in the systems, which their dollar and their choice help to create. 

 

Urban individuals only have access to the industry in remote cases when they personally know someone already working in the industry or if they attend a music conference, which can cost upwards of $5,000 for a weekend. A majority of the “urban music” demographic cannot afford to attend the average music conference; however, attendance at an industry conference or seminar is one of the best ways to further a career and/or business. Conferences are designed to help participants amass usable content on a variety of relevant subjects and keep attendees up-to-date with the latest changes occurring within the industry. Furthermore, conferences provide the best opportunity for networking.

 

To find out what Fogo Management is doing to help make the music industry more accessible to artists and those pursuing careers in the music business, stay tuned for our next blog!


Proximity Music Conference (PRXMTY)

PRXMTY is a conference I launched in 2014 as direct response to numerous growing issues plaguing the urban music business. Even though the “urban” consumer performs a majority of urban music’s product and consumption, the small, powerful group of individuals controlling the urban music market and benefiting from the sale of urban music is not.  This bothered me tremendously, so I decided to find a solution to bridge that gap.

The conference focuses primarily on millennials interested in pursuing careers in the music business, with the emphasis on the urban music markets.  Because technological advances and our ability to consume music in a variety of ways, has led to a shift in the traditional format of the music business, it is imperative now more than ever that individuals have equal access to the education necessary to thrive within, and benefit from, this industry.

PRXMTY has grown from a regional showcase and conference to a nationwide brand supported by the worldwide urban music powerhouse The Blueprint Group/Maverick. PRXMTY features music business and artist instruction from The Blueprint Group and its trusted team of top music advisers and insiders from across the world. The Blueprint Group is the home of some of the most successful hip-hop acts in the world, including Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and G-Eazy.  

While most conferences stick to the music convergence cities of NYC, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville, we charted a difference course. PRXMTY's goal is to educate individuals who do not have direct access to the business and industry of music. By creating mobile conferences, powered by distinguished industry panelists, most of whom are high level executives within the industry with decades of experience, PRXMTY will provide conference participants the building blocks needed to cultivate successful careers via its panel discussions and Q&A sessions.   

PRXMTY will be a one-day conference in each city that will focus on the following:

1.     Job opportunities in the music industry;

2.     How the synchronicity of many of these jobs play a part in how the industry works;

3.     Access to the industry via in-person networking with senior music executives;

4.     Guidance and tools, specifically around strategic marketing and promotion, empowering the individual to create a role and be successful in the industry; and

5.     Discovery of new talent. 

HipHopDX is “In My City…”

Building on the success of PRXMTY and our desire to bring a spotlight to artists in smaller cities across the US, I partnered with HipHopDX for a new video series “In My City…”  The video series featured Fogo Management artist, Top Flite Empire, for its first documentary in Denver.  The crew followed Top Flite around the city and discovered what life is like for an artist trying to make it in music when you’re based in a smaller music market.

 

Check out the three-part series here: