Monday, September 18, 2006

For the first time in six years, I am single again!

It's kinda weird but it's also very, very exciting. A huge stress has been lifted off of my shoulders, and there is this odd sense of freedom and calmness that has descended over me. We've been seperating for a long time now, so this has been a long time coming. I am fortunate that we parted friends and went out of my way to ensure that. He's a great guy...just not for me.

I have a lot of work to do on ME, which I am looking forward to (and already started). I have a new home, in a new city, with a renewed committment to my companies. It's all very exciting.

I'm a bit sad for the loss of what could have been. But the truth is that it was never a fair and balanced relationship for either of us. I hope we can remain friends forever. We are both great people...on our own.

So if you need to start your label and are looking for an outstanding consultant, hit me up. I have a lot of free time now!

Monday, September 11, 2006

This is for those of you who complain that I never share my interviews with you!! Here's an interview I did with MVRemix. You can see the original at along with a lovely picture of me and Proof (RIP):

Wendy Day makes millionaires out of Rappers
September 2006

For those of you who May or May Not know who Wendy Day is, what she has accomplished and what she does for living, you need to read this interview.
Yes, rap music is a field dominated by Men. But as the saying goes, "behind every good Man is a good Woman". Wendy Day is that good woman behind many of Rap's good Men.

Rap Coalition History

Wendy Day founded the not-for-profit Rap Coalition in 1992, out of revolt for the way urban artists were/are unfairly taken advantage of in the music industry. Wanting to shift the balance of power to favor the artists, Wendy dumped her life savings (selling her condo, her stocks and bonds, and her BMW) into starting the advocacy organization to support, educate, protect, and unify hip hop artists and producers--in other words, to keep artists from getting jerked. Since 1992, Rap Coalition has impacted the urban music industry by helping, for free, thousands of artists, DJs, and producers individually, as well as through monthly panel discussions, seminars, demo listening sessions, cipher sessions, showcases, and fair deal negotiations. Rap Coalition breaks unfairly oppressive contracts (pulling artists out of bad deals with record labels, production companies, and managers), teaches the business side of the music industry to thousands of artists and industry hopefuls from around the country, offers health care and dental benefits, coordinates the panels at most of the major urban music conventions, has instituted a mentor program combining up and coming artists with established artists, and helps set up artist-owned record labels.


MVRemix: How did you come up with the idea for Rap Coalition and where were you?

Wendy Day: I was taking a class in New York City that was taught by an "accountant to the stars." The class was called The Pop Music Business, and I was basically nosey. I wanted to know more about the music industry. When the teacher talked about how artists got jerked, I was annoyed that no one helped them because there was no money in helping them. I decided to be the one!

MVRemix: Who was hot when you came on the scene?

Wendy Day: I started listening to rap in the early 1980's when Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick, Grandmaster Flash, Cold Crush, and Sugarhill Gang were hot. But when I started Rap Coalition 12 years later, my soundtrack was Naughty By Nature's "OPP," Ghetto Boys' "Mind Playing Tricks," and X Clan were busy stomping in their big black boots. On the rap music historical time-line, the music had just left New York as the center of everything hip hop and the influences were coming from the west, the south, and the Midwest--like it should be. The importance of mainstream radio was just coming into play--instead of rap music being played only in the mix show evenings, some of it was crossing into mainstream and being played during the day. The growth of radio was something that would continue to accelerate, even today.

MVRemix: Did you know that your organization was going to be around this long?

Wendy Day: No. I wasn't sure there was this much of a need for what I do, and also, I didn't know exploitation and greed went as deep as they do. The naive, optimistic me thought that I'd help everybody and then the problem would be fixed in a couple of years. I thought the organization would morph into a union for artists--all artists. See? Naive and optimistic.

MVRemix: Were people, mainly rappers, initially put off by you're being Caucasian or did and does it work to your advantage?

Wendy Day: If they were, I didn't notice it. I think they were more put off by someone willing to help them for free. We don't charge to break contracts, and people never quite trusted that "free" aspect of what we do. Now that we've been doing it for 14 years and it's still free, people seem to get it. But back then I think they thought it was a trick. They kept looking for my angle, and when there was no angle, they were pleasantly surprised.

MVRemix: How did and do the labels react to you?

Wendy Day: With love and hate, fear and reverence. The ones who know me and deal with me regularly, understand me. The ones who do not know me well, think I am a "do-gooder", out to keep them from making money. Some even think my deals are overpriced and ridiculous. The ones who have done deals with me have made millions of dollars and call me regularly to see what else I have. They understand me. I am a pussycat when a label is fair and honest. I am a pitbull when a label is shady and lies to their artists. There are a handful of labels I refuse to deal with, and they hate me. But who cares? They are fucked up labels. That's why I don't deal with them.

MVRemix: What is the worst career move a struggling rapper or producer can do in this day and age, in your opinion?

Wendy Day: Worst? There are so many fuck ups to choose from [laughs]. I think the worst is an artist assuming all labels are equal and signing a deal with any record label because their goal is to just get a deal--any deal, not to get a good deal that will lead to success - success should be the goal, eh?

MVRemix: Have you had experience with ungrateful artists? Meaning, artists you'd help out of a bad deal then turn around and show you no gratitude?

Wendy Day: Sure. But since I don't do it for the thank you's or the kudos, those few situations don't matter. Rap Coalition is the last stop for an artist who has no place else to turn. When the artists arrive on our doorstep, they are usually broke and at the end of their rope. 99% of the artists know the value of that love and support we offer, and act appropriately. One or two have been assholes, but that's not a prerequisite for helping someone. We even help assholes. Happily.

MVRemix: Do you get swamped by unsigned rappers and producers and how do you handle it?

Wendy Day: I used to get swamped and it was frustrating because there was a mistaken assumption that I could get anyone a super deal at any time. That's obviously not the case. I handled it by removing myself from situations that created that misunderstanding--like the Source Power 30: as honored as I was to be selected as a power player in their mag, it caused pure drama. There was no upside. Haters came out of the woodwork, and artists assumed that access to me guaranteed a deal. So when they called me asking to do a photo shoot in the following years, I refused the honor. After awhile I guess they thought I was crazy, or an asshole, and stopped asking me--or maybe I'm just not powerful anymore in their opinion, who knows. There was no upside to that honor.

I began explaining on panels how to get a deal and that demos were not the way. I stopped accepting demos by mail. I stopped doing interviews so folks that weren't firmly entrenched inside the industry wouldn't know who I was or what I did. I stopped doing photo shoots so folks wouldn't recognize me from magazine articles and stalk me with demos. And I began writing for rap magazines to educate folks on how-to.

MVRemix: I know you must get harassed by rappers whose game is/are not up to par. How do you shake off a wack rapper?

Wendy Day: I don't shake off wack rappers. What I do has no bearing on talent. My mission isn't to be a gate keeper nor am I qualified to say who is wack. I think Master P was wack, yet he sold 50 million CDs in the 90s. My favorite rapper is Ras Kass and he has sold 200,000 CD's. So I already know I am not qualified to judge talent or success. Our goal is to help rappers on the business side. We help everyone. Wack or talented... No one has the right to judge. Don't like it? Don't buy it. We are not censors or gate keepers. Rhyme about chopping my family up into little pieces? C'mon in and we'll help you if you need out of your contract. What I do has no bearing on the music and vice versa.

MVRemix: I heard it said that the best rappers and singers sell the least amount of CD's. How true is that?

Wendy Day: Ras Kass sold under 200,000 CDs. Master P sold over 50 million CDs. You tell me... But who is the judge of "best?" I can only say what I think is best for me. People confuse the art form with the commerce of the music business all the time. Who am I to say what's good and what's not? What's good doesn't always sell well in anything in life. Crack and Heroin aren't good, but they sell well. In urban music, we are forever confusing popular with good. Popularity sells well. Good makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you hear it. Every now and again in life, I like things that are also popular. But I'd never push my feelings on another person. This is a business, not an art form. You can make music because you love making music or you can supply music that fills a demand. Each artist has to make that determination and decision. If you want to be in the business of music, you must treat it like a business. If you enjoy making music, get a job to support yourself and make music to be happy. Give it out to the world for free.... If you are signed to a label and it doesn't sell well, you will not be happy. They think it's a business too...

Also, for me, what happens when the personal gets involved? David Banner is my friend and I do not like Jay Z as a person. Does that make Banner a better artist than Jay Z? I prefer listening to Banner's music. My husband wouldn't agree... he can separate the personal from the music as a fan. I can't. I guess because I know the artists. Once I know someone is a terrible human being, it's hard for me to listen to the music with an open-mind. I can't even listen to Baby - CEO Cash Money... I get nauseous. All I can think about is how he hasn't paid his artists properly as he brags about all of his cash. Fuck! Sell a car or pull out a tooth and pay BG.

MVRemix: Are rappers getting better deals, now?

Wendy Day: Absolutely they are, if they know what to ask for. It depends on what you mean by "better." The deals are financially smaller right now than they were in the late 90s because the sales and return on investment are smaller. But since I never did deals based on money, to me, the deals are better. The labels are more desperate for profits, and my deals are very profitable for the artists and the labels. When artists are happier, they are easier to work with and make better product. When they sell more CDs, labels make more money. My deals are hugely successful, so the labels smile when they see me.

The artists are also more knowledgeable today. They realize that quick fame is wonderful, but it's not enough. They need longevity too. They need to build a brand that can be leveraged into other areas to make income for many years to come.

MVRemix: Has any rapper ever asked you to get on CD with them and say a lil' somethin'?

Wendy Day: Of course. All the time. I never have. I have no talent for that. Oh wait! I tried to help out. I was in the studio with Ras Kass. He needed a female voice in the background of a song that Domingo was producing for him. He couldn't find anyone to say one line for him and needed it done right then. All he needed me to say was "a mansion and a yacht." I tried and tried. I SUCKED! I couldn't do it. I couldn't rap on beat. It was pathetic. We had to call a female rapper I was friends with and ask her to come down to the studio to say 5 words. Pathetic. My career as a rapper was very short. [laughs] I sucked!

I did some acting on a CD for Prince Paul back in the day. I played an EMS worker. That was fun. No rapping...just talking. It was a short part of a skit, I think. It was a very creative album. He's a genius.

MVRemix: How has the business said of the music industry changed from 14 years ago?

Wendy Day: It has gotten more competitive and there are more "friendship" and "favor" deals. Also, people who never would have been able to get a deal 5 years ago can get a deal today by selling 30,000 CDs regionally. Labels used to sign artists based on talent. Today it's pure business. If a label thinks they can make money, they will sign you. No development, no real support, no breaking records...just sales. If you don't sell quickly, they are on to the next. And there is rarely a second shot. Also, the artists are more cliqued up than they used to be. And because they beef more, whatever clique an artist decides to be down with, can be a crucial decision with far reaching repercussions. Look at Game. He thought he was signed to a label, not inducted into a crew. That mistaken assumption has cost him a lot. The price of signing to the hottest artist was very high.

MVRemix: What's a typical day like for you?

Wendy Day: I don't have a typical day because I do so many different things. The not-for-profit side of what I do (Rap Coalition) has me reading a lot of contracts, interacting with established artists, and calling lawyers. I do a lot of listening and a lot of planning. To support the not-for-profit organization, I shop deals and consult indie labels. So that side of what I do (PowerMoves, LLC) has me on the road a lot, setting up record labels, and teaching folks how to sell CDs, or it has me meeting with label executives in NY and L.A. negotiating major deals. Then the educational side of what I do has me setting up panel discussions and conferences which means a ton of emails, calls and following up. I get about 200 phone calls a day and about as many emails. I try to touch base with industry friends as often as I can, and I need to keep in touch with people on the streets around the country so I never lose touch with what's happening on the streets and what's hot. And sometimes I even sleep.

The bad part is that I focus on what I need to do, not on what I've done well. For example, my websites need to be redesigned and updated. I need to set up the panels for the SEA Weekend in January, and the panels for the Indie Label convention in Vegas in February. January and February are coming very fast--tick tock tick tock. I just got a major artist released from his contract, and I never think about that success. Just tick tock, tick tock...

MVRemix: Do you still have that same fire for the music game and what do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years and?

Wendy Day: Yep--same fire; same passion. I do burn out from time to time. It used to scare me. But I learned that the passion comes back. I've learned to work through it. I've also learned how to take breaks and vacations and enjoy downtime. That took me 10 years to learn. Next five years? I will most likely phase out of consulting indie labels and start my own label. I have created A LOT of millionaires. Yet I am not one yet. Let's see...what else? I am getting more into building brands and leveraging artists' brands with corporate Amerikkka, and have been toying with the idea of starting Urban Markets, LLC-- a branding and endorsement company for established urban artists. There is no reason why we don't see Pimp C or Ludacris doing ads for products that reach our market in Hip Hop. Right now artists do deals for the products that reach out to them, or that they have access to.... imagine someone who perfectly matches artists with products based on target market and imaging instead of something as fleeting as access and opportunity. There's a void in the branding market. I have access to every artist and can fill it. My Master's degree is in Marketing and I specialized in Psychographics. That might be fun for me to do...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I just moved to Atlanta and was soooo excited that the Billboard Hip Hop Conference would finally fit into my schedule for the first time since its inception. While I no longer read Billboard (it isn't very rap friendly, nor is the news regarding our industry as on point as I need an industry mag to be), I was excited by the event when I read the list of panelists and topics on their website.

Over the past few months, in speaking with folks in the industry and indie labels around the country, no one was planning on attending (except me). This had me a bit concerned because I had heard over the years from folks in the industry that it was an event worth skipping. Regardless, I am a conference junkie and will pretty much support anyone trying to share some industry knowledge.

I was over there this afternoon and gave out less than 25 business cards. It was a waste of time.

My take on the Billboard event is that they are able to secure great sponsorships by leveraging their name because companies outside of hip hop (and folks wanting to be in this business) support it-- but much like the magazine, they don't really attract our industry to impact a return for those sponsors. It was the worst attended event I have seen in my 14 years in this industry. I had always heard it was mediocre, but never really believed that to be the case because I saw the level of sponsors (and prices) they were able to secure.

The space was incredible, the sponsors top notch (hell, they had secured Bentley, Roland, Remix Magazine, Stanton, Pioneer, etc), and impressive panelists. I don't know if the panels were good because when I saw the level of attendance at the event during what should have been their key hours, I opted not to spend the $700 admittance. I did spend time in the common areas talking to folks who had spent their money to attend. I collected a few demos and talked to everyone offering insight into the urban music industry--I literally talked to everyone in attendance.

What they seemed to be lacking were key executives, tastemakers, and DJs to network with--oh, and attendees. Both the TJsDJs/Ozone event last month and the Core DJ Retreat a few weeks ago in ATL put this event to shame. I'm not sure why the event is passed over by the more serious folks in this business, but the good folks at Billboard certainly should analyze this and solve the problem. Their event would have been ideal for DJs to attend based on the rooms they had set up off the main ballroom with various equipment to play with.

All I could think as I walked around this empty event was that if I could just drop in all the attendees from the events I've been to in the past month, it would have been the best convention ever (even at $650 a head--more than double ANY other hip hop event). And everyone would have benefitted...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More than a month has passed since I last posted. It was no vacation, I assure you. At the beginning of August, I moved from Memphis to Atlanta. I loved Memphis, but there was not enough of a music industry there. So I found a house at Lake Lanier, which is about 45 minutes north of Atlanta. It's gorgeous and I live right by the lake. Once I recover financially from the cost of the move, I'll probably find a small apartment in downtown Atlanta so I can divide my time and be nearer to the center of town.

I plan to open the Rap Coalition office in Alpharetta, a northern suburb of Atlanta about 15 minutes up 400 from 285--just north of Buckhead. It's a suburb, but a great location and easy to access from all areas of the city.

I spent 9 months in Atlanta in 1999 and 2000--in fact, I spent millenium New Year here, trapped in a house in Lithonia; in a shitty relationship that I soon ran from at high speed. The experience I had being in the ATL back then was not positive, but I have a new positive attitude this time around. Being at the Lake will help that...

A few days after I moved, I headed down to the TJsDJs/Ozone event in Orlando. The event was great (except for the ghetto hotel) and I went from there to Philadelphia to help my Mom move. I popped back to ATL for 2 days to support the Core DJ Retreat which was great, but crowded. I was pulled in so many different directions and just plain tired after two moves in a few weeks time. I headed back to Philly to finish the job after the Core Retreat, and am thankful the moving is over. I'm headed back out on the road and happy to be based near such a large and easy to use airport (I'm used to Memphis which is expensive, small, over crowded, and disorganized).

Here's my new info:

Wendy Day
Rap Coalition
PowerMoves, LLC
3000 Old Alabama Road
Suite 119; Box 171
Alpharetta, GA 30022
cell 917.501.6100

No demos, please! I don't sign artists and demos are a waste of time and money. If I heave not heard a buzz on the artist, I don't have the time to listen to it. And if you haven't sold upwards of 30,000 CDs regionally (verifiable by SoundScan, and within the last 9 months), there's nothing I can do for you regarding finding you a major deal. So save your postage and energy. Chances are if you have sold those CDs, I already know who you are and we've already spoken... Hell, I'm probably in the middle of shopping your deal right now!