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A3C Presents: Back to Basics (Industry Etiquette Panel)

Posted by Obese on Apr 8

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So you've decided that you want to pursue a career in music and making steps to enter the industry. Although the technology and the opportunities in the music industry have changed, it's still a business built on personal relationships. Many people get their careers cut prematurely by improper behavior and end up "burning bridges". How do you avoid this and establish legitimate relationships? Learn the finer points of networking, conducting yourself in studio settings and more here!

The event will take place on Thursday, April 18, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (EDT) in Athens, GA at Tate Student Center Reception Hall at UGA. Register on EventBrite today!

Attendees will receive a discount on an A3C Pass!

Our panelists include:

DJ Wally Sparks (Big K.R.I.T. A&R & DJ)


Many wish for their dreams to come true. Some stay focused long enough to make their dreams a reality. DJ Wally Sparks has now been on both sides of the fence and will testify he wouldn’t change a thing. His experiences have led him to become one of the top DJs touring with any rap artist on the music charts today. Wally’s duties as DJ for Def Jam recording artist Big K.R.I.T. not only allow him to display his skills on stage, but also assist as music director for all tours. In addition to being on the road, he served as A&R (artist & repertoire) for Big K.R.I.T.’s album, gaining administrative knowledge in the music business. With over 15 years as a DJ, Wally Sparks is just getting started.
The self-proclaimed “Tennessee Mixtape Titan” has collaborated with such acts as The Clipse, Rick Ross and Yo Gotti. He has also worked with Billboard chart-topping artist Talib Kweli, as well as multi-platinum selling, SAG award and Grammy award-winning artist Ludacris. By 2005, he had produced and hosted Sirius satellite radio show “League Crew Radio,” in addition to mixshow DJ/host duties at WBFA (Columbus, GA), WKPO (Wisconsin), WRVZ (Charleston, WV), and Chattanooga hometown favorite WJTT. In 2008, while continuing mixshow duties at radio stations, he also began working at Mediabase radio research, a division of Clear Channel Communications. After having met Big K.R.I.T. a few years prior, he was approached by the artist in 2010 to become his full-time DJ. Wally Sparks accepted the new position, and has been an integral part in Big K.R.I.T.’s growing success today.

Future endeavors for DJ Wally Sparks include more A&R projects in the music business, continued tour and administrative duties, and marketing strategies for his DJ brand.

Wendy Day (Founder of Rap Coalition and A Scratchy Throat)

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Wendy Day founded the not-for-profit Rap Coalition in March of 1992, out of disgust for
the way urban artists are unfairly exploited 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. She began listening to rap music as a fan in the early 1980s,
and turned her passion for rap music into a career in the music business.

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 has also offered health care and dental benefits,
coordinated the panels at many of the major urban music conventions, and instituted a
mentor program combining up and coming artists with established artists.

Today, Rap Coalition continues to break unfairly oppressive contracts (pulling artists out
of bad deals with record labels, production companies, and managers), and teaches the
business side of the music industry to thousands of artists and industry hopefuls from
around the country.

Rap Coalition answers to a Board Of Advisors which reads as a veritable Who’s Who in
the rap music industry, consisting of Chuck D from Public Enemy, Vinnie from Naughty
By Nature, David Banner, Keith Murray, Young Buck, Gipp from Goodie Mob, Sticky
Fingaz from Onyx, Too Short, Ras Kass, Do Or Die, Killah Priest, Fiend, Pimp C from
UGK (RIP), Easy Mo Bee, Shinehead, C-Murder, B.G., Cormega, KLC from Beats By
The Pound, 8Ball, MJG, EA Ski, Khao, Shawty Redd, Shorty from Da Lench Mob, Evil
Dee from Black Moon, Brotha Lynch Hung, Freddie Foxxx, Bizzy Bone, Mannie Fresh,
Cold 187um from Above The Law, Schoolly D, and Kool Kim from UMCs. Prior to his
death, Tupac Shakur was the first member of Rap Coalition’s Board of Advisors. Rap
Coalition is currently based in Atlanta, having relocated from New York City in 2005.
One of Wendy’s personal priorities is to consult with and help build regional and national
independent urban record labels so artists can regain control of their own art form. She
has helped to consult Machine Gun Kelly, Rock City aka R City, Young Buck, BloodRaw,
Young Jeezy’s Corporate Thugz Entertainment (CTE), Fiend, C-Murder, Trill
Entertainment (Lil Boosie & Webbie), Cash Money Records, No Limit Records, DJ
Screw, Trae Tha Truth, TMI Boyz Records, and many others. In 2009, according to
SoundScan, TMI Boyz had the distinction of being the #2 independent record label in
any genre of music, an accolade not uncommon to Ms Day. She has helped build many
of the successful indie labels that still exist in rap today.

Also consistent with this goal, Ms Day has negotiated some stellar distribution deals in
urban music. She has played a part in Eminem’s deal at Aftermath/Interscope, Master
P’s No Limit deal with Priority Records, DJ DMD’s deal with Elektra, Fiend’s deal with
Ruff Ryders, Trick-Trick’s joint venture with Universal/Motown, UGK’s renegotiation with
Jive Records, and Ruff Ryder’s renegotiation with Interscope. She negotiated the
incredible joint venture deal for Twista with Atlantic Records in 1996, which both The
Source and Rap Pages magazines called “the best deal in the history of Black music,”
until she topped her own record with the now famous $30 million dollar deal for Cash
Money Records with Universal. She has always focused on complete control and
ownership for the independent labels or artists in all of her deals. Master P was the first
artist to keep control and ownership of 100% of his masters for No Limit. The money
Wendy Day has earned negotiating these deals has gone into funding the not-for-profit
Rap Coalition.

In the Fall of 1998, tired of the lack of professionalism and inconsistencies in managers
for urban artists, Wendy Day started Visionary Management to train up and coming
managers in urban music. “Most artists appoint their “boys” (friends and family) to
positions of power, and then get frustrated when their careers don’t go anywhere. I
started Visionary Management as a training ground for people who seriously want to get
into management and have the skills and ability to manage, but lack the experience and
connections,” she states emphatically. Visionary Management has consulted Twista,
Fiend, Crooked Lettaz (David Banner), C-Murder, Slick Rick, Ras Kass, reggae
producer Dave Kelly and multi-platinum production team: Medicine Men, formerly
known as Beats By The Pound. Visionary Management has worked with the managers
of Slick Rick, Black Rob, Kane & Abel, Smoothe The Hustler, Canibus, Trigga Tha
Gambler, WuTang Clan, and Beats By The Pound. Due to the incredible response to
this much needed program, the training program continually had a waiting list of 2
years, but was shut down in the Spring of 2003 due to time constraints.
Wendy has written extensively about the urban music industry via numerous monthly
columns in underground and mainstream rap publications. She has contributed to the
following publications and websites: The Source, RapPages, VIBE, Blaze, Down Low,
the RAPCOINTELPRO column in Murder Dog, Tech.Nically Speaking in Tech.Nitions
Magazine, The Connection, 4080, Caught In The Middle, The Fever, Beat Down, Props,
Flavor, The Bomb, Ego Trip, Straight From The Lip, The Final Call, One Nut, Ignition,
Insomniac, Rap Sheet, Word Up, BRE, rapstation.com, manhunt.com, 88hiphop.com,
hiphopnow.com, mp3.com, daveyd.com, volume.com, etc. Wendy has most recently
written two popular monthly columns: one in Ozone Magazine (“Mathematics”) for over
9 years, and one at AllHipHop.com (“The Day Report”) for close to 3 years. She has a
“how to” book that is 100% self-published called “The Knowledge To Succeed: How To
Get A Record Deal,” and she is mentioned extensively in Upski’s “Bomb The Suburbs,”
and Dan Charnas’ “The Big PayBack.” While hard at work on her next book in The
Knowledge To Succeed series, "Making Money With Your Music," for independent
artists and those who want to start their own labels, Wendy found time to setup up an
educational website to teach artists and industry workers how to make money with
music. SlavesNoMore.com will launch in Spring of 2013.

Wendy Day has been at the leading edge of making change in the way the music
industry conducts business and her name is synonymous with fairness and education.
She is at the forefront of trends and market shifts in today’s urban music industry. She
has dedicated herself to finding new ways for artists to increase their streams of
income, since selling records through a major label is almost never profitable for the
artist. The bulk of artists in rap music are coming through her offices, and record labels
seek out her opinion on trends, styles, and regions of talent explosion. It is difficult to
find an artist today, either established or up and coming, who hasn’t been touched by
this woman. In the February 2000 Source Magazine, and again in January 2001, she
was honored by being inducted into “The Power 30,” an annual ranking of the most
influential people in urban music. She has received awards from Bigga Rankin’s Ghetto
Grammys, the Diamond Awards, NARIP, TJsDJs, The Core DJs Legend Awards, Hood
Magazine, the Southern Entertainment Awards, THUG Awards, AllHipHop Awards, etc,
although accolades are not what drives this woman.

In 2012, Wendy Day founded a social media networking and internet marketing
company with Tony Guidry, a computer, marketing, and Internet specialist. Together
they formed A Scratchy Throat which focuses on building an Internet presence for
artists, DJs, producers, and brands in the music industry. In the over saturated music
industry, it's difficult for artists to stand out and be heard. A Scratchy Throat solves this
challenge, after all, it's impossible to ignore a scratchy throat.
Ms Day holds an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design, an MBA in Marketing
(McGill University), and a Master’s Degree in African American Studies (Temple
University). She currently resides in Atlanta, GA with her little five pound chihuahua,
Gangster, and her boyfriend Tony (who weighs a bit more than five pounds).

Sonny Digital (Super Producer for Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Beyonce, Mac Miller, Future

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When most kids in his Atlanta middle school were playing outside or the latest video games, Grammy-nominated music producer Sonny “Sonny Digital” Uwaezuoke was at home making beats. “I wasn’t into sports or PlayStation, so I discovered that creating music was my hobby and I was good at it, even back then.” Just 21-years old, the Michigan-born, Georgia-bred virtuoso has already worked with a string of top-tier stars that read like a Who’s Who list in Hip-Hop. From artists such as 2 Chainz, Kanye West, Soulja Boy, Wale, Young Jeezy and Roscoe Dash, to Rocko, Rick Ross, Future, Juicy J and Gorilla Zoe, Sonny Digital takes pride in his beats giving a voice to the hood. “I know my lane, even though I feel like I can do whatever kind of track I put my energy into, Hip-Hop is what I know best and it’s what I study.”

Sonny Digital’s masterful aim serves him well being that his sometimes-hyperactive yet always sonically aggressive beats embody a melodic accessible sound that also rocks hard and loud, which has grown his fan base exponentially. Focus is one of the Gold plaque producer’s many extraordinary assets. Perhaps it explains why he only cites the artist/producer duo of Young Jeezy and Shawty Redd as his musical influences, the latter of which he was to be groomed under although the Universe had a different plan. “I’ve always been a fan of Shawty Redd’s beats because they talk to you and Jeezy’s lyrics are straight inspiration and motivation. I was in the process of signing with Redd as a producer in 2009, which was a dream come true, but a situation came up that basically put everything on hold. It would’ve been cool but everything happens for a reason and I’ve accomplished a lot on my own since then.” The ambitious and multi-talented craftsman is on a mission to solidify himself in the game.

Sonny Digital had a busy 2011 with his Midas touch stamped all over YC’s hotshot debut track “Racks,” which went Gold as well as shot to the Top Ten on Billboard. The single gave him his first BET Hip-Hop Award Nomination and with Future’s “Same D*mn Time” (also nominated for a 2012 BET Hip Hop Award) and Waka Flocka Flame’s “Everything I Love” featuring Future and Trouble, 2012 was his most winning year yet. However Sonny Digital had another first with the success of 2 Chainz collaboration with Kanye West on “Birthday Song.” Not only did the producer share production credit with West, but the album Based on T.R.U. Story was also nominated for a Grammy.

The slim, 6’4” producer was tapped by clothing brand l-r-g to be featured in their Fall 2012 clothing campaign “Life of Colors” that also featured Waka. Sonny Digital is also stepping from behind the boards to behind the mic to flex his lyrical skills with an upcoming mixtape Forbes Atlanta and collaboration with veteran hitmaker Drumma Boy.
Sonny Digital, whose last name reflects his preference for using technologically advanced computer programs to construct his smashes, learned the art of production from his older cousin. After spending a few years producing for neighborhood friends between the Mid-West and South, the self-professed “laid back and chill” mastermind became acquainted with Atlanta rapper Gorilla Zoe and the rest, as the adage goes, is history. Known to work around the clock for days on end, it was this zeal that attracted Zoe to work with the virtually unknown beat architect at the dawn of 2010.

Proof that life is full of delightful surprises when you dedicate yourself to your passion, Sonny Digital is building his resume and creating lasting relationships on his deliberately slow climb to success. “I don’t want to have a huge buzz and then fall off. I would rather take my time and make boss moves that span decades versus days.” The self-educated whiz that can create any melody on the keyboard he conjures up in his head, is ready to take his vicious beats soaked in 808 bass lines to new heights. “I’m young, so I have the time to focus, grind and dedicate myself to being one of the best in the industry, but I look forward to redefining my generation’s sound.” Consider yourselves warned, because it’s about to go digital.

Ray Daniels (Planet VI, R.A.Y.D.A.R Management)

Ray Daniels

What's another name for a highly successful, powerful, business minded executive? That name would be none other than Ray Daniels, one of the music businesses most sought after moguls on the rise. Ray walked into the business at an early age running into many walls throughout but came to a timely break when encountering a group whom he knew was special. This duo went on to become grammy winning group R. City (now known as PlanetVI), a wide ranged multi talented formation of artist and songwriters (Rihanna "Man Down", Usher, Janet Jackson Justin Beiber "Runaway Love") consisting of Theron Thomas (Uptown AP) and Timothy (Anything ill). Ray grew and developed with Rock City and became the voice behind this dynamic duo getting them signed to Akons Konlive Live Distribution, and a year after, to Interscope Records. Since then Ray has formed R.A.Y.D.A.R Management where he's established managing the careers of a highly electrifying team of producers and songwriters. The Jugganauts, The Hipnotiks, Jevon (Bobby Valentino, Fantasia, Byron Cage), Cam Wallace (Beyonce "Upgrade U" Yellawolf "Daddy's Lambo"), new songwriter sensation, J Hart, and Jarren Benton. This electrifying roster of talent is backed by and fully supported by R.A.Y.D.A.R. Managements team of executives, Ray's right hand and executor, Torrian, Promotions Wizard and Radio/DJ genius, Nick Love(Coalition Djs), and Marketing genius BEM. His relationships are formed with some of the best names in the industry being mentored by the likes of Devyne Stephens (Upfront Entertainment) to Jeff Dixon (DTP), to D dot. Rays consistent ability to make executive moves, landed him in the office of Universal Motown's Sylvia Rhone, and just like that another title under Ray Daniels became known, A&R. As the new face in Motown's building, Ray waisted no time making an impact on the buildings other top executives. He brought in the Mika Means. Self-described as a "sexy tomboy," Mika injects a dose of reality into each of her songs and melodically packages them with a clever punch. Ray Daniels is definitely looked at as a Mogul in the making, always in the right places at the right time, and building the as in the case of one of Ray's writers/ producers, Verse Simmonds, where Ray inked him a heavy deal with Interscope and Rodney Jerkins Darkchild Label. So how does one play so many roles? He's recently dove into the world of publishing (Universal) where he's signed acts such as Atlanta's hottest street rapper Future.

Currently, Ray manages singer songwriter Curtis Fields, who he obtained a recording contract with Epic Records within 5 weeks. His production team has Rock City has written recent hits for Rihanna (Pour it Up), Kelly Rowland (Kisses Down Low) and Beyonce (Bow Down/I Been On).

How does this executive portray the many faces of the industry? "This game is easy, once you learn it and adapt all you gotta do is walk into a room and stand out." "Just figure out how to be the prettiest bitch in the room, says Ray." Whatever it is that needs to be done, Ray is your go to guy. At the end of the day he keeps it simple 100%.

Moderated by Tom White (A3C Education Director)


Written by Obese

Topics: News, panel

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