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Published: I AM Entertainment Magazine, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012 - Volume 4, Issue 19
Interview by:
Shaine Freeman (I Am Entertainment Magazine)

A lesson on marketing an album successfully.

IAE: Please tell us where you’re from and what drew you to music early on in life?
New York is home; the city that doesn’t sleep, and I haven’t slept since I was 9. [laughs] I was born and raised
in Queens, which really helped shape who I am, and I think it was God’s plan for Queens to be my place of birth.
Everything I’m able to bring to the table came from my experiences and upbringing in Queens. I’m a musician at
heart. I’m the youngest of 8 kids, and all of my older siblings either played instruments or sang. To not feel left
out, I decided to learn all the instruments they were playing, so I picked up the sax, keyboard, and guitar. I grew
up in church so, back in the day when you could go platinum in a week [laughs], I wanted to be a mega Christian
star who loved Jesus and preached the gospel without compromise. But God had other plans for me and he
shifted my focus to the business of music.

IAE: How did you get into the business?
Thanks to a high school co-op program I got to intern at every label in NYC. Most people look at interns as
grunt workers, but I believe that if you change your perspective you can change your destiny. I did the grunt work
happily. If they asked me to fax something I would do it because it gave me an opportunity to read it and some-
times it would be contracts. I took advantage of my internships and would just walk into the offices of execs and
say, “Oops, I’m sorry! I’m just an intern, I didn’t know who you were. But, is there any chance that we could talk
because I’m curious to know what you do?” I would do that all the time. [laughs] A lot of times I got yelled at, but
some of them were really cool and would have me set up a meeting with their assistant. I would set up an appoint-
ment and sit down with these high level executives and ask questions. Their perspectives of me began to change and I went from being an upaid intern to
being a paid intern working with my mentor, George G. Butler, at Columbia Records. George was best friends with Miles Davis, and was also the one
who signed Harry Connick, Jr. to a record deal. I would go with George to recording sessions and he showed me how to conduct myself professionally,
and how to communicate with and respect others. He showed me it was okay to be teachable and to open doors for others. Unfortunately, he passed
away in 2008, but he was very instrumental in shaping my music career. I literally worked my way up through every department in the record biz. When I
got to Sony Music’s Urban department, they started developing a Gospel label and I was able to work on that side of the business with artists like Mary
Mary and Tye Tribbett. When an opportunity opened up at Integrity, who has a distribution partnership with Sony, I was already dealing with a lot of
Integrity’s artists so I decided to take the opening. I’ve always taken advantage of the opportunities that were in front of me and thanking God for
the closed ones. I’m fortunate enough to have worked with major labels and artists, but I don’t want to be defined by who I’ve worked with. I want to define
myself by God’s purpose for my life.

IAE: What do you do as the Marketing Manager at Integrity Music?
I have to get with the team to develop a game plan, and then implement that plan correctly. I’ve got to make sure that the visuals are matching up and
consistent, to make sure the whole message is what we intended to communicate from the beginning. Whether its publicity, digital marketing, radio
promotions, song marketing, or A&R, I have to work with everyone to create a strategy and then make sure each department is in position so we can
communicate the message to a particular artist’s audience. For example, most recently I was working on the new record by Israel Houghton and New
Breed titled, Jesus at the Center. That project was a monster because it’s Israel’s first record back with New Breed in 5 years. It’s also a double CD that
was recorded live and available in tons of different formats, including the iTunes LP and DVD. In addition, there was a 15 city all arena tour in America,
not to mention the international markets like Australia, UK, Africa, South America and so on. You have to communicate your message differently to each
of these markets because the people and cultures are different; and that’s just one project. Imagine having multiple projects going at once! It can get
pretty crazy so you have to be excellent at time management, a great communicator, extremely detail oriented, self-motivated, driven, and you have to be
passionate about it because people are looking to you for leadership. If you’re not excited about the project, no one else will be.

IAE: What advice could you give to people who are interested in being in the business but don’t know if they should be an artist or a label
A lot of people get into things that they are not supposed to be involved with in the first place. They see all the accolades that people like Jay Z and
Beyonce get and they want that. But you have to ask yourself, “What was I born to do? What am I here for?” I’m not a super spiritual dude, but I know
Jesus and He works. But first you have to get away from all the noise and pray; or sit down at your desk and ask God what were you created for? Ask if
you are supposed to be a musician or an executive. We want to do our own thing but God has a totally different plan. Just like me; early on I wanted to be
a musician, but I wound up being an executive. We may want to be an artist but God may have a bigger plan for you in the area of helping artists reach
their goals. God has a great plan for us but we often times settle for our own impulses. You don’t want to look back in 10 to 15 years and say, “Man, I
made the wrong turn; that was impulsive’ or ‘This was exciting for the moment but now that moment is gone.” It really goes back to that question, “What
are you born to do?” A lot of times, what God has for you will sound outlandish or a little crazy to most people, and sometimes even to you, but you have
to do it. You also have to be a leader or else the naysayers will get you off base. I have found that a lot of stuff did not make sense to me when I was
doing it, but now I can look back on it and go, “Now I get it!” You want to lead and be radical with what God has created you to be. You have to be
fearless and relentless in your pursuit of what God has laid out for you, even if it sounds crazy.
Pictured: Jeremy Castro
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