Tag Archives: Katy Perry

Young Forever. Def Jam and Chris Anokute officially split.

Chris Anokute & Katy Perry

If you’ve been following the Twitter-sphere you might have picked up the leak of two of Katy Perry singles from her new album, PRISM, a little over a month ago.

As many had been eagerly anticipating that release, it goes without saying that the singles were retweeted and just like that, the planned October 22nd release of her album went up in smoke.

Allegedly, the leaks came from the infamous Perez Hilton and caused quite a stir at Capitol Records, Katy’s label, who were – how do you say – “pissed.”

As anyone who has used social media in this millennia knows, once something hits the interwebs, you can’t really take it back.

So Capitol should have run with it and pushed their marketing and promotions ahead to take advantage of the early buzz.

Or accepted the leak as great pre-promotion, as a litmus test to see which DJs in which markets were feeling and playing the records – and concentrate their efforts where buzz and spins were concentrated (or missing).

But Capitol Records, in typical dying record label form, blew its stack and started playing the blame game.

Instead of “capitalizing” (pun intended) on the moment, they started looking for someone to blame.

And do you know who ended up in their crosshairs? Chris Anokute.

“Chris Anokute? Isn’t he at Island Def Jam?” You ask.

That’s right.

But in the cover your ass shit storm that ensued, Chris became the scapegoat for the label’s ineptitude.

You see Chris, who used to A&R Katy Perry saw Perez Hilton’s tweet of Katy’s single and retweeted it (as did at least 60+ others who saw the tweet that morning).

Although Chris is no longer at Capitol, he and Katy remain close and she counts him among her closest friends.

So it went without saying tag when he saw Perez’s tweet, he shared the link to Katy’s single with his 14k followers.

Sharing is what friends do in the age of social media.

Right?

Well not if you’re a label exec.

Allegedly, the powers that be at Capitol and Island Def Jam felt that somehow Chris’ retweet violated some unwritten code of conduct.

And apparently that breach caused at least one executive to try airing it out on Chris.

And I say “apparently” because Chris put a response on Facebook, essentially blacking out on the dimwit dinosaurs running most major record labels.

Here’s a taste:

This is the abridged version of the blackout.

And with that, it was on.

Shortly after that incident Chris Anokute was released from Def Jam.

The deals of his termination are sketchy, and he’s probably bound to some draconian non-disclosure agreement, so unfortunately I can’t share all the juicy details with  you.

Suffice it to say, he’s not up$et.

His termination caps a tumultuous year for Def Jam, which has seen mass exodus of its top A&Rs to rival labels.

And while that spells bad news for Def Jam, it’s great news for Chris’ new company, Young Forever, and his new artist, Bebe Rexha.

Where one chapter closes, another opens.

Chris wasted no time in getting back to work, this time for himself, with the chart-topping The Monster by Eminem featuring Rihanna.

Chris’ artist, Bebe, has co-writing credits on the song and also appears on the hook.

Young Forever is but one of Chris’ latest entrepreneurial ventures.

Quiet is kept, he’s also working on a killer app that will keep folks talking for a hot minute.

If you want to know what Chris is up to, make sure to follow him on Twitter @chrisanokute, where he routinely provides inspiration to independent artists looking to break into the business.

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Filed under branding, current events, music

Rule No. 1 for the unsigned artist: Get on your grind (aka check yourself before you wreck yourself)

Everyday I'm Hustling DigitallyRecently, I’ve been approached by a number of artists and producers looking to get signed to a record deal.

I always entertain anyone who seeks out my advice, because it shows initiative.

But I’m always concerned when the objective, notwithstanding my advice, remains fixed on securing a deal.

It’s not that it’s an unobtainable goal.

But it’s unrealistic.

As one record executive told me, getting signed to a record deal is more difficult than shooting a hole in one – by hitting a golf ball through a hole in a brick wall first.

For some reason, these cats act like the labels are just handing record deals out.

“All you’ve got to do is be discovered.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told about artists that are discovered.

That’s all it takes.

Record a song.

Post a YouTube video.

Get discovered.

And go from obscurity to fame, overnight.

“Madonna was discovered.”

“Lady Gaga was discovered.”

“Katy Perry was discovered.”

Yada yada yada.

My response is uniformly: “No. They weren’t.”

To be fair, there is that rare exception of a truly discovered talent, plucked from obscurity.

Like Rihanna.

But that’s a different story for another time.

The reality is that virtually every artist you’ve ever heard of, especially the superstars, busted their asses to get where they got.

Invariably, they were passed over, several times, by several A&Rs, at several different labels, before they finally got on.

Do you know how many people dissed Kanye before he was finally signed to the Roc?

It was a running joke in the industry how often Kanye asked folks to listen to his demo.

Katy Perry was dropped by Columbia before being signed to Capitol Records.

Lady Gaga was performing at open mikes since she was 14 (and she attended The Tisch School) before she was signed by Akon.

Justin Beiber is probably one of the few artists truly ‘discovered’ in recent memory, when Scooter Braun happened upon his video before taking him to Usher.

But their deals didn’t just happen.

It was the result of relationships, work and in some instances, dumb luck.

Many of the people who have approached me don’t have even the most fundamental basis for talking record deal.

There’s no website.

No Facebook page.

No Twitter account.

No YouTube channel.

Not digital presence whatsoever.

If they have any of the above, then there are few (if any) likes, followers or views.

If they’ve got a MySpace page, SoundCloud or ReverbNation account, there are virtually no fans and abysmally low play counts of their songs.

The content on their pages are old and haven’t been updated.

At the end of the day, I’m left scratching my head, trying to understand why these cats seem so…entitled?

If you haven’t done the work, how can you expect to win?

It’s like saying you’re going to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but you’ve never trained a day in your life.

Sure, it’s possible that you could get off your couch, hit the starting blocks and blow Usain Bolt away.

But it’s not probable.

Sure, it’s possible that you could record a song tomorrow, post it online, and some A&R somewhere will be at your doorstep offering you a deal.

But it’s not probable.

And with the ten hundreds of thousands of aspiring artists out there on their grizzy, going HAAM, what makes you think that you’re going to grab the brass ring first?

The game has changed.

If you’re trying to be a successful artist, know that your success is being gauged by empirical measures:

Facebook likes.

Twitter followers.

YouTube views.

SoundCloud plays.

A Google results page.

This is how A&Rs today are gauging an artist’s viability.

Can you draw a crowd – online?

Sure, you can sing.

But so can literally tens hundreds of thousands of others.

What makes you stand out from the crowd?

It’s your hustle and your (digital) ground game.

So artists, if you’re reading this blog, and you want to know what it takes to get a record deal, it’s one of two ways:

1. Know somebody;

2. Get on your grind (and build a digital presence).

Any questions?

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Filed under branding, music

Blogging builds traffic. 30 days and the stats to prove it.

The numbers don’t lie!

Last month, a friend of mine who blogs, issued a 30-day blogging challenge.

She had fallen off her blog game, and resolved to write a new post every day, for 30 days.

She invited other bloggers to join her on her quest.

When I read her blog, I was inspired.

I too, had fallen off my blogging game.

In fact, I’m constantly falling off my game.

Even though I routinely counsel my clients on the importance of providing a regular and steady stream of content on their websites and social media profiles, I don’t really practice what I preach.

And since I don’t blog regularly, I can’t really speak to the issues involved in maintaining a regular output schedule.

Nor can I (genuinely) speak of the real impact that regular output has on a brand’s metrics.

Sure, I preach that the more you put out, the more of a footprint you create, the more pages of content BOTs can crawl to, the more relevant you become.

But for me, that’s all been theoretical.

I mean, I do blog.

This year marks the fourth anniversary of my blog.

Since I started blogging, I’ve posted over 250 times.

That’s an average of 60 posts a year.

Or a little over once a week.

But I really blog in fits and starts.

So I can’t say, honestly, what the impact of regular blogging actually is.

And because of this, I realized that I needed to take Aliya up on her challenge.

On August 31, Aliya completed her 30 day challenge.

Two days ago, I finished mine (I didn’t actually start when Aliya issued her call to action).

Looking back, I’m glad I did.

Because I now have empirical proof from the experience that reinforces the things I’ve been saying about the significance of blogging.

First, blogging creates traffic.

Period.

Since the start of the year, my traffic is consistently higher than it has ever been.

Last month, there were 3,638 view of my blog.

That’s my highest month of traffic ever.

My next highest month of traffic was in June 2010, when I hit 3,458 views.

Back, when in one day, I had 686 views.

The previous month (July), there were 2,712.

The month before that, 2,421.

Second, blogging increases your online presence.

Search engines, like Google love regularly updated content.

Every time you post a blog post you put your site/blog further up in the search results.

Google re-indexes your blog every time you update with new content, giving your site higher search ranking.

And if you’re using well written, relevant keywords, that only makes it even better.

During my month of blogging, I was getting hits for everything from futsal, Katy Perry, the iPhone, Nicki Minaj on down to SoundHound and Shazam.

Try it.

Google “Shazam vs SoundHound” or “Morgan Freeman is not dead” or “Chris Anokute” and invariably, my little blog is returned on the first page.

Third, regular blogging generates backlinks.

I can’t tell you how many times other folks linked to my site.

Whether it was because of the subject matter, the context, the images, tagging or the keywords, something about my content seemed to resonate with other bloggers.

As a result, I generated quite a few backlinks

Fourth, writing every day keeps you relevant.

Whether it’s politics, fashion, technology, music, entertainment, social issues, if you’re writing about topics of the day, contemporaneously as they happen, your voice, and your opinions will resonate will some audience somewhere.

If I could give bloggers one tip, it would be to write about what you love.

The biggest impediment that folks report for not writing every day (or regularly) is that they don’t know what to write about.

I write about whats going on – in my life, around me, in technology, social media, sports – whatever.

The second biggest blocker is time.

I’ve taken to getting it in whenever and wherever I can.

Sometimes, I blog on the train to work.

Other times, when I’m sitting on the ‘throne’ (some of my best work has been on the throne).

Point is, you need to make time for it.

Because one thing is for certain, blogging is an invaluable tool to generating traffic to (and awareness about) your site.

But don’t take my word for it.

Blog for yourself and see!

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Filed under branding, opinion

Verdict: 2010 was a good year for StephenChukumba.com

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how my blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 43 new posts, growing the total posts I’ve written to 125.

The busiest day of the year was June 24th with 724 views. The most popular post that day was Going to jail messes with your money..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, networkedblogs.com, mail.yahoo.com, en.wordpress.com, and baristanet.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for tattoos, lil wayne, futsal, mike tyson tattoo, and scalpel. I don’t know why folks were searching for scalpels or why they were referred to my site – but I’ll take it!

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Going to jail messes with your money. February 2010
People must be trying to avoid jail.

2

Got tattoos? Will hug. November 2009
Wookin’ po nub!

3

Attack! Attack! Attack! Lessons of a Futsal Coach. January 2010
I think the Wolrd Cup must have given me a bump.

4

Stephen Chukumba says: “I know how Homer Simpson feels” September 2009

5

Chris Anokute: The Making of A Music Mogul June 2010
With Katy Perry up for six Grammy Nominations, people ought to be peepin’ this cat!

 

All-in-all 2010 was a good year.

In 2011, you can expect more good things.

For one, you can reach me at http://www.stephenchukumba.com (and drop the .wordpress piece).

I’m also planning on blogging at least once a week, focusing on all that you deem important (tats, jail, scalpels – you know – the usual).

So please continue to read, and share!

Thanks!

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Filed under branding, Smack talking

Chris Anokute: The Making of A Music Mogul

Kissed a Girl. California Gurls. Yeah, Chris did that.

A little over 12 years ago, I met this young man eager to make it in the music industry.

One day, a motley entourage of Black men, pushing some blond dreadlocked artist, walked into my office looking for an entertainment attorney.

At the center of this mass of Black men was an R&B singer named Don Conner.

In addition to Don, there was a ‘manager’ whose name escapes me (but claimed he was behind numerous successful boy groups), and a ‘money guy’ named Isaac Morgan.

A few other non-descript hanger-onners rounded out the posse and filled up my (then) small office.

And the very back of the office, sat Chris.

Mr. Manager started jabbering about how talented Don was, and how he was the next Jaheim.

Money Morgan talked about the distribution agreement they were ‘just about’ to sign, and the need to make sure that they had all their ‘paperwork’ in order.

Don said he simply wanted to sing and to ensure that his people were ‘taken care of.’

Their mouths moved a lot during that meeting, but very little was actually said.

The person who spoke the loudest to me, never opened his mouth.

That was Chris.

The entire meeting, he sat in the back of the room, listening, clearly taking it all in.

When the talking heads stopped, Mr. Manager-whose-name-I-can’t-remember got up and assured me that we were ‘going to do business.’

Mr. Money promised to follow up, once they had ‘things in place.’

The various hangers-onners gave pounds, head nods or blank stares as the entourage filed out of the room.

Chris politely shook my hand, and joined the large moving mass of Black men making their way out of my Montclair office.

Needless to say, nothing ever became of Don Conner.

Turns out he was already being managed, under a production contract with a distribution agreement in place to deliver six records.

A few years later, who should walk into my office, but Chris.

There was no motley entourage or talking heads.

Just Chris, solo.

This time, he came to ask for my advice on the best way to make it in the music industry.

Since that day he visited my office those many years ago, he remembered our initial meeting.

I impressed him as someone who shot straight, even if I said things that you didn’t want to hear.

We spoke at length about all the things he had done to this date, including working in Whitney Houston’s camp, promoting independent artists and hosting parties, along with waiting tables and going to school.

He told me that he had a passion for music and felt that God had given him the gift of an ‘ear.’

He could hear a hit instantly. We’ll talk about this platinum ear in at length in another post.

Although I felt his ‘ear’ was immaterial at the time, he impressed me as an individual with singular purpose and drive.

It was clear that he had experience in production, management, and promotion.

And had a hustler’s get-it-done-at-all-costs mentality, which was impressive for someone so young.

I told him that he was on the right path, because he was seeking out knowledge and advice from people in the industry.

The only thing I felt he was missing from his repertoire, was an understanding of the business side of the industry.

The music industry is a business, first and foremost.

And without the ability to understand the rights, liabilities and obligations of the respective parties to transactions, you were simply spinning your wheels.

So I gave him an internship.

A few years later, we started a management company.

Signed a few acts (Alkatraz and JUS). Hmm…wonder where are they now?

Got our first publishing deal.

Fast forward to 2010, and Chris is one of the youngest and most successful A&R’s in the music industry.

After a three year stint as Senior A&R pop at Virgin/Capitol Records, he is now Sylvia Rhone‘s most recent executive acquisition at Universal/Motown, charged with giving the label a pop presence.

For the guy who A&R’d Joss Stone, found Katy Perry, Stacie Orrico (and many more) he’s up to the task.

Check out Christian TV.

I’ve skipped over some of the juicy bits of Chris’ rise to fame.

But that’s for another time.

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Filed under branding