NMV Sit Down: Lyrical's 10th Anniversary in the Music Business
(Editor's Note: This interview took place in January before some of Lyrical's projects were released.)
Chicago bred, Atlanta based music executive Lyrical talks about her journey throughout the music industry for this special NMV Sit Down as we celebrate her 10th year in the music business.
We were lucky enough to catch up with her and talk new projects for 2019, what it takes to connect with an artist, and tips on how to be successful in the music industry.
SM: Steven Mainzer
SM: Hey Lyrical, how's it going? What have you been up to?
Lyrical: It’s the New Year and I just got into a bad car accident, so I’m recovering from that. It was a hit and run, this guy hit me so hard that he totaled my car. I didn’t even see him. Through the grace of God I was okay. My artists however are doing phenomenally well. The New Year is bringing about new things. Ravyn (Lenae) just finished up her tour. Adam (Ness) is on tour with Noname. Ravyn is on another tour at the end of January. Franchika is performing at SXSW. Max released this Spanish song and it went viral and it’s at 100k views in the past few weeks. He is coming back from Germany. I have been working, working, working, first quarter. First quarter is the most important quarter.
SM: What are some of the current projects you have going on?
Lyrical: Adam is actually dropping a song on the 18th from his latest EP titled Sagittarius dropping in February. He actually has a lyric video that is about to drop too for his latest song “Have a Good Time” featuring Jamilia Woods, and we have a regular video as well.
(Ness performing "Have a Good Time" live, go to Adam's website here: https://www.iamadamness.com/)
Lyrical: Franchika has new songs coming to iTunes and D. Gainz just shot her newest video for her single “So Deep.” It’s in editing form now.
Lyrical: Max is trying to drop his EP in March. As for me I have been doing speaking engagements, helping out as many people as I can in different areas, especially because this is when artists get the most nervous in terms of their ASCAP, earnings and all that. So I have been focused on several things with my artists. New music should be coming from Ravyn within the next 3-4 months.
(Ravyn Lenae's "Sticky" music video above, visit http://ravynlenae.com/ for more about Ravyn)
Lyrical: A lot of stuff has happened with Adam being on tour with Noname. He is performing in Dallas, we just booked him for March 24th. We’re trying to set up a tour for him as well. I have been trying to motivate my artists in the right direction, because it’s very hard to get lost in the sauce in this industry.
SM: Can you explain the difference between Lyrical Eyes Management and 323 Music Group?
Lyrical: LEM started back in 2012. I ventured out into the music business in 2009 but LEM is a management group that houses artists and manages them and sees them to their next level where they are trying to go. 323 music group is my actual independent label and I have a joint venture with Atlantic Records that I have that is Ravyn Lenae. So I have two different things because you cannot manage an artist that you sign to your label because it’s a conflict of interest. I have managers that are under my management group that sign to me so I can pass off artists to a different manager a part of my team, and it keeps everything in house.
SM: How did your relationship with Ravyn Lenae bloom?
Lyrical: She was referred to me by someone that we mutually knew at the time, and I just got out of a situation with another artist, and I wasn’t looking for any other female artists, but I liked her sound and her look. She was a sweetheart, very pure. It took off from there, and she put out her first song “Greetings” with Oz who is one of her producers. He did her first song “Greetings” and we ended up getting a visual out to it and it took off from there.
SM: What is the most important part of connecting with an artist whether that be personality, work ethic, or what not. What needs to bind together?
Lyrical: You need to work with an artist that is mature in life, not so much an artist that thinks they are mature, and thinks they are grown, but rather someone that is physically and mentally and spiritually equipped to be grown. This industry is full of s**t. You’ll get to thinking this how things are but you honestly don’t know the way. I have to work with artists that have been through an enormous amount of s**t, like through some type of pain. When you work with someone who has been through something, then they are willing to listen and trust because they don’t have anything left. But if you are working with someone that has never been through anything that means if they go through something with you, they’re going to have an excuse and blame you. But if you are dealing with someone that has dealt with s**t, it’s a more relatable relationship.
You don’t want to have a lot of yes people around the artist. For now, for me I’m just working with organic people. I’m not thirsty to work with any artists. A lot of managers get stuck because their money comes from their sole artist. You have to have multiple lines of income; so whether you are in music, sports, fashion or whatever, don’t depend on that one artist for money. In this industry you have to learn that, so a lot of people come to me for advice and I was raised never to depend on one person, it happens when you have certain situations, but in this industry you have to work with people that have been through s**t.
"Something Lyrical usually tells me always is that 'You're more than a conqueror,' and to stay focused and she got me." - Franchika
SM: I noticed that when I interviewed Franchika and Adam.
Lyrical: Yeah they have been through stuff and they are the artists you want to see make it because they have been through s**t and they figured it out. They listen and they do. Max (Max Never, one of Lyrical's artists) was in a situation with someone in Sony in Atlanta and he didn’t know what he was signing to because the US is different than Germany. Because he had been through stuff, I get it and can have a relatable conversation. So what do you do to prevent these things from happening again?
Lyrical: When you are realistic it takes a little bit longer to get to the top, to get your music out and do different things. The way that I work…I work off structure, realness and no shade. As soon as I feel like you are out of pocket and can’t tell you that, then there is something wrong with me. That’s just how I been.
SM: What do you think most artists lack nowadays?
Lyrical: I think artists miss the structure of it; I think they miss the truth. I think they miss the realness of it, the hard work. They miss a lot of key things at the end.
SM: What is your favorite part about working with creatives?
I like to listen to their thoughts and actually hear it for the first time, I’m a poet and a singer, I like seeing it on paper. I like to see my artists vent and get out their expressions. A lot of people don’t understand how much they are getting out. So I think the depth that is going on is what excites me.
SM: How did you get involved with music in the first place?
Lyrical: My daughter. I use to sing background for an artist and I use to sing myself. I was working in corporate America at the time and I decided I wanted to do this at nighttime and I started doing that. I was a poet as well and I did spoken word. My daughter Ashlee Bankz was a basketball player at the time at HF high school, she decided that she didn’t want to play basketball anymore and threw the game. She had already told me she wanted to do music. When she told me that I was like, “Ashlee why should I allow you to do this? Music is not a guarantee.” I decided to let her do it, she was looking around for managers, and then I was like “I will be able to take care of you."
"When she first moved to Atlanta I had seen her on TV. I was very proud and from that point on I knew she made the right move to Atlanta." - Ashlee Bankz
SM: Any special goals for 2019?
Lyrical: To get my artists well known. I tell people all the time Lyrical can’t make you famous but I have been blessed enough to be able to get you heard. I have an ear for music and people seem to trust my ear. For them I want them to increase in wealth and increase in life. If they feel good about themselves then they are going to feel good. Just to be happy and enjoy what I’m doing without all the stress, because a lot of this s**t is really simple.
A lot of times we make it harder than it has to be, managers take a lot of disrespect and we don’t have to deal with it. People think that way because of their money and its their only income. But if you don’t have a dire relationship with that artist, they are not going to respect you. My goal is just to be happier in music.
This will be my 10th year coming up. An artist is not going to dictate my life, I’m going to do what I have to do to make sure they’re good. I have to teach my kids how to get it, one thing I cannot be is your own life source. I’m happy being positive, being a better version of me, not making past mistakes that I’ve made with other clients and caring too much and making sure they are better than I am. At the end of the day the artist gets 75-80% and the manager is getting 20-25 depending on how long the manager been in business. Managers have to realize their worth too, they might be using the s**t out of you but at the end of they day and if this is something extra you are doing, then you are fine. You have to learn how to adapt to the game. From working with Timbaland to Jim Bean and A-Listers to working with people who aren’t A-Listers I just learned to find a balance.
"There is no 'I can't' with Lyrical. It's always 'I will or I can.' She stepped into a male dominated business and held it down without compromising her beliefs, morals or ethics." - Kwik
(One of Lyrical's old colleagues in management)
SM: What is your favorite thing to do away from music?
Lyrical: I love my kids. I’m a Basketball Mom and get on my daughters nerves. Now that everyone is getting older I’m trying to spend as much time as I can with them. I’m trying to become more family oriented because music made me travel a lot in the early years. Put me first. Remain humble in the process but have some type of order on the management, because the worst thing a manager can feel is under-appreciated.
SM: Any advice for up and comers on the business side of music?
Lyrical: Learn the game. In the game you need an entertainment attorney. Better to be referred because a lot of these attorneys are dealing with bigger artists. Have someone refer you to them. Once they refer you, you need a business manager who will deal with all the financials.
Once you have your entertainment attorney and financial advisor have a good business partner that isn’t a part of the music part, but knows what’s going on good and bad so that someone has your back and can recall certain things. A lot of people don’t have that. This business is sickening and you will feel under-appreciated...somewhere in this business you are going to get undercut, it's a part of the learning process.
If you stay focused on what you have to focus on and you actually put the work in, you’ll be fine but if you’re on my level and managing someone, you can’t be looking at someone else’s window, you can’t show that to your artist because artists want to get famous and being famous isn’t all what its cracked up to be.