Evolution of A Brand
Following the signs.
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
It was in Philadelphia, in 2008 when I discovered what my first venture would be: a music production company. Coming down from studying music for 12 years I felt ready to take on a new challenge in a field where my passion for creation far exceeded any other desire for fulfillment. I began with nothing more than questions, building relationships with both aspiring and professional producers, artists, and managers, all while tip-toeing in the great lake that is the underground.
Being raised in a family with strong musical and entrepreneurial talents, frequenting recording studios and managing a business full time seemed almost second nature. As an aspiring producer post-high school in the early 2000s, I could see that the atmosphere was changing. What was once a creative and logical space, promoting talent and solidarity, had now been accepting the unknown; taking risks. And so I followed that example.
In 2009 the [Blastphemous Music Company] was born out of the idea that artists could take control of their own career trajectories and only needed a handful of tasks managed by capable professionals, such as recording, production, and marketing. For this model, there wasn’t an in depth focus on my brand, but rather a drive to help others carve out their brands in the growing void that the music business was wandering into. I found myself in a void that any budding entrepreneur—with many things to learn—might run into, I was missing something. It was time to address one key component: my brand.
During Summer of the following year, one door closed and another opened for me as I took the production leg of my business one step further – with communications as my premier focus to evolve my brand. My passion for the sound, and achieving a greater template both sonically and professionally was always the goal, I needed to build and maintain connections with people within my desired profession who would lend their skill and expertise, to help me convey my definition of what music should and could be. I wanted to share and allow others to experience in the most amplified way possible what music really is, rather than just a compilation of sounds.
Evolution of A Brand
Following the signs.
a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color.
Like the best brands, your message becomes focused, the people who matter become clear, the world grows calmer, and a fiery passion ignites. If the word synesthesia represented anything; it was me. A combination of my experiences, relationships, and stories thus far. As I crossed the threshold of Autumn 2010, soon after the return of inspiration and the insight of education, “synesthesia” helped transition [Blastphemous Music Company] into Sygns Music Company. No longer blasting infamous sounds, but following signs, connecting senses, ideas, and people together. Getting back to what mattered to me most.
Music changes a lot throughout the years and so are the ways that labels, artists, and management do things. Sygns Music Co. and I were no longer surfing a void but in full swim towards a goal, ready for these new challenges. Armed with a brand; the memories, stories, and relationships acquired, I set foot on a new path. In 2011— after an enduring year in South Carolina—I would return to the city where my dreams and I were born. The city in which the ashes of Sygns’ parent, BMC, had still been spread within, and the city where our optimism yelled the loudest.
Enhanced production, cutting-edge communication and design skills would take me to various performance showcases and artist events between Philadelphia and New York City. From these opportunities led a depth of work, experiences, and relationships with professionals – like producer and DJ Scott Wozniak(The Blue-Eyed Soul EP, Emotive Records) – and humbling stories like spending the night in a lower east side park in Manhattan after a show, which contributed as preparation for what was to come next, a glimpse into a world I yearned to contribute to. Later that year, I met Brandon Matthews, also known as B. dot the Treehunna. We formed a bond instantaneously and before long, he was my first artist. I’d worked with others in the past, but unlike those relationships, B. dot and I seemed similar in our passion for creativity, risk-taking, and a hunger for music in its purest form. Whether he looked at me as a mentor of sorts for my experience, or I looked at him as a beacon of hope for the future of Hip-Hop, B. dot and I both knew we didn’t want to go the traditional label route and a peculiar campaign began. It seemed the spirit of BMC was still teaching me things, showing me perspectives I didn’t know yet existed.
At first artists, and artist management was something I turned away from in its entirely instead vowing to be a creative and have the viable freedom to do so with producing and writing music. Yet, when the art was complete, there was still something lacking. Presence. Dominance. I wanted our art to be heard and felt. Discovered and explored. No, it needed to be. I wouldn’t take any less. Just as I did with Sygns Music, I began managing B. dot’s personal and professional brand. Everything had to exceed expectations and first was the sound. We both met Philadelphia based singer/songwriter and producer Hezekiah(Bilal, Airtight’s Revenge, Plug Research; A Love Surreal, eOne Music; Johnny Popcorn; Talib Kweli, Rawkus Records) at his studio, 3 Crates, through a few of B. dot’s close associates(artists as well) and unbeknownst to us, formed what would possibly be the greatest industry relationship of both our careers.
January 2012 arrived swiftly and B. dot the Treehunna’s EP and second release “F*CK A ***** BEAT UP” Volume 1 was published through Sygns Music Co. with great reception among fans and music enthusiasts, journals and blogs, and even professionals who I’d looked up to, like Hezekiah. At this point, doubting or even stopping was no longer a choice and not only myself, but we—my team—were moving forward. By now, I was realizing one thing: branding was the obvious way to go from the beginning. Building a presence and dominance was coming naturally, and for once a cohesive idea that I could share with others no matter the form had begun to take shape.
Today, I understand Seth Godin’s words more than ever and with clear conviction am thankful. This culmination of stories, like the one I’m telling now, wouldn’t be possible without understanding where the essence of branding comes from: expectations, adventure, and people. It’s clear that we all have a brand inside of us. An idea, a shared belief that is tangible, and accessible to all our senses if only we just take the risk and opportunity to find it. By now, the evolution of my brand is in itself that tool. Just as I discovered my inner brand, I say thank you for allowing me to help you do the same.