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Wendy Day - conducted by DJ Ty  

Wendy Day makes millionaires out of Rappers

September 2006

MVRemix: I know you must get harassed by rappers whose game is/are not up to par. How do you shake off a wack rapper?

Wendy Day: I don't shake off wack rappers. What I do has no bearing on talent. My mission isn't to be a gate keeper nor am I qualified to say who is wack. I think Master P was wack, yet he sold 50 million CDs in the 90s. My favorite rapper is Ras Kass and he has sold 200,000 CD's. So I already know I am not qualified to judge talent or success. Our goal is to help rappers on the business side. We help everyone. Wack or talented... No one has the right to judge. Don't like it? Don't buy it. We are not censors or gate keepers. Rhyme about chopping my family up into little pieces? C'mon in and we'll help you if you need out of your contract. What I do has no bearing on the music and vice versa.

MVRemix: I heard it said that the best rappers and singers sell the least amount of CD's. How true is that?

Wendy Day: Ras Kass sold under 200,000 CDs. Master P sold over 50 million CDs. You tell me... But who is the judge of "best?" I can only say what I think is best for me. People confuse the art form with the commerce of the music business all the time. Who am I to say what's good and what's not? What's good doesn't always sell well in anything in life. Crack and Heroin aren't good, but they sell well. In urban music, we are forever confusing popular with good. Popularity sells well. Good makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you hear it. Every now and again in life, I like things that are also popular. But I'd never push my feelings on another person. This is a business, not an art form. You can make music because you love making music or you can supply music that fills a demand. Each artist has to make that determination and decision. If you want to be in the business of music, you must treat it like a business. If you enjoy making music, get a job to support yourself and make music to be happy. Give it out to the world for free.... If you are signed to a label and it doesn't sell well, you will not be happy. They think it's a business too...

Also, for me, what happens when the personal gets involved? David Banner is my friend and I do not like Jay Z as a person. Does that make Banner a better artist than Jay Z? I prefer listening to Banner's music. My husband wouldn't agree... he can separate the personal from the music as a fan. I can't. I guess because I know the artists. Once I know someone is a terrible human being, it's hard for me to listen to the music with an open-mind. I can't even listen to Baby - CEO Cash Money... I get nauseous. All I can think about is how he hasn't paid his artists properly as he brags about all of his cash. Fuck! Sell a car or pull out a tooth and pay BG.

MVRemix: Are rappers getting better deals, now?

Wendy Day: Absolutely they are, if they know what to ask for. It depends on what you mean by "better." The deals are financially smaller right now than they were in the late 90s because the sales and return on investment are smaller. But since I never did deals based on money, to me, the deals are better. The labels are more desperate for profits, and my deals are very profitable for the artists and the labels. When artists are happier, they are easier to work with and make better product. When they sell more CDs, labels make more money. My deals are hugely successful, so the labels smile when they see me.

The artists are also more knowledgeable today. They realize that quick fame is wonderful, but it's not enough. They need longevity too. They need to build a brand that can be leveraged into other areas to make income for many years to come.

MVRemix: Has any rapper ever asked you to get on CD with them and say a lil' somethin'?

Wendy Day: Of course. All the time. I never have. I have no talent for that. Oh wait! I tried to help out. I was in the studio with Ras Kass. He needed a female voice in the background of a song that Domingo was producing for him. He couldn't find anyone to say one line for him and needed it done right then. All he needed me to say was "a mansion and a yacht." I tried and tried. I SUCKED! I couldn't do it. I couldn't rap on beat. It was pathetic. We had to call a female rapper I was friends with and ask her to come down to the studio to say 5 words. Pathetic. My career as a rapper was very short. [laughs] I sucked!

I did some acting on a CD for Prince Paul back in the day. I played an EMS worker. That was fun. No rapping...just talking. It was a short part of a skit, I think. It was a very creative album. He's a genius.

MVRemix: How has the business said of the music industry changed from 14 years ago?

Wendy Day: It has gotten more competitive and there are more "friendship" and "favor" deals. Also, people who never would have been able to get a deal 5 years ago can get a deal today by selling 30,000 CDs regionally. Labels used to sign artists based on talent. Today it's pure business. If a label thinks they can make money, they will sign you. No development, no real support, no breaking records...just sales. If you don't sell quickly, they are on to the next. And there is rarely a second shot. Also, the artists are more cliqued up than they used to be. And because they beef more, whatever clique an artist decides to be down with, can be a crucial decision with far reaching repercussions. Look at Game. He thought he was signed to a label, not inducted into a crew. That mistaken assumption has cost him a lot. The price of signing to the hottest artist was very high.

MVRemix: What's a typical day like for you?

Wendy Day: I don't have a typical day because I do so many different things. The not-for-profit side of what I do (Rap Coalition) has me reading a lot of contracts, interacting with established artists, and calling lawyers. I do a lot of listening and a lot of planning. To support the not-for-profit organization, I shop deals and consult indie labels. So that side of what I do (PowerMoves, LLC) has me on the road a lot, setting up record labels, and teaching folks how to sell CDs, or it has me meeting with label executives in NY and L.A. negotiating major deals. Then the educational side of what I do has me setting up panel discussions and conferences which means a ton of emails, calls and following up. I get about 200 phone calls a day and about as many emails. I try to touch base with industry friends as often as I can, and I need to keep in touch with people on the streets around the country so I never lose touch with what's happening on the streets and what's hot. And sometimes I even sleep.

The bad part is that I focus on what I need to do, not on what I've done well. For example, my websites need to be redesigned and updated. I need to set up the panels for the SEA Weekend in January, and the panels for the Indie Label convention in Vegas in February. January and February are coming very fast--tick tock tick tock. I just got a major artist released from his contract, and I never think about that success. Just tick tock, tick tock...

MVRemix: Do you still have that same fire for the music game and what do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years and?

Wendy Day: Yep--same fire; same passion. I do burn out from time to time. It used to scare me. But I learned that the passion comes back. I've learned to work through it. I've also learned how to take breaks and vacations and enjoy downtime. That took me 10 years to learn. Next five years? I will most likely phase out of consulting indie labels and start my own label. I have created A LOT of millionaires. Yet I am not one yet. Let's see...what else? I am getting more into building brands and leveraging artists' brands with corporate Amerikkka, and have been toying with the idea of starting Urban Markets, LLC-- a branding and endorsement company for established urban artists. There is no reason why we don't see Pimp C or Ludacris doing ads for products that reach our market in Hip Hop. Right now artists do deals for the products that reach out to them, or that they have access to.... imagine someone who perfectly matches artists with products based on target market and imaging instead of something as fleeting as access and opportunity. There's a void in the branding market. I have access to every artist and can fill it. My Master's degree is in Marketing and I specialized in Psychographics. That might be fun for me to do...

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"I get about 200 phone calls a day and about as many emails. I try to touch base with industry friends as often as I can, and I need to keep in touch with people on the streets..."