Foreward by Nick Donnelly
Another entry to the 10 most powerful women in independent hip hop list on Urban Kingdom, SARAH J was my first ever connection to the US market. A super-producer manager who helps place producers on major label projects in the US I connected with SJ a couple of years back when someone linked me to her via Twitter after she needed a quick edit for something she was working on. I did the video for her and stayed in touch.Sarah is consistently one of the most focused individuals I have witnessed in the music industry thus far, and with a very strong network of growing UK producers developing I wanted to reach out to interview her with Urban Kingdom to broadcast her message to producers who want to know how to get into the major market.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE MUSIC BUSINESS?
I’ve always been a big hip hop fan and music head, I started out managing one producer and then i branched out to managing more producers because I can’t just get exactly what I’m looking for out of one producer sound. So over the years I’ve worked with producers with unique sounds and that has helped me land more work in places. I look for very versatile producers, producers who are definitely bringing a new sound to the game.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING IN THE BUSINESS FOR SO FAR?
Since 1998, the budgets were larger back then. Now there are less albums coming out so all the producers are fighting for the big placements.
DO YOU THINK IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT IN 98 OR NOW TO MAINTAIN HIP HOP?
I think it’s harder now, but I don’t think it’s something that is not possible. It (the internet) did also open up a lot of doors, I feel like the access is there you just have to find it. A lot of producers will complain that there is no work but you can pretty much visit anybody these days, it’s not hard you just have to find the right approaches.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET TREATED WHEN YOU FIRST CAME INTO THE BUSINESS?
I think its always been easy for me to network because I’m a female, it’s easier to get meetings and get people on the phone with you, but there are some instances in the level of respect given that’s it a male dominated business but you really have to have a tough skin if you are female in this business because I definitely get tested a lot.
ARE THERE MANY FEMALES YOU WORK WITH IN THE BUSINESS?
Not a lot of female A+Rs, there’s a few female managers, a lot of female publicists.
HOW ABOUT FEMALE PRODUCERS?
Yeah there are a lot of female producers emerging right now. There are a bunch of female producers that hit me up on my Twitter, it’s going to be really interesting to see who is going to break through and get that huge record that I haven’t seen yet, there are also female engineers too.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE FAVOURITE PLACEMENTS YOU HAVE DONE?
Recently French Montana, Wale, Jadakiss, 2Chainz, Masspike Miles, Gucci. It changes every week you know.
WHAT IS YOUR MAIN MOTIVATION TO KEEP THE WORK RATE GOING?
To keep the workflow going? My passion for the music, this is all I do, this is what I love to do. It’s what i wake up doing and what I go to sleep doing. I also love helping people. I love building relationships, each relationship is a new opportunity that’s how I look at it.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO KEEP YOURSELF POSITIVE WHEN YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO SO MUCH BAD MUSIC?
There’s always a certain sound I am looking for I know right away when I hear a song if I can use it or not, I listen to the first 20 secs of the beat and then I start formulating in my mind who I can hear on it. I listen to a lot of beats, about 500 a day.
WHAT MUSIC SOUND ARE YOU FEELING AT THE MOMENT?
Definitely melodic, uptempo, breakbeats… samples are cool.
IS THERE ROOM IN THE MARKET FOR WU TANG AND HAVOC STYLE BEATS OR ARE THEY PLAYED OUT NOW?
Yes there is definitely artists that record to beats and have an old school approach, but at the same time use updated sounds and maybe have an old school sample in the record with new school drums. There are ways to take an old school sample and flip it to what you are hearing today. It is really good to stay relevant is what is going on right now and always update your sounds and your software to always be ahead of the day because the times are changing every day.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR UP AND COMING PRODUCERS?
Stay focused and don’t give up. Stay consistent and make sure are constantly learning and networking, learn how to play instruments, just develop yourself over the years and don’t be afraid to take criticism off people just learn from it. I say this all the time on my Twitter, but it’s really important too, get out there and travel a lot, attend conferences etc.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE A SUCCESSFUL PRODUCER JUST WITH YOUR ART?
You can be a dope producer and be anti-social but it isn’t going to get you a lot of work, so it’s a combination of all that, it’s learning the music and then the next level after that is all about your networking.
WHAT IS PMP?
PMP worldwide stands for Production Market Place, www.pmpworldwide.com and its the largest online producers site for producers to get exposure as well as submit to major label projects. We just launched our new mobile app, people will be able to search for different genres of music and the reach is much larger so you will get more clients coming to you. Major artists and A+R’s log onto the site every day to find new producers.
ARE YOU IN CONTACT WITH BRITISH PRODUCERS?
Oh yeah British producers where are they, I’m sure I do get some but not every producer specifies where they are from when they contact me so I’m not too familiar with any names off the top of my head, can you recommend any to me?
I WOULDN’T WANT TO SPECIFY, THERE ARE A LOT OF GOOD ONES, I’M SURE THEY WILL BE IN CONTACT WITH YOU AFTER THIS INTERVIEW, WE DID AN INTERVIEW RECENTLY WITH SERMSTYLE, YOU’VE WORKED WITH HIM RIGHT.
Oh he’s from there? I definitely know Serm, shout out to Serm…. Regarding placements, if you get the mix tape work labels will get in touch with you when it’s album time so exposure is good for you.
HAVE YOU SEEN A LOT OF SUCCESS FROM PEOPLE BUILDING UP THEIR CAREERS THROUGH MIXTAPES?
Yes absolutely there are so many producers I know who had no placements and are now doing big things. Even though it is for free, you have to look at the big picture. Down the line it’s going to help you get the album placements, if you don;t submit to mix tape work and you just are looking to land album placements its not always going to happen.
BECAUSE THE BUSINESS MOVES SO FAST IS IT TOUGHER FOR PRODUCERS TO BECOME A BRAND NAME?
I don’t think it’s hard at all, it really just comes down to your records, your network, your discography. It’s not hard to get to that level. Look at Hitboy, he started off with a few placements, he was on Myspace, he got a few records now he is one of the most sought out producers out there.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
I’m still the corporate account manager at PMP, I’m managing a few producers right now, I also co-ordinate a lot of music conferences, my app will be out real soon in like a month or so, I’m also working behind the scenes at some publishing companies, I get ideas thrown at me all the time, so working hard.
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