Want to learn how to break into the music industry without the machine?
Join us on Thursday, June 30th at 7pm/EST for our Indy Life Panel at The Music Meeting – a virtual discussion about the business behind the music presented by Radio One.
Get to know our panelist and moderator below who will provide valuable insight for free during this panel!
In 2008, Craig Davis moved to back to Capitol Records as the VP of Promotion. Craig created promotional and marketing strategies, set up and executed artist tours and oversaw radio promotions. Craig represented Tyrese, Anita Baker, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Eric Benet, Lloyd Banks, Avant, Twista, Cali Swag District (“Teach Me How To Dougie”), Fat Joe, Corinne Bailey Rae, Tamia, LaToya, Robert Glasper, Bobby Valentino, Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sande and Smokie Norful. This position also included working with third party labels and distribution of their music. Currently, Craig is CEO of Music Matters Entertainment with a growing client base. Music Matters Entertainment is a multi functional company that includes Marketing & Promotion, Management and Distribution divisions. In 2018, Craig joined SRG/ILS as SVP and together with owner Claude Villani has helped built a new home for R&B music with great names as Brian McKnight, Raheem DeVaughn, Shawn Stockman, Avant, After 7, Ralph Tresvant, Vivian Green, Take 6, Mike Phillips, Kenny Lattimore, Ruff Endz, Gino Vannelli, UB40, Tito Jackson and new names like Lyrica Anderson, Elijah Thomas, Maya Johnson and Charlee. With
Kerry Douglas was an outsider who became the ultimate gospel music insider and star maker as the founder and CEO of Black Smoke Music Worldwide.
Over the last 25 years, the Houston, Texas native has taken unknown artists and turned them into Billboard number one acts. The list is potent: Grammy® nominee, James Fortune; stratospheric crooner Earnest Pugh; Quartet Queen Evelyn Turrentine-Agee; breakout artist Pastor Mike, Jr. and the prodigious Zacardi Cortez.
Billboard Magazine recently announced that two of the dozens of songs Douglas has promoted – James Fortune’s “I Believe” and Earnest Pugh’s “I Need Your Glory” – are on the prestigious publication’s Hot Gospel Songs of the 2010s decade-end chart. Furthermore, one of the most viewed YouTube videos from a Gospel artist is from Black Smoke Music– Greg O’Quinn’s “I Told The Storm” has been viewed more than 50 million times. It is a testament to Douglas’ tenacity and creativity that he is able to consistently compete with major recording labels and give his artists top market presence.
Douglas has a drive for success that is rooted in his childhood. Raised by a single mother, he had to work hard for everything that he had. After a little time in college, Douglas began working as a car salesman. In order to attract more customers, he staged R&B and rap concerts in the parking lot. His sales doubled. Soon Douglas quit the dealership and began promoting R&B concerts fulltime. After a near death situation, he became a born-again Christian and decided to use his sales and marketing skills to build the careers of some of the Houston-based gospel artists he had met – and Black Smoke Music Worldwide was born.
The label’s first hit was the late Rev. E. Stewart’s “I Believe” project in 1997. From there Douglas signed Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson & the Spiritual Voices. They laid out a string of quartet-styled smashes including “Hide Behind the Mountain,” “Send A Revival,” and “Let Go and Let God Have His Way.” Douglas then dusted off Evelyn Turrentine-Agee’s 20-year old tune “God Did It,” remixed it and sent it out to radio. Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) cited it as the most played gospel song of 2000. Douglas has been breaking hits ever since.
Concurrently, Douglas created The Gospel Truth magazine which, at its height, had 250,000 regular readers and was an influential vehicle for launching the careers of independent gospel artists. Douglas later created another marketing masterpiece with Kerry Douglas Presents the Gospel Mix series of CDs that were the catalyst to breaking artists such as James Fortune & FIYA and Earnest Pugh. With nearly a dozen volumes produced, these sets have included now household names such as Tamela Mann, Le’Andria Johnson, and Jermaine Dolly.
James Fortune & FIYA would become the first contemporary gospel success story for Black Smoke Music Worldwide: the ensemble’s smash “I Will Trust You” spent 29 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart. That kicked off six number one hits for Fortune – including his current No. 1 hit, “I Am.” Douglas also discovered a retired military man who had tried to break into the music industry for years but never broke through a door until Douglas broke it down for him. That artist is Earnest Pugh, for whom Douglas muscled both “Rain on Us” and “I Need Your Glory” to the top of the charts for multiple weeks.
Continuing the hit making streak, Douglas’s signed new comer Pastor Mike Jr. debuting his album #1 on the Billboard charts in 2019 and having two consecutive hits, “Big” & “I Got It” that remained #1 on the Gospel Radio Charts for 4 weeks. Success did not stop there, Pastor Mike Jr. won 2020 New Artist of the Year Stellar award.
While Douglas formerly only promoted Black Smoke artists, over the last few years he’s taken on several artists for major labels. In 2018, Douglas gave gospel legend Bebe Winans the first No. 1 hit of his solo career with “He Promised Me.” Before that, he took Ricky Dillard & New G to the top of the charts for the first time with “Amazing” in 2014.
However, Douglas’ favorite thing is building an artist from scratch as he’s recently done with Birmingham’s Pastor Mike, Jr., New York’s Edwrin Sutton and also with the Indianapolis-based group, Demetrius West & the Jesus Promoters. This passion has led for him to have 8 ASCAP awards, 9 BMI awards, 1 BMI song writer award, and multiple Stellar Awards.
This passion lead Douglas to create another musical endeavor, Gospelmisradio.com & Spotlight Night with Kerry Douglas. Both ideas birthed during the COVID19 quarantine as an outline to help musicians and small business promote and advertise their upcoming projects via on an online radio format and social streaming. You name, Kerry creates a lane for promoting new artists in each fascist of the music industry.
Douglas loves his work. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because I’m doing what I love,” he says. “Helping artists nurture their God-given talent and then helping them spread their musical ministries around the world is the best gift and I’m grateful that God has given me this mission in life.”
Houston, Texas-native, Lester Pace, is the Senior Vice President of Radio Promotions at Roc Nation. He began his career in the music industry as a disc jockey and radio personality at the local Houston radio stations, KTSU 90.9 and KBXX 97.9 The Box in the early 1990’s. Later, he met J. Prince, CEO and founder of Rap-A-Lot Records, who immediately hired Lester to the label where he worked his way up to the Southwest Promotions Manager. During his time at Rap-A-Lot, he helped break artists such as Geto Boys, Scarface, Hawk, Big Mike, and more.
After his tenure at Rap-A-Lot, Lester was given the Midsouth Regional Manager position with Interscope Records and later was promoted to the National Director of Promotions. Throughout his time at Interscope, Lester noticed that there was no support for independent artists to get the same radio and promotional opportunities as artists signed to big record companies. Thus, he started Setting the Pace Promotions in 1998 where he helped artists like Yo Gotti, D4L, Boosie, and others propel their careers. His success as an independent contractor led him to many record companies and labels beating on his door offering him a position. Though he had several options, he believed Roc Nation was more aligned with his purpose for Setting the Pace. Lester’s ongoing hunger, tenacity, grit, passion, and authenticity is why he has sustained a successful career in the industry where his name holds weight in any room.
Troy Marshall is President & CEO of Fire Marshall Entertainment (founded in 2012), and a longtime music executive. He has worked with a variety of major and independent labels and distributors over his 30+ year career: from MCA, and Universal-Motown, to Warner Bros., Global Music Group, Interscope, Empire, Hitco, and more. Marshall has become one of the go-to guys when labels or indie clients want to break an artist and a record. He has a vast knowledge along with a tireless hustle when it comes to navigating today’s music industry. Reinvention and maintaining relevance have been keys to his success.
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‘Indy Life: How To Break Without The Machine’ Panel at Radio One Presents The Music Meeting was originally published on blackamericaweb.com