Black Enterprise recently had a chance to meet up with Dom Marcell, a former Wall Street banker who’s now a successful singer. After obtaining his degree in both law and business from Northwestern University’s JD and MBA program, Marcell began his finance career as a media and entertainment investment banker on Wall Street. After a yearlong stint, he left his job to follow his dreams to become a full-time singer and songwriter-entrepreneur.
What inspired you to leave Wall Street to pursue your passion?
I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur before I began the JD/MBA program at Northwestern University. I just did not know when or what it would be. Over the years, many people would hear me sing and would say that I had a gift. Once my songs began to get traction, I thought, why not invest in them and in myself, similar to other students who were launching startups at business schools? In addition, unexpected life events also were a factor. The premature passing of my sister and my mom, at such young ages, galvanized me to do so. You only live once and it’s best to do it while doing something you absolutely love while aiming to have a potent and positive impact on society.
Has there ever been a time when you wanted to give up and return to the corporate life?
In the beginning, yes! When I was thinking more so with an artist/dreamer hat, I thought to myself: “Dom you are one of millions of singers who can also sing, so what are you doing? Your chances are super slim and you are leaving a lucrative career!” However, once I put my business cap on, my perspective totally changed. I recognized that I had a unique story, which would help differentiate myself and stand out from the crowd. In addition, I also knew that my approach to the business, similar to that of a Silicon Valley startup, would help me accomplish things a little faster, all while leveraging my education and global network. My unique combination of creativity with business makes me feel a little more comfortable in my decision.
Unlike other artists, you have a business and a law degree—how has this helped you in the music industry?
Tremendously. I have leveraged what I learned in business school to create an entire enterprise behind my music. My knowledge of effective leadership, strategy, marketing, finance, etc., has been invaluable. From a legal standpoint, I also handled my copyrights, trademarks, set up my LLC, etc. Higher education also affords you easier access to global networks, which has been important for meeting certain milestones.
What is the one thing you learned in law school that has helped you today?
I would say identifying and then understanding the wants, needs, and thought processes of one’s audience. As a lawyer, you must always stay five steps ahead of what the opposing side will think or do. It is, in fact, game theory, as one learns in business. This applies to any type of venture. You must think about your audience, whether they are partners, journalists, team members, investors, etc. How will the party act if a decision, accomplishment, failure, etc. is made? Determining their needs and how you can best satisfy them, while also fulfilling your objectives, is the key to a mutually beneficial relationship.
What advice would you give to those seeking their passion?
Listen to the voice within. Some people discouraged me, laughed at me, and mocked me. I tuned out all the noise. Only you know the clear vision you have for yourself. It’s important, however, to map out your vision by writing it down and setting important milestones. This is important to rally those who will be instrumental in helping you succeed.
Whom do you credit for inspiring you or helping you in this industry?
My inspiration is Kirk Franklin because his songs have moved me throughout childhood to adulthood. The ability of a song to uplift someone from a tough time is an incredible, powerful thing. As far as help goes, my team, absolutely. Though it may seem cliché, teamwork makes dreams work. Without my incredible team helping me move my vision along, it would have been difficult to have accomplished what we have done thus far.
You were born in Puerto Rico, but raised in New Orleans—a town that is well known for music. How has that influenced your career in any way?
Tremendously. My music is analogous to a good ol’ pot of N’awlins-style gumbo. An amalgamation of contemporary pop, R&B, hip-hop, dance, with gospel hints sprinkled in. Sounds tasty, right? I also have New Orleans bounce influence in a song or two I did. Ayyeee…
Your fans love your recently released hits ‘DTK’ and ‘That’s What’s Up.’ What are your plans to release your full album?
Thank you. I am still strategizing a rollout with my team, and possibly looking to partner. However, what you will definitely hear and see are more music and visuals, respectively, before the album is released sometime this year. Get RETTY! 2018 is going to be fun.
What is next for Dom Marcell?
More interviews, performances, speaking engagements, videos, songs—2018 will definitely put things in high gear. Buckle up!