Over the last ten years, there are very few artists who have impacted music in the way Ne-Yo has. His lyrics are unforgettable, heartfelt and real. His music is groundbreaking, giving you everything from R&B ballads to club bangers. In addition to his own music, he’s written some of the most popular and iconic singles of the earlier part of the 21st century.
With the recent release of his new album “R.E.D” which stands for “Realizing Every Dream,” his art is clearly imitating his life as well.
From being charged with the task of cultivating the new wave of icons — to making boss moves with brands like Malibu Red — and making time for his budding family, Ne-Yo is seamlessly making a transition from musician to mogul.
“Very very very big shoes to fill,” says Ne-Yo of his new position at Motown. “It’s the same position that Smokey Robinson held. So I’m just trying to do my part to continue the legacy.”
The position he’s referring to is Senior Vice President of A&R at Motown. Under the direction of Barry Weiss (CEO at Def Jam/Universal Republic Records), Motown is being “revitalized,” channeling its earlier days. One of the things that attracted Ne-Yo to the position was the focus on artist development.
“An icon is something that is nurtured. You take the raw talent and you give it the necessary care to become an icon,” says Ne-Yo.
Some of the raw talent he’s currently cultivating includes a group of songwriters and producers. He’s also working with new talent in Ravaughn Brown and popular actress and singer, Adrienne Bailon.
While Ne-Yo cites his mentor Renell “Tango” Hay (his business partner and manager), he did receive some advice from the man who started Motown, the legendary Berry Gordy. Back in the day, Gordy and his team had quality control meetings where they listened to songs and discussed whether or the not the single was a hit.
“The question would always be: if you had a $1, would you buy a sandwich or the single,” once said Berry.
In one of the quality control sessions, Berry played the song “My Girl” by the Temptations. Seven out of 8 people in the room thought it wasn’t a hit. Gordy was the only one who did — and of course — the song went on to be a major hit.
“The moral of that story was anyone can be wrong and anybody could be right. Your opinion is just as important. When you feel it, there’s a reason,” once said Gordy.
While being a mogul isn’t as easy as 1,2,3, there surely are steps that can be taken to get there.
Ne-Yo offers some advice here.