New Platform Markets Entertainers Without Sacrificing Artistic Freedom
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Corey J. Stanford, Founder & CEO of Para Music Group

“Imagine an up-and-coming artist with a small local following becoming a worldwide phenomenon in a matter of months,” posits Corey J. Stanford, the 37-year-old CEO and founder of Para Music Group. “The music industry is severely failing to market and promote music effectively…[but] we have discovered a way to target millions of people in a short period of time. This has never been achieved in music and we are proud to be the first to attempt and make it a reality.”

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Current marketing methods in the music industry include random social media postings that generate little to no results, says Stanford. Para’s solution involves a complex algorithm, a multitude of data centers, and a custom-built music portal that Stanford and his team hope will deliver artistic freedom, adequate exposure, and fair compensation to creatives.

After launching in October 2014, Para’s first signings included Russian EDM artist Milana May, Croatian pop artist Kristina Vukas, and Bostonian rock artist Byrd. caught up with the serial entrepreneur to talk about how Para Music Group plans to disrupt the music scene, what keeps the company agile, and the challenges of introducing innovative business models in a formerly analog industry.

How does PMG work?
Para Music Group is a music company dedicated to releasing quality music worldwide. It places a strong emphasis on releasing music singles digitally in all genres, including pop, hip-hop, R&B, rock, country, and EDM. The process includes artists from around the world uploading and presenting finished songs to us via our custom-built music portal. The songs are retrieved by our team of executive A&Rs who vet and vote accordingly. If a song is unanimously accepted, it’s then passed on to the senior executives to make a final determination on whether the song should be released by Para.

Afterward, a formal offer is presented to the artist to license the song to be released. Upon acceptance, the song is then released digitally and massively marketed on 300+ online platforms and media channels worldwide. The progress and success of the song is tracked and monitored via an online dashboard. Profits are split between Para and the creatives on a quarterly basis.

What differentiates Para Music Group from its competition?
We’re different from our competition in that we are not just a music company. We are also a technology company. Having this advantage has allowed us to compete on a global scale within a short period of time.

Describe what makes PMG innovative?
PMG is extremely innovative in that we create and develop our own technology internally. Our tools for discovering, organizing, vetting, and voting on music were created by us. We are a highly technologically driven company and we also work virtually. Our Chief Operating Officer, Marcus Hutchins, is located on the West Coast. Our President, Kenneth Andrade, and EVP, Arthur Mandel, reside on the East Coast. Our Executive A&Rs are located across the globe. By using paperless contracts, scanning our physical mail, and operating from virtual offices, we are able to be agile and focus on our core business value proposition: releasing quality music.

What are the challenges of bringing an innovative solution to market in the music scene? The challenges are market validation, the amount of time to achieve success, and brand awareness. The music industry is brutal. Market validation is crucial yet cumbersome. When anything or anyone new is presented to the music scene, the judging period commences and ends quickly. It takes a matter of seconds for a person to decide if they like or dislike a particular song, artist, company, brand, or idea. It takes an individual with extremely thick skin to persevere and push through the arduous task of staying relevant.

Click here for Part II, where Stanford talks about lessons learned as a tech entrepreneur.

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.