(Part 2) New Platform Plans to Find and Market Entertainers Without Sacrificing Artistic Freedom
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Para Music Group just might turn the music industry on its head. Instead of the old subjective model of discovering new talent, with PMG, artists can upload and digitally present finished songs to Para’s A&R executives via a custom-built music portal. After an artist is vetted and if a song is unanimously accepted by the A&R team and senior executives, it can be released digitally and massively marketed on 300+ online platforms and media channels, worldwide.

[RELATED: (Part 1) New Platform Will Find and Market Entertainers Without Sacrificing Artistic Freedom]

“Our mission is to bring cultures all over the world together by means of music and technology,” says Corey J. Stanford, CEO of PMG, who also founded Blazetrak, a video messaging platform for music professionals. “If we target 20 million people using our strategies, we expect a high engagement rate between 30-40%. This is clearly evident based on the last two years of music sales across all genres.”

Considering that this isn’t Stanford’s first foray into music technology, the odds are in his favor. BlackEnterprise.com asked Stanford about his startup challenges and asked him to give advice that other black founders can use to succeed.

What challenges did you face while preparing to make Blazetrak successful? While operating Blazetrak, there were three areas that presented major challenges. Those were lack of capital, the absence of leadership and guidance, and acquiring major clients. Prior to Blazetrak launching, we made a bold move and turned down an investment with only $2,300 in the bank. To solve the issue of having a lack of funds, we bootstrapped our entire infrastructure and didn’t pay ourselves for almost two years – until there was sufficient revenue.

In regard to leadership and guidance, it turns out that “learning all the positions in the company” ended up being the best lessons on what not to do. This has helped me tremendously in subsequent ventures. Additionally, we formed an advisory board of extremely successful individuals, including Natalie Cofield, James Andrews, and Andrew Fromm.

As for acquiring major clients, I give full credit to three women who worked diligently with Blazetrak – Cheryl Joyner, Ashley Butler (Banks), and Candice Cook. The three of them single-handedly brought us a rolodex that was beyond anyone’s imagination, which contributed to a large portion of the company’s revenue. Cheryl became Blazetrak’s executive vice president, Ashley became the director of sales, and Candice joined our advisory board. Due to their incredible accomplishments, I was moved to invite them to join our efforts at Para. Currently Cheryl serves as Para’s chairman, Ashley is Para’s senior vice president of A&R, and Candice sits on Para’s advisory board.

As a serial tech entrepreneur, what advice can you give to up and coming founders of black startups? My advice is do your research, overdeliver, and never quit. With that being said, I strongly suggest you aim to be the best. Period. Whether it’s an excuse or an injustice for the lack of color, I’ve chosen to aim to be the best. If you’re the best, there are no ifs, ands or buts. You’re the best. My last but not least piece of advice is to diversify your team. Having different cultures and races contributing to your mission undoubtedly makes your company stronger, more attractive, and extremely marketable.

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, SocialWayne.com 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 BlackEnterprise.com 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 BlackEnterprise.com 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.

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