Shawn Amos (How to Create a Hip-Hop Brand that Sells to the Masses)
Shawn Amos: How to Create a Hip-Hop
Brand that Sells to the Masses
What does Jay-Z, Diddy, 50 Cent, Nikki Minaj, Dr. Dre all have in common besides being household-named entertainers?
They are also successful household-name entertainment brands.
Branding is the difference between having a hit record and/or owning industry leading headphones line like "Beats By Dr. Dre".
Shawn Amos, CEO of Freshwire is a trusted tastemaker, content creator, a custodian of pop culture and a trendsetter.
He is also the son of Wally Amos, founder of the Famous Amos Cookies brand and the first African-American talent agent for the William Morris Agency.
As a former A&R executive at Rhino Entertainment, Shawn steered editorial content for the reissue label’s deluxe anthologies and box sets, hiring award-winning entertainment critics, essayists, and authors.
He then went on to produce single and “various artists” collections from such heritage musical acts as INXS, The Sugarhill Gang and Quincy Jones (for whom Amos later ran the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation).
Shawn currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Board of Directors for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Along with Shawn’s creative content approach and vision, Freshwire clients include the likes of: K-Swiss, Esurance, Reece’s, FOX, Vevo, and Spike TV among others.
So, ask yourself the following questions: Do you want to sell more of your music, get more paid DJ gigs, or get your clothing line into retail?
If your answer is yes, Shawn Amos has some great tips for you to help you acheive your next level of greatness.
Just ask Ludacris!
TFO: As a tastemaker, how did you segue from being a successful music producer and A&R Director to becoming a leader in content creation?
Shawn Amos: It’s all been the same to me; content is content. It’s now doing it in the digital space as opposed to the physical space. For me, I went to New York Film School and was in the film business for awhile and the music business. It was always about having a career and how to create stuff with the least amount of interference as possible. This is why music and film takes so much money and so much time and so many people just to see something realized. I was a screenwriter, so to get stuff from a script to making an actual movie or to a DVD or whatever took a tremendous amount of hurdles to jump over. And with music, it was a fewer amount of hurdles. I could write something in the morning, sing it and produce it in a day and perform it live in about a month or so. So I loved the immediacy of it. For me, it’s always been about the chase for greater immediacy. So now in this space, I worked for a label called Shout Factory and they spun-off a media company called Get Back Media in 2007. It gave me a chance to do what I was doing which was creating content, and being involved Pop Culture stuff and music stuff while just doing more of it. You could put it online and create a following. Just doing more of it and explore a new medium. That’s what I’ve done.
TFO: How all of these components encompassed within Freshwire?
Shawn Amos: With Freshwire, instead of creating content and helping artists create content and helping musicians create content, we help brands create content. How does a brand become a story teller? How does a brand strive to get the same degree of authenticity and credibility that a musician may have? And that’s a cool creative challenge for me.
TFO: How important now with the social media climate to have transparency in your brand?
Shawn Amos: It’s everything. How do you find your true north? How do you find your true voice? That’s another word for authenticity; that’s another word for transparency. You see what happens when you try to keep secrets. It’s hard to keep secrets these days. On one hand, it’s hard to keep secrets. On the other hand, consumers have a finely tuned ‘bulls*** meter’ than they use to. And they have the tools to find out what is really true about a brand. If a brand is saying something about themselves, is it true? Ask your friends or post a question on Facebook and find out. There’s really no place to hide for the brand that is trying to hide something or who doesn’t know who they are or what they stand for.
TFO: What advice can you give up and coming Hip-Hop brands who strived for street credibility in the past but now want to go into the corporate sector?
Shawn Amos: To me the starting point is, what are you doing that’s bringing value to people? What problem are you solving? What need are you solving? It’s a lot of work to get people to buy your product whether it’s a media download or a hoodie. Then, it how do you match all of your actions with that mission. You have to make sure that everything you do and everything you say is in accordance with that mission.
TFO: As a black man, you’ve done very well for yourself. What kind of advice can you give the young urban black entrepreneur? Maybe someone who is fresh out of college or who is in high school; how they can reach their goals when they don’t have the resources, connections or family lineage that you have?
Shawn Amos:That is a great question but it’s tough to answer. I know that I am very blessed by being born in the right zip code. If I was born in another zip code, would the same type of obstacles be in front of me? So, I know there’s a lot of fate involved in all this s***. However, I think two things; find your passion. Find the thing you can’t live without. Whether you want to be a singer or a carpenter, go out and find the thing you must be doing. Then, find ways to keep pursuing that goal. A lot of young people specificially ‘the brothers,’ they’re chasing dollars.
TFO: The paper chase.
Shawn Amos:I get that on some level because that is a ticket out and acquiring freedom and all that. But the dollars come after finding the thing that you truly enjoy. It feeds you. Because that is contagious and people see that. And people want to help that. The dollars come after all of that. The second thing is finding ways to avoid being distracted. Be aware of what is going to move you closer to your goal and what is going to move you away from your goal.