WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
J A Y W A S H I N G T O N
NEW YORK CITY
Photograph by Andrew Urban
I. I am originally from the Bronx, but my musical taste definitely comes from Harlem. I have had the good fortune of being able to intern for labels like Uptown Records and Bad Boy Entertainment. I also worked for Benny Medina before eventually going out and brokering deals on my own. Now I own my own company called Landmark Recordings. I gave it this name because I wanted it to convey a message of integrity and substance. For me, a landmark is an event, a discovery, a change and turning point. I want my artists to know that they are at a place where we are creating history together.
II. The concept of wisdom comes back to learning from past failures, taking those lessons learned, then applying them to your next venture. Mark Cuban is a great businessman and also gives great quotes. One of the lessons I’ve taken from his commentary is this - “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.” I used to despise my failures, however after years of experimenting and failing, I came to realize that as long as I keep practicing and held my focus, my day of being “right once” was inevitable.
III. While my peers were out on dates or partying I was up at night researching and studying. I always strived to be the best whether it was writing songs like Monica’s “One In A Lifetime” or Karina Pasian’s Grammy nominated song “Just Can’t Find The Words,” or artist development and the art of brokering a deal. I saw how hard people like Clive Davis and L.A. Reid worked so I knew I had to work harder. Study your idols until they become your rivals.
IV. I founded Landmark Records because I feel there is a major lack of mentoring and artist development in the music industry today. One of the biggest challenges artists will face early on is simply not knowing what to do. A solid mentor can help you determine the best strategy for achieving your music career goals and show you how to do so in a quick and effective manner. I think it’s important to help an artist understand that they have to be willing to have doors slammed in their faces and to appreciate the No’s because they make the Yes feel that much better.
V. My favorite mentoring examples would be those of Andre Harrell and Sean P. Diddy Combs. To this day Andre and Sean are great friends and Andre still helps Diddy with some of his business ventures, most notably RMC (Revolt Music Conference). Another great mentoring duo was Def Jam’s Lyor Cohen mentoring Jay-Z who is currently conquering new business’s frontiers such as sports management.
VI. We need to talk more about the need for Artist Development. In this current climate we are taught to look for instant success. There is a strong need for artists to develop skills such as media skills, choreography, and vocal coaching. A lot of hard work and dedication is behind a fully developed artist.
VII. I am for the support and nurturing of talent.