Name: Tiffany Hardin
Company: Gild Creative Group
Role Title: CEO/Founder
Headquarters: New York City
How did you get started in the music business?
I got my first taste of the music business in high school when I started managing a garage band named Scarlette. I used my experience with them as a case study for me to determine if I really wanted to go to school and study the craft. I ended up going to Columbia College Chicago, and got connected with the Chicago Hip Hop scene through John Monopoly (previously Kanye West’s manager.) It was Monopoly who introduced me to Mona Scott Young for another event I was planning, and not even a month later, I moved to New York City to work as her assistant at Violator Management.
What does the Gild brand stand for?
The word “gild” is to place a thin layer of gold over something raw and beautiful. Our core mission is to deliver cultural currency across all client business through music, social, partnership, and brand strategy. There is a significant amount of tactical work that goes into every single project, but at the heart of the business, we have to ask ourselves these questions:
• Do we believe in this brand, talent, or project?
• Are we representing or perpetuating an authentic or meaningful experience or message?
• Are we contributing to raising or lowering universal consciousness?
Tell me about the last year you’ve had?
I worked on the re-brand of Gild Creative Group. I wanted to be clear about our messaging as we were serving both talent, brands and advertisers. Last year, we began to get deeper into the “influencer marketing” business, landing consulting contracts for a major agency and a tech-startup.
From your perspective, what are the issues facing the music business in 2015?
There was once a shrouded veil of mystery around the music business. We didn’t know how artists became popular and we genuinely thought it was because of hard work. We know that is not the case any more. We know that budgets aren’t spent on the music, but spent on promotion and marketing, which is the only reason why labels matter to new artists. So, the question is, how can industry power players help talent that simply want to be seen and heard without a label obligation or crazy contract? Similar to the tech business, I’m interested to see if we can develop a hedge fund for marketing specialists to invest in a talent portfolio who have already proven themselves by developing their version of a “minimally viable product” in a demo, a brand presence, and engaged audience on and offline. I would have to think of the nuts and bolts of the business model, but I do believe the music business can shift to meet the needs of the talent it serves, not just those who buy the tickets and the t-shirts.
What are the implications that these kind of issues have for the local and global music industry? How we can play a part in addressing them?
Global music has a much different meaning in the US than it does any where else. You can be a star overseas, but literally, no one would know your name in America. Streaming has enabled us to discover music meaningfully, but there’s still a level of disconnect because artists from overseas need a significant marketing budget to “make it” or get noticed in the United States. I think that the same issue applies to local artists. There is a need for exposure and the amplification of the artist’s message. On top of that, it has to look good, feel good, sound good, and, most importantly, it has to be presented at the right time. You can have a great artists, but if they enter the market at the wrong time, or miss their momentum, it’s over. Timing is everything.
In what ways can people be more socially responsible for the health of our music industry community?
I have a student at NYU Clive Davis School who has a small label that has a few artists on it, and as a part of the sales of those artists albums, they funded over 40 cleft palate surgeries for children. I believe that the music business, especially labels, can develop a platform to help talent choose charities or initiatives that can enable us all to be more socially responsible with our purchases. If I can buy a $5 coffee and donate $2 to something meaningful at Starbucks at the point of sale, why can’t I have the option when purchasing entertainment? Why can’t entertainers leverage this as a point of differentiation in their brand and follow through with how that money was utilized for global issues.
*Photography by Phil Knott