What a year 2020 has been! We have endured a deadly pandemic, a failing global market, and a series of civil unrests unlike any we’ve ever seen before. And as we draw closer to the end of the year, a lot of individuals have adapted to the new normal.
Certain industries have also altered the way they go about their business. And one of these industries is the Music and Entertainment industry.
Recently, I got the chance to interview Tony M. Fountain. Tony is the founder of Now Entertainment and has worked with artists such as Nino Brown, Shotgun Shane, Xpressionthemc, and Ranna Royce. He is also an accredited Forbes council member. In this interview, we get an exclusive look at Tony’s life as an entrepreneur prior to the pandemic. We also learn how he and his team handled things when the pandemic hit with full force. With this, we begin the interview;
Can you tell me more about yourself and what you do?
I started my career as a musician, to be more specific, a rapper. I had kids and became a single father. I knew that a recording artist’s lifestyle wasn’t feasible for me at that point, but I still wanted to be involved with music in some capacity. So I attended Full Sail University for music business management, although I could not complete my degree because of financial reasons.
But while there, I learned some valuable lessons such as how to network, and even more importantly, I was able to see the bigger picture and how things worked in the industry. I started Now Entertainment in 2011 as a local recording studio. I quickly realized that, with the technology needed to record becoming more consumer-friendly and software being acquired via torrents by everyone around me, I wasn’t going to be able to make a living at just recording local acts.
So I began to learn graphic design, SEO, and marketing. I then used those skills to assist mainstream and popular indie artists free of charge to gain more experience. I wanted to learn from artists, entrepreneurs, editors, and managers, but I needed something to offer them in exchange.
So I had the idea to start a blog section on our website; I would place a question or two into the interviews that pertained to something I wanted to learn. Allowing me to offer them free exposure while I gained more knowledge on the subject matter simultaneously; it was a win-win. It also seemed like an excellent way to get eyes on our site and then nudge them to our music and clothing. With the success of the blog, I decided to develop it into a magazine later.
In what ways has technology aided the music industry, and how have you made use of it?
We’ve come a long way from recording on ADAT, and it being a huge accomplishment just to be able to make your way into a local studio. People complain that the tech has hurt and overcrowded the industry because everyone from your mailman to your grandma can record a song now, but I disagree. I think it’s terrific; it has allowed so many stars to shine. Think of all the hits we never got to hear before the TASCAM, Focusrite, and Mbox!
The hard work and creativity will always stand above the crowd. It’s still nice to hire an expert in the field if you can, but nothing stops anyone from succeeding using the DIY method nowadays. Photos and videos can be shot and edited on your phone. Artists can even produce instrumentals or record lyric ideas for later. One of the things I appreciate is the automated messaging; it allows you to weed out people just planning on wasting your time.
Ever since the spread of COVID, many businesses have shut down; how have you coped during these times?
I had a new baby during the lockdown and I saw firsthand how this world, myself included, was not prepared at all for such an event; it brought some things into perspective. I saw so many people getting laid off and not knowing what they were going to do. It was always in the back of my mind while building my company; it was one of the main reasons I created Now Entertainment, to be honest. Growing up, I had seen people work at jobs they hated their entire life only for the companies to shaft them at some point.
Almost everyone thought what I had been building was being a pipe dream but had a change of opinion when they were suddenly the ones out of work while my company was thriving. The majority of my business takes place online and over the phone, so COVID had effects personally but hasn’t affected my business as much as some others. I’m very thankful for that; it has reassured me that I chose the right path for sure.
What potential technologies do you think would help the music industry move further?
Further advancements in VR! Music is what drives us, motivates, and calms our spirits. Thankfully, DJ’s and artists were able to put on shows and set up virtual clubs during the crisis. I’m defiantly looking forward to furthering advancement in virtual reality and what it has to offer. I also think blockchain’s role will be interesting, forcing accountability and eliminating the fakery.
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