Were you born in New York or did you move to the States with your family?
I was born in Brooklyn and I moved to Queens when I was about four years old.
What influence did your parents have on you as a child?
My parents both influenced me greatly because I saw two sides of the spectrum. My Father was a super, educated teacher. He spoke several languages: Spanish, French, English, and German. My Mother was a business owner and I saw a difference. She worked a lot more hours than he did. He had the steady income, but I was able to see at times, where she did a lot better than he did as an entrepreneur, owning a hair salon. So, that really inspired me. When my brothers and I were young, she worked so much; she really didn’t have time to count her money. She would come in and fall out with thousands of dollars crumbled up and we would have to count it for her. It was very cool. That lit the fire in my eyes from a young age.
At what age did your passion for music begin?
As a music lover, early, early teens around 11, 12 years old. I loved Hip-Hop in general. With my parents being Haitian, it’s not like they played a lot of soul music in the house. There was a lot of Haitian music that was played. You know, I also danced. I was one of those Hip-Hop club dancers at a young age. At one point, I was digging’ the House music and just music in general. I love music overall.
What music moguls were you most inspired by?
Of course, Puff. But, even before Puff it was Russell Simmons, Andre Harrell, and Master P. Then, I had some friends on a smaller level that I grew up with in Queens that I was able to see them make moves like, Harve Pierre who was from the neighborhood. Also Irv Gotti influenced me locally. It was cool because we were all from the same area.
How old were you when you began interning for Bad Boy?
I was 24. I started January 3, 1998.
How did you land your internship at Bad Boy Records?
Harve Pierre, a good friend of mine was already managing local artists and producers with my brothers. At that time he had left Bad Boy and was part of RCA Records. I had begged him for an internship. I told him, I’d make the coffee, run errands. Then, Bad Boy had asked him to come back and when they did, he reached out to me and asked if I still wanted to intern. Once I got my internship, I slept there.
Describe what a typical day was like for you during your internship.
Back then we were working out of Daddy’s House. So, for the first couple of months, I brought in demos, did a lot of organizing and the studio was my office. I organized the music library, which had thousands of songs on hundreds of DAT tapes. Then later on, I started working with artists, I made copies for the executives, worked the duplication tape machines. But, I would listen to the slow dubs to study and actually listen and learn the Bad Boy sound. You know, listen to what made a hit record, a hit record. I also helped manage artists and book studio time.
What was your most memorable moment during your internship?
It isn’t a good moment. I wasn’t making money and I didn’t eat much; I lost 40 pounds. Most nights, I’d have to drop music off at Puff’s house because there were times he was so busy, he never came into the studio. A lot of times, I would have to catch the train from the Eastside of Manhattan and walk the long city blocks and some of these trips would take a couple of hours. I was exhausted, hungry, feet hurting, I almost broke down crying. I was there seven days a week. I wrote proposals as to why I should be hired in and no one responded to them. I quit after 13 months. I usually would get in around 11am and the day after I quit, Harve Pierre called me around 12 noon and asked if I really wasn’t coming in. I told him no. I had a wife at the time and we were losing our apartment. I needed a job. He then hired me as a Production Assistant.
Besides that position, what other positions have you held throughout the music industry?
I was never one of those people who switched companies. I went from Production Assistant to Production Coordinator to Director of A&R. At that time, we were working on a mixtape and Puff told me to put some songs on there that I liked. Out of 20 songs, Mario Winans’ “I Don’t Wanna Know” stood out to me. That song wasn’t on the release schedule but because I loved it so much, I went ahead and put it on there any way. It blew up on Universal Records and was the biggest song on their catalogue in like 6 years. After that, I was promoted to Sr. Director of A&R.
Did you have a mentor? If so, who and how did he/she support you?
Harve Pierre was my mentor. There wasn’t a whole lot of talking when it came to Harve. But I’m grateful because he gave me the opportunity to be around him and soak up everything. I tried to mimic how he worked with people. I would answer the phone like him. I would even listen in on heated conversations with artists and their parents just so I can learn how to manage people and deal with them as well.
What was your job like as the Senior Director of A&R?
Very busy [laughs] I would say that. At any given time, I would have 20 artists on the roster while managing six to seven albums at once. The tricky part was managing the budget, negotiating with producers, writers, and lawyers, booking studio time, and staying within the budget. Then, I also had to pay close attention to and deal with the artists who weren’t on the release schedule and make them feel special.
Did you work closely with Diddy? If so, what was that like?
Of course, absolutely. Diddy was the overseer, the coach, and the manager of the team. I got a lot of my direction from him. There was a constant back and forth on getting approvals on songs and clean music. I would go through 200 tracks or 300 songs. He would be so busy I would have to stalk him to get approvals. There was this time when he was on his way to the airport and he didn’t know I was in his car. I’m playing music and going through songs and at the end of the ride, I got kicked out and had to find my own way back to the studio. I would literally have to chase him to get complete deadlines; because if I didn’t, he would scream at me like ‘Yo, what the f*ck. You should’ve made me listen’. I would walk around with a radio or if he was in a meeting, I’m playing the music outside interrupting his meeting. So, it was fun, frustrating and exciting all at once.
What was the most challenging project you managed at Bad Boy?
Hands down, Danity Kane and Day26. It takes time to make an album – usually anywhere from one to several years. So, between recording the MTV show and recording the album while recording the MTV show, then trying to release the album at the end of the show, which was three months, to take advantage of the momentum as a marketing tool was crazy. I had 30 of the best writers and 20 of the best producers working 24 hours a day. I had 11 studio sessions going 24 hours a day while rotating writers and producers on 8-hour shifts. They were writing in the kitchen, by the pool, outside of the bathroom. The pressure was intense. I had several panic attacks. After completing these projects, I resigned. I told myself I wasn’t going to die over that. But, we pulled it off and has never been done before until we did it.
Did you have a favorite artist or group that you worked with?
That’s so hard to say. I had several; but if I had to choose one, I would say 8Ball and MJG.
What inspired you to start PMPWorldWide.com and The Firm?
Before I resigned, I was laid off from Bad Boy in 2000. During that time, I had started Hot Beats, but I had no knowledge of technology and it failed. At the end of 2006, I had reconnected with some old high school friends and he had this idea to create a producer website and I grasped the concept immediately and loved it. As an A&R, I saw what it could do to make my job easier. We developed the site and launched it and it did well; it’s still doing well.
The Firm came after I kept hearing artists complain about not being able to get to labels, not being able to shop demos and attorney fees being so expensive. I figured with my relationships I’ve built over the years, I can connect them with quality music.
Are you currently working on any projects?
Yes, but not artist projects. I’m working on a music search engine for the creative process. It’s like Google for music creators. I plan on launching it next month. It’s huge. It has the keywords and descriptive characteristics for music while allowing a user to contact the music creator. My focus is and has been technology for the past 7 years. But, if there is anyone looking to break through, I invite him or her to use PMPWorldWide.com because it is a great tool for them. It can help them along their mission with what they’re trying to accomplish.
What advice would you give to aspiring producers and recording artists?
They have to get it right. Take time. The most important thing is to have money to make noise. Record a dope, quality mixtape, EP, or album. I come across so many artists that claim music is their passion. They say they don’t work and all they do is music. But, they’re broke and their music shows they’re broke. You really have to see yourself as a business and to do that, you have to have a budget to protect and invest in your craft. The music industry is a super saturated, overly competitive industry that is actually losing a lot of money. Be prepared to go to war. You also need a business mindset or at least have someone on your team with that mindset. Invest and work hard. Work two or three jobs or pray to God that something comes out of it for you because its a constant uphill battle.
Conrad Speaks on the Importance of Building Teams
Is there anything else you’d like to share or say?
You have to know when it’s time to adjust your perspective on your outcome. You have to know when it’s time to change your focus from still wanting to be that person on stage to managing someone. If you’re 37 and the gray hairs are starting to come in, maybe it’s time for you to look for that 23 year old artist and use your experience to help them become successful. A lot of people don’t want to let that go and they could die saying that or they could waste too many years after time has passed. It’s also important to have a backup plan. It’s not about being an artist. The music business has wasted many brilliant minds. Look at the opportunity to become a lawyer, engineer, a doctor and not be so focused on being the star.
Thank you, for the interview.