There’s a lot you don’t know about music mogul Mathew Knowles. Jeff sat down with the renowned manager and executive to talk about his new book, the launch of his music institute, and his role in shaping the careers of some of the biggest artists in the world, including his daughters Beyoncé and Solange.
This article features some of the highlights from our talk, but make sure to check out the full interview on the Music Business Lounge podcast here:
Thanks for joining us, Mathew, can you share a little about your new book, Racism from the Eyes of a Child? What inspired you to write it?
Thanks for that, Jeff. I wanted to talk about an important subject right now with us in America, and that’s racism. I wanted to share my story of how racism has impacted and been a part of my life. The trauma that I feel and I had to get help for by going to therapy. You know, men and women come back from war and we give them help, but folks don’t understand that racism and segregation are just as traumatic.
I talk about things that people aren’t comfortable with. That’s what I do as a college professor. I want to hear allow my students to have a perspective on life. I want to hear people’s perspectives on things like colorism. I wanted to talk about those types of important dialogues.
The media has been sort of blowing up about a comment you made about colorism and Beyoncé on Good Morning Britain.
You know, a lot of folks took that the wrong way without reading the book or getting a context. It’s not a negativity. Our black men and women are all beautiful. It’s just a fact through research that has been done. Colorism exists in the music industry, especially on pop radio. There’s not many women of darker color that have had the opportunity to go from urban radio to pop radio. There’s a reason for that. I wanted to spark and honest dialogue between all nationalities. This is not just a US issue.
Do you look back after writing this book and think about some experiences that maybe were the most instrumental in forming who you are today?
Yes! A lot of research was done. I didn’t really know my grandparents or great- grandparents on my father’s side at all. I knew my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side, but I didn’t know or remember their sisters and brothers or my great-grandfather.
I grew up in family of entrepreneurs. I’m hardworking people and that makes me really proud. I wanted to share with Beyoncé and Solange and my grandkids that they knew where they came from. That was important for me to leave that legacy of knowledge.
Speaking of entrepreneurship, I know you also just launched your new Mathew Knowles Institute, can you share a little about that?
Yes, at Texas Southern University. It’s the Mathew Knowles Institute for Entrepreneurship, Entertainment and Music Business. My passion today is the educate and to motivate. That’s my true passion. I’ve been grateful of all the success that I’ve had in music and that my family has had. But my passion today is very, very clear to me. I’m really, really enjoying this point in my life.
As you talk about your passions, can you share a little bit about the importance of passion in the music business?
I believe it starts with passion. Passion is that thing that excites you, that fuels you, that motivates you. That thing you go to bed at night thinking of. When you live your passion you don’t work. But it coexists with something. A second trait, and that’s work ethic. You can’t have someone with extreme work ethic that’s not extremely passionate. And vice versa. They coexist with each other.
I say this to my students, my staff, to folks in music. Let it be your passion. Not your mother, your father, your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or friend. Let it be your passion. I’ve seen many people go do something because somebody else wanted them to do it and it never works out.
How can our readers take some traits of successful people and relate them back to the music industry?
This is consistent with successful people that I’ve met. I’ve lot of people that are highly, highly successful and they all have these same traits. Building a team. Successful people realize it’s not “I” it’s “we.” You have to have a team around you in the music industry and it starts with your manager. That’s where it starts. Having a really effective manager. That person has to take your vision and turn it into reality. A successful reality.
That person has to manage all of these pieces. That person has to know everything about the record label. They have to manage the entertainment attorney, your booking agents, your publishing company, your merchandise company. That’s a key and critical position. It starts with that manager.
What are some common mistakes you see aspiring artists making?
You will make mistakes. You will fail. I can list people like Alicia Keys, who got dropped off of Columbia Records and 50 Cent, who got dropped off Columbia Records. Destiny’s Child got dropped off Elektra Records. I can go on and on. These are highly successful people, but they failed. They made mistakes. I always say that failure and mistakes are an opportunity to grow, not a reason to quit.
A lot of artists quit too soon because they think it’s going to be instant, “microwave” success. I always say it’s going to take about six years from the time you start to the time you start getting little traction and start making a little money in this business. It takes time.
Be sure to connect with Mathew:
He received his BA and MS from Boston University and also holds a certificate in Music Production from Berklee. Jeff has helped clients earn coverage in countless international media outlets and was a "Top 40 Under Forty" selection for his accomplishments as a young entrepreneur.
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