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Santa Monica - GRAMMY U: A Conversation with Ron Gillyard
GRAMMY U students got a real treat this past Monday. Music industry executive Ron Gillyard stopped by the Recording Academy to provide priceless insight on how to succeed and have longevity in the music industry. In Ron’s 16 year career in the music industry, he served as Vice President/General Manager for Bad Boy Entertainment and Motown Records. Additionally, Ron was the President of Black Music for J Records and Interscope Records. He went on to combine all of his industry expertise and management experience under his own imprint, Ron Gillyard Entertainment.
Ron began the conversation by showing a video clip of a man discussing the numerous ways that technology has changed the way we receive, promote and consume entertainment. Ron talked about the emergence of social networks and online business opportunities that did not exist five years ago, and he expressed the importance of staying ahead of, and taking advantage of, these changes.
Many students were interested in how Ron got started in the music industry and asked about advice for musicians, managers and aspiring record label execs. As an intern for Columbia Records, Ron learned to work hard and be invaluable to everyone he encountered, especially his boss and the label’s artists. His perseverance paid off, and when the R&B group Guyy needed a manager, they called Ron. He built a reputation in the industry of reliability and consistency stating, “If there’s a problem, I can solve it. I became the need…when given one ticket to a show, artists would ask for two because they had to have me around.”
The event’s intimate environment gave the students the opportunity to ask multiple questions and interact with Ron. When asked how to get an artist recognized by major labels or how to take the talent to the next level, Ron responded, “it’s about finding the song that you’re comfortable with and giving it away. It’s not making you any money sitting in your car anyway…Justin Beiber was singing Usher and Justin Timberlake on YouTube…Boys II Men sang in front of Michael Bivins outside of a concert…there is no one way.”
Ron was very candid and honest, which made the event all the more enjoyable. He gave several pieces of advice on how to succeed including “when there’s a task given, do it beyond expectations.” He encouraged everyone to follow their dreams even when the path is not clear. “I didn’t know that there was a business, I didn’t know what managers did…I just knew that the music that came out of the speakers touched me… how can I be a part of giving somebody the feeling that I felt?”