Thursday, October 9, 2014

Music, Sports, and Race: A Conversation With Jerry Davis, Former Music Director for Fox Sports

We have arrived at the last episode of the 2nd season of the podcast series here on We Are Respectable Negroes. I would like to thank all of the kind folks who have listened to, shared, and commented on the podcast. I would also like to extend a heartfelt and gracious "thank you" to the great guests who have sat down at the virtual bar during these last 2 years. 

I am in the process of recording Season 3 of the podcast series. I am very excited about the great folks who have agreed to chat with us here on WARN.

In the newest episode of the podcast series here on We Are Respectable Negroes, I had the great fortune to speak with Mr. Jerry Davis. He is the former music director for Fox Sports, an expert in music and artist development, and an extremely intelligent and sharp observer of the dynamics of the music business--with a focus on the analog to digital revolution--and the particular challenges of "breaking in" to the business.

Jerry's professional accolades and accomplishments are many. 

During his tenure at FOX Sports, Davis negotiated music rights with leading production companies such as Universal and Atlantic Records, building Fox’s music library and generating $2.26M in revenues. Davis also developed the first music policy and procedure protocol to navigate the legal waters attendant with the onslaught of digital download. In addition to coordination of musical selections with sports programming such as the popular “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” Davis leveraged personal connections within the music industry to book top entertainment for the sports shows such as Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, Sinead O’Conner, Queen Latifah, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, P. Diddy, Ludacris, Rick Ross, with Travis Barker & DJ AM.

Jerry is very kind and generous in our conversation as he also shares the particular challenges and roadblocks he experienced navigating the upper levels of Fox Sports management as a person of color. Mr. Davis is not content to outline and detail how racism can negatively impact the careers of black and brown professionals and strivers--he is working to educate and prepare young people (and others) for success in that world.

One of the principles and rules governing the podcast series here on WARN is an emphasis on deliverables. I love chatting with interesting people; I also want to learn something that the listeners can apply in a positive way to improve their personal and professional lives. Jerry Davis delivers on that commitment in a stellar and very generous way.

00:00 Introductions
03:30 How did your career in music happen? What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about a career in the music business? 
9:25 What was it like being a young black man working in the heavy metal scene in Southern California? Using one's love of music to strategically make business contacts to further your career. The magic of sending greeting cards to potential contacts in the music business.
11:30 Transitioning from heavy metal to "urban music". What was it like to be present at the birth of 14:20 West Coast hip-hop? Code switching and having multiple skill sets in the music business.
The wild west early days of West Coast hip hop. Hanging out with Cypress Hill, meeting De La Soul, and getting a drunk Tone Loc's cassette single.
21:00 Getting noticed for your dream job in the age of the Internet. How Jerry got the Music Director position at Fox Sports by sending pizzas and gift wrapped baseball bats to his potential future boss.
26:44 On successfully using social media to break into the music business and thoughts on artist development in the age of the Internet and social media.
32:18 Reflections on authenticity and apolitical athletes and entertainers.
35:20 How should individuals develop their personal brand?
39:50 Mating sports and music. What was your role in making that cultural move happen?
43:08 The "nuts and bolts" of music licensing, synergy, and how artists get their music played at sporting events, on TV, and other venues.
45:25 What is it like to pick the music played at the Superbowl and the World Series? What does that moment of anonymous fame like?
48:00 Finding the perfect musical cue for a given sporting event or moment. 
54:30 Taking one's interest in music to the next step of becoming a music professional. Thoughts and advice on exploring the other aspects of the music business such as legal, marketing, publishing, licensing, and artist development.
56:47 The best type of mutual exploitation. Should up and coming and/or unsigned artists give their music away for free to TV networks, advertising firms, and other outlets for exposure? 
58:40 What was it like to have such success in your professional career and to hit the metaphorical "glass ceiling" as a person of color at Fox Sports?
65:47 When did you have the moment of realization that the corporate culture of your workplace was hostile to people of color at the executive and management level? What was that moment like? 
68:44 Racism is not an opinion it is a fact. Micro-aggressions and overt discrimination in the workplace is not a figment of your imagination. How does one decide to fight back and to stay mentally and emotionally healthy?
74:00 What are your plans going forward? Jerry's legal battle with Fox Sports. How can we pursue a broad and systemic remedy for bias and discrimination in the workplace?
81:00 How to contact Jerry Davis.
82:00 Chauncey DeVega's closing comments. What do we actually know about racial discrimination in hiring and promotion? What have I learned along the way about mentoring, finding allies across the color line, and being realistic about the realities of discrimination, white privilege, and the "old boys network". Exploring race and class inequality with a bit of armchair sociology. Looking forward to Season 3.


balitwilight said...

Got to say Chauncey, it's rare to find podcasts like yours that are helpfully summarised and annotated right down to the minute. Much appreciated...

chauncey devega said...

I am a Virgo. I also hope the quality is there too...along with my neurotic ways :)

Next season will feature much improved audio. Good things ahead.