10 Questions with ... Dwayne McClary
August 2, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
After graduating from Rutgers University and interning at Virgin Records, I ran the video promotion department at EMI's hip-hop subsidiary label, Wild Pitch Records. In 1995, I joined MCA Records and headed their Urban Video Promotion department for 10 years. While at MCA, I also created the Sports Entertainment Relations division at the company. From there, I continued in music video content strategy at both Geffen and Universal Motown Records. In 2009, I formed Uplifted Consulting, a content strategy and sports/entertainment marketing company. That same year, I completed my professional studies at New York University, earning a certificate in Digital Media Marketing. After having RPM Group as a client for several years, they asked me to join their staff and head their content strategy department.
1) Would you explain what you do?
I do content strategy, sports marketing, public relations, branded entertainment and talent brokering. Content strategy is the new terminology for video promotion.
2) How hard is it to get a video on the video channels?
It's extremely difficult to get into heavy rotations on the channels these days simply because music video hours have dwindled considerably over the years. The highest rotations are strictly for artists that have proven, solidified, across the board current hits. However, the national channels are more willing to give you spikes in airplay now because their programming isn't so radio support intensive as it was in the past. Social media traction, artist engagement and digital traffic are very important factors now that help move the meter with the video programming gatekeepers. On a positive note, with the launch of Fuse's new FM channel and the growth of Revolt, more TV video programming opportunities are emerging.
3) How did you get started in the music industry which has led to the video business?
I interned in the Urban and Rap Music Promotion and Publicity departments at Virgin Records during my senior year in college for Rodney Shealey and the late Duane Taylor.
4) Is what you do a possible new business venture for those coming from the promotional side of the music industry?
Yes it is. Promotion staffs simply are not the size that they once were a few years ago. A lot of the companies are outsourcing more and opportunities do exist.
5) Who were some of your mentors?
Benny Pough, Rodney Shealey, A.D. Washington, Ken Wilson, Paul Porter, and Don Eason.
6) What's your view the music scene?
Because we are in an age of the instant celebrity, there's certainly a place for new artists. Because record sales aren't what they used to be, I think that the industry is doing a better job in finding non-traditional ways to make money through licensing, strategic marketing, touring and various digital platforms. I remember years ago, if ESPN wanted to play our music, we would literally give it to them because it was considered "good exposure." The mentality has changed to where we now say, "ESPN, you want our music? You have to pay us!" I also wish that we in the Urban music space would embrace our established artists more. The term "old school" gives off a sentiment of being outdated and no longer relevant. We should more appropriately label them as "timeless," "iconic," and "legendary." Our counterparts certainly do for their artists.
7) Would you explain the non-marketing things you do that are not music related?
I'm also an associate to Noble Talent Management, a boutique agency that represents actors in film, TV, voiceovers, Broadway stage and print. They ask me to find specialized talent to appear in certain projects. For example, I was able to get Derek "Big D" Pearson, VP/Urban Promotion at Universal Republic, a principal role in the Nike Re2pect Derek Jeter farewell TV commercial an;d Kelly Griffin, now VP/Programming at Revolt, a spot in the Budweiser "Dreams Are Made" ad campaign starring Jay-Z. Casting was looking for certain types and the guys fit the descriptions.
8) Earlier you mentioned how you got into the business, would you share with us your experiences with cattle calls for TV commercials and movies?
Thank God that I never had to go on a cattle call audition. I was blessed to have always been represented by seasoned agents and managers. But I absolutely hated the times of when they literally rushed you into the room as soon as you walked in the door. Not giving you anytime to warm up or prepare yourself, just "action!" "No lights, no camera! Just action!" I remember I almost peed on myself one time as I asked the casting director where the bathroom was and she thought I was saying that it was my turn to audition next. I had to go to the bathroom so bad that I literally hopped and twitched during the entire audition. Needless to say, I didn't book that one.
9) You are also an author; could you share the details with us?
I recently authored the book, "Hold Your Bald Head Up High: Win While Losing Hair." It's a self-help title for men with anxiety issues over losing their hair. I fell victim to male-pattern baldness at the young age of 21 and it was the most depressing times of my life. Not only was I losing my hair, but my confidence and self-esteem as well. I was in a state of denial and misled myself into believing that hair loss remedies such as Rogaine would restore it. After undergoing this battle for four years, I finally decided to shave my head clean and it turned my life around completely. The book encourages men undergoing hair loss to go the complete shaven route as opposed to feeling embarrassed and humiliated. I advise men not to waste their time with useless hair loss remedies. It also notes the advantages of being bald which include easy maintenance, less expensive care, preservation of a youthful appearance, and the look's cleanliness. I interviewed Oscar and Grammy Award winning artist and actor Common on his experiences of being bald. I also initiated some creative cross-marketing and branding partnerships with the HeadBlade company to promote the book. I got it published through Booklocker and it ranked on the iTunes Book Sales chart eleven times.
10) What is your advice for anyone wanting to do what you do?
I'd suggest that they into a revenue generating side of the music and entertainment business. If a dollar amount can be directly attached to your efforts and results, your company value will never be questioned. Pursue publishing, licensing, sales, those areas that bring in the bucks.
How do you keep yourself grounded and balanced outside of work?
I'm very active in the church. I'm presently a Trustee, editor of the church newsletter, secretary of the Christian Men in Action ministry, and a Deacon in training at Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist in Stamford, CT where I'm a member.