Talks with L.A. Jackson
Martone: It is not often that I have the opportunity to interview with someone such as LA Jackson, who has a wealth of knowledge and technical experience inside and out of the music industry, from marketing to audiovisual technology to Deejaying, writing several books such as Musicology 2101, 2102 and 2103. I am so happy to have him here to discuss his career in detail and perhaps give a little advice to the up-and-coming singer-songwriter that is looking to establish a career in the entertainment business. LA, welcome to IRMIXRadio.net
LA Jackson: Thanks for having me – it’s an honor to be here!
Martone: Reading over your resume, and it is very impressive, and from all the people that you have been pictured with it seems that you would have first-hand knowledge of what it takes for a recording artist to make it in the music business. What is the first thing that an independent artist should know about making it in the music business?
LA Jackson: Be yourself, don’t try to be someone else. Too many artists make that mistake and fail miserably. And be honest – don’t say “my music isn’t like anything else – it can’t be categorized,” because someone is always going to categorize it.
Martone: From the length of time that you have been in the business, I know that you have seen many trends come and go, witnessed artists that have had longevity in their careers. What would you say is the secret behind longevity because there are plenty of talented people in the world but only a few succeed with a career that has last longer than a decade? Is it all marketing or a mix of something else?
LA Jackson: It’s a mix of so many things, I don’t know where to start! You MUST have a vision, a supporting team, QUALITY ideas, innovative lyrics/melodies & music, you have to handle your business, fly straight, say what you mean, mean what you say, follow-through, focus, be open to new ideas, study great artists, I can go on and on….
Martone: In your career, you had worked for Sony Music/ CBS Records. What was that experience like?
LA Jackson: To be honest, it was the best experience of my life! I was doing what I felt I was born to do – coming up with new ways to market and promote just about every act on Columbia, Epic, Tabu, Def Jam, Portrait, Masterworks, Word, So So Def, Ruffhouse, and more. Being rewarded with tons of gold & platinum records, plus meeting the artists and becoming friends? Priceless.
Martone: Everyone knows how turbulent the entertainment/music industry is, and you have been able to maintain a career and, I think it is safe to say that entertainment/music is your life. What keeps you motivated in working in an industry that can be so volatile at times?
LA Jackson: I have so much to offer. God blessed me with many talents. I was into keyboards and synthesizers back in the 70s and 80s before getting into recording, engineering, and mixing. I worked at record stores, I was into computers, I worked in the corporate world, and I was extremely curious about how the big machine worked. I was good with words, I knew what great music sounded like. So by the time I got hooked up with CBS Records, it was a wrap. Now I have my own multimedia company and I know the audiovisual industry intimately, so I’ve put all my skills together to turn music, visuals, and technology into works of art that represent me.
Martone: I recently read that you hosted your own radio show with Hip-Hop Legend, MC Shy D. Please tell our listeners how the show came to be, and artists you have interviewed, and what was the most important thing that you have learned about being a radio show host?
LA Jackson: That was another high point in my life. People told me just about all my life that I had a radio voice, but I never did anything with it. Finally, one day, a friend invited me to help her with her internet station and she ended up letting me have my own show. I figured I would use the platform to promote my first book, but then when I started calling the music acts I knew from back in the day like Full Force (we grew up together in Brooklyn, long before they had hits on the charts), everyone came through for me. I also grew up with D-Train and promoted all these guys when Columbia Records signed them. I interviewed many acts I worked with, and then I moved over to Raw Truth Radio out of New York. I did my own show for a few years and then after building and opening the latest version of my recording studio, I think it was my 4th one, my partners and I decided to start MKM Radio. My good friend DJ Strong worked at WATB Radio, so he became the show’s producer. We aired on 1420 AM and through the Internet. I knew MC Shy D since the 80s because he went to high school with my sister, and was one of the first 3 rappers out of Atlanta – it was him, Kilo, and Raheem the Dream, and they were all friends of mine. Anyway, I asked Shy D if he was interested since he was DJing at a few clubs around our side of town. We interviewed TONS of folks, like Kilo, Raheem The Dream, Splack Pack, Full Force, Tony Terry, so many people I would have to go back into the archives to remember who they were. The most important thing I’ll always remember is NEVER to run out of good friends…. And to secure advertisers!!
Martone: Out of all the hats you have worn within the entertainment industry, which one was the most enjoyable and why?
LA Jackson: Definitely as Marketing Manager at Sony Music because they had an unlimited budget and they funded just about any idea I came up with. One time I developed a campaign to promote Earth Wind & Fire, LL Cool J, Surface, and a few other acts on the MARTA transportation system here in Atlanta, and they shelled out about 30 or 40 grand to make it happen. The next thing I knew, every train and bus had my posters up in them. I can tell you dozens of stories like that. But it also feels good going into the studio and making some great music with talented artists, and it also feels good doing the sound support at a live event. It also feels good reading endorsements for my books by people I respect, too! Life has been good, bad, and ugly, but I’m still enjoying being a part of it. I’ve lost a lot of friends and family along the way, so I figure there’s a reason I’m still around today.
Martone: You have written books on music, a series of Musicology books, what can you tell our readers about them, and where can they purchase them?
LA Jackson: The Musicology book series is my story of how music traveled with mankind throughout history and evolved to become a multi-billion dollar industry. I talk about music from The Bible, African music, European music, Indian music, Caribbean music, Latin Music, and more. You can find them online at places like Amazon, but I’m getting my lajackson.com website tweaked so it will soon be the only place to get it. And every book purchased directly from me will come with a personalized autograph and free music.
Martone: As I mentioned earlier that the entertainment/music industry can be volatile, was there ever a time that you felt like giving up, and move on to another industry? If so, what was it that helped you to stick it out and kept you doing what you loved?
LA Jackson: YES, I DO!! It was when the Internet came along and people started file sharing. That is how I lost my job at Sony Music because record stores started closing like crazy. I used to talk to stores that reported to Billboard magazine, I coordinated in-store appearances with hot artists like Kris Kross, Xscape, Cypress Hill, Alexander O’Neal, Ozzy Osbourne, and more. I put up posters and merchandising materials in the records stores. All of that came to an end in one swoop. But my Jamaican adrenaline kicked in and I was able to change gears. Fortunately, I was so deep into music that I shifted more deeply into recording studio production, and that led to doing live sound, audiovisual work, and radio shows. I guess I got lucky since I had hooks in many parts of the music industry and knew a bit about technology.
Martone: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming entertainment-music industry professional about making it in this business?
LA Jackson: Study your craft, stay focused, and don’t listen to people who say you can’t!!!
Martone: Are there any final thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?
LA Jackson: Don’t be afraid to be who you are. God made us all different so we can come together and share our talents with each other. If you’re not growing, you are dying!
Martone: Where can our readers find out more about you and your awesome career?
LA Jackson: I’m on places like Facebook.com/damusicmon, Youtube.com/mkmworks, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, Reverbnation, just do a search for LA Jackson Musicology or MKM MULTIMEDIA WORKS and stuff will come up.
Martone: LA, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your experience with me and the readers. I am pretty sure that we will be hearing more from you in the very near future.
LA Jackson: Thanks for having me, I appreciate the opportunity to share my story with you. I’m usually on the other side getting the story from others, so I appreciate you!!
“My 5th-grade teacher Bernard Percy made me class valedictorian and put a few of my writings in his books HOW TO GROW A CHILD: A CHILD’S ADVICE TO PARENTS, THE POWER OF CREATIVE WRITING, and HELP YOUR CHILD IN SCHOOL, which inspired me to write the Musicology Series. So now he has my books and loves them, plus I mention him in my books as payback.” L.A. Jackson