Nov 21, 2017 Christine Osazuwa
“It’s funny when you start something and you’re part of something, you never know where it’s going to take you.” Che Pope said this during LOGIN Conference 2016. This could, very well, sum up his career. After moving from Boston to New York City, Che got his big break as a producer for Wyclef Jean working on tracks such as “Ghetto Superstar” and Destiny’s Child’s “No, No, No.” In a 2017 Interview for Forbes, he says “What all this gave me was a lot of confidence, but basically no money.” Just when his career (and bank account) began to take off as a producer on the Grammy award-winning The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill, legal battles showed him just how much he had to learn about the industry.
His education came swiftly with an A&R position at Warner Music in 1999. In the early 2000s, Che went to work with Dr. Dre. This is when technology started to permeate Che’s life (and the industry, as a whole). He was able to have a front row seat to the creation of Beats by Dre (even naming the product). When Che left to become president of Kanye West’s label imprint G.O.O.D. Music, the influence of technology and pop culture on music became more apparent than ever. In an interview with 4Sound Danmark he says: “We were always trying to disrupt the status quo.”
As his career has evolved, Che has been able to equate the music industry and the startup world. As with tech and with music, there’s no playbook, there’s no instruction manual, there’s no right path. Che Pope knows this all too well. At LOGIN Conference 2016 he said “Little did I know, I was learning to become an entrepreneur, which was always my goal. If you’re an independent music producer, which I was, it’s equivalent to starting your own startup. When you’re working for a record label, you’re a venture capitalist, you’re trying to find the next great talent, you’re trying to develop it, you’re trying to blow it up, market it around the world and make a profit.”
Any startup would dream of connections like Che’s. He has worked with P. Diddy, Kanye West, Destiny’s Child, Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre, Rihanna, and so many more, yet he understands the importance of staying relevant, saying in a 2015 interview with 246 Mixtapes: “even if you’re that big musician and you’re a superstar, if you don’t interact and you don’t connect you get lost in the shuffle and that’s how people become out of touch.”
In order to ensure he doesn’t become “out of touch,” Che has recently made some unique career moves, having recently partnered with Russell Simmon’s media platform All Def Digital (ADD) and taking an interest in Lithuanian fashion tech startup Vinted.com. In a Red Bull Academy lecture he says “We all know it’s a new world. It’s a Soundcloud world. It’s a YouTube world. It’s a streaming world… It’s literally a global business.” We’re looking forward to having Che on the Slush Music stage to talk about this brave new world.
As the industry continues to evolve, Che keeps a critical eye saying in Forbes, “I’m excited about Spotify. I think that anything is possible there now that there are people like Troy Carter. Prior to Troy’s entrance there were basically just business people and engineers. That’s always a mistake in digital. There were no creative people and certainly none from the urban side even though we out-index in usage.”
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