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Junae Brown is a marketing expert and the founder and CEO of Browned 2 Perfection agency. She started her career in music and had worked for several record labels like Sodi Layla’s, Columbia, and RCA. She gained the skills and expertise while working for these companies and set herself to start looking at the opportunities to have more control over all the exciting projects she wants, which is primarily why she started her agency.
In today’s episode, June shares her experiences way back in the music industry and how it paved the way for her to create her agency. She talks about the secret behind her signature, “Beyonce of marketing,” that stood out in the marketing realm. She also shares her insights on building brands and creating a scalable business in the music industry. We had an insightful talk about her and her business ethics, which makes her distinct, making people want to work with her.
[01:36] Looking back at Junae’s previous roles in the music industry
[06:06] Junae’s take on the royalty rate of streaming
[09:16] Her thoughts on the previous and emerging labels in the music industry
[12:57] Using the internet to maximize what artists are selling and get better compensation
[15:40] What is it that attracts people to work with her agency
[21:47] Bridging the gap between building a following and building a brand
[24:11] What does “Beyonce of marketing” mean
[32:57] Junae’s business ethics and commitment to legacy and impact
[33:53] Who is her dream client?
[39:34] Junae’s talk with Yoh Phillips on music’s record label misconceptions
[44:30] Junae’s insights on having marketing strategies to make a music brand marketable
[47:56] Her closing advice on making great business with music
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Junae: You’ll probably have a bunch of different entities coming in trying to tell you what you should do, tell you who you are, who you wanna be, and if you do have things in place, then you’ve hit the jackpot, right? But, ideally, again, you wanna build the how.
Dan: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.
Today’s interview is with Junae Brown, who is the founder of Browned 2 Perfection Agency. I was first put on to Junae’s work through Twitter. I was scrolling through the feed, as I normally do, and I kept seeing this name pop up, “The Beyoncé of marketing.” And when you got a name like that, you gotta pause, you gotta see what it’s all about, so I started following her and quickly saw all the great insights about the music industry, about Black culture, and all of the intersections and I was like, no, we gotta chat, I gotta learn more, and it’s been great.
In this conversation, we went into all of that. We talked about how she started her career at Columbia and RCA so she was in the Sony umbrella, talked about the multiple hats she had worn there. She also worked closely with Rob Stringer, who is now the CEO of Sony. And we talked about some of the clients that she now has and why she ultimately started her own agency, Browned 2 Perfection.
So we talked about that leap, what a typical engagement looks like, and I think one of the reasons that people are attracted to her is because of how she’s branded herself. So we talked about the Beyoncé of marketing and what that looks like, what that means to her.
And we also talked a little bit about some common misconceptions about the music industry. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you know this is one of my favorite topics to dive into. We talked about Junae’s dream clients and a whole lot more.
I love this episode. I hope you enjoy it. Here’s my chat with Junae Brown.
Dan: All right, today, we are joined by Junae Brown who is a marketing expert. She is the founder and CEO of Browned 2 Perfection Agency. She had worked for several record labels and so much of what she talks about and covers is so relevant to Trapital. So, Junae, welcome. Great to have you.
Junae: Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here. And, yeah, that is me. That was a very good intro. Thank you.
Dan: Yeah. No, for sure. I mean, that is just the high level of it. I mean, there’s so many things we’re about to talk about. But one of the things that you often talk about, we’ll get into your background in a second, but you started your career in music, you interned, you worked for a few of the Sony labels, you worked for Columbia, you worked for RCA, and I feel like you got in there at an interesting time, because streaming was just starting to become what it is now.
And now that we’re a few years beyond that, it’d be interesting to hear, you know, what’s your take on how things were at that particular moment, especially working in marketing in those roles to how you see things playing out the way they are?
Junae: Oh, man, I always say like my time at record labels was so timely and the specific things that I was doing, I think so many people don’t really know because, again, it’s usually like the high level conversation, like, “Oh, you worked at these places. These are the artists that you worked on,” but — so I interned several places in music but my last internship was at RCA Records, right?
And then I got hired at Columbia Records, right? So straight out of college and my role at Columbia, I was working directly with the CFO and so, technically, it’s finance and operations but the reason why I also was put in the role is because, at Columbia, at least at the time, the way they’re structured as a label, finance and operations, especially finance, works directly with marketing, like the finance department oversees the marketing strategy.
So really, it was like we were focused on the money but, ideally, like the bulk of the role was like marketing strategy and how we’re allocating in that way.
Also, the CFO worked very closely with the CEO of the label so I was also overseeing lots of pieces of the CEO of the label, who was Rob Stringer at the time who’s now head of the whole Sony Music, shout-out to Rob, so Rob, I was overseeing a lot of the stuff that he was doing.
But also Colombia was the highest grossing label at the time and I don’t wanna misspeak, because looking back now, pretty much Rob was already kind of being primed to transition into being head of the whole Sony Music. And so I also was tasked with every month putting together the reports for the market share of the entire Sony Music.
So, literally like how much is Epic making and moving? How much is RCA making and moving? Columbia? Our subsidiaries? Like all those different things, I’m literally having to figure out, putting in reports, and this is everything from how much money the music is making to how much each label is spending. So everybody’s business basically.
And so I’m doing that, I’m overseeing, before a record deal could get signed or an option done, whether you as a new artist or an existing artist, whatever, getting out the deal, nothing — like my boss at the time, he legit wouldn’t look at anything if I didn’t look at it first. Like it was like I was the first step and like I had to look through all these deal memos and like, you know, I graduated with a concentration in music business so a lot of these things I was already kind of privy to, but it was like, no, legit, like, “Oh, let’s look over Barbra Streisand’s stuff today. Let’s look over Calvin Harris’s stuff today. Let’s look over Pharrell’s stuff today.”
Like it was crazy in that way. And so, again, this is the beginning so I’m trying to paint the picture of like what I’m doing here, right? All these different things. And so when I first came in, again, streaming had started, the chatter is starting, and, all of a sudden, streaming exists and it’s very similar to iTunes so when like we switched from CD over to iTunes and it was just like craziness.
There weren’t even proper, if I’m remembering correctly, they weren’t even proper like deals and stuff in place. Like streaming just kind of started. And it was the catch up of the labels being like, “Um, excuse me, we don’t have this worked out yet. You can’t just be streaming this music.”
And so a lot of what my boss had to do as the CFO is helped figure those deals out. I remember when I learned how much like Spotify was paying per stream, I thought it was insane and so did my boss. Let’s be clear, right? And I think that was a big part of the battle.
It was like, “Excuse me, how are you gonna pay us a fraction of a penny for a stream of a song that took us hundreds of thousands maybe, depending on the artist and the song, like all this money to make and that you guys don’t own,” but it was like streaming already started.
So it was kinda like we gotta come up with an agreement quick, because that’s just how it goes. So, again, this is me, like, forefront. Like I’m like this is my first real role and I’m in the middle of like the streaming battle. And so, yeah, it was really interesting.
Personally, I still am not satisfied with the royalty rate of streaming. I do think that when you sit on the side of like look at how much it takes to get one song done, to get a full album done, to do a rollout, to do all those things, like, I mean, just the actual recording of the music before we even get to mixing, mastering, putting it on DSPs, like all that costs so much money so like the numbers to me are just a bit disrespectful.
And I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been on the super creative side and the corporate side and both sides are like, “This don’t really —” and granted, things have evened out over time so that streaming is this machine and it’s, you know, it’s really lucrative, especially if the song hits. But I think at the bare bones of it, which is why like so many independent artists are like, “I’m making like $7 off of this,” like, you know what I mean? But it’s a good amount of streams, like we still, to me, haven’t found that balance part.
Like if you’re at the beneficial end of it, wonderful, great, awesome. If you’re already at a certain level, right? If you have the support behind you to push it, to do the things that need to be done to make sure it’s getting streamed. But if you’re still in the preliminary or emerging stages, it’s a big like I talk to artists all the time, it feels essentially, again, like a big slap in the face like if you trace it all the way back?
But, yeah, I remember the day Tidal announced and it was like nobody knew that they were announcing anything. And so it was like everybody was running around the office like, “What is this?” And then it was like artists that were assigned to us were standing up there, I know you remember the rollout, like they did that whole thing —
Dan: No one will ever forget that day.
Junae: Like we are Tidal and like everybody in the office is like, “What is this? Like you can’t just —” And I loved that though, let me be clear. Like I’m a fan of the Tidal thing just because like, you know, on the label side the label’s conversation is always like you can’t do that because technically you don’t really own that in full, right? You can’t just make these decisions,
but artists took their power back that day and were like, “Oh, well, I made the music and so this is where I want my music to be for my fans,” and I thought that was really powerful. And I think that side of streaming is gorgeous. I think that side of this is beautiful. I think the other side is like trying to find the middle ground and making it lucrative for everyone.
I mean, let’s not even get on songwriters and producers, like, again, the more you try to chop up this fraction of a penny, the less and less it gets.
Dan: Right, especially in hip hop and R&B and so much black music where there are so many collaborators that are involved in each stage of it, people really don’t realize how the economics of it do trickle down.
You mentioned something interesting about just the market share and how much work you had done in your career on that piece. And, obviously, you probably had a pretty good sense for where each of Sony’s labels were with regards to that and what would have been shifting but also the other labels of the other majors too.
And fast forward a few years, we see where things are now. Does any of it surprise you? Because I’m sure you probably had some thoughts on it, “Oh, yeah. You know, I could see this label being the one that’s there,” but, yeah, any surprises?
Junae: I wanna say no. I expect when I saw like one label in particular, like Atlantic, right? Like I saw that transcendence happening. Everything was happening in real time in our faces. Like the gains, everything. Like where they are now, they absolutely earned and walked into full force, shout-out to everyone over there, I have some good folks over there as well that are good friends with but, yeah, no, like Atlantic, I kind of saw, because that’s something I used to pay attention to, it’s funny you ask that,
like I’m like, “Who’s doing what where?” And, again, Columbia was number one at the time but like being number one depends on so many things but staying number one is different. And so I think another label I was not surprised at was RCA and perhaps that’s because I entered there but really, ideally, I, again, the artists, I mean, even some of the artists right now at RCA who are like our favorites like they were signed back then, right?
So this has been a long like, oh, you had to have new artists too that, you know, whatever but I think the RCA is a label that still develops their artists. And so it might be an artist that has a big debut right away and they pop off. It might be artists that they kind of slow cook. And the slow cookers are the ones, like the Doja Cats, right?
Like keep your eyes on a Flo Milli, right? Because like their slow cook method is — it does what it needs to do. I think, yeah, and I don’t want to sound bad but like a label like Epic, they are where I expected them to be like from what I was watching back then, right?
Like there’s some labels, it’s like, okay, I kinda see, this is kinda where you fall and like this is where it makes sense that you’re saying. I think what has been different is the labels that came after like the 300s and the labels that aren’t necessarily traditional majors, so to speak, I think those were the wildcards that weren’t necessarily in the shuffle at the time that are like doing great things now,
but, ideally, everyone’s where they like, even Warner, right? Like in general, if you think like the whole Warner Music, how Warner — Warner is steady, right? Like Warner, they’ll pop up with like a larger market share depending on what they have going on but like they’re steady, like you don’t really expect them to go too low or if they’re really high grade but like they might not stay there, someone else might come in, kinda muscle in.
But, yeah. I can’t say though too many surprises. I’ll say some wildcards but I’m not shocked at where we are right now.
Dan: Yeah. And to your point, so much of this depends on the timing of releases, because Sony and Columbia especially does have some of the biggest stars who just don’t drop as often, right? You have this window where, yes, you may have Adele drops 25 and then Beyoncé drops Lemonade in a 5-, less than 6-month span. I forget what it was.
But you have that and that can change the game for two calendar years.
Junae: I was about to say, for at least 2 years, yeah. They’re definitely — one thing I learned from Columbia for sure is knock them over the head, right? Like let’s not play around. Like if we’re gonna do this, let’s knock them over the head, like line it up and just go. I think that’s something I’m taking with me.
Dan: And I feel like you’ve definitely kept that spirit. I think the comment you made earlier when you’re talking about Tidal as well and just thinking about streaming payouts and how that piece of it factors in.
What I think they clearly got right was that, yes, there is a better way to be able to compensate artists for this than what they currently have and doubling the opportunity for what the payouts were, at least from what it started. I know it’s shifted a little bit since but like when it started, the payouts were twice as high to the rights holders as they were elsewhere.
But I think what the place things are shifting now especially it’s like, okay, let’s take a step back. How can artists just use the internet in general to maximize the art that they’re selling? How could they cultivate their fan bases?
And if that is where the thought process is going, then I think some creative things could happen. I think, in some extent, that’s kind of why Square wanted to acquire Tidal in the first place because they saw that potential there. Okay, how can it fit into our ecosystem with everything else that we have going on? So it’s gonna be interesting to see how that piece of it continues too.
Junae: Yeah, I definitely agree and I think the smart companies are figuring out organic ways to be a part of this, right? Like I think if you don’t have — if you’re a company, you don’t have some sort of like creator, like maybe it’s not music, but if you don’t have some sort of creator tech type, like leg, if you don’t have an extension of the company that is gonna generate more revenue like a very easily assembled leg of the company, I think you’re doing it wrong.
I mean, granted, some companies know their lane and they stay there, right? Like we don’t need every single person’s hands in this. But I agree with Tidal Square being a good move and I’m excited to see, like that’s one recent acquisition partnership, whatever you wanna call it, that I am very interested, like you said, to see what they decide to do and how much they decide to lean into it outside of like actual transactions with artists in the platform.
Dan: Yeah, for sure, because I think that piece of it, it’s, okay, how are they combining the commerce piece of it? How are they combining any of the brand elements —
Junae: Yeah, like what are we — what’s gonna happen? I don’t know. I’m excited to see though. I think it’ll be good stuff.
Dan: And I think especially with the work that you do and the work that you’re now doing with Browned 2 Perfection Agency, I feel like these are the type of clients that are in your wheelhouse and many of the ones that you’ve worked with.
And on that note, I know that you had to transition from, “Hey, I’m doing this for all these companies. I know my skill set is.” You start looking at the opportunities and you’re like, “No, like there is plenty of ways that I can control a few more things and still work with all the exciting projects I want to,” which is largely why you started the agency, which I think is dope and awesome.
And it will be good to hear what a typical engagement looks like. Like what is the position that a client comes to you at and then, by the time it’s done, what’s the goal look like? What are they — yeah.
Junae: Love this question. So I’ll start by saying that Browned 2 Perfection Agency is very twofold. I always tell people this. So, on one side of our clientele, we work with artists still signed, unsigned. We work with media personalities, influencers, public figures. We work with entrepreneurs who wanna build up their brand, this very creative side of the company, right? Producers, whomever.
And then on the other side are — we have small businesses but we have a lot of nonprofits, a lot of tech companies, apps, fintech, little film and TV, that’s more of the creative side but I forgot to mention them but, yeah, so the other side is also larger brands and partnering with big, really big brands and corporations and doing things for them.
So I’ll say on the creative side, typically people are coming to us because they either have one thing they really wanna launch or release, right? So if it’s an artist, they need a rollout, they need all these things, but, typically, everyone’s coming for brand building.
They haven’t yet figured out how to — who the people, their target audience is and then how to reach them consistently and effectively and creatively over and over and over again. And so that, in a nutshell is what we do.
So I always say our sweet spot is digital content strategy. However, I think with us, it’s a full-fledged marketing strategy. So even if like digital strategy is at the forefront, you’re gonna walk away with traditional marketing strategy, you’re gonna walk away with your overall branding, you’re gonna walk away with some sort of in-person experiential aspect, you’re gonna walk away with a community building aspect, somewhere where you can take your people and centralize them in a certain place.
You’re gonna walk away with partnerships and things on the table for you or executed. You’re gonna walk away with an influencer campaign to wrap it all up in a cute bow. Like you’re gonna walk away with all of that, right?
Like, yes, your social media will be wonderful and you’ll figure all that out but you’ll also know where you’re going, right? Like I think the internet is full of moments, right? And you do want moments, but you also need to know like what is the moment, like where are we going, right?
Because you don’t wanna be in a situation, I think we’ve all seen it, where you just have all these moments and none of them are cohesive. And so not only are you confused but your audience is confused and maybe it’s not connecting in a long-term, longevity way, right? I’m big on longevity and so I really like to help people figure out what I like to call the brand DNA, like what are the bare bones of this and then how can we continue to multiply it, mature it, maximize the potential of it.
So that’s what we do really on both sides but I think on the creative side of things, it’s so important, because, typically, there’s a human being behind that versus just a concept, idea, a product.
And so, on the other side, though, with like brands, businesses, et cetera, there’s usually more of like a one plus one equals two, I want my ROI and cool. Now, these people also have to understand that like, in order to achieve your ROI consistently, it takes the branding aspect, it takes strategy and so, typically, on that side of the fence, it’s really just us getting them to understand that strategy is important and understanding that like this is a road map, not just —
like you’re not gonna get in the Uber and go right to the destination. Like we might have to Uber here, get out, walk across a bridge, get out, take the train, get off the train, to the airport, get on a plane, come back, take a walk around the block, and now we’re here, but also here is waiting for you your customers, your audience, your namesake, that like brand stamp that like imprint in people’s minds, that word of mouth,
like that’s what we’re trying to do. So even if it’s a one-off campaign with like a really big company, it’s like, okay, we’re gonna do this campaign but we’re gonna position this right. And I love to bring that to an existing brand because here comes the authenticity, here comes doing something that you guys don’t typically do because you’re obviously not reaching with the same tried and true methods.
And so that’s why, again, with the cultural creative side clients, I get to bring them some structure. I get to bring them some creativity too but like organized creativity, orchestrated creativity, like planned-out creativity. Like even if you’re working with us, contracted for 6 months, you’ll know what to do in two years,
no matter what everything else around you does, because you know who you are. You know who your people are. You know which one we bring into the table. So we add that. And on the corporate side, the need culture. Like it’s too dry. I’m like, let’s bring the things that you need, the things that the actual consumer identifies with and will stick.
And then also we’re bringing it in a way where like you still meet your ROI. I know what those numbers look like. I know what they need to look like. I know what they shouldn’t look like. And I know that there is a bottom line. And so it’s my job to create that perfect marriage. And, honestly, that’s what I do every day.
I’m literally like marrying those two sides constantly. Sometimes I’m paying more attention to the bride, sometimes I’m paying more attention to the groom. So that I hope answers the question of what a typical engagement looks like. I tried to pack a lot into that but, yeah —
Dan: That was good. That was good. No, I appreciate that because I think you were able to not just tell the story but even, you know, I’m like thinking through examples like while you’re telling that so that was helpful.
And I think that one of the things I hear often from agencies is that people will come and they’ll be like, “Hey, I wanna grow my following. This is this,” and I imagine a common conversation you have to have is like, yes, building a following may be part of building a brand but these are two different things so like what are the questions that you need to ask that you haven’t asked yourself yet to be able to bridge the gap between those two.
Junae: Yeah, it’s “I wanna build my following” or I don’t get the “I wanna go viral” too often because, thank God, I’ve been blessed that most people at least come knowing that like that shouldn’t be what you’re aiming for. Great if we do, like, yes, wonderful. But the thing about going viral is you go viral and you don’t have any strategy, you just went viral, and just like the internet, and now something else will go viral.
So like it might work but like if it does work, you’ll probably have a bunch of different entities coming in trying to tell you what you should do, tell you who you are, who you wanna be. And if you do have things in place, then you’ve hit the jackpot, right?
But, ideally, again, you wanna build the house, like you wanna build the house and you wanna put the right stuff in it. So when that random knock comes out your door, you are ready for company. Like that’s literally like the mindset behind it.
And, again, like my first question with people is usually like, okay, like I know, okay, you wanna build a following, you wanna do this, you wanna do that. Okay, what’s the branding look like? And depending on who I’m talking to, that might make them uncomfortable because they don’t have an answer.
Even if they have motion, even if people — I mean, guys, there’s literally big brands, well, household name people who like don’t necessarily have that together. Things have just kind of been falling in place and it’s really just, “Okay, step,” right? It’s like playing a board game, it’s like is there a placemat there? Okay, cool. Then step over here.
But we don’t really know what we’re doing and, again, the difference is so — it’s such a bright difference when you have that sense of direction and I try to do it in a way where it’s really teachable. Like, if by the end of this, the client thinks that somehow they figured this out, we did a good job, right?
Because it’s like ingrained now. It’s like, okay, you know who you are, let’s pull up, they already know strategy. Oh, it matches, doesn’t it? Like wonderful. Go off into the world and be you because you’re incredible.
Dan: Right. And I think for you too, one of the aspects of brand building is people finding trust in you because you’ve done this yourself with how you’ve built your brand. And I’ve heard you talk about how you have made it a place to not just put yourself out as the Browned 2 Perfection Agency CEO, but, no, you are the Beyoncé of marketing, that is your tag on Twitter and that’s what you’ve positioned yourself as.
And I think that’s what a lot of people may top of mind think of you as or when they hear those two things together. So can you talk a bit about that choice, how you were able to create that, and then how that’s helped your business as well?
Junae: Sure thing. I don’t know why every time I’m asked this question, I’m so surprised, like as if, like you said, it’s everywhere and everyone references it. But I really forget sometimes that I did that and that it’s there like that. So I’d be like, “Oh, right, I do have to explain that.”
Also pretty sure that one day, I’m going to have to explain it to Beyoncé so I’m like this is a great question because I need to get my practice up and so, yeah —
Dan: She may have seen it already.
Junae: Yeah, she might have seen it, right? It’s very likely that she’s seen it and if you’re listening, B, well, let me give you the explanation, right? Let me give an explanation.
So first of all, everything’s so twofold with me, right? It’s a twofold reason why that Beyoncé of marketing is the choice and the mantra and what I’ve stuck with. On one side, right? At the time, I was thinking about so many things and I was thinking about in terms of the type of work that I do and that I represent and what I bring to the table, like how do we define that? What is the adjective, right?
And I know Beyoncé the person but I think at this point in time, her as a human being and the artistry and just everything she’s done, the brand that she’s built, I think it transcends noun, right? And it’s now like this is actually also an adjective, like this is also like, shucks, it might be an adverb, right? Depending on what the conversation is.
And I think Beyoncé represents excellence, like excellence, diligence, a constant, right? She’s constantly on the incline, right? And every time she’s gonna hit it every time and she’s gonna — it’s gonna be better than the last time, right?
Like there’s never any like, oh, okay, Beyoncé, cool, like you would never react to anything and it’s so funny because whether you love her or hate her, you don’t like her, you think she’s overrated, whatever these people say these days, right? You know. You notice. You see it. It’s impossible for you — you even having an opinion about Beyoncé proves the Beyoncé point, right?
It’s like she’s so great at what she does that you can’t unsee her. Like I think that is I feel like a big part and embodies what I do and how I do it. It’s coming. It’s coming in hot. Like it’s every — that’s always my goal, like to beat my own high score and to do it in a way that’s excellent, that’s integrous, that is diligent, and also is very much impacting the progression of black people.
Like I think that’s a piece that people don’t give her enough credit for is her positioning herself in such a way that she can do whatever she wants however she wants to do it and she can do it for us.
And so that, if you look at my track record, even from my clients, nine times out of ten, it’s either a black or brown founder or a company that specifically is impacting black people, people of color, women, or it’s a company that is a big company that is trying desperately to do right by black and brown people or it needs to figure out how that goes, right?
I hire — like we’re black women-owned and operated. Everyone on my team is black. Majority are black women, like we have literally like two guys on the team, they’re amazing, but literally black women-owned and operated, like in the almost 6 years of business, I have hired all black consistently.
And black people are incredible. Marketing can be very white male so it’s important to me that black women who are the highest grossing consumers who absolutely know what works and what doesn’t, who kick off everything, who are the word of mouth queens, like who pushed nearly everything that’s anything to the peak of the mountaintop, why is it that more of us are not just in marketing but in the position to actually execute?
And so whereas in a larger agency and more diverse agency, you might have to sit for years and years and years before your hands really touch anything that you feel like, oh, I can add my sauce to, I’ve kinda set up an ecosystem where even though there’s different levels of employment, like everybody gets a chance to like touch and go, you know what I mean? At some point.
And so, again, to bring it back to the original question of Beyoncé, I feel like that, in so many ways, is what she does and what she’s doing and what she represents.
So if I have to choose anyone or anything that will represent like how I work and what I want my legacy to be and why I’m doing this is absolutely the Beyoncé of marketing. Like there’s marketing, there’s all this other stuff, but like Beyoncé, like I said, is an adjective. Like if you’re saying you’re the Beyoncé of it, then, oh, you’re not just great at it, you’re not just good at it. It’s not just fire. It’s not just cool. But there are so many nuances and things in the way you do it. Like it’s bigger picture. It’s legacy. And so that is why I chose that.
Also, it’s Beyoncé. But that’s why I chose that. And then also, on like a marketing nerdy perspective, it’s great for SEO. So anytime someone searches Beyoncé, like if you type into Instagram right now, I actually have a YouTube video on this, but if you type in Beyoncé into Instagram and search right now, of course Beyoncé pops up but so does Junae Brown.
Like if you type in marketing, I’m likely also popping up higher because I have the marketing and then also the Beyoncé. So like it’s crazy but it works. Also, even if you Google, like it comes up, it populates like — and, again, the same thing happens on social media platforms.
And it’s a great thing that I’m like a real fan and this is genuine because you have no idea how many Beyoncé-stan pages as well also like follow me and stuff now, not like super amounts but it’s also funny when I see them every once in a while, it’s so cool.
But, yeah, the Beyhive is the greatest and I’ve definitely a member of the Beyhive. Yeah, that is how I got there. And it’s something that comes up a lot but it’s something I’m really proud of, like it’s something that I hope that like when I do get the chance to explain to her that she gets it.
And, yeah, it’s just a reminder for me, like this is how you’re supposed to be moving, like this is what you’ve committed to, this is the output you’re expecting. And like sometimes that means like building up to it but the results of what you want are in your every day, your day to day. It’s in what you do and how you handle things when no one is looking. And so, yep, that’s why —
Dan: Yeah, definitely. I think, with her specifically, there’s a reason that that phrase started going around and we all have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyoncé, right? And it’s because of the bar that she continues to hit and what she’s able to do just every stage of her career, especially what we’ve seen just the past decade plus and how she’s able to have built up Parkwood and how she’s effectively built each stage of her business and each of the partnerships she’s done with various streaming companies. It’s really been fascinating to watch.
And I think, when I think about you as well, that’s the kind of stuff that is then attracting clients to you, because you can speak to your own existence and they can see how they found you in the first place. And that, especially with so much business that is either more on a client consulting type relationship or an agency type relationship, people are finding you through those types of ways and it’s just this like referential thing that keeps on supporting itself time and time again.
And as long as Beyoncé continue to be as relevant as she is, that then helps you and makes you continue to be a top of my person when every article that comes out like, oh, how Beyoncé is running this or how Beyoncé is doing that. Those things also fuel the engine for you as well.
Junae: Yeah. And I think Beyoncé is forever. I think if Beyoncé never does another thing ever, I think she’s solidified. And, again, I’m super big on legacy and I think impact. So, to me, that’s also how I walk into my work is like if this is my last project, God forbid, if this is the last thing I do, if this is the last time I get to pour into a mentee, if this is the last deal we close, if this is the last output, and, you know, not to say I’m necessarily leaving the Earth but let’s say I was like, oh, I wanna do something else, like would I be satisfied with the output? Can I say that I did my best?
And that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything went exactly how I wanted it to go but did I do my personal best and that’s something my mom has always drilled into me and my sister is like do your best and, you know, God will handle the rest. Like I literally have a note from her on my fridge that I see every day, reminding me of just that. And, yeah, I think, like I said, every day, like it’s in there every day for me.
Dan: I hear that. And with your client base and the companies that you work with, I’m sure, like you said, you definitely have a profile, but who is your dream client? Is there one client you could think of? Let’s not have Beyoncé for this —
Junae: Difficult to choose someone else. And I say that because going back to everything Beyoncé’s done, I think she doesn’t have to do certain things. Because the overall like overarching thing she’s doing and has done and continues to do are so vast, they’re so excellent that like you don’t really have to do all the other stuff that everyone else on different tiers has to do but I would love to do a campaign over engaging the Beyhive.
Like I would want to paint America black and yellow and gold. Like if we were to do things more on the ground, like directly engaging fans in different cities, in different pockets, and like kind of really showing, like literally showcasing this army and like the impact and like the influence, like I would love to do that.
I think it would be monumental. I think it’s something that, you know, people keep having this argument about Beyoncé and Michael Jackson and like, in my opinion, I don’t think we’ve seen another artist besides her that has reached that pinnacle. And I just imagine what would have happened if there was more fan engagement, things like there is today with the internet with somebody like Michael Jackson running around.
People pass out at a Michael Jackson sighting, show, music coming on. Like imagine rallying that type of fandom. It almost sounds scary, because it’s like, what? Like it would be literally like militant, like, oh my goodness, we have assembled the Beyhive like in real life, in real time.
So that’s my dream campaign. However, some other people really high on my list are actually also Oprah, Michelle Obama. I think they are just incredible black women, like I think that’s not even like a question, right? But, again, I will love to lean even more so into their personalities and be a little playful with how, whatever it was, we were rolling out and who it’s reaching.
But I think they have so much to offer everyone but definitely other black women as well and so I think they’re both at these integrals in these times where like, one, they’ve done everything that they said they were gonna do, and continue to do so, right? So they can do whatever they want. And, ideally, I think it would just be incredible to kind of show what that looks like more intimately, right?
Like when you get to Michelle, I think she just turned 58, if I’m not mistaken the other day, and it’s like what does like — and they’re the prototype for so many black women, not all black women, but like so many people, so many women, like you wanna maybe not aspire to do what they did but you wanna get to a place where you can navigate your success in such a way.
And so if we were able to show like what that looks like, like to me, my dream like sit down, dinner date, like I wanna spend a day with Oprah because I wanna see what, me, I’ll be 30 in a couple of weeks, like I wanna see what that looks. Like what am I? What do I have to look forward to and not just on a career level but in a self level, like in a spiritual level, in a mental level, like what does that look like from someone that has been able to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s?
Or at least in an overview way, right? Because even that’s a conversation, like what i’s didn’t you dot that we don’t know about? What mistakes did you make? I think, I don’t know, I guess, essentially, a big part of my job is storytelling and so I wanna tell those stories in a unique, very fun, free, out of the box way.
Dan: Two great examples there. I think, obviously, they’ve both done so much incredible work. Oprah, just how she’s built a media model that I think a lot of people would love to try to replicate even if they could and I think there’s clearly so much has changed in the dynamic from when she did do it and how she was able to put herself out there but will continue to be a role model for so many people. And Michelle as well, just what she’s been able to do from a media perspective as well.
Yeah, but this is speaking it into existence, right? Maybe you could have one of those tweets that gets put out just like we saw the tweets from this past week we saw Meg the Stallion’s, Issa Rae’s.
Junae: I would love that. One tweet that I thought of when I saw that campaign, you know, shout-out to the folks over there at Twitter, I saw the campaign and there’s a tweet of mine, I don’t know where it is, but it’s something like I wanna make a million dollars off of marketing so I’m gonna make a million dollars off on marketing. And, yeah, it’s gonna happen. That’s all I’ll say. It’s happening.
So, stuff, yeah, you gotta manifest. Like I’m really big on manifestation. I’m really big on affirmations. I’m really big on — I think there’s so much power in the tongue, right? Like what you say, negative or positive, likely will come to pass so be very careful about how you speak about yourself to yourself, in your head and out loud. And like once you say it or once you write it down, it becomes real. And after that, it’s just you navigating and getting there.
Dan: 100 percent. We’re getting to the tail end here but to bring things back, I wanna go back to the music industry to close it out. There was an interview that I read of yours, you talked to Yoh Phillips, who is a music journalist, big fan of his work, I think he’s written some essays I’ve went back to read. I think he does a really good job with that stuff.
But you and him talked about record label misconceptions and you have this quote that I’ve been thinking about. You said music is the product and that a lot of people get that twisted, like they don’t necessarily see it that way. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Junae: Yeah. For starters, shout-outs to Yoh, shout-outs to shadows to Rap Portraits, his film company, him and Holland are incredible. Yoh’s incredible. He’s one of my dearest friends. So we talk a lot about everything. And the conversation we had I believe was in their newsletter Viewfinders, which I read regularly and I think everyone should.
And so in that conversation, like you said, we were talking about all these different things and aspects of music and the business and, again, as someone who’s been on both sides of it, I try to be very careful about how I speak to people about it if they aren’t necessarily over the fence yet or if they’re very new because I don’t want anybody to be jaded, right?
Because it’s not all bad, right? But you do have to be honest, you have to be a bit of a realist mixed with the optimist, right? I think, like I said in the essay, like — and I say this also because I’ve been through it, not because, again, I was on the inside, I saw what I saw and I’m still working in there. It’s literally because I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, and I think this is an important thing to know.
I think music, the music industry, it’s been so glamorized, and rightfully so because it’s a glamorous business, like that’s part of the reason why we love it so much, right? There’s like all these beautiful, fun aspects of it. But there’s also a lot of work and why a lot of rules, a lot of unfair things that happen, a lot of like people just stressed out and they’re like, “I thought this was gonna be fun.” And it is, but it’s work.
Why is it work? Because it’s a business. And as someone who started off very early in my life singing, songwriting, performing, again, I get what it feels like to do art, right? I still write music, like I’m a creative at the bare bones of me, right? So I know what it feels like to create something that’s coming from you and what that means to you.
And I know what it’s like to work on something for an artist and we know what this is, we know what it means, like I think music is the most powerful language there is. It transcends actual language. It transcends race, it transcends gender, it transcends religion, it transcends mindset, class, like if you put a thousand people in the room from a thousand different places and walks of life, ages, whatever, when the song comes on, they’re going to tap their foot. They’re gonna go to a place. They’re gonna feel a feeling. Even if they don’t like the song.
Music is the only other thing I know, other than probably like love, that really triggers everyone at the same time, the same different types of ways, like it is one of the most powerful entities ever.
And when you take that entity, you try and you have to package it into something that generates revenue, it gets different. And it’s not just this powerful thing anymore, it’s a product that has to generate revenue. So as soon as you take music and you put it on a DSP, a streaming platform, you put it on YouTube, you sign to a music company that’s gonna help you distribute this to more people, yes, you got the music, you got where you wanna take it, but there’s a lot in between.
And I think that that’s the piece that people have to know and understand and, at times, even respect. Like, I think there is a balance, for sure, in terms of morality when it comes to music and business that I think sometimes people lean too far over to and I think that’s where a lot of the issues occur.
However, like I think we also can’t be unrealistic and naive in the sense that like this is a business like, yes, someone thinks you’re super talented and that’s why they’re giving you funds or opportunity or visibility or whatever it is to make more music or whatever but they’re also saying, oh, you’re talented and other people are gonna like this and they’re gonna buy it. That’s why we have you here.
Like let’s be clear, if that was the case, there’d be so many artists with deals and signed that are just great. But you have to be more than just great. You have to be marketable. That’s why we have the internet doing what it’s doing. This is why I’m building out marketing strategies like you have to be able to sell it. Like there is a side of music that’s all, whether it’s skill, taste, style, like, again, the general consumption part of it,
but, for example, in the essay, I talk about the company Coca-Cola and I’m like Coca-Cola is a huge corporation, household name, full of employees and people working every day to do what? To sell Coca-Cola. That’s why they’re getting a check. To figure out ways to get every single person if so be it in the world a can of Coke in their hand and then another can and another can and another can and another can and another can.
At the bare bones of this, did someone maybe wanna just make great soda and beverages and like nourish people? Sure. However, for Coca-Cola to sustain, like I can’t go right now with like a little Kool-Aid mix and be like, hey, Coca-Cola, this is really good. My whole family likes it. Can I be a part of the Coca Cola-brand? Like — and even so —
Dan: Yeah, it doesn’t work like that.
Junae: It doesn’t work like that. And so I’m like why do we think that music is gonna work like that? It’s an admirable, very sweet thought. It’s very pure, the thought, but it’s just not the reality of where we are if you want your music to go a certain place and to do a certain thing.
And so, again, I say this not to be daunting but I think a dash of like optimistic realism goes a long way, if you’re gonna be in the business of music. I was taught very early on to put the business in front of the music business part and that helps you navigate a lot, because you can’t just think like — you have to think beyond this is a great song, this is a great album, this is a great whatever.
You do have to think, okay, how are we going to prove that it’s great? How are we gonna get the greatness to the people that are gonna think that it’s great, how do we do that? That’s literally what this is. And we also have to understand that the infrastructure of the music business was not particularly built by people who were necessarily musicians or people who helped music come about. This was built by people who saw an opportunity and so it’s structured that way.
Now, again, we have all these nuances. We have all these new companies. We have like people turning the tide and I think that’s beautiful. But even these entities have to make money in order to keep going. So there’s never gonna be a point in time where music is not a business in some way, shape, or form.
I think what we’re getting into is a beautiful space of like what does ownership look like? What does integrity-based way to profit off of this but also put people first, put the artists first? Like how do we get there? And I think I’m so excited that we’re in that space, it seems like, and we’re finding a good groove because there’s more than one way to skin a cat and there’s more than one way to sell music, right?
It just really matters like what your goals are, what you believe in, what are your non-negotiables, and what you’re willing to give up because even if you stay independent, you’re giving up something still, right? Because now you have to figure out how to do these things without the machine.
If you sign on with the machine, you’re giving up something. It might be creative freedom, it might be some money, it might be this, it might be that, but, again, everyone, I don’t think there’s one answer, I think everyone should do what works best for them and their team, their goals, their life, right? Because, again, this is business and when you’re an artist, that’s your job, this is your career.
I think that’s another thing that people kind of don’t consider enough is that like this is people’s livelihoods. This is not a game. It’s not a joke. Like this is how they feed their families. This is how they sustain themselves. And real artists also like this is something that helps them stay alive. Like they can’t breathe without making music or without creating.
And so all those things, I think, if you keep in mind, there’s a beautiful sweet spot. And the sweet spot is we can get money and we can make amazing music. Like — and that, to me, to I guess tie this conversation together, is exactly why I do what I do.
Like I understand at this point, like, hey, we may not like capitalism but we live in a capitalism world so we might as well make the money work for us and the things that are important to us, right? That’s my goal, right?
Money is a resource, it’s not a sustenance in terms of like who we are as beings, but the world we live in, it helps a lot. It helps do a lot of things that we do need. And so to me, again, it’s that sweet spot of like knowing the business bottom line and knowing the like cultural importance of what it is we’re doing and making sure that that’s safe and kept safe and kept at a high standard.
But, yeah, everybody always asks lately, they’re like, are you more corporate or are you more creative, and I literally am like, you know, it took me a long way to figure out but I’m literally both. There is no separation truly in that for me. I mean, depending on what roles I’m playing, like if I’m consulting an A&R friend, like, of course, I’m more creative, but I am also gonna tell them how this song could work. Like what things to do with it, what place to put in it so that this amazing Pure Music can’t get to the people. So, yeah, that’s my spiel on that. It is a business as well.
Dan: Well said. Well said. I think this is especially true for entertainment-related businesses where the personal interest blends with the financial opportunity. I think you capture that well. And that’s a great note to end on. Thanks again. This was great. I feel like people definitely got a lot out of this and, before we let you go, is there anything that you wanna plug or let the Trapital audience know about or where they can find you?
Junae: So, you guys can find me at Junae Brown, it’s just my first and last name, pretty much everywhere. And you can follow the agency if you like at b2pagency everywhere as well. On my pages, I like to be very clear, you’re gonna find a lot of different stuff on there. It might be music, it might be business, it might be just like black girl stuff, it might be politics, it might be very wellness, affirmations, and everything in between. It might just be a joke I saw that I like to laugh at.
If you’re looking specifically for more so very like marketing things, I always try to tell people follow the agency pages so it’s really just about how much you’d like to be entertained.
And so, yeah, that’s where you can find me. In terms of things coming up, well, I do have a book that I released recently, Tweet 2 Perfection, right? It’s currently sold out but we’re bringing it back very soon on Barnes and Noble and also on another platform so you heard it here first, it will also be on Amazon and so it’s been getting out of stock, thank you so much everyone who’s been supporting it.
Also, I can’t say what we’re working on client wise yet but I can say, I’m not sure when this is coming out but like keep your eyes open, wide open during February for an explosion. That’s what I can say. Thank you so much, Dan, for having me. I think you’re incredible, I think Trapital’s an incredible platform and I’m so grateful to be here. And thank you to everyone who may end up watching this who supports me in general, it always means the world.
Dan: Thanks. That was great. That was great. Thank you. Thanks, Junae. We’ll have to do this again soon.