From TLC, Xscape, Outkast, Mista to Ludacris and more
An Exclusive Interview with Atlanta’s Music Mogul ~ Ian Burke
By Rochelle Davis-Cox
Best known for the signing of and vision behind TLC (T-Boz, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, Chili) music group, Ian Burke has been the key figure in popular artists road to stardom. “He had a real eye for talent. In fact, he was dead balls on when it came to recognizing a star.” ~ Excerpt from Jermaine Dupri’s book “Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul”.
Growing up in Mt Vernon, New York as the son of a musician, Burke’s influence came from old school records often played by his parents and siblings. His interest in music began to expand from listening to some of his favorite artists at that time such as, Jackson 5, Prince, The Commodores, Patti LaBelle and a variety of others. After graduating high school, he moved to Atlanta to start his career.
As he accomplished more experience and an ear for great talents, he began to manage the musical influence of the South. As an independent manager and A & R consultant, he was able to show his keen ear for talent in artists such as Arrested Development, TLC, Outkast, Organized Noize, Xscape, Kris Kross, Blaque, Ludacris, and the McClain sisters (known for their role in the hit movie “Daddy’s Little Girls”) just to name a few. When asked about his preference in music genre, he stated “I have never been one to follow trends”. And this is most accurate with the group TLC in which he was the driving force in the concept of the group look and image.
When asked about the music culture today and what changes, if any, would he suggest, his advice is “Educate yourself about the music first. Take a class. So many new artists are putting out music and do not know who Stevie Wonder, Morris White, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis are and what role they played in music history”. Today, many new artists seem to miss the mark on doing their research on their craft. Research also includes understanding the message you want in your music as well as the delivery. Although rap content usually attracts the younger generation at the time, we have seen how the content has dramatically changed over time. As an independent manager Burke would like to see Hip Hop get back to strong lyrical content and fun messages in the songs.
Does social media help or hinder an artist from getting recognized? Burke sided that it helps. Being able to stream music, allows artists to get directly to their followers without the middle man. Most artists want their music to be heard by a fan base. In turn, the more people to subscribe, like, share, and download, the more it becomes in demand. Also, music platform subscribers are more apt to listen via streaming than buying CD’s. The economic impact is that for $8-15 of buying a CD that only has 10-12 songs on the album is pricier than $9-10 per month for a subscription to unlimited access to music of all genres, various artists, and album classics.
How can one increase their income in this business? Burke’s response is simple: “Multiple streams of income”. You do not have to limit yourself to one passion or wait for one career to flourish before investing in the next dream. Burke explains, “take Janelle Monae for example, she is building her brand in music, television, and film”. Janelle Monae has been featured on Sesame Street, television commercials, actress (Hidden Figures), record producer, recording artist, and model. Building your brand and creating multiple streams of income empowers you to not live on the limitations of one idea.
Ian Burke is associated with over 150,000,000 albums sold since 1992 and plans to break into the television and film in the upcoming months. When asked what he would like to be known for in the history books, he replied: “My gift-the ability to spot talent and assist with making them a Star.” He has been known for having the eyes and ears of showcasing the best groups of 90’s and beyond. A true icon and music mogul of Atlanta.
“Ian the heart of Atlanta could not beat without you!” – Antonio “LA” Reid
Rochelle Davis-Cox, MAEd Social Media Strategist – Journalist – Community Liaison – Educator Facebook Group Creator: Broward County Black Owned Businesses