“5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry”, With Sujit Kundu CEO of S.K.A.M. Artist

I would love to use my platform and my influence as a thought leader to work on how to make the homeless situation throughout the world decrease. It really needs attention and I have been getting involved in different organizations to contribute to helping resolve this huge issue. More to come on this topic on […]

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I would love to use my platform and my influence as a thought leader to work on how to make the homeless situation throughout the world decrease. It really needs attention and I have been getting involved in different organizations to contribute to helping resolve this huge issue. More to come on this topic on my end over the next several months. The problem is increasingly evident by the day, especially in Los Angeles.

I had the pleasure to interview Sujit Kundu. Sujit is the founder and CEO of S.K.A.M. Artist, a leading full-service agency, boasting a roster of over 100 deejays and music personalities who specialize in genres across Pop, Hip-hop, EDM, Crossover, and more, both on the DJ landscape and with their own concerts and performances. His company also has a sister company, SKAM Division, an arm that focuses on radio programming, where they coordinate putting the hottest new music tracks on radio airwaves. Growing up in Fullerton, CA, Kundu frequented various raves and house parties that were thrown by what would become today’s biggest music industry professionals, immersing himself in the music scene early on. Believing that there could be more potential with these raves and events, he started to dabble in promoting and party planning, slowly throwing his own events by the early age of 16-years-old. Kundu began promoting small parties, however, by graduation, his events started to draw in crowds of up to 4,000 people, with the DJS involved growing fast reputations. His very first party failed, so he went to work for free with an investor until he paid him off and try again. Following high school, Sujit enrolled at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he majored in Economics and Accounting. By the time he graduated from UCSB, Kundu had expanded his party curation empire, which later launched into radio promotions and mix shows. Despite not having an initial game plan, after seeing the early success with his events, it encouraged him into throwing larger-scale endeavors, networking with the music industry’s top managers and artists. His events started the revolution of booking electronic dance music with the transition to featured some of hip-hop and R&B’s biggest acts with the likes of Warren G, Cypress Hill, KRS-One, and Mobb Deep. Sujit teamed with the then music director of LA’s Power 106 to form a production and DJ management company. As a production company, they landed a top ten radio hit with Shade Sheist’s “Where I Wanna Be.” Meanwhile, Kundu secured a radio promotion position at MCA Records providing his first experience working for a major record label. After his tenure with MCA Records, Kundu was offered the position of Universal Motown heading up their national crossover promotions division as their Senior Vice President. With his hustler-like mentality, Kundu continued to run his full-service agency managing the likes of Pitbull, Afrojack and Frankie J at their peak while holding office at Universal Motown. Shortly after his contract ended with Universal, Sujit was offered the position at EPIC Records by record executive, L.A. Reid, where he landed the role of Senior VP of Promotions scoring 15-number one records from the largest names in the industry including, Travis Scott, DJ Khaled, Future, Camila Cabello, Meghan Trainor and more. A few years later S.K.A.M. artist was formed. His production/management company disbanded, splitting ways with his partner who kept the production arm of the company, and Kundu kept the DJ management side, renaming it to S.K.A.M. (Sujit Kundu Artist Management). Kundu’s vast client roster of names range in notability and genre, some commanding fees in the five figures and bolstering over 100 clients inclusive of Deejays and musical talent names such as Lil Jon, Taryn Manning, Brooke Evers, LA Leakers, Nick Cannon, Amber Rose, Blac Chyna, Caroline D’Amore, DJ Irie, Reach, Samantha Ronson and Brandi Cyrus, just to name a few. Kundu continues to be a force in the music industry space, aligning his artists with top festivals, concerts, and top nightlife + hospitality venues worldwide. In addition to heading up the largest full-service agency, Kundu continues to collaborate with L.A. Reid on Hitco Entertainment, where he is a consultant on radio promotion via his sister company, Skam Division, which focuses on radio promotion services. He also launched a label a few years ago, where his team successfully markets various artists singles and albums in his second building in Los Angeles equipped with recording studios and production classes for those looking to break ground into the industry.

Thank you so much for joining us Sujit. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I think the most interesting thing that has happened to me since starting my career is working with talent grew up listening to. For example Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z and Mariah Carey.

Can you share a story about the funniest story you experienced when first starting? What was the result.

Lil Jon, one of my longtime clients, the notable music artist and Dj, actually found me on myspace, and that’s literally how I became his agent. I think this is funny because you would never think an artist that big would have used myspace to seek an agent but it shows how savvy he is. He was watching the work of me and my agency and wanted to be on the ride with us. He has now become a close friend and we have accomplished huge success together.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

A great trait all leaders share is the ability to make things happen. For me, life is all about hustle and being able to manage multiple things in a timely manner. Learning and listening to my peers is key when it comes to my success.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

I am a thought leader because I took experiences of my life and allowed them to mold who I was and what career path I took. I became successful because I followed what I believed and created a job out of what I enjoyed doing in my free time. I am a thought leader because I influence people with my innovative ideas and based on my drive to network with numerous individuals. An influencer is different than a thought leader because an influencer doesn’t lead the people that they are influencing but rather just sharing what they know. For me, I feel that I am leading my clientele to success.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

The benefit to becoming a thought leader to me is seeing the success of the people that I am leading. As a thought leader I have been gifted with the ability to lead some of the music industry’s top artists. I have built networks and relationships allowing me to align these artists to festivals, concerts and top nightlife + hospitality venues worldwide.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

Being a thought leader in my industry is extremely beneficial. My expertise in a life-long built career is appreciated by my clients and they believe in me because of my dedication to the hustle.

People who create and build their own companies definitely are thought leaders, which is why I certainly consider myself one. We must be an authority in our fields if we are establishing a business in that field. It is different when you have to pay your own bills, pay employees, etc. then when working for someone else. Your knowledge and ideas are establishing the thought path, and the means for the business to grow. You also must be humble, and always willing to learn. I may be a thought leader, but I am always reading articles, talking to experts, observing, etc in order to grow as a business entrepreneur and in turn grow as a thought leader.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

5 strategies to become a thought leader to me would be

  1. Becoming someone people can trust and not just look up to.
  2. Be the go to person that everyone is looking for, know every in and out of the industry you desire to work in and be open to teaching others.
  3. Lead by example.
  4. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box
  5. Make things happen, never stop grinding.

In your opinion, who is an example of someone that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

An example is a client of mine, Caroline D’Amore. She is an established DJ and influencer on our roster, started in the modeling world, but also owns a successful pizza restaurant chain with her family, establishing her as an expert in that field. She was determined to build a brand, so she has created Pizza Girl, her new organic sauce brand. Determined, she worked to create the brand from scratch, and has now launched in every major west coast grocery retailer from Bristol Farms to Erewhon, and launched on Amazon October 7th. I am so impressed with her dedication, expertise in this industry, and leadership she has shown her team to create a product. The groundwork for a successful brand was established solely by her thought leadership and determination.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

I feel that this is not a fair statement. Thought leaders are powerful people who are able to share their success in a way that inspires people to then go after their own dreams as well. We are leaders by example. We show the people around us how to get the job done and be the most successful while guiding the path for the ones around us.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

This is a good question especially for my industry. You have to remember the power of work balance. For me, I am always working. My job is my life but I still take moments out of my day for myself, and that is important. Watching TV is an outlet for me to unwind and take my mind off of work.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to use my platform and my influence as a thought leader to work on how to make the homeless situation throughout the world decrease. It really needs attention and I have been getting involved in different organizations to contribute to helping resolve this huge issue. More to come on this topic on my end over the next several months. The problem is increasingly evident by the day, especially in Los Angeles.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Hustle. Do I get tired. Yes. Do I Give up? No.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Barack Obama

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