Surround yourself with a good team: I can’t tell you enough how important this is. I started alone at my kitchen table with my wife Angela helping with the graphic design. Fast forward to 2019 and I work with the best people around. We are like family and I love them all.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Gino Caporale, president of 418 Music (www.41Music.com). 418 Music was recently ranked by Billboard as the #1 Independent Dance Imprint Label and the #7 overall Dance Club Imprint label of 2018 over major labels Capitol Records (Katy Perry, Paul McCartney) and Republic Records (Taylor Swift, Arianna Grande, Nicki Minaj). Additionally, the label has 30 tracks releasing in the First Quarter, 2019.
Thank you so much for joining us Gino. Will you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started as a local Philadelphia DJ in the 80s and after a few years in the Philly club scene I was featured on Q102, a major radio station. I was invited to be a Billboard reporter where I gained insight on the music business and built a network. I also produced a couple of Billboard-charting artists and remixed several top-selling and award-winning tracks. People always told me I had ear for music, and I’ve always felt the same. After stepping away from the business for a few years, in 2012, I jumped back in. Music is my passion so I immediately began working for another indie label, learned the new music business (so much had changed), made new connections and reconnected with radio programmers and DJs that I had known from my early days. I quickly realized that this was something I could do and that I could be successful on my own. I was doing the work for someone else, seeing the mistakes and cringing at the lost opportunities. So in early 2013 a friend who had a connection at INgrooves distribution asked if I wanted to open my own label. I jumped at the chance and haven’t looked back.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I started my record label, 418 Music, in 2013 with not much money and a rapidly-changing music business from when I had first started in the 80s. We took our bumps and financial losses, but never thought of giving up.
At one point, we had our own version of the Sun Records moment with Elvis or Sub Pop with Nirvana when we had a notable 418 Music artist, ZHU, who departed for a major label. His next record for the major earned a GRAMMY nomination (He lost to Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne). We were happy for him, but it was hard for our label at the time. However, the experience helped to put 418 Music on the national map and the streams from his work with us skyrocketed from 20,000 to 1,400,000. Similar to what Sam Phillips would famously say of Elvis leaving Sun Records, the resulting income helped 418 Music to invest in other artists.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I believed in what I was doing and knew that if we kept grinding while learning the business from the label side, I would start to see a difference.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
I’ve always had grit and have never been someone to give up easily. The most important thing I wanted to see from year to year was improvement. Building a label was going to be difficult. After the first two years I started to see growth and that was success. Never give up.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
It’s amazing. We’ve had four Billboard Dance Club chart #1 singles in the last four years and were just ranked as the #1 Independent Dance Label Imprint of 2018 by Billboard. We’ve also signed 30 tracks to the label in the first quarter of 2019.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
We all have a crazy love for music and a passion for the business. We are a family.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Be in it for the long haul. It’s a constant grind and the music business is nothing like a 9 to 5. Surround yourself with great people who have the same work ethic as you.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There is more than one person who has helped me, but the first two that come to mind are StoneBridge, a GRAMMY-nominated producer who has worked with everyone from Britney Spears to Ne-Yo, and Crystal Waters who Billboard named as one of the greatest dance artists of all time. They are two legends in dance music who believed in what I was doing and released songs on 418 Music.
I met StoneBridge at the Winter Music Conference in Miami in 2014 and he introduced me to Crystal. I had an opportunity to sign her and release her next single. It was a make-or-break moment because, as a small label at the time, it would require significant financial resources to produce and promote the single. But my belief in the label and Crystal’s song was so strong that there was no other choice than to take the leap of faith. Eight months later, “Synergy” by Sted-E, Hybrid Heights and Crystal Waters,
was #1 at Billboard. It put 418 Music on the national radar.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I don’t think we’ve necessarily brought goodness to the world but, through hard work and belief, we work to bring success to our team and help to build the careers of the artists we work with.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
· Spend wisely: Be smart with the finances and make a dollar go a long way.
· Surround yourself with a good team: I can’t tell you how important this is. I started alone at my kitchen table with my wife Angela helping with the graphic design. Fast forward to 2019 and I work with the best people around. We are like family and I love them all.
· Find a few mentors: I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of people I look up to and people who are doing amazing things in the music business. StoneBridge and Crystal Waters, promotions expert George Hess, Bobby Shaw at Bobby Shaw Promotions, multiplatinum producer Steve “Mr. Mig” Migliore, and multimedia entrepreneur Rob Schwartz.
· Build your brand from the start: My wife and business partner Angela has been drilling this in my head for the last five years and thank god she was smart enough to help me. Now, when you see our 418 logo, you know it stands for excellence.
· Trust your gut: I spent the first year or so listening to so-called experts in the business instead of doing it my way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
There are many amazing charities and programs out there, but if I could start or influence a movement it would to help children and adults with autism to better function in society, get jobs and live on their own after high school. I have two sons, Gino Jr. and Michael who are high functioning on the spectrum. My kids are amazing and I would love to help others like them. I also coach basketball for the South Philadelphia Special Olympics and can’t get enough of the amazing kids on my team.
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