Acknowledge and end systemic racism and prejudice. This is more on a societal level. It is still quite shocking to me that there are many people who still try to say that systemic racism is a myth.
As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Meikhel.
Meikhel founded M.E.I. Recordings back in 2017. M.E.I. is an acronym for “Music. Entertainment. Imagination.” M.E.I. Recordings is an artist management and public relations company dedicated to discovering artists and elevating their careers from local fame to worldwide stardom. The South Florida native prides himself on aiding artists reach their full potential, particularly focusing on career longevity and legacy. Music from MEI to YOU that WE can enjoy.
The ever-growing, diverse roster includes two artists in its management division and five artists in its public relations division. M.E.I. Recordings’ artists have garnered millions of streams and views, and have been featured in countless media outlets such as Highsnobiety, Consequence of Sound, MTV, UPROXX, Flaunt Magazine, The Palm Beach Post, Sun Sentinel, Thisis50, ELEVATOR, RESPECT, FOX SOUL, 1AM Radio, Strong Arm Radio, Nakid Magazine, Medium, Miami New Times, Roku, Popjustice, HotNewHipHop, etc. Additionally, the artists have gotten praise from various entertainers and notable figures such as Lil Nas X, Marlon Wayans, Jay Pharoah, DC Young Fly, Ken Jeong, YesJulz, Eric Alper, etc.
Meikhel plans to offer label services in the near future. Meikhel is also working on starting a non-profit organization, M.E.I. Foundation. Meikhel vows to have an impact deeper than music.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been a music afficionado, but I basically fell into the music business side. I was planning to give up on music entirely, but it kept coming back into my life. Back in 2017, I was really contemplating what I wanted to do with my life. During that time, Cameron Dietz approached me to be his manager, and now here we are today. Music led me to music.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet quite a few people in the industry such as Dua Lipa and Ted Lucas. However, I’d say meeting Rico Love was the most interesting because I was able to have a lengthier conversation with him than others. I was able to chop it up with Rico Love and was able show him our artist’s music. It was great to hear him praise Cameron Dietz’s singing and songwriting. It was an insightful conversation as a whole.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Hmm I really don’t have any funny mistakes. I wish I had a funny story for you haha. I don’t know how funny it is, but I’ve cc’d and sent an email to the wrong person before. The lesson there is to always double check before clicking send or submit.
Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?
Well, first and foremost, I am a Black and Hispanic business owner. Moreover, I am a music business owner. Although minority representation has gone up within the entertainment industry, the lack of diversity is omnipresent. Simply by being, I am making a statement.
Our artist makeup is also definitely helping to break the glass ceiling. We work with artists of various races and genders. Many of the artists “genre-bend;” thus, challenging the idea of what’s “White” music or vice-versa anymore. I feel like being a minority, you are confined to a box; meaning you can only work with one group of people, or make or listen to one type of music. Guys like Jimi Hendrix and Prince paved the way for future generations.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?
I can’t specifically, but I have had people within the industry reach out and tell me they love how diverse our roster is. Specifically, I have had an individual praise us for working with so many female artists. One thing that shocked me is how different women and men are treated within the industry. There is less representation for women within the industry, so I am trying to combat that. There is a ton of talent being overlooked.
As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articulate this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?
- More inclusive society. Music is everywhere: sporting events, movies, television, shops, etc. It is good for people to see and hear others who look like them. It is similar to the idea of President Obama; he is a symbol of hope for many, regardless of one’s political leanings.
- We are unique. Everybody has different opinions, cultures, traditions, etc. I believe everybody has something different that they bring to the table. Having too much of one thing is bad in general.
- Eradicates stereotypes. People indulge in the consumption of media daily. Having diversity within entertainment media outlets helps to change the perceptions many have towards various groups of people. There was a time where minorities were thought to be too dumb or incapable of being in entertainment and blackface was used by actors to further drive that erroneous belief.
Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
- Acknowledge and end systemic racism and prejudice. This is more on a societal level. It is still quite shocking to me that there are many people who still try to say that systemic racism is a myth.
- Implement a “Rooney” rule, similar to the NFL, within company policies to afford more opportunities and meaningful interviews/considerations to minorities within the entertainment industry.
- Learn. We need to better understand each other and learn about our differences. The idea that everybody bleeds red or that we should be colorblind is somewhat silly because it takes away from our identities. Schools and communities should teach more diverse histories. Knowledge is power and history repeats itself, so let us end the cycle.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leading by example is leadership. The idea of “monkey see, monkey do” is pivotal in understanding how to lead. One has to set a good example for others to see and follow. If a leader lends a helping hand, others tend to follow suit. Good leadership is contagious.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Think outside the box. I remember reading up on how to navigate through the industry. It does help to do your research, but I have gotten more opportunities by not following the standard ways of doing things. You must be creative to get your name out there and demonstrate your value.
- It’s all about the Benjamins. It takes a pretty penny to invest in artists or a business in general. When I first started, I didn’t account for various expenses, so I’d definitely recommend calculating costs and setting aside money.
- Lots of hours. A lot of time needs be dedicated to proliferation. There are weeks where I work 80–100 hours. Those 8–10 hours of sleep ain’t going to fly haha.
- Patience is a virtue. Don’t give up if you aren’t an overnight success. I remember thinking that as soon as I started, I would be turning profit immediately. Most businesses operate at a deficit for the first few years. There are plenty of artists who were releasing music for 10+ years before they made it big. Don’t get discourage, keep grinding.
- Work hard, play hard. It is not all fun and games. There is a lot of work that goes into this industry. There are a lot of boring tasks like sending tons of emails, but the grunt work is necessary. Without the grunt work, one can’t enjoy the fruits.
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. 🙂
There are a lot of causes that need assistance, but I would say aiding in the fight against homelessness and stigmas that surround it; I feel like homeless individuals lack a voice. There needs to be more shelters and treatment centers.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You need to git up, git out and git something. Don’t let the days of your life pass by.” — Outkast
There was a time where I felt like I was wasting my life doing unproductive things. I try to make every day count. I feel like there are a lot of people who are just sitting on their couch and sitting on gold because they are too scared or too lazy to go after their dreams and strive for success. Complacency breeds failure.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a business lunch with Jay Z. To be able to pick his brain about the music and sport industries, but even to able to just talk about business in general, would be beneficial to the endeavors I have planned for the future.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
My pleasure, thank you!