In-Depth Interview with Entertainment Industry Executive, Jason Davis
An interview with Jason Davis who has spent his entire two decade career in the music industry and worked with many worldwide stars, including Boyz ll Men, Sugar Ray, P. Diddy, Alabama, Lonestar, Dolly Parton, among many others. Davis is an entertainment industry executive with a broad range of titles including award winning songwriter, award winning author, independent record label president, executive TV producer, entertainment consultant, former Senior VP of A&R for Dolly Parton’s management company CTK management and a serial entrepreneur. He has also secured record deal offers with CEO’s from the largest music companies in the world, including Capitol Records, Sony, Interscope, Island / Def Jam, Epic, Atlantic, RCA, and J Records. Traveling between New York, London, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville, he built a reputation working with the top songwriters, producers, and recording artists in the entertainment industry on a global level. Over the span of his career, he has not only pioneered new approaches to the signing and development of some of the world’s most successful recording artists and songwriters but he has consistently championed innovative business models and partnerships with a wide range of companies around the world.
His career began as a songwriter when he was discovered by Grant Cunningham, the former VP of A&R for Sparrow Records. Davis went on to write a #1 Billboard hit, received several ASCAP songwriting and publishing awards, and was nominated for a latin music award. Davis has also co-founded other cutting edge entertainment companies such as Radar Label Group (Jimmy Eat World, Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, The Unlikely Candidates), One One 7, Awaken Records (Austin French), and Care For Kids. He is also co-president and partner of booking agency Higher Level Agency and an artist manager with First Company Management.
How did you discover your passion for music?
My passion for music was something that has always been a part of me. As a child, I was fascinated the first time I saw the rock band Kiss on TV. I started noticing my passion when I was around 5-6 years old and I would go across the street to my friend’s house and become completely mesmerized by the vinyl album covers on his bedroom wall. By the time I was 6 years old I had written a song with that same friend and by 7 or 8 years old we had already started a band.
How and when did you get started in the music business?
I was 23 years old when doors began to open. I had written and recorded a song with someone that ended up landing on a record label executive’s desk. Someone who had heard my song had actually brought it into the record label. After the record label called, it became a hit song and that’s when doors began to open.
Can you describe a typical day being a record executive and artist manager at First Company Management, president of Awaken Records, president of Care for Kids, the co-president of booking agency Higher Level Agency and the founder of One One 7? How do you manage your time?
I am incredibly busy, but I enjoy all the activity that goes along with a demanding schedule, because that means I am being challenged, while still constantly learning and growing. No two days ever look the same. Earlier, I was on the phone with my booking agency talking about the beginning stages of a tour we are planning with a few legendary artists, now I’m on the phone doing this interview, and later I will be on the phone with a record label about one of my artists new videos. Every day I touch upon the different facets and relay the vision; all the while, other people involved generally handle the details. In each business I have done the different jobs entailed for over 20 years so I know exactly how each job works which helps in communicating with a team.
Can you explain Care for Kids and what made you decide to get involved?
Care for kids (CFK) is an organization dedicated to helping poor children around the world in need of food, clothes and comfort. CFK opens the door for artists who would not typically be considered by companies who help children find sponsors. I found a niche for midsized acts to help children around the world. The artists speak on behalf of these children at concerts, conventions and other events to inform the public about the fact that there are 570 million children in need. CKF is a voice and an advocate for all who support these children.
You have also written two books. Your second one is entitled “Business Backwards”. Can you explain your business philosophy and how you feel it has impacted your definition of success?
My life changed 11 years ago when I found the Bible. Before that change, I had been in the music industry for 9 years. I found myself not really being aware that I, along with some of the people around me, were putting the deal before people. When I found God, I learned to put people first and the deal after. I’m human so I’m not always perfect, but I have learned to make serving people my first priority over business. I now define success by who you are as a person, not just how many deals you’ve made. It’s all about making a difference in the lives of others.
Have there been any times when you have questioned if the music industry is right for you?
Yes, there have been many. In my journey of over 20 years in the music industry, I have met some of the best and some of the worst people that I have ever encountered in my life. I have been blindsided and had my heart ripped out, and in those moments, it has been a huge yes. In my first four years there were 3 or 4 times where I felt that I couldn’t go on; nonetheless, the next day, I would wake up with the fight to keep going. There were a couple of times where I fully surrendered to God and asked Him to take me out of the music industry if that wasn’t where I belonged, but each time I did that, the result was that I continued to advance. God placed the dream of being involved in music in my heart at age 5 and continues to keep it alive today.
What advice would you give new artists who are trying to find their footing in the music industry?
Always pursue excellence and keep your bar extremely high. Ideally, new artists should be performing 2-4 times a month in their area and working on their voice 5 days a week. They also should be thinking long and hard about who they are working with. There is nothing wrong with spending money in life to achieve your goals, but they should be making sure that who they are working with is unusually talented at what they do in the business. They should always stay focused on their craft and set their bar or standard for excellence really high. Big companies always do market research and focus group testing before a launch; all the while most artists typically avoid asking for opinions because they want their song to be done already. The reality is artists should be asking people for their honest opinions to better their craft and songs.
Jason Davis Links:
First Company Management: http://fcmgt.com
Awaken Records: www.awakenrecordings.com
One One 7: www.oneone7.com
Radar Label Group: www.radarlabelgroup.com
Higher Level Agency: https://www.higherlevelagency.org