“Are you ready Ladies and Gentleman for the Wealth Nation Entertainment, Heavy Weight Champion of the World? Well, let’s get ready to Ruuuuuuuuuuuuummmmblllle!” I’m chanting this in my very distinct overzealous commentator voice jeering to the crowd right from the ring! The only problem is that he’s not even in a competitive market for the brothel.. What we have before us is an established winner. There is no such thing as hush-hush when referring to Robert Terrell because he is an industry goliath. Terell is a motivational speaker in addition to being a published author, with his first book “Thank God It’s Monday,
TGIM, The Journey of an Entrepreneur”.
He has toiled hand and hand with some of the most Illest and Hard-Core artist that Hip-Hop has seen from the past two decades with 17-years of being in the organization under his belt. Attending high school with Heavy-D and the Boyz, Pete Rock and CL Smooth he met what would soon be a lifelong friend by the name of Leo “Swift” Morris. Swift wanted to be a music engineer and producer. From that encounter, a triumph would be discovered more sooner than later. Starting from a studio in downtown Manhattan as an intern where he lived, slept, and bathed for days and days.
Terell helped groom others into being the next big thing taking off. Terell has carried this knowledge and wisdom through the 20th century with him, strapped across his chest like a medal of honor. This crafty tycoon has taken the gloves off. He’s swinging nothing but talent back into the entertainment industry, and there is no other direction for them to go other than up.
It’s been rumored that Terell is the next Christopher Lighty emerging. However, we care very little for comparisons. He’s creating his own legacy with Wealth Nation Entertainment embossed in concrete. Disembarking on his own organization, Terell is waging war by showing the industry that he is going round for round with his artist at his side. He’s currently managing major talent brands such as Gun Play, Nancy Denise, Benji Buckz, Young Jamo, and multi-platinum selling artist Soul For Real. The list goes on.
I grew up in the Bronx. I had a childhood friend Leo, “Swift” Morris; he was my best friend. He was an engineer at Calliope Studios in downtown Manhattan at the time. I used to tag along and go with him to the studio four to five times a week. The manager Ronald offered me an internship answering the phones and running errands for the artist’s recording there. I used to watch all those artist back in the day come into the studio like KRS ONE, A Tribe Called Quest, and Queen Latifah came in there a couple of times. A lot of major artist that we know today used to go into that studio and record major hits. That’s when my passion for the whole entire music business began. I was impregnated from that moment and it rather evolved from there. I ended up working with Kevin Maxwell from Tommy Boy, and Tony Boyd. Kevin Maxwell offered me an internship. I became an A&R, and worked with him for about a year and half. I wanted to be an artist but it didn’t work out. Will Sokolov signed me under Moon Roof Records. Will offered me a job because he liked my personality. He felt that I was aggressive and a good kid. So, he let me start working with his company. I did that for about two and a half or nearly three years. That whole situation kind of fell apart. I started managing at that point. I knew that I wasn’t going to be an artist; But, I liked the business side of it, and I felt I had a high IQ for the business side of the music business. I became obsessed with reading books, educating myself, going to conferences and workshops just learning every aspect of the business and the inner workings of its machinery. We have a saying around here, “I’m not in the music business but in the business of music.” That’s one of my favorite quotes. So, I started learning the business of music. You know, licensing, merchandising, publishing, synchronization rights, overseas, and international royalties. The whole –nine- yards. I engrossed myself into the element of it. I was fascinated by it. I wanted to know and I wanted to understand, where does all the money come from? How is it calculated? How does the artist make money? How do the managers make money? How do the record labels make money? How does everybody make money? It was a real pivotal point in time because I really didn’t understand the delineation between different types of management. I just thought a manager was a manager. But, we know today, that isn’t the case because there are different types of managers. So, as I evolved during that period, I really found that my niche in management was in the business side of this business. That’s what I began to focus on. I had left the industry for a while because I was really just trying to find myself. I went back to school and took some online courses to finish my Masters in business. When I came back I felt more confident and competent to be a business manager. When I came back, I formed a company with my grandfather. We started shopping for a couple of groups and a couple of acts. We actually had a deal on the table with Joe Robinson, Sylvia Robinson’s husband. They were a good friend of my grandfather. They were the people that founded or started The Sugar Hill Gang. Joe Robinson was getting ready to sign one of our acts. We were in the midst of negotiating contracts and everything when he got sick. He ended up in the hospital long term, and eventually he passed away. So, that deal fell through and we started working with Barry Hankerson with Blackground Records. Blackground Records is distributed by Columbia Records. Well, Barry was a big dude that had known my grandfather for years. For the second time, we got real close to a situation. Aaliyah had just signed with Blackground records. She was related to the Hankerson’s in some type of way. Aaliyah was popping off and blowing up. She had just signed with them. We were having meetings with Barry and going over our situation. Barry had us making changes on our productions, and giving us input on what we needed to do to tighten up our thing. However, he was definitely going to rock with us mainly based on the relationship between him and my grandfather. Then the unfortunate thing happened with Aaliyah passing away, and with the tragedy that happened, our whole situation fell apart. So, it’s been ups and downs trying to get someone signed to a major situation. So, at that point, I was devastated. Here it is happening all over again. I had to regroup and figure out if I wanted to be in the industry because I wasn’t making any money. I worked little odd jobs here and there to keep myself afloat. I began to question myself to see if I really had it to be successful in this industry and to make money in this industry. Basically, I left again and this was the second time I left and took a hiatus. When I came back it was crazy because I got a phone call from my grandfather saying, “I got this kid out of the Bronx who charted on Billboards, had to deal with select Warner. He charted #2 and the #3 spot on the Billboard charts for eight weeks with the record that happened after 9/11. The record did really well. When everything merged with Warner Brothers, EMI ,SONY, and Universal, Select records lost their deal. They lost their situation. So my grandfather said this kid was floundering out there, and may need some help. I told him, “I’ve been down that road before. I’ve been on that journey. I’m not feeling it. What do you want me to do? How can I help?” My grandfather said, “Well, you know. He’s still from my opinion the best there is in business management. I think that you can help this guy because he has a track record. After going back and forth and fighting with him about that. It’s obvious that he took him on. Now, I got him a deal. We have a situation with Sony Red. He is about to sign a contract with Sony. We are in negotiations with Sony right now. During that time what happened was that the artist Computa had a record with Gunplay with Def Jam Maybach Music Group. I called to get splits on that record so we could get proper release to use that record. At the time it was a young lady that was managing Gunplay and she kind of took a liking to me. She said we need somebody like you with your mind to handle the business side of Gunplay. It was a weird conversation because I was calling to negotiate a contract with my guy and the end result of that conversation was that she wanted me over there with them. So, I negotiated a deal with them to be able to represent both sides as well as being able to work with her. That’s how I got affiliated and got started with Gunplay. Eventually, the young lady got fired, and he ended up keeping me on. A lot of people got fired during that time. During that time in his transition, I was one of the last two people that didn’t get fired. I just kind of restructured everything for Gunplay on the business side of his publishing, taxes, and his money. I started taking over, and he was very, very happy with the work I was doing. I was managing a guy in California that is a direct manager to a lot of labels. He told me that it was time for me to get my own situation. He said that I had quite a roster. He put me in contact with John Ferguson who was the vice president of Bungalow Universal. Because of watching how I handled the whole situation with Maybach and Gunplay, John Ferguson took a liking to me. He said, “I’ve been seeing you move around. I’ve been watching your body of work. I want to offer you a situation”. So, I inquired, “What kind of situation are you talking about?” He said, “I want to offer you a situation with Universal Music Group Distribution for your company Wealth Nation.” Looking at my situation at the time, I felt it was a no brainer. It was the next step to my ultimate goal, which was to have cash –money- type- situation from fifty to one hundred million dollars with Universal or Sony. I needed the platform to be able to demonstrate and show them that we can really perform at that level on a consistent basis. This is what me and JF talked about. The result of that conversation was that inked a deal with Universal Distribution division. My artist that I was managing, I got him two deals with E1 music group, and Sony Red. We have three major relationships that we are able to help artist develop and perform on a platform of a much higher plane to be noticed and recognized. When all of this was going on, my best friend who is vice president of marketing through our company nicknamed me the “The Dealmaker”. That’s where my moniker of the “Dealmaker” came from, and here we are.” I am also the Director of A&R and Project Manager for IMG recordings now which is distributed by Warner Bros., Sony, EMI, and Universal as well. I work directly with Project Management and the President of the company Rick Robinson.
When you started this company, what was going through your head at the time?
When I started this company, I actually moved from New York to Atlanta so that I could be closer to the situation because Gunplay was in Atlanta, and we didn’t know what was going to happen because he had some very serious charges. I started working with him in July of 2012, and I was all excited because this is Gunplay, Def Jam, and Maybach Music. So, you can imagine my excitement. Live Nation called while we were on tour, and said that the State of Florida police had a warrant for Gunplay’s arrest. We had to pull him off the tour. There was me and another manager; we were on the grind every day. We handled everything for him with Maybach and the tour. We were in the trenches and we got this call saying that we needed to pull Gunplay from the tour. He’s going to need a lawyer and make arrangements to turn himself in to the state of Florida. I was devastated. I had just moved down here to be closer to the situation, to be closer to him. I had no money. My money was very tight and limited. I had just got this one bedroom apartment. The money dried up so quickly. I went from making $1000 to $1500 a week to getting no money for weeks. Gunplay turned himself in. It was all over the news. TMZ covered it. It was all over the internet. I was like oh my gosh this is over. That’s what gave me a wakeup call in that moment because I had put all my chips in that one situation. I was not really diversified within my portfolio. I was talking to my best friend who was like “look man, you’re so talented. Why are you doing that? Why are you putting yourself in such a vulnerable situation? You have no income.” So, I was reading this book and my mind started spinning about forming a company, and I couldn’t come up with a name for the company that I liked. I was reading this book called “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith. He’s a Scottish economist, and philosopher. I was reading that book and understanding some of the principles of power and how these leaders of these nations had come together to form this Wealth of Nations. That’s how I came up with the name “Wealth Nation.” Then I didn’t want the wealth to be entirely about money. I wanted it to be about happiness. So, we came up with the acronym “Wealth, where every avenue leads to happiness.” After the situation with Gun Play, Jaimeo our V.P. said, “we got to get going. We got to get more artists and other situations going on. We got to get other artist’s signed.” It was a paradigm shift in my thinking when this went down. So, Jaimeo basically told me that I had to start from the beginning… Gunplay beat the case. I still handle stuff for Gunplay as his business manager. The artist Computa actually got a placement on the new Damon Wayans show, Second Generation Wayans. That catapulted, and now we are working on a situation. It’s crazy right now. We’re in negotiations with IMG. It feels like out of nowhere, but this has been years and years of hard work, focus, and perseverance.
How did you become a motivational speaker?
I actually started motivational speaking way before I self-published my first book. I was in prepaid legal services as a rep; I became a bronze executive director. I had a down line of about 3000 or 4000 people all over the country. I used to travel around doing motivational speaking to my down line and to my team. I just got really, really good at it. So, when the situation happened with my book I formed a company called “Power for Greatness, P4G”. Power for Greatness was a company that I started with my grandfather. I signed an actress that had done movies with Richard Gere. She has been in the Soprano series, Meatballs and Mobsters, Jennifer Lane Park. I signed her to P4G and I just started doing motivational speaking at workshops and seminars all across the country. People just started coming out and supporting the movement. They would come up to me at the end and ask if I was a preacher or pastor.
Who are some the artist that you enjoyed working with in your flight to the top?
Definitely Gunplay because of his tireless work ethic and he’s so talented. Teddy Riley is still one of my personal favorites. R&B sensation SouI For Real who ironically I am now currently managing, and I watched them grow up and evolve as phenoms. I think Teddy Riley is an absolute genius when it comes to making music. I think Teddy Riley was sick. I was right there when they went from “Kids at Work” to “Guy.” The people that were handling him were crooks which kind of messed up his career. Kool-Moe D back in the day was that dude. Nancy Denise was one of the last to come on season 10 of the Bad Girls Club. She came on and killed it. Now, the Oxygen Network wants her now. She just did another show called “Find me a man”. She has a clothing line coming out called bad habits. I think Nancy Denise has an enormous amount of raw talent and potential to go as far as anyone. As far as reality TV, she has the look, she has the personality, and she’s articulate. She is definite one of my favorites. Khalia Ali is one of my favorites as well. She has a book coming out called “The Trials of Ali.
We have this movie deal pending, and it is going to show a different life to Muhammad Ali that has never been revealed or told before.
What do you think about music today?
The industry has evolved and the landscape has changed dramatically as far as a result of the evolution of the internet. Many resources that are available to artist are out here now. They don’t need to get signed to a record label. They could do it themselves with the resources that are available and the technology. That’s where the game has changed. I think there’s a lot of watered down music that’s being put out that’s very simple and very basic. From the industry perspective, we’ve lost a ton of money. I believe that music will be free period in the next two to three years if not less. It’s happening now with all the Pandora and the streaming. Music is free if you know what you are doing. I think that whole buying and selling records is going to be non-existent. That’s a major change. I think that the event of a 360 bill was ahead of its time. They already saw this coming. Record labels will have to find another way to make money. If you look at the numbers now, major artist are only selling 300,000 to 400, 000 downloads. Hardly anyone is walking into a record store and buying a CD anymore. We’re in a digital word.
Where do you see yourself with your company?
I see Wealth Nation Entertainment as the new Bad Boy or Cash Money but even bigger! I see us having a 10 to 20-year incredible run. We have partnered, and positioned ourselves with four major powers that run the entire industry. We’re at the center of a perfect storm. All we have to do is perform. We’ve already gotten to the level that 43 million people are trying to get to. We at Wealth Nation want to do is take it back to artist development. We want to take it back to brand building from the ground up. We feel like it’s actually going back that way because it has to. The industry cannot survive, and cannot continue like this. We feel like we are ahead of the curb because we already see it and are moving progressively.
Is there anything that you would like to leave with our fans and readers?
I’m a guy that defied the odds because I believe in God, and I have faith that He can move mountains. Despite all of your circumstances, what you are going through, and what you may have; you can still make it happen. Depend on God and believe in yourself. You have to have unshakeable faith. Unmovable faith in what you’re doing period. If you don’t have conviction in what you are doing on that level, you might as well forget about doing great things. You can do mediocre average things. But to do something great, it requires that measure.
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