Wendy Day and Kim Ellis: Helping You Get “In The Know”

Knowledge is power, and in the music industry especially, a large percentage of artists attain their knowledge through trial and error. Though that route is an unfortunate reality for most, the independent artist with little to no budget can’t afford to make too many costly mistakes. The margin for error could cost them their career. Two ladies who have learned their own hard lessons in the industry, have made it their business to give back to the industry by helping artists, and those seeking a career in entertainment how to do it the right way. Wendy Day and Kim Ellis are the creators of “In The Know” webinars. The monthly series of educational webinars feature some of the best and the brightest in the entertainment business, who volunteer their time to help those who are serious about having a career in music, avoid the rookie mistakes that can cost a lot of time and money.

Wendy Day, as the founder of Rap Coalition, a non profit organization that acts as an artists’ advocacy group dedicated to the support, education, protection, and unification of hip hop artists, similar to a union. Kim Ellis is the Editor of Street Report Magazine with a background in Public Relations. Collectively the ladies have over 20 years of music industry information to share and they want to help everyone get in the know.

AllHipHop.com: Hi ladies, let’s first start of by telling those who aren’t familiar with your work, a little about your backgrounds.

Kim: I basically stumbled into the industry, it wasn’t something I pursued it kind of happened accidentally. I started in artist management and without contacts that grew old very quickly. I switched up my direction and began working with a couple of magazines and some promotions companies for a little while before I realized that I could have my own company and offer these services to many versus limiting myself to one particular company and hence, KE Consulting & Marketing Solutions was birthed in 2006. There, I worked with many on their marketing and PR campaigns to assist in garnering more exposure. Once I lost the passion for it, I decided it was time to either go back to Corporate America or change my course and In The Know Seminars was my first step in a different direction. Now, I do these webinars monthly with Wendy Day and I am also the Editor-in-Chief of Street Report Magazine, who I have been working with in equally amount of time. I’ve been given a new zest of life so to speak with these two ventures.

Wendy: I started a company called Rap Coalition in 1992 because I grew frustrated of hearing stories of my favorite rappers getting jerked by their label, and managers and these other companies and it really put me off that no one was helping them, so I wanted to help the independent artists learn how to evolve and helping them launch their cancer so I started the non-profit to help artists.

AllHipHop.com: How are you able to provide for free what most people charge good money in consulting fees for?

Wendy: I had a career in Marketing in corporate America and I had taken about half a million dollars of my savings and started Rap Coalition.

AllHipHop.com: that’s a perfect segue into the sentiment behind the In The Know Seminars, making information available to the masses what made you guys want to do this together?

Wendy: I’m going to let Kim address that because this is really her baby but I just want to preface that by saying this industry is a really closed circle of individuals and if you don’t have knowledge access and/or resources, its not going to be easy for you at all.

Kim: As far as the concept behind In The Know webinars go, with the way the economy has been since last Summer it just really hit me that people really don’t have the budgets to travel and go to the more reputable conferences. Case and point I’ve gone to a number of them as I’m sure Wendy has gone to hundreds of them and in the course of a weekend I’ve easily spent $1500 between travel, registration and hotel and back when I was so thirsty for knowledge going to a two day conference was almost like information overload. I’d walk away like what the hell was that about? I couldn’t keep it all in my head, so I began to figure it probably makes more sense to make it a more topic specific event once a month so that those who are learning can actually absorb the information and retain it a lilt more vs. all the distractions that come with a live seminar.

AllHipHop.com: I would have to agree that’s what made me a fan of In The Know webinars. Information overload can be a big problem although I recently attended the One Stop Shop Producers conference and I must say that was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in a long time and I think it was because it was specifically focused on the producers.

Wendy: Sha Money’s seminar is actually the best one we have in Urban music and I think its because he’s so well connected and he keeps it so specific to production that he really just focused on one thing and he’s really good at it.

AllHipHop.com: What are the next up coming webinars?

Wendy: we just did “Building a Career in Music” where we had artists like Mistah Fab, 40 Glocc, and Young Buck discuss being at different stages in their careers the next one is going to be “What the DJ’s Think” that should be a big one. The DJ’s will be talking about what they look for in music, why they play what they play, how they make money outside of spinning etc. That for people trying to get their records played by a DJ and then that one is going to lead to the July webinar which is “How to Get Radio Play”. There we’re going to discuss how somebody can get their record on the air, its inevitable that whenever I’ve done these DJ panels in that past that’s always the #1 question. After that in August, we’re going to talk about how to get a record deal, people are still asking how to get a record deal so we’re going to address that and these are all the 3rd Saturday of each month.

AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about these artists still seeking label deals?

Wendy: I’ve always recommended people stay indie, because I’ve seen the financial realities of signing to a record label and in this economy I’m even more pro indie than I’ve ever been. I just don’t see a need for a record label other than financial, so if you’re an artist and you don’t have the money to put out a record yourself or you don’t have the ability to go find an investor or a partner or a sponsor/endorsement or simply someone who is going to back you financially, then you almost have to sign to a label, but labels are the most ineffective they’ve ever been in the history of my career of over 18 years.

AllHipHop.com: Is it possible for artists to do it for themselves on line if they don’t have a label deal and still compete with a major label presence?

Wendy: Absolutely. There’s a company called tunecore.com, and I don’t mean to promote them because I don’t work for them, but they’ve been great for all the artists that I consult and they actually pay and they’re inexpensive to get down with, and they pass along 100% of the download money to the artist. It’s such a wonderful digital distribution system but for as much as everything is going to the internet you cant not have traditional distribution. Digital distribution in Hip-hop is still only roughly 15-25% of our sales so if you strictly go digital your cutting out a huge chunk of sales, you could be making as an artist.

AllHipHop.com: At the end of the day, what do you want people to walk away with from the seminars.

Wendy: Nobody can walk away from a two-hour webinar and know everything there is to know but I want people to walk away with enough knowledge to learn the action and make positive use of it.

Kim: I want them to look at us as a resource to gain reputable and necessary knowledge.

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