As readers of Volume 32 know, we constantly tell new industry people to diversify as much as possible to have a long(er) career in the industry. Azim Rashid is the best example of what we have been talking about for almost 20 years in this forum. His energy, drive and level of confidence are evident and he is a music industry renaissance man. He has many talents and has worked in many areas of the industry developing a level of expertise that is admirable by many and done by few. As I started out in the industry as a singer, I realized you can get trapped (as I did in radio) in one career and postpone your goals but Azim manged to stay focused and driven looking at every job as an opportunity to learn and grow. He recently relocated to Los Angeles from New York taking on the post of Senior VP of Urban Promotions for Capitol records at one of the most interesting points in the label’s history on the Black side. He took a minute out of his extremely hectic schedule to talk to Volume 32 about what he’s currently working, industry lessons and advice for the up and coming.
KEVIN ROSS: Congrats on your new gig…Tell us about your diverse history in the industry.
AZIM RASHID: Thank You Kev it’s been a true blessing….without reading you my extended Bio I can tell you that I am a lifelong fan who was bitten by the music bug at an early age. I was a DJ and rapper in high school and college and was signed to Profile Records with my group from Dallas NEMESIS, I worked in retail, I did college, community and commercial radio, street team and regional Mixshow promotion and ultimately became a record promotion exec at the regional, national and for the last nine years, VP level.
KR: Tell us about the advantage to being a former artist and working with them?
AR: In my opinion it absolutely is a difference maker because it gives me a connection that puts me on a peer level and not just someone else trying to get them to do something that they don’t understand the importance of doing. From sleepless nights, long hours on the road, bad shows and being broke while your video is playing on Television, I’ve been there. It drives me to try and coach my artist up when things aren’t so rosey and also to let them know that there is a pay off if they work hard enough. Funny thing is that a lot of the artists I have worked with didn’t or don’t know I was an artist as well (spoiler alert) but I am proud of that time in my life, it helped get me here.
(below, Azim as a member of the Dallas, TX rap group NEMESIS, far right)
KR: What are you currently working on?
AR: We have a ton of current music at both Urban and Urban AC that I’m proud to say my team and I are having success with. Current priorities include Ne-Yo, Kem, Sam Smith, Love Dollhouse, Mike Jay, Twista and Johnny Gill with more new music coming from The-Dream, Mila J, BJ The Chicago Kid, 50 Cent, kevRoss and more in the next few weeks. .
KR: So you came to LA and hit the ground running and you are working many acts at once on both Capitol and Motown how do you balance that?
AR: Well, the entire Capitol Music Group which also includes Virgin, Redzone, Priority, All Def Music and Caroline as well as Motown and Capitol keep us pretty busy. It’s a juggling act but we try and have a cooperative and highly open communication system so that nobody gets lost and we can post as many wins as possible.
KR: What can we expect from Capitol in the near future?
AR: It is my hope that the hits keep coming!
KR: Name 5 industry people you greatly admire?
AR: Oh wow, putting me on the spot, I have such a high regard for the legacy of music execs past and present, I could easily name 10! Seriously though I’m proud to be part of the Motown legacy so of course Berry Gordy, Russell Simmons the Godfather of Hip-Hop, a very dear man who we lost recently Wes “Party” Johnson whose contribution to modern-day promotion should not be underappreciated and two of my favorite people and first mentors in the game Helen Little and Mike Kelly. There are other but you only gave me 5!
KR: So what kind of advice would you give an artist who wants a record deal today?
AR: I advise the up and comers to really evaluate their talent before they pursue a career in music. Everyone is not meant to be an artist and there are other ways to be involved in creative culture, look at you and I. I tell them this: “Ask yourself are you really better or have more talent than the top artist in the game or are you in it for the money, fame and perks?”. If they can answer that question honestly and are willing to put in the years of work, deal with repeated rejection and have the patience to wait their turn, then by all means I wish them well on the journey. There’s an old saying that “Every overnight success is 10 years in the making” and if you look around that rings true.