Thanks to a loan from Joey’s brother, the crew of CT, LaLa, Reggio, Jae Laws and Kee were able to drive to LA from the Bay Area for a series of meetings the week of June 6th, 2016. Joey lined up meetings with Atlantic Records, Universal, Warner/Chappell, BMG, and Songs Publishing. It was a fabulous week, loved by all. Matt at Atlantic was encouraging; Stanford and Zach at BMG were incredible. But Ryan Press at Warner/Chappell was spectacular. He happens to be a son of one of the Temptations. He loved the music, the energy and the spirit of UMC. CT had an offer by Friday of that week. By mid-July, CT signed his publishing deal as a music producer. By September, five members of UMC had signed a publishing deal as songwriters. They were off to the races!

While in LA, UMC performed as part of the 24-hour Plays, a mixture of people from the Los Angeles community. One of the performers, Hollywood actor Erika Christensen, walked up to CT and LaLa to compliment them on their performance. She told them they were amazing and that LaLa really had a gift. This was a milestone event for CT and LaLa.  This opportunity was provided by CT’s lawyer, Lindsay Bowen. Joey found Lindsay through her connection to her dear friend, Ian Williams, married to the wonderful Tessa Blake. Ian and Tessa were kind enough to provide their studio as a hangout space for the crew. Ian listened to music and provided wonderful support the night before the W/C meeting!

Joey took the crew to the Santa Monica Pier and they all rode the roller coaster. Reggio won a stuffed dragon and gave it to Joey. The crew spent one afternoon on Venice Beach. Reggio bought a basketball and everyone went at it. Joey made everyone take off their shoes, walk through the sand and wade in the ocean. That was a first for many of them.

Our week wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.  While waiting for our meeting with the Universal team, Kee had to use the bathroom.  He approached the reception desk to ask for the key and directions. The man behind the desk questioned Kee and said something like, Did you just walk in off the street? Kee just turned on his heels and walked away. Being disrespected as a street person versus respected as a potential client did not help our start to that meeting. Sadly, a woman-of-color came out to apologize and said, “This happens to me everyday! Don’t take it personally!” Well, we don’t take it personally but we are more offended that it is a regular occurrence here.

Our meeting at Songs Publishing wasn’t great either. Each executive we encountered in the first four meetings was open to meeting CT and other UMC members. The gentleman at Songs didn’t understand and asked to meet just with CT while the rest of the crew waited in the lobby area. It lead to a negative experience for both sides of the table. It made us realize that we need to work with an organization that understands the community aspect of the music we create.

The group felt philosophical about the week. It was great that each meeting was representative of potential realities in the industry. We encountered the most ideal circumstance-- a young black man whose father was in the music industry and who loved the group’s vibe. We encountered respectful white people. We felt the pain of institutional racism. And we felt the alienation of executives who didn’t get how the group functions. It was a solid slice of reality.

Since signing the deal, CT & UMC have secured a home studio at D'wayne Wiggin’s (Tony! Toni! Toné!) Mindseed compound which is an honor and joy. Check out all the happenings at the NEWS section of the website.