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Chris "Gotti" Lorenzo, former vice president of Murder Records, has set out on his own business venture with Add Ventures Music. The innovative platform is the first and only of its kind and aims to put artists back in control. One of Gotti's artists, Erica "Rikki" Woodlin, spoke with GMW about her success with the company.
Richmond, VA — Chris “Gotti” Lorenzo has absorbed a lifetime of knowledge in music and business. For over two decades he has influenced the careers of some of hip-hop’s most influential people, including his younger brother founder of Murder Inc. Records Irv Gotti.
With his latest project Add Ventures Music, Chris and members of his team are traveling the country with the goal of discovering, empowering and educating today’s new artists on the ins and outs of the music industry.
“I’m here to empower independent artists so they learn how to own, operate and monetize, keyword monetize, their music. Most of today’s artists don’t understand the value of what they’re creating and how to actually make the money from it in the real traditional record label sense.” – Chris Gotti, Add Ventures Music
Add Ventures Music is a digital network, distribution center and brand consulting firm that offers targeted services at a discount price for every artists within their network. It has been described to me as a true inner-circle of experts willing to help artists who are determined to advance their careers.
Add Ventures Music allows artists to maintain ownership of their masters, while educating those in the network about the music business. The company offers assistance with music distribution through major digital retailers such as iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, music videos through Vevo, YouTube, and other platforms, and music streaming through outlets such as Tidal, Pandora and Spotify. Additional services such as mixing, mastering, studio rental, touring, music and television placements, radio promotion, and music video production are also available.
During his visit to Richmond, Virginia – where Chris hosted two seminars and a music showcase – I sat down with him to discuss the need for Add Ventures Music and his goal for the company.
You’ve helped a lot of people in the entertainment industry, at all levels of their careers. Tell me why you’re traveling the country and what you’re trying to accomplish with Add Ventures?
I’m on a ten city tour. I’m here to empower independent artists so they learn how to own, operate and monetize, keyword monetize, their music. Most of today’s artists don’t understand the value of what they’re creating and how to actually make the money from it in the real traditional record label sense. A lot of independent artists are doing everything a record label would do for them on their own. They’re just not making the money from it. Add Ventures is trying to fill that void and empower artists.
What is it about the industry that makes you think that this is the best move for independent artists?
You know, everything has a beginning and an end, right? The record business is no different. And I’m not saying music business is going to dissolve, but no one’s addressing the fact that once the internet started, the industry changed. And that paradigm shift that happened in the music industry, no one’s addressing it. Record labels, they are not saying, “Okay, this is going to fix the music industry so we can continue doing business a certain way.” All they did was fall back and take more, which just means the artist’s has to give up more.
Now it’s just time. We’re able to get music out to the public in a way like never before. Where the world can see it and hear it directly. And that’s all an artist can ask for, and we do it at a very efficient cost. At the end of the day, any artist, I don’t care who it is, they only want to be seen and heard. After that, if the people see and hear them, that’s when you know if you’re popular or not. If you’re a star or not, when people say, “Man that’s hot! I’m fucking with that!” Or, “I’m not really down with it.”
You know, people know me and my brother (Irv Gotti) for all our history, but the reality is we got more losers than winners. We just didn’t stop.
This is really about education and empowerment the next generation. You could be doing a whole bunch of different things, why is Add Ventures where you need to be right now?
Absolutely. This started years ago. What people don’t realize is, me and my brother, we negotiated every contract for all our artists. So think about it. They’re on our record label, and they’re negotiating ... we’re negotiating against ourselves. Our partner is Universal. So we’re fighting our partner to get our artists the best deal. You tell me in the history of music, whoever would have thought the record label would represent the artist to get them their best deal. That’s what we did. So when you think about that and then realize all of the issues that we’ve seen and conversations we had with CEOs of all these record labels and how they look at artists. It kind of gave me distaste for the record industry on how the labels take advantage of ignorance. At the end of the day, we all started from a very low spot, entry level. I’m no different. Right now, I have the opportunity to give back to artists and educate them, that’s what I’m going to do.
You’ve been very clear that this is not a label situation.
What makes a record label a record label? In the past, a record label would invest in careers. Why in God’s name would artists consider these guys today a record label when you’re doing it yourself and they’re not investing in you?
Originally, I understood why the label took so much because they put up a lot of money to make an artist a success and it didn’t work every time. It’s just simple economics or business philosophy, the bigger the risk the bigger the reward, right? That’s what it should be. Once they stopped putting money into the business and the artists, which is when the internet came in, their business spiraled downward and out of control and they just started firing everyone that worked for them and they stopped investing.
I’m giving you the information so now you don’t need a label. And if you’re a business person, you could reinvest in your career and build your career as far as you want.
How do you maintain wearing so many different hats at one time and keep your business successful?
I look at all the businesses that I do as one. It’s all about doing good work and maintaining good relationships.
You’re on a ten city tour, what are you looking to see when you come to these cities?
Really this tour is about Add Ventures. Everyone thinks it’s about the artists and they’re like, who’s on tour with you? And I’m like, I’m on tour. So my company’s on tour. Think of Add Venture Music as my record. I’m the artist, and that’s my record.
And the seminars are a big part of the tour.
The seminars are about educating you on this record that I just put out. Why it’s so good, why it’s so effective, why it’s different from most. I never think in the terms of, this is the only way to do anything.
Artists that sign up with your service, Add Ventures, how much access are they going to have to you and who do they access to?
You can’t pay for me, I’m not for sale but I’m giving you things here. I’m doing a seminar for $20. I don’t think there’s a person in the country that is doing that. So you tell me who’s coming to the hoods of the United States of America. I’ve been in Birmingham, Alabama; I’ve been in Memphis. East St. Louis. Chicago. Detroit. No one’s doing that. And I’m making it cost effective. I’ve been paid $25,000 to talk before. Just to talk, for an hour. For me, to let artists come and hear me talk for 20 bucks, I know what I’m giving you. I’m not saying it from a cocky or arrogant place. I’m saying it from, “I know my value.”
We’re going to have to wrap up with Chris Gotti. He’s on tour. He’s doing it big. But the whole thing for people who don’t know: education and empowerment is the whole goal of Add Ventures Music. Where can everybody find it?
There was a commercial when I was younger. It was a Charles Schwab commercial, an investment bank. And they came on, and they would tell you about all their services about investment. And they ended their commercial every time with, “A educated consumer is our best customer.” I promise you, that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s real. The more you know about this industry and what you’re dealing with and what’s out here, the more you’re going to realize why this is the best place for you to be as an independent artist. It’s that simple.