In the music and entertainment industry, you often come across a number of A&R’s, publicists, executives, and founders. However, how many of them are accessible to where all you have to do is visit their site, send an email and inquire? It’s rare to find executives in the industry who are willing to take the time to unveil the knowledge you need to break in and survive. Or is it?
I sat down with Founder and CEO of CREATE.Digital Music, Amilcar “PRO” Welton who’s not only a successor in his field, but also open to sharing his knowledge with those hoping to find their lane and evolve.
For those who don’t know you, your hustle and everything that you do, give us all an introduction into who you are and all that you do.
I’m Amilcar “PRO” Welton, I’m a Los Angeles, California native, and I am the Founder/CEO of CREATE.Digital Music which specializes in Global Digital Music and Video Distribution for independent artists and labels. We also have a division that handles music publishing as well as a division that handles artist management. I’m also the producer and host of iStandard’s Producer vlog. On top of those titles, I am also the Executive Vice President of the ABIATORZ Music Group, which is the entity responsible for the highly-anticipated independent release of Cole’s, “The Rich Tape.”
When you mention your company, CREATE.Digital Music, you mention Global Distribution. Can you elaborate a little on that and how important global distribution is in present day?
The digital realm is very relevant to the current music landscape. Whether you’re looking to make it a main revenue stream or use it to incorporate when developing your brand, the digital realm goes beyond YouTube and iTunes. A lot of independent artists and labels are hesitant as far as the digital distribution because sometimes they don’t see those big numbers. However, there are hundreds of digital retailers, streaming services, subscription services, download services, and multiple video platforms, that will build your digital footprints. Your digital footprints are what help consumers track you down and follow you. Though the artist may be looking at sales numbers, if a person sees you at a show, Google’s you and doesn’t see information and opportunities to support you, they move on. That’s part of the digital realm and that’s why it is so important whether it be with your music or branding.
All this is such crucial information. Can you tell me how you’ve implemented all this into your current role as an A&R?
The essence of an A&R exists in every human being. I know that sounds crazy, but at the root of it all, we all absorb, process, and consume some sort of music on some sort of level throughout our lifetimes. However, for individuals like myself, this is something that over time really resulted in me hearing, feeling and relating on a higher level. The essence of Hip-Hop for me, came from Djing, being a b-boy, rapping and doing all that as an adolescent. It helped shape and develop my appreciation for music and I started to actually look at the elements of music and how it was brought together. At the time, I had no clue what an A&R was, I just knew I loved music. But as I continued to travel life’s course, and began to get all this input from my fellow colleagues and artists, I realized I could assist in making records better.
So speaking of you being surrounded by those peers and you really developing that itch to get more involved with music and the artists related to it, how did you come across Rich? How did you two come together and build that relationship that allowed you to be the A&R for his new album, ‘The Rich Tape?’
Interesting enough, the partner of ABIATORZ Music Group, Charles Coleman, called me out of the blue one day and told me, ‘I have something that I’m bringing to you first because I trust you, I trust your judgment, I respect what you do, and I just feel as if you’re the right person to move forward with me with this artist.’ Like many, I felt I was too busy working on things at the time, so I told him to send me the music first and we would talk. The same day I kept my word and listened to the music. Immediately I called him and asked him, ‘What would you like to do? I would like to distribute this product.’ So, that’s where it started. There was no actual “Rich Tape” just yet. Time went on and we distributed a couple of records and successful music videos which then led to Charles approaching me early with the opportunity to be the executive on their label. I didn’t accept the offer until about six months later after traveling with Rich, that Charles and Rich approached me once more with the idea for the DJ Skee hosted album, “The Rich Tape.” We sat down and went through the process and made sure that all creative freedom would remain and everything made sense. I didn’t want to just take on a project and get a headache.
Or give them a headache. What’s great is that you’re very fair to the artist. You don’t rush to accept, instead, you take the time to make sure both you and them have a full idea. Today we have a bunch of ‘Yes’ men, and it’s crazy.
I appreciate you saying that. If you look back, “The Rich Tape” took about a year and four months. If someone was to say ‘yes’ to that and not be fully committed, you just burned a year of that gentlemen’s time and career. To me, that’s almost criminal. A person doesn’t get that time back, that effort back. Artists and creators have that window of opportunity for these projects so I wouldn’t want to take anything on with anybody if I didn’t feel like I couldn’t commit.
I’ve actually heard some of the tracks on the project! And when I interviewed Rich, I expressed to him that one of my favorite tracks was, “LV100K” with Tory Lanez was hands down my favorite. Considering you are credited on the song, can you elaborate more on it?
“LV100K” is actually a special record because both Charles and Rich brought that record to me with the hook from Tory Lanez, whom as you may know, has a solid following and a star in his own right. Each record was chosen based on the vibe and the feel, and there was just something really special about this track. It was one of the easier records to finish.
Then you have a song like, “Power Trippin” with Locksmith. I heard the record and noticed that Rich referenced to Kanye’s “Power” which I found great because now-a-days artists neglect one another at times because this industry is so competitive.
One thing about Rich is he’s very humble when it comes to people who have influenced him through his lifetime. Whether it’s from artists, friends or family members. Actually, you’re the first person I’m telling this to, but half way through “Power Trippin”, there’s a line in there that says, “I’m cutting you haters and Cancer’s off like I created digital PRO.” That’s actually a shout-out to me because during the process, I actually battled Cancer twice and beat it. He threw that little line in there and to me, it’s a testament to who he is as a human.
What advice would you give to someone dipping into the same career path as you? Because someone like you has done this so seamlessly but there really is a lot that goes into it – time, attention, thought, and creativity. Some assume that all the creativity lies in just the artist, but there’s a lot of people like yourself who hustle to make things prosper.
This is a question I feel should be asked on every panel to every person who has had some sort of success in this industry. The first step would have to be, consistency – not just once – consistently look in the mirror. You have to consistently evaluate who you are, what you are, and what your skill sets are. Self evaluate constantly because that helps you evolve and eventually become a mentor or develop in an area you may not have thought of. You begin to open yourself up to things you normally wouldn’t because your vision has just become that much wider. It’s better to have too many options than none at all. That allows you to make decisions and that’s one of the key things to being a human being – the power of choice.
By Marina Moreno (Marina is the feature editor for MyDiveo)