Workspace: An Office Built Around Hip-Hop

Workspace: An Office Built Around Hip-Hop

- in World Biz
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1. Iconic trademark


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Cole Wilson for The New York Times

I always planned to own a record label named Victor Records. In high school I came across a painting of the RCA Victor logo on the internet and became infatuated with it. Our C.E.O., Sir Lucian Grainge, has a painting of the logo and gave me a print for my wedding. I feel like it sets up what goes on in the office.

2. Oldies and hip-hop


Credit
Cole Wilson for The New York Times

The turntable gets a lot of use. I still go to the record store and buy old records, and we sample hip-hop on records instead of from, say, MP3 files. Analog sounds better. When I listen to the radio, it’s mostly Hot 97 in New York to see how often my artists get playtime.

I play my music loud. I’m always getting in trouble when people are on conference calls and can’t hear. H.R. calls me and tells me to turn the music down.

I keep artist’s hours. I’m usually up around 8:45 or 9 a.m., unless I have something going on. I go to the gym and have the same breakfast every day when I get here: scrambled eggs with onion, turkey bacon and wheat toast. Lunch is for wimps.

Occasionally I eat dinner in the office and then head to a studio where artists record. Sometimes I meet with an artist on the weekend. I don’t go to bed until 2 or 3 a.m., and I usually travel a couple times a week.

3. Music rules


Credit
Cole Wilson for The New York Times

I have two sets of speakers and two subwoofers in the office. You need good speakers in this business. I’m always listening to demos. I have a pretty good ear, and I always have an opinion about a song. If I listen with the artist, we’ll talk about how we’re going to change it. I play music constantly, everything from country to rap to pop to dance music. In the car I listen to classical.

4. Marking success


Credit
Cole Wilson for The New York Times

I have a reprint of the graffiti artist Banksy’s drawing of a panda to celebrate the release of the song “Panda,” by the rapper Desiigner. It was nominated for a Grammy in the best rap performance category last year and won best hip-hop video at the MTV Video Music Awards. I manage Desiigner’s career.

5. Reminders of accomplishment


Credit
Cole Wilson for The New York Times

My plaques are on the floor. One commemorates both the “Panda” song, and “Tiimmy Turner,” Desiigner’s second single. Together they’ve sold 12 million copies worldwide. Desiigner’s the first artist I signed who was an unknown at the time. I thought his music was dope from the first.

6. Record-keeping


Credit
Cole Wilson for The New York Times

I also work with Kanye West. I used to keep my ideas in my head, but one day I was walking down the street when Kanye called and asked if I had a journal, a notebook, for writing things down. I happened to be passing a Goyard store, went inside and found one I thought was really dope. I take it with me everywhere.

Correction: July 14, 2017

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the chief executive of Universal Music Group. He is Lucian Grainge, not Lucien. It also omitted his honorific, Sir.

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