Chris Williams Shares How Dancehall/Reggae Artists Can Attract Investments And Capitalize On Jamaican Culture
Proven Wealth CEO Chris Williams manages over US$1Bn and his company, is the biggest shareholder In Dream Entertainment, the organizers of Dream Weekend.
In this interview, he shares principles from the financial industry that can be applied to the music and entertainment sectors that will help artists and producers to make more money.
Chris, tell me about your background?
I would say my evolution in life started at the great school of Jamaica College. Those 7 years allowed me to establish my life mantra which is passion and performance. Passion means everything I do I must come across with a vibe and then I back that up with performance so you are not just a waste man and full of talk. That has been my life mantra.
What was that passion that made you want to become a leader in the financial industry?
I am coming from a single parent household with only my mother and grandmother and I saw the struggles that they go through day to day trying to provide for us and it placed in me the need to understand money. From that experience I fell in love with money and said I needed to understand how money works and how I can better manage money so I don’t end up in the same situation my mother ended up with. She would counsel me on how to evolve from the challenges so I can be in the position to be financially independent. The plan was to get to financial independence through education. I also realized that one of the highest paying industries is the financial industry, so I went to study and MBA in Canada.
Many people have problems making cold calls in the music and creative industry, how did you get over the anxiety of making cold calls?
Studying in Canada taught me that. It taught me how to be invisible because you operate in a society that’s largely white so you stand out so you have to train yourself to ignore the opinions and reactions of others and pretend you are invisible. Anything that came at me I was trained to ignore. You have to integrate into society and balls up. In high school you also have to be quick and you have to be smooth, so I was just picking up the phone (earlier in my career) and calling people.
Have you found that your Jamaican vibe is an asset and do you use it even now?
I became so proud being a Jamaica from that experience in Canada. We just have a vibe that people just gravitate towards. Our food, our music, hospitality, aggression, our passion all of that help to make us into attractive people to be around. As a result of that I became the star of the show, I said wow I can’t believe that this “Jamaicanism” that I have I so attractive. That’s our secret sauce but the big challenge iOS how to monetize that. I thought I was able to monetize that early in my career because of the gaps in customer centricity in the financial sector.
You manage a billion USD through PROVEN, any entertainment investments in IP, live shows etc?
We were the first and perhaps the only institutional investor that stepped up by taking 20% of Dream Entertainment. We are the largest shareholder in Dream Entertainment. We are investors, we sit down and listen to proposals and we invite proposals. I am out there trying to get people to come to me with ideas.
How does a creative company get investment from PROVEN?
There are some areas we have to focus on to bridge the gap between the investor and the artist.
Math and Magic?
Yes, these areas are first and foremost governance structures. We operate in an environment driven entirely by governance structure. All critical for business success. That has been proven for the last 100 years. So we don’t want to just come in and just talk and there are no minutes, no budgeting, no plan. We can’t operate in that environment. So whether it’s a manufacturing business, tourist business or music business we have to operate in those guidelines.
Then you have to have a solid product defined. The Dream Weekend product was well defined. 10 plus years old, well executed and very few issues so they were able to establish a solid product. In order to attract I must be able to clearly define the product. It must be well packaged and well structured in order to monetize the cultural capital and for entertainment there must be some IP licensing and track record.
What about artists who don’t have this experience?
I can fully understand if you are an artist you don’t have the experience or the exposure and its the same thing for a scientist or people who invent Bun and Cheese or a soda. SO make sure you surround yourself with individuals that compliment you and can help you with that governance structure. What I have seen is that a lot of the cultural capital owners surround themselves more with artist management, touring management as opposed to business management.
Do you think artists should own more of who they are, their IP?
I don’t necessarily think so, you don’t see Usain Bolt seeking to put in his own Track meet in Ukraine. It is possible to just execute tour talents and monetize it. What we need to focus on locally is artist development and then sell that to events globally. We don’t need to spend the time being the owner of the events or record labels. We can do well financially by executing as an artist because that’s what we are globally competitive with.
Thank You Chris.
Thank You for having me. Love the good work.
You may find the full interview on the World Music Views Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to podcast.