Jarrel Carter hailing from Brooklyn, NY was always a go-getter. He went to school for Business Administration and started his own Management Company. Now he is A&R at Roc Nation after starting off as an intern. He also became a brand ambassador for his Uncle Jay Z’s popular Dusse brand in 2015. Rel sat down with us to discuss his inspirational story, current projects and advice for artists.
Royal: Tell me about your journey on becoming an A&R of Roc Nation and how you achieve this role.
Rel Carter: When I graduated college I tried to figure out what I was passionate about, because I don’t believe in doing anything unless you’re passionate about it. Everything just kept coming back to music. So I called my best friend Lanel and was like “Yo, let’s start a management company”, and you know he’s one of those people that’s like “whatever you wanna do i’m gonna do” whether he knows what he’s doing or not. So we looked it up, we got an LLC and at that point we’re like, “Ok, what do we do next?” because we’re both going into this blind. So then I came here, and got an internship at roc nation. But remember I started a management company so i wanted to do management.
They put me in the A&R department as an intern. So my whole thing was take what I learned from here, and bring it back. So when I did that…i’m like okay well I just got an apartment too so I need a job, forget about the internship. So I hit Jay Brown, and i’m like, “Yo, I need a job,”. He’s the founder of Roc Nation, and the CEO. He’s like, “Let me think about it,”. Two months go by, and i’m thinking about how i’m going to pay my rent. I had just gotten out of college, and the first thing I did was intern here.
Royal: The apartment was in New York?
Rel Carter: Jersey. I went to get the nice apartment that was expensive so I definitely needed a job ASAP. Jay Brown called me like two months later, and he told me I could start working as an A&R.
Royal: What are your day to day responsibilities here at Roc Nation?
Rel Carter: Aside from finding new talent I have projects that I am [overseeing as an A&R]. So I have artists that have projects that i’m putting together. So it’s just making sure that we’re making deadlines, as far as getting them in the studio. If we’re putting out a song next week we need to make sure everything is sent by this deadline, and all the other behind the scenes stuff that goes into putting a song out.
Royal: Tell me about the Rel Carter Culture Tour.
Rel Carter: It came about because this kid Devin from DC had invited me to come judge his showcase out in DC. After the event he calls me like, “Yo, I have a better idea,” So he’s telling me about it and after thinking about it I realized it was a good idea.
People are always inviting me to the showcases but I also realized that the people who are inviting you [that are] putting on these showcases don’t care about the artists or the music period. They just care about the money they are going to make off of the artists. Then it’s also like they don’t really care about the artistry because they just take whoever.
We as A&R’s go to these showcases, and the talent is horrible. Not only do we want to help you, but we also want to do our job and find dope talent. But if you don’t care about the talent, we leave with nothing. So we had this idea like let’s go serve untapped markets. There’s nobody in Minnesota trying to find out what talent Minnesota has. We just came back from DR this week. So we just took the tour from city to city, and just gave upcoming artists the opportunity.
Royal: How long have you been doing this tour?
Rel Carter: Since October 2017. We started in LA, New York, Toronto, and Atlanta which are the key markets. Then from there we went to Philly, Miami, Orlando,New Orleans [and more].
Royal: How do you select the talent?
Rel Carter: You go to our website, register, and say what city you’re registering for. The best part for me is the workshop we do. Not only do we do the performance, we also do a workshop to where we have this young lady who comes in, and teaches them the business behind the music industry. A lot of these upcoming artists only know how to record a song, and put it out. They don’t know that if you don’t have a producer agreement or any paperwork you don’t own your song. So the publishing company doesn’t even know how to pay.
If I put out a song, and it streams 10 million streams, the money that’s collected, where does it go? They don’t even know that they need to register they music. They don’t know what distribution deals are, or what 360 deals are. It’s just teaching them the basics that they don’t know so that they don’t get into bad situations. So besides performing, what they learn is more vital than anything.
Royal: I heard that you have a compilation album called ‘No Handouts’. Tell me a little more about that.
Rel Carter: It goes back to the tour. When we started October 2017 we did like 15 cities between October, and April. We found some really dope artists. I knew that we could not sign all of the artists, so I came up with a list of who I felt was the best throughout those 15 cities. So we went to Atlanta for a weekend, and we recorded the project. We just released the first single “In My Bag” on the 23rd of November. It’s available on all streaming platforms.
Royal: I know you are also apart of the Demos & Dusse private listening sessions. Can you tell me about that and what artists can gain from that experience?
Rel Carter: I think the Demos & Dusse [presented by Thorough Consulting] is dope for artists just because you have the actual interaction and One on One time. You know it’s hard to get in front of an A&R. Of course you get the cup of Dusse which is always amazing. It takes the edge off because a lot of people are nervous. If you just drink, and build with them they feel more comfortable. It’s dope. I think we are on our 4th or 5th one, and all of them have been some really good talent.
Royal: Can you tell me what you expect from artists when they try to submit their music to you?
Rel Carter: I don’t really have any expectations but i know what I don’t like. I hate the over seller. The person that’s like “Yo, ima make you a million dollars if you sign me”. Just let the music speak for itself. You don’t have to oversell. I’d rather the guy that’s just simply asking me to check out their music.
Royal: How imperative is it for artists to have their music available on Tidal? What are the benefits, and how can they gain more streams?
Rel Carter: I feel like as a new artist it’s imperative to have your music on all platforms. There’s over a hundred platforms worldwide. Of course it should be on Tidal, but the people that have Spotify don’t have Tidal. Even though they’re the competition, as a new artist i’m gonna keep it real and tell you that you should have your music everywhere. Not just on Tidal. Tidal pays out the most but if you’re not streaming on Tidal you’re not getting paid anything. The benefit is that you can gain more money if you promote yourself properly. The benefit for career wise is that you need to be everywhere.
Royal: What is your advice for anyone that wants to be in the music industry? For any music industry job or an artist?
Rel Carter: You have to be passionate about it, and know that this is something that you want. A lot of people see it as “You can listen to music all day”. That’s cool, and all, but the hard work that’s done behind the scenes is stressful because you are dealing with other people. First of all if you are in the music industry period, a lot of your success is based on working with other people. So if you’re working with people that B*****t all the time, it’s hard. Even when you want to quit, if you’re passionate about it the passion will keep you going.
Listen to the first single “In My Bag” off of Rel Carter’s ‘No Handouts’ compilation album, available on all streaming sites and follow Rel for more information on his Culture Tour and more by visiting his website https://relcarterculturetour.com.