Nov. 3, 2022

How Issa Rae’s ‘Raedio’ Will Shape the Future of the Audio Industry

The business behind the sounds you hear everywhere


Benoni Tagoe launched Raedio with legendary actor, writer, producer, and comedian Issa Rae in 2019, and together they've set up an all-encompassing audio business that offers a music label, publishing, music supervision, and music library services. Benoni, president of Raedio, talks about what it means to create an entire business around sounds, and why Raedio bills itself as "an audio everywhere company." For more info on our presenting sponsor, check out https://purple.com

 

Host: Nora Ali

Producers: Olivia Meade and Raymond Luu  

Video Editor: Sebastian Vega

Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus

Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder

Fact Checker: Kate Brandt 

Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop

VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer 

 

Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm

Transcript

Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, bringing you convos with people you know and some you may not know yet, to make business less intimidating. Because money talks, but it does not have to be dull. I'm your host, Nora Ali. Now let's get down to business.

We've talked about the business behind different types of sounds on this podcast before. Episodes about the live concert business, streaming, podcasting even. But this episode takes it all one step further into the entire ecosystem of sounds, from discovering a new artist in an episode of your favorite TV show, to how artists can take control of their own content and own the rights to their music. Benoni Tagoe helped create an entire business around sounds. He's the president of Raedio...that's spelled R-A-E-D-I-O, which bills itself as an audio everywhere company. Benoni launched Raedio with legendary actor, writer, producer, and comedian Issa Rae in 2019, and together they've set up an all-encompassing business that offers a music label, publishing, music supervision, and music library services. As Benoni told us, wherever you hear audio, that's where we want it to exist. Whether that's on Spotify, as a podcast, in a hotel lobby, or in your favorite film.

We got into exactly what it means to be an end-to-end solution for audio that feeds into the Issa Rae empire. What exactly does music supervision for TV and film look like? How do breakout artists get their songs into hit television shows and films in the first place? What does the future of record labels look like? And will it always be so gatekeepy and seemingly inaccessible? It is worth noting that Raedio gives their artists master's ownership, which means that the artists own the copyright to their work, something that typically doesn't happen at traditional record labels. Raedio's business model and Benoni's approach to running the company is unique and refreshing for an industry that Issa Rae once described as "the worst." But in Benoni's words, "Being in a crowded space challenges you to find your differentiation point." We'll find out how they did it and hear what that sounds like after the break.

Benoni, I'm really excited to chat with you. I am a musician myself...I'm not the cool kind, I'm a classical violinist. But I love any conversation around music and audio. But before we jump into the meat of the convo, would love to start with a little icebreaker for a segment called OG Occupations. So Benoni, I think I know the answer to this because I researched it, but what was your first-ever job that you've ever had?

Benoni Tagoe: Well, first of all, violin is cool. Don't let them tell you differently.

Nora Ali: Thank you.

Benoni Tagoe: My first ever official job was at Big Five Sporting Goods. I was in the shoe department, and at the time, I was 15. I was hired, I was doing my thing, and then one day I was just talking to a coworker and I was like, "Hey, I'm 15," just casual conversation, and somehow that information got back to the manager and I ended up getting laid off because they sold guns there and in order to work at that store, you needed to be 17. I guess they didn't know how old I was. That was my first official gig, Big Five Sporting Goods.

Nora Ali: Oh no, you got fired because of firearms. Ugh.

Benoni Tagoe: The irony.

Nora Ali: The irony. Oh my gosh. But look at you now. Okay, let's get into Raedio. It's described as an audio everywhere company. What does that mean exactly? What is audio everywhere?

Benoni Tagoe: When we created Raedio, we wanted it to fill the audio pipeline from start to finish, so we wanted to be very specific about not saying "music." The idea was, wherever you hear audio, that's where we want it to exist. Whether you're in an elevator, whether you're in a hotel lobby, if you go on Spotify and listen to your favorite artist, we wanted to have that artist sign with us. If you're watching your favorite TV show, we wanted to do the music for that TV show. I saw a lot of companies that were very specific. They were like, "Hey, we're a record label. We only put out artists," or, "We're a podcast company. We only do podcasts." But I saw that a lot of these industries or these companies, they shared a similar foundation. The same place that you go listen to a podcast is the same place that you listen to an artist, and the same place that you record a podcast is the same place that you could record a song. For me, I was like, "You might as well tie everything together. Music is the soundtrack to all of our lives. We all love music, different genres, different artists, et cetera." For me, it was quite simple. If we're going to create a new company, we might as well create something that's innovative. Of course, we could have went the record label route. Of course, we could have went the podcast route. But for us, we wanted to be an end-to-end solution for audio.

Nora Ali: Let's get into what that ecosystem, that end-to-end solution, looks like. We had Dan Runcie, the founder of Trapital, on this podcast previously. I know you know him; he covers the business of hip-hop. And he drew this incredible synergy map a while back, which I know you've seen, of each of Issa Rae's businesses and how they connect. Here is a quick clip of Issa talking about the breadth of her businesses on the Trapital podcast.

Issa Rae: Even Benoni, making the most of the label deal and expanding that to music supervision and publishing and all these other components, and obviously events and Color Creative in addition to being a talent management company, striving to build talent businesses. Of course, our digital side is expanding to so many other divisions that I can't fully talk about just yet. But that is the model within the company and with all the department leaders.

Nora Ali: So Benoni, we know Issa has Issa Rae Productions, she's got movies, she has shows like Insecure, which she doesn't own, but she leverages, obviously, the IP for other ventures. How does Raedio fit into this broader Issa Rae empire?

Benoni Tagoe: The Dan Runcie synergy map was really cool because that was the first time that we've ever seen an outsider basically create something like that. I've had many conversations with Dan and love what he's building with Trapital. As far as Raedio is concerned, the idea is for Raedio to be the audio content portion of the company. For Hoorae, which is the larger parent company, there's four parts to it. There's a film and TV part, there is the digital part, there's Color Creative, which is our management company, and then there's Raedio. And so how that works, for example, we had a show called Rap Sh!t that is on HBO Max. And the show is about two women who are pursuing a rap career. And in that show, there are on-camera moments where the characters are creating songs, and then eventually as their career builds, they go and perform those songs and they become these huge stars. And so for a show like that, Raedio was brought on to, one, help with the casting to make sure...there's a lot of music cameos. So we are brought on to cast all of the music cameos. We also helped create all of the songs that you see the characters performing on the show. Also, all of the music that you hear played in the background, the needle drops is what we call them. A needle drop is basically when you place a song inside of a show, could be a popular song like, "Oh, in this moment the feeling feels like a Rihanna song should go here."

But for that show we cast it, we found all the music, we helped create the music, and then the end of the pipeline is we put out the soundtrack for the series. And so that's just a small example. And then also, by the way, the show had an after-show podcast, and we again cast it and developed, put the podcast out as well. So from this one show, this one property of ours, Raedio was able to plug in four to five different ways and just be your one-stop shop for your audio needs, is ultimately what we accomplished.

Nora Ali: That's so cool. And I wonder why other music and audio companies do decide to stay within their specialty or within their niche. And I guess, why haven't other companies tried to achieve what Issa and you have achieved?

Benoni Tagoe: We're still working on...I mean, the journey's not done for us. There's still so much that we want to do. But what I'll say for other companies, for me it's simple, from an outsider perspective, why they haven't done it. If you are a record label who has had tremendous success in doing what you do, finding artists, making them the biggest artists in the world, collecting back-end royalties, marketing that artist to become a superstar, et cetera, that is great. If you can do that and you can win, where's the need for innovation? If bills are being paid, the money's coming in, why innovate? 

And so for us, the reason we were in a very unique position is because we were a new company and we had nothing to lose. We didn't have a history of making money from music. Before I started Raedio...I have a longstanding music industry background, but in terms of this company, we were able to start from scratch. So obviously when you start from scratch, you're able to see, "Okay, I see where the holes are." And as any great businessperson will do, they say, "Okay, this is the problem that I'm going to solve and this is how I'm going to solve it." For them, they don't have a reason to innovate and for us, we have every reason to innovate. And so that's why we've created the company.

Nora Ali: That's a theme we hear a lot on this podcast, is the best innovation comes when you've got nothing to lose. I'm glad you reiterated that. So a little bit of basics now. We've been talking about record labels, music labels. How does a traditional music label work, for those who aren't familiar? And if you could explain it to us from the perspective of an artist, I think that would be helpful.

Benoni Tagoe: So there's a lot of different types of labels, and right now we're seeing a lot of innovation in the label space just because things are different. In the nineties, they were spending a million dollars on music videos. Nowadays it's like, yeah, right. Never spend a million dollars. The artist is lucky to get close to a million dollars just by signing to the label, let alone spending that on a music video. And so from an artist's perspective, here's the pitch, and there's flaws in it and there's things that need to change and there's things that are quite frankly not ready. But here's the basic pitch, very simple. The pitch is, "Hey, artist, you have great music. Let us help you. We have a tried and true formula to get you to the next level. We have a team that's going to support you. That team is international, marketing. They have the best relationships with the platforms: Spotify, Apple, Tidal, YouTube, et cetera. And they also are going to be able to market you in a way that you could never market yourself. And oh, by the way, we're going to give you a tremendous amount of money. Not only we're going to put a lot of money in your pocket, but we're also going to put a lot of money into your career."

So that is the pitch. In exchange, you're going to have to give up ownership of your music. And this is...I'm speaking from a traditional label standpoint, you're going to have to give up ownership of your music. And now we're partners. So you can't just unilaterally do things like you were doing before. Now you have to consult with us. And quite frankly, there's going to be some things that we disagree on. That's from the major label perspective.

A lot of the innovation is happening in the independent space where companies are coming to an artist and they're saying, "Hey, we don't want to own it. You can own everything. Just give us a license for a certain time period and we'll do all the things that major label can do." It's half true, right? Because for instance, you sign someone to a label, you might sign that person for $50k to $75,000 all in, and this ranges, but this is just on Apple. I'm going to give you $50k to $75k and you're going to be able to put money in your pocket. But then you also have to figure out how to pay for the music, pay the producers, pay your other songwriters, pay your collaborators, and then you also have to figure out a way to market yourself with that. But you get to own your own music, right? On the flip side, from a major label standpoint, on average, you might sign a major label deal for, like if you're a new, up and coming artist, you might, on the lower end, maybe between $300k to $500k, right?

Nora Ali: Big difference.

Benoni Tagoe: Big difference. So for the $300k to $500k, you give up ownership, but you get all these resources and you get the big building behind you, or independently, you get less money, but you get to own it. So at the end of the day, the artists need to decide what their goal is and what their game plan is. And there's no right or wrong answer. You don't get the Drakes or the Beyoncés of the world without a major label backing. Adele, et cetera, et cetera. So it just depends on what game you're playing.

Nora Ali: I've heard you say that before, that you can't be the biggest star unless you have a major label behind you. That feels a little gatekeepy and maybe not very equitable. Do you think there's an issue with that? Do you think that'll change over time? Maybe less reliance on the major labels?

Benoni Tagoe: Nora, one day when I figure that out, I'm going to be out of here. I'm going to be...That's the thing that we're trying to figure out. I mean, it is gatekeepy. It's no secret that some of the major platforms have relationships with some of the bigger record labels. Some of the bigger record labels are investors. So it is what it is. I think that when you have an industry where the barrier to entry is so low, because...I'm a terrible artist, I'm not even an artist at all, but let's just say I woke up one day and decided to rap, and I can hit up Nora and I can say, "Hey Nora, the way that you play the violin, loving it, inspired, all of the above. Here's my rap. You play the violin in the back, I'll rap." And then we could upload that song, as great or as bad as it may be, we can upload that song today if we wanted to, right?

And so when you have an industry that anybody can do it, then you have to start to set boundaries of like, "Okay, cool, anybody can do it, but only a certain amount of people can do it on a certain level." I recently did this executive education program at Harvard. It was called the BEMS program, Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports. And the professor that created the program, Anita Elberse, she has this strategy called "blockbuster." And basically, her argument is that no matter what, there's always going to be a need for blockbuster entertainment, main event entertainment.

And so when you think about that, sure, you can find an independent artist down the street and that's great, and you can go to their show and you could have an amazing time. But you also, in this world that we live in, you also want to have that moment where you can go to the biggest arenas and there's a hundred thousand people and everybody knows the song that the artist is performing. So it's water cooler talk. It's obviously cool to be in the know of something that nobody else knows about, but when you go to work and you go to the office, you want to be able to talk about something that everybody else knows about. Game of Thrones, prime example of that.

Nora Ali: Yeah. What did you call it, the blockbuster phenomenon?

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah, it's called a blockbuster strategy.

Nora Ali: Okay, interesting. Wow. I have so many follow-up questions, but we're going to take a very quick break. More with Benoni when we come back.

Okay. Let's get into music supervision, which is one of the many things that Raedio does. So Raedio offers music supervision for lots of shows, including Love & Hip Hop, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Godfather of Harlem, the list goes on. What exactly does music supervision mean when it comes to TV shows?

Benoni Tagoe: Essentially what that is is, you have a director or company that hires you, may say, "Hey, for this project we need music for it." And so if it's a scripted project, you'll read the script and you'll make notes and you're like, "Okay, at this moment, this is a song that needs to be played because this song helps further illustrate the scene that's being portrayed on screen." So we pick the music, we find the music, we submit the music to the directors and the producers, and then if they accept it, then we go and we do all the paperwork for it. Meaning we go to the artists, we go to the producers and we say, "Hey, we like your song. We want to put it in this project. This is our budget, these are the terms," et cetera, et cetera. We send that out, they sign it, we cut the check, and that's it.

It's a creative job in the sense of, you have to watch the thing and be inspired and find the right song for that moment. But then it's also a very admin type job because it's a lot of tracking. If it's a TV show, every episode has a finite budget. So you have to find songs that fit within that budget, and then you have to be able to push a lot of paperwork, and music supervision has become the sexy gig in the entertainment space, where..."I like music, I know the next big song, okay, cool. I want to be a music supervisor. I know the perfect song for this show, or perfect songs for this show." But when it comes down to the paperwork part of it, that's usually where things start to get tricky, because the music industry, the rules and how things are done can sometimes be very antiquated, sometimes can not make a lot of sense at all. And so you have to be able to navigate that process.

Nora Ali: That's just the case for so many creative jobs. You think it sounds cool, it taps into your skillset, but at the end of the day, paperwork, admin, budgets, all of that stuff, it's a common denominator for even all the cool jobs. So one of the most interesting parts of the show Insecure is the music. And here is a quick clip of Issa talking about how important it was to the show.

Issa Rae: For Insecure, I always said my mantra was, the show could be shit, but the music was going to be fire. And it's all about showcasing LA. It's all about showcasing female artists and it's all about showcasing independent artists. And so that's our mandate.

Nora Ali: So she describes showcasing LA, female artists and independent artists. What kind of visibility does a show, say, like Insecure, bring to emerging artists? Is this a good platform for people who haven't been seen or heard before?

Benoni Tagoe: Oh, it's an incredible platform for that. And that's not just me saying it. I have the receipts to bring it up. Just tell me how much time you have. Part of the reason that Raedio was able to get started was because of Insecure, and artists were seeing it was like the holy grail. Like, if I get my song in Insecure, then my streams are going to go up, my visibility goes up. That's a fact. A lot of times when Insecure was running, it was the number one show on Shazam for the night that it was on, because people were just sitting there with their phones and Shazaming every song. And getting our deal, you have to go and get your data, get your metrics so you can show, "Hey, we're worth it. Give us a deal." We pulled a lot of those stats and we presented those to a lot of our partners early on and said, "Hey, this is what the impact is that we have."

So it's a badge of honor. We didn't do the music for Insecure, because Raedio was created after Insecure started, but in the later seasons, we started to help and send music to the music supervisor, but we did all the soundtracks for it. But for shows like Rap Sh!t, for shows like P-Valley that we do, when you have shows that are known for music, artists just want to be a part of it because it's like, "Hey, I was on the show that's known for music." And so it's an incredibly huge platform for them. We did a movie called Someone Great on Netflix, and first of all, it's a great movie, but we did the music supervision for it. And there was a scene where the character, Alicia, had just gotten out of a breakup and she's in the kitchen and she's dancing. And the song that was played at that moment was Lizzo's "Truth Hurts." That song was a two-year-old song and we placed it in this Netflix film, and overnight, the song took off. A two-year-old song. And Lizzo, her career has shot up ever since then. I was in the office at Lizzo's record label when this song started to take off, and I didn't put two and two together of what they were talking about. All I heard was, "Oh, Lizzo, something's going on with Lizzo. We're supposed to put her album out now and we got to figure something out, because her album was supposed to come out in a week and that song is not on her album, and now we need to put the song on her album."

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.

Benoni Tagoe: And I'm like, "What is going on?"

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.

Benoni Tagoe: Come to find out it was us that put the song in the show, and that's someone who's on a superstar level. Imagine an artist who's not at that point and they get their song synched in the show. So synch means when you place audio to visual...not sure who the audience is. So excuse me if I'm overexplaining things, but so yes, to answer your question, the long and short of it is, it's a tremendous impact. And the right placement for the right artists at the right time could be big for their careers. 

And lastly, we could talk about exposure all day, but let's talk about money. There was a report that just came out from Billboard that synch revenue has hit its highest point this year. Synch revenue, again, when we put someone's song in a show and we pay them, that's a synch. So the revenue from that has reached its highest point. So if you're an artist, for a lot of artists that are signed to label deals, sometimes there's not a lot of ways that you can make money, but one of the ways that you could make money outside of touring or merch is getting your song featured in something. And so we have great relationships with the artist community because we're able to not only give them exposure, but then put money in their pocket. So it's a big deal.

Nora Ali: That's incredible. And I will say I had to Google Someone Great to make sure I've seen it. I have seen it, and I loved it. What a good film. I cried so hard watching it.

Benoni Tagoe: Listen, it was amazing.

Nora Ali: It's really good. And I can visualize that exact scene you're talking about. Such a good scene with Gina Rodriguez.

Benoni Tagoe: Absolutely.

Nora Ali: Okay, another very quick break. More with Benoni when we return. Okay. Onto podcasts, the subject of podcasts, because we are on a podcast. So Raedio produces podcasts, like Looking for LaToya with HBO; you have Issa's Raedio Show. So Looking for LaToya is a fictional true crime series.

Speaker 4: On the afternoon of July 23rd, 2019, a 26-year-old LaToya Thompson walked into a Red Lobster, but she never quite made it to those warm cheddar bay biscuits. Is LaToya just missing, or was she murdered?

Nora Ali: We know true crime does well in audio format, but as podcasting gets more and more crowded, from your expert perspective, what do you think it's going to take to stand out going forward? What formats do you think are going to succeed in the coming years?

Benoni Tagoe: I'm incredibly excited just about what we're doing, what Raedio is doing in the podcast space. We signed a deal with Audible earlier this year, a multi-year deal to essentially produce podcast projects with them. And in that deal, there's original concepts that we're going to bring them. So projects that we develop in-house and then we produce them, but also in that deal, there's projects that they have that they just need a production partner on. So we're going to come on and produce them. We did Looking for LaToya at HBO. We did We Stay Looking, which by the way, was HBO's first-ever scripted podcast. That was us that did that. I feel like I'm etched in HBO history forever.

Nora Ali: Yes.

Benoni Tagoe: But prior to that, a long, long, long time ago, we did a scripted show called Fruit, which was about a gay football player who was just trying to navigate his life playing professional football, but also being a gay man. And so that show broke a lot of barriers because it was a very introspective show and it was scripted, which at the time there wasn't a lot of scripted shows. And I think that show's probably, I don't know, seven, eight years old. To this day, I still get people that tell me, "Oh, that's my favorite podcast ever." And I've had universities reach out and say, "Hey, we have an audio program and we study Fruit as part of our audio program."

Nora Ali: Wow.

Benoni Tagoe: So all that to say, I think that when it comes to podcasting, I think the number one thing about podcasts, it has to be a very niche concept. I remember though, when I first started listening to podcasts, I was listening to a show called 99% Invisible, and they had an episode that was about flags, and I was locked in, where they literally were just breaking down flags. "Oh yeah, this country's flag, they used this color and this symbolism and this is what it means," and I'm locked in on the drive to work. So I think that the most niche concepts work in podcasting. And then I think that anything that's introspective and intimate, I think it works incredibly well because...I don't know this to be true. We're going to have to get a scientist, maybe we'll bring on scientists as a guest speaker on this podcast. But my opinion is that when you have something that's very introspective and very intimate, the fact that you're listening through your ears and you have to form the world that's being created that you're hearing, but you have to put two and together. "Oh, they said that they're sitting on the couch. I wonder if it's a red couch or I wonder if it's a blue couch." I think that it brings a deeper sense of connection to the project, as opposed to if you're watching something on TV—they're telling me the couch is red, period. The person is wearing a white shirt, period. So there's not a lot of room for imagination because they're telling you exactly what they want you to know. 

Whereas with a podcast, you can create a through line and you can allow the audience member to fill in the blanks. And then scripted podcasts, I think, are going to be incredibly bigger. I think a lot of people, it's getting kind of outdated, but a lot of people are saying, "Oh, we're going to create a scripted podcast as an incubation point, and then we're going to take that and then we're going to make that a TV show or film." And the amount of people that have done that, or amount of companies that have done that, are like this big. But everybody says that that's what they're going to do.

Nora Ali: For our listeners, it's the small gesture that Benoni just made. That's how many, this many. Very few.

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah, very few that have actually been able to do that. However, a lot of what I want to do with Raedio is going to be a lot of scripted-based podcasts and just really rich audio narrative storytelling. And I may not be able to get the budget to create a project that's around space, or get a budget to create a project that's around being underwater. But in podcasting, with a great engineer and great sound design, I can create a show that's in space and in the water in the same episode. So that is essentially what I'm most excited about. It is a crowded space, but I think that crowded spaces are great, because it gives people the ability to see...as a businessperson and as an entrepreneur, it is helpful because now I'm challenged to find my differentiation point, and finding that differentiation point is what I thrive on.

Nora Ali: Wow, you're making me excited about the podcasting space as a podcaster. You can get kind of down on yourself, because it feels like everyone has a podcast, it is crowded, but you're right. That means all the more reason to innovate and do something differently. I want to get your take on platform for podcasts, because we're seeing more of these big name exclusivity agreements with Joe Rogan and Call Her Daddy. Even the Obamas having a partnership now with Audible after leaving Spotify. What are the advantages, in your eyes, from a creator standpoint, of these exclusive deals? Is it just the money? Do you think it's good or bad for listeners where you can only listen to Call Her Daddy on Spotify? Just what are your thoughts on these agreements?

Benoni Tagoe: There's so many pros and cons to it. And first of all, I just want to shout out this podcast, you know, just in listening to it, I love it. I love how you all insert clips, because this could be a talk show format and you're very insightful and you do your research, so it's going to be a good show regardless. But the extra elements that you throw into it, I think that you're on something, so keep it going, Nora and team.

Nora Ali: Appreciate that. Thank you.

Benoni Tagoe: But as far as if exclusive deals are good, I think again, everything comes back to, what game are you playing? So if you go and do an exclusive deal, that means that the money is right. So as a creator, it's great money. Now you have a company that is invested in making sure that you succeed. So they're going to give your all to it. As opposed to, if you have a show that is spread across multiple platforms, they're like, "Well, you're across other platforms, so I could be promoting you. But then someone else might go listen on my rival platform. So what do I get out of that?"

Again, it comes down to the game that you play. I think that for an audience standpoint, it does hurt audience development, absolutely. If you have a project, the goal is, like the great marketer Soulja Boy himself said, the goal is to get your thing in front of as many people in as quickest amount as possible. That is the goal. That's the goal for everything in entertainment. And if you go on and sign an exclusive deal and you're only on one platform, well, you've already cut that audience tremendously. So again, it comes down to the game that you're looking to play.

Nora Ali: So to that point of trying to get your stuff in front of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, that makes me think of TikTok, which I think about frequently. Obviously plays such a big role in the music industry, especially for new music discovery, whether it's established artists who are floating snippets of new songs before it's fully released or unknown artist sounds being used for viral trends, or even record labels creating these sort of marketing campaigns around TikTok. How do you think about TikTok at Raedio? What's your strategy around it?

Benoni Tagoe: I mean, there's not a day that goes by where I don't hear a TikTok strategy. So listen, I'm not on TikTok.

Nora Ali: What?

Benoni Tagoe: At all. No, I'm like the last...

Nora Ali: Wait a second. Benoni, how are you discovering the new artists? I guess you have teams of people to do that, but don't you want to be tapped in?

Benoni Tagoe: Listen, I'm tapped in. I'm tapped in other ways. Don't worry. Don't worry about it.

Nora Ali: I believe you. I believe you.

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah. The TikTok thing, I get told about stuff that happens on TikTok all the time. I have a lot of friends that are on TikTok. The craziest thing is when I saw my friends on TikTok and then they got a notification that says, "Hey, you've been on here for too long," and they just blow right past it. I had never seen that. And I was like, "Are you kidding me? TikTok has that notification?"

Nora Ali: Yes, I get it all the time.

Benoni Tagoe: It blew my mind. It blew my mind. I didn't know that that existed. But anyways, yeah. I'm not on TikTok, but TikTok is a huge part of a lot of strategy, especially when you're rolling out an artist, because there's artists that take off on TikTok from songs that were old and someone just so happens to find that sound and finds the right dance. And next thing you know, you're pushing a song that you have forgotten about. We had an artist named Baby Tate who had a song called "I Am," and it came out at a time during the pandemic where people were feeling down on themselves, and the song was like, "I am healthy, I am wealthy." And it was just this really just aspirational "write on your mirror" type of vibes. Look at it every day and before you walk out the door, these are the things I need to say to myself, right? And that song took off. And a large part of the reason why it took off is because it was all over TikTok. It was everywhere to the point where people were making like 10,000 videos a day on TikTok. I was like, "Whoa." So TikTok is always a big part of the strategy. That's not the only strategy for us, but it's a huge part of it.

Nora Ali: We're going to get you on TikTok, Benoni, one day, and you'll be on it long enough that you're going to listen to that TikTok telling you you've been on too long. It's kind of the most devastating thing to come across that, because it's like, I know I've been wasting my life and here you are telling me that I'm wasting my life on this platform. But it's joyful either way. So really quickly, you've helped launch the Raedio Creators program, which is supported by Google. What exactly is the aim here for that program?

Benoni Tagoe: That program was an amazing program and we're going to be continuing it very soon. But essentially, they came to us and they said, "Hey, what is a program that you guys will be passionate about that we can fund and we can stand behind it?" And so we thought about it and we wanted to use the two parts of our business. We were like, "Okay, well, we work with composers a lot, so let's create a program to help the next up-and-coming diverse composers." And we were able to find two incredible women to compose. And then we also found two incredible female artists to create their EPs for. And so we funded their projects and then for the composers, we put their collection in our library, and now we're putting them in the projects that we work on. And for the artists, we rolled out their project, marketing it, and are finding ways to continue to work with them. But that program was really incredible and I'm proud of the work that was done. And the next step is we're creating a whole e-learning platform where we're going to start teaching people the things that we do on a day-to-day basis. How to clear a song, how to synch the right song, how to be a music supervisor, how to be a music business executive, et cetera, et cetera. We're working on a platform right now to be able to start teaching people that. And the Raedio Creators program was just the first step to it.

Nora Ali: Amazing. So much to learn. I'm so happy you're giving opportunities to those who otherwise wouldn't have access. That is awesome. Let's play a couple quick games before we let you go. The first is a segment called Shoot Your Shot. So Benoni, we would like to know what is your wildest ambition, your biggest dream? It could be personal or professional. It is your chance to shoot your shot right now, so go for it.

Benoni Tagoe: My wildest dream...I have a lot of them, but the most recent wildest dream that I'll give you all is I have been pondering, for a little bit of time, my own podcast. It's a business podcast, but it has a bit of a twist.

Nora Ali: You're speaking our language.

Benoni Tagoe: So I actually started working on it two years ago, figuring out formatting the show, and these are the types of guests, these are the types of topics. And two years ago, it didn't work out. And needless to say, kind of got pushed to the back burner. Well, recently, early this week, I stumbled across it in my Google Docs and I was like, "This is still a good show two years later." And so I started to edit a couple things and I am in the process of getting the deck created and then I'll start pitching soon, because I mean, we can do it in-house, but I'm kind of at a place where I don't want to be that close to it, because if we do it in-house, then I'm going to end up having to work on it. And I just want to be talent. I just want to show up and "Hey, what am I talking about today? Great." I don't want to do the behind-the-scenes stuff. So I'm working on that. So, that is my wildest dream to have a very successful podcast. I've been a part of podcasts that have been successful. I had a podcast that went number one before, and I would like to compete, if you will, in the business podcast space. So, that's my next personal venture.

Nora Ali: Is there a name for it, or you can't share that yet?

Benoni Tagoe: Likely it'll be called The Biz Plan.

Nora Ali: The Biz Plan. Well, you know who does business media well? Us over here at Morning Brew. So maybe we're going to have to chat after this, Benoni. See if we can help you out.

Benoni Tagoe: I love it. Some may say that that was a calculated move on my part, but we will never know.

Nora Ali: We may never know. Sounds like we'll be exchanging emails after this. Okay, amazing. Love to hear it. Can't wait to learn more. Final thing for you: I put together a quick little game. It's called Musical Projections. So obviously music, sound, and entertainment are your expertise. So we're going to play just 10 seconds of the theme song of a popular TV show. And you have to guess what TV show it is. So we have a few of these. Are you ready?

Benoni Tagoe: Okay, I'm going to try.

Nora Ali: And if you don't get any of them, totally fine. It's kind of a hard game. Okay. So our producers are cueing up the sound. Take a listen to number one.

Benoni Tagoe: Oh. Sons of Anarchy?

Nora Ali: Not quite. Similar vibes though, I think. Let me give you a hint. Chemistry, science, drugs.

Benoni Tagoe: Oh, Breaking Bad.

Nora Ali: Yes.

Benoni Tagoe: It was on the same channel, which is why I conflated the two.

Nora Ali: There you go. So some fun facts: It was written by TV composer Dave Porter, who was responsible for the music for all five seasons. And he had told The Wall Street Journal that he didn't know much about where the story was going when he wrote the theme, but he knew that it would have to fit the relatively lighter tone of the first season, plus fit the dark places that the show was destined to go. And I think he did a very good job, and he revisited some of these themes in the spinoff prequel, Better Call Saul. Okay, cue it up. Number two: Take a listen.

Speaker 5: (Singing).

Nora Ali: So I gotta give you a hint, because this show has a different opening title song for every episode.

Benoni Tagoe: Okay.

Nora Ali: So this is only for one episode of one season of this show. Lots of good music in this show.

Benoni Tagoe: I feel like I know this one, but I don't want to say the wrong thing.

Nora Ali: That's why we play games. You can guess and you can be wrong. That's fine.

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah. I don't know. I think I know, but I don't really know. I'm incredibly scared to say the wrong thing.

Nora Ali: Okay, that's fine. The answer is Atlanta. This is season one, episode one, the title song. So this is "No Hook" by OJ da Juiceman. And like I said, they have different title songs for each episode. Our audio engineer and producer, Daniel Markus, had warned us that this would be hard because it's a different song for every episode. And he was right.

Benoni Tagoe: Well, the thing is, I was like, we usually do this type of music, so I'm like, "Is it one of our shows? But...

Nora Ali: Oh, I wouldn't do that to you.

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah. But yes, Atlanta, great show.

Nora Ali: Yeah, amazing.

Benoni Tagoe: And the music is amazing.

Nora Ali: Yeah, very tough. Okay, next one is also kind of difficult. I'm going to give you a hint before you hear it. It's a sci-fi show, all right?

Benoni Tagoe: Okay.

Nora Ali: So cueing it up. Take a listen to number three. It's on Netflix.

Benoni Tagoe: Well, you lost me when you said sci-fi, but I'm just going to take a step and say Stranger Things.

Nora Ali: No, not quite. It's Black Mirror. Have you seen Black Mirror?

Benoni Tagoe: I've literally only seen one episode of Black Mirror. I need to get on that.

Nora Ali: Okay, we have two assignments for you, is get on TikTok and watch Black Mirror, because that show will change your life. I'm a huge fan. Let me give you a fun fact about Black Mirror. So there's a song that recurs in multiple episodes of Black Mirror called "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is Will Understand." And Black Mirror, for our listeners, it's an anthology series where the episodes are not connected at all. So one of the showrunners said that this song, not the one we played, but this other song, it's an Easter egg for audiences. So there's this motif that they can bring in in the episodes to connect the universes and have this overall sense of connection, which I thought was super interesting. Okay, last one: Take a listen.

Speaker 6: (Singing).

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah.

Nora Ali: I think that's enough. I see the puzzled look on your face. Man, I'm sorry. This is a hard game.

Benoni Tagoe: This is very hard.

Nora Ali: But we're learning, aren't we?

Benoni Tagoe: We're definitely learning. And it's funny because I feel like I've seen this and when you say it, I'm going to be, "Oh yeah, I've seen that show." But yeah, I can't tell you. I have no idea.

Nora Ali: Think about the mob. I haven't actually really seen this show, so I can't say...Tony. That's another hint. Tony is in this show.

Benoni Tagoe: Oh, Sopranos?

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Benoni Tagoe: Yeah, I definitely have...I've seen a couple episodes of Sopranos. Not enough to know that one. I need to watch more TV, I guess is what we're seeing here.

Nora Ali: You're busy, it's fine. And you're watching the shows that you're creating, so your slate is full. So this song is called "Woke Up This Morning." It's by a British band called Alabama 3 from their 1997 album Exile on Cold Harbor Lane. And there's other places where this song shows up, in The Simpsons and Marvel's She-Hulk and Nas's 2001 song "Got Yourself a Gun." So there you go. This was a hard game, but we learned some fun facts about music and TV shows. And Benoni, this has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us on Business Casual.

Benoni Tagoe: No, thank you. I love the show and I enjoyed the conversation.

Nora Ali: This is Business Casual and I'm Nora Ali. You can follow me on Twitter @NoraKAli. That's Nora, the letter K, Ali. And I would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for episodes, comments and thoughts on episodes you loved, fun segment ideas, just shoot me a DM and I will do my very best to respond. You could also reach the BC team by emailing business casual@morningbrew.com, or call us. That number is (862) 295-1135. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And if you like the show, please leave a rating and a review. It really, really helps us. And guess what? We are on YouTube. So if you've ever wondered what I look like, what our guests look like, or what anything else looks like, full episodes are available on our very own YouTube channel. That's Business Casual with Nora Ali. Again, Business Casual with Nora Ali on YouTube. Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop, Olivia Meade, and Raymond Luu. Additional production, sound design, and mixing by Daniel Markus. Kate Brandt is our fact checker, and AB Silver is our senior booking producer. Sebastian Vega edits our videos. Our VP of multimedia is Sarah Singer. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. Keep it business, and keep it casual.