The Convergence of Technology & Entertainment with Jermaine Dupri

October 5, 2015

10:01 pm

Producer, musician, and entrepreneur Jermaine Dupri has a long history with, and we’re always excited to hear his insights on where technology is going next in the entertainment industry. Tonight, he sat down with Startup Grind founder Derek Andersen about his career, his inspiration, and what’s next for technology in entertainment.

After a short conversation about the new Apple watch (“I’m a fan” says Dupri), the pair launched into a conversation about the early days of Dupri’s label SoSoDef, which Dupri founded at 15. Working with several artists, he managed to make to make “a little bit” of money that eventually led to a top 40 hit with duo Kris Kross.  A lot of inspiration came from “people not giving me room to let me do what I really wanted to do.”said Dupri. “When you’re 15 or 16 you don’t have an end goal [for your business], you want people to like what you do.”

Andersen asked how the music has changed in the age of social media, and Dupri talked about the  influence of YouTube-powered stars like Justin Bieber. “It’s knowing how much influence [musicians] have is a place we’ve never been in before,” he said, mention that now executives listen to the insights of younger artists in a way that they would have never have considered artists like Dupri in his youth.

Building your own audience as an artist is key for growth in today’s music industry, says Dupri.  “If you’ve got your own audience you can basically do what you want to do,” he says. One tip he has for artists is creating your own analytics strategy, paying close attention to the social media habits of your own cultivated audience. For example, Dupri noticed that posting on Instagram at 6 pm didn’t get as much response as posting at 6 am, so he started making an effort to post more at that time. “I never sleep,” he says.

Developing two TV shows for Lifetime and BET and working on a DJ residency at the Wynn, and an iPhone video game may be a few reasons for his lack of sleep. But at the end of the day, Dupri’s motivation is simple. “I want to make music that would last.” Referencing Mariah Carey’s 20th anniversary of Music Box as an example of the timeless music he’s had a part in creating. “I don’t know if I will ever do enough. I wanna see if I can use all of my brain” he says.

In collaborating with technology companies, he mentions that startups are less interested in branding and more interested in ideas, but “the world is moving in a different pace.”  Asked by Andersen about how tech companies can improve on diverse hiring practices, Dupri said that “the urban community is more used to seeing things” and investing in more tangible ventures. “Tech should show more. It’s too much of a secret society situation,” Dupri says.

At the end of the day,  Dupri credits his success as an entrepreneur to his ability to always counter the naysayers. “I came into this game with people not believing in my ideas. You can tell me ‘no’ all you want, but I won’t believe you.”

On October 4-6, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.


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Keidra Chaney is a writer that focuses on technology, music, and culture and was previously a managing editor of Tech.Co.

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