Welcome to #shoutout where we find and interview members of the music industry, entrepreneurs and tastemakers – all bringing you a glimpse of their expertise to inform, inspire, educate and help.
Introducing Yaw Owusu – “Music and Music Culture Creative Consultant for organisations, artists, brands and platforms”, says LinkedIN. This is all true of course, but as you’ll read, Yaw is all of those and much more. A truly inspirational music entrepreneur and a game changer for the industry.
Who are you? (name and role please)
Yaw Owusu, Creative Consultant
Where are you based?
How did you get into the music industry?
I basically fell into the music industry; whilst studying law in university, my cousin and I got into the mixtape curation and selling game, after being inspired by recent trips to NY and obviously our love of music. He was on campus at a university (and quite the celebrity on campus) and it was quite early in the UK’s relationship with black music, specifically Hip-Hop and R&B from the States. So we would curate these mixtapes around themes or artists or cliques and sell them at the Uni. Everyone was desperate to hear the latest releases and soon-to-be discovered artists and we were good at piecing this together. We had our own brand and did quite well financially. I loved the curation element as much as the enterprise element.
Soon after my cousin started making his own music and when I finished Uni, his Mum (my auntie) asked me to manage him essentially. We decided to do our music activity under the name URBEATZ. So while I was looking for a ‘proper’ job, I started and ran this enterprise. URBEATZ ended up being fully ground-up music and media organisation reflecting the burgeoning Urban music and youth culture scene and soon established it throughout the UK for its award-winning brand of music, film and media projects, celebrated for creativity, innovation and enterprise. Things just went from there and 16 years since, I’m still working in this space.
Tell us about what it is you do?
I am a creative consultant. I design and build projects that integrate music, culture and content production that deliver long-term impact for creatives, brands, organisations and communities. I 100% believe that the empowerment and platforming of underrepresented voices, cultures and stories strengthen and bolster the art, media and culture we consume.
I have worked with the likes of MTV, BET, MOBO, BBC, Universal Records, Levi’s, Liverpool Football Club, Google, The Fader and more. And I have helped launch the careers of and projects for multiple artists and I have produced several radio, television and documentary projects.
I am currently creatively directing the programmes for POWER UP for PRS Foundation, Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), LIMF Academy, ON RECORD Festival and the Liverpool Against Racism festival for the Mayor of Liverpool’s office.
Who does this help and how?
I am all for the music creatives and the music first and foremost. Like I said before, I believe that the empowerment and platforming of underrepresented voices, cultures and stories through music and content strengthens and bolsters the art, media and culture we consume. So in the end, it doesn’t just help the music creatives and the music, it gives audiences and the industry something special too.
What advice would you give someone starting in the music industry?
My view is it takes a variety of different roles, perspectives and skill-sets to make this industry work. Work out yours and focus on that one thing that you bring or can bring to the table that’s special and enhances and adds value to this industry or/and to a client – and that fulfils you – and do that as best you can. If you can master that, even better. You will find your place and should be able to carve a long career.
Who would be your most played artist of all time?
Likely Jay-Z. I was solidly into West Coast Hip-Hop until from about ‘89 – ‘98 but slowly around ‘97 Jay-Z seeped into my rotation and hasn’t left. Not only is he technically and lyrically gifted, I think he is inspiring in the way he has grown and shown as a man, businessman and thought and action leader. His music reflects that growth so I am always glued to whatever he has out and tend to spend years listening to his latest albums. I still listen to his last album 4:44 every day – it came out in 2017!
What’s next for you?
Right now I am creatively directing the programmes for POWER UP for PRS Foundation, Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), LIMF Academy talent development initiative, ON RECORD Festival and the Liverpool Against Racism festival for the Mayor of Liverpool’s office. As well as consulting on a few other bits and bobs including a large project for Google. I am also a board member for the Liverpool City Region Music Board and Black Music Action Group and the leading music talent and digital sector development organisation, Generator NE.
Going forward, I am looking to really streamline my activity and raise up a little as I am always keen to create stuff that can impact at a higher and deeper level. As I believe that everything is preparation for the next stage, I am just keeping my mind and eyes open for the next set of opportunities that will be presented that feel right and I will go from there!