From Scrabble to Entrepreneur and Publisher
How many of us acquire the opportunity to start our careers making $40,000 a year during our beginning years of undergrad? Hip hop music advertiser turned business consultant, Mic Shane was offered this exact opportunity during his sophomore year at the University of Michigan.
Shane was born in Seattle Washington. During his youth, he was always a good student and enjoyed writing.
“I’ve always been a word smith,” Shane said. “My grandmother…when I would come to Chicago, she and I would always stay up late at night and play scrabble…I would stay up to one and two in the morning playing scrabble… I became a fan of words then.”
After high school Shane decided to pursue a degree in Political Science at the University of Michigan. During his sophomore year in college he started a publication called “Fly Paper,” in which his father and partners were the initial investors of money and/or talent. The paper magazine was a combination of his allegiance to the music business, his love for words, and his niche in advertising.
Riding “Fly Paper” to the Big League
Setting himself apart from the typical college student, Shane took his newly found role as the CEO and founder of his publication on the road. Traveling to all the major cities, Shane began going to the Cultural Initiative, a miniature hip hop conference on Harvard’s campus hosted by Sean P. Diddy Combs. His ambition paid off and Shane began to successfully land huge advertising accounts with major record labels like Def Jam and Bad Boy Entertainment.
“I told them,” Shane said referring to music executives. ‘Look, I go to one of the most respected universities in the world, and its 70,000 people at my database and undergrad it’s 30, 40 thousand.”’
Shane’s responsibility to “Fly Paper” granted him access to accomplished music directors. He began to bump heads with major artists and executives in the industry. It wasn’t long before
Recognition by Industry Movers and Shakers
Shane’s earnestness and drive for the business was recognized.
He was eventually recruited buy 106 James, a predecessor to Power 92, making him the promotional and advertising director for the station. Shane landed the job after he was contacted by Mary Greene who currently operates the Black Women’s Expo.
According to Shane, Greene called him and shared with him that trailblazing radio executive Barry Mayo, who Shane says “was the first person to play rap on the radio, period,” was interested in working with him.
As of that moment, Shane worked out a $40,000 a year salary with Mayo.
“It really just all started to happen,” he said.
“From that moment on, my sophomore, junior and senior year, I had a full-time job and was still a full-time student at the University of Michigan.”
Life After College and Shane’s Views on the State of Hip Hop
After graduating college, Shane moved to New York. There he further expanded his career in the hip hop industry. Young Mic landed a role working for music.com. He believes that period was the best time to be in the industry. Shane believes that hip hop exuded empowerment and strength then. At the same time it provided a safe haven where artists could share their stories with the masses.
Unfortunately, according to Shane, the industry has since undergone a multitude of changes.
“At that time in the 90s, the whole hip hop movement was so inspiring and uplifting,” he said. “Yea, we had the NWA‘s and yea, we had some gangster this and that going on. But really, hip hop represented a whole smorgasbord of black life and it had a whole uplifting feel to it,” he reminisced. “And that’s what I feel the game is missing now and our society is too.”
How Technology Has Affected the Music Industry
Shane feels that to return to the old state of the hip hop industry would be a difficult task and he blames what’s wrong with the industry on technology.
“Technology blew up so fast, society itself went into this mode where we started being disconnected because of the internet,” he said. “Yea technology and the internet brought the world closer together but when it comes to one on one, you know directly communicating, you know all off a sudden we got megawatts and kilobytes and it’s really cut the gut, the heart, and the passion out of interacting one on one.”
Lost Connectivity – Technology’s Downside
Shane continued to say that technology has rid society of conventional communicative methodology. These methods were once typically learned and practiced between individuals. The loss of these methods continues to make it difficult for people to come together, therefore creating a disconnect.
“With the explosion of technology, we lost so many things when it comes to communicating and the whole rite of passage learned from generations to the next generations to the next generations,” he exclaimed.
“That was the thing that the traditional old school way of life had. That’s the part that’s been a tragedy in the progression of technology,” he argues. Furthermore, he argues, “And, I feel like that’s the reason why we got all this going on.”
How Social Media has Affected Hip Hop and Today’s Youth
Shane’s passion for his beliefs on the impact of technology didn’t stop there. He also believes the misuse of social media in combination with technology has taken the industry to where it is now.
“Now all of sudden we’re relying and depending on technology. People take social media so out of context. And that’s why everything is wrong,” he said. “Social media…it’s the seed of this whole misdirected energy and that’s what separates rap from hip hop and that’s why the difference from hip-hop in the golden years I would like to claim 1989 and when it went sour around 08.”
Shane believes that record companies are where opportunities used to lie for artists in the 90s.
“We don’t have record industries and the record company game the way it was like that,” he said. “As much as any rapper from 1990 and 2000 could say they lost money or this and that, they could still say there was opportunity.”
Shane begins to discuss how hip-hop today no longer educates youth like it did in his time. He believes that all of us have been polarized from different societal woes. But he believes this situation has left today’s youth particularly misguided.
Miseducation from Today’s Hip-Hop
“It’s all about the miseducation that is going on and that’s why a lot of youth they don’t have any support or nothing to look back on or go to. Nowadays If you don’t have a strong family structure you’re really lost,” he said. “At least back in the 90s I had hip hop. When I left Seattle and started college I was a very ambitious and inspiring person…what we lost was all the real stuff that really matters.”
Shane continued. “It’s about spirit first. If you’re about money, h*** and clothes, that’s superficial stuff and all that’s going to run out.”
He feels it is unfortunate that this generation of hip hop enthusiasts won’t have the opportunity to receive the empowerment that he felt when listening to music.
“What hip hop did for me was it gave me sense of self and it gave me commonality with everyone that was on that vibe whether there was on some NWA stuff or public enemy stuff or Wutang or whatever,” Shane said. “Black people were talking and communicating and sharing ideas philosophies and interacting and that what’s took the game way up.”
Mic Shane’s Secret to Transitioning
Transitioning from hip hop was not a difficult task for the hip-hop mogul. He credits his easy transition most importantly to two things. He learned marketing and promoting through his “Fly Paper” days. As publisher, he had to learn the one-two-threes of business. Knowing these essentials paved the way for his success in future business endeavors.
“I’ve been doing marketing ever since Fly Paper. The real core of being an entrepreneur is that you have to be the visionary and really do the work to make it go from a thought to physically producing it,” he said. “I had to learn how to promote and physically interact with people. I had a bunch of amazing people helping me but…you had to be open in a creative scenario.”
The Mic Shane Show
Shane is the current owner of the Mic Shane Show. He categorizes it as a “lightweight blog.” But, essentially it is a media-based marketing and consulting agency. Prior to the show, he had marketing and promotion relationships with huge clients like the NBA, ESPN, Nike and Coke. He’s developed his own flare through these experiences. Now he couples that flare with his expert knowledge on how to spearhead a campaign. He deals with a wide range of clients assisting them on how to better promote their businesses.
Summing Up Mic Shane: “I’m not Lightweight”
According to the mogul, summing up his life comes down to four simple factors. “I’m abstract and metaphoric all the time, but I’m still real and proactive and active in everything I do,” he said. “Just like hip-hop, these four components are the seed in how I get down and everything I do. I’m not lightweight in no shape or form.”
For more information on Mic, you can check out his consulting agency at themicshaneshow.com