Checking in with local entertainment manager Robert Williams
by Raymond Tyler
When you start seeing infomercials called "Managing Hip-Hop Talent with No Money Down Made Me Rich," look for local Robert Williams of T-Marquise Management.
Mr. Williams is a textbook Russell Simmons example of the evolution from a party promoter to urban entertainment powerbroker. The transition is almost an act of nature these days because if you throw three good parties in a row, you then draw singers, rappers, vendors and other people who will ask for a shot to be seen and heard at your events.
What makes Williams different from a slew of other promoters/managers sticking flyers on your car and shoving product in your face is that Williams has always done things as close to right as he can. His artists' CDs are always professional looking and the songs (sound quality, talent, etc.) are ready to go from my hand straight to a radio broadcast.
Williams doesn't undercut his artists' music by slacking on the business end, either. T-Marquise artists Barbara Sheree (a vocalist who has opened for Musiq Soulchild), Kne-O'chaw Hampton (who has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer for her mastery of the piano at age 14, and for donating proceeds from her CD sales to AIDS care), and Mystik (who is wrapping up a clothing contract and music for a motion picture soundtrack) are all presently enjoying successful careers with big-time stardom up ahead in their respective futures. Williams has helped his artists build professional relationships with organizations like MTV and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and T-Marquise music is playing and selling as far away as France and India.
I recently had a long overdue discussion with Williams on his start, his present and his future.
AC Weekly: How did you come up with the name T-Marquise?
Robert Williams: It comes from my son's name, Tyler Marquise
ACW: How did you get started?
RW: I was born into entertainment. My father played the trumpet in jazz bands and my mother taught piano. I was formally taught in school. I owned a recording studio in AC with a partner. She managed artists and from there I got involved in artist management. I also used to give parties in the Tri-State area. We've been doing this for seven years now.
ACW: Who are you working with right now?
RW: Fourteen-year-old jazz-piano sensation Kne-O'chaw Hampton, female rapper Mystik, R&B singer/songwriter Barbara Sheree, and upcoming R&B singer/dancer Sheekia Trapp. I work with a limited number of artists so they all get proper representation.
ACW: What's the toughest thing about artist development?
RW: Putting 100 percent into an artist who's not being hungrier than you. I always say the artist needs to beat you to the studio.
ACW: What type of artists would be a good fit for T-Marquise?
RW: Marquise is open to all types of genres. We have had great success with urban music, especially hip-hop and rap. We look for ambition, motivation, talent, image, support, funds, responsibility, personality, attitude and reserve.
ACW: What does T-Marquise offer an up-and-coming artist?
RW: T-Marquise Entertainment won't sell a dream and promise that we will get a deal, but we will put 110 percent into trying to reach whatever your goals are as an artist.
ACW: What would be your advice to an artist out there who wants quality management?
RW: Choose someone who understands the business of music.
ACW: When should an artist start thinking about management?
RW: When they have a complete project and are really ready to move to the next step as a commercial artist. An artist who has already generated a buzz will make them more attractive to a management company.
ACW: Who are the managers that have inspired you?
RW: Berry Gordy (Motown), Mona Scott (Violator), Wendy Day (Rap Coalition).
ACW: Can you talk about opportunities for new artists here in Atlantic City?
RW: Opportunities in A.C. are very limited for an upcoming artist. The venues don't support the artists. Radio and press coverage is very limited. The one genre that tends to make out is rock. I always tell people coming to me, they need to branch out of the area. Hit Philly and NYC. Use the Web, it's worldwide. We sell all over the world on cdbaby.com. We have networked with some of music's heavy hitters on the Net.
For more info visit www.tmarquise.com.
Raymond Tyler is a freelance writer who has written about varied subjects for several of the country's leading urban magazines.
Atlantic City Press
Company in the biz of entertainment
Business: TMarquise Entertainment LLC
Owner: Robert Williams, 50, of Egg Harbor Township
Location: 27 Oregon Ave., Absecon
TMarquise Entertainment is a full-service music company, providing a flexible business model that can quickly adjust to the modern artist's ever-changing needs.
TMarquise is structured primarily as an artist management company, operating with publishing, promotion and record divisions.
Our clients are basically artists who are looking for record deals, promotions management and help with marketing.
Our artists have collaborated with platinum-selling and Grammy-winning producers and songwriters, such as Chris Henderson, who wrote "Blame It (On The Alcohol)" by Jamie Foxx, which won a Grammy.
We have partnered with some of the world's biggest public relations companies, and worked with elite stylists and makeup artists such as Angelo Ellerbee, of New York.
Our artists have gotten exposure on national TV networks, including MTV, VH1, NBC and Horizon Networks.
Artists sign a management contract with me for one to three years. They're all percentage based.
When I started, I would do a lot of artist development, but now, because the way the industry has changed, I don't do any development.
Now the artist should be ready, prepackaged with their music and their image.
Now everything is based on a digital download, and because of the Internet there's oversaturation, so now it's harder to get any type of record deal.
I find this work exciting. I'm the artist's biggest cheerleader, and I'm excited when they accomplish their goals.
What's challenging nowadays is trying to get the artist noticed by others. A lot of the major artists have become independent and it's harder to get on the stages we used to get on.
I just was named entrepreneur of the year by a South Jersey group called the Movers and Shakers, based in Pleasantville, and I was recently recognized by the Grammy organization for 10 years of membership.
I'm partnering with the Pleasantville schools to collect used music equipment for them. I played in the band there when I was a student, trumpet for eight years.
Future plans: We have evolved with the industry. Now we have more of a partnership with artists, and try to move them along to where they need to go.