by De’Juan Galloway
You can say that Steve Raze is a pioneer of “new urban media.”As part of the founding team of AllHipHop.com, Raze played a role in hip-hop and urban culture transitioning from the sole channels of radio waves to the wide world of online media. Today, he continues to leverage his expertise and experience as Executive VP of Multimedia and Digital Content at AllHipHop.com and CEO of his own company, Tantrum Consulting.
Both trailblazing companies take a creative approach to delivering their products. Allhiphop.com launched in 1998 and has been a premiere destination for hip-hop and urban culture ever since. The success has not wavered in its eleven-year run and the hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors have concreted it as an online must-click. TAP got in touch with Mr. Reyes to discuss his spin-off venture and cultivating a new approach to urban media.
How did you become Executive VP of Multimedia and Digital Content at Allhiphop.com and CEO of Tantrum Consulting?
I went to school at The University of Delaware. Chuck Creekmur who is the Co-CEO of Allhiphop.com and I were roommates. We understood that to take media and ourselves to the next level as a website, we had to move to New York City. When we moved to New York our lives changed, we begin to get access to artists and other talent.
In the 1990’s, websites were much different than they are now; they were a lot less credible. We had to work to establish our credibility in the field of journalism. Our education helped in this process. I was a consumer economics major and Chuck majored in journalism. Through our education we understood how to write and verify facts. Some bloggers today just put their opinions up.
A lot of the things I have learned over the past thirteen years, I have picked up and learned myself. I learned video editing and graphics on my own. I eventually moved into producing and directing.
What does your company, Tantrum Consulting, offer?
Tantrum was born through Allhiphop.com. I do so much for Allhiphop.com from organizing events to the multimedia interviews–I realized I could do everything I was doing for Allhiphop.com for myself. I organize parties, events and help artists jump start their careers through my company.
I liken my company’s philosophy to the one record companies use with radio. If an artist has a single on Hot 97 in New York, record companies want it to be played on V103 in Atlanta as well. The intention is to hit a nationwide market for maximum exposure. Last year, I said ‘artists need to be on every website as well ‘. From there I began assisting signed and unsigned artists in getting web-wide exposure.
I consider it a consulting company because it is what I bring to the table. I never wanted to pigeon hole it as online marketing because that is one thing I can specialize in. I have been in the entertainment business for 13 years, so I learned the importance of using my network and organizational skills and applying it to myself and artists I work with.
Was there a specific moment where you realized the limitless reach and potential of the digital space?
Back when I first got an e-mail in college, I said ‘Whoa, this is different!’ We would run to the computer lab and exchange e-mail with people who were two feet behind us. When you live in Delaware you have to have an imagination because there is not an entertainment industry there. Figuring out a good formula through creativity and being proactive is key. That is how we discovered there was a lot in the digital space and our product was born.
How did you start making videos?
I began doing viral videos because it was another way to be creative. My passion is directing and producing related to hip-hop. I produced the “Next 48 Hours” web series, which was very successful. It followed musicians for two consecutive days, showing two days in their lives. This web series was a light bulb, I said ‘This is another avenue.’
I spoke to my friend Benny Boom and he gave me great advice. He urged me to stay in my lane and produce according to my talents and interests. Viral videos became my niche and allowed me to think outside the box.
You find a hope in the digital space using your creativity. We haven’t discovered how much profit we can make online. We are still in its infancy. The more people get connected, the more we will capitalize on moving information from websites to mobile formats. There is a huge opening in the space, you have to find your avenue and be assertive.
How do you maintain Allhiphop.com from a content standpoint so that it remains relevant in a space where new sites are always emerging?
We are really lucky with Allhiphop.com. The benefit of being a leader is many artists and publicists come to you first. However, when creating content you have to think outside of the box, like I did with “Next 48 Hours.” That had never been done online.
For example, I have a partnership with SXSW, an event featuring a concert with all the best artists in Texas. It represents another opportunity to use my creativity. Instead of doing typical interviews with the artist, I did behind the scenes footage. My idea was to follow the artists two hours before their performance and then capture them walking on stage. Allhiphop.com’s content creation model is based on creativity and we leave typical interviews to our competitors.
You were recently acknowledged at the Generation U Urban Architects: Top 40 under 40 at the 2010 NBA All Star Weekend–what does that mean to you?
It means a lot as it is one of my first personal achievements. It’s a full time job operating AllHipHop.com and I have to juggle that with developing my own company. To be acknowledged for what you do every day and don’t think about, that is great. I couldn’t believe it, I am almost speechless. I may be getting to that stage in my life where I can start to influence people in a different way.
Do you feel a greater sense of responsibility to show your urban audience how to become entrepreneurs, brand builders and trailblazers since receiving this acknowledgment?
Definitely, if you do not give back you are not only failing your community but your failing yourself. We are not here to hoard everything up and be in it for money; that should be the last things people should want to do. To me it is a natural feeling of goodness to give back to those who are up and coming. 13 years ago, I was looking for a break and I know how it feels. I think it is a beautiful thing to discover talent and acknowledge it.
As a young black entrepreneur who are those who have inspired you?
First, glory to God and my parents. My dad was a business owner and I learned a lot from him. Industry-wise I look up to many people, like Percy Miller (Master P). If I could call someone a mentor in this game it would be him. He made the transformation from being a gangster rapper to a true role model. Now his conversation consists of God, giving back and fathering his son into manhood.
Many of today’s general market websites have been successful due to collaboration and support of each other. What is your feeling on the sense of collaboration among the leading African-American sites?
I think the recession caused people to collaborate on things they wouldn’t have in the past. AllHipHop recently worked with Vibe Magazine on content. The lack of resources and lack of man power because of the recession forced more outlets to synergize around the same visions.
What online resources would you recommend for those less tech-savvy business owners or entrepreneurs who are looking for the opportunity to gain knowledge on the digital platform?
Ultimately, I think business owners should come to an online media consultant and be advised on what they should do and build a plan. If you use your brick-and-mortar philosophy online, it may not work. The two are totally different. Whatever your product is, online you have to find the way to get it to the people and they have to find a way to get to you. This is where the consulting, marketing and planning come into play.
What websites do you enjoy?
I have to give respect to all the websites Allhiphop.com competes with. They all have good content—thisis5o.com and Heard-It-First.net. I watch TV online and I love YouTube.com.
Twitter.com is my absolute favorite. In the nature of what I do and the nature of the people I interact with, to be on Twitter is almost like going to work. I am able to connect with people in the industry I meet new people all the time.
Where else can The Atlanta Post’s audience look for you and your brands?
We recently did SXSW, it was a concert featuring the best of Texas Hip-Hop. I am also doing working with some of the top record labels in Atlanta. Eventually, I want to bring an offline presence to Allhiphop.com and Tantrum. Within the next year you will be seeing AllHipHop.com events throughout the country.
We are also working on an AllHipHop.com iPhone application–our mobile audience is almost at a million. It was a must to implement our business model in the mobile space with those numbers.
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