The cofounders of Migos' and Lil Baby's record label share their secrets to success and longevity in the music industry
- Kevin "Coach K" Lee and Pierre "P" Thomas cofounded Quality Control Music in 2013.
- They manage artists like Lil Baby, City Girls, and Migos.
In 2013, Kevin "Coach K" Lee, 51, and Pierre "P" Thomas, 40, cofounded Quality Control Music, an American hip-hop record label and boutique-management agency that is now home to artists like Lil Baby, City Girls, Migos, and Lakeyah. The pair has a knack for spotting talent, with many performers on its roster topping Billboard charts, and specializes in grassroots-artist development — in 2020, for example, Lil Baby's song "The Bigger Picture" became the most-streamed track after the murder of George Floyd.
In 2015, Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records — who signed a joint venture with Capitol Music Group and Quality Control that same year — called the Atlanta-based brand "one of the most influential independent labels in hip-hop music."
Insider spoke with the cofounders about their best advice for young entrepreneurs and professionals looking to break into entertainment.
Learn to adapt to the times
"One of the most challenging things for a lot of record labels of the past was being able to change with the time," Thomas said. "When I started, we weren't in the streaming era — we were in a digital-download world. So it was CDs and a lot of street marketing. But we embraced the new industry change of digital streaming."
"Even if you look at music, the style of music has changed 10 different times since I've been into it," Thomas added. "You got to know how to culturally stay relevant with what's going on."
Be open to new avenues and hire the right talent to get it going
The pair advised new entrepreneurs to avoid boxing themselves into doing or being one thing. In order to build a strong in-house team, they added, you have to not only be willing to apply that mentality to your own life, but also willing to share it with the people around you.
The pair said they've been able to build longevity in their business by encouraging their artists and teams to expand into other ventures besides music.
"One of the things about us is we always try to instill entrepreneurship in everybody around us. I always tell our artists the same thing: Music has an expiration date on it. Use your platform and use the money that you're making to invest in other things that can be long-term finances to secure your future," Lee said.
The pair have taken their own advice, branching into the worlds of sports management, publishing, and tech podcasts. Take for example QC Films, the newest chapter of the company that's helped its artists get into major-studio productions like "Wash Me In The River,'' starring Quavo, one of the three rappers that make up Migos, and Robert De Niro.
The pair also credits their growth in new departments to a willingness to learn and knowing "you'll never be the smartest one in the room," Lee said. "I knew me and P, we couldn't do all that by ourselves. So, what we did, we went and invested in the talent," he added, referring to hires like Brad Cicala, the managing partner of QC Sports' football division; Charisse Dash, the global head of baseball and a partner at QC Sports; and Derrick Powell, the global head of basketball at QC Sports.
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