Stephon Dupree (@imstephondupree), formally known for discovering R&B artist Bryson Tiller, is well known for his ability to discover talent before they break. The 31-year-old manager currently manages artists like OBN Dev and Drebo Squeeze amongst others. His experience in the game has led him to being one of the most talented creatives born and raised in Lexington Kentucky. In 2019, his company Stephon Dupree partnered with super-producer Rodney Darkchild Jerkins landing a publishing deal for his songwriters and producers.
Having graduated from University of Kentucky, his interest was sparked to then become who he is today. The promotions he took part in, took a turn for greatness as his interest grew into managing artists. In our recent chat, we spoke with Stephon about the trials and tribulations of management and advice amongst a list of other topics. Check out the conversion below.
What would you say are the hardships of being a manager and music executive? The management position is a very difficult position if you are not built for it. With having to deal with multiple personalities if you have multiple artists to deal with. You definitely have to have patience and be very transparent, takes team effort artists to the manager. One of the biggest hardships is that you could be fired at any moment, the artist can start getting attention ppl to start to get in the artist’s ear and then boom, your artist jumps ship and decides to be represented by someone else. That’s why it is very important to have a great attorney. This is the music business so you have to make sure you protect yourself at all costs. Time is something that we can’t get back and that can be one of the hardest hardships to take on with all the time and effort being put into an artist.
In your experience, what is the best way to make it big within music? I would say social media, everything is digital so if I came across talent that I wanted to sign I would focus on building their online appearance and marketing. With social media there’s perception. Perception plays a big factor in digital marketing.
Is there anyone you go to for advice or are there any tips you can give? I don’t really have anyone in the industry that I go to. I mainly educate myself by studying interviews, I watch a lot of shark tank on youtube and come up with creative ideas while I maneuver around when networking. The advice I can give to upcoming managers in the game is to learn as much as possible. You don’t want to just know how to manage an artist, you wanna know how to market develop an artist. Learn about publishing, split sheets, playlisting with Dsp’s etc.. And most of all RELATIONSHIPS! You don’t want to have someone’s career in your hands if you don’t have connections.
What advice would you give to anyone in the music industry following your footsteps? Be an innovator, this industry is always shifting and looking for the new. Study and do your homework and read books about the industry. if you have the opportunity to shadow an experienced manager do so or apply to intern and a label. Honestly, it’s not as hard as it may seem. you just have to apply yourself and know what’s good music.