The Bassline Group (TBG) is an artist development and talent management agency that is committed to turning creatives into entrepreneurs. Founded by Patrice K. Cokley in 2014, TBG has developed and guided over 100 artists and music creatives across the Chicagoland area and beyond including students of SAE Institute, where she taught for 3 years. Patrice just announced The Bassline Group’s newfound partnership with leading distribution company Symphonic Distribution. Much like Patrice, the independent full-service music distribution company prioritizes transparency and collaboration everytime.
We sat down with Patrice to discuss her journey to success as a Black, LGBTQ+ business owner as well as her thoughts on the future of the music industry after COVID:
Q. Hi Patrice! Congratulations on all of your success. What are some of your most highlitable moments / personal and professional accomplishments that you wouldn’t mind sharing?
A. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Some of my most highlitable moments professionally have been making the decision to fully focus on the music industry by starting The Bassline Group, 7 years ago. I got my entrepreneurial start over 12 years ago by offering marketing consulting to small businesses, personal brands, and a small amount of artists. The music business has always been a passion of mine since I was a teenager, so taking that risk was huge for me, given how risky the industry can be.
Later, I had landed my largest client to date, Mathew Knowles of Music World Entertainment. Working with him on his personal brand and books, along with the artists he was managing at the time was certainly a highlight. I worked directly with him for 3 years. And lastly, this partnership with Symphonic Distribution was a major accomplishment. I’ve always been a fan of their work and was excited that we were able to make this possible.
As far as a personal accomplishment, I would say that was when I landed a teaching position at SAE Institute. That was certainly a highlight because I always dreamed of teaching college courses. Certainly not for the pay, but for mentoring and inspiring the next generation. My mom still tells me to this day how she always saw me teaching somewhere because I love learning and sharing the knowledge acquired.
Q. In the music industry, do you find that the climate is changing with regard to Black and LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry? If so / if not, what are your thoughts on how it can improve?
A. It’s changing, slowly but surely. It’s more accepted, but there’s still instances where discrimination can occur. However, I do feel that it will continue to improve over time. Someone’s sexuality or who they choose to spend the rest of their life with should never be a judgement of one’s character. And we see that as those within the community are making great strides in the industry, without their sexual orientation being in the forefront.
Q. How do you feel the music industry could improve upon highlighting Black executives as well as Black artists?
A. I feel that the music industry could improve upon highlighting independent Black executives and artists. There are a lot of great people doing great things in the industry who are not tied to a major record company. Similar to other industries highlighting entrepreneurs, I feel that the music industry should do the same. I know that this is a very clout-driven industry, and people look at these major labels as credibility, but everyone had to start somewhere. Some may not have had the opportunity to land an internship right out of college to get their foot in the door. Some hustled and worked their way to the top. We should encourage and applaud them just as much. This is why I’m so grateful for platforms like yours for sharing my and so many others’ stories.
Q. The social justice movement / initiatives last year sparked a lot of creative inspiration in the artist community. What did you see from indie artists and how do you feel their efforts will go down in history when documenting this time?
A. I saw a lot of artists who are used to hiding behind music and their performance, step out and speak up. Some marched for social justice and documented their experience, some went in the booth and let out their frustrations via song, and some kept quiet to reflect and practice self-care. Last year was a tough time for many and we all managed it differently, while living through a pandemic. It was like we as a society and community were being hit from many different directions so there was no right or wrong way to get through it. I do feel that their efforts were not in vain, and have or will produce something beautiful now or even later, to document this time.
Q. How do you go about choosing which artists to work with? Do you follow a certain set of criteria? Are there specific things that you look for?
A. Great question. Good music is subjective, so I try not to be too judgemental of it. But I do have a certain set of criteria and things I look for in an artist: 1) I have to like you because I’m pretty hands-on and treat my artists like close friends, sometimes family. So you have to be a genuinely good person and we have to vibe well. 2) I have to like your music. Since I’m going to be your biggest advocate in business, I have to like the music, otherwise I wouldn’t be the best at advocating your music. 3) I look for marketability. Are you or your brand so appealing to where people would gravitate to it once we put it out. And lastly and probably the most important 4) work ethic. I’ve been in situations where I’ve outworked the artist or they expected me to do everything but write and record in the booth, literally. That never works out because there’s more to pursuing a career in music than that. I always remind artists that this is THEIR career and they have to work as such because there are things only the artist can and should do and know.
Q. What are your goals for 2021? How do you want to see your business expand?
A. With the Symphonic partnership, my goal for 2021 is to increase our exposure into new markets, and to increase our revenue through brand partnerships and sync opportunities. I’m also in the process of expanding the business by working with international artists. I just started developing an R&B artist based in Montreal, and I was recently added to the management team for another artist who’s multi-platinum internationally. Although I’m based in the U.S., and a midwest-native, I never saw myself as local. Music is loved globally. Many of our favorite superstars found their success internationally. Thankfully, we have the internet to help us connect with people all over the world.
Q. What are your predictions for how the music industry is going to recover after COVID?
A. Live music is where the music industry took the biggest hit. Sadly, we’re all at the mercy of COVID lockdowns and unsure how we can recover. Are the vaccines enough for us to get back to being in crowded spaces to enjoy live music, or will we be socially distancing? Will the concert venues receive enough economic relief to stay afloat, or would they have to shut down like so many others? It’s really tough to predict as there are so many unknowns. But what I can say is that we’re seeing a major technological shift with live streams. No matter what, people will always look to be entertained. It’s just a matter of shifting the medium in which that is done. Once they figure it out, I do see a major surge of in-person entertainment as a result of the “stream-fatigue” that some of us may be experiencing.