We had the good fortune of connecting with Ruben Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ruben, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My career has always surrounded itself with risk. The music business is about taking chances in someone’s livelihood and making the proper decisions for my clients and company to excel. As an Artist Manager, I am expected to be around for my clients 24/7 to help with all facets of the entertainment industry. Although this is the Music Business, not the Music Friendship, most of my clients become part of my extended family. From songwriting, publishing, production, wardrobe, touring, merchandising and branding, I am there to offer advice and endeavor in taking risks with them. I would say that 95% of the time, my clients and I win, but there’s that 5% of the time when I don’t believe in an idea or project. The idea may be passe. The idea doesn’t have a return in investment. It may hurt the artist ego but that’s when I have to be brutally honest. It’s important for me to plead my case and to prove why it’s not a great idea. The client may want to move forward anyway and at the end of the day, it’s their last word – so we jump into the pool together, metaphorically speaking. As a professional, I always have to think of a contingency plan to get us both out of the pool, before we drown. After taking said risk, I go back to my legal pad and emails to refer to my notes to re-discuss “Why we should not have worked on this” in hopes that it sinks in…
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am proud to state that Nene Musik has now been in business over thirty-four years. I first started the company in 1986. I was in high school. I was a mobile dj, song writer, producer and recording artist. As a recording artist, I was performing locally in the New York Tri-State area. I had a group called Reel 2 Real. We never trademarked the name. I wanted to be on that stage so bad but I knew I did not have what it takes vocally to command an audience, so I shifted my focus to just songwriting, production. In 1989, I met my musical father, who is no longer with us – Bobby E. Davis from S.U.R.E. record pool. Bobby allowed me to use his recording studio and gave me my first shot. As a writer, producer, and remixer, I have been blessed to work on projects by artists: Brandy, Diana Ross, MC Lyte and 2 In a Room to name a few. As I began to work with different recording artist, I began observing their managers. I saw some voids in their work and took notes of “what not to do”. Some artists where so impressed in my organization skills that I was later approached to work with them on a managerial level. In 1992, I started International Bad Boyz Records. We released several dance records that are still played today. Radio started shifting away from playing dance records and started playing hip hop. It became difficult to promote dance records so my partner wanted to release hip hop. I didn’t want to primarily work on hip hop, so two years later – like a sore loser, I took my ball and went home. In 1995, after having some of my records released on various labels, I received a call to work for Pyramid Entertainment group (Agency) and in 2000 I had a short stint at Artists & Audience (Agency) before branching on my own. I am so proud to have worked for Sal Michaels at Pyramid and Alex Cochen at Artist & Audience. They both gave me their wisdom and allowed me the opportunity be a part of their legacy and opened up their rosters to me so I can work with legends such as: La Bouche, Gladys Knight, Guns N’ Roses, Kool & The Gang, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, KC & The Sunshine Band, Usher and Paul McCartney while creating and/or handling the Pop, Dance, Latin/Tropical, Sports Entertainment & Celebrities divisions. In 2000, I decided to focus on my own shop and Nene Musik went full force as an Artist Management / Consultancy Firm. We have had to jump through hoops at times to get the job done. We have had doors closed on us but persistence has allowed us to be creative enough to convince our peers to re-open them. What sets us apart from others? Nene Musik is an Artist Management / Consultancy Firm that provides services to Recording Artists, production companies, celebrities, record labels and sports entertainers. We provide consulting and overall campaign management for start-up ventures, product releases and ongoing oversight of day to day operations. This can also be inclusive of artist development, record production, songwriting, artist management, label structure, independent marketing & promotion services, radio promotion, street promotion, video production, publicity, digital distribution, etc. We develop marketing plans, release schedules and set-up strategies including pre set-up work to influence trade publications, radio stations, media outlets, social media campaigns, fan club databases, etc. In addition, we offer artist development and artist consultation services. This allows us to advise and consult entities in a role and fashion similar to a traditional artist manager, as well as provide many more services that most traditional managers are not able to do. We provide guidance and structure to creative projects including: shopping for deals (distribution, publishing, licensing), introducing creative collaborations, securing corporate sponsor alliances, artistic imagining, branding, styling and overall assistance to help gain exposure in the industry, etc. In the consulting arena, we map out a solid game plan that allows us to reach and maximize logical, well thought out, effective ways to impact the entertainment industry. This includes setting career goals / objectives, general artist representation, review of legal documents, creating deal memos, deal structuring, etc.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Unfortunately, now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am staying away from everyone… If COVID-19 would not have happened, I would have taken my friend to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. It’s just 2 hours away and there is so much to do at their Amusement park. From the rides, to the night clubs that open up at night on their city walk, my family, friend and I would all have a great time.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would also like to thank all the people who have played a major role in my life. My soulmate, Olexa and my sons Shane Xavier and Odin Wayne Martinez. My mother Ramona, father Pedro Antonio Martinez. My brother Angel and sisters Seleny, Yolanda and Sandra. My nieces and nephews Ashley, Justin (Godson), Kevin, Fabian, Kierstyn, Dylan, Steven and Jayce. My godchildren Ariel Martinez, Noah Sierra and Lynette Santana. My parents in law Annia and Ismael. My aunts, uncles, cousins. My business partners Lazara Perez and Mich Faulkner. Andrew Rivera Esq., Eugene Introna, John Chan, Antonia Roman, Bobby E. Davis, Aaron Brasseaux, Michael Miracolo, Esteban Caterineau, Lindon Olmedo, Steve “Chip Chop” Gonzalez, Robert “Razor” Kellman, Elis Pacheco, Troy Bronstein, Darren Prince, Sal Michaels, Alex Cochen, David Sanchez, Peter Seitz, E’lyse Murray, Fred Hansen, Johnny Rodz. All of the Recording Artists that we work with especially those that we manage (La Bouche, Veronica Jackson, The Mad Stuntman, Tune~Adiks members Dom Tufaro, A’Lisa B, Charlie Babie, MIRKO). The Sports Entertainers, Record Labels, Publicists, Celebrities, DJ’s, Artist Managers, Television, Film, Magazines, Newspapers, Blogs, Podcasts, Radio Stations PD’s/MD’s, DJ’s, Booking Agents, Venue Owners and Talent Buyers who I have worked with past, present and future. Plural, so I didn’t forget anyone…
Image 1 – Elvis Crespo & Ruben Dario Martinez Image 2 – Ruben Dario Martinez & Mariah Carey Image 3 – Lazara Perez-Silfa, Toño Rosario & Ruben Dario Martinez Image 4 – Ruben Dario Martinez & Ice T. Image 5 – Olexa Martinez, Ruben Dario Martinez & Hulk Hogan Image 6 – Sophie Cairo, Ruben Dario Martinez, Dana Rayne & Lane McCray (La Bouche) Image 7 – Michel Petre (Family Tree Records), Ruben Dario Martinez, (?), Lucas Prata. David Waxman (Ultra Records) & Patrick Moxey (Ultra Records) Image 8 – Ruben Dario Martinez & Daddy Yankee