Name: Brittney King Brock
Business: King Creative Group
Industry: Music/ Entertainment
Tanya: Hi and welcome! So, you are the Founder and Operator of King Creative Group. Tell us about your company.
Brittney: King Creative Group is a multi-faceted entertainment and media company specializing in talent management, public relations and content development & production.
Tanya: Awesome. What was your path to entrepreneurship?
Brittney: It’s a very interesting question because I feel like I was led to entrepreneurship by default. It’s something that has always been inside of me. I’ve always been the person who wanted to be the decision maker. When I would be in other settings, especially corporate environments, I always felt like a fish out of water, like I didn’t belong there.
I really like room for flexibility and creativity. The entertainment industry is very fluid. It’s not rigid like the typical corporate setting. There are similarities, like office politics, but not a standard nine to five schedule.
I’ve had a lot of jobs in between me becoming the entrepreneur that I am today. I was seeing certain things in those systems that I didn’t agree with. I was constantly envisioning what my path could look like. And it took me a long time to get to the place that I am today, being fully confident in the fact that I can do this on my own.
Tanya: Nice. I love that. So, what would you say so far is your boldest business move?
Brittney: Last year, I was working as the President of Operations & General Manager for an independent record label. It was a great job on paper. However, I knew that I was entering a different phase of my life. I was becoming a mom, and I had a lot of responsibilities and commitments I didn’t want to sacrifice. And so, I decided to take a leap and really put all of my energy into building out my own company, King Creative Group.
So, for the last year, I’ve really been putting all of my focus and all of my energy, into King Creative Group. From building out my team to building out my partners, I was determined on banking on myself.
It’s incredible. I am now confident in my abilities to where I don’t need to have my one toe in and one toe out anymore. And I’ve made that firm decision that this is it, and that’s scary. Especially being a woman, a woman of color, it’s a very bold move because I work in a predominantly male industry. So, this move that I’m currently in right now has definitely been my boldest move to date.
Tanya: So, you are in an industry where women are probably at a minimum and Black women even more so. Can you speak to your experience of being a woman in this industry? Has it’s helped you in your entrepreneurship journey?
Brittney: Being a woman has become my superpower because I’m often in rooms with just men. Especially when it comes to the music industry, women are rarely at the executive table. And so, I found myself being in situations where I have become a unique voice. And oftentimes it’s not an easy conversation to have because you’re generally the lone ranger. But I have learned how to tap into my femininity and be able to explain from a woman’s perspective. I’m able to showcase my expertise and share the nuances of how women process certain things and be able to be that voice of reason. I can share a different and important perspective. It truly has helped me.
On the other hand, I have a distinct memory where an artist, a very well-known artist, came in and he spoke to literally every person in the room. And then he reached over me to speak to the man that was to my left. And I called it out. I said, “So you’re really going to come into the studio and speak to everybody in here except me?”. And his response was, “Well, my bad love, I didn’t know whose girl you were.”. And I said, “I’m not anybody’s girl.” But that’s the kind of thing that I also have run into. Can you relate? It’s so disrespectful.
It’s still a very distinct memory for me. I had to take a sip of water for that one because I immediately started seeing red. In my head I was thinking, it’s one thing when you’re not paying attention to me or you’re not answering any of my questions, whatever. But to physically reach over me like I’m invisible. Now, I’m angry and have to call you out.
So, it’s both. Being a woman is also a disadvantage. However, all of these experiences have helped me to, again, be definitive in who I am and what I stand for and be very vocal about that because folks will try you.
Tanya: Exactly, if you would just have basic levels of respect. What is thus far, your business’s greatest triumph to date?
Brittney: I am so proud of who I am as an executive and also the business that I’m building with King Creative Group. Every time someone calls me, or reaches out to be a new client, or to get more information, it’s usually a referral from someone that has said something great about our reputation. The first words from these folks are, “Hey, you came highly referred from such and such. And we’re looking for someone who does great business.” I really pride myself on being someone who’s very transparent, but who also cares about the work. And I’m very selective with the clients that I pick up. And so, the reputation that we’ve been able to build with King Creative Group in a very short amount of time is a very positive one. It’s uplifting. People want to work with us because we not only get the job done, but we do good business. And I think in the type of industry that I work in, it’s very few and far between that you come across people who have genuine intentions. That’s something that I really pride myself on, not just in business, but in life.
Tanya: I love that. Having it spread by word of mouth and these recommendations, people see the work that you’re doing and it’s really validating. I definitely understand that. What would you say is your business’s biggest challenge?
Brittney: Whew. The biggest challenge is resources, financial resources. Especially, because we’re in an industry that investors have a hard time understanding. There was a mystique about how we earn revenue, “So, what are royalties?” “What exactly does the label do?” “How much money are you spending and how do you get it back?”
I think it’s starting to become a little bit clearer because now there are a lot of resources and information being shared openly about the music business. Where in the past that knowledge was held close to the chest for various reasons, now companies have to become more transparent to be successful.
I am now treating my company as I would a startup. And so with that, I need to be able to source investors, angel investors and financiers. But that is the struggle that I’m facing. Because with these folks, I have to paint the picture as vividly as possible so that they can have a clear understanding of the business. It really is unique and hard to compare to more traditional business models these investors are used to. So that thus far has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced.
Tanya: You can pick either or, but how has either the global health or racial epidemics affected your business?
Brittney: When the pandemic first hit, I was still working as the GM of a record label. And we had to immediately shift a lot of the strategies, such as artists going out on tour, which is the biggest revenue stream for an artist. And so, we had to learn how to pivot with them – releasing more music, doing things virtually, and being able to continue to engage their fans although they weren’t able to see them in person. And I would say the first six months of the pandemic were really, really challenging, but then we figured it out.
We had to adapt and readjust our expectations. And I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned in the pandemic. I think that we all have learned. It’s like a lot of people who were going into the office five days, 40 hours a week were like, “That was excessive.”
Tanya: What do you wish people would know about being a Black entrepreneur?
Brittney: It’s so hard. It is not what Instagram shows you.
Brittney: I have this conversation a lot with other Black women entrepreneurs, because I’m also in a season of wanting to be around other like-minded people, and the theme that we all have, and the conversations are similar, “You’re doing it all.”. I came up with this idea. I went out and researched. I created and executed it. I got it done. I got paid. And it’s like every time, I get this incredible feeling, and it’s like you’re chasing that.
Entrepreneurship has been one of the most gratifying, but exhausting experiences I’ve ever done. But I honestly would not have it any other way, because it also gives me the freedom and the flexibility that I want. What I have learned is really to count it all as joy. Honestly, it is.
Tanya: Absolutely. I mean, it’s hard in general, but you have the added layers that is Blackness. That is funders not understanding you, or are not getting you, because they don’t look like you and don’t have that cultural competency. It’s all of those things. I get it. My last question is in terms of work-life balance, I keep the question in there purposefully because normally the first reply is to laugh. They’re just like, “What work life balance?” But how do you, or do you find a balance between your personal and professional life?
Brittney: I absolutely do and it’s not something that I have always done. But I have gotten to this place of establishing work life balance because I experienced burnout so many times in my career. The music business again is 24/7. Everything is an emergency. Rush, rush, rush. Go, go, go. Hustle, hustle, hustle. And I learned very early on, that that pace was not sustainable. And so over the years, I have had to learn how to implement and establish boundaries in my work, because when I allow my brain to always be on, I’m doing a disservice to everybody around me. I’m not operating in my area of genius. But when I’m able to make sure that I’m taking care of myself first, whether that means getting proper rest or moving my body, whatever I need at the moment, I’m able to show up better as a leader. I’m able to be able to empower other people.
I had to go through my own processes, not only of hitting the wall from burnout and panic attacks and all of those things. I had to take a step back and say to myself, “This is not helping anybody.” And so, I have established boundaries in terms of, all of my clients knowing that I won’t be available at all hours. I’m not a music executive that says, “I’ll sleep when I die.” I am a music executive that says, “No, between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. My phone is on silent. Whatever happens during those hours, you’re not going to hear from me until the next day.”
And I don’t feel bad about it. I’m a firm believer that you have to set and share your boundaries because if you don’t, folks will just run over you. But I don’t necessarily think that’s it. I don’t feel like I have it figured it all out, but I know that it’s way better than it used to be.
Brittney: And I am okay with it. There are moments when the work burners are on high heat, and then there are other moments when the personal life burners are on high heat. But I have learned how to flow with life, release myself from the need to control it, and trust my intuition wherever is leading me at the moment. And if that means okay, for this week, I need to go hard on work and the laundry and the dishes won’t get done, then that’s fine. And I also have learned how to ask for help, whether it’s in my personal life or at work. I have learned how to ask for help and not feel like I have to do it all by myself. So, I do work to create a balance in my life for sure.
Tanya: Awesome. I love that. And it is something that you have to be intentional with and it is work. It’s work to find balance. It’s never going to come to you, you know what I mean? It’s something that-
Brittney: You have to create it.
Tanya: You absolutely do.
Brittney: You have to create it, because there’s always going to be something to do, always. There are going to be emails that need a response, and presentations I have to complete. All these things, laundry, whatever, there’s always something to do. But I have incorporated it into my schedule and it’s not always to the T, but I incorporate rest days into my schedule before I feel myself burning out. I say, “Oh, I need to plan a rest day.” Because I literally feel it happening in my body.
Tanya: What a perfect way to end this conversation. Thank you so much.
Bold & Black is a monthly interview series conducted by entrepreneur and Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence Honouree Tanya Hayles. Tanya is the founder of Black Moms Connection, an online global village of almost 30,000 and a national non-profit providing programs and financial tools through grant programs generously supported by BMO. The statements and opinions expressed by guests & interviewees are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bank of Montreal or its affiliates.