Tony Star is a site affiliate and collaborator based out of Chicago, IL. He helped with the acclaimed new logo as well as the sleek new design. He also manages some of our favorite indie artists. And he has his hand in a plethora of other avenues. He took a minute out of his crazy schedule to sit down and chop it up. He gave us some insight into his background, the rundown on his brands, his thoughts on the music industry, and more. Take a peek at the conversation below.
The Illixer: Give a little bit of background about yourself:
Tony Star: I was born and raised in Chicago but started coming up to Milwaukee (WI) in the 90’s to visit and eventually stayed. Graduated from high school in ’95 and started college at the beginning of ’96 but never finished. Went back to College in ’08 and graduated in ’11 with a Major in Business Administration and a Minor in Marketing from ITT Technical Institute.
TI: How did you first get involved with the music industry?
TS: I always loved music … growing up in Chicago listening to Eazy E, Too Short, Geto Boys, Eric B. & Rakim. Back then in the late 80s, I didn’t write but my friends and I use to freestyle. The 90’s came and I found myself writing and getting attention. At first I wasn’t as serious but eventually I started performing and got a manager, Kevin, who took us on the road so I got serious fast. It was a learning experience. I eventually met one of my mentors who has been in the business over 30 years. He was a major musician who played for a lot of majors on the road. I went to his studio and he eventually taught me about the business from recording to paperwork. Around the same time I met my second mentor who was a major Old School R&B singer. He influenced me in so many ways and taught me so much about this business. I don’t like to name drop so I’m going to keep their names out of this for now. But both of my mentors are from Milwaukee.
TI: You call yourself the “Mid-West Plug.” Can you elaborate on what that means?
TS; I don’t call myself the “Mid-West Plug” but i will say I am one of many real plugs around. And I’m well connected and the right people know who I am and what I can do and have contributed.
TI: You wear a lot of different hats. What is your favorite role as an industry taste-maker and why?
TS: I think my favorite role or hat that I wear is being a manager and music consultant. I know a lot of people say well what have you done for others. I can say I got artists signed to a major deal with a well known major label. I have got major distribution for multiple people and companies. Connected major artists with multi-platinum producers and vice versa, Got artists on the Billboard Charts, etc. I have a proven track record.
TI: You’ve been in the game for some time now and have established a name for yourself. What have been your keys to success?
TS: Success comes from being willing to learn from others. Because the industry is constantly changing you can never know everything or too much. I don’t believe in big I’s and little U’s. I believe in TEAM. That brings me back to success, success depends on not just you but the team you choose to align with. So I chose people in the industry to partner up with who could help feed my hunger for growth and who could help my company Tony Star Media Group be successful.
TI: What does the future hold for your various brands?
TS: I’m continuing to grow my brands by partnering with different people and companies: Tony Star Media Group (Founder and Managing Director), OurLivesMatter (VP w/ President Shaun Ross – Actor/Host/Head of A&R at No Limit Records), NextLevelDJs Coalition (Member), Suave Entertainment, Bottom Line Management, JH3 Management, BeatSumthinMusicGroup/Ingrooves/Universal (Head of A&R), Mobbed Up Records (Partner), and not to mention this great music & entertainment blog THE ILLIXER (Affiliate). But my brands continue to be recognizable as we expand to all four corners of the country. We have teams from New York to VA to Florida to GA to Texas and Colorado, as well as most of the Mid-West states.
TI; What is your opinion on the state of the music industry today?
TS: A lot about the industry has changed over the years from deals, to artist fashion, to music, and more. I love the diversity but I don’t necessarily agree with everything going on in the industry. I have my opinions but i just try to stay focused on what my goals are and what I’m doing not just for me but for the people who trust in me to help them navigate as well. I try to avoid getting pulled into all the crazy shit out there.
TI: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the business side of music?
TS: I would say research, study and application. When you make mistakes learn from them but try to avoid making too many. Find someone who can mentor you who actually knows the business and has a track record. Don’t be scared of opportunities but seize every one and grow. I don’t know anyone that won a race that quit before crossing the finish line. So if you want to be successful be committed to winning. That’s my advice.
**My Two Cents: Tony Star has been a huge asset to the site for our revamp. So it was only right to give readers the chance to get to know him a bit better. He’s a wealth of knowledge, very skillful, and a very humble dude. He’s passionate about his brands and partnerships as well. I think anybody working within the industry should try to make that connection. Especially artists looking to do legitimate business with someone beneficial to their careers. Be sure to explore those links at the beginning of the post. Also, be on the lookout for future collabs/ventures between the site and Tony’s various imprints. -MinM