Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Ryan III.
Joe, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am an Artist, Producer, Songwriter, Composer, Mix Engineer, Keynote Speaker, College Professor, and Faith-filled Visionary. Of all my accomplishments, my greatest are: a Man of God, a Husband and a Father.
My journey began in Flint, Michigan. I started playing drums around the age of seven at my grandparents’ church, that was eventually bought and run by my parents. My grandmother was an incredible pianist and gave me the courage to believe in my young talent during that time. I transitioned to the organ shortly thereafter.
My earliest memory of realizing the power of my gifts would be fifth grade, at Anderson Elementary when I entered a “Peace Rap” Contest. My lyrics read:
“You’ve got to devour the power of education/so you and your homies won’t be on probation/
Maybe you can even work in a police station/this is the kind of stuff that we’re facing/
Gang-bangers, drug-slangers need to throw in the towel/instead of shooting Lil’ kids with a gun, pow pow/
You got a problem, violence ain’t the way to solve it/shaking hands and being friends in the way to dissolve it/”
It was beyond inspiring to see the reaction of my friends and the staff. After performing for the entire school, I was given the opportunity to perform the rap at Flint’s “Atwood Stadium”, in front of thousands and quickly realized that I was able to get a very positive reaction out of others from just writing and rhyming what I thought or felt.
As the years progressed, I grew an incredible love for writing songs, melodies and attempting to mimic movie scores, in my bedroom, with my Casio keyboard. That love would grow much further, once I was able to attend a few studio sessions with my older sister who was in a rap group and always recording and releasing music.
I experienced a massive culture shock at 15 years old as a HighSchool freshman, when we left Flint and moved to Madison Heights, Michigan, which at the time had about a 1% black population, which was the exact opposite of the almost 100% black population I was familiar with. This would be the first time I experienced a few challenges I did not understand at the time of being called a nigger, constantly being asked if my hair could be touched, why I spoke the way I did, etc.
I channeled much of the negative emotion into making music and basketball, which both worked out extremely well for me, as I would consistently sell my albums in school for $10 a copy, which would typically allow me to make almost $1,000 each time. On the basketball side of things, I earned the opportunity to play in the Junior Olympic All-State/All-American Tournament in Ohio, representing team Michigan, in 11th grade.
I grew tremendous confidence in my writing ability in HighSchool, while in a creative writing class, a substitute teacher pulled me out of class and praised my writing in a way no one had ever before, especially a person of the opposite race. That one seemingly small moment is still the foundation of every big moment I’ve had and will have. I believe the biggest inspirations are bred from things that have not been done or said before, and that was the biggest inspiration as a youth.
My performance in the Junior Olympics earned me a basketball scholarship to Tiffin University. After attending for a semester, I began to skip the practices and games to try and get better on a production program I was working on at the time called “Fruity Loops”. Destiny began when I was sitting in a Sociology class, as I looked around and it dawned on me that I was not where I wanted to be, or investing my all into what I truly could see myself doing forever, which was making music.
This would be my next most difficult transition, as I have an undying love for basketball and all who had supported me, could not understand how on earth I would be able to walk away from such an amazing accomplishment. I remember receiving calls from family members begging me to stay in college and expressing how disappointing it would be to them for me not to finish school. I firmly made the decision to leave college, but I promised myself not to ever leave education, so I began to dig deep into learning about my craft by checking out books at the library and spending every second I could on music programs because I believe there is no teacher like experience.
After leaving college, I moved to Wisconsin, with a plan to work in a high-paying factory, to save money to be able to move to New York and get a record deal. During this time, I won Milwaukee’s 103.7FM Kiss Icon contest in 2009 out of almost 1,000 Artists, of which I earned regular rotation on the station and performance at SummerFest, which is in the Guinness World Record Book for being the world’s largest music festival. After winning, county officials noticed that my music was uplifting and positive, so I was asked to help struggling at-risk youth channel themselves into music.
My Mobile Music Mentoring Program “IIINSPIRE”, was born as a result and quickly became the most successful music program in the city. To date, using the power of music and mentorship we’ve helped many youths find their way out of juvenile, drug abuse, depression, suicide, and overall self-toxicity. We have also given students internships that have helped them graduate college and become very successful entrepreneurs! As the success of the program began to grow, it would continue to be highlighted on the news, front-page newspaper articles and implemented into school curriculums, as I quickly found myself “Music Mentoring” in schools, with no teaching degree.
My professional career was also on a tremendous incline and would change forever while I was watching TV one afternoon. I noticed a commercial playing music that was using sounds from the Fruity Loops program that had aided in me finding my purpose. It made me believe that if others were using the program for major TV placements, I could too, and I set out in my heart to find a way to make it happen. I remember being so inspired and motivated to figure out how to get my music on TV during that time, that I was able to mute the dialogue of a show and focus in only on the music.
I was taught and have experience with the fact that keeping God first, allows for him to give us the desires of our hearts, so because of that amazing truth, only one week later, I was browsing Twitter and saw a tweet from HipHop Legend MC Lyte that read “Looking for new producers, send music”. I sent over three instrumentals I had been working on, and 6 days later I received a Facebook message from Lyte, stating that she wanted to sign me as a composer, as she was the Music Supervisor for Dubose Entertainment in Hollywood at the time.
After receiving the contract, I was hesitant to sign it because Jermaine Dupri had just come into my live-stream on “UStream”, and subsequently sent a dm stating he wanted to work. I drove down to Atlanta from Wisconsin and went to the Gold Room every week, where he was the Monday night DJ. After mentioning consistently that “next week” we would work for five weeks straight and it never working out for his schedule, I was out of money and feeling extremely frustrated.
I told myself I would go back once more and if it didn’t work out, I would move on. I would never make it back to the Gold Room, as my mustang broke down and I had to take it to a Firestone in Atlanta. While looking in my trunk for warranty paperwork, I noticed the contract that Lyte had sent me and decided to ask the Firestone manager if I could use his fax machine. He allowed me to and I sent the signed contract. Within the hour I received emails about a conference call and was welcomed to the team.
I often reflect on this lesson to remind myself of how easy it is to lose sight of what is already in our possession in life when we are blinded by selfish or misguided desire. God had already given me the desire of my heart, but I was seeking to have the desire of my head.
After becoming a Dubose Entertainment composer, I would send music cue’s to Lyte, with 29 other composers and wait until the cue sheets were sent out to see if I had placed any compositions. My first placement would land on “Trey Songz: My Moment”, which was a ten episode docu-series. Each episode thereafter, I landed double the placements as the previous, so that really pushed my focus into overdrive. After the success of that show, I can remember being in a clinical study in Fargo, North Dakota. I was young and trying to find any way possible to make large amounts of money to invest into my purpose, without having to work a 9 to 5. During this study, not coincidentally by any means, this was the only one in which I took my iMac and Fantom-G keyboard with me.
My phone rings and it’s MC Lyte stating that the CEO James Dubose changed the format for the next show coming up and wanted music that sounded like a movie score. I was beyond excited because this was what I’ve always done as a kid is attempt to mimic and create scores. I sent an example of my scoring side and she called back right away and said: “This is exactly what we’re looking for”. She then mentioned that she would call back the next day and play the audio from the first episode over the phone and then I could come up with what I thought would be a good fit.
After hanging up the phone, I called my mother and asked if she would fly me to Hollywood and let her know I would pay her back after the check from the study came, she agreed right away with so much excitement, so I called Lyte back and said “How about I just meet you in Hollywood tomorrow instead?” She replied, “Wow… well, have you ever been to Hollywood?” I said, “No, but can I come?!” and we both laughed and she welcomed me.
I showed up at the Hollywood Production Center on Gower, with my signature keyboard and iMac. As the elevator opened, I saw Lyte for the first time in person and it was like meeting an angel. I have strong discernment of when God specifically sends people and I instantly knew she was on assignment from the Lord, which made me feel unexplainable inside. We spoke for maybe fifteen minutes and then I was escorted into an edit bay that had the first episode of “Toya: A Family Affair” on the screen. I worked for about seven hours straight and when I finished, the CEO and other staff all came into a viewing room to check out what I had composed.
Once it was over, everyone clapped and expressed how much they loved the music. It was one of the most exhilarating adrenaline rushes I have ever experienced in my life. James’ first comment was “How long you here?” I answered, “I just flew out today to show what I could do and am flying back tomorrow morning”. He replied, “What you got a job or something’?” I quickly answered, “No sir, if you’d like for me to stay, I can definitely stay!”
I was driven to a hotel in Hollywood and given brand new Jordan gear, by Lyte’s manager at the time, because I had only packed for one day. As a result of my faith and handwork, I went from competing with 29 other composers for placements to being given the entire season and a Hollywood apartment via MC Lyte! 16 episodes, Theme Song, etc. was all mine to craft and I made more music in that time than I had ever made in my life. I would score in the daytime at HPC offices and at night, Lyte would take me around to meet many different producers like Tim & Bob, Polow Da Don, Rex Rideout, Harvey Mason and many more.
MC Lyte bought me my first Maschine by Native Instruments in 2010, Omnisphere, Alicia’s Keys Piano and so much more to help me not settle into fatigue as music demand is extremely high during scoring. Lyte introduced me to Heavy D during that time, who stated I reminded him of Diddy when he first met him and allowed me to write songs for him on beats that he mentioned he had kept in the vault for years until the right one came along. Unfortunately, he passed shortly after and we never got to release any of the music, but it changed my life seeing the father he was and the positive force he was to so many around him.
Lyte would also allow me tag along while she would DJ Jordan Brand events at shoe stores hosted by Kevin Hart, DeWayne Wade, etc and even Michael Jordan’s birthday party, which had guests like Spike Lee, Ciara, Kevin Liles, Ray Allen, performances by R. Kelly and so much more! I was completely blown away and after completing Toya’s show, I was blessed to watch each episode on BET read “Original Music Composed by Joe Ryan III”. It was an impactful time, as those same family members that were disappointed, called and expressed their pride in me and I was sure to empower them into believing in others and themselves, opposed to highlighting their lack of belief, because in life it is no one’s responsibility to believe in our vision, it is solely our own! Our success should be the indicator and inspiration to others, even if they didn’t believe, that they can do anything and can believe in others.
After experiencing Hollywood in such a powerful way, and going back to the midwest, I knew it was Hollywood was my home, so I packed up my Mustang, with my equipment and one suitcase. I drove 1,879 miles to get to Hollywood and to build up money, I would live out of my Mustang for seven months. After about five months, the security guards that I had built relationships with at the Hollywood Production Center would let me park behind the gate after 1 am so that I could have some safety while sleeping.
I was so grateful for their selflessness during that time. “Power” star Rotimi would arrange hotel stays for me in exchange for writing and producing records for him, thanks to Rex Rideout allowing me to use his studio, that was inside Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank. My back-up plan was to never back down and that’s what I would say aloud anytime it got hard, or I had to go to the pawnshop on Sunset Blvd to sell more music equipment to be able to eat. Fitness center seven-day passes were my best friends at that time as well.
During that time, I recorded, wrote, produced, and mix an album “1879” (One Eight Seven Nine), which would go #5 in Japan and #28 in the united states on the iTunes charts. I remember my single “Ride Or Die” featuring Lil Mama rising above John Legend’s “All of Me” at the time, and I cried my eyes out. 1879 is an adjective that symbolizes how many miles I drove to get to Hollywood, but I believe we all have a certain amount of miles to travel to reach our purpose, whether physically, mentally, spiritually, etc, if we go the extra mile, there is no other option but to learn and succeed.
After the success of 1879, I was invited to Vegas to produce and write for the Jackson brothers (minus Michael) and developed an incredible mentoring relationship with Jackie Jackson, who to this day continues to mentor me in so many priceless areas. Shortly after, I remember R&B singer “KEM”, giving me an envelope with the exact amount of my car note payment in it that said, “Joe it takes courage to do what you are doing, keep the faith”. I can remember walking into Rex’s studio thereafter and soul singer Ledisi welcoming me with such a beautiful spirit and even was the one who taught me what my name means: God will multiply (Joe); Little King (Ryan).
She treated me as such from the very first day I met her, even while I was shoving left-overs from sessions into my backpack to be able to eat, sleeping and living out of my car, etc, she talked to and treated me like I was royalty and that has stuck with me every day of my life until now. With Rex Rideout’s constant outpouring of mentorship, and giving nature, He and Ledisi are the reason for my first production placement in the recorded music industry and opened the door for me to produce many records on “The Truth” album and really continue to believe in my ability. That was a special time, being able to mix the records at Will Smith’s “Boom Boom Room” with Kevin KD Davis.
After meeting Ledisi, Leela James would be the next artist Rex was producing and I remember leaving a beat with a hook I made in 10 minutes on the desktop, and when I came back, Leela voiced that it didn’t feel the same when they took my voice off and asked me if I’d be down to make the song a duet. That song “Save Me” would be my first vocal appearance on a major label artists project and I would produce three other songs on her “Fall For You” album, including co-writing/producing title track “Fall For You”, which is now at over 30 million views on YouTube. These placements allowed me to earn a publishing deal with Sony BMG’s then-President Richard Blackstone and many more opportunities that have changed my life.
When I am not composing for The Ellen Degeneres Show, Teen Titan’s Go!, The Real, Extra, BET, MTV, VH1, FOX, NBC, etc, I am teaching and career counseling at the Los Angeles College of Music, or keynote speaking at wonderful establishments like Southwestern Law and many more. This year I was blessed to place a record in the Netflix Film “Beats” starring Golden Globe winner, Anthony Anderson.
Most recently, I have opened a recording studio “IIINSPIRE Studios” in Hollywood’s, Media District, that opens the door for up and coming creatives, by offering 12-hour sessions for $200 and $150 for music college students. I believe the only way to “payback” so many of the amazing people that have helped me is to pay it forward! I am invested deeply into finding ways to partner with LA County to help at-risk youth use music as a gateway to freedom and purpose.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Although I have had many successes, it has not come without challenges. In 2017 I was flown out to New York, by RCA Inspiration and given a record deal. Shortly after, the entire staff was fired and the headquarters was moved from NYC to Nashville in a merger with Provident. I was completely crushed and didn’t receive the next half of my advance, so my wife and I lost everything.
As a result, we had to move in with my wife’s father, as newlyweds, with a baby on the way. It was a very hard time, as I have not lived with my own parent’s as an adult but it humbled me and showed me to that God is able to move any mountain with 100% faith, and 0% doubt.
We lost our studio facility, and design studio, I got behind on child support, so my license was suspended, and so much more. To get back to Hollywood, I would take a five-hour greyhound and then ride the city bus and metro. I acquired employment after going ten years without working a job and would sleep in the nearby laundromat during the week, then take the greyhound to get back to Northern California to get back to my wife.
Thanks to God, faith, hard work, music, the Actors Fund, and Music Cares, our family made our way back to Hollywood, into the same exact apartment we met in, I got my license back, caught up on bills, and landed more major placements. We will all fall down, we will all experience lessons that lead us to wins, but the key to seek purpose over perfection because when we focus on the WHY, we won’t be distracted by the WHEN. THE WIN IS THE WHY!
Along the way, I have encountered multiple times of homelessness, two divorces, hospital admittance from malnourishment and dehydration for lack of food and so much more, but if your back-up plan is to never back-down the sun will shine again and you will succeed! I had to learn that when things are going amazing, they will go bad again, and when things are going horrible, they will go good again. I used to trick myself into the reality distortion of thinking things will always be one way and that was a continual recipe for disaster!
Tell us more about your work.
IIINSPIRE provides unique, personalized Music Mentoring in the areas of Songwriting, Production and Music Business by giving clients the opportunity to work one on one with industry professionals. Our goal is to amplify strengths and amputate weaknesses, by teaching the skills required to become a creative artist & entrepreneur.
Our purpose is to IIINSPIRE! Over the last ten years, IIINSPIRE has been a mobile music mentoring provider for County Social Service programs, Children’s Waiver programs (CLTS), County Wraparound programs, After-School programs, Boys & Girls Clubs, Residential Homes, Group Homes, Middle Schools, High Schools, and Colleges. Our innovative mobile, online and in-person approach allows anyone the opportunity to experience professional recording sessions in the comfort of their home, school or program.
BedRoc Productions is my production company of which I produce, record, write, mix and master music for Artists, TV Shows, Movies, etc. I am known for a commitment to excellence and for inspiring, which is most important to me.
I am most proud of not giving up, as a company. To be a young black entrepreneur that can provide others superior quality, opportunity and inspiration is the greatest honor and blessing to both companies. Second, in line, would have to be working in Hollywood. It is a daily dream come true!
What sets me apart from others is just being exactly who I am. Authenticity is the cornerstone of originality. I am not in competition with anyone except for myself and that allows me to be the best I can be and focus on my destiny. This formula helps me offer this same notion to those that partner with BedRoc or IIINSPIRE!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
God/Jesus has been the most incredible mentor one could ever imagine and through his word, teaches me so much about myself and others it’s mind-blowing. I would be nothing and no one without him.
My wife Monique Ryan III, for being the best friend, wife, mother to our children and partner I could have ever imagined. She makes every thread you see me wearing, has a heart of Gold and is one of the most incredible writers I have ever met! I am consistently trying to be a better man because of her and I would not be able to be the man I am today without the woman that she is!
My five children, who motivate me to be better and teach me what real unconditional love is!
My parents Joe Ryan Jr and Jessie Ryan have been the epitome of support and authenticity. I love them for helping move me and my siblings to bigger and better things in every area of life, even when we didn’t understand.
My two beautiful sisters Jessica R Ryan and Pasha Chaney who have always supported before all the accolades!
MC Lyte of course for ushering me into this industry and taking a chance on me. I would take a bullet in the chest for her and I could never explain in words all that she has done for me and this world. I am beyond grateful forever and ever.
My brother Nelson Johnson, who is the exemplifies the epitome of brotherhood on so many levels!
Rex Rideout for opening doors of opportunity for me on countless occasions and being a big brother in this business.
Tony and Kayla Naylor for being Flint Natives that TRULY understand what it means to stick together and go through the mud together and remain solid through mistakes, hard-times, disappointments, etc. Thank you for being the bold representations of Christ and FLINT LOVE that you are! I appreciate you more than you can ever know!
And to any and everyone that has ever allowed me the opportunity to be heard, seen or learn!
- Studio Time 12/Hrs for $150
- Website: joeryaniii.com / iiinspire.org
- Phone: 3106004501
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @joeryaniii – @iiinspirehollywood
- Other: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9932326/
Main Photo Kawai Matthews
All other Tony Naylor for Visions Ent Group