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Meet Nathaniel Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nathaniel Smith. 

Hi Nathaniel, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I don’t really have a specific ‘starting point’, but when I moved to Washington, DC for college I was young and tryna figure out where I wanted to go with my life. I never had a real job or any kinda experience, but I always loved music. I met an A&R on my college campus one day, and when he told me a little bit about what he did I think that sold me. After that, I got my first label internship (thank you Santrise!!!) and then everything kinda just fell into place after that. 

I worked really hard to just network and learn as much about the industry as I could, but my drive really stemmed from a genuine love and passion for music, as well as my ultimate goal of never having to dress up to go to work every morning haha. When your heart and mind are set on your purpose in life then things usually just start happening for you. From my experience at least. I think keeping my purpose at the forefront, moving with genuine intent, and just having a relentless pursuit have been the things that are most responsible for what I’ve accomplished so far. God showed me a lot of favor, I just met Him halfway. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t think smooth is the word I’d use. I’d say rewarding. I get to wake up and chase a dream every day, but at the same time, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and had to overcome a lot of obstacles. Fortunately, I never had to answer to anyone when I made my mistakes, and I could just embrace the lessons. In a weird way, I was almost kinda excited to make mistakes, just because of how much I looked forward to learning from them. Being able to learn the ins and outs of the music industry, contracts, and negotiations, and just navigating the actual business side has been difficult. But I’d say the more challenging part was understanding people and relationships. Every person in the business is different, and you have to be able to win favor with people if you want to accomplish things and that aspect of it is draining at times. But like I said, all you can do is move genuinely and purposefully and hope for the best. 

On a personal level, I’ve spent a lot of time away from family and my loved ones, which is probably the biggest hurdle. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My official title now is an artist/producer manager and A&R. But I help in a lot of aspects in putting songs and albums together. I fill in a lot of blanks. Everything you can think of behind the scenes of music I’ve probably done it. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of talented people, and I think my best asset is being able to get the most out of the people I’m around; I’m always so honored that people I work with trust me with that responsibility. That’s probably what I’m most proud of. Being able to see things we work on in magazines, placing on the charts, and just getting recognition from our peers and people I looked up to as a kid has been pretty cool too. 

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I think music is so interesting in that it’s a thing that people can feel but they can’t touch. So, I think as long as people can still feel the actual music, the music industry is going to be fine. The political aspect of the business and just how artists can get done dirty is discouraging sometimes, but good music always wins in the end. Music trends come and go, but it’s all about what you can actually feel. 

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