Kedar Massenburg, President and CEO, Kedar Entertainment
Flashback. 1995. The music industry was flat. Carbon copy artists were churning out formulaic hits. Behind the scenes, a visionary, a street-wise lawyer, Kedar Massenburg was orchestrating a movement. He signed two unknown acts to his new label, Kedar Entertainment. Erykah Badu and D’Angelo. Neo-Soul was born and a new generation of fans were cultivated.
Flash forward. 2005. The Neo-Soul movement spawns countless of imitators. Once again, the music industry is in dire need of resuscitation. After a six-year stint in the top position at Motown Records, Massenburg rises to the challenge. Kedar Entertainment reopens its doors as an independent label and discovers a new breed of artist and this time, it’s just pure soul.
Not content to keep all of his eggs in one basket, Massenburg expanded his reach into the fashion industry with the launch of Sneakerluxe, a couture sneaker line. Kedar Entertainment also encompasses a management arm, a beverage company with French wine called Korus and plans to develop television and film properties.
An entrepreneur at heart, it’s only natural that the Brooklyn born Massenburg would return to helm his own company. Keeping the integrity of the artist and the music is one of the goals of Kedar Entertainment. “The most important thing is to develop the artist and put them out when they are ready,” says Massenburg. “We want to develop the full rounded artist and you can’t do that at major labels because they are too worried about hitting their target fiscal numbers for the quarter.”
His burgeoning stable of acts covers everything from soul songstress Algebra to rapper J. Jordan to R&B’s most distinctive voice, JOE. They receive media training, financial counseling and schooling on the business of music. “We prepare them for the streets and the board room,” explains Massenburg. “We make sure that the total package is there.”
No stranger to the music business, as early as high school Massenburg was laying down the foundation to becoming a major player when he partnered up with Daddy-O from the famed group Stetasonic to form a company. The business really took off after Massenburg graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a law degree. Okedoke Productions produced remixes for a variety of chart topping acts from Mary J. Blige to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Barry White and Chante Moore.
Under Massenburg’s leadership and reorganization, Motown broke even after operating in the red for more than a decade. Cumulatively, Motown artists such as Brian McKnight, 702, Michael McDonald, BeBe Winans and others sold more than 65 million albums and some achieved the largest first week sales in their careers.
Displaying the rare combination of business acumen and an ear for platinum records, Massenburg’s years of experience has taught him to be a team player. “It’s not a one man team, it never is,” he says. Massenburg takes that lesson to heart as he guides his small staff into the next chapter of music history.
“We’re definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with,” says Massenburg. “I’d like to see it as a company that people will say whatever comes out of it is quality.”