Russ Redeaux describes what he does as “run point” but as founding partner in Stampede Management, his work is a little more complex than just dishing out assists and hitting threes. Redeaux co-manages one of Hip Hop's most tenured artists in Snoop Dogg and was responsible for developing Far East Movement into the international juggernaut that they are.
For the Los Angeles native, a career in the music industry was something he “fell into” while attending a small college in Kansas on a football scholarship. In a candid interview with HipHopDX, he explains in detail how one can go from being a fan of a legendary rapper to managing that rapper's brand. Talk about a dream job.
HipHopDX: Russ, I want to start out by asking you describe how you got into the music industry in the A&R and management capacity. Who was your first artist?
Russell Redeaux: I got into it as a partnership. Me and Ted Chung started Stampede Management. We wanted to service producers. One of our first clients was a producer named Jelly Roll. He was a guy that we working with, you know we were doing business with Snoop Dogg. There were certain guys around Snoop that were in need of management. Stampede originated from me doing creative services for Cashmere Agency, which is a marketing company. I was more or less handling that business and doing talent relations and strategic marketing. Out of a necessity for a pool of talent that we were around, one of our main clients was Snoop. We started Stampede., which was a talent management company that was an extension of that. A partnership that me and Ted stepped out on. Our first client was Jelly Roll. We picked up another producer that was a part of Snoop's camp, Terrace Martin. Eventually where we met was with Murs.
I was also involved with marketing and A&R for Tyrese and his HeadQuarters Entertainment. I A&Rd his Alter Ego double album. I was handling marketing for him and doing strategic business for him for like three years in the middle of that. While we were working on the Murs album Murs for President, which Warner Brothers Records put out.
DX: Actually I want to ask about Murs specifically. I thought he was your first artist when I first met you, you were with him at Warner Brothers Records building in Burbank. When did you start the company with Ted?
Russ Redeaux: We started the company probably about six, almost seven years ago now.
DX: What does it take for one to be a successful manager and when did you yourself realize that this is what you were cut out for?
Russ Redeaux: It is kind of something I fell into. Ironically enough, I never set out to this business to say, "Hey, I’m going to be a manager." It just kept evolving to where I just grew into it, where opportunities began to present themselves. I think the biggest thing about management is communication and being able to structure and understand an artist and utilize him/her as a brand. You really have to figure out ways to communicate that brand and the significance of that brand to the masses.
DX: For someone like Snoop and also your other artists that you are working with, if you were to tell someone who has no idea how this stuff works, how would you break it down? You are working with talent agents, promoters. Who are some of the people that you engage with on the daily basis?
Russ Redeaux: Just to be clear about how the hierarchy of our company works, Snoop is represented by Stampede Management, which is a partnership between myself and Ted Chung. Ted is essentially Snoop's manager. He runs point on Snoop. Me and him are partners in the company. I manage the Far East Movement and run point on all of their direct business. We support each other. I support him in the Snoop business. He supports me in the Far East Movement business. Our umbrella in the company, as far as all of the emerging talent, is a collective effort. But just in general, the biggest thing is managing the team, making sure that everyone is communicating and that the components of the team – your booking agent, your marketing people at the label, your A&R people. All of the personnel that is a part of your team as well, which includes your road managers to dealing with the promoters. It is coordinating and making everything make sense and consistent. Making sure that everyone is fully informed. Everyone is working as a team and making sure that everything is happening smoothly. It is kind of like overseeing a mini-corporation in a sense. You have your various entities and departments, your tour people, your marketing people, your A&R people, your brand people, your licensing people, your publishing people. It’s really just making sure that each department communicates with each other, all of the assets and all of the project tasks, deliverables, dates that are needed to be hit, get hit. It really is just overseeing the entire corporation at the core of which is the artist.
DX: Your Facebook profile says you went to Ft. Hays University and I noticed a few photos of you in football uniform. Did you play in college?
Russ Redeaux: I went to Ft. Hays to play football out of high school on an athletic scholarship. It's a NCAA Division II school in Kansas, in a small town. It was culture shock for me, but a great experience. My playing days taught me a lot about being disciplined and going hard and fighting for something that is not easily achieved. It put a lot of those essential values in me that I carry with me in my career to this day.
DX: So playing sports really helped instill the skill set that made you successful in the music industry?
Russ Redeaux: In high school, sports was always my thing. I played football and basketball. When I got into college, I started to really think about other things outside of sports. College really opens up your horizons. When you are out of town it starts to make you think about a lot of different types of things. I started to do events and parties and that set the stage for when I came back home from school. I continued to do that around L.A., promoting cool events and parties. It led to me first official job in the business, which was at a little label at the time distributed through EMI called Avatar Records. Larry Robinson, Avatar's owner, gave me an internship at the A&R department and I worked there for two-and-half or three years. By the time I left, I was running the department and executive produced a few albums. I had A&Rd a few projects, signed a few artists and stuff like that.
From that it lead to me doing the marketing stuff with Cashmere Agency. There, I was doing strategic planning, talent relations, and a lot of stuff for cool clients like Vivendi Universal and EA Sports. We had label clients and were doing strategic marketing, street teams, branding stuff like different mixtapes, collaborative stuff like 50 Cent and [DJ] Whoo Kid, Snoop Dogg. From that, out of necessity and opportunity, me and Ted decided to create an extension of that company, and formed Stampede Management. It was a company that I was tasked to run point on and took it as a personal initiative to really build something from the ground. It was a step-by-step process. We had really cool artists, and in the beginning stages it led to Snoop becoming a full-time client of ours on the management side, us getting in business with Far East Movement and leading to where we are today.
DX: Speaking of FM, I remember when they were an independent Hip Hop group in L.A. underground and now they're international superstars. How did you first link with them?
Russ Redeaux: Honestly, they were homies from around the way. We would always cross paths. They're very independent-minded, rise-and-grind kind of guys. Just being around, we would run into each other. They knew we were managing Snoop and some of the other clients, so they would ask us for advice, they'd come by our studio and we would hang. At a point where they started to get some attention with their record "Girls On The Dance Floor," they felt like they needed some kind of formal company structure, people with certain type of relationships and a team behind them. We collectively decided to say "hey, let's give this a try." We continued pushing the brand of Far East Movement and it just ended up developing out of everyone's hard work from the foundation they originally set. We put a lot of talented, cool people around them, which led to deal offers. We ended up taking the Interscope Records deal, which ended up being the right move strategically. Our deal is through the head of international at Interscope. He understands how to build a brand from a global perspective. This was what was most interesting to us and since we had a relationship with him from the Snoop days, and he had success with Lady Gaga and others, he understood the vision. He gave the guys creative space. Interestingly enough, out of the hustle and grind we were able to get FM on tour with LMFAO, on the Party Rock Tour in 2009, which was before they were signed to Interscope. We dropped a mixtape during that tour and that tape had "Girls On The Dance Floor". It was the one that was gaining momentum on the radio. It also had "Like A G6" on it. We started to see "Girls On The Dance Floor" expand, which enabled us to put more opportunities around them. But "G6" started to have this organic buzz. We looked up and it had one million views on YouTube. It started to make noise sales-wise. You saturate the clubs and from the bottom up it became a cultural phenomenon. It kept going and going. In November, we inked the deal with Interscope. We had a number one record by the summer. It was crazy.
DX: Was this a 360 deal? What are your thoughts on 360 deals when a group goes major like FM did?
Russ Redeaux: I think that in order to get major labels to invest in you beyond a single or two, I think that they are taking more of conventional approach in needing to supplement income in a lot of different ways. I think maybe 90% of the deals being done on the major level are 360 deals. I think it is essential to be able to play ball in that world. You want your partner to remain invested in you, whether you have a hit song on the radio or not. When you do deals like that, if they are strategically structured and still favorable, then it remains a good deal. If you're just a tour act and you are making money on the road, then the partnership is still valuable. Everyone is still making money. So that you can still have opportunities to make money and records with the type of presence and push that major labels provide. It is something that is becoming the industry standard.
DX: You have a new deal with The Airplane Boys, who are from Canada. Why did you sign them? When do you decide that you are going to add another act to the portfolio?
Russ Redeaux: Those guys are just cool as shit. I was YouTube-surfing, which I think has become like the incubator, the A&R outlet for people looking for hot shit. We just live our life online. As busy as we are, one thing you will always see is people on Facebook, checking WorldStarHipHop.com or HipHopDX.com. The Airplane Boys were just something we saw on the Internet, Ted and I spoke about it and Ted flew to Toronto to meet with them. We presented our company and we signed them. We feel like those kids are next. They are amazing. They are dope and creative. I feel like they are on the cusp. They are really doing some trendsetting music with innovative visuals, and not to mention Canada is becoming a hotspot for talent. A lot of artists are popping out of there. We are really excited about the Airplane Boys.
DX: Besides them, you have a range on your roster, since you still work with Xzibit and DJ Quik. How are all these artists able to coexist on your roster?
Russ Redeaux: I give credit to my incredible team. For clarity, [DJ] Quik is still a Stampede artist but Xzibit isn't. From the top down, me and Ted are only two guys, but we have an amazing team of managers, day-to-day guys. We are very departmental. We try to keep our company as self-sufficient as possible. We have an incredible branding division that Nick Adler heads up. He is essentially the guy that is out curating these very cool partnerships with these massive brands, such as the Snoop and Adidas deal. We also have a licensing division where our guy who heads that department, his focus is servicing the music that we control for our developing acts. Which in the early stages of an artists career can be a significant revenue stream and also a cool way of gaining awareness. I remember when it was just me and now, to walk in the office and see all of these people and have our weekly meetings and our strategy calls, give directions and see a team of people swarm out and execute is incredible. It is pretty cool to have come this far and have created something that people will give their days and their nights to.
DX: With Snoop, do you ever sit back in amazement at how this dude got to be so universal? He played the Pacific Festival in Irvine as the headliner and he's the only rapper, and Hip Hop act on there.
Russ Redeaux: [Laughs] You know what Snoop is, man? Snoop is timeless. Everyone knows Snoop, from eight years old to 80 years old, of every culture and background. Honestly, it is still surreal. I sit in the room with Snoop, and have conversations with him or go out and execute things for him and it's like, I was freshman in high school when Doggystyle dropped. I would never have thought in a million years that I would be in business with the person that created timeless memories for me in my life. Certain songs and certain albums connect with certain parts of your life and that movement was my high school years. To be in business with him is almost like being able to understand the point of view of why people love him. It is amazing because we were just in Europe and and we did a concert for MTV Malta, a huge concert there. It was Snoop, Far East Movement, LMFAO. He played Glastonbury a few years back. From a global perspective and the brands that believe in his ability to translate their message – he is timeless. Snoop Dogg is not ever going away unless he decides to sit down. He is the coolest guy. This is a perfect example of why Snoop Dogg is Snoop Dogg: I met him once and the second time we met, he remembered my name. How the fuck does Snoop Dogg, who meets thousands of people, remember my name? It's that personality that people love. He has a presence that transcends all demographics and cultures. He empowers his team and takes risks with high rewards.
DX: You have accomplished a lot. What do you feel you still have left to accomplish?
Russ Redeaux: Slav, I don't feel like I have accomplished anything. I still feel like I have so much to do. I feel like not enough people are aware of what we do, especially how cool of an environment we create for our employees and how we take care of our clients. I feel like I'm going to raise the flag until everyone knows it. I'm in the zone right now. I can't even tell you what I have accomplished. I just know to execute, execute, execute and to get things done. Maybe 20 years from now I can sit back and say "Oh shit, I did all of that."
DX: How much more staff did you add at Stampede and Cashmere Agency since you joined? I personally know at least four or five people that are working for you.
Russ Redeaux: It's a growing beast. I go on the road with Far East Movement and I come back and there are like five new people. Honestly, this summer we had a lot of interns. We are expanding rapidly. I'm going to knock on wood when I say this, because we are ahead of the curve in the industry. The industry is struggling and we are growing. I think that it has a lot to do with us creating a certain type of strategy and protocol, with us taking a certain type of approach to management. Our biggest thing is that we are diverse. If you walk into Stampede or Cashmere offices, you are going to see a very eclectic group. For instance, my assistant Conan is from Scotland. We feel like there is power in diversity. If we hold a company-wide meeting, we get 10 different perspectives because we keep our hands on the pulse of what's hot. There's also power in Ted and myself's partnership. He is Korean and I am a Black dude from L.A. There is power in that.