Creatives In Conversation: How Music Executive and Entrepreneur Ericka J. Coulter is inspiring others through direct action.
When Ericka J. Coulter talks about her passion projects, and most notably her live event series and A&R work in the music industry, her entire face lights up. As a music executive and founder of the live event series TheBasement, Coulter knows firsthand that such drive cannot be emulated without authenticity. In fact, she's been working tirelessly throughout the past decade and change to ensure that her vision is well-informed and properly executed.
In addition to clocking countless hours offering her talents to an array of recording artists as an A&R, Coulter has been wholeheartedly putting her all into TheBasement, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary in Los Angeles. As any attendee will happily profess, TheBasement isn't your average live concert performance, but instead a consciously curated hub dedicated to being an embodiment of its motto, "network, vibe, discover."
Whether through the artists on stage or the brand activations on site, TheBasement is creating an environment where people can be themselves, unwind after work, discover something new in their own city and walk away inspired, and possibly with some new contacts in their phone. From unveiling the performance lineup in live time to inviting a savvy array of music executives, upcoming artists and overall music enthusiasts into the room, TheBasement is living up to its hard-earned reputation as a place for people to feel right at home and discover up-and-coming talent.
After stopping by the DropLabs HQ and diving headfirst into brainstorming avenues for collaboration, Ericka gave us a moment of her time to continue talking shop about what moves her and what she's been up to as a multifaceted creative and entrepreneur.
Is there an early memory you have when you first discovered what some of your passions were?
When I first got into A&R, which was technically 2010, it was around the time were Jimmy Iovine had come up with the idea of Beats By Dre and had started to launch that. It was during the time that Lady Gaga and her career had started to take off. It was during a time that you wanted to be outside of the box and that's what really sparked it for me to let me know that there were no limits to how far I could go. But I knew I had to be creative and really do it. I knew that if I wanted to be different, if I wanted things to be innovative, if I wanted it to be something that still to this day would matter, you have to be fearless. It was around that time where I fully realized that if I want something, I have to just go for it.
What is a project that you're really proud of?
I'm proud of now seeing The Basement two years in and literally starting from an idea and now becoming a platform that is a conversation piece for emerging artists. It's really making a difference. The Basement has grown from the audience, to the reach, to now getting people flying in from Canada, from New York. People are asking if we're going to be bringing the Basement to other cities. For us to finally launch it out of town, which was in Atlanta for A3C this past October, was really incredible. It's one thing when you can do something in the location that you're used to, but I think it's even more impactful when you're able to travel with the brand. I've been able to see us actually do that, and do it in a way where we still remain who we are. I want to make sure we stay who we are. We're in the culture and we know how important it is for us to be able to communicate with unsigned artists the way that we do.
There's something about not only ownership, but also having the thing inside of you to really make it happen. That's what keeps me inspired, that's what drives me. It plays a part in my A&R work as well because you want to be creative. You want to be able to give off an energy to artists that you work with where they're like, 'I need that person around. Not only do they have a great ear, but they have great energy, they have great ideas. They're in it.' There's nothing worse than someone trying to give you advice and they're not in the field. You need somebody who is in the field to give advice, like you're telling me this because you've experienced it with me. Maybe at a different time or in a different way but you've at least experienced it to have that knowledge to share.
What do you do to get into your creative zone?
It's so funny... I could literally be like, 'Oh my God, I'm not feeling well. I'm going to go lay down,' and I'll just come up with five dope ideas out of nowhere. You know how some people are like, 'I'm so creative when I get to go zen out.' That's the complete opposite of me. When I'm zenning out, I'm out. [Laughs] My creative process just comes from excitement. If I wake up on that right side of the bed, there's just so many things that I'm excited to go do.
I think for me, it's a rush that I get from time to time. I can't say that there's a moment that's repetitive enough to say that's when I get all of my dope ideas or when I'm inspired to do something. I wake up inspired every day because I got to wake up. For me, I feel like you can't waste this good day that some people don't even get to have. I'm a girl from Kansas City and there are very successful people that have come out of Kansas, but there's also people who have never left. I've been able to leave and do that, so for me, there's no way I can waste all of these great opportunities that I've been blessed with.
How would you explain the DropLabs experience to your friends?
It's one of those things where everybody has been like, 'Wait, what is this?!' When I was showing the shoes, I was explaining how this could be dope for meditation and the person I was talking to got so excited, like 'Oh my God, I need it for that.' I was telling another person about how it could work for gamers and they were like, 'This is crazy.' Or even just doing an activation with an artist. I think it's exciting to see that there are so many ways that you could utilize the technology.
When you tried on DropLabs EP 01 for the first time, what surprised you the most?
I would have to say, what stood out to me, was the style. The fact that it's a cute shoe, that was so impressive to me. Sometimes you get products that, especially in that market where it has to do with new technology, there's only a few that have been able to do it in a fashionable way. The fashion and style of it makes you like it even more. I was like, 'Oh, I could actually wear these.' That adds onto the experience. Today, I'm literally going to wear them to the airport and I am so excited about it. I can't wait to be sitting on the plane, put on a meditation playlist and I'm vibing.
What is an important mantra that you live by?
It's okay to color outside the lines. Be fearless enough that you want to be different. This is one thing that I like about DropLabs is I feel like they are coming out the box with something that's not already there. That takes a lot of grit. That not knowing what's going to happen but believing that it's something that can work in the market. Believe in your product. If that's music or whatever you're doing, believe in it.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs Technology™ is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.