LEAVING AN MPRINT ON THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Interview by Randall B. Jones – Photos provided by MPrint Music
Finding the proper avenues that provide you with the all important exposure necessary to push your talent to greater heights can be very difficult and frustrating. Everyone promises you the stars but end up giving you the dirt beneath your feet. As you know, Nine5Four The Magazine has emerged as one of the solutions to the problem…but we are not the only one. We support and promote other entities out there that offer honest and professional assistance to the unsigned community. One such company is based in LA and has a dynamic leader with a passion for the music industry that runs deep. Considered a “Jill of all Trades”, Meilani Lee of MPrint Music & Marketing is a seasoned management, marketing, public relations and social media specialist who’s looking to assist you in your quest to achieve superstardom. She’s very experienced and knowledgeable and has worked with many big names in the industry. Her connections with industry insiders make her company one of the hottest around for breaking new talent. So if you got talent, hunger and hustle, let MPrint Music & Marketing help you take your talent to the next level.
Hello Meilani! How are you doing?
( MEILANI ) I am doing well. Busy, but that’s a good thing, right?
Oh yes, that is right! Where did you grow up and what was it like living there?
( MEILANI ) Actually, my father was a Naval Criminal Investigator (NCIS), so we moved around a lot. I was born in California and am definitely a “Cali Girl” at heart but throughout my adolescence I lived in Hawaii, Maryland and Japan. I returned to the Bay Area for my last three years in high school and have been here ever since.
What was it about the music industry that interested you so much that you created a career opportunity out of it?
( MEILANI ) Oh my gosh! I’ve just always loved music. I took piano lessons. I played the flute in my high school marching band. I was in show choir. I’ve just always been involved some kind of way and actually just fell into the business side of things.
I’ve read that you actually began your career as an aspiring singer/song writer, right?
( MEILANI ) Singing is definitely my first love. If anyone knows me they will tell you, I am ALWAYS singing something...ALL THE TIME!
And you actually recorded songs for a demo back in the day with Neyo. What was it like working with him then and to now see how he’s blown up in the industry today?
( MEILANI ) I did! My manager at the time Marcel Anderson and our friend, publicist Echo Hattix hooked it up. I flew down to LA to record with him and he had written this creative tune called “Purple”. He was really a sweetheart and definitely coached me on how he wanted the song to go. But I knew him by his government name Shaffer and not Neyo so when he came out, I immediately recognized him but had to look at the credits to make sure it was really him. I think it’s great though because he is a very talented young man.
You’ve put in work on the song writing tip for various artists in which you have received great acclaim. Tell us a little about the artists you worked with and the projects you put your stamp on.
( MEILANI ) I’ve worked with a lot of artists from the Bay Area who have released projects, but I will tell you about some notable ones: Malika from MTV’s Making The Band – I wrote and sang backup on her debut album. I also wrote a couple songs on a ONE VO1CE album – one of the songs I wrote from that album was on like 17 stations nationwide. And I also did a couple of songs with rapper San Quinn, one of which was played on FM radio as well. It was called “Give It UP” and it’s a song I can never live down lol!
What made you decide to move from the front of the stage with the mic entertaining to more of a behind the scenes role?
( MEILANI ) Honestly, at the time I was working two jobs and going to school so the singing thing had to take a back seat. Songwriting was something I could do at anytime so I just concentrated more on that.
After graduating college, you and a good friend of yours linked up to form MPrint Music & Marketing. First, tell us about your friend Marcel Anderson and how the two of you got together to create this business venture.
( MEILANI ) Well, I met Marcel in college when I ended up singing at our dorms poetry night. At the time he had a college TV show called “Backstage Pass” and he was really like “the man” on campus. He came from a music business background and so he started managing my singing career. I also started working with him on his show which ended up going nationwide to like 25 different colleges. It was so much fun! We got to interview Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys, Tyrese, Ginuwine and many other celebrities. After we both graduated and the show was over, we needed another outlet to pour our creative juices into. I was focusing on song writing and had also done some publicity for other artists. Marcel was great at finding talent, managing talent and networking so we just officially came together.
Now give us the rundown on MPrint Music & Marketing services, function and goal objective.
( MEILANI ) MPRINT Music & Marketing is basically here to help those that help themselves. If you’re a grinder with skills and serious about your craft…WE WANT YOU! We offer management, pr, marketing, branding, event coordination…we are a one stop shop. Our goal is to help get you noticed and get to where you want to be. If an artist works hard, we gladly work HARDER!
Who are some of the BIG name artists your company has encountered prior to them blowing up?
( MEILANI ) Ester Dean – MPRINT wrote her first bio prior to her getting signed to RedZone. We booked a young Keyshia Cole at one of our events in Oakland way before she moved to LA. Marcel actually found Dondria on Youtube and chopped it up with her on a regular basis prior to her signing with So So Def. He actually linked up with all of them on a professional level. He really has a great ear for talent.
N5F magazine has already had the pleasure of featuring two very talented up-n-coming artists from the MPrint Music camp in past issues. Who else currently fills out your roster?
( MEILANI ) As of right now, we are currently working with music production duo TRAKLORDZ (Jay Rock, Freeway, Killa Klump) as well as R&B singers JOONIE and LONNY BEREAL (through Hitclub Entertainment).
Any projects we should be on the lookout for dropping soon from any of these artists?
( MEILANI ) Definitely! JOONIE’s album “Acoustic Love” came out last year and LONNY BEREAL’s album is coming out on Notifi Records (Ginuwine, Johnny Gil) in a couple of months. He’s got a hot record out with Kelly Rowland called “FAVOR”. The video featuring Kelly should be out by the time this issue comes out.
Are you constantly looking for new talent?
I understand that you are now venturing off into music conference planning and organization. Why did you decide to make this move and share with us the info about your upcoming event?
( MEILANI ) Actually we were brought on to book panelists for a few music conferences and it turned out to be a great vehicle for us to further our connections and possibly find new talent. The next event I’m helping out with is the 10th Annual Dynamic Producer’s Conference. It’s going down in Los Angeles on August 26th – 28th. Anyone who is into production or songwriting should be there to get some game and their networking on. A&R’s from EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing, Melanie Fiona’s management, major songwriters and producers will all be there to listen to YOU! Visit www.dynamicproducer.com for more info.
Are you satisfied with the direction your company is moving in and what more can we expect in the months and years to come?
( MEILANI ) I am pleased with the way things are going. As for the future, I’m just excited that we might have the chance to help nurture the next Beyonce, Alicia Keys or Jay Z. We are definitely prepared for that.
I’ve been trying to make this interview with you happen for some time now and I’m glad we were finally able to have it for our readers. You are really holding it down on the West Coast! We just wanted to show you and your company our East Coast love for all you do for up-n-coming talent. Our doors are always open. Thank you for sharing and please give us your thoughts.
( MEILANI ) I know, I know and I’m still not ready lol! I appreciate your compliment and am so glad you stayed on me. I’ve got to say your magazine is definitely one of the most professional indie mags I’ve ever seen. I appreciate you always showing my clients love and you know if there is anything I can do to return the favor, I will do it! You are definitely a “Loyal” and that is rare in this business. I wish you much success.