You Need a Voice, an Idea (and Eventually, a Publicist)
UTA’s CEO Jeremy Zimmer kicked off UNLOQ404, our inaugural creators summit, with a promise to Atlanta’s creator community: “Our business has always been about finding undiscovered voices and helping them foster their careers. It’s about being in business with people who have a dream and a passion,” he said. “Atlanta is a place with a vast array of talent. Historically, agencies haven’t been here. That’s why we’re building something here. We’re putting the infrastructure in place to harness the creative power of this region.”
Pinky Cole, founder of the restaurant phenomenon Slutty Vegan, followed with a crash course on the art of workshopping ideas. Billed as “American SESH Live,” the panel was inspired by Cole’s organization of the same name, which brings together entrepreneurs to debate innovative ideas. The session’s mantra: “Every idea created in this space belongs to the universe. If you like it, use it. If you don’t, lose it.”
One of Cole’s more personal pieces of advice: Start small. Before becoming a restaurateur, the 2023 TIME100 Next honoree worked in shared kitchens, food trucks and restaurants. Then, once you start having success, don’t be afraid to hire a publicist. “They are necessary when growing an audience and building a business,” Cole said. Relatedly, Zimmer shared a piece of advice for rising talent during his keynote: “Mistakes? You’re going to make them. Don’t make fatal mistakes, but don’t be so afraid that you don’t make a move.”
Resilience Is Required
UTA Agent and Partner Cheryl Paglierani discussed her journey to success on a music-focused panel with industry power players Meezy, Ebonie Ward, Lake Morrison and Justice Baiden. They agreed that resilience, trusting your gut, and not accepting “no” paved the way for their success.
Paglierani shared that after being rejected by a company’s recruitment process, she requested a one-on-one meeting with the hiring manager. I’m supposed to have this job, she remembers thinking. She got the one-on-one — and was hired on the spot for a job that launched her career in talent representation. “Don’t take no for an answer,” she told the audience. “Failures move your needle in the right direction.” Added Morrison, “I’ve been fired way more times than I’ve been hired.”
Don’t Just Post Online. Make Organic Connections IRL
When DJ Drama began his career in Atlanta in the late 1990s, he became a “student in the game,” studying the influence of DJs in the local culture. Today’s creators need to do the same, he said, and embrace “old-school ways of making inroads” that go beyond social media.
When an audience member noted how difficult it is to break through on social media, DJ Drama advised to “do organic. Take advantage of social media, but hit the ground running. Join rooms like this. Take advantage of colleges, local events and networking. I believe in the old-school way. Mingle with DJs, meet program directors and connect with people who work at the streaming platforms.”
Prioritize Character Over Luck
On the heels of the release of his new memoir KLUTCH Founder and CEO Rich Paul closed out the summit with an inspiring conversation with Emmy Award-winning journalist Victor Blackwell. Paul emphasized the importance of character, humility and focus in launching a career.
“Your life can change just by standing next to the wrong person,” he said, noting that people with ambitions often seek validation from the wrong crowd. “People on top can hit rock bottom, but I’ve never been allowed to get too high or too low.” Paul credited that advice to his father who taught him that “no matter how high you go up on the ladder of success, your character should go up with you. Success and character must always align.”