Before entering the music business full force, Mathew Knowles was earning six figures at various large companies, such as Xerox.
“For 20 years I was in sales and marketing and worked ten years with Xerox,” Knowles explained during a podcast conversation on The Vibe Show Podcast. “I trained in the engineering division for a year. And then I was fortunate to get into the most elite division of Xerox, which was the medical division, back in early 80s selling Xeroradiography for breast cancer detection. I was fortunate to be the top sales rep three out of four years worldwide.”
He made a promise to himself, however, which ultimately led him down an unexpected path.
“I had made a commitment that I would only do corporate America for 20 years,” he said. “That was the commitment I made going into it.”
Knowles kept that promise and eventually ventured into a successful hair business with his then-wife, Tina, before focusing their efforts on their daughter, Beyoncé’s talent as a singer. His passion for the music industry led him to study music business in college.
“In between that…my former wife and I, Tina, started a hair salon in Houston — Headliners Hair Salon. Back in the middle-late 80s, we made our first million dollars in the hair and beauty industry. In 1992, I started transitioning. I’m all about living your passion, but a lot of people’s passions change. You can’t abruptly end it and move to something else; you have to transition into it. So I went back to school and took music courses because that was a passion of mine.”
The music executive wanted to become fully equipped with the tools necessary to continue to achieve success in his chosen career path. By utilizing his skills and experience in his previous profession, Knowles was able to transition into grooming the talent of artists and groups in the music industry. A Houston rapper was the first client he took under his wing, before helping to launch his daughter’s musical career.
Destiny’s Child was then formed in the 90s with Beyoncé as the lead vocalist. After losing a talent show, he noticed great potential in the group as a whole and became instrumental in their success into the early 2000s.
The group eventually parted ways for solo careers. Knowles continued to support and help build the brand of each member through a music company he founded called Music World Entertainment.
“We wanted an approach from a multinational perspective. I had twenty years of marketing and sales experience. I had 20 years of branding and endorsing experience before I got into the music industry. Part of my success was due to the team we were able to build at Music World. We entered in the entertainment, endorsement, and branding business.”
The music mogul still runs his entertainment company, working behind the scenes with major acts and rising stars. He values higher education and continues to travel the world for speaking engagements. As an educator, he has served as a professor at several universities.
Knowles also mentioned that in the book Destiny’s Child: The Untold Story, he covers each member’s solo career and addresses why he stopped managing Beyoncé. We caught up with the music mogul to talk more about his thoughts on the current state of the music business and more.
What are your thoughts on the many changes in the music business over the years?
I love change. I think change is good. Change is difficult and uneasy but I embrace change. The music industry has changed. I grew up with an 8-track, then it went to a cassette and then to a CD. Then we went to I-tunes that just closed, and now we’re in streaming. The public is consuming more music today in entertainment than ever before. They’re just doing it a different way. That’s the only difference.
Anything you dislike about the industry today?
When I first started in the music industry, there were a lot of black managers, black business managers doing finance, and black attorneys. That’s all changed today. You don’t see many people of color doing that at a high level.
How can people reach out to you for advice or submit music?
There are a number of ways. I would highly suggest going over to mathewknowles.com, and there’s a section on there that says ‘book me to speak.’ You can book me to speak or for a one on one consultation.
Do you think a lot of new generation artists are skipping over steps to gain instant success?
That’s a very good question, and you’re right that today’s marketplace, not just in music but with much of the younger generation, they believe in microwave success. And every time you have microwave success, you will reach a peak very quickly but also fall very quickly because you don’t have the fundamentals with you. In music for example, ‘are you able to perform that live?’
This feature was submitted by Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan wears many hats as a freelance journalist and is passionate about bringing balance to the media industry, by presenting more uplifting content in the black community at large. Follow him on Instagram.
Featured Image obtained on Matthew Knowles’ official Instagram