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James Andrews

Media entrepreneur James Andrews was born in San Jose, California. Andrews graduated from Palo Alto High School in Palo, Alto, California in 1988. After attending Ventura College, Andrews transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1990 and 1992. After leaving UCLA, Andrews worked for Immortal Records, a defunct independent record label based in Los Angeles. In 1994, Andrews was hired as senior director of marketing for Columbia Records, developing the careers of established musical acts.

He was the executive vice president of marketing for the Ecko Unlimited clothing company before being named executive vice president for Urban Box Office in 1999. A year later, Andrews founded his own marketing company BrandInfluence. After working for global digital media company Isobar Global and global communications firm Ketchum, Andrews went on to co-found Everywhere and found Social People in 2009 and 2010, respectively. With Social People, Andrews’ clients include the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ 53rd Grammy Awards. He also launched Famous People LLP, a celebrity representation division that manages digital and social media assets on behalf of clients. Through Famous People LLP he worked with celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Chaka Khan. Additionally, Andrews served as a regular contributor to CNN and has appeared on the CNBC cable news network. He has been featured in Black Entreprise and Fast Company magazines.

He is married to his wife Sherrelle and has two children. Andrews resides in Atlanta Georgia.

James Andrews was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.096

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/18/2012

Last Name

Andrews

Maker Category
Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

Ventura College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

San Jose

HM ID

AND12

Favorite Season

Winter

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rio, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Dream big, trust more.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

5/12/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Media company entrepreneur James Andrews (1970 - ) one of the nation’s leading experts in social media, has launched two digital media companies, working with celebrities clients such as Jane Fonda and Chaka Khan.

Employment

Social People

Everywhere

Ketchum Inc.

Isobar Global

Brand Influence

Urban Box Office Network

Ecko Unlimited

Columbia Records

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Andrews' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Andrews lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes his mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Andrews describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about growing up with his aunt and the history of blindness in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his mother's aspirations to be a doctor

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Andrews describes his father's involvement with the Black Panthers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Andrews discusses possible catalysts for his parents' activism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Andrews talks about meeting his father at age nine

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Andrews describes his parents' personalities and who he takes

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Andrews talks about his younger brother, his step father, and accidentally burning down his house at age six

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes being accused as an arsonist and his life as a 'latchkey' kid

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes his earliest memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Andrews compares and contrasts Oakland and Alameda, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes his experience at Thousand Oaks Elementary in Berkley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Andrews describes his experience at Donald Lumm Elementary and Lincoln Junior High School in Alameda

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes the positive impact his coaches had upon his childhood development

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about growing up and being comfortable in a predominantly white community and family

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his childhood interest in history and World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his childhood fascination with vinyl records

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Andrews talks about the rich music scene in California in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes how Alameda, California shaped his taste in music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes moving to Palo Alto to live with his Aunt, who became a second mother, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes moving to Palo Alto to live with his Aunt, who became a second mother, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Andrews describes some of his heroes in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about attending Stanford lectures as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about playing high school basketball and his favorite basketball and baseball players

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his struggle with drugs and school in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about the emergence of hip hop

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about attending Utah Valley Community College to play college basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his experience living in Provo, Utah, while attending Utah Valley Community College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Andrews talks about his passion for religion and his decision to quit doing drugs

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes his decision to return to California to attend Ventura College in 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about his friendship with David Warwick and his decision to enter the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about his decision to attend UCLA and the love that he developed for the city

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes the atmosphere and his activism during the Los Angeles riots

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his educational experience as a history major at UCLA

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Andrews talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about how his wife helped him start down his career

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his first job as Senior Director of Marketing at Immortal Records

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his experience as an intern for Columbia Records

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Andrews talks about his learning experiences at Wild West Records and Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes working for Happy Walters at Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about producing his first record, 'B Ball's Best Kept Secret', for Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about MC Hammer and other rappers from Oakland, California that inspired him

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about the emergence of a more confrontational rappers like Tupac Shakur

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about moving to New York City to work as Director of Marketing for Columbia Records

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his mentor at Columbia Records, LeBaron Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Andrews talks about marketing emerging acts like Destiny's Child by using the Internet

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about the importance of video for marketing in the music industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his project with DJ Jazzy Jeff and his first encounter with the Philadelphia music scene

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Andrews talks about his newsletter, Soul Purpose, and leaving Columbia Records to work with Mark Ecko

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - James Andrews describes his proudest accomplishment at Ecko

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes his decision to sell Soul Purpose and leave Ecko to work at Urban Box Office

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about Silicon Alley in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about Brand Influence, the impact it had upon his family life, and his religious awakening

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about his social media practices at Isobar and Ketchum

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes a social media mishap while on a business trip in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Andrews describes a social media mishap while on a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his working relationship with Jane Fonda

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about his work with the social media startups

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Andrews discusses his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes the burgeoning entrepreneurial atmosphere in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about his children and his family's lifestyle

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Andrews reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about what he would change about his past

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
James Andrews describes the atmosphere and his activism during the Los Angeles riots
James Andrews talks about marketing emerging acts like Destiny's Child by using the Internet
Transcript
Now this is the last--$$This is, this is, this is '91 [1991] I think or '90/'91 [1990/1991].$$Now were you in L.A. then when the riots hit [unclear].$$Yeah that's a big part of my story. Yeah I was right there, yeah. So I go to UCLA and I was dating my girlfriend who was my wife at the time--and actually I was living with her at the time. And the, you know the riots happened right there. We all went to UCLA, we were activists, you know we were involved as Black students, you know. And, but it was an interesting moment where you know the--we were there to, to create a statement and to do something and to say something about, you know, injustice and Rodney King and I just saw a bunch of football players like stealing stuff out of the store. I saw people getting over and I was like wait a minute, like I grew up like you know, Panther, you know what I mean? Like we're not doing anything, we're just--cats is running in there, you know taking things and it was a real defining moment for me that I was like wait a minute. Like where is the activism? This is--a lot of talk but you know this is not activism, this is people stealing stuff, you know. And I do remember that. I remember it being a very tense moment, you know. There was National Guard at the Ralph's grocery store. A White girl spilled a soda on my wife by accident and the White girl said when my wife was looking for an apology, don't be such a bitch. And my wife and I chased this girl throughout the campus. And it was a very, very tense moment. There was some interesting moments that, that shaped me. But yeah I was right there in L.A.$$Just for those who are watching this and don't know what happened, Rodney King [unclear].$$Sure, so Rodney King, Rodney King like so many of us was a victim of Los Angeles Police brutality. I mean it was, it was my world. I lived through Oakland Police brutality and then also Los Angeles Police brutality consistently being, you know, pulled out of cars. And Rodney King, you know was beaten, you know, sense, sense--you know like a, like a, like a piece of meat by the Los Angeles Police Department.$$This was on the--$$It was on the news, it was on video, it was pre-social media, you know. It was on video cam, it was the first social media moment, ironically that really, you know went everywhere and shaped and, and turned to riots. You know it was, it was crazy in Los Angeles, all over this country.$$Okay so national [unclear] incident and--$$Yes national incident.$$Were you, you a part of the different forums, I know Jim Brown, Ted Koppel from Nightline was involved in meetings with the Crypts and the Bloods and the different gangs about the--and community leaders in L.A.$$No I wasn't. You know I was a student, I was neither a gangbanger nor was I an activist. I was kind of in the middle. I was, I was just getting to L.A. and I was trying to, you know, get out of college and figure out who I was. I wasn't involved really. My wife, you know we were activists in that I lived in this apartment building. I lived with my wife, with a neighbor whose name was Chris Madison, he was very active. Went to Howard and was always you know, looking for a conspiracy and, and we were definitely, you know we were definitely thinking about what should we do, what's our place. My best friend in college was Sir Bailey, his father is Phillip Bailey and so we actually had like a, sort of a, a salon that we used to meet together and talk about you know, what's happening in, you know, in Los Angeles, what's happening with Black people in Los Angeles. And so you know it definitely, it definitely--there were a lot of conversations that we had but we were not a part of any famous forums. We were our own forum. There was a, a teacher on campus named Mogla [ph.] Malekai Eesy [ph.] and Mogla was, was helping to organize a lot of the African students. But, but you know there's so much history in, in--that I also being a history major, and being, you know a child of the Bay area and the Panthers, there was so much history in UCLA's campus and the Black Panther party and I was looking for something, I was looking for the jump-off. I was looking for the--and what I saw was just silliness, right and I wish I would have found those, those activisms. But we created our own activism, we really--when I look back on it, we really created our own forums, you know our own moments where we talked about Blackness in Los Angeles in that moment.$Now tell us about how you marketed the Destiny Child.$$Yeah, in all of our acts, you know we had to you know, get these acts on the road. We had to get exposure. We had to, you know, no one cared about these Black acts initially. You know no one really, you know, you know no one really you know was putting a lot of emphasis on the Fugees, you know. So what was the change, I mean at this time because it's also the beginning of the Internet. This is the beginning of forums, right. This is the beginning of AOL coming into emergence. And one thing I didn't share about my background in Palo Alto is I grew up writing code. Like I programmed in Basic. The only thing is about living in Palo Alto is we learned how to write to code, you know, in eighth grade. I was normal. I had friends who were thugs who were writing code. You know whose, whose parents worked at Hewlard Packard. So I was always technology, technology is my bones. I mean technology--Palo Alto shaped me. So when I got to Columbia Records you know as an executive, I realized that you know, this thing called the Internet was going to be extremely important. And that we were not paying enough attention in the Black Music Division to our artists' Web presence. And yet the White acts were writing them into their contracts. They were actually a big part of their deal. And our Black acts actually didn't even know about it. I mean they weren't really thinking about it. So I would sit down with, you know a then 15 year old Beyonce, which sounds crazy today, you know and her father Mathew Knowles and the group and I would tell them about how important the Web is and how important the Internet is. And I was the first to really educate our artists about you know, the Web and, and what it was about to become. So we did lots of things. You know we did college tours, we did a college tour that started here in Atlanta and went all the way up to Howard where we actually talked to kids during the day in like panel style format, then we had concerts at night. And these were relatively unknown acts that we actually broke with the help of local radio stations, WPGC in D.C. and you know, a local station here and we broke a lot of acts just by putting them on the road, you know and getting out there in the streets. You know Maxwell was a live act, you know that had to see him live. There's no dat [ph.] tape. You've got to see Maxwell live. You know we, and I worked directly with Maxwell to help, you know, shape his vision. To help get his vision out to the world.$$It seems as though these acts are typified, at least the ones you've named here, are typified by actual music, you know [unclear].$$Yeah, absolutely.$$Not just rapping and beats.$$That's right, absolutely. Yeah Fugees and Lauryn Hill, that was a very special moment. You got to, you know the beauty of those groups are they really needed a live show. They thrived off a live show. And so we as a group really pushed getting out there and getting on the road and we didn't just rely on radio. So much of the business at that time was like if you didn't have a radio, you didn't have a record. We were like forget it, we're going to make radio play these records. And we really [unclear]. There weren't a lot of record labels doing this type of approach at this time period. We were very much, we were doing real marketing, it wasn't just relying on radio.