Championing diversity and cultivating your brand purpose

Written by Hatti Rex

TRIBEAST is a conglomerate with three identities. TRIBEAST Studios focuses on digital content production, TRIBE Management focuses on artists and TRIBE itself is a music and visual creative platform.

The founder behind all three is Kayode Thomas, an experienced all-round creative who recently left Kobalt-owned label AWAL to focus his attentions on TRIBEAST. Kayode was a regular user of CC when he was a commissioner at AWAL and we reached out to find out how he got to this point, the journey in his career so far, and how to avoid burnout whilst juggling multiple creative projects.  

“The reason I launched the studios was because I made the decision to leave AWAL in July and I really wanted to embark on a new journey where I was able to fully control the projects I worked on and how successful they are,” Kayode explains. “It’s always about the artist’s vision first and also putting the creatives first as well who are working on the projects, which doesn’t get considered a lot when it comes to commissioning work and we kind of take that very seriously because I’ve been on both sides of the industry.” 

Around November last year, TRIBE the platform launched, with TRIBEAST Studios starting out this July in the middle of COVID-19. Starting up in the middle of a pandemic obviously has its pitfalls, but for Kayode these negatives have actually been used to the team’s advantage. 

“I had a lot more time to think about how it’s going to run, how it’s going to start up, the processes and how to set it apart from other creative studios and really focusing on the process and how key that is,” Kayode tells us.

“I’m not able to pick up with clients as quickly as I’d liked to have done but I think that in itself can be a pro for me, because a lot of the times people want to get to things really quickly but with something new, you want to take your time and get the right clients on board.” 

"We’ve taken that sonic process and transferred it into the visual creative process, which I think is the only way"

Partially inspired by the work of Metallic Inc, a management company and creative studio that also supports the work of black creatives and those from underrepresented backgrounds, sharing in part of Kayode’s vision.

Championing diversity

“I just love how they embrace and champion diversity and cultivation, for the past four or five years because they really had that blueprint to how we’re operating now and they work with some of the most diverse and up and coming creatives.” Having worked with Skepta, SK AIR and launched their own Homecoming festival, which allows for creatives to network and flourish, they’re undeniably one of the most innovative companies out there currently.

"During my time at AWAL / Kobalt, I made it a very conscious effort to hire more black, young and female creatives for artist projects. When I was emerging into music as a creative freelancer it was very difficult to get a foot in the door and have an opportunity presented to me. At TRIBEAST, I ensured we focused on hiring and working with a diverse group of individuals."

“I’m also able to use TRIBE Management to be the testimony of what we are preaching through TRIBEAST Studios,” Kayode explains.

“So all my artists I’m releasing for we are doing all their creative direction, commissioning, we work with the creatives hands-on and really closely as an artist would do with the producer and the songwriter - we’ve taken that sonic process and transferred it into the visual creative process, which I think is the only way.” And the results speak for themselves, two of his artists have recently released debut music videos, with one hitting 23k and the other around the 50k mark.

“It has been a hard time but we’ve used it to focus on the conglomerate which will be its own testimony to the creative process, for music and visual creative as well.”

Working remotely effectively

As well as the artists managed under TRIBE Management, TRIBEAST Studios manages around seven freelancers including a photographer, a director, a 3D and AR designer, a graphics and UX designer, a PA as well as a junior creative director. With so many people on board working remotely, it’s important to check in with each other during these difficult moments. 

“We operate in normal working hours, Monday to Friday, 9-5 sort of thing, especially with artists. We establish a normal routine as we would do in an office, not that we work throughout those hours but we communicate in those hours so everyone has their evenings and weekends free because sometimes in music, if you’re not careful, you can be working 7 days a week.”

Managing your time efficiently is crucial to avoid burnout and its subsequent mental health problems.  

“We have regular catch-ups to see whether there’s anything they’re concerned about, especially during a lockdown you don’t know, and it’s kind of hard. For the artists we gave them masterclasses in lockdown to make sure they were busy too, not just worrying.”

"Personal relationships are definitely key in professional music, and that’s what’s great about it... it’s the relationships you have with people because music can be tense"

“Because it’s important, me and my business partner kind of kept each other sane during the lockdown, we spoke almost every day checking that we were both cool and both fine to operate the business as we need to. Personal relationships are definitely key in professional music, and that’s what’s great about it, music isn’t just the professional side of it but also it’s the relationships you have with people because music can be tense.” 

It goes without saying that keeping yourself mentally well builds the foundations for greatness across all areas of your life, including professionally. Having a passion for what you do obviously keeps you going when times are tough but Kayode highlights the importance of knowing your purpose can even outshine that. 

“Things like your unique selling points, your objectives and your goals, that will really be informed by your purpose of creating a business, and really taking your time to structure it and build it out and having a really strategic approach to setting up your business, those things are definitely the key.”

Kayode's Top 5 creatives to check out
Kayode's Top 5 music artists to listen to