Born and raised on hip hop from Bed Stuy to the Bronx, Jason Geter was built New York tough for the music business. Starting as a mixtape salesman, Geter made his way into his first internship at Arista Records, the label that distributed Bad Boy Records and LaFace Records and quickly worked his way up the ranks, learning the ins and outs of the record industry along the way. “That side of the business, from a numbers standpoint – always piqued my interest,” says Geter.
After dropping out of college to pursue his dreams of becoming an A&R, 21-year-old Jason relocated to Atlanta and landed a job at Patchwerk Studios as the overnight studio manager where he would answer the door, making relationships with managers, artists, and producers, leading him to also became friendly with a virtually unknown 18-year-old artist. The artist, T.I., along with rapper Travis Scott – who only had 500 views on YouTube at the time – both ended up signing to Geter’s Grand Hustle Records. “From what I know about Jason, he tends to do the things he sets out to do, says record executive Kawan Prather who got his start at La Face Records and knew Jason from the early days at Patchwerk. “He always understood the next opportunity and stayed aware, I’ve always admired his foresight.”
From humble beginnings in the underbelly of Atlanta’s startup hip hop community, Jason always worked to challenge the status quo, setting up unique programs with artists and labels that allowed him and his team to focus on developing talent. “You really had to be a manager to make money in the business and I liked working on things I could have equity in,” says Geter. When streaming became the norm, the transparency it created for artists and managers became blinding. “Record labels play a lot of games with receipts,” says Geter.
After several successful businesses and partnerships across music and apparel, Jason is now refocusing his energy on a new project, Heavy Sound Labs. Redefining what it means to be a record label, Heavy Sound Labs is structured as an incubator for emerging artists and a community of creative collaborators to jumpstart businesses at the intersection of music and technology.
With support from Los Angeles-based venture fund, Science Inc., co-founded by former MySpace CEO, Mike Jones, Heavy Sound Labs focuses on developing a pool of artists – more artists at a time than a traditional label would at one time, eventually in hopes of breaking talent and fostering the development of a strong community of future artists. “Heavy Sound Labs pairs Jason’s unmatched ability to identify and grow talent at the earliest stages of development with the Heavy Crew, a powerful digital network of creatives and fans who can help the artists gain cultural traction,” says Jones.
The 24-month exclusive development deal comes in 3 phases and includes: Distribution, Amplification, and Growth. During Phase 1: Distribution, an 80/20 split in favor of the artist is put in place in exchange for leveraging strategic resources, industry relationships, and playlist pitching. Phase 2: Amplification, sees an equal 50/50 split, and the final Phase 3:Growth, reverts back to the terms in Phase 1 in hopes of upstreaming with a major label partner. Heavy Sound Labs retains some equity in the form of a sunset clause for each deal. “I really want to help artists evolve into creative entrepreneurs,” says Geter.
The community of rappers, singers, and producers is growing through an online portal and tech stack that enables connectivity between members through a robust 1200 member Slack channel, weekly Instagram Live sessions from industry leaders, and regular “Heavy Talk” Zoom check-ins. With an in-house Heavy Sound “Crew”, the ability to pressure test new sounds becomes a reality. “Labels don’t have a built in workforce like we do,” says Geter. Heavy Sound Labs has a small team in Atlanta and A&R’s in Tokyo, London, and South Africa.
With 40,000 new songs being added to Spotify alone, each day, the opportunity to develop even a handful of those song-producing artists could be a potentially very lucrative bet.