Leading a new label funded by Dan Gilbert, the music industry vet wants to help Detroit artists thrive
DETROIT A venture that funded by billionaire Dan Gilbert is bringing a new record label to Motown, with a focus on artist equity and ownership.
WRKSHP, a new music-based lifestyle that seeks to bolster artistic talent in the city of Detroit, is the leading investor and partner.
Music is the compass that connects people to a collective path, Gilbert said in a news release.
Che Pope, a multiplatinum producer and songwriter, has worked with Lauryn Hill and Aretha Franklin for 25 years, and is currently in the lead-up to the new imprint coming to Detroit's Capitol Park neighborhood.
Pope, the former head of Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, said in a statement that WRKSHP would become a progressive artist management company capable of empowering people of all ages rather than taking advantage of them.
The Pope has acknowledged that record labels have a long history of engaging in predatory transactions, preventing artists from owning their master recordings.
I didn't spend three years of my life doing this to take from artists or this and that. I'm trying to push the industry and help the playing field, Pope said. The type of relationships we want are partnerships, where artists have ownership of their ideas.
The music industry veteran described the company's artistic vision as "inquisitive" and said that he would "partner" with artists rather than sign them.
Gilbert said in a press release that Che is a renaissance man who has built his life in a way that incorporates WRKSHPs powerful vision. Weve made this natural choice for our headquarters.
The headquarters is located in the same building that houses the Detroit Institute of Music Education and is currently sharing a space with Woodward Original, a film company. Pope has said the agency will move into its own space in the next few months.
Gilbert met him at a dinner in Santa Barbara, California, which he kept in touch before he offered him an opportunity to work with him on what became WRKSHP.
Motown was a huge growing up, according to Pope Benedict cohn, who owns all of Diana Ross' solo albums on vinyl, loves Teena Marie, and admires Smokey Robinson. J Dilla, Pope's greatest inspiration in music, would show him records from Detroit artists before his death in 2006.
During his time with Big Sean, he helped Pope establish a partnership with Detroit's artistic community several years ago.
We have a time and a moment where the spotlight is placed on us and places have more access than others in terms of exposure, Pope said. I havent been here since 2006 when we did an Eminem album. I havent been here since 2016. I come back and I see all this stuff going on, from the resurgence of the music to the artist and entrepreneurialism community.
Pope's was commuting from Los Angeles to Detroit in preparation for the launch of the new venture. He said hes been impressed by venues like Spot Lite Detroit, a bar that doubles as an artist gallery and record store on the city's east side.
WRKSHP, a music industry veteran, has promised the company to be more than a record label and use its resources to assist local artists.
Official day one was Monday, but youll start seeing things really start happening in February, said the opportunistic day one.
New York Times said it has already established artists partners, which the company will update later. Ndamukong Suh, a former Detroit Lions star, and StockX CEO Greg Schwartz are among the other investors in the company.
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