While anticipating my conversation with James McMillan, the truth of the matter is the only thing that I wanted to do in that very moment was to take in all the information and knowledge that Mr. James McMillan was about to offer. I mean after all; he has only advocated and represented for some of the entertainment industries biggest music icons and records labels including New Edition, Cool & Dre, Machine Gun Kelly, 8 Ball & MJG and Universal Records, just to name a few. And let’s just casually mention that he is currently representing YBN Almighty Jay, YBN Cordae, YBN Nahmir, and Skate Maloley.
The legacy of James McMillan includes him being an entertainment attorney to transitioning into becoming the owner of the Art @ War Label, which partners with Atlantic Records.
I had the opportunity to vibe with the one and only Mr. James McMillan to talk about his work and his journey in the entertainment
This interview is an artist’s dream, sit back, process the information, and take notes.
Parlé Mag: Thank you so much for taking your time out to speak with me this morning.
James McMillan: Thanks so much for taking your time out to give me a platform. I appreciate it.
Parlé Mag: Okay. So I can just go ahead and get started. And I just want to be completely transparent and tell you I woke up this morning, I felt so nervous because it’s not often I get an opportunity to speak to someone that has so much knowledge and wisdom in regards to the entertainment industry and your overall legacy.
James McMillan: You got game! You are the best.
Parlé Mag: I did my research.
James McMillan: I love it. I love it. I love it.
Parlé Mag: For those who are not connected to the entertainment industry and may not be aware of your legacy as an entertainment attorney, how would you want the world to know who James McMillan is? How would you introduce yourself?
James McMillan: I would introduce myself as someone who is very passionate about entertainment and the art and the protection and promotion of artists, and the arts in general. So I think that’s how I would want to be promoted, and a great advocate for the culture.
Parlé Mag: Tell me about Art@War. What was your motivation behind transitioning from attorney to artist management to now owning the label?
James McMillan: For me, it just felt like a natural progression. I just always wanted to promote the art, and just the way that my life and career transitioned and God I guess kind of pointed me in certain directions to be initially a brand protector. So artists protect their rights. And then it evolved into me helping artists manage their rights, and now with me actually owning the rights with the artists and promoting the rights. So, I’ve always been in the artist’s rights business, and it’s really important to me. And that’s one of the reasons why we named the company Art@War. Well, I named the company Art@War because it’s like we go to war for the artists and the art, really.
Parlé Mag: So I actually wrote a note about that because that resonated with me. When I was reading your bio and I read, “ that art is at war “ and that has so many different meanings. There are a lot of artists out here that really feel like they’re alone and they don’t have protection or people looking after them. So to see that, okay, here’s a label where a lot of people are anti-label now, everybody wants to have a independent grind, releasing songs on social media or just the different streaming platforms. And Art@War is actually a label that’s here for you, to advocate for you. So that really resonated with me.
James McMillan: Yeah. What we try to do it at Art@War; make sure that the artists know that we’re together and we’re trying to help promote their medium, whether it’s music or they’re an actor or whatever it is. We are really passionate about what we’re doing.
Parlé Mag: So you’re representing actors and actresses too?
James McMillan: No, no, no. What we do is we’ve got a bunch of musicians, right? Music is the foundation of our business, but at the same time, we’re in the brand management business, so in the entertainment brand management business. So in the event that the artist has the chops to go out and be an actor, then we will help manage them into that space or help manage their career in that space and manage the process for that.
Parlé Mag: What attributes do you look for in talent that can possibly represent the Art@War brand?
James McMillan: An extreme unique flavor and something that can help shift the culture. So artists that have the aptitude to shift the culture and have a unique talent, we want to be in business with them. Our ultimate goal is to make a cultural impact. In order to make a cultural impact, you have to be able to find those unique voices in the community that are going to help shift and move the culture forward.
Parlé Mag: So now we have a lot of artists that’s going the independent route and they don’t necessarily have that business knowledge but they know they can get a song out there and release it on social media or uploaded to iTunes. What advice would you give to artists that are deciding to go that route? Like, “I don’t need a label. I can do this myself.”
James McMillan: What we do at Art@War, one of the things that we hope to provide or we do provide is an alternate solution to that. So artists that want to feel like they are independent or want to do things really independent of… Let me dial it back. Independence a lot of times is just a word that I think a lot of artists use to basically want to make sure that they maintain some form of control over their work, right? But in order to actually really enhance and make money with their art, there comes a time when you have to partner up with the right professionals in order to roll it out across the world, right?
Parlé Mag: Right.
James McMillan: So we are that tech solution for the artists to have the right partners to roll their art out onto a worldwide platform. Independence is cool, but a lot of times if you don’t have the know-how and you don’t have the right partnerships in place, then we find that a lot of artists hit a ceiling. And they may not realize that it takes a village a lot of times to really make an artist a worldwide superstar. So it depends on who the artist is. If the artist doesn’t have the ambition to be a worldwide superstar, then they can go do their own thing and hopefully they find their success online just by throwing their stuff online and maybe promoting themselves, by themselves. But if any artist really does their research, in order to find a worldwide platform, you’ve got to have partners and we think that we’re the number one partner in the business actually.
Parlé Mag: And so do I. I’m not just saying that, I really do. You really can’t do it alone. A lot of people think they can do it all by themselves, but they can’t. So you really need a team that really has your best interest at heart.
James McMillan: Yeah. And not only that, to add on to that, you said a key thing. You need a team, but you also need the right team. Think about it. Are you a sports fan?
Parlé Mag: I watch it. I tolerate it. But I can’t say “Oh yeah, I’m a big sports fan.”
James McMillan: Okay. Well let me ask you this. Which sport do you watch the most?
Parlé Mag: I have to say basketball.
James McMillan: All right. So let’s put yourself in the shoes of a top rated basketball player. So let’s say it goes back to what you asked me a little while ago about what we’re looking for in talent. We’re looking for the LeBron James and Steph Curry, the Kevin Durant in the music space. Right?
Parlé Mag: Right.
James McMillan: And when you find those, what you find is a lot of times, not only do they have tops tier unique talent, but they also have a top tier and unique ambition. To some degree they know that they’ve got something special, but they also know, because generally they’ve had some local success, that they know that they’ve tapped out with promoting their unique special talent to the world and they need help. So we are that solution. So if you go back to like the basketball analogy, we will be the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers or one of those championship teams that can help that artists reach the top and get an actual ring or championship. That’s what we want to do. That’s who we are. That’s what we are at Art@War.
Parlé Mag: I love it.
James McMillan: We are that solution and that label that’s going to help you take it to the top, not just to be in the league, not just to be saying that you made it to the basketball league. We don’t want to be in business with artists like that. You’ve got to want to win a championship, be at the top of your game, because there’s a certain work ethic that comes along with that. And the same way we’re going to challenge the world or force the world to recognize that artist’s unique talent is the same way we’re going to force that artist to dig deep and work hard to do what they need to do to promote their talent to the world.
Parlé Mag: Perfect. Switching gears a bit, both your parents worked for the public school system. Outside of writing, I also work for a public school system and I see so many incredible kids that are gifted. I worked in Title I schools where many of our student population households fall under the Federal Poverty line. Your story and just hearing what you have to say, I know it can lift so many spirits. You went out and you had focus, you had vision and you made it happen. So I appreciated reading about where you have come from in bio.
James McMillan: No doubt. I have focus, but at the same time too, I had parents that really helped shape and mold, and a family that really helped shape and mold my desires and my dreams. So what I find a lot of times is we meet people from all different types of backgrounds, and those people come to the table, they may have a unique talent but sometimes that talent is being suppressed or being bogged down by some family structure or some people that are in their lives, whether it be girlfriends, boyfriends, whatever it is, that may not be as supportive of their dreams. Right?
Parlé Mag: Right.
James McMillan: So in order to break through, you need a real strong personality that’s going to really know inside and have their burning desire inside to know that they’ve got something special. Right?
Parlé Mag: I agree.
James McMillan: And it’s funny because I’m sure you see it in the school system all the time. There are certain people that you come across, certain kids or whatever that you come across that they just have it in them. They just have that burning desire in them. And you know that this isn’t the last time you’ll see them, one, or two, that this isn’t the end for them. There’s so much more coming from this person. Right?
Parlé Mag: Right, right. Absolutely! This has been amazing. You definitely have a supporter right here.
James McMillan: Thank you so much. I appreciate you.
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