Photos by Ella Gagiano, Ella Gagiano Studios
What started out as a socially minded entrepreneur’s idea to promote the beauty and diversity of music industry has blossomed into a bona fide movement. Legacy Records CEO, Keishia McLeod’s innovative approach is making waves in the music industry as the first recording label to pay its artists in cryptocurrency.
Growing up with a passion for music, Mcleod never envisioned spearheading an organization that would one day help artists take themselves and their music to a new level.
Here is what Mcleod had to say in our exclusive interview.
What inspired you to build a record label?
I was running a production company and we were dead center in the thick of covid when all production was at a stop! I was just about to bring in a few artists from Marvel and DC and nothing was moving forward- I had to pivot fast and dive into what WAS and always is relevant: music. We were working with new artists and there were so many things happening that created the perfect storm. During this time, I kept finding out holes in the industry and I remember I just kept asking why, why… I realized I had everything to put solutions to these questions. I felt that because I had the capability, I also had the obligation to make sure I made it a reality.
Have you always shared a passion for music?
ALWAYS! But in many ways at each age growing up. I taught myself how to play the piano at around age 7. I could hear any song, and in a few minutes, (sometimes hours) could replay it. I taught piano lessons for quite a few years. My favorite little clients were 6-year-old triplets. It was challenging because of our inability to communicate easily; they spoke FRENCH and let’s just say I didn’t pay close enough attention in my 8th grade French class to teach an instrument to 3 little humans! I ended up color coding the keys and writing their music in matching color a few nights out of the week and it worked! I will never forget that. I learned about rhythm and of musical theater at a young age- I was in 5 dance classes a week sometimes varying but mainly; jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet and musical theater/voice coaching. I picked up many little roles growing up and performed in Broadway plays in the summer, one year with Donny and Marie Osmond which was so fun, but in that environment through most of my younger years- hearing about the industry, being back stage, performing and traveling for competitions, it was something I knew I wanted to be involved in and I set my sights on being a background dancer and traveling around with different artists. I ended up going a completely different direction and explored many different opportunities in business through most of my 20’s which help with so many of the necessary needs of running a label and many other companies and investments today. It’s so crazy how you can connect the dots looking backwards.
Can you tell us a little about Legacy Records and what makes the brand so unique?
We flipped the scale. We came out strong being the first label to pay our artists in cryptocurrency and we’re doing so much more to make sure that our artists learn how to create real wealth by learning how to invest and build other businesses themselves. It’s important to me that these artists don’t just appear to have a certain lifestyle and behind the scenes be struggling. I can also say that what we have coming out next year will make us unrecognizable in the music industry. It’s time for a pivot and the support is overwhelming. Labels aren’t what they used to be, and I think it’s important we evolve and pave this new path for artists.
What do you love most about what you do?
This may sound odd, but I love that it feels natural. It’s not work for me or anyone on the team. We all have such a solid and unique way of working together and at every level from corporate to our staff at the studio. I get to be a part of CREATING every single day in everything I do. I get to witness magic being made firsthand and be a part of that process. I get to see my team multiply and handle insane growth faster than we can keep up with and watch them prepare for tours and tv shows. I get to watch others accomplish HUGE things and help see them grow and progress and that is so fulfilling to me.
What are some challenges you overcame building a record label?
I am laughing because I have literally 6 months of stories for you! Building any new empire has its individual challenges, but to me the most important thing was making sure we had a solid foundation before the floodgates came in (which they did)! Making sure every department was set up efficiently was a challenge because every week we were growing and adding more and more. At times the train was there before we were able to lay the tracks which to me worked out better because pressure builds BIG results. We all feed off that pressure.
What are you most proud of in the label?
I think that we surpassed every goal we had for the label in its first year well before we had projected. The momentum continues to grow and pick up speed and I can see this is already larger than we had expected.
What do you look for when bringing on new talent?
That we both align with each other’s goals and the soul of the artist. you can’t get caught up in streams and followers and the game. the most important thing is that we align and of course… the music.
Any exciting upcoming artists or projects we should pay attention to?
You will be seeing Legacy artists on tours and stages during 4th quarter as well as an upcoming season on TV— Stay tuned!