Industry 101: Chris Atlas
Howd the Cornerstone MixCD come about?
It started in 1998 by Rob Stone, Lee Majors, and Cory CL. It started out as way to showcase a DJ on a national level and gave promoters the opportunity to break new records. That was the mindset that it started and it has pretty much kept that but has grown tremendously from the amount of DJs that have mixed on a Cornerstone, to the reach of a Cornerstone being that its still a predominately an industry CD, but the reputation of it extends far beyond the CD.
Whend you come to Cornerstone?
I came in 2001. CL was still here, but he was taking a different role. Lee Majors was the editor, and still is the editor of the Fadar Magazine. So he was becoming less involved with the mixtape and once CL eventually left the company in 2001, I assumed full responsibility of producing the mixtapes, of course with the mixshow team I supervise.
What are your responsibilities for putting together the mixtape?
I supervise the production of it, its not like I, or Rob, have the final say in what goes on because its definitely a democratic process. Im in charge of the mixtape, but we try to include the other guys in the mixshow department as much as possible. Ultimately, if its something that I feel doesnt work then I do have the final veto and Rob has the final veto. I supervise the production of the CDs from the visuals of it, to the music we select, to the DJs we select, to the actual production of the mixing.
Conerstone isnt your introduction to the music industry, is it?
I interned at various different companies. My last years of college I interned at Jack The Rapper, which was one of the leading Urban Trade conferences. I interned at Jive Records and at Tommy Records, which turned into a full-time position. While at Tommy Boy I took on various roles from working on a multi-platinum compilation- Jock Jamz and Jock Rock. I handled college promotion to mix-show promotion to A&R to heading up the urban marketing for Tommy Boy. When I eventually left in 2001, I was General Manager of urban music.
Were you around when Tommy Boy folded?
I left a year before.
So, are you on Noreagas side and fuck Tommy Boy?
No, not at all.
So when he says fuck Tommy Boy, hes including you?
I dont like to think that, because even though, N.O.R.E. said, fuck Tommy Boy and a lot of people associate that with the staff at Tommy Boy, but there were a lot of people there that he had a good relationship with. Noreagas beef had more to with the actual owner of Tommy Boy, not the staff. A lot of people on the staff worked very hard to make his project happen. I know that that wasnt directed at me. I see him and its all good.
Of course! Im sure he wants to be on a Cornerstone mixtapeSo what took you from Tommy Boy to Cornerstone?
My last year at Tommy Boy, we had a great year in regards to Hip-Hop projects. Running the urban department I had the opportunity to put on different independent marketing companies to help impact our projects. Cornerstone was one of those companies that I contracted. I developed a great relationship with Rob Stone and have always had great respect for Cornerstone and the work that theyve done. I was looking to do something different and Rob and I shared a common vision.
Who picks the music, the DJ?
My staff normally selects the music, of course with the imput of the DJ. We allow the DJ freedom to play songs that they wanna play. We try to represent the different perspectives of the music. Youll hear underground joints, youll hear club joints, youll hear dirty south joints, because even though were in New York, the CD is not a New York CD. Sometimes well get radical opinions on the mixes, but thats the power of the mixtape. We give cats an opportunity to showcase their talents for how they do it. Every DJ doesnt have the same style, if they did we could just have the same DJ every month.
Is there payola involved in the mixtape?
Theres no payola involved but dont get it twisted, its a marketing tool so there are economics associated with it. We are a marketing and promotions company.
What other services do you guys provide?
The CD is a component of Cornerstone, were a full service marketing company. We do radio promotions, we do mix-show promotion, we also have a college marketing team called the Farm Team. They do lifestyle marketing, product placement, product research, college radio promotion. We have an online marketing department which does online services. We also have a corporate marketing component where we do product placement and product promotion on a coporate level such as X-Box, Sprite, or Fila. We also have the Fadar Magazine, which is a separate entity from Cornerstone.
Lets bring it back to the Cornerstone CD. Whats more important to the Cornerstone Mixtape, the DJ or the music?
Both. The Cornerstone Mixtape wouldnt be hot without the right DJ or the right music.