Born and raised on hip hop from Bed-Stuy to the Bronx, Jason Geter was made 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, quickly working his way up the ranks, learning key pieces of success in the record industry along the way. “From a numbers standpoint, that side of the business 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, GA and landed a job at Patchwerk Studios as the overnight studio manager where he would answer the door and make relationships with managers, artists, producers, also became friendly with a virtually unknown 18 year old artist. The artist, who most know now as T.I., and rapper Travis Scott – who only had 500 views on YouTube at the time, both ended up signing to Geter’s Grand Hustle Records. “He used my office for Grand Hustle [Records] in the beginning,” says record executive Kawan Prather who got his start at La Face Records. “From what I know about Jason, he tends to do the things he sets out to do, he always understands the next opportunity and stays 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 business and partnerships in music and apparel, Jason is 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 more artists at a time than a traditional label would, eventually in hopes to break talent within an equitable deal structure that aids in the development of community and future talent. “Heavy Sound 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,” said 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 itching. 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 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 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.