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A Chat With 'A Man of Many Hats,' Multi-Platinum Singer/Songwriter, Label Exec & Grammy Winner NE-YO

Upon a recent visit to Washington, D.C., multi-Platinum, Grammy-award winning artist NE-YO and RIAA Chairman & CEO Cary Sherman sat down to chat about a range of issues, including NE-YO’s storied music career, writing hits for Beyonce, Kanye West, Rihanna and others and his role as Senior Vice President of Artist and Repertoire (A&R) for Motown Records, among other topics.

“I just want to be one of the last great storytellers,” said NE-YO when describing his music career. “The greatest compliment I’ve ever been given – I’ve had people walk up on me and say, ‘Me and my wife’s first dance was to one of your songs,’ or ‘I was going through a really tough time with a breakup and your song helped me get through it.’ This is why I do what I do.”

As SVP of A&R for Motown Records, NE-YO is responsible for discovering new talent and bringing talent to the label. Asked by Sherman what he looks for in an artist he signs, NE-YO responded, “For me, it’s always about passion…if there’s no passion behind [your music], it becomes very ‘for the moment.’ And nothing ‘for the moment’ is ever worth it…”

“And you can definitely see it on a person. If there was no money, if there was no fame and fortune, he would still be somewhere with a guitar in his hand – that’s the guy I’m trying to sign.”

In his conversation with Sherman, NE-YO touted the benefits of being signed to a record label. “The label is support,” said NE-YO. “When you want [your music] to move a little further than just your block or your city, that costs money. It’s not a cheap thing. It’s not an easy thing. From a standpoint of distribution, from the standpoint of marketing and promotion, there’s a million things that you can do yourself, but when you need that extra long arm to get you even further, that’s where the label comes in.”

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