then you got the artist that’s there, so I try to tell them it takes more than one person to make this all happen.
“If you’re not the artistic person, maybe you’re the finance person. If you’re not that person, maybe you’re the lawyer. Maybe a photographer, maybe the choreographer, maybe doing art direction, maybe the stylist. It takes all of these people to make one act happen. So that’s what we kind of encourage and we teach business education in it too. Make sure you learn your business in the music industry.”
At the fundraising event, Atlanta City Council member Keisha Lance Bottoms presented Austin with a proclamation from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for the accomplishments DAFME have achieved over the years.
“I feel honored about it because Kasim has been a part of the music industry before he became mayor. I consider him to be a part of us because he’s come from dealing with a musical background in Atlanta. It’s a 360 in a way. It’s a full honor. For him to be mayor it’s a full honor for one and for him to be able to give me a proclamation is a super honor in the same sense,” said Austin.
Austin has made an indelible mark on the music industry in Atlanta as well as in filmmaking. In 2008, Austin lobbied then-Gov. Sonny Purdue and other legislators to create more tax incentives in film while he was preparing to film the movie “ATL.” Austin’s efforts resulted in the governor signing into law the Georgia Entertainment Investment Act.
A Columbus, Ga., Austin said he is pleased with how far his career and foundation have progressed. He intends to make his music program a part of each school’s curriculum and eventually plans to start some initiatives in his hometown. Austin also requires students who have low grades to improve them in order to participate. Thus far, more than 2,000 high school students have participated in the program.
“It’s panned out to be great. Some schools like North Atlanta have taken the program and expanded on it. When I go in, it’s one set up and then I go back in and it’s nine set ups.”
As a music pioneer in Atlanta, Austin views Atlanta as aspecial place in music history. “It’s a thing in Atlanta and I know in other places it’s there, but very much so in Atlanta. Music has been our savior in a way….of people maybe not as well-educated, maybe it didn’t connect to you at school, but it connects to you through music. It makes you aware and other things become important at that point. You’re like, ‘Oh man, if I had known if I wrote, this would be important, then my math would have been important.’ I tell a lot of kids if you want to be a rapper, you better get your English straight. You need your social studies and English, and everything straight. You never been to St. Tropez; you need to know what they’re talking about. So make sure you study these things so you know what you’re talking about. It’s a link to make school interesting to that kid,” said Austin.
In the near future, Austin says he’s going back to basics with developing artists and creating brands and quality artists such as when he started out and careers of artists like TLC were launched. Atlanta will be anxious to see the manifestation.