Beyond the music, creating spaces for rising creators to succeed is needed and James Fauntleroy is doing just that. Four-time Grammy Award-winning artist and the man behind some of music's biggest mega-hits, teamed up with Grammy Awarding-winning producer Larrance “Rance” Dopson and entrepreneur/philanthropist Twila True to create the 1500 Sound Academy. Established back in 2018, the Academy offers a variety of tools and education to aspiring professionals. Bringing together a wide range of courses and guest lectures from artists like Kendrick Lamar, Master P, and Diddy, the organization has created a pipeline from school to career. To get some more details about the organization, industry titan James Fauntleroy tapped in.
Inglewood-native, James Fauntleroy, seems to get better with time. With a discography that could humble plenty and heavy accolades on his belt, he’s onto bigger ventures. Teaming up with Rance, the duo created an organization that helps provide others with everything they need to take the industry head-on. Reminiscing on how the collab began, Fauntleroy gave a heads up that the story was a long one, and…he was right. “Rance and I both experienced a lot in the music industry. That was the first seed. We also talked a lot about the philosophy of learning”, he dug into how the 1500 Sound Academy began to come into fruition. Both Fauntleroy and Dopson have given a lot to the industry, so the team up to establish the Academy was another great contribution. “My first real session, Lorrance had taken me. Teddy Riley was there. Later, he told me that the more knowledge you have, the more control you’ll have over the music,” he continued. Sharing their hunger for learning and creativity, the Academy would be born.
The artist, songwriter, and producer has created hits for industry titans like Beyoncé and Rihanna, which isn’t something everyone can say they’ve done in this lifetime. Now stepping into mentorship, Fauntleroy came to the Academy with a plethora of knowledge and skill to pass on. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to bear the brunt of all the educating when there's a village of seasoned professionals around him. “We have a special thing here because we have so many people; from music executives to software engineers that are willing to come in and share their knowledge. We don’t have to worry about really having to do too much”. The school offers courses in songwriting, business management, artist branding, engineering, mixing, and music production. Enlisting the help from a vast group of music professionals, students are given quite an advantage to learning the game.
Gaining success and maintaining it can be difficult in an industry that can be just as fast-paced as it is cruel. But with organizations like this in place, aspiring professionals have a chance to potentially fast-track their success. “Everything about your journey is based on the tools you have to get from point A to B. There are things that you need and that’s harder to do on your own versus someone to tell you what you need”, he explains. “The average lifespan of someone like me is 1-3 years in this game. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve seen generations of people leave. But I’ve noticed they all had some things in common that seemed to be why their lifespan in the game was so short. So, we had to add those things to the curriculum”, he continued. Being mindful of the volatility that comes with the industry, Fauntleroy and Dopson can give students a well-rounded education that includes skills that go beyond just having talent. As the organization continues to expand, he hopes to give back even more. “My hope is for everything I do to be of service or in service to someone else and not just on the personal level. Everything I’m doing, I’m just hoping that it can be of use to someone. The true value of what you do is based on its use to others”. Well said.
Unplugging for a while to enjoy the fruits of his labor, Fauntleroy is gearing up to get back to the studio side of things. Some of his last notable cuts included the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack single,” What It Feels Like” featuring Jay-Z and the late Nipsey Hussle. “I haven’t done shit in like the last nine months. I was playing Animal Crossing for the most part. But I have an album. I made it some years ago but I’m putting it out for my fan base. I’m slowly getting back into the rhythm and it’s been hard”, he expressed. Establishing himself through co-signs from headlining artists and an ever-growing fan base, he didn’t seem to feel the pressure to drop a solo album. “My measurement is myself. So, where I started to where I am now, I’m killing it. What really compelled me to make something of my own, was the crazy amount of requests I got from the people that want to hear from me." Showing his appreciation to those who have shown him love over the years, the album comes as a “thank you” to those who have stood beside him all these years.
The hustle and grind in James Fauntleroy is an untrainable character trait that, with determination, ultimately brought him to this moment. Reflecting on his journey to the top, the only thing on his mind now is to keep going. With one hand in community-focused service and another hand in music, he’s proving that true success is limitless. While his fans will have to wait for the new album (TBD), aspiring creators can now enroll in the 1500 Sound Academy’s new On-Demand Online Program through their partnership with Yellowbrick. The program includes courses in:
- Music Production: A course around the foundations of digital music production including drum sequencing, music theory for producers, studio etiquette and more. Production is taught in Ableton Live period.
- Songwriting: Featuring lessons around lyric and melody writing, song structure, and song analysis, the course also covers advanced aspects of music theory.
- Mixing: Taught in Pro Tools, this course covers the fundamentals of music mixing including balancing levels, vocal production and creating space, as well as current mix delivery requirements.
- Engineering: As the backbone of music creation, this course features vocal recording techniques, digital audio fundamentals, recording templates and more.
- Music Business: This course features the foundations of managing a music career including publishing, copyright, contracts and taxes.
- Artist Branding: Offering an in-depth understanding of the artist experience, this course features branding, marketing, song distribution and online presence for music artists, producers and other industry professionals.
Enrollment for the program is now open to all creators and pricing and financing options are available at: https://www.yellowbrick.co/