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February 26, 2014 | Music Notes Blog

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.”

Check out more of their conversation here:

A triple threat singer, songwriter, and actor, NE-YO’s hit “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)” was certified RIAA Platinum in 2013. Three of NE-YO’s albums — 2006’s “In My Own Words,” 2007’s “Because of You,” 2008’s “Year of the Gentleman” – have gone RIAA Platinum and produced several popular hits, including “Miss Independent,” “Sexy Love,” “Because of You,” “Mad” and “Closer.” NE-YO has also appeared in several films including Stomp The Yard, Save the Last Dance, Red Tails, and Battle: Los Angeles and written music for films such as The Princess and the Frog, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire and I Can Do Bad All by Myself.