When New Orleans Hornets guard Roger Mason Jr. first got into the music business in 2009 and started scheduling meetings to sign his first act, urban pop singer Segarra, he didn’t want anyone to know he was an NBA player. He took his passion sincerely and was afraid music executives would take him lightly and not give him a fair deal. “There have been so many times that athletes aren’t taken seriously,” said Mason, who was a classically trained pianist at 7 years old.
It sounds like a great life-building opportunity for the players to learn much more about one of their favorite interests. Right, and that’s what the players’ association is all about. For example, they have a program at Syracuse University on broadcasting. They’ve been doing that for about the last six, seven years. I think they have an 80 percent rate of the guys that do the broadcasting, and then those guys go on to work. Shaq did it going to work at ESPN, and now he’s at TNT. They’ve got a coaching program that they do, and that coaching program is the [NBPA] Top 100 [High School Basketball] Camp. A lot of guys have gone to become coaches from that program. They have a GM program. The players’ association has many programs for guys that do things that they might want to do when they’re not playing ball.
Is the NBA involved to help you push your music platform forward? I did mention to Mr. [David] Stern that I got that deal with Universal, and he was proud. But right now, I still keep it secret because the biggest thing with me is what I do on the court. The one thing that I have talked to the players’ association about is working with Clive Davis and NYU and doing a program for the guys. I’ve been working on it for the last year and a half. It’s a program with NYU and the Clive Davis [Institute of Recorded Music], where [a player can] get a mentor and they’re able to actually find out about the business of music. And it’s really cool. It’s something I’ve brought to the union since there are so many guys that are interested in music and doing stuff. They would actually get real, solid information on the business, how it works and what the publishing means and all the little nuances that a lot of guys don’t know. I’ve been working with Mr. Davis and his team to try to put something together for the players’ association.
Based on what you have learned and are currently doing, have there been any instances where athletes have come to you for music advice? As we both know, a lot of them want to get into the industry. For a long time, to be honest with you, I didn’t want to let anybody know that I was doing it. First of all, even when I went and got my deal with Segarra with Universal, we took meetings with six labels. We went and saw everybody, and not once did they even know that I played basketball. And that was really important for me because I didn’t want them to judge the music in a negative way. There have been so many times that athletes aren’t taken seriously. So with me, honestly, I didn’t tell anybody that I was even doing it. I didn’t want anybody to take the project any less serious.