Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 2 months ago

Antone Barnes | Average To Savage EP154

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is the one hundred and fifty-forth episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring entrepreneur Antone Barnes. Paul Guarino talked with Antone Barnes discussing how he got into entrepreneurship, working in music, and now working in sports with athletes  

Follow Antone Barnes https://www.instagram.com/thebrandarch  

This podcast interview with Antone Barnes was originally recorded on November 1, 2021

...this is the average to Savage podcastwith paul Guerrino. Everyone and anyone athletes celebs andmuch more. What's up everybody? I'm back foranother episode of the average Savage podcast. Our special guest today isAntone Barnes Antone, how's it going? I'm good and yourself. I'm good,appreciate you coming on. Well I appreciate you having me on veryimportant topics like that. Yeah, I like that. Your background already.Yeah. You definitely tell me about that eventually. Yeah, I'll go into that.You know, I got some very fond memories of those days. That's for sure. Allright. So you could just give us just like a little brief background aboutyourself. Okay, my name is Anton Barnes. I'm the founder and Ceo of the brandarchitects. We are a lifestyle and marketing uh firm for professionalathletes. Yes. How did you get into um just working with athletes in sports?Well, the kind of I guess you could say touch on that, what you see in thebackground. You know, prior to me starting a brand architects, I was Iwas one of the top record exec in the music industry. Uh while I was in theindustry, I would meet a lot of athletes of course with all of themajor concerts and all of the artists. The athletes were always around and Iwould always have conversations with them in regards to like their marketingor what they like what like they would what they would like to do outside ofsports and a lot of them had a lot of interest but they didn't know how to goabout it. You know, or you know, they were discouraged or talked out of it bytheir agents. The agents are the biggest pitfall, just go, I'm gonnadive right into it. They're always the biggest, they're the biggest problem,and I'll go into more details about that later. But I found out like, okay,you know what, these guys really didn't have a plan B for life after footballand they didn't really, you know how they didn't know how to express or getexposure for themselves. And that's when I started the brand Architects.Gotcha. And what, what year was that? This was 2009, Okay. Yeah. So then you said you're inin music. So, um just like, what's been like, maybe some differences in, like,similarities you've seen working on music and working in sports? Well, thesimilarities are very, very, very close. I mean, you know, I've worked with thelikes of jay Z actually, you had one of my old clients on previously NEllie, umyou know, I worked at Universal Records, I've been on tour with NElly Men, Trustme, me, me and that guy. See each other. It's crazy. But you know, thesimilarities are very similar one day, you're at the top of the list. Okay,And then next year nobody is talking about you. So it's like, okay, whileyou're on this platform, while you're being talked about why you're hot, Whatare you doing to diversify who you are to create opportunities outside of themusic field, like you know what nellie he had numerous opportunities inregards to clothing or you know, movies, just diversifying your brand, usingyour brand to create opportunities outside of what you're just in themusic industry because I would be on conference calls And we'll be talkingabout an artist that literally sold 10 million records the next week we wantedto talk about. they were irrelevant, they were gone and you know, a lot ofsimilarities in sports, I mean, especially in the NFL, you know, all ittakes is one hit and now with, you know, with the salary cap, if you get to acertain year in the league where you are entitled to a league minimum, youwill get phased out because they just don't want to pay you the amount ofmoney that they will have to pay a second or third year player, so theycome to abrupt ends from extreme eyes and it's like, okay, how do I use thiswhile I'm on the high. Yeah, yeah, for sure, even like just the NFL is justthat, that's pretty much how it is, just, I mean, I'm sure you just seelike, you know, just like, especially like running back, it's just like oneyear, they're like, like for example, like Todd gurley, like they're talkingabout signing him now, he was literally like the poster boy for the whole NFL,like, I don't know, three years ago and...

...now he's just out of the league somehow.Exactly, exactly, Derrick, Henry just broke his foot today. Yes, that's right,so maybe we'll see how he comes back, you know, it's it's an industry where,let's just be honest here, they will use you and beat you into the grounduntil they get everything out of you, and then when they're done with you,they dispose of you and I call it the disposable athletes center, and that'sthe reality of being a pro athlete, that a lot of these athletes are notmade aware of until they're done and that's the problem. Yeah, yeah,definitely. And then how did you, like who was your first client and then howdid you get into just like pitching them that you want to help them buildtheir brand, like, off the field? Bernard Davis, Bernard Davis is my veryfirst client, you know, me and vernon had very deep conversations prior to us workingtogether, I was still in the music industry, was at Universal Records atthe time, I mean, I'm juggling brian mcknight with cash money, I mean, I hadall these artists going on, but you know what, I'll be honest with you, themusic industry burned me out as well too, because I saw the intentions ofthe music that we were putting out and I just morally couldn't do it anymore,so at the time, me and vernon were talking and vernon had other interests,VErnon at the time, was only known as the guy that ran a 438, 40 I mean, andthen being benched by his coach and cried on this draft day, he was likeAnton, there's more to me to besides what's out in the world, there's thingsthat I want to do. I like painting, I like design, I like this, I like thatthese are all the things that I want to do, but nobody knows how, I don't knowhow to go about it. And a lot of it is lack of education, a lot of it is lackof motivation. A lot of times these athletes have other interests andthey're discouraged not to do it by their agents or coaches because theyjust want them to focus on football, because guess what? That's the onlything the agents make money off of, that's the only thing that the agentscare about. So they don't want them to think outside of that realm, becauseguess what? That's not important to them. So burden. I mean, look at vernonnow, I mean, he's virtually a renaissance man and he's living a lifewithout regret, without having to go through an identity crisis that I callit, that a lot of athletes go through, which is the beginning onsets ofdepression. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I'll touch on both things um I thinkyou've probably been seeing it and now we're both kind of in the same world.Uh you know, like even bigger athletes are either signing with a big agencyand then signed with like a small marketing agency or, or vice versa. Soit's like a cool new trend uh definitely for me and you, I'd say. Uhand then, yeah, actually I've seen vernon Davis like a lot off the fieldsbranding stuff just in the past, like, so that's dope that you were a part ofthat. Uh And then, yeah, just, just going into that quote unquote, I thinkI forgot the term you said, but I know like they go into, you know, adepression or don't know what to do after football and things like that. UmYeah, yeah, yeah, so it's just like, yeah, that's like a big topic now, youknow, with mental health and all that. Um So what, like, what are yourthoughts on, on that stuff? You know what, it's, it's finallycoming out because the players are forcing the issue okay, you know, theleague and the powers that be, they didn't want this to come out, you know,it's been going on for decades, decades, you know? But now with the power ofsocial media and I think the power to athletes have realized that they holdwithin the past couple of years with, you know, the protests of George Floydkneeling, everything they realized like, okay, you know what, they really don'tcare about us as individuals. They only want us to just go out and perform forthem, but just like everyone else, they're human beings. You know, whenyou go to the NFL, it's not a game anymore. It's a job. And everybody,people that are outside looking in don't realize that like these men aredealing with every day fighting for...

...their jobs and this is while goingthrough dealing with injuries and that's very stressful. Okay. And thensince they've been teenagers, they've been told to just, they've been toldwhat to do how to do it and where to go since they were teenagers. And a lot ofthat has just been based on sports. So it's like, Okay, imagine someone,you've been doing something for 15, 20 years of your life and it's allabruptly taken away from you and you're not prepared for that mentally oryou're not prepared transitional e for that. What do you do? You you panicbecause guess what? All of those people that were around prior are gone. Soit's like, okay, you don't have that support system that you thought wasgoing to be there and it's gone and what we are, I call it, what we do isthe reality check. You know, I, I tell my clients, I don't go to games. Idon't talk about football. I really don't, you know, we are here for theman, we are here for the individual because without that, a lot of theseyoung men go through mental breakdowns Lane johnson came out recently, umCalvin Ridley is taking time off to get his mentor right. You know, it's likethey've been they've been so portrayed to just go out there and be warriors,but people don't know how, how, how deeply damaged they are inside. Mhm Yeah, No, for sure. And yeah, I thinkit's like, it's great that everything is coming out now and you know thereyeah, that's why I like the Calvin Ridley think it's gonna be interestingon how, you know, the media sees it and treat it, how long it will be like, youknow, if it's if it's longer than there might say like, oh, like is he evergonna come back or whatever, whatnot? That would be just like, you know,interesting and obviously, you know, he's like a star player, so it's prettyinteresting to see how that will play out and and things like that. And thenjohnson won the Super Bowl, you know, he's all pro tackle and people, he'sbeen battling this for decades, but he doesn't and I think a lot of it is themtalking about it, but I'll be honest with you for a lot of it too, is thatthey don't have an outlet from football. I have clients Chris Hubbard who's aspokesperson for mental health has been dealing with mental health issueshimself since college is so much better now because he doesn't just focus onfootball, it's like, okay, he has value away from the field, people think whenyou say value is just money, that's bs no value is you having somethinglooking forward to every day, something that you like to do, something thatyour interest, something that's part of you that you can actually do away fromthe field, that's value. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Like, and even just goingback into um like I live with a bunch of football players in college, and Ijust remember like, you know, we were at a low D. One school, so you know,like NFL wasn't that realistic, So it was just like, you know, I saw itmyself, like my friends kind of going through like obviously I knew they hadto get a job and things like that, but I knew it was hard for them to give upfootball, even though they think they knew, but I think it was just like aweird Segment because they were at D. one, but it wasn't like a high d. one.So you know exactly, I call it the athlete ego, you know, I told my guyslisten, you know what? You got to have an ego to a certain extent to have tobe successful in sports, but you you got to turn it off when you leave thefield because the real world, we'll hit you harder than a blitzing linebackerand a lot of them too, They don't, like I said, you have to have balance inlife. That's everyone okay if you have anyway, just everyone, like if I justfocused on one thing and that one thing is taking, it's like having a portfolio,you invest all your money in one thing that's unintelligent, correct it whenyou invest in yourself, I tell them, listen, nobody's gonna invest in youinto your best in yourself. So you have to have balance in your life. You can'tjust be an athlete. I'm sorry because athletes are disposable. I don't carewho you are. Michael Jordan's at one point had to hang them up. Okay. So youit's just some, it happened sooner than...

...others. But the thing is you have toprepare yourself for that and a lot of them are trapped because like I said, Igo back to the agents and the people in the circle don't even want them tothink outside. Okay, you should just focus on football. No, you need to beworried about this as well too because football is gonna be gone one day andthe basketball, whatever all of Yeah, yeah, no definitely. Um what are like,what are some things that you help your clients with like to achieve thosethings that you like just mentioned and like what do you like suggest? Likemaybe it's so say if an athlete doesn't know what they want to do like wherelike how do you start? The first thing I do is have a conversation abouteverything that they want to do besides sports. That's the first conversation Ihave with any of my clients before I even signed them. Like, okay, you knowwhat, what do you like to do? I don't care if it's video games, I don't careif it's cooking. I don't know. I'm saying, I'm seriously, I don't care ifit's fashion, what do you like to do? And I'm not talking about sports? Okay.And a lot of them don't even realize that they're in a position at what theylike to do. Can actually be a career path. Listen, you're a professionalathlete, people are going to crack the door open for you where so if you'resomebody else, you got to pick the lock and work through it. No, they're like,hey, the door's here lets you know they're going to give you anopportunity, they're gonna teach you that industry. It's the same way thatyou invest in getting to the levels you have to eat right? You gotta trainright, You've got to train, you gotta lift, you gotta do all of this toadvance in sports. You have to do the same in other industries. And I know Iknow professional athlete schedules. Listen, listen, four or five months ofthe year. They don't do anything, okay, You workout in the morning. Then youget, you don't do nothing. I know their schedule. They were like, oh we ain'tgot time. That's B. S. Yes, you do. Yes, you do. It's just a matter how youutilize your time. Okay. So you got to have a balance. So the first thing I dois have that conversation on what they want to do, what they like to do.Because guess what that a lot of times that just sparks interesting thatthings just come out of nowhere that they'd be like, wow, nobody's even satdown and talked to me about these things. I'm like, yeah, because guesswhat? Most of the people around you only care about your football orbasketball. That's it. And that's the first thing you do is spark, spark thatinterest in them to find out and figure out who they are. As people notathletes. Yeah. No, for sure. Like that's like uh the same thing kind ofsimilar to what I do, I just kind of get to know the person and then, youknow, we're just talking about like life stuff and not the actual sport. Imean obviously we still talk about, you know, sports and stuff, but uh justtalking about pretty much life in general. Um like what are some, whatare some like cool projects you've got to work with um with your clients. Imean, I could name a bunch Rodney McLeod with back of house. RodneyMcLeod of the eagles. He's you know, he's like the poster child of it. Imean, you know, he's he is a, you know, walter Payton man of the year nominee,he owns his own uh couture store because he's in the fashion call backof house, you know, he's currently a brand ambassador for Porsche, you know,Emmanuel Acho, I mean Emmanuel Acho, we started his brand with taking a girl tothe prom and by that, from that, he was on the Rachel Ray show and now look athim, I mean, literally three years after him, two years after that, umthat interview, he was out of the league, but Emmanuel also was making 10times, he's basically the next Michael Strahan, you know, so, I mean, himdoing in the broadcasting, vernon Davis doing movies now, I mean, we vernonDavis had uh, an interior design company, vernon Davis had an artgallery, you know, and you know, and he wasn't the greatest artist, let's behonest, he wasn't a Picasso, but he painted and he used that platform ofbeing on the 49 ers to have his fan base support that, so, you know, Icould continue going down the line and it's like, okay, if you put it outthere opportunities will come your way, but a lot of them don't have anorganization or a firm like mine to put it out there to attract people toenhance their individuality, I call it,...

...okay, because at the end of the day,you are an individual, okay, you play a team sport, your sport is what you donot who you are. Yeah, no, definitely. And um, I knowyou work with uh, primarily NFL players, but you do work with other athletes andI saw you have some influencers to, so um, like how did those, how did thosethat come about and like what, like what makes you like, you know, go tofootball and then how did you like transition another like sports, it'sall the same. You know, it's branding, okay, branding and branding is acombination of pr messaging, social media. You have to deliver a messagethat you want interpreted to, that's going to benefit you. I tell everyoneeverything that you put out has to have a purpose with every post that you make,regardless, we have influencers, we have, you know, fencers, they're allthe same because it's like at one point you can't fence, you're not gonna beable to be offensive one day that tv show is going to be taken away, youknow, nothing lasts forever. That's what I tell everyone and we all knowthis, especially in the entertainment industry, entertainment industry,turnover ratio is insane, but the entertainment industry opens doors forother outlets and you have to use it while you on that platform. Soregardless of whether you're an entertainer, whether you're an athlete,whether you're an influencer, whether you're a businessman, okay. Everyone,every successful individual has a diverse entity about themselves and youhave to diversify yourself. And while you're doing one thing, learn otherthings because opportunities may present yourself well, hey, listen,okay, this road is kind of coming to an end. I could divert over here. Yeah, no, definitely. And then, um,just, I know you're an entrepreneur yourself. So what, what advice wouldyou give to a young entrepreneur, young entrepreneur? I tell, I tell I advicethat I give is pretty much keep every option open. Um, you know, never, neverdilute yourself, never pigeonholed yourself because you never know whatone opportunity can take you now. Hey, not every opportunity is good. There'sa lot of shady people out there, we know that, but you know, you, you haveto make sure that you entertain or at least look into every opportunity tosee how it could benefit you and your and your clients because if you're inthe business and you're representing someone, relationships are everything.Let's be honest here, relationships, everything never totally burn a bridge.Some bridges, you gotta totally burned. But something you don't, you know,because you never know where you may have to revisit someone or something.So integrity is important. Being a personal word and just being honest man,because there's a lot of this entertainment industry is a lot ofshadiness, A lot of lies. I, I let one thing I love about me and my team, welet our work speak for itself. I don't, I don't like people that's going totell me what they're gonna do. Tell me what you did be. That person. Tell them,tell people what you did not what you're gonna do. I like that. And then All right, we gotto go back into your your music career because I didn't I had no idea. Uh So,I think it's pretty dope. So you worked at Rockefeller loud records andUniversal um Like first of all, like what's like, what was it like to justwork out like the major labels and what was Your like experience at each 1? Youknow that that was the I called it the golden era. Um I started Rockefellerback in 90 I was at Rockefeller from 95 to 97. So that was the very beginningof jay Z I think jay Z's first album, second album DJ clues, album. Uh well,I mean, I can't even go down the line and then 97 I went Steve Rifkinsnatched me up. I went over the Loud Records. So, I mean, I'm talking WuTang, I'm talking mob deep. Big pun. Uh...

...uh 2001. I went over to UniversalMotown and first project was uh Mr cheeks and nelly and cash money. So theexperience in those days. Music, how can I put it? The labelswere very aggressive in regards to Guerilla marketing and I mean Guerillamarketing. I'm talking street team, I'm talking in stores. I'm talking promotours. Like we didn't have social media back then, we don't have any of this.So we had to actually put in the work, you know, and we used to have to be outin the streets and used to have to put a poster boards and almost get arrestedby the cops. You know, we had to go to the clubs, we had to hit every club. Imean there were times when I was on tour with an artist and we wouldliterally have to hit four clubs in one night and I'm, you know, it's, I tellpeople like those with a golden errors because it was hands on. Now, even themusic, like the music, I'm just being honest with you, the music nowadays isterrible to me. I'm like, oh God, what is this stuff? No, I'm being honestwith you. It's, it's garbage. I mean the way that it's promoted, hey, listen,I'm not the industry anymore. I don't care. So like listen, you know, theradio stations just play the same stuff and it's just ever back then radiostations had the freedom to explore. You know, like a con. I remember lockedup, I was the first one to get locked up ever played on any radio station inthe world and it was a small station in Albany new york and you know, a con tothis day, thanks me for that, you know, because he was like, nobody gave me ashot, you know, back then, it was about breaking new artists, whereas now theyjust follow and it's just boring, it's terrible Back then, it was a lot. Itwas so much fun to DJs could play whatever. I mean, the artists willactually go out into the clubs and be hands on now, they're like, oh it'sjust and I'm talking about jay Z, we would walk through the clubs of jay Z,we walk through the clubs and nelly cash money, Akane, I mean you name it,but now it's almost, it's so fickle and just like fake and I'm just like, thankGod, I was in it when I was I'm like, you know and what what, what is thatBlack behind you? That's my Rockefeller records black. What was that? The 10million, Yeah, that was uh 16 million. and continue counting record sales of,I mean, all the jay Zs albums, Benny Siegel, DJ clue, Memphis Bleek. So yeah,that was awarded to me when you hit 16 minutes, 16 million copies sold atRockefeller. Yeah, that's awesome. So, so I guess it's safe to say you're notgoing back into the music industry, you know what fucking I highly doubt it, Imean, you know, and probably for what I've said the past couple of years,they probably don't want my butt back because it's I can't, you know whatwith me, I had to believe in something to represent, okay, and there's veryfew artists out there that I believe in, like, I like j cole I like uh, you know,uh there's very few, I can't even name anymore. What with the one guy, there'sone something, the rapper, uh, yes, sir, robert. And there's another one I can'teven remember. I could count on one hand how many rappers? I like that outright now. And it's like, okay, and that's why I left the music industrybecause I saw where it was going and I was literally depressed. I was like, Ican't, I can't see myself promoting this if I don't even like it, you know,and it, it just was, it felt fake and I couldn't do it. So, so no, I found mycause with what I do now, because it...

...means something is personal to me andthe music industry is part of the problem, you know, the messaging in themusic that's put out there is misleading. It's degrading and I can'tbe a part of that? I can't. No. Yeah, I got you. Um, Yeah. How do you, how doyou, um, you know, approach athletes to, to work with them or like, who do youlike, look, look to work with? Well, you know what a lot of it isreferrals, you know, a lot of the athletes are my current at my currentclients. Like, hey guys, you know, because a lot of athletes and I'm sureyou'll have a few of them on your upcoming episodes have very similarstories, A lot of them and it's, it's like a broken record. You know, theywent from being the man and everybody kissing a but, and getting comfortableand playing sports, thinking that is never going to end and never havingthat reality check person like in the corner, like, hey, you know what, it'sgonna end one day, right? What you got planned, hey, what you, they're all andyou'll be surprised how many of them tell will tell you that their agentdiscourage them from doing marketing outside of every one of them. So she'slike, I'm, it's like, I'm battling, you know, these individuals and I have todo it because a lot of these young men are lost. A lot of, a lot of these, I'mnot even gonna say that a lot of these young men have so much potential andthey're just great guys, but they have been putting in manipulated and lied to,to be put in a situation where they're made to be controlled instead of, youknow, Given like, you know, I want these young men to grow, I want them tosprout because that's what's, that's what's encouraging to me, I want to be,I want to see them being successful when they're in their 40s and 50s. Youknow, a lot of these guys, they think they hit their peak when they're in thetwenties in the NFL and like, no, you could continue to go, but a lot of themcrashed, but then they got to bounce back, you know, and that's the bigthing. Yeah, for sure. Like even, I don't know if you saw today like bodyarmor, coke officially bought body armor, like the majority stake And KobeBryant invested. I think it was eight million and now it just, it's worth 400million years ago. It Was only in maybe it was definitely less than 10 yearsmaybe I want to say maybe like six or 7. Yeah, yeah, exactly. His family is set.It's like, okay, you know, you, you do wise investments, but you also dothings that's going to keep you occupied and keep you busy. You gottathink about athletes are so used to getting up 78 in the morning to traintheir program. Let's be honestly, they've been programmed since they wereteenagers. Now they get up, there's nothing to do. Who am I? So it's like,okay, you have to, you have to reinvest that energy that you were putting inthe sports into fashion, into cooking whatever it is your other things thatyou like to do. I got guys that's coming out with CBD product lines, Weall know what's going on with that guys out there in the crypto, you know,other things that just things that's making them diverse individuals. Yeah,yeah, definitely. Are you ready for some fun questions, Let's go. All right.It's gonna be funny because we were just talking about it. So what's yourfavorite song right now? Oh man, it has to be a current song. I'll be honestwith you. I don't even know what's out bro. I don't even listen. My playlistis pre 2005. I am so all right. What's your favorite? Let me put my phone up.There's one rap out that I do like, and I can't remember his name bro. But thefact that I got to go on my phone and look it up that goes to show you howout of touch I am. I'm like, man, listen, no, what's the dude? Yeah,Tyler, the creator, I like that kid and he has that song lumberjack. So that's,that's the one current song that I like right now I like Tyler the kidslumberjack. The fact I had to look it up is a shame. All right, let's take it.What do you, what do you like to do in your free zone? Oh man, you know what I travel man. Youknow, I travel and I'm not talking...

...about in the States, I travel aroundthe world. You know, I like to learn other cultures. You know, my wife'sfrench. So you know, and actually that's, that's my target next home. SoI'd like to visit other countries and other cultures and just sit down andjust see how other people think and how they're wired and just exploring thoseother things encouraged. And that's one thing to going back to my clients everytime every time I sign a client within two years they're obligated to travelsomewhere within eight hours of flight time. Like not Mexico. No not Jamaica.I can't no you need to fly at least eight hours somewhere where you couldget diversity. But you know what when I do that they thank me so much becausethey're like you know what I've never it's it's i it's eye opening today youknow and I love that. So that's what I like to do in my spare time. Yeahthat's dope. All right so uh I've been to D. C. Before but if I come to D. C.Uh what's a food spot? I would have to go to? Who? That's a good question. Dc. Has alot of actually pretty good restaurants but uh there is one you got to go toGeorgia browns. Georgia browns is uh it's like a southern cuisine but onlike not how can I say on a different level it's it's it's such good Southernfood and C. D. C. Is like on that border of the dixie line and it's likeright in the middle of the mid atlantic. So you have a lot of people from thesouth that come here. But it's a diet there's so many. There's so many. Youhave D. C. Is a diversity. That's why I love it because you have differentcultures. You have african food, you have southern food. You have an indianfood. You got agent. So I can't even put my finger on one. But Georgiabrowns you gotta do Georgia brown. All right I'll take that. Uh Well Iappreciate you coming on. And uh could you let the listeners know where theycan follow you on social media so you can follow me on instagram at the brandarc which is T H. E B R A. N. D. A. R. C. H. Uh Anton Barnes. A. N. T. O. N. EP A R N. E. S on twitter and then go check out our website the brandarchitects dot biz and you can see everything we got cooking.

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