Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 10 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 podcast with paul Guerrino. Everyone and anyone athletes celebs and much more. What's up everybody? I'm back for another episode of the average Savage podcast. Our special guest today is Antone 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 very important 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. All right. So you could just give us just like a little brief background about yourself. Okay, my name is Anton Barnes. I'm the founder and Ceo of the brand architects. We are a lifestyle and marketing uh firm for professional athletes. 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 the background. You know, prior to me starting a brand architects, I was I was one of the top record exec in the music industry. Uh while I was in the industry, I would meet a lot of athletes of course with all of the major concerts and all of the artists. The athletes were always around and I would always have conversations with them in regards to like their marketing or what they like what like they would what they would like to do outside of sports and a lot of them had a lot of interest but they didn't know how to go about it. You know, or you know, they were discouraged or talked out of it by their agents. The agents are the biggest pitfall, just go, I'm gonna dive 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 football and they didn't really, you know how they didn't know how to express or get exposure 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 in in 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, the similarities are very, very, very close. I mean, you know, I've worked with the likes of jay Z actually, you had one of my old clients on previously NEllie, um you know, I worked at Universal Records, I've been on tour with NElly Men, Trust me, me, me and that guy. See each other. It's crazy. But you know, the similarities 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, while you're on this platform, while you're being talked about why you're hot, What are you doing to diversify who you are to create opportunities outside of the music field, like you know what nellie he had numerous opportunities in regards to clothing or you know, movies, just diversifying your brand, using your brand to create opportunities outside of what you're just in the music industry because I would be on conference calls And we'll be talking about an artist that literally sold 10 million records the next week we wanted to talk about. they were irrelevant, they were gone and you know, a lot of similarities in sports, I mean, especially in the NFL, you know, all it takes is one hit and now with, you know, with the salary cap, if you get to a certain year in the league where you are entitled to a league minimum, you will get phased out because they just don't want to pay you the amount of money that they will have to pay a second or third year player, so they come to abrupt ends from extreme eyes and it's like, okay, how do I use this while I'm on the high. Yeah, yeah, for sure, even like just the NFL is just that, that's pretty much how it is, just, I mean, I'm sure you just see like, you know, just like, especially like running back, it's just like one year, they're like, like for example, like Todd gurley, like they're talking about 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 ground until 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's the reality of being a pro athlete, that a lot of these athletes are not made 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 how did you get into just like pitching them that you want to help them build their brand, like, off the field? Bernard Davis, Bernard Davis is my very first client, you know, me and vernon had very deep conversations prior to us working together, I was still in the music industry, was at Universal Records at the time, I mean, I'm juggling brian mcknight with cash money, I mean, I had all these artists going on, but you know what, I'll be honest with you, the music industry burned me out as well too, because I saw the intentions of the 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, and then being benched by his coach and cried on this draft day, he was like Anton, there's more to me to besides what's out in the world, there's things that I want to do. I like painting, I like design, I like this, I like that these are all the things that I want to do, but nobody knows how, I don't know how to go about it. And a lot of it is lack of education, a lot of it is lack of motivation. A lot of times these athletes have other interests and they're discouraged not to do it by their agents or coaches because they just want them to focus on football, because guess what? That's the only thing the agents make money off of, that's the only thing that the agents care about. So they don't want them to think outside of that realm, because guess what? That's not important to them. So burden. I mean, look at vernon now, I mean, he's virtually a renaissance man and he's living a life without regret, without having to go through an identity crisis that I call it, that a lot of athletes go through, which is the beginning onsets of depression. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I'll touch on both things um I think you'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 agency and then signed with like a small marketing agency or, or vice versa. So it's like a cool new trend uh definitely for me and you, I'd say. Uh and then, yeah, actually I've seen vernon Davis like a lot off the fields branding stuff just in the past, like, so that's dope that you were a part of that. Uh And then, yeah, just, just going into that quote unquote, I think I forgot the term you said, but I know like they go into, you know, a depression or don't know what to do after football and things like that. Um Yeah, yeah, yeah, so it's just like, yeah, that's like a big topic now, you know, with mental health and all that. Um So what, like, what are your thoughts on, on that stuff? You know what, it's, it's finally coming out because the players are forcing the issue okay, you know, the league 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 of social media and I think the power to athletes have realized that they hold within the past couple of years with, you know, the protests of George Floyd kneeling, everything they realized like, okay, you know what, they really don't care about us as individuals. They only want us to just go out and perform for them, but just like everyone else, they're human beings. You know, when you 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 are dealing with every day fighting for...

...their jobs and this is while going through dealing with injuries and that's very stressful. Okay. And then since they've been teenagers, they've been told to just, they've been told what to do how to do it and where to go since they were teenagers. And a lot of that 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 all abruptly taken away from you and you're not prepared for that mentally or you're not prepared transitional e for that. What do you do? You you panic because guess what? All of those people that were around prior are gone. So it's like, okay, you don't have that support system that you thought was going to be there and it's gone and what we are, I call it, what we do is the reality check. You know, I, I tell my clients, I don't go to games. I don't talk about football. I really don't, you know, we are here for the man, we are here for the individual because without that, a lot of these young men go through mental breakdowns Lane johnson came out recently, um Calvin Ridley is taking time off to get his mentor right. You know, it's like they'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 think it's like, it's great that everything is coming out now and you know there yeah, that's why I like the Calvin Ridley think it's gonna be interesting on how, you know, the media sees it and treat it, how long it will be like, you know, if it's if it's longer than there might say like, oh, like is he ever gonna 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 pretty interesting to see how that will play out and and things like that. And then johnson won the Super Bowl, you know, he's all pro tackle and people, he's been battling this for decades, but he doesn't and I think a lot of it is them talking about it, but I'll be honest with you for a lot of it too, is that they don't have an outlet from football. I have clients Chris Hubbard who's a spokesperson for mental health has been dealing with mental health issues himself since college is so much better now because he doesn't just focus on football, it's like, okay, he has value away from the field, people think when you say value is just money, that's bs no value is you having something looking forward to every day, something that you like to do, something that your interest, something that's part of you that you can actually do away from the field, that's value. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Like, and even just going back into um like I live with a bunch of football players in college, and I just 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 it myself, like my friends kind of going through like obviously I knew they had to get a job and things like that, but I knew it was hard for them to give up football, even though they think they knew, but I think it was just like a weird 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 guys listen, you know what? You got to have an ego to a certain extent to have to be successful in sports, but you you got to turn it off when you leave the field because the real world, we'll hit you harder than a blitzing linebacker and a lot of them too, They don't, like I said, you have to have balance in life. That's everyone okay if you have anyway, just everyone, like if I just focused 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 when you invest in yourself, I tell them, listen, nobody's gonna invest in you into your best in yourself. So you have to have balance in your life. You can't just be an athlete. I'm sorry because athletes are disposable. I don't care who you are. Michael Jordan's at one point had to hang them up. Okay. So you it's just some, it happened sooner than...

...others. But the thing is you have to prepare yourself for that and a lot of them are trapped because like I said, I go back to the agents and the people in the circle don't even want them to think outside. Okay, you should just focus on football. No, you need to be worried about this as well too because football is gonna be gone one day and the 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 those things that you like just mentioned and like what do you like suggest? Like maybe it's so say if an athlete doesn't know what they want to do like where like how do you start? The first thing I do is have a conversation about everything that they want to do besides sports. That's the first conversation I have with any of my clients before I even signed them. Like, okay, you know what, what do you like to do? I don't care if it's video games, I don't care if it's cooking. I don't know. I'm saying, I'm seriously, I don't care if it'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 they like to do. Can actually be a career path. Listen, you're a professional athlete, people are going to crack the door open for you where so if you're somebody 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 an opportunity, they're gonna teach you that industry. It's the same way that you invest in getting to the levels you have to eat right? You gotta train right, You've got to train, you gotta lift, you gotta do all of this to advance in sports. You have to do the same in other industries. And I know I know professional athlete schedules. Listen, listen, four or five months of the year. They don't do anything, okay, You workout in the morning. Then you get, you don't do nothing. I know their schedule. They were like, oh we ain't got time. That's B. S. Yes, you do. Yes, you do. It's just a matter how you utilize your time. Okay. So you got to have a balance. So the first thing I do is 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 that things just come out of nowhere that they'd be like, wow, nobody's even sat down and talked to me about these things. I'm like, yeah, because guess what? Most of the people around you only care about your football or basketball. That's it. And that's the first thing you do is spark, spark that interest in them to find out and figure out who they are. As people not athletes. Yeah. No, for sure. Like that's like uh the same thing kind of similar to what I do, I just kind of get to know the person and then, you know, we're just talking about like life stuff and not the actual sport. I mean obviously we still talk about, you know, sports and stuff, but uh just talking about pretty much life in general. Um like what are some, what are some like cool projects you've got to work with um with your clients. I mean, I could name a bunch Rodney McLeod with back of house. Rodney McLeod of the eagles. He's you know, he's like the poster child of it. I mean, 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 back of 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 to the prom and by that, from that, he was on the Rachel Ray show and now look at him, I mean, literally three years after him, two years after that, um that interview, he was out of the league, but Emmanuel also was making 10 times, he's basically the next Michael Strahan, you know, so, I mean, him doing in the broadcasting, vernon Davis doing movies now, I mean, we vernon Davis had uh, an interior design company, vernon Davis had an art gallery, you know, and you know, and he wasn't the greatest artist, let's be honest, he wasn't a Picasso, but he painted and he used that platform of being on the 49 ers to have his fan base support that, so, you know, I could continue going down the line and it's like, okay, if you put it out there opportunities will come your way, but a lot of them don't have an organization or a firm like mine to put it out there to attract people to enhance 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 do not who you are. Yeah, no, definitely. And um, I know you work with uh, primarily NFL players, but you do work with other athletes and I saw you have some influencers to, so um, like how did those, how did those that come about and like what, like what makes you like, you know, go to football and then how did you like transition another like sports, it's all the same. You know, it's branding, okay, branding and branding is a combination of pr messaging, social media. You have to deliver a message that you want interpreted to, that's going to benefit you. I tell everyone everything 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 all the same because it's like at one point you can't fence, you're not gonna be able to be offensive one day that tv show is going to be taken away, you know, nothing lasts forever. That's what I tell everyone and we all know this, especially in the entertainment industry, entertainment industry, turnover ratio is insane, but the entertainment industry opens doors for other outlets and you have to use it while you on that platform. So regardless 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 you have to diversify yourself. And while you're doing one thing, learn other things 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 would you give to a young entrepreneur, young entrepreneur? I tell, I tell I advice that I give is pretty much keep every option open. Um, you know, never, never dilute yourself, never pigeonholed yourself because you never know what one opportunity can take you now. Hey, not every opportunity is good. There's a lot of shady people out there, we know that, but you know, you, you have to make sure that you entertain or at least look into every opportunity to see how it could benefit you and your and your clients because if you're in the 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 of shadiness, A lot of lies. I, I let one thing I love about me and my team, we let our work speak for itself. I don't, I don't like people that's going to tell 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 got to 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 and Universal um Like first of all, like what's like, what was it like to just work out like the major labels and what was Your like experience at each 1? You know that that was the I called it the golden era. Um I started Rockefeller back in 90 I was at Rockefeller from 95 to 97. So that was the very beginning of 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 Rifkin snatched me up. I went over the Loud Records. So, I mean, I'm talking Wu Tang, I'm talking mob deep. Big pun. Uh...

...uh 2001. I went over to Universal Motown and first project was uh Mr cheeks and nelly and cash money. So the experience in those days. Music, how can I put it? The labels were very aggressive in regards to Guerilla marketing and I mean Guerilla marketing. I'm talking street team, I'm talking in stores. I'm talking promo tours. 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 out in the streets and used to have to put a poster boards and almost get arrested by the cops. You know, we had to go to the clubs, we had to hit every club. I mean there were times when I was on tour with an artist and we would literally have to hit four clubs in one night and I'm, you know, it's, I tell people like those with a golden errors because it was hands on. Now, even the music, like the music, I'm just being honest with you, the music nowadays is terrible to me. I'm like, oh God, what is this stuff? No, I'm being honest with 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, the radio stations just play the same stuff and it's just ever back then radio stations had the freedom to explore. You know, like a con. I remember locked up, I was the first one to get locked up ever played on any radio station in the world and it was a small station in Albany new york and you know, a con to this day, thanks me for that, you know, because he was like, nobody gave me a shot, you know, back then, it was about breaking new artists, whereas now they just follow and it's just boring, it's terrible Back then, it was a lot. It was so much fun to DJs could play whatever. I mean, the artists will actually go out into the clubs and be hands on now, they're like, oh it's just 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, thank God, I was in it when I was I'm like, you know and what what, what is that Black behind you? That's my Rockefeller records black. What was that? The 10 million, 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 at Rockefeller. Yeah, that's awesome. So, so I guess it's safe to say you're not going back into the music industry, you know what fucking I highly doubt it, I mean, 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 what with me, I had to believe in something to represent, okay, and there's very few 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's one something, the rapper, uh, yes, sir, robert. And there's another one I can't even remember. I could count on one hand how many rappers? I like that out right now. And it's like, okay, and that's why I left the music industry because I saw where it was going and I was literally depressed. I was like, I can'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 my cause with what I do now, because it...

...means something is personal to me and the music industry is part of the problem, you know, the messaging in the music that's put out there is misleading. It's degrading and I can't be a part of that? I can't. No. Yeah, I got you. Um, Yeah. How do you, how do you, um, you know, approach athletes to, to work with them or like, who do you like, look, look to work with? Well, you know what a lot of it is referrals, you know, a lot of the athletes are my current at my current clients. Like, hey guys, you know, because a lot of athletes and I'm sure you'll have a few of them on your upcoming episodes have very similar stories, A lot of them and it's, it's like a broken record. You know, they went from being the man and everybody kissing a but, and getting comfortable and playing sports, thinking that is never going to end and never having that reality check person like in the corner, like, hey, you know what, it's gonna end one day, right? What you got planned, hey, what you, they're all and you'll be surprised how many of them tell will tell you that their agent discourage them from doing marketing outside of every one of them. So she's like, I'm, it's like, I'm battling, you know, these individuals and I have to do it because a lot of these young men are lost. A lot of, a lot of these, I'm not even gonna say that a lot of these young men have so much potential and they'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, you know, Given like, you know, I want these young men to grow, I want them to sprout 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. You know, a lot of these guys, they think they hit their peak when they're in the twenties in the NFL and like, no, you could continue to go, but a lot of them crashed, but then they got to bounce back, you know, and that's the big thing. Yeah, for sure. Like even, I don't know if you saw today like body armor, coke officially bought body armor, like the majority stake And Kobe Bryant invested. I think it was eight million and now it just, it's worth 400 million years ago. It Was only in maybe it was definitely less than 10 years maybe 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 do things that's going to keep you occupied and keep you busy. You gotta think about athletes are so used to getting up 78 in the morning to train their program. Let's be honestly, they've been programmed since they were teenagers. 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 in the sports into fashion, into cooking whatever it is your other things that you like to do. I got guys that's coming out with CBD product lines, We all 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 your favorite song right now? Oh man, it has to be a current song. I'll be honest with you. I don't even know what's out bro. I don't even listen. My playlist is 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 the fact that I got to go on my phone and look it up that goes to show you how out 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 kids lumberjack. 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. You know, I travel and I'm not talking...

...about in the States, I travel around the world. You know, I like to learn other cultures. You know, my wife's french. So you know, and actually that's, that's my target next home. So I'd like to visit other countries and other cultures and just sit down and just see how other people think and how they're wired and just exploring those other things encouraged. And that's one thing to going back to my clients every time every time I sign a client within two years they're obligated to travel somewhere 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 could get diversity. But you know what when I do that they thank me so much because they're like you know what I've never it's it's i it's eye opening today you know and I love that. So that's what I like to do in my spare time. Yeah that'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 a lot of actually pretty good restaurants but uh there is one you got to go to Georgia browns. Georgia browns is uh it's like a southern cuisine but on like not how can I say on a different level it's it's it's such good Southern food and C. D. C. Is like on that border of the dixie line and it's like right in the middle of the mid atlantic. So you have a lot of people from the south that come here. But it's a diet there's so many. There's so many. You have D. C. Is a diversity. That's why I love it because you have different cultures. You have african food, you have southern food. You have an indian food. You got agent. So I can't even put my finger on one. But Georgia browns you gotta do Georgia brown. All right I'll take that. Uh Well I appreciate you coming on. And uh could you let the listeners know where they can follow you on social media so you can follow me on instagram at the brand arc which is T H. E B R A. N. D. A. R. C. H. Uh Anton Barnes. A. N. T. O. N. E P A R N. E. S on twitter and then go check out our website the brand architects dot biz and you can see everything we got cooking.

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