Source: Ritchie King / press handout
Dimplez Ijeoma made herself indispensible before her current career title was even a thought. The digital consultant—formerly at Capitol Records, now leading her own marketing agency, IJEOMA—reveals that the biggest issue she has with new artists, is their unwillingness to simply be patient and put in the work. Years before she connected brands like Twitter and the NBA to rappers and singers, she took her time and learned the ropes on her own.
In the early 2000s, while going to school at the University of Arizona as an undergrad, Ijeoma had been doing some freelance graphic design work on various blog sites—crediting sites like KarenCivil.com to The Smoking Section for fully trusting in her capabilities. “The turning point in my career came with someone reaching back like a John Gotty of the Smoking Section, who let me do whatever I wanted to do. He was like, ‘You wanna build this site for me? Run it. Okay, what are we doing for South by [Southwest]? Run it.’ Having him open up that door was what allowed me to excel and I don’t see a lot of people doing that now.”
“The people that I hire and work with now, tend to be minorities, particularly Black women. Because when I started out and they were ignoring my resume and portfolio, it was because no one took the time to reach back.”
Ijeoma was self-taught in the arena of tech, quipping that she’d enrolled in “YouTube University, with a PhD in Google.” “I wound up getting in contact with Funkmaster Flex,” she shares. “ He hired me to move his servers. It’s not something I went to school for.” She admits that she had to teach herself how to move servers while actually moving the servers. It took 96 hours, but she got it done.
Source: Jordan Lawrence / press handout
“I went to school for physical therapy,” Ijeoma continues. “I was thinking about it before but I’m Nigerian and it’s one of those things where if I couldn’t explain the money to my family, it’s a no-go. Every Nigerian’s either a doctor, lawyer or accountant, even with me working to become a physical therapist, it’s a little below but it’s still in the medical realm. But the money [Flex] gave me for moving his servers—which took me a week to do—it was enough money to pay for my entire semester, so I still finished school but it was like, ‘Oh! This is what I need to pursue.’”
In time, she had become the “tech girl” and that—in the way of an ever-changing industry—turned into something else. “I’m the girl who played cello for 13 years, studied music theory her entire school career as well, but this is a different type of love affair—this music business.”
Ijeoma went on to graduate from college in Phoenix with her master’s degree and instead of continuing to travel between New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, she decided to take her last $5,000 and move to LA. She had no job and no job prospects. She decided to take her car and her mom rode with her just to ensure that she knew where her daughter would be living, and she flew back home. Then, Ijeoma was alone, left to figure things out.
“There is a lot of hazing in a sense,” she starts. “Like, ‘I had to do it the hard way so I’ma make sure, you have to do it the hard way.’ There are a lot of people who are in higher executive positions who feel fearful of new talent and it’s one of those things where as I transition from being a tech person to a music executive, it was something I got to see and it’s one thing that I personally have tried to correct. So the people that I hire and work with now, tend to be minorities, particularly Black women. Because when I started out and I was trying to apply, trying to get a job wherever and they were ignoring my resume and portfolio, it was because no one took the time to reach back.”
She may have felt the sting of rejection initially but it wasn’t long before Ijeoma’s name rang in the streets of LA. Three months later, she was working as a part of Ne-Yo’s management team as his digital consultant. That stint led to a job in digital under all of Urban for Capital. Then in July of 2018, she left that position to start her own, IJEOMA Agency, specializing in digital marketing, marketing and brand synergy.
“I went from being the person who built websites, to being the person who understood social [media], to being the person who understood audience growth, to being the person who should inform marketing decisions on strategies when marketing projects for release. And that became me informing the product being delivered. Now, I’m marketing and managing full-scale with the rollout because I have that expertise on the digital side. It’s been a very interesting transition — one that everyone saw coming. But me,” she says with a laugh.
One of the music industry’s favorite talking points as time goes on, speaks to new artists’ desire for instant gratification and their grandiose levels of entitlement. Over the course of a decade, Dimplez Ijeoma has forged her own way within this community, with the help of a mere few. So the idea of anything happening overnight is a major pet peeve for the digital strategist and executive. “Megan Thee Stallion’s record is Top 100, so general Americans [sic] still don’t know who she is. She’s been rapping for 3 years, perfected her craft to get on the radar. And I think that people forget that it takes work and it takes time.”
“It has something to do with the internet? Call Dimplez.”
Ijeoma also cites Odd Future as an example of what to do from the outside. “They built their site and released their music consistently. They built an audience and engaged them consistently. They gave them ways to support them with their dollars: whether it was through Bandcamp or the shirts they sold at the time. They just kept it going until they were so big that the media had to almost chase the Odd Future story, like, ‘How could we miss them?’”
In this industry though, everyone has to practice flexibility — we all ought to be open to making the necessary adjustments if need be. Or prepare to be overlooked. “Even if your knowledge is rudimentary but you have insight in something else and there are people around that you trust,” Ijeoma offers. “You can share that insight and leverage it into something else. I started off as the social person but then turned into me being the digital consultant. So it was like, “Oh. It has something to do with the internet? Call Dimplez.”
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