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The Byers Brothers: “It’s Not an Industry Town. It’s a Talent Town.”

August 27, 2015

ByersBrothersOnline01Text by Eric Fitzsimmons. Images by Mina Lee.

“Y’all don’t go too far,” Marc Byers calls to his mother and some guests passing through the dining room.

He’s wearing a black track jacket, familiar to anyone who has come across his cultural ambassador profile on Philly 360°.

It is no surprise to see family around. Marc and his older brother Sherman have built a livelihood on maintaining good, family-type relationships with artists, producers and companies.

The brothers started their first company, Black Friday Entertainment, when they discovered and managed rap artists such as Beanie Sigel and Eve.

In 2000, they started Rockstar Entertainment, which opened them up to working with different genres and allowed them to move away from the management role and into a business that connects companies and people.

“We’re a conduit,” Sherman says of Rockstar Entertainment in 2015. “We don’t want all the responsibility on the left hand side or the right hand side. But we do want to fuse it together.”

Marc mentions how people they started off with in the music business have spread across industries and become leaders with companies such as Samsung, Pepsi and even the Obama administration. Often when those people are looking to make connections, they come to Rockstar.

“We have a conversation about what someone is trying to actually accomplish,” Marc says. “Then we’ll go into our Rolodex and figure out what opportunities can help support where they are trying to go.”

They helped Raven Simone put together a new management team when she was ready for a new phase in her career. They helped secure artists for the Philly 360° campaign for Visit Philadelphia when it was just getting started. And they helped bring Idris Elba to direct a short film for Pepsi’s “Beats of the Beautiful Game” series for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

ByersBrothersOnline03Even while talking about their days in management, Marc’s interest in fostering relationships is evident. When Eve was not getting what she needed at Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records, Marc and Sherman helped her get a deal with Ruff Ryders. But they acted in a way that kept Dr. Dre happy and as someone they could work with in the future.

Sherman says they learned from their father, who ran a car wholesaling business, the importance of separating what is personal from what is strictly business, especially when you partner with a brother who lives around the corner.

“To be honest with you, it’s easy, believe it or not,” Sherman says about working with Marc. “We’ve always worked from a standpoint of never overlapping one another’s space and understanding what somebody’s strengths and weaknesses are.”

The brothers are originally from North Carolina but grew up in Mount Airy, where Marc says their uncle, a musician, connected them to the music scene.

“Pieces of a Dream [a rhythm and blues group from Philadelphia] grew up across the driveway from us,” says Marc. “We had so much music around. I don’t think we knew that it was natural then. But when it came around the corner, it was kind of organic. We figured it out.”

In the community, Marc and Sherman work with Philly’s tourism department and their alma mater, Martin Luther King High School.

“They are helping to connect us with more innovative ways to reach our young people,” says William Wade, the principal at MLK High.

He says the brothers have helped bring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and a partnership with Ciright Systems to teach students computer coding to the school, in addition to serving as mentors for students.

“They are very popular alumni members of Martin Luther King,” Wade says. “They keep us connected with folks who can help us to guide our young folks in a positive direction.”

Marc feels that musically, Philadelphia has a lot of talent and a wealth of venues that give them the chance to showcase their skills alongside of some of the biggest names in music.

“It’s not an industry town,” Marc says. “That’s why sometimes we get stuck. It’s a talent town. It’s loaded with talent. We have some of the most robust talent moving some heavy things around the world.”


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