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A2IM Featured Executive: Angela Benson, CEO/Artist Manager at Vitae Records

A2IM Featured Executive is a series that spotlights independent music industry executives who are making moves in their fields. To submit yourself or a colleague for consideration, fill in this form.

Angela V. Benson is a business entrepreneur, artist manager, and a Professional member of the Recording Academy.

Born and raised in Chicago, she is most widely recognized for her work with GRAMMY® nominated recording artist, Matt B.

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Tell us about how you got your start in the music industry, and how it lead to the work you do today.

I had a nontraditional start to the music business. I graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2012 with intentions to pursue a career in the medical field. However, throughout my life, I always was connected to music in some way. From singing in the church choir as a young child to teaching myself piano, music was always a part of my life. It was the passion that I never thought I would be able to pursue because my mother was very strict when I was young. Like most moms, she wanted my older brother and I to have careers in something more “stable” than music. So it never was something I thought I could do.

In the summer of 2009, I met Matt B by random happenstance at Millenium Park in Chicago. And from that day forward, my life forever changed. He had just recently went solo from being in a trio singing group with his brothers, and he asked me if I would be willing to help him in his journey. I had literally no idea how to do it, but I really loved his music and what he had been working on. So I agreed, and I began helping him with little things here and there like updating his website, editing photos, creating flyers, and burning CDs for his mixtapes.

We would go on the Southside of Chicago and pass out these CDs and flyers to anyone who would listen or be willing to give us a chance. Eventually that work lead to developing Matt’s sound and brand as an artist, which was certainly challenging and took many years to perfect. I also started outreach in the city to book shows and appearances for Matt. Even though I didn’t truly know how to do the “job”, I just trusted my gut and instincts. Little did I know that this would be my first baby steps of becoming an artist manager and label owner.

Follow your heart and trust your own instincts, because that energy is usually right.

Angela Benson, CEO of Vitae Records

By 2014, we had managed to secure an international distribution deal with a Tokyo-based label named StarBase Records. In an effort to help Matt maintain his power of creativity over his music and brand, we founded Vitae Records together and signed him to our own label. I also became his official manager.

We partnered with StarBase Records to distribute Matt’s Japan-exclusive album ‘LOVE & WAR’, which instantly hit #1 on iTunes R&B in September 2014. At that moment, I knew we were onto something and had to keep up the momentum. That one moment eventually led to international success across all of Asia, and allowed us to eventually start expanding Matt’s footprint to other regions of the world.

Since the US has always been a notoriously hard market to crack, we always tried working it “backwards” so to speak and taking advantage of the international markets first. That idea eventually led us to tackling the African market in 2021 with Matt’s internationally-acclaimed record ‘Gimme Love’ featuring Ugandan star Eddy Kenzo. This led to our GRAMMY nomination.

It has been such a crazy journey. From initially following a different path toward medical school to landing in my passion field of music has been nothing short of a dream. I pray that my story is inspiring and shows that you can do anything that you set your mind to. With no “formal training” as a manager or label owner, I prayed, trusted my instincts, and stayed consistent. And by God’s grace, the many years of hard work and effort planting seeds of success are finally beginning to bear fruit.

Is there a success story or career milestone that you are most proud of?

I’m grateful for every milestone that I have accomplished. However, I am most proud of this year’s GRAMMY nomination. For years, so many people had told me it was impossible to achieve something like a GRAMMY this early in Matt’s career. Many laughed and said many discouraging words. But there’s power in prayer, faith, and determination. When you know that you have something special, there’s a fire that lights up inside of you. That fire fuels you to push past all of the noise and simply get the work done.

When Matt recorded ‘Gimme Love’ with Kenzo, I instantly felt in my heart that it was a hit. However, despite sharing it with many of my industry colleagues in the very beginning, I soon found out that the feelings were not mutual across the board. I didn’t receive much interest when looking for people to help me support the record and its rollout, but I remained confident in my team’s abilities. I knew that with consistency and a lot of hard work, the impossible was surely possible. And now here we are today, with a GRAMMY nomination and over 20+ awards for the single. God truly rewards those who remain faithful and stay the course.

Are there any projects you’re working on or company updates that you’re most excited about?

We are working on a lot of exciting things for 2023! I’m really excited about Matt’s upcoming African-inspired EP. I’m also really looking forward to touring this year, and also onboarding an artist or two very soon.

Outside of your work in music, do you have any other hobbies/ particular areas of expertise/interest etc.?

I still love to play the piano in my spare time. I also really love to read and paint. Anything that allows me an artistic escape brings me peace.

Anything else to add?

To all those who are just starting out and looking to pursue a career in artist management, start their own label, or some other area of the music business, I encourage you to keep going. Follow your heart and trust your own instincts, because that energy is usually right. The journey is long and arduous, but it will 100% be worth it. It is very fulfilling to wake up everyday and do a job that I truly love, and I wish the same blessing for anyone in pursuit of their dreams.

About A2IM:
A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 700 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.

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