a 2 i m

Featured Executive: Kerry Wayne James, Founders / CEO of Formation Creative

Formation Creative is a boutique, Black-owned music production and sync licensing company that works with a select and talented team of diverse artists, composers, producers, and songwriters.

Kerry Wayne James is a well-respected musician, artist manager, entrepreneur, and the CEO and Founder of Formation Creative, a boutique, Black-owned music production and sync licensing company that works with a select and talented team of diverse artists, composers, producers, and songwriters. Before launching Formation Creative, Kerry managed several bands, including Angelo Moore of Fishbone and alternative rock band The Brevet, and was the bassist, songwriter, and co-founder of indie-rock band OSLO.

We asked Kerry some questions about his career, and where Formation Creative is headed.

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

My career in music began playing the bass and writing songs in bands in the Bay Area music scene. I was fortunate to play with some amazing musicians that really inspired me to become a better musician and songwriter.

The business of music caught my curiosity early on and I would read every magazine article and book about my favorite artist and band to understand how they achieved their success. During this time I was introduced to Angelo Moore, the lead singer of Fishbone, who asked me to manage his solo career as a spoken word artist. I oversaw several tours and secured a record deal for Angelo with Asian Man Records. After several years of managing Angelo and me playing in clubs in the Bay Area and some touring, I decided to relocate to Los Angeles, and that’s when my career transformed to a professional musician for hire.

I was sought after by recording artists such as Scapegoat Wax (Grand Royal & Hollywood Records) and Black Gold (Red Bull Records). This is when I started to build my personal and professional relationships with entertainment executives and music celebrities alike and found out that I have a natural ability to connect people and projects together.

From there I co-founded the indie rock band OSLO, which I proudly call my greatest creative endeavor. We released two albums and two EPs. Our first album sold close to 10,000 copies independently and was met with critical success, which garnered a publishing deal with Songs Music Publishing and let to numerous film & TV synchs. After years of immersing myself in the music industry, I was asked to manage an up-and-coming alternative rock band called The Brevet, who needed some guidance in developing their career in radio and touring. Over the two years we worked together, the band did several national tours, self-released a critically acclaimed album, and received airplay on alternative radio stations nationwide over two single campaigns.  Today I’m living in Oakland, California where I am building Formation Creative. My goal is to utilize my talent as a connector to create more opportunities for artists, songwriters, composers, and producers who have thus far been underrepresented in the synch world – from the up-and-coming to the seasoned professionals.

Kerry (centre) with his bandmates from OSLO

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

Yes! We’re building a mentorship program called Formation Creative Academy.
It is designed to help lift up communities through teaching others how to create their own sound and educating them about the music business. The academy will launch in Fall 2022.

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

My wife, Michelle Saunders James and I are small business owners of an upscale nail salon called Saunders and James Nail Care in Oakland, California .
When I’m not working, I enjoy cooking and taking long hikes with close friends.

Anything else to add?

Study everything you need to know about the music industry. Never give up and always bet on yourself. If you can see it, you can make it happen. Dream big!

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.

Learn more about A2IM here.
For information about how to join our community, see here.