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Conference focuses on business of entertainment

Antonio Richardson Sr. is the marketing director for Georgia Entertainment.

Antonio Richardson Sr. is the marketing director for Georgia Entertainment.

Carlton Fletcher

carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com

ALBANY — Antonio Richardson Sr. holds hard to a truism about the entertainment industry that he says is the reason there are so many talented artists on the outside of fame looking in.

“Making it in entertainment is 90 percent business and 10 percent talent,” Richardson said. “Most artists look at it just the opposite: They think it’s 90 percent talent and 10 percent business.

“That’s why there are so many entertainers with all the talent in the world who are sitting at home, watching less talented folks make it. They see this guy or that guy on BET or MTV and say, ‘He didn’t even graduate high school.’ That may be true, but you better believe his lawyer did and his agent did.”

Richardson, the marketing director for the Georgia Entertainment multimedia marketing firm, and a collection of big names in the entertainment industry will offer their expertise to aspiring artists from the region Saturday at the 10th Southwest Georgia Radio and Music Conference, dubbed this year the “Spring Break Artist and Model Showcase.”

In addition to providing showcase opportunities for area models and musical artists, the conference will include educational elements for those who want an inside look at the entertainment industry.

“You have to make it fun, because — let’s face it — it’s hard to get anyone other than the most serious entertainers interested in educational opportuntites,” Richardson said. “So our model showcase features the newest designs from fashion lines such as Baby Phat, Apple Bottom, Dereon and others; and our musical showcase gives musical artists an opportunity to show their talent to people in the industry.

“We also offer information about copyrighting material, contracts, management, production, A&R, record label management. Our vendors have the expertise to prepare artists for the business of the entertainment industry.”

Surprise guests are often a part of the Radio and Music Conference: Such artists as David Banner, Bone Crusher and 9th Ward are among the acts that have appeared.

Richardson, a Greenville, Miss., native who attended Clark Atlanta University on a football scholarship, made his way to Albany in 2005 when his wife’s mother became ill and the family moved here to help care for her. And while he is the brains behind his own record label (Rich & Famous Records) and is managing the careers of rising artists such as Jackson, Mississippi-based Chyna Boy and Albany’s Young Lino, he is most passionate about helping budding artists understand the way the sports and entertainment businesses work.

“There are so many tragic tales out there,” Richardson said. “Look at (NFL star) Terrell Owens. He’s made more than $80 million in his career, and he’s filing for bankruptcy. I guarantee you, though, his agent isn’t filing for bankruptcy.

“People talk about Labron James playing in the NBA right out of high school, but he’s surrounded himself with some of the best people to handle his business. I guarantee you his agent and his tax attorney are making lots of money.”

Richardson said he was on the verge of getting Albany city officials involved with his annual radio and music conference when former Downtown Manager Don Buie’s troubles began. So he’s used his own connections and funding to make the conference available to young artists in the area.

“I feel this event should have caught fire by now like AthFest (in Athens), EssenceFest in New Orleans and similar events in Savannah, Atlanta and other major cities,” Richardson said. “But this region is very slow to react, to take advantage of a unique opportunity like this. We’ve got experts coming in from all over the world, and there are going to be opportunities most (regional) artists don’t often get.

“And I think it’s important that people know this is not a ‘hip-hop conference’ or a ‘rap conference.’ Sure, this region is known for that genre of music, but this is a true music conference for gospel, rock, jazz, country, hip-hop artists. It’s about the entertainment business, and the business of the industry is not about genre.”

Registration/check-in for the conference starts at noon Saturday at the Regency Inn Hotel at 911 E. Oglethorpe Blvd. The first 100 people to register via the www.GA-Entertainment.com website will attend the conference free of charge. A small entry fee will apply for nonregistered attendees. Additionally, the first 25 models to register for the model showcase and are approved will also be allowed to take part for free.

A limited number of artist showcase slots are available starting at $50.

Additional information is available at (229) 449-3735, while model bios and stat cards may be emailed to ContactGAEnt@gmail.com.

“Albany (artists) kind of have an inferiority complex,” Richardson said. “They approach their careers with an attitude of ‘I ain’t gonna make it.’ We’ve got to change that. Albany is actually a bigger music center than Atlanta right now, and people in the industry know that.

“Our showcase will give some of these young artists the foundation they need to get started in the business. And it’s important that they understand that this is a business. The whole purpose of the struggle to make it is to succeed. You get into this to sell 200 million records, not two. That’s where we can help.”