In Part I and Part II of our feature on Chicago promoter Terrell Taylor’s internship at Bad Boy Records, we heard about how Terrell found his “in” and moved to New York, his encounters with Sean “Diddy” Combs and some surprising things he learned about the music business. Today, we wrap things up.
By Alex Braun
Part of success is hard work, and part of it is being in the right place at the right time.
When Terrell Taylor got his call back to intern at Bad Boy Records, he was ecstatic enough to have one foot in the door of Diddy’s flagship business. Kevin, the assistant to the president of A&R and publishing, had gotten him in, and Terrell said his “sponge approach” started with absorbing everything Kevin had to tell him.
Terrell’s college classes and experience organizing performers in Chicago introduced him to the general concepts of how recording contracts were written, but under Kevin’s guidance, Terrell was quickly developing an advanced knowledge of the business — and people were taking notice.
Taylor described a time when most of his office was going on a company theme park trip to Six Flag Great Adventure, and he had been invited to go. Most interns jumped at the chance to get a day off work, but knowing his time at Bad Boy was short, Terrell saw things differently.
“If I went thousands of miles to get there, I was going to learn,” he said. Terrell stayed in Manhattan that day, holding down the floor to keep Bad Boy’s publishing department open.
When opportunity struck, the right people knew Terrell Taylor could meet challenges.
A few weeks into the internship, Terrell’s boss and mentor, Kevin, decided he could be a bigger asset to Bad Boy in the long run if he took time off to study for the bar exam. Terrell’s performance so far had instilled enough confidence in Kevin and the staff of Diddy’s publishing arm that they felt he could serve as Kevin’s temporary replacement — and for his expanded role, Terrell was getting paid.
Standing in as assistant to the president also granted Terrell privileges many interns never get. One day, he was asked into Diddy’s studio during a mixing session for I Want You to Love Me — a song that never made the final cut for Diddy’s critically acclaimed 2010 album Last Train to Paris.
“[Diddy] came in and put his hand on the back of my seat and asked me ‘Yo, you feelin’ this?’”
“It was me and two of the other interns,” Terrell recalled. “Everybody was listening on their headphones, but I’m way into music, so I was bobbing my head more so than the other ones. [Diddy] came in and put his hand on the back of my seat and asked me ‘Yo, you feelin’ this?’ And I said, “Yo, this is dope.”
I asked Terrell if Diddy got to know him during his time in New York. He said he didn’t think so — Diddy interacts with a massive number of people on a daily basis, and he’s usually intensely focused, Terrell explained. But, he added, “Everytime I’d see him, it’d be like ‘I know you, but I don’t know you.’”
Terrell feels that his internship opened huge doors anyway. After the internship ended, Terrell says he was invited back, but had to stay in Chicago for family reasons. There, the things he learned at Bad Boy — coupled with the connections he made for getting getting better-known guests to appear at his “Showtime in Chicago” music events — helped him move from 500-seat community centers to 1,500-seat theaters. He even was able to start a similar event in Arizona, where he has family.
“If you don’t make an impression [during an internship], you’ll get lost in the fog.”
Those things helped Positive Entertainment — “And then also just that drive to keep working hard,” Terrell said. “We got the logo, we got the branding, but I’m a still go hard for the actual event as if nobody knows who we are.”
“One thing about an internship is they come a dime a dozen,” Terrell said, “and if you don’t make an impression, you’ll get lost in the fog.”
Like Diddy, Terrell Taylor is now focused — and his internship at Bad Boy Records gave him more clarity. “A&R is still in me,” he said. “Now I know few mainstream acts, but it’s more so about me helping the up-and-coming artists.”
Above: Terrell Taylor’s Positive Entertainment organizes a number of community events in Chicago, like this 2009 Skate Jam.