Sujit Kundu’s Winning Formula for Success in the Ever-Changing Music Business [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Sujit Kundu isn’t a businessman; he’s a business, man. Just like Jay Z, the music mogul and the word workaholic are synonymous, but Kundu assures that he’s just doing the work he loves -- and having fun while he's at it. Seems like a winning formula, right?
Kundu is the founder of SKAM Artist -- short for Sujit Kundu Artist Management -- one of the country’s leading DJ and talent booking agencies. The music industry executive -- he's also the Senior Vice President of Crossover Promo at Epic Records -- boasts an impressive roster of talent with over 80 clients including Lil Jon, Amber Rose, Nick Cannon, Tyson Beckford and Jermaine Dupri as well as dozens of high-profile DJs.
“I love what I do so I never really feel like I’m working. People tell me I’m a workaholic but I don’t feel like that. I feel like I’m enjoying my life," he tells The Boombox. "I wake up when I’m ready to wake up and I go to sleep when I’m ready to go to sleep. It’s not like I have to have four more cups of coffee to stay up to get this work done."
While sleep is a luxury in his line of work, a gig in the music industry wasn’t part of Kundu’s life plan at first. Growing up in Fullerton, Calif., a big-time job at a record label in New York City was a very distant thought. “When I was a kid I wasn’t like a musician so if you would have asked me when I was younger if I would have ended up in the music industry I would have said, ‘Huh?’” he admits. But after a bet was made with a friend on whether or not the go-getter could throw a successful rave, his destiny was sealed. The event was a success and it wasn’t long before Kundu was drawing some of the ‘90s biggest acts like Warren G, Cypress Hill and Mobb Deep to his parties.
From club promoter to CEO, not a bad evolution. “It’s cool to see the growth and how much more room there is for more growth,” he says, reflecting on his humble beginnings. “I feel like we’re just getting started. It’s definitely cool just to see how things evolve and how things have grown. How so many people that I started out with at a young age are now CEOs or presidents or vice presidents or have come a long way and are successful as well.”
Although surrounded by celebrities and the nightlife sounds like a never-ending turn up, there's something else that the businessman thrives on -- a feeling of accomplishment. He appreciates witnessing the artists on his roster get their chance to shine. “When I see an artist that I’m working with do a big arena that started from nothing,” that's when Kundu feels like he can go and brush his shoulders off.
As he continues to make moves in the music industry, the CEO, who was recently tapped by BlackBerry for their "Work Connected" campaign, is unsure where the future of music will go -- but he’s down for the ride. “Obviously technology is coming in and the way people consume music is evolving. When I was growing up it was tape deck. Then tape deck to CD. Now, I don’t think most people have CD-ROMs. Now it’s going to streaming. So we’ll see,” he shares.
For a guy whose been hustling in the music business since he was 16, artists would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn't listen to his advice -- especially in the new landscape of streaming services. “There’s no shortcut for hard work,” Kundu states. “So if you’re an artist getting signed or a label, that’s not the end to your solutions. You have to put in the work. You get back what you put in.”
So which rappers or singers is Sujit Kundu listening to these days? Aside from Future, Travi$ Scott and the SKAM Artist talent, he rarely listens to music outside of work and the radio. “I’m probably the only New Yorker that’s not walking out with headphones on."
Instead of getting a fix with the newbies on SoundCloud, there’s something else the 40-year-old needs a dose of -- TV. “I joke and say I’m cheating on Netflix with TV,” Kundi says with a laugh. The Blacklist, Quantico, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder and Survivor are just some of the shows he’s watching. “It’s crazy,” he said of the latest storyline concocted by Shonda Rhimes in Scandal. But he does admit that he’s been falling asleep more than watching his favorite fall shows lately.
Kundu, who takes a 35-minute walk to work every morning, is obviously addicted to a more powerful force in his life -- the hustle. And he embraces it at every turn, no matter what the weather is like. “I’m all for it. That’s another reason why I love New York. Even if it rains, I’m like the mailman. I’m still coming to work."
Watch Sujit Kundu's BlackBerry "Work Connected" Campaign
See 20 Rappers’ & Singers’ Yearbook Photos You Won't Believe