Rich Sanchez, a recent graduate of West New York’s Memorial High School, knew that the best career path would be one that would allow him to pursue something that he loved.
His hope to embark on a career in hip hop eventually led to Good*Fella Media, a media website and blog featuring upcoming artists within the genre.
Shortly after graduating in 2006, Sanchez and high school friends Quinton Hill and Justin Duran first came up with the idea for their business while working at a Whole Foods Market in Edgewater.
“We were all music lovers,” said Sanchez. “We always wanted to dabble in hip hop and we really didn’t know how to go about it.”
“If we can do it, you guys can definitely do it.” – Rich Sanchez
The company takes off
The three friends eventually added fellow graduates Mark Lopez, Jorge Mendez, and Dawnielle Ross to help with shooting video, blogging, and hosting their radio show, respectively. The six formed Good*Fella Media in late 2006.
In order to make a name for themselves, the six friends began reaching out to hip hop artists in order to book interviews for their show. Although they had a very low response rate, the two were not discouraged.
“Little by little they started to respond,” said Sanchez. “I personally had to send about twenty e-mails to artists or managers before I even got one back. Not really harassment, but a good amount of persistence,” he added with a laugh.
After Ross tragically passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2009, the group eventually recruited Kimberley Cordovez, a student of North Bergen’s High Tech High School. The website continues to honor Ross with a page dedicated in her memory.
“We have definitely had our share of ups and downs,” said Sanchez, “but have managed to stick together as a group for the love of hip hop and urban culture.”
The founders also added Omar Dubois
In order to obtain more interviews, Lopez began blogging about the artists they had spoken to with the intention of promoting them. A free service, blogging was used to get the word out about the artists they had previously interviewed.
At this point, roughly 300 artists have been interviewed, which in turn helps Good*Fella Media receive exposure.
“It’s beautiful,” said Sanchez, who added that while attending hip hop events in New York he continues to encounter more and more people that have heard of his company.
As a business major at Montclair State University, Sanchez was put in charge of the dollars and cents of the company. He knew that without a great website, their company could never forge good relationships with artists.
“It took me about six months to build that website,” said Sanchez, adding that he had received compliments from notable artists and managers, including Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg.
As more and more artists began to contribute interviews, the company gained in popularity. Sanchez soon established a YouTube page, which quickly garnered 2 million views. Given the high amount of views, Sanchez was able to enlist the company as a YouTube partner, which enabled them to collect revenue from advertisements.
Big plans for the future
“Since we’re not generating a lot of income, the pressure’s on now,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez indicated that the next big step for the company is to enter the live entertainment industry, which would include hosting live concerts at local venues.
“We definitely have the resources to do it,” continued Sanchez. “We have great relationships with managers and artists. We can pretty much book anyone we want. The problem is that you need to have the capital to pay the artist and location.”
With revenue only currently generated from YouTube advertisements, Good*Fella Media has begun saving up in order to accomplish their concert-hosting plans.
“We’re constantly working,” said Sanchez, adding that the website puts out three interviews every week. “We’re still very much motivated. We’re living our dream.”
With help from Memorial
Although some clients have expressed concern that the Good*Fella Media name seems to have an association with gangs, members of the group are adamant in suggesting otherwise.
“The asterisk represents everything that’s good in urban culture,” said Sanchez. “We try to stray away from promoting negative things like racism.”
Some, like Duran, believe that Memorial High School had a huge influence in helping them accomplish their dreams.
“Memorial High School was the springboard to what we know as Good*Fella media today,” said Duran.
“The teachers and disciplinarian’s of Memorial High School did a great job of understanding the [hip hop] culture,” continued Duran. “Rather than ignoring it, they provided the students with outlets to release that energy.”
The group cites teacher Alex Polynice’s Video Production class as a big influence on their work.
“It felt like there were some teachers who would give you a piece of themselves before you graduated, and for that I can never thank them enough,” said Lopez.
“I know a lot of kids at Memorial that might be discouraged [after graduating],” continued Sanchez, choosing to address the students. “We’re just five regular guys. If we can do it, you guys can definitely do it.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.