- Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas co-founded Quality Control Music in 2013.
- They manage artists like Lil Baby, City Girls and Migos.
In 2013, 51-year-old Kevin “Coach K” Lee and 40-year-old Pierre “P” Thomas co-founded Quality Control Music, an American hip-hop record label and boutique management agency that now hosts artists like Little baby, city girls, Migos and Lakeyah. The pair have a knack for spotting talent, with many artists on their roster topping the Billboard charts, and specialize in developing grassroots artists — in 2020, for example, Lil Baby’s song “The Bigger Picture” became the most streamed track after the murder of George Floyd.
In 2015, Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records — who signed a joint venture with Capitol Music Group and Quality Control the same year — called the Atlanta-based brand “one of the most influential independent labels in hip-hop music.”
Insider spoke with the co-founders about their top tips for young entrepreneurs and professionals looking to get into entertainment.
Knowing how to adapt to the times
“One of the hardest things for many record companies in the past was being able to change over time,” Thomas said. “When I started, we weren’t in the age of streaming – we were in a digital download world. So it was CDs and a lot of street marketing. ‘digital streaming industry.’
“Even if you look at the music, the style of music has changed 10 times since I got into it,” Thomas added. “You have to know how to stay culturally relevant with what’s going on.”
Be open to new avenues and hire the right talent to make it happen
The couple advised new entrepreneurs to avoid boxing themselves into doing or being a thing. In order to build a strong internal team, they added, you must not only be willing to apply this mindset to your own life, but also be willing to share it with the people around you.
The duo said they have been able to future-proof their business by encouraging their artists and teams to expand into businesses other than music.
“One of the things about us is that we always try to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in everyone around us. I always say the same thing to our artists: music has a date. “expiry. Use your platform and use the money you earn to invest in other things that can be long-term finances to secure your future,” Lee said.
The pair followed their own advice, branching out into the worlds of sports management, publishing and tech podcasting. Take for example QC Moviesthe new chapter of the company that has helped its artists get into major studio productions like “wash me in the river,” with Quavo, one of the three rappers who make up Migos, and Robert De Niro.
The pair also credit their growth in new departments to a willingness to learn and knowing “you’ll never be the smartest in the room,” Lee said. “I knew myself and P, we couldn’t do all of this on our own. So what we did, we went and invested in talent,” he added, referring to hires as Brad Cicalathe managing partner of QC Sports’ football department; Charisse Dash, Global Head of Baseball and Partner of QC Sports; and Derrick Powellthe global head of basketball at QC Sports.