2 Minutes With … Chuka Chase, Co-Founder and CBO of SymphonyOS

On working with SZA and the virtues of AI

Chuka is a Nigerian-born entrepreneur with a passion for music and building digital tools for the next generation. His latest venture is SymphonyOS, which aims to democratize music marketing and empower creators with better ways to build their businesses while growing views, streams and subscribers. The platform uses AI to automate audience targeting across digital services and social media.

Chase broke into the music industry by working on the rollout of Childish Gambino's "Because the Internet." After that project received a Grammy nomination, Chuka co-founded Integral Studio, an agency behind campaigns for acts like Mac Miller, Travis Scott, SZA, and 21 Savage.

We spent two minutes with Chuka to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Chuka, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. In my teens I divided my time between Boston and Lagos. Now, I'm mainly based in Los Angeles.

Your earliest musical memory.

Seeing Michael Jackson's Thriller video for the first time at 4 years old in Africa and being totally in awe.

Your favorite bands/musicians today.

Right now, I'm hooked on Zach Bryan.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

Working with SZA on the Ctrl album campaign. The marketing timeline of the project developed over two years. The first year focused on the strategy, and the second unfolded in real time as the album started dictating the process of the campaign. 

A recent project you're proud of.

Uncle Waffles. The rate and speed of her rise was crazy. She went from being an unsigned 22 year-old from South Africa who just started learning how to DJ, to having my partner fly out to connect with her—and two weeks later she signed a record deal. It's been amazing to be a part of finding creatives, learn from them and grow.

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.

Everyone's worried about AI and art. I believe we get to rewrite everything for the better in a more scalable way. Society understands we have to pay creators. Technology at the core involves creativity, so the "brushes" of the artist and the outcome are always gonna be the same. I'm excited for everyone to have an ability to play with tech while also building effective infrastructures to get admin out of the way of creatives. 

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.

You can't help but admire Kanye simply for how he plays into counterculture. As a marketer, he does the complete opposite of what I tell every artist to do. There's no denying he spent years building his fanbase and we haven't seen marketing from a solo artist in the same vein for years. At the end of the day, he doesn't have to do his own marketing anymore and he does his thing without worrying about the world.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

The Wind of Change podcast. I won't give too much away, but a heavy metal band from West Germany, the Scorpions, released the song, "Wind of Change." The song became one of the biggest rock songs ever and some view it as the catalyst for ending the Cold War. That said, there are rumors the band didn't write it—the U.S. government did. I'll leave it there for you to hear more.

An artist you admire outside the world of music.

I'm motivated by artists who shift an archetype. One that comes to mind is Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian poet, freedom fighter and television producer. He would write open letters and get people thinking about what's underneath the surface. You can get more info here.

Your favorite fictional character.

Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. He dealt with great loss and the reality of life. Spoiler Alert: in the end, the loss of his brother was still too much and made him realize what was truly important.

Someone worth following on social media.

The former Navy Seal David Goggins. He keeps me in the zone, gets me motivated and lifts me up on my bad days.

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

Always thinking about the customer's point of view: How people consume music. What communities they form. How they start their days. Where they hang out. Staying on top of that as generations evolve is where I live. My mindset has been mainly influenced by how Apple grew and evolved.

Your biggest weakness.

Biting off more than we can chew. All of my companies are creative-led and driven, and sometimes we take on clients too early. We’re always in a battle over whether to put something out vs. when to say no. A one-mission man is better than a multi-mission man.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business.

Coaching football at any level or ranching.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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