On Being Black: TimeZone International’s Vivian Scott Chew

The former A&R exec was once told: “With your contract comes a piece of rope that you can either make into a lasso or a noose.”

Before founding global marketing and promotion firm TimeZone International in 1998 and working with clients such as Jay-Z and Jill Scott, Vivian Scott Chew was among the Black women and men breaking executive ground in the music industry during the ‘80s and ‘90s. As Women’s History Month begins, Scott Chew reflects on navigating the predominantly white climate back then during career stops at ASCAP, Epic and 550 Music before coming full circle to mentor the next generation of Black and brown music industry creatives and executives.

Vivian Scott Chew: When I was hired as an assistant by African American entertainment attorney Louise West in 1982, that was my first shot in the industry. Black music departments were coming into existence and Louise brokered many of the Black music executives’ contracts at the time. One thing she said I needed to do was become involved in the Black Music Association. Through its various symposiums and conferences, the BMA was a breeding ground where young Black talent like myself not only learned the business but also the etiquette and politics of the business. Great men like RCA executive Ray Harris, late BMA co-founder George Ware, songwriter-producer Kenny Gamble and artist manager Bill Underwood all took the time to mentor me both personally and professionally.

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