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Music Exec Ray Daniels Talks “The GAUDS Show” & Why He’s “The Culture Referee”

February 27, 2024

Read the full interview on AllHipHop.com!

Ray Daniels, a well-respected music executive who’s been in the industry for over two decades, is stepping into the podcast space. As the founder of R.A.Y.D.A.R Management LLC, Daniels has aided the careers of Beyoncé, Ciara, Rihanna, Usher, Future, Miley Cyrus, Adam Levine, Chloe Bailey, Latto, Saweetie and many more. His other titles include A&R, consultant and broker, negotiating publishing and artist deals such as YouTube sensation NLE Choppa. Now, Daniels is pushing his new podcast, The GAUDS Show.

It isn’t the average music-based show. Instead, it’s hosted by someone with years of insight and knowledge, especially when it comes to the label system in Atlanta. In a little over a year since its launch, the show has accumulated more than 10 million monthly views, with high profile guests such as Joe Budden, Dame Dash and Master P.

The GAUDS Show, which stands for “G.O.A.T.s and Underdogs,” includes Daniels’ perspective on both. While he sees himself as a G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), he wakes up everyday feeling like an underdog, which only fuels his hustle.

AllHipHop spoke with Ray Daniels virtually to discuss his new show, the meaning behind it, juggling both careers, managing Theron Thomas and more.

AllHipHop: How’s Atlanta treating you?

Ray Daniels: It’s good.I just got back from the Grammys. I love it here. I’m a very well-known figure here, so it feels like home. I love it here. Everywhere I go, I get treated with love. So I love it. [laughs]

AllHipHop: Congrats on your new show, The GAUDS Show. What does it stand for?

Ray Daniels: GAUDS is an acronym for G.O.A.T.s and Underdogs. My thought process was a lot of people out here see themselves as G.O.A.T.s, a lot of people see themselves as underdogs. But you don’t get to G.O.A.T. status unless you have that underdog mentality. That’s how you become the G.O.A.T. It was a great way of bringing the world together.

AllHipHop: When did you first come up with that concept?

Ray Daniels: I was on the phone with a friend of mine. She said, “Man, some people out here are G.O.A.T.s. Some people are underdogs.” My podcast was originally going to be called Black Gold. Then I was like, “Nahhh.” G.O.A.T.s and Underdogs, that’s something. That could be a conversation starter.

I thought I wanted to be Stephen A. Smith, that was my goal. I’m a Sportscenter, ESPN fanatic. You end your night with sports, then you wake up the next morning, they talk about it for four hours straight and we never get tired of them finding angles. Man, maybe I could do that for the music? So the objective was to do The GAUDS show where we talked about GOATs and underdogs, Top 5’s. That was originally the plan, but it turned it into whatever it wanted to turn into. I loved it because it was organic.

AllHipHop: Would you consider yourself a G.O.A.T. or an underdog?

Ray Daniels: I think I’m a GOAT. I’d consider myself a G.O.A.T. but based on where I started and where I’m at. It has nothing to do with how the world sees me, it has everything to do with how I see myself. I consciously saw myself on a path to a world that I didn’t want to be in, and I made a decision when no one thought it was smart. And here I am. Because of that, I’m a G.O.A.T.

But I wake up every day and I hustle like an underdog. That’s why it’s Monday at 6 p.m. and I’m in the office like, “Let’s go.” There’s nobody here at the office but me. I want to be the first one here, the last one to leave. I want that to be how I see myself. I’m committed to this.

AllHipHop: The show has been getting a huge response. What would you attribute that to?

Ray Daniels: Most of the time, if a guy like me does what I do, that usually means that I’m done. I’m out the game. Why it works is because I’m the first hybrid player in music. Joe Budden is probably the closest because he was a rapper while he was a podcaster, but the podcaster was working much better for him. That’s probably why he chased that one down, obviously.

For me, the reason why the show’s working is because I’m speaking about a game that I’m currently participating in, at a very high level. It’s not like I’m like talking about something after: Hey, this is how it used to be. No, I’m saying that’s how it used to be and that’s how it is now. Because I’m on the frontline dealing with. I think that’s why it’s working.

AllHipHop: Who’s been your favorite guest?

Ray Daniels: That’s a great question. My favorite interviews is artist spotlight. All of the guests that I’ve interviewed on artist spotlight has meant something to me. I don’t really want to ask people their business. You do this, we don’t gossip in our world. It’s a very hard line to ride while speaking on something, without coming off like gossip. My goal is to come off with an authentic voice, ask me questions that regular people would asking me and I’m going to answer it. And if it’s good, I’ll put it up. That’s how I started.

I didn’t launch the podcast till the end of August 2022. I started putting content up March 2022. From March to August, everywhere I went, people said, “Congratulations on the podcast. Oh my God, I love it.” That’s how I knew people was full of s###, because there’s no podcast. It’s just me talking on the internet and on my Instagram, that’s the only place it is. It’s not on YouTube nowhere. I’m like okay, let me just start one. At least build a business, and that’s what I’ve been at.

AllHipHop: How are you liking this podcast space?

Ray Daniels: Well, I didn’t like it at first. Because my reason for doing it was to get a job. It wasn’t to make money doing podcasts; that wasn’t my goal. It was the job. But, I found people really responding to what we were sharing and then the purpose evolved. I wound up getting fans, getting people that f### with me and everyone started to take notice. I wanted to do one thing and did a whole nother thing, I’m excited it worked out that way. This is not nothing but God’s plan. Because I don’t even know how I got here. And it’s called The GAUDS Show.

AllHipHop: You speak a lot about the music industry. Where do you think the music industry is missing the mark right now?

Ray Daniels: I speak a lot about it. I was very fascinated with this business. My only goal was to give it as much as it gave me. That’s really my goal. I wasn’t supposed to be nobody. For me, this business saved me. My only goal was to make it feel like I appreciated it. God sent you a blessing. The way you acknowledged that blessing is by doing good by it, so that was my only goal. Let me do good by this music business that people are telling me I should be in, and I wanted to learn it. I didn’t want to be in it, I wanted to learn it.

You’re a journalist. You understand you want to be the guy that does it, but doesn’t understand nothing about it. How do you make it better if you don’t understand how it works? How do you make it better if you don’t understand what it is? You have to, and that’s all I did. I dived in. What I realized was no one else was diving in. Everybody else was happy making money, living. They was happy, we’re in the 12th grade now. It’s up! Man, I want to go to college. I don’t want to leave school. That’s what happened.

I’d be in the room speaking, it hit me that no one knew the answer. They’ll ask questions like, “What’s wrong with this?” I knew the answer immediately, and no one knew it. The biggest curse about this business is they don’t put the right people in position. They put the people that make them feel the rightest in position. When you start understanding that this business doesn’t help people who want to do right by it, it really is there to maintain.

I thought it was a vessel for all of us to get to our dreams, but there are some people who treat it like “s###, I like being a gatekeeper for this s### and making money off other people’s dreams.” I didn’t want to be that guy, so that’s how I got here. I learned it. I didn’t cheat it. I’m not going to b#######. I’m not going to do it dirty. I’m going to do it right by the opportunity that’s placed in front of me. I’m a testament that if you do right, good things happen.

AllHipHop: How do you balance your role as a manager and music executive and your role as a podcast host?

Ray Daniels: I only film on Wednesdays. I don’t handle no business for the podcast. None. I can’t afford it. I can’t have the podcast and run my company. It’s impossible. I only film on Wednesdays, and I film everybody at the same time. I’ll come with a change of clothes. My content team, I pay full time. So that’s another thing I did. I know the mistake most artists make. They come into this game, for lack of better words: they bust their nut all in one day, then they try to figure out how to get some more energy. They’re like “man, I busted it!”

For me, I didn’t want to be that guy. I didn’t want to bust my nut in one day. I wanted to learn what I was doing, how to do it right. How to honor the position, and that’s where I’ve been at. I wouldn’t want no one who works for me, start a new hobby and that takes up half the time. I give the podcast 20% of my time, but it’s authentically me. That’s how it works.

I didn’t want to cheat, and that’s honestly what my goal is. I didn’t want to cheat the game. You’ve been doing this, you know how this s### is. People that say “man, he only got paid because he was such and such a little person. He only got there because that guy put him in position.” I never wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be the guy that got there, and everybody around said “he deserved it.” Because if they thought I deserved it, they’d probably bring opportunities to me because they’re like “you deserve to be here, and I know you’re right for the job.”

Compared to where we are now where we’re giving opportunities to these people, and the business is suffering because all these guys are doing is hiring their friends. Who makes them comfortable, and that might not be the best person for the job. But I also understand their perspective because if I’ma hire somebody, I’ma hire someone who’s going to come in and protect me. I’m not going to hire nobody who’s going to come in here and try to take my job.

So I understand that perspective, but it has to be a give take. It has to be “well then let me find the best person for the job that I also trust.” It can’t be “I trust this person 100%, so they get the job.” And that’s the problem with the business. There’s no thought leaders. Everybody’s a crew of people that’s looking out for each other, giving each other information. F### that, I want to be a leader. I am a leader. I want to do right.

AllHipHop: I interviewed Theron Thomas recently. He just won Songwriter of the Year. How’d that feel?

Ray Daniels: I could take you to it, because it was the greatest moment of my career and his. Theron and I, we don’t really chase accolades. We didn’t really chase Grammys, we didn’t chase nothing. Because we couldn’t chase anything that we couldn’t control. Imagine going to the Grammys and losing like, “damn, maybe next year.” No, I want to know how to win. Theron is a very deserving person of the opportunity, but the reason why he’s so deserving is because he never cheated the process.

When he was a hit songwriter, instead of saying “I’m a hit songwriter, I’ma do it my way.” He said, “I want to learn this.” And he did. He became a great songwriter, and he was rewarded with the greatest reward you can give anybody that does what he does. To me, that was a testament that God is real. If you honor your part, and don’t worry about the outcome, you got a real good chance at getting everything you dreamt of.

AllHipHop: How early did you find him?

Ray Daniels: I’ve known Theron since I was an intern. We’ve been friends for 20 years. I’ve been managing him for 18. He was working at Party City, that’s when I started managing him. It was funny because when you’re broke and starting out, you don’t have time to sugarcoat things. So when we discussed a potential team up the timing way before we originally started working, it wasn’t right and Theron was very focused on his work as a performing artist (we were both dead broke) and I had to cut to the chase and said,  “I ain’t gon’ lie man, you and your brother’s music sucks.” [Theron randomly calls] however, I loved him and he was beyond gifted as a writer and when he explored that avenue – we made it work and the rest was history.

I never knew a guy that deserved it more than he deserved it. I never knew anyone that worked as hard and took as much s###, and was so happy being Batman to everyone’s Robin. My only thing I wanted was for him to be his own Batman, but he said “Ray, I’ma do it the way I do it. I’m just glad that the game received me,” because they didn’t always receive him the way he deserved to be. And that’s the honest truth.

AllHipHop: What else can we expect from you? Anything you’re excited for with the show?

Ray Daniels: What you can expect is to see more content that could be edu-taining. My goal is to help people that look like me, help people that look like you, help people who are not the favorites when they walk in the room in America. That gotta prove they’re not. They gotta prove that there’s something more before they can even get anything else.

To me, that’s my goal. Expect more breaking up the system. That’s what I want to do. I want to break the system and put it back together again. I want to Humpty Dumpty this s###, put it back together again the right way. With the right people in power, doing the right job. That’s why I call myself the Culture Referee.

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