We had the opportunity to catch up with David Amaya, a man who holds a highly desirable position in the music industry. Currently, Amaya is the social media guy in the Digital Marketing Department over at Def Jam Records. In case you were wondering—he’s only 23.
(Interview by Emily Gabriele | @EmilyGabriele)
GFM: You’re working at Def Jam, one of the hottest labels in the business. How did you get there?
DA: Let’s take it back to 2008. This was when all the blogs were popping up so me and my friend decided, why not make our own blog? Instead of just doing hip-hop we made it all types of music.
There was a really big following on it and then my site got shine from other big sites. I actually had a really big leak on it. It just happened to be that everyone was listening and reposting it. You know? I mean it was a big song at the time. The next day I got an email from the RIAA pretty much saying that I had to take everything down that was unauthorized. So I did that I deleted the song. So I did that and I wrote back saying –
GFM: Wait; let’s pause here, what was your initial reaction when you got that email?
DA: Oh yeah I was freaking out. I didn’t know what to do. I was asking other bloggers asking them what they’d do and blah blah blah. So the next day I get a knock on my door there were these under-cover cops. I guess you could say they were “cops” I don’t really know. They were from the RIAA. They found out where I lived and they came in and told me I had to take some stuff down from my website.
They thought I was a hacker because around that time there were a lot of hackers so they thought that’s what I was. I mean, I didn’t think it would ever reach to that level – having them come to my house and what not.
They had to watch me delete everything that was unauthorized. They were going to sit there and watch me delete everything. So that was going to take forever because there was like two years worth of all these postings and all that stuff. So I decided that I was just going to delete the site. Which was kind of a hard decision because I put all this hard work in and now I had to get rid of it. So I deleted it. They left and they said you know if you get caught again you’re going to go to jail or you’ll have to pay like five hundred thousand dollars. I don’t have that money and I don’t want to go to jail.
GFM: And you weren’t making any money off of this site?
DA: No. It was just you know, it was just for fun.
GFM: So what happened next, after you had to delete your website?
DA: So then it was October 2010 and all that had just happened. I had reached out to B Dot at Rap Radar via Twitter and told him the story of what had just happened to me with the RIAA. Then he his up Elliott Wilson and about a week later I started emailing and they asked me if I wanted to work there.
That position then led me into meeting so many people in the industry, artists, bloggers etc. Two years later, I started to meet some people at the labels, which included KLEP, who worked at Def Jam and is now is my co-worker. We happened to be at the same event that night which was a Nas Album Listening event and we got to chop it up a bit. It happened to be that I was at the right place at the right time, and he told me they were looking for a Social Media Guy. I just told the guy my dream is to work with artist. I didn’t say my dream was to work at Def Jam or anything. But then he asked me to pass him my resume. So I did so a few weeks later I went in for the interview. It wasn’t even really an “interview” it was more just like them talking to me like I already had the position.
GFM: What do you think is the most important medium in social media?
DA: I would definitely say Twitter.
GFM: So what exactly are you doing over at Def Jam?
DA: I run all of their social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and I run the website, DefJam.com. I deal with a lot of the promo stuff. I pretty much just make sure that everything stays updated and I need to make sure that it’s engaging. I still do a little blogging on DefJam.com. For example, I want to make sure that I don’t sound like a robot or anything like that.
GFM: What’s been the most challenging thing for you at Def Jam?
DA: There’s just a lot of politics. I mean everybody knows I love it at Def Jam. I work hard. I love everything that I have to do. But hmm, the hardest thing about working there…?
I guess I would have to say the only really hard thing has to be that this is all I’ve really known. I love what I do, but at the same time I want to do something that works more directly with artists. I mean eventually I’ll get there. I mean I know social media; I’ve been doing this for so long.
GFM: What is the key to reaching your audience?
DA:Consistency and doing things that no one else is doing. There are restrictions of course, but again, you don’t want to sound like a robot. You want to have a dialogue with fans.
GFM: What’s been the most exciting campaign for you at Def Jam so far?
DA: I’d have to say Yeezus. I mean I didn’t play a huge part in it. But I definitely helped out with that campaign. I was actually on text with people who were doing these projections for the album, these visuals, in Cali and Miami and just making sure that everyone knew what was going on and where it was taking place.
GFM: How many times are you Tweeting a day?
DA: For Def Jam at least 20 times a day. My personal account I’m going off all day.
GFM: Who are you a fan of right now?
DA: Drake. He’s gotten better with every album. I mean he’s not my favorite rapper of all time but he’s definitely my favorite rapper of right now.
GFM:What do you think of the new Jeezy project?
DA: I’m a big fan I think this is the album he should have put out three years ago. I mean the last one was okay. But this one is like the old Jeezy that I feel everyone wanted to hear more from years ago.
GFM: What other projects have you worked in 2014 that have been your favorite?
DA: I would say Common back in July. I’m a big Common fan.
GFM: What we be a dream job for you?
DA: I mean I don’t know if you know the joke but everyone calls me the President of Def Jam. Haha. But realistically I just want to do something where I can have the final say.
GFM: If you could be the president of Def Jam tomorrow, going with the running joke, what would you do?
DA: I think maybe putting more money into digital sales instead of physical sales. Just trying it out. I don’t know. I think that’s something I would definitely consider.