WRKSHP, a music-based lifestyle company from Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rocket Cos. in Detroit, and multi-platinum producer Che Pope, was launched today in downtown Detroit’s Capitol Park with the stated goal of creating an artist-centric approach to disrupt the music industry.
The announcement honors the 63rd anniversary of Motown Records being formed by Berry Gordy with an $800 loan from his family.
WRKSHP (Workshop) is a music-based lifestyle company focusing on 5 key areas: multimedia, data, creative, product, and experience. The company is both a lifestyle brand and offers comprehensive services for artists to launch/incubate their career, spinoff passion projects, create art with transparency, and be a part of something bigger than just music.
“Instead of signing artists to these ‘360-degree’ deals, WRKSHP will partner with and educate creatives so they profit share from revenues derived from their intellectual property and most effectively monetize their art,” says Pope, who will serve as CEO. “By being truly transparent, WRKSHP empowers artists to realize their maximum potential.”
Many artists are signed to royalty-based contracts and do not participate in the ownership of their masters and intellectual property. WRKSHP will seek instead to build a community of emerging artists and provide infrastructure for them to develop in partnership with the company, rather than a typical lopsided relationship.
It will position its artists as more than just performers by helping them establish themselves as brands, offering its artist roster partnership contracts, along with a customized suite of support services, including talent development, management, marketing and promotion, and content production.
Gilbert’s Detroit Venture Partners led the initial round of investment alongside co-lead investments from Stellation Capital’s Peter Boyce and KKFarm, the Taiwanese music technology firm. Additional investors include Courtside Ventures, Greg Schwartz, Ndamukong Suh, Sean McCaffery, William and Wynn Wesley, and more.
“Music is the compass that connects people toward a collective path. Detroit, more than any city, validates that bond across many generations. Arts and culture are the catalysts that ignite renaissance cities,” says Gilbert.
“Che is a renaissance man whose life’s work culminates through WRKSHP’s bold vision. Detroit’s deep-rooted history in moving the world through global multi-genre musical contributions makes it the natural choice for our headquarters.”
Pope is a multi-platinum and Grammy-award winning producer who most recently worked as COO of GOOD Music — Kanye West’s label — and has worked in the past with Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Eminem, Jay Z, and The Weeknd.
WORKSHP seeks to contribute to Detroit’s creative community by signing and collaborating with local artists, hosting educational workshops, and producing talent shows, concerts, and festivals attracting industry executives to the city.
“Che Pope has a very impressive resume working with some of the greatest music creators in modern history,” says Paul Rosenberg, CEO of Goliath Records and longtime manager of Eminem. “Bringing his talents to the Motor City provides an incredible opportunity for artists and the local music scene to flourish locally and beyond.”
As a minority-owned and operated company with an equally diverse group of investors, WRKSHP states it promotes inclusion in an industry and provides opportunities for participation. Currently, 19.8 percent of music executives are from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, including 7.5 percent who were Black, and it is even more alarming when hip-hop is the world’s No. 1 most consumed genre of music.