Meet the Founder and Chief Strategist of The Bassline Group: Patrice Cokley

The Bassline Group (TBG) is an artist development and talent management agency that is committed to turning creatives into entrepreneurs. Founded by Patrice K. Cokley in 2014, TBG has developed and guided over 100 artists and music creatives across the Chicagoland area and beyond including students of SAE Institute, where she taught for 3 years. While Patrice is widely known for her work with Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child, Solange) she also prides herself on her laser focus toward helping industry underdogs to become successful entrepreneurs while maintaining their authenticity. Her goal is to turn their passions into long-term careers.

We sat down with Patrice to learn more about her company’s new partnership with Symphonic Distribution as well as the hurdles she has had to overcome being a black woman business owner as well as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.

1) Congratulations on your recent partnership with Symphonic Distribution! Why did you choose to partner with Symphonic specifically and what are your goals for the partnership?

I’ve been a fan of the work Symphonic has been doing for years. I love their humble beginnings, transparency, and their advocacy for artist independence. All of which I could personally relate to. After engaging with members of their team over the years, I felt like it was time to pitch them my artists and ideas to see if they would be interested. To my surprise, they were and it became a great way to end such a crazy year.

Considering that Symphonic and I offer similar services to artists, my goals are to leverage their relationships with DSPs such as Spotify, Apple, and their global reach; take advantage of their video distribution services to cast a wider net for the content we release; and to engage their sync department/company, Bodega. There’s a lot of opportunities in sync that many independent artists overlook.

2) 2020 was a turbulent year. Tell us about some of the biggest challenges you faced as well as some of your proudest moments / accomplishments.

My biggest challenge was not being able to connect with my artists, team and family in-person, live performances, and developing cabin-fever. I love my artists and enjoy live music, so to be on lockdown and not being able to see my family in a couple of states over was very challenging, and still is. However, my proudest moment was seeing the engagement on social media increase due to the content I was pumping out to keep artists informed and encouraged. My content has been seen by quite a few people high up in the industry that’s resulting in some great opportunities being presented.

I was also proud of myself for starting a podcast, Rich Off Passion and interviewing some great entrepreneurs who were successfully earning a living by doing passion work. My guests included Grammy-nominated producer, Tone Jonez, and Dae Bogan who is the Head of Third Party Partnerships at The MLC (Music Licensing Collective). And of course, the partnership with Symphonic was a proud moment.

3) What is the biggest struggle that you personally have faced as a black woman business owner? How would you have liked or how would you like to see it be different/improve?

My biggest struggle being a black woman of the LGBT community is constantly being overlooked and judged. I’m a big girl standing at 5’10”, so my appearance can be intimidating to some. But once I open my mouth, you can easily see that I’m knowledgeable, fun, full of passion, and absolutely love what I do. Since our society tends to judge books by the cover, I know I have been passed over for many opportunities because I wasn’t a “culture fit”, but that’s okay, because I’ve learned to create my own opportunities which has gotten me here.

I would like for people to be more open-minded and judge people by their character and not how they look. Some people are just simply born with certain aesthetics. That doesn’t make them better or less than. Instead, we should be looking at what they’ve done, how they contribute, and how they treat others. Luckily for me, I grew up in a very diverse environment, so being around people from different cultures and backgrounds excites me.

4) How do you feel black business owners, specifically women, can best support each other?

We can support each other by not looking at each other as threats. Everything is better in numbers, including us black women business owners. We all could be more successful individually, if we worked together as a unit. Men do it all the time. Why can’t us?

5) As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, do you feel that there needs to be increased representation of artists within this community? And how about LGBTQ+ business owners? What can the industry be doing to further include members of the community?

YES! There certainly needs to be an increased representation of artists within the LGBTQ+ community. Even though the artists in the community are getting recognition, there could never be enough representation for the community. The same goes for the LGBTQ+ business owners, who are represented less than the artists. The industry could do a better job of showing support for members of the community. Like I said earlier, they should be given a fair chance and be judged for what they bring to the table as opposed to being shut down for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

6) If you had to give 5 one-liner pieces of advice to journalists right now, what would they be?

Look at the details, not the headline.

There’s more to a book than its cover.

Black voices matter. Listen.

Women voices matter. Listen.

The country is ugly right now. Spread love, not the hate.

7) Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?

I also struggle with these types of questions because I could have not predicted where I’m at now 5 years ago. lol. 5 years from now, I hope to be doing more of the same but on a bigger scale, working with bigger artists. I would love to go on tour with an artist just for the experience. In 5 years, I hope to be teaching again at the collegiate level. I taught at SAE Institute for 3 years in their Music Business department. Mentoring and educating the next generation is such a rewarding experience.

Learn more about Patrice on her website and be sure to follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on what she’s doing with The Bassline Group.