At one point in his music career the average person may have said “They Don’t Know” who Rico Love is while he was somewhat quietly garnering respect, opportunities, nominations, and a thriving livelihood by writing and producing songs for some of the top names in the industry. From Beyoncé to Usher, the New Orleans native who lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle during his youth, has used his pen to elevate the songs and lives of his industry colleagues for years.
Although he started as an artist, the humble yet confident, Rico Love took a proverbial backseat for years in order to hone and elevate his pen game. With an undying passion to get back on stage and out of the studio, Rico came out swinging with the 2013 release of his hit single, “They Don’t Know” and he hasn’t looked back sense. He admittedly says he prefers his own artistry over creating for others. Mr. Love prefers making quality music before he thinks about money. He also prefers being a SESAC artist because they believed in him from day one before the massive publishing and/or songwriter checks. His fans seem to prefer him in the studio, on stage, on the radio, and everywhere else they can hear his music or his musical influence. We had the opportunity to talk with Rico Love about the music industry, his songwriting process, why he prefers SESAC, and the balance of being a songwriter/producer/artist.
RFFocus : I know you started as an artist but with so many accomplishments as a songwriting and working in an industry that sometimes tries to pigeonhole you, was it hard for your making the transition into the artist world from being an accomplished songwriters?
Rico Love: Honestly, it wasn’t really hard at all. Everything is hard work and I embrace hard work. Mentally the transition was easy for me, which is why I felt comfortable doing it. As far as the man hours and the work that goes into it, it wasn’t difficult at all. I’m actually having a great time and I prefer being in front of the mic and being on stage. I just felt like I was denying myself that for so long because I had done so well as a songwriter. I feel like you control your own destiny so dealing with artists and dealing with their egos and insecurities can difficult at times. That is more difficult than anything but with my own music and my own record company, I just go in there and I know what I know in my heart and I believe in it and go for it. I feel it’s a lot easier for me at this stage of my career.
RFFocus : What advice would you give to and up and coming songwriter that also wants to be an artist so they don’t get pigeonholed into just being a songwriter and how do they deal with the egos they will face?
Rico Love: There is really only so much advice you can give but I would say trust your instinct and work hard. You have to build up a certain tolerance to deal with certain personalities and egos. In the studio, you are more than just a songwriter, you are also a psychologist that has to deal with mental things with people. You also have to be humble and have humility. You have to be patient, believe, and go for it but coming back to humility it doesn’t just mean being modest, it also means that when you want to go off and curse somebody out, you don’t do it. That is what I pride myself on, my humility and my ability to deal with egos. I could have jumped out the window like this cat disrespected me but I just learned to deal with it, suck it up, and do my job. When you deal with strong personalities and have such a strong personality as I do, you must have humility.
RFFocus : Let’s switch it up a bit. All the performance rights organizations do a good job at what they do; ASCAP, BMI, etc. But what was it about SESAC that led you to sign with them?
Rico Love: SESAC believed in me early on before the hits. I feel like other guys, no shade to them, I just feel like sometimes they just kind of jump on the bandwagon. I also feel like SESAC, from day one, they saw the potential in me and they believed in me. They got behind me and I was at a point in my life where I really needed them financially and they took care of me. I believe in them and not just because they gave me a check, but also because they actually said, they believe in me. They said you are one of those guys that will make it and I made it. That very year I had seven number one records. To be in that position with those guys, I have so much respect for them.
RFFocus : Let’s talk about songwriters and compensation. SESAC and all the performance rights organizations have made their presence known on Capitol Hill fighting for the fair compensation of songwriters. How do you feel about songwriter’s compensation in regard to Pandora, Spotify, and other streaming sites?
Rico Love: I feel like we deserve every dollar. Whenever somebody has access to the music, we should be paid for it. I don’t believe in giving anything away for free in regard to the Spotify’s of the world. Just because they don’t charge, they are getting money back from the sponsors and things like that so at the end of the day, we should be compensated for the music we compose. Period!
RFFocus : Rico let’s talk about your music for a minute. What is the one song you wrote, whether it was for yourself or somebody else, that you absolutely knew this could be that one? Also, tell what the process was like to create it and how you felt in the moment?
Rico Love: Man, I’m going to be honest with you, I feel like that about so many of the records I have written. Whether it’s “Just a Dream,” Nelly, , Trey Songz, “There Goes My Baby,” Usher, “Motivation” Kelly, “Sweet Dreams,” Beyonce, “Hello Good Morning,” Diddy, like so many records I have written made me feel that way. Like this one record I wrote for Romeo Santos called, “Odio” featuring Drake. The record shot up and it was like number one for 20 weeks. When I heard it without even being familiar with the track or anything…just hearing it how he translated the lyrics in Spanish and everything, how the melody came across and it was so emotional and so passionate, I knew it would be a big record. When I listened to lyric, I listened to how I connect to it and I imagined how the listener would connect to it. That is the key and I pride myself on having great taste in music. I listen to some amazing artists; the Beatles, the Bee Gees, and many amazing artists and songwriters so I know a great record when I hear one, whether I wrote it or somebody else wrote it. So when I heard a record like “Odio” I said this is going to be a big one.
RFFocus : For all the people looking to get into the business now whether they are an artist, songwriter, or producer do you think it’s wise for them to try to write or produce their own material if they can in an effort to extend their financial life in the business?
Rico Love: I don’t think about money. I’m the wrong person to ask about money when it comes to music. If you are a great writer, you should write. I would never tell somebody to do something they are not capable of doing just to make more money. You will actually lose money if you are out there writing terrible songs. I want everybody to make great money by doing what they do but don’t do it just for money. I’m not just a guy that talks about money in my songs. If you see me I might wear flashy clothes and I like cars because I personally like those things but I’m not the guy that says how much money can I get off this. I want to make money, don’t get it twisted, I love to make money but I love music, the art and passion that goes into it. I want to be the greatest more than I want to be the richest. Because in the end being the greatest will always stay with you.
RFFocus : I asked Jagged Edge this question about a month ago. If you could pick a Mt. Rushmore of your top songwriters of all time, who would be on the mountain?
Rico Love: Damn bro, that is tough. You got to put John Lennon on there. You have to have Gamble and Huff as a double-headed monster because they were a great team. Ashford and Simpson – damn bro this is hard. Diane Warren has to be up there. There are so many. McCartney, Cohen, and can we fit The Eagles up there? Damn, I can’t forget Stevie. This is crazy. I’m just going to leave it right there but there are so many greats.
RFFocus : What else would you like to leave the people with before we let you go?
Rico Love: I just want to say to everybody, love the music first. That is what it is about. Honestly, SESAC is great because they make sure we get our money but let them focus on that. We should just focus on making great songs. That is the best thing about being with SESAC is because they make it comfortable for us to just focus on creating great songs while they do their job getting the money. I love this and I really appreciate and value what I do. I will die for it but in return that is why I live for it. That is how much I love it. I don’t really care about the dollars and the cents. I am a good businessman and I take care about my business but at the end of the day, I’m passionate about the music. If we focus on that I think we would all be in a lot better place.