Feb 22, 2010

Shannon Houchins decided at a young age he wanted to make movies. An early entrepreneur, he bought his own video camera with the money he made selling contraband (bubble gum) at school. “I would buy a 5- pack for a quarter and sell it for a quarter a piece. Because gum was outlawed at school, I had a small monopoly,” Houchins explains. Once he convinced the neighborhood kids to come be in his movies (anything from horror to war) he then realized a missing main component–the MUSIC. With that, Houchins’ path towards music was sparked.

As a staff producer for Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Productions for three years, Shannon Houchins produced remixes for such diverse multi-platinum recording artists as T.L.C., Usher, Jagged Edge, and Kut Klose. His successful track record with So So Def afforded Shannon the necessary clout and client base to form his own company, 11th Hour Entertainment with partner Doug Kaye. 11th Hour’s first exclusive artist/production project was Bubba Sparxxx, whom which Houchins signed to Interscope Records before negotiating a marketing deal with Timbaland’s Beat Club Records. Houchins produced seven songs on Bubba’s debut album “Dark Days, Bright Nights” and served as Executive Producer along with Timbaland.

In order to facilitate his ever growing stable of producers and expand services to clients, Houchins merged his studio with Mindzai Multimedia in 2005. Mindzai is a multi-media facility encompassing two recording studios, a video editing room and a wide variety of media based services including the following: audio and video production, graphics and web-site development, photography, model agency, screen printing, CD & DVD duplication, and consulting. Houchins is responsible for running Mindzai Marketing & Consulting, which assists upstart artists and indie labels in achieving their goals within the music industry.

In 2006, Houchins started his own label Average Joe’s Entertainment Group with longtime friend and flagship artist, Colt Ford. AJEG has since formed Full Scope Management with Ken Madson as well as Promotion, Merch, Concert and Film divisions. Houchins has gone from Artist, to Producer, to Label President and will finally come full circle to film production in April 2010.

1) Congratulations on starting Average Joe’s Entertainment. What can we expect to see from AJE in 2010?

Diversity. While we plan to stay the course with several alternative country projects (Colt Ford, Brantley Gilbert, Sunny Ledfurd, The Lacs) we have also signed more strait down the middle country acts like Josh Gracin and Matt Stillwell. We have also launched our Pop/Urban label AVJ Records with signings of two Platinum selling acts, The Nappy Roots and Bizarre from D-12.

2) You started your career in music as an engineer then a producer in the hip-hop and urban genres. Why the transition to country?

Colt Ford. I grew up on both country and hip-hop and have blended them over the past 10 years with other acts like Bubba Sparxxx and Rehab. Colt was just the first one that needed to be marketed within the country format.

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