Hollywood Starstruck Records & Entertainment (HSS Records) is an American record label founded in 2012 by CEO Carla Granger Allison. It operates as an independent record label with distribution through Danmark Music Group. HSS is home to hip-hop artist Justis Bratt, who was introduced to the music industry by manager Carla Granger Allison under the aforementioned label. Justis went viral on TikTok and was asked to do the complete song by industry producer KyleYouMadeThat. Her music has also been released by Republic Records and Universal Music Group- Ken Evet who is signed to a major modeling agency with major projects, will return to the studio in 2023 to release his first debut album with the label in the Summer of 2023.
- How did get into the music business to start with, and when did you decide to start a record label?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: It’s no secret that I am a lover of music. I decided as a young girl that I would play a major role somewhere in entertainment. So, in the 1980’s, I was an Artist and then became a writer. I would write and sell my songs to a few major Artists (I will not not name). The idea for a label came with experiencing closed doors from A&R’s from major labels in the 1980’s. Those guys were ruthless when it came to money and fairness. I just wanted to create an equal playing field.
- Can you give us a little introduction to the philosophy behind Hollywood Starstruck Records & Entertainment (HSS Records)?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: HSS Records philosophy is to empower Artists to not be afraid to let their talents shine.
- What part has been the biggest challenge that you faced in terms of getting this label off the ground?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: The biggest challenge I have faced is getting radio play for my Artists. The VJ and DJ circuit was impossible to break into at first. It was difficult making sponsors believe in the label, because we are so young in this business. Getting family and friends to post the logo or just even mention the company on their social media was hard. Word of mouth goes a long way. Yet here we are ten years later – rebranded and making big noise.
- With online businesses becoming an ever-growing industry today and with so many competitors in the music industry, how does HSS Records stand out from the crowd?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: We stand behind our brand and name. We make our artist as well as ourselves look and sound good.
- You sign an artist to HSS Records. What happens next? Can you give us a general overview?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: When we sign an Artist, we put them through Development. We improve on what the Artist is lacking. This could mean vocal lessons, public speaking, mock interviews, and performing in front of peers. We put the Artist in the studio and make sure mastering is perfect. We show the Artist how to promote their own music in addition to the separate advertising campaigns we put on social media.
- Do artists/bands need to be developed and established, before you sign them? And what traits should they possess to capture your interest?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: We are looking for Artists that have the “It” factor. Everything else is our job to take care of when it comes to the work behind the music or movies we write and produce.
- Who are some of the more successful artists signed to HSS Records?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: Ken Evet is going to have a huge year. Justis Bratt is under our management and through HSS Records she has charted in over 9 countries 12 times.
- Who are the newer label artists you are working with that you’re excited about?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: We are currently working with Jodashow’s album. Some new projects with Justis Bratt, Ken Evet and Chylite. We also just exclusively signed DJ Alabama Woman. We are in the process of signing two new writers and producers.
- Tell us something about VP Derrell Ross. How you met, how you got to work together, and how you share duties at HSS Records?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I met HSS Records VP Derrell Ross, through a mutual contact. We immediately connected. Our energies are on the same level. He understands me and how my brain works. His influence with the artist on the label has had a huge impact on their public behavior. He has also spearheaded quite a few projects without needing me over his shoulders. I don’t have to micromanage my VP. What more could a CEO ask for? He is awesome. He believes everyone should be held accountable for his or her actions. He also tells me all these corny jokes that only he can make sound funny. We talk every day without drama. We are a calm team and I trust him. No artist gets to me without going through him. He is my right hand.
- Putting aside any accolades or criticisms that the industry, or the media may afford your persona or HSS Records, is there anything, you think people may overlook, underestimate or misunderstand about you or the label at all?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I think people should never underestimate HSS’ hunger for survival. I want the world to know that this isn’t easy at all. People under value your talent when they hear the word Indie or Independent. The only thing independent about HSS Records is our freedom to put out the music we want and not the music we are being forced to push on the general public. We have worked with different people in the past; if their energy did not match ours, we parted ways peacefully.
- What are some of the biggest challenges HSS Records has come across within the industry thus far?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: In a male dominated industry our biggest challenges are proving we have the guts for this. Women have always been seen but rarely heard outside of being on a record. Believe it or not, but this moment right now is the biggest moment in the entertainment history for women. Yet there are still challenges we must face. We are no longer being hushed or ignored. We are proving we are smart and strong enough. The challenge to say we have more talent than just what the song says is now over. The people see and hear us. Men as well as women, of course, buy into fashion, hair and makeup because we inspire its sudden worldly popularization.
- Do you feel that music and the label is giving you back just as much as you put into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in any way, moving forward?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: We are always getting back what we, as a team, put in at HSS Records. Of course, we want more! My plate is never full. You need a big appetite for this game. I am The Lioness. My brood depends on me. Because of that dependency, the Lioness is never full. Moving forward the goal is to simply keep succeeding.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, both negatively and positively, what kind of relationship do you have with the technology at hand. Is it something HSS Records pays particular attention to?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I am cool with technology playing a heavy role. We can’t stay in 1970 forever. I can’t speak for every other label, but HSS has been on board with the technology change in the industry since day one. It forces the industry and its audience out of the dark ages of how this industry has been running. So yes, we pay very close attention to change. The power of music is moving closer and closer to the hands of the consumer. They now actually choose whose music they want to buy verses who music they are forced to buy, because of the limited outlets for Indie Artists. Technology has opened doors. Growth in technology isn’t all bad.
- If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I would bring back artist development as well as hands on with A&R’s. I think managers should be held more accountable for the actions on and off camera for out-of-control Artists. I would see more counseling and therapy are in place for Artists to help them deal with the everyday struggles when it comes to dealing with fans and media. Mental illness plays a heavy role in entertainment. I would see a lot more women owned businesses in this field.
- How do you find out about new up and coming artists?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: We quietly attend a lot of artist showcases. I like to be in the background undetected. I am not just looking on platforms like TikTok or Instagram. We like to see live performances. I personally want to see what your vibe with a real audience is like.
- What should an artist do, or not do, if they want to work with someone like you or Derrell Ross?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: When approaching Derrell, that’s what I call him, you should have your things in order. Derrell takes artists only as serious as they take themselves. When approaching me, be confident, because if the talent is there, I can help you. I don’t believe in handouts. I believe Artists should always want this life not to be forced. I can’t answer for everyone, but I do take the time to answer most. Don’t give me a sad story. Those never work with me. I need to know that you can get over your hurdles and survive. Not to mention I don’t like when people come up to me and start name dropping. Ride your own coattail. Derrell doesn’t like lazy Artists or Artists that complain about everything.
- What does your daily schedule look like? Maybe people will get an idea of how busy you are?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I am currently taking online classes at Harvard University. That takes up about 2-4 hours of my day. I am constantly working from my laptop or iPhone. Every day I go through promotions with the VP Derrell Ross or my Director of Marketing, Jazmine Jackson or running through the numbers with my Financial Advisor, Kenny Allison. With movies and videos in the works, I would say I sleep about 5 hours on any giving day. Almost every day I am checking in on Artists to make sure they are getting the proper social media exposure they need to succeed. I am also on Zoom calls with program managers and other media outlets to improve Hollywood Starstruck Records’ presence in the music industry. With articles like your wonderful magazine.
- Tell us a little about the motivation to get your career and HSS Records where it is today?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: My motivation came from my love for music and my hunger to become a part of the world’s history in music and entertainment. I was also motivated by my mother, Katie Granger. I am her legacy. I am a part of her creation. I am also motivated by the fight women face every day to have a seat at the table in a male dominated field. I am motivated by the closed doors and the power we, as women, use to get our foot in those doors. For the first time in history, we have women making moves without the fear of what our male counter-partners think. There was a time, if a man said no to a woman with a good idea, his word was law. I am motivated by those days being far behind the women in business movement. I am also motivated by the power of Black women and the footprints we are now leaving in massive numbers throughout the world. We are so much more than spouses, girlfriends and social workers to family and friends. We are motivators, leaders, movers and shakers. We have arrived and let me tell you this, we are not going anywhere. We are right here to stay.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I live every day by a few phrases. One came from my sister Katie Jacqueline Granger, “Common sense isn’t so common.” So, try to make sure you are understood. I live by “Keep your friends close and your enemies far away from you.” I say that to say this, I do not want anyone near me that will cause or bring me harm. I don’t need to keep my eye on a threat that has no place in my circle.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like HSS Records to achieve soon?
CEO Carla Granger Allison: I find everything I do most rewarding even when I fail. Failure makes me stronger and causes me to work harder. It’s rewarding working alongside VP: Derrell Ross, because he keeps me inspired with new ideas for the company. It’s rewarding to have a strong marriage in all of this because without the support of my amazing, handsome husband, Kenny Allison, none of this would be possible. As far as HSS Records goes, our future is bright. We are actively filming new sitcoms and movies. Our goals at HSS are limitless. We already have artist charting in over 9 countries. Our goal is simple. To be in control over our own destiny and make history and create a new generation of musical and movie legends. I would like to take this time to thank you and your team for the interview. It is because of magazines like yours that massive exposure and outlets exist for companies like mine.