“We want to share the love.”
If these unfathomable times have taught us anything, it’s to protect our mental health at all costs. We are all we have.
Tunde Balogun, of the Atlanta-based label LoveRenaissance (LVRN), understands this well. The co-founder and management company operator sees the mental health of his artists (6LACK, Summer Walker, and more) as crucial to their careers. After all, there can be no music industry if the very fiber of the industry itself is suffering.
To match up with his ever-evolving and progressive mission of bringing feeling back to music, Balogun and LVRN offer mental health services for their artists: Providing therapy and life coaching. In addition, they have pioneered a work-from-home initiative, which feels invaluable during the COVID-19 crisis.
LoveRenaissance was founded in 2012 by Carlon Ramong, Justice Baiden, Junia Abaidoo, Sean Famoso McNichol, and Tunde Balogun. In 2017, LVRN signed a distribution deal with Interscope Records. “It felt like music was getting into a very dark place in 2012,” Baiden told Billboard in 2019. “It was almost corny to say that you loved a girl. So we wanted to figure out how to make the concept of love cool.”
More than making “love cool,” LVRN is making artist support systems a staple of the industry.
Tunde Balogun calls me to discuss all things mental health services and LVRN’s mission. The key takeaways from our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follow below.
Be intentional with your mental health. “Throughout the music industry, [mental health] is not something the industry thought about—or not their concern. Throughout history, as human beings progressed and started to become more aware of taking care of ourselves—with millennials and Gen Z, taking care of mind, body, and self is important. It’s not something you can ignore. It’s something you have to pay attention to and be intentional about.”
Therapy is for everyone. “Besides the industry, mental health wasn’t programmed into anything. The thought of therapy wasn’t really a thing to do—it was shunned. 'Are you okay?' When you did therapy, it was like, 'There’s something wrong!' But that’s not the case.
"Now, it’s about being intentional. We’re introducing a therapist or a life coach to the artist the minute they sign. They don’t have to do it, but we encouraged it. You shouldn’t turn to therapy when there’s something wrong. I think it should be part of your exercise. Me? I do it once a week, same time, one hour. Me and my therapist just talk. It’s about being intentional and being mindful of [your mental health].
“When we did this [initiative] it wasn’t to be like, ‘LVRN is the first to do it!’ It was: ‘Hey, we’re doing this to help everyone else. If anyone needs any help or advice on how to do it, please reach out to us! We just want this to be a model for everybody else.’”
Find good resources. “People don’t know you can get these services through your insurance. So, with that, besides giving people the actual service, it’s about giving them the education about the resources at their disposal.”
Break down stigma. “In the Black community—I’m Nigerian—therapy isn’t something we speak of. Or mental health. It’s almost like breaking down that wall and trying something new. Of course, it’s not a secret that our little sister, Summer Walker, had a very public thing last year, that people didn’t actually understand.
“We were like, ‘Hey, instead of trying to put the press down, let’s educate ourselves on this.’ Let’s try and be forward, and besides Summer, let’s make sure we’re able to have services for all our clients, all our employees. Even before [they’re] dealing with something. It’s us realizing our clients, artists, and employees may need help and somebody to speak to.
“Being at the position where we are, people like us should always care about the people around us—and their wellbeing. If you’re making money off somebody, with somebody, or if you say you love somebody, you should care about their full wellbeing at all times.”
Match your mission. “From the beginning, our core mission was to bring love and the feeling back to music. At that time  it was very aggressive, trap, or pop. Besides the love for music, it’s love for the people. We’re trying to be a forward progress company. One of our goals is to be one of the best places to work for. You gotta get feedback from your staff and partners, and don’t be afraid to fail. The goal changes, but the core value is to provide great music that we love and to surround ourselves with our friends and our artists.”
Share the love. “It really makes me feel great, especially when I’ll have an employee or artist come back to me like, ‘Yo, thank you. That was great. This has really changed my life.’ That’s why we do it. We really do care about everybody around us.
"There’s artists that haven’t worked out with us in the past that we’ve had to let go. We’ve given them a year’s rent stipend so they’re not left out crazy. That’s something you should be able to do. They shouldn’t leave broke and poor. It’s the small things that if you show people you actually care about their wellbeing, you’ll get it back. We’ve always been very transparent that we want to share the love.”
By Donna-Claire Chesman for DJBooth.