Sept. 11, 2023

How to Protect Your Creative Work The Right Way with M.C. "SmileyGirl" Sealy

This passionate artist advocate shows you how to protect your hard work as a creative so you can earn the money you deserve.

Does this sound familiar? You pour your heart and soul into your music, your art and your words, only to find that your creativity is being exploited without you being compensated. You've been told that simply signing contracts without fully understanding them will protect you, but the pain of lost opportunities and stolen ideas tells a different story. It's time to take control and arm yourself with the knowledge to safeguard your creative rights.

In this episode, you will:

  • Discover the critical role of understanding contracts in protecting your creative rights in the music sector.
  • Learn how to do your due diligence and evaluate professionals in the music industry to safeguard your interests.

Our special guest is M.C. "SmileyGirl" Seely. As CEO of SmileyGirl Entertainment, Smiley skillfully blends her own creative experience as an artist with her passion for auditing, creating pathways for artists worldwide to understand the convoluted world of contracts and creative rights. Her audacious strides as an auditor, speaker, and advocate in the music industry are invaluable, consolidating her as a respected figure in the sector. Smiley embeds her joy, wisdom, and cultural influences into her work, fostering a prolific environment for creatives.

For more episodes of The God and Gigs Show like this, you should check out:

Music Law 101: How to Protect your Rights, Increase your Profits, and Promote with Confidence with Somara Jacques, Esq.

Mastering the Mindset of a Successful Musician Now and Beyond with Trent Phillips

Support the show


Go to and join our top-level creative monthly masterminds, for the accountability, community, training and support that will propel you into success as a Christian creative, musician or entrepreneur!

Yes, I want to learn more about GOLD



Did you get value and inspiration from this podcast? You can help us do more by supporting us with just a few dollars a month!

Tap HERE to pick an amount to support and get an honorary credit as a 'co-producer' of the podcast!


You've heard the horror stories before, but it never gets easy to hear. I'm talking about the horror story. When you hear about a creative or musician, an independent artist who signs on the dotted line for some big opportunity, signs a contract and thinks this is going to change the world for them, only to find out they've actually signed their life away or given up control of their creative work. Something that they did not anticipate, actually turns out to ruin or really mess up all the work they have been going to build. Well, I don't want that to happen to you.

That's why you need to listen to every minute of this episode with our friend, auditor, executive, and advocate, Smiley Seeley. Now you may have never thought of auditing as something that you need to be concerned about in your creative or music business, but trust me, you do. And you're going to find out in this episode of The God and Gig Show. Give me just a moment to welcome those of you who are new to our show and then we'll get right into this really important conversation.

Artists, musicians, and creatives of all kinds looking for help balancing your passion to create with your everyday life. Not sure if your faith can coexist with your profession? Welcome to a place where real artists discuss real life. You're listening to the God and Gig show. Visit for show notes, links, and more information.

Hello and welcome to our show. Thank you so much for making this podcast a part of your creative day. And if you're new to our show, you are in the right place at the right time. And let me tell you why. As a creative, freelancer musician, anyone operating in the sphere and the intersection of the arts and entertainment industry, but also with a heart for ministry and a heart for God and what he has done and called you to.

If you're trying to figure out how to connect the dots between your spiritual life and your creative life, that's why you're in the right place. That's what God and Gigs has been. Doing as I'm recording. We're right at episode 250. It's a momentous occasion.

So I thank you who have tried. Us out for the first time, and. I thank you who have been with us for the long haul. Now, our guest on this episode is absolutely going to inspire you, but in some unexpected ways. I'm pretty sure you never thought of auditor and inspiring in the same sentence, but that's exactly what you're going to hear and understand when you hear from Smiley Seeley.

Now, Smiley is her name and also her personality. She's going to give you so much inspiration and energy, and it's coming from a place of how to protect your creative work. She is a veteran music executive, an auditor, a speaker, an advocate for music professionals, and also she is passionate about social issues like victims of violence. Now, when you hear this episode, you're. Going to learn what it really takes to protect your assets, to find the representation, and how to know what you're signing up for.

In any business situation, it's so important that you hear her heart and her wisdom. And you're going to want to bookmark this episode to hear and to connect with her more often when it comes to these kinds of questions that many of us creatives never ask to our parallel. So I want you to listen in. Dig into both her creative side. She's got an incredible story of how she found the connection between her creative life and this new life in business and music business and making sure that she protects her clients and helps us to make the most of the work that God has called us to do.

Okay, without any further delay, let's get into this discussion with executive auditor, speaker, and advocate, Smiley Seedley.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am wearing a smile even if you're not watching this on YouTube. I hope I sound like I'm smiling because the young lady I have on the other side of this microphone is not only an entrepreneur, not only a creative, not only a music auditor, and she's going to explain what that is. You might have got scared when you first saw this in the bio, but she wants you, number one, to know the kind of joy and the freedom. She'S going to bring in this interview. So I cannot wait for you to meet Smiley Seeley.

Welcome to the Got and Gig show. How are you? I'm phenomenal. How are you today? I am awesome.

And I'm serious. Like we said, I love to let people in. In the very beginning of the podcast on the behind the scenes, I needed this energy that you brought the second you came onto the Zoom call. And it is something about someone like you who can come into a room, come into a place. The artists, I'm sure you work with, I'm sure there's a lot of different things in the industry, but you bring an energy and a joy to it.

I mean, immediately. My first time meeting you at this music technical conference that we both spoke at back, I think a few months. Ago, my parents always say, be the energy in the room. So if I can be that, I'm going to be that. Maybe I have a new epithet, the energetic auditor or audit energy, something like that.

See, I love it. Yes, we were talking about that. We're going to get some perfect name for what you do. But let's go right into that because some people are meeting you for the first time. And I hate to do this to every single guest, but we all have to do that.

32nd elevator pitch. What do you do in 30 seconds? But I like to frame it like this. What do you want people to know about you when they first meet you. What is those first couple of things that you say?

Hey, if you don't hear anything else, here's what I'm about. Here's what I do. I need them to understand my purpose. So I am a woman of Caribbean descent with Latin roots, and my purpose is to impact lives using music, art ideas, and audit, period. Okay, wait a minute.

This might be 252 40. I don't know what the episode this will actually be. We're in the have never, ever heard anyone do it more succinctly and powerfully. Can you just do that again? I know it's a podcast, but that was the best one I've ever heard.

Say it one more time. Absolutely. I am a woman of Caribbean descent with Latin roots, and my purpose is to impact lives using music, art, ideas, and audit, period. Or as we would say, enough said. Enough said.

Zach dropped the mic. Okay. Wow. I am so ready now to jump into this, because number one, I'm entranced that those four areas that you just mentioned all can exist comfortably in one person. Because I told you as we were kind of talking about the God and gigs audience, you're talking we are talking to someone who's probably a musician and a creative a minister and an artist, a creative entrepreneur and a coach.

Like, they're going to be something the and there so you've got a bunch of and so let's start from kind of like the beginning. Which one of those if you had to pick one, I'm sure I'm putting you on the spot here. Was there one that was the first pull was it music? That was the first thing what was the first kind of creative thing that started to draw you into this world? Music is a foundation for pretty much everything I do.

And music actually connects everything that I do. So I remember as a young kid, my Aunt Rose, she came from Jamaica and she was staying with the family. And she's like, Shasha, my name is Marcia. So she gave me the nickname as Shasha. She's like, come outside.

And for some of you, this will tell my age. But she had a cassette tape, and she took out this cassette tape player and was like, do you know who Kenny Rogers is? And of course, at that time, no, because I was know. And she's like, oh my gosh. You have to know Kenny Rogers.

You got to know when to hold him, know when to walk away and know when to run, right? And I was like, OK. And she's like, do you know Jimmy Cliff? Do you know Dennis Brown? Do you know Gregory Isaacs?

And she started to introduce me to some of the most prolific and dynamic musicians, producers, writers out of the Caribbean diaspora, but also show me a joy for music regardless of the genre. So here's a woman who is from the country of Jamaica, but loved Kenny Rogers just as much as she would have loved Gregory Isaacs, Bob Marley or someone else from the diaspora. And started to show me the difference between beats, rhythms, because rhythms are what drives the Caribbean diaspora versus the other genres, where you might go buy, I don't know, a Mcclurkland album or anyone else's album, and it's going to be twelve different songs featuring twelve different tracks and maybe featuring a couple of different people. Whereas you go to the Caribbean and it's not unlikely that you'll find a rhythm where that rhythm is actually the music. And that music is a track where maybe eight different artists have eight different songs on that track.

So it's rhythm driven versus artist driven. So music was the first thing that started me. I love the way that you put that. Now I am Jamaican by marriage. Okay.

So I can't claim any of it. We love it. I will eat some curry goat with the best of them. Okay? I cannot claim anything else except that my mother in law and my in laws have accepted me after all these years.

Thank God. What I loved about your description is the collaborative nature of that particular genre. All these artists are working together. There's like this understanding, and I have seen that, and obviously I have not played as much music. I'm a jazz musician by Know Gospel and CCM and all these other things that I do.

But obviously we're both in South Florida, so there's this huge influx and understanding of collaborative between the artists of Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, right? We got all the islands, we got the entire Caribbean represented here. So tell me now, because you mentioned your background, your culture background, and now you told me this story, how has that impacted you going forward in your creative journey? Have you tried to incorporate things about your culture, anything that makes you you? Did that inspire you in terms of what you decided to be as a.

Creative or as an artist? Absolutely. I have to give credence to my parents. My mom as a kid was like, you're in this country. The country is full of opportunity.

You won't get a little bit of all of it, whether you like it or not. So I remember there was a program where we got to learn how to speak French, and she was like, you're going to learn how to speak French? And we were like, what are we going to do with French? Right? And Mommy was always forward thinking.

So in the summers we would go to Canada and we would be able to practice with our and when you're young, it's fun, right? You're going to see your family, you're hanging out for the summer. And that catapulted into my indoctrination, into my New York Carnival. So growing up, go with the neighbors or my cousins, and I would just go to Eastern Parkway and carnival when I say carnival in Miami, you know, a Caribbean person from non Caribbean because they'll say, oh, the cruise line. I'm like, yeah, no, you missed the whole point.

No, there's a big difference. It's a cultural know, it's interesting because all the diaspora knows about carnival. So you just automatically think when you're in New York, everybody knows about carnival, right? So coming to Miami you don't realize what New York is in terms of New York, Connecticut and Jersey. Right.

Because I tell people all the time, elm City birthed me, but Red Hook raised me in the Caribbean defines me. Elm City is New Haven, Connecticut. Red Hook is Brooklyn. I lived there and I lived in Flatbush, went to NYU. Go along that.

And it was a plethora. It was a melting pot of just different cultures. So coming down to Miami, you still have that. I think I was able to evoke more of my Latin culture down here, whereas you just are up there. It's a different beast down here.

But with that, I remember being young and people teasing me, saying I had two left feet and that I really couldn't dance or I danced like a foreign gal, right? And foreign in that nature is someone not from the Caribbean, which is interesting, right? It's like, oh, she's from the US. Or oh, she's from the UK. And when you really think about it, we're all immigrants that come here.

We have a foreign nature and that drives culture and that also drives music. So my dad being a lot of soca, a lot of calypso. My mom on the Jamaican side. There's reggae, there's chutney, there's Perong. I mean, it's just a plethora of cultures in one, right?

So you can't tell me I can't do something or you can't put something on me that's derogatory because I'm not going to receive that and I'm going to show you differently. And I think I get that spirit from my parents. So I got into dance classes, love dance, right? I went to the first black dance academy in Connecticut, bone Peters. I did ballet.

I did jazz. I did tap. I then took that knowledge and I danced at NYU. I then took that and was doing street dancing. One of my first teachers was Cezo.

He was the choreographer and dancer for EPMD. That's hip hop. I learned from pop. Pop was the choreographer for, you know, it Takes Two to make a Thing Go, right? So my knowledge, my passion, my love, it came from those areas, but always infusing the Caribbean in it.

I have a cousin who's a salsara. So the first time I went to Cuba and I'm looking at her know, I grew up with Paul Creative Services and we would dance salsa that way. So going to Cuba, they're like, you're dancing like a Puerto Rican. I'm like, okay, isn't salsa salsa? But no, they have like and it's just a style and a rhythm.

They have PILone. Oh, my goodness. To hear the horns, the trumpets, and just the story that I was told, I didn't verify, but pilon. Most people will equate it to coffee, and you'll see the beans and the martyr, and the bowl is PILone. So they said in slavery times, when they had to mash the beans, they did it by a rhythm, so if you were left handed, you wouldn't throw them off beat.

Wow. They took that and made it into a music, and it was a father and a son, if I remember, or two brothers. And then they added the trumpets, and it's like pilo. Pilot so here you get this girl Brooklyn, down in Miami, and all the girls are real sexy and classy, and they're like, Time sexy. Time sexy.

And I have this more alia meat salsa. So the crop top with baggy jeans wear tim's anywhere. And I'm doing a little bit of street with it, and then I'm like, oh, my goodness. Imagine if you add a one drop or a dance hall beat, which are rhythms that are indicative of the Caribbean, right? So you get that, and you get the bass, and you add that to it, and I hear it in my head, and I'm just adding an Ad living.

And they're like, Yo, she could freestyle. And that's what the Cuban salsa is about. It's not that standard one, two, three, step. One, two, three, step. It's not choreographed.

It's feeling. And that's that energy that I would bring, whether it's the dance, the music, I wear it, I can't get rid of it. It is who I am. I love this so much, because, again, speaking to your love of the cultures plural, right? The cultures and how that all connects.

Now, I do have to ask you, because this creative side is just oozing out of you. Like, you have the dance and the music in you. Now we got to get to some of those other letters or other things that you mentioned, because a lot of creatives and musicians and dancers will hear that word auditor and say, Wait, that don't fit. How does a dance infused Caribbean person then say, oh, by the way, one of my other superpowers is the ability to look at documents and contracts and think, so where did that passion come from? There's a so, okay.

I knew there had to be a story. By the way, I pivoted on purpose because I was like, how did she get from here to there? So I remember applying to Yale, NYU, Connecticut College, Yukon, and all these acceptance letters are coming in, and NYU was not there yet, right? And I ran track in high school. I was the captain of my track team.

I went to States. My mother had me in everything, right? I learned to play violin. I learned to play the flute. I learned to play the drums.

After I saw Sheila E. In Prince movies and was like, I am going to be the next Sheila E. I studied Tito Fuente and my mother was like, yeah, take them drumsticks and tap on my dining room table one more time. Then I got the acceptance letter to NYU. I was so excited because NYU dynamic University in the middle of the city, multicultural, known for music and everything else.

It's competitive with the Ivy Leagues. You couldn't tell me anything. What? I'm going to NYU. So Mommy says, what are you going to major in, Mommy?

I'm going to be the next Debbie Allen on steroids. I'm going to do choreography. I'm going to do dance. I'm going to have this conglomerate. You're going to be with me because of course, you're going to be the genius behind the costumes.

She said, you said what? You're going to the people school in order to learn how to dance and break a leg. So when you break that leg, I got to come back home and take care of you. Yeah, you're going to get a degree with something you could get a job with. So I majored in Latin American Studies and political Science and minored in the fine arts and dance.

And when I got out, people were like, what can you do? And I said, speak Spanish and dance. I was apprenticed to one of my teachers at NYU and dance. I danced with a guy. His name was Horace.

They called him Sundance, I think it was Guyanese. And he used to teach dance choreography for MTV Grind. So I used to take his dance classes. E, Jo and Zach. They were the Dynamos of the Lower East Side in the village.

They danced for or with choreographed with mariah Carey janet Jackson These are the people that we were behind taking their dance classes. We did dancing in Washington Square Park Street dancing. So I would be doing flips and splits spinning on my head and then go into dance know, we had our crew. And I then went back to NYU for my paralegal degree. And I was in the middle of a class, and we were doing a brief on insider know, how did they take the money in the corporation?

And I raised my hand and was like, how did they get found? Like, how did the criminals who took the money in this corporation, how are they detected? And they said, the auditors and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. And I was like, I need to be an auditor. So I went to get my master's at Quinnipiac, which is a university in Connecticut, and I got my master's in international business and finance.

I graduated from there and went back and got another master's from University of Phoenix in accounting. And I started Compliance. And Compliance is really just looking at what is supposed to be and what is. So what does the regulation say? What does the policy say, and are you complying to it?

Right? So it was cool, but it wasn't sexy. And I then went to work in telecom, and I was working at a bank as well. So when I was working at the bank, someone said, hey, there's a company called GTE and they want to interview you to see if you can come over and know Compliance and treasury for them. And I was like, GTE?

So I went and I did the interview and I got the job. And that interview I have to attribute thanks to Waldo Williams. He was my manager that time at the bank, at People's Bank in Connecticut. And he's like, what's wrong with exploring opportunities? And I explored that opportunity and it actually became my career and my passion.

So, Compliance, you're looking at regulations or a standard, whether it's industry or a company standard, and saying, are you complying to what they said should be? Audit has a whole organization that has a framework where you're looking at controls independently to say, is there a breakdown in controls and will that breakdown cause you a loss of information systems operation inefficiencies which all boil down to money? So there's an industry education for pretty much everything, right? If you want to be a doctor, there's med school. If you want to be a mechanic, there's trade school.

When I was coming up, there was no audit degrees or anything. There are now. We've progressed in the industry. The foundation itself, I had passed their instructors exam and I taught CPE courses for the Institute of Internal Auditors. So anyone that was an auditor anywhere in the world internally, I would be teaching those CPE courses for you to maintain your certification.

But think about music. Typically, there's no music education program on the business. They're going to teach you how to play an instrument. They will do what Full Sale is pretty great at in terms of getting you out with engineering and understanding the business to some degree, right? SAE, my colleague, he wrote the educational platform for them.

But understanding how to really collect your royalties, how do you get paid? There's over 13 ways to get paid for one song. Will you get paid all those 13 ways? Maybe not, but this is where I made it my life's work, especially for world music artists, because they're disserviced in the fact that we'll sign up with TuneCore, CD, Baby and all of these distributors to get our music distributed globally, not necessarily looking at an aggregator that can do it in the world music platform. We'll sign up with Song Trust because online it seems like the best thing to do, right?

But we don't really do the due diligence to see what's really the best for us in our industry and our genre and who's really teaching that. So, as an auditor, this is where I decided it's time for me to put the framework together to teach our people globally what needs to be done to protect their music what needs to be done to play their music so they can get paid as many of those 13 ways as possible? What needs to be done for them to collect on that music? Right. And what needs to be done in the event that they pass away that their money just doesn't sit there in a black box and goes to marketing.

Now, you just brought that up, and immediately, as I'm recording, I'm telling everybody. What immediately pops in my head is the handwritten note of Aretha Franklin's will. And then, of course, we know Prince and some other people that had no protection over their estate. But I want to get back to those 13 ways. Now, I'm not going to make you do all 13, but I'm sure that as you've gotten to this passion of helping artists, this is such a powerful statement that you just made that people don't know.

They're just picking things like, you want to make music. So I just go online and I see the one that looks like everybody's using, and I use that one. So what are some of the biggest mistakes? You see independent artists, musicians that come around you, and you shake your head like, what's the thing, the number one thing? You shake your head like, oh my gosh, why did they make this particular mistake?

Because somebody's listening who's just about to click a certain button or do one of those mistakes. Let me tell you something. I don't just shake my head. I shake my finger. And if my lips start to purse and my eyebrows go up, you already know that you and I got a problem.

Because if I've communicated this to you and you don't do it, don't come to me after. Just don't. Okay? I want to know Tasha Stout, who was a PR person because she understood my vision for audit and she got me a feature in Billboard magazine. I tell people all the know your lawyer, your pastor, your priest, your bishop, your whatever, whether you're Buddha.

I don't know what you believe in, but we need to be a part of your top five, right. What I see and what I talked about in that article. You will go out and buy the newest Jordans or Yeezys, whatever. You will be in the club every single week, and you will purchase the best what do you call it, hennessy or whatever. But you will not put that money down for an attorney to represent you.

Okay? Even your auditor, depending on who your auditor is, should have contract knowledge. We cannot act as auditors I mean, excuse me, as lawyers, but we can review a contract to see if it's in your best interest. I'm going to tell you and everyone else that's listening, or may listen, you go through that contract. If you can't afford an attorney, you look for the word that says perpetuity.

Perpetuity means that whoever gave you that contract will own whatever it is that's in that contract, whether it's your publishing, your copyrights, whatever, for the rest of the life of that project, not even your life. But perpetuity means forever, more forever in a day, infinite, right? So you signing a contract with that because you rather buy or, you know, Jimmy Choo's versus taking that same money to go pay an attorney to represent you. I don't even care if know legal shield or the person who just graduated. They should have enough contract knowledge to know you shouldn't sign anything that says perpetuity.

Right, unless you're the one who's disseminating that contract. So that's, number one, get representation for any contract. Number two, get a contract, right? People are quick to want to use the words work for hire, but you need to understand work for hire depending the country that you're coming from. Because in some countries, if you sign something called work for hire and that person who conducted the work comes after you, some judges may say, well, are you paying salaries, benefits and things of this nature for this work for hire?

Got to be careful of the words work for hire because it may not be in your best benefit. Just get a service contract, right? Tell them you want them to create this track. You're going to own the track. They have no rights to the track, or you're going to give them credit.

Delineate what that is, and then go to get an attorney to review what that contract is. So the contract can then be beefed up to say you need to include begin date, a termination date, what the deliverables are, because there's certain things that qualify as a contract in United States law understanding the difference between a copyright and publishing and distribution. Yes. Okay, now you're going to hear the Brooklyn and me, your son rough. Listen, if you go to a mechanic and this is a person who went to trade school to work on your car, you're going to do some due diligence to make sure that person really knows how to work on cars.

Word of mouth reference, blah, blah, blah. If you need a cardiologist, an obstetrician, whatever, you got to do some due diligence to make sure that that doctor is trained and has experience in that area. I'm going to need you to stop going to your friends them or they don't have credence in this industry. Well, they said or them to know. So just because they may have collected a few dollars because they used a certain attorney or someone doesn't mean that they collected all their money, right?

I need you to really understand who it is that you're working with. Question them like you would your doctor, because you're not going to just spend money to go to any doctor and not question that they're really proficient in the area that you need. Right. You need someone who is going to be able to review any contract that you are signing to make sure that it's in your favor and your best benefit. Those terms are called consideration, right.

So if I say, oh, I'm going to pay you to mow my lawn, right, you're going to say, okay, are you providing the lawn mower? No money. So now you got to go look for the lawn mower. Are you going to provide the gas that goes in the lawnmower? No, I'm just providing you the lawn, right.

So you buy the lawn mower, you get the gas, you get ten people to come because I got 30 acres and then I say, I'm going to give you $50. There's not fair consideration because if you have to do all of that in order to mow this lawn and it's $50, there's not fair consideration. You need to make sure that the consideration is fair and equitable when you are signing any contract. So if a label says, which I've seen, we're going to sign you to our label, don't be so excited. What does that come?

It's almost like you go to the restaurant and you say, oh, I'm going to get a 30 ounce steak and you're waiting for the sides. But they say, oh well, we just took your 200, but you got to pay extra for your potatoes, your salad or whatever. Yeah. So unless this is a wagyu steak that they don't shipped in from Asia or somewhere else, right, you just pay 200 for the meat. You didn't pay to sit at the table for the fork and the knife.

So you really got to understand what you're signing, right. So if that label says we're going to sign you, we bring you on, don't get so excited because there's one kid who came to me and the label's talking to me and they're like, yeah, you know, we broke this one person in England and we did this. Okay, so that's in England for that one person. So how does that equate to this artist who is not in England? Oh, well, we going to bring him to Hot 97 in New York.

Okay, so are you guaranteeing plays and one play doesn't mean rotation, right. So them bringing you to Hot 97 for you to be on there in one interview and getting one play during that one interview, okay, is it Bobby Hondas and Java that they just put you on, which, you know, every Sunday they have a certain amount of people who are listening and you get some incentive after? Or is it really that they just brought you there and you got to sit down and nobody heard that interview because it wasn't recorded and it wasn't live and it's not in rotation, right. That's number one. Number two, he had to pay for his own studio time.

He had to pay for his own distribution. He had to pay for his own graphics. So what does he need the label for? What are they doing? Precisely.

So these artists and producers get all excited because they get a label deal, but what is the deal? Right? And then if they get a deal look at artists that know, I had to step away because I signed with Akon, but I'm a Jamaican artist, and it was great to be signed with Akon, but Akon didn't know what to do with me. So, yeah, Akon may be African, but is Akon really doing Afrobeats or African music or world music? That has to be seen in a different marketing.

So there's so many things that you might want to think about before signing that contract. And then I see that after. And then they want me to work miracles after the fact. Right. I'm not a miracle worker.

I am saved the day. I got great attorneys, but these are the things you need to be cognizant of. So the biggest thing for me is before you get in the contract, either get with an auditor who's going to do some due diligence to look whether or not that's something at a high level overview, you need to sign because your auditor will more than likely be a little more affordable. Or the hourly rate is not going to be comparative to the hourly rate of your attorney in most cases. Okay.

And they can actually do that review and then say, bring this to your lawyer. Yeah, because that's exactly why, number one, that was a master class. Thank you so much. Because so many artists I know have. The sad story that you just described.

Somebody, and here's what's interesting. I still don't know, and I say this as an independent musician. I'm not trying to throw stones, right? I still don't know why people see in 2023, as we're recording, the value of the record label. Why is it that artists still feel like that's a badge of honor?

I'm not saying that it's not like, in the right circumstances, right? If you have the representation, if you did it right, and the Taylor Swifts are like one in a million, right? One in a and even she had to fight to get out of her situation. So this might not even be a good example, but why do you think artists still desire that? I think it is it's like a badge of honor.

When a label, honestly, unless, like you said, you have a magic great relationship, doesn't seem like it seems like it's more headache than anything. I don't know. I just love your opinion on that. Sure. I don't look at it that way.

I look at every opportunity needs to be assessed whether it's a viable opportunity. Okay? So whether it's an independent label or whether it's a major label, is it a viable opportunity? So I'll give you an example. The major labels understand that independents are growing exponentially without their funding.

And without their help. But if you are able to get a major labor deal, I wouldn't tell you necessarily to walk away from that just because independents are doing so well. I would tell you the same thing. Get an attorney and your auditor who can assess the points of that deal to make it fair consideration. So a lot of labels will come in and say, hey, we're going to give you this.

Not necessarily giving advances like they did in one time, but think about it. The labels have the backative, right? The labels have power. They have money. A lot of independents don't have that, right?

A lot of independents don't understand AI algorithms, whereas the major labels have a platform where they do, right? So now you want to go out, you want to push your song, and you have to go up against a major label. So how do you do that with marketing? A lot of times, our independence, they're not thinking, oh, I saw this service and this service said they can help me increase my followers. Stop when you buy followers and then you try to monetize that's fraudulent, right?

So who wants to deal with someone who's dealing with fraud? Automated intelligence gives us the quick ability to add a bot to your pages to succinctly assess are these viable candidates or viable followers that we can actually throw money behind you? I look at Ghazi as a case study, if you will, who's the owner of Empire and started his platform with $15,000 on the credit card. And now he has one of the biggest distribution and labels, if you will, that's independent. He started out at the majors, and now he's helping people funnel the business and navigate the business through his platform success story.

Yes, the Taylor Swifts and those guys may have not necessarily understood the business when they signed years ago, but there's intellectual property laws that audit firms like myself are now helping artists who have at least 20 years in the business to understand you have laws on your favor. The United States government implemented a platform for terminating your copyrights with labels. So, for example, Duran Duran wanted to own their masters. Sony said no. And they're like, well, the United States intellectual property law say that because if you've owned it over 2025 years, we can get our money back.

So let's look at that from two perspectives. 2025 years ago, you didn't have TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, or the digital methods to be able to promote and push a song as quickly as you do today. You had more analog or manual ways, right? So you had to go buy a CD, a cassette trunk. And so now you're able to make money faster, especially if you're a major label, because you have the money behind terrestrial radio, online radio, and so forth, to be able to push these records much faster, to make money quicker.

So your return on your investment is faster. So they're like, okay, artist, producer, go get your rights back. Follow this protocol and get your rights back. Right? Get your copyrights.

Duran Duran took it to the UK and said, we're going to sue Sony for our rights back because the government says that we can get it. And the UK judge said, not our jurisdiction know, close the case. Sony then sued Duran Duran for breach of contract. Paul McCartney said, yeah, no, we're going to do the same thing, but we're going to do it in the United States. So they went to the United States and said, michael Jackson bought our catalog.

Michael Jackson's no longer alive. The beatles. Catalog. Yeah, exactly. So we want our rights back.

So the court said yes. Sony said, oh, crap, seal the case. Because now if everyone knows how much they had to pay, it sets precedents. So the auditors now what we look at is, you got a catalog that's over 2025 years. Talk to us.

Let us help you get your catalog back. But on the flip side, we're the friendly auditors. We help you get your money. Right? We don't want to have a hate relationship with the labels.

We want the labels to understand that your internal audit typically will look at your controls that are in place to manage your financials to make sure that there's no breakdown in controls. But at what point are you going to look at external audit firms to come in to look at your reserves to make sure that any legacy accounts that you may have won't break your bank? We don't necessarily want these artists to take the catalog from you. We're just saying, here's an opportunity to renegotiate so everyone wins. Yeah, as soon as you said that, I thought about the word you just said consideration.

How do parties look at each other and say, okay, as an artist, this is my life's work. I want to still profit from it going forward. The labels are like, we put a lot of work into this. We did a lot of the legwork to make sure you could become who you are. And then I want to break this again down to the independent artists and think about the future, because we have seen some of these big artists who have had the fight or have sold their intellectual property.

I'm curious what you see coming down the pike for independent artists who are thinking ten years down the road, 20 years down the road. Should I be thinking of my catalog as an asset? Should I be thinking of my intellectual property? What's in my head, what God is like, putting it to create? Should I be thinking in this level now when I don't feel like I'm a John Legend, a Taylor Swift, a Paul McCartney?

I don't feel like this is me, but I love the fact that you put that in those terms because one day that could be them one day. They could be the people. But if they don't put the investment in right now, they won't get there. So what do you think the independence artists now thinking by label should be thinking about for the future? Anything you do is an asset.

Right? Right. You don't know who may pick it up. Think about it. Right.

BTS, I don't speak Korean, but I have a goddaughter Kobe lover to death. She's in her twenty s and her girlfriends will have viewing parties to watch the soap operas, listen to the music and can sing every single word. And she's grown up here in the you know, I've never been to Korea but knows every single word. The flip side I remember there was a Japanese dancehall queen and she was able to sing every word in English for patwa dancehall music. Wow.

Music is universal and language is transcendent. So you don't necessarily have to know the language in order to be able to sing the music. So you may create something today and it may not move you or resonate with you, but you never know with putting it online who it resonates with. Right, and when. So my biggest thing is no matter what you write, no matter what you produce, or no matter what you sing, you need to protect that asset as though it's worth a million bucks.

Period. Absolutely. I love that. That absolutely resonates with, I think, everybody that's listening who has to remind themselves that you've got a gifting. And here's where I'm pivoting to just where I know this passion for number one, protecting people, protecting artists, helping them get the most out of what they're giving.

That's got to come from a passion to really love on people. And I believe when you started to talk about your love for dance, your love for music, all of that has to come from a faith space. Because every single time I talk to people like you, I feel like this radiation of purpose. As a matter of fact, you started this whole conversation with that word purpose. So I just wanted to come back to that and just say or ask you when you think of purpose for not just artists but for yourself, where does that radiate from?

Because sometimes it gets hard out here in these streets to keep motivated to either motivate as a business person or as a musician to say, why am I doing this? Why am I fighting so hard to make this work? But then you got to remember that either. Just like you said at the beginning, I believe and I believe you believe as well. God has purpose for every single creative act that you have.

And that's why it's worth something. So what drives you to keep that motivation? I remember writing a song and the people that I was working with wanted me to conform. And there's just something about me that I'm not a conformist. I'm just unique in who I am, right?

And they were all, you know, you should do a sing J, sing J, sing J, which is not necessarily rapping, as they would say, DJing in the Caribbean platform, right? So DJing to them isn't necessarily mixing music. It's the rapper and you do it kind of sing songy. I don't have the accent, so to me it just didn't sound right. And then they were like, oh, you should do know Beyonce did with Sean Paul, that know, American Jamaican thing.

And I had a song. It was Nina Simone's. I put a spell on you. And I was able to get the licensing for that. And I wanted to convert it into a jazz reggae.

Testan Chin at that time was my idol. She was doing reggae rock, and I said, Well, I can do reggae jazz. And Testan had this song called Hideaway. You don't know what you're doing. You do it to me.

And she's the one who ended up winning The Voice years later, right? And I said, oh my gosh, if she can do that and be so melodic and so dynamic and drive a market, then I can do know jazz fusion. And I did this song, and I have to give credit where credit is due. Troy McLean. Ricky Myri.

They helped me on this. And we went to Phillips Smart Studio in New York, and that's a big studio where Shagmy and these big artists work. And I was nervous. I was then, you know, one of the guys that I was working with was like, oh, I'm going to put this song out with somebody else. I was like, what?

So I went to the attorney, Deidre Davis, and Deidre Davis said, girl, the best thing they could do is put that song out with somebody else because I filed copyrights under you. You wrote the words. And I was like, oh, that's great. So what does that mean? Because at that time, I didn't understand publishing from copyright.

And Deidre is the attorney that won that 500 million dollar copyright infringement case against Dr. Dre. Truth Hurts for a copyright infringement against an Indian staple song that they didn't get the rights to sample. Wow. And she decided that God was calling her in another direction and she was not fulfilling her purpose.

She said, I've done what I'm supposed to do in music, but the amount of people who are not getting justice in these streets, I'm supposed to be a judge. And she ran to be a judge in Houston area. So she decided to terminate her firm as a top music entertainment attorney. And when I say a top entertainment attorney, what I'm saying is she used to do an event called Listen and Exchange. She afforded me the opportunity to bring in producers from other countries so they can be aligned with A R and top executives by a number.

So there's no predisposed notion of who you might be. There's no prejudice about, oh, this person is from because the other cultures, we get that, right? Oh, reggae is only 1% of sales for the whole industry. Yeah, all right, whatever. Put them to the side.

Right? But there was no preconceived notion you're just going to hear music. Right? Because we have dynamic musicians that will play EDM pop. I mean, some of the guys that produce out of the Caribbean are producing for the Rihanna's, for the Beyonce.

It's huge. So she's closing this and I'm like, what do you mean you're closing it? And she's like, I have a higher purpose. I've served my purpose to this point, and now I'm supposed to help the masses because there's too many people of color encountering injustices in the criminal system. And that's where I'm supposed to go.

And I'm like, what? So she ended up being one of the 19 judges, 19 females. They call it black girl magic. And there's 19 black female judges that took over the Texas market, and she's one of them. So her purpose didn't change because she still needed to serve a people.

Yeah, but the constituency, right? Yeah. How she did it changed, but what she did, what she was called to, didn't change. I got you. And that's where I realized audit for me is know, I've worked with GTE, which became Verizon, saved thousands of dollars.

Crowley Maritime saved thousands of dollars. I ran audit for North America for Bacardi, saved thousands of dollars. I consult for Paul Creative Services, which you normally at the Grammys will see. PwC, they are the largest and the number one audit, advisory, compliance, assurance, regulatory, and data forensic firm in the world. Right.

I consult for them. I'm proud of that. That's like a huge accomplishment for me. Right. But my purpose hasn't changed.

My purpose is still to render audit. My purpose is still to use music, art and ideas to make an impact. How I do that changes with the different things I may do. Which you spoke earlier about being a serial entrepreneur. Yeah.

So we might facilitate an event with Smiley Girl Entertainment, right? Like, right now, we're getting ready to do a premiere of a film. It's right now nominated the number one independent film out of Nigeria. Right? Yeah, I saw that.

I saw that. That was beautiful. I'm excited because it's written by a woman. She has an executive producer who is out of Dallas. Right.

And she is a phenomenal writer, but it's touching on social issues like human trafficking, sex trafficking, the Dark Web and so forth. Right. I'm working on the soundtrack. They have maybe three songs, but guess what? I'm now going to be able to put the bonus tracks together that we can highlight with many movies, if you will, from key scenes in that film where I can take up and coming producers and work with them on how to do a score.

I can work with Billboard Grammy nominated producers in my network in order to give credence and weight to this, all while serving my purpose. That time when they took that song and said they were going to give it to someone else, I was so heartbroken because I did the writing. I helped with production. And she, meaning Deidre Davis, Judge Davis. I protected you, girl.

She was so cool, girl. Bye. I protected you. Let them put it out, because then we're going to go to court and you get your attorney's fees. You get a little bit of everything, right?

And I was like, okay. I trusted her because I didn't really understand. And then I made it my business to understand. I said, because as long as I can take breath, there's not going to be another female that comes in my circle that will go through this, right? There's not going to be another Caribbean person, African person, or world music person.

Any person that's in the industry that if they're with me, that's going to be poorly or underrepresented, I give 250% to the point where my purpose hasn't changed, but how I fulfill it has. So now I'm in law school part time because I said, coupling the audit and the law becomes a major force, right? Deidre says, Smiley, I got you. One of my biggest artists broke my heart when he passed away last year, July 18 19th. And I'm going to be managing his catalog, because up until this point, he did what I said so his legacy can live on.

We're just waiting for the estate stuff to go through. And when I told her I didn't have to say much, all I said was, I'm heartbroken and I'm devastated. And she said, why? And I sent the article of his death. She called me immediately and said, Listen, I can't practice law because I'm a judge.

And I said, but you can practice publishing and compliance. That part. So she's like, I got you. What? I don't know.

I have powerhouses who can help me. Marlon Hill. He's been in politics here in South Florida. He's a philanthropist to the utmost. He represents some of the biggest artists out of the Caribbean diaspora.

He's like, Smiley, anything you need. LaShawn Thomas. Oh, my God. She's unsung hero. She's super quiet, but a lot of the labels don't like her.

It's okay. It's just because she gets those artists out of those contracts they should have never been in in the first place, right? Ray ray Gibbons is out of the UK. I can't say enough about Ray, because I said, hey, Ray, I need a contract. But I need it so I can be able to address my constituents that are here in the US that are in the Caribbean.

Because a lot of the Caribbean countries, their platform or their framework is based off of the UK. Smiley, I got you. So when it comes to licensing, when it comes to sync when it comes to legalities, whether know from the UK, the Europe, African Diaspora, Caribbean or US, I'm covered. Right. So when you talk about my purpose, my purpose has always been there.

I guess I didn't know it when I was younger, but the passion that Deidre showed me to protect me, the foresight that my mother had that if I were to break her leg and I was going to come back home and couldn't be Debbie Allen, I needed a job. It just gives me so much pride know like Natasha's who was able to pitch me to a billboard and to get that feature about what auditors do and the impact of audit and publishing and copyrights in the music industry has really catapulted me to always be on the forefront of what's next. How do I live in this purpose and continue. So where I tell people if you're doing something and you're going and you have the rigor mor of day to day of why am I doing this? That you're not living in your purpose.

Figure out what your purpose is and then live in it. Because when you're working in purpose, it's not a job, it's a passion, it's fun and you're serving someone other than yourself. So you're building legacy. So true. I could not end that any better than you did.

Just saying without a doubt that you've come back to your purpose and not really come back, but never really left it, but found all these different avenues and I thought even as you were closing and talking about that all the different people who are doing all the things like again, musician here, but ended. Up as a podcaster. Right? Didn't know that was coming. Still in my purpose of bridging the gap for people between where they are and where they want to be.

Whether it's between a song and singing the song and knowing the chords in between or whether it's getting from the place where they don't know how to create the branding of what God gave them and then someone like you can take someone from I don't know how to protect what I'm creating. But it's amazing to now I actually have a legacy even if I'm gone. How powerful is that? So I've loved every single second of this smiley. I could do it forever.

But we got to give them a little bit, just a taste and then ask them to come back to you so that they can learn more from you. So how can they do that? How can they stay in touch with what you're doing, what you're sharing, how you're helping clients? How can they get in touch with you after this? By the way, they can still hit all the links in the notes but just in case they're old school and they're writing it down, tell them how to do it.

Sure, absolutely. So anything and everything I do is always going to be Smiley Girl ENT. The ENT is short for entertainment, right? So whether it's Instagram, Facebook, it's just regular smiley girl ENT. SM I-L-E-Y-G-I-R-L-E-N-T.

You want to contact me? Info at Smileygirl. 954609 7000 is the business phone we always answer. Leave us a message. If you don't get us, we will get back to you.

And I mean, just reach out, just hit tag like Smiley Girl ENT. And they will be smiling when they do that because I am just feeling again the love, the power and the purpose that you've shared in this interview. It radiates. I appreciate you so much for giving so much of your intellect, your time, and your wisdom to this particular program. And I know I'm sure we're going to have to have you back some type of masterclass, some type of webinar, something for our community.

They're going to need to hear more from what you're sharing. So thank you so much for being on this portion of The God and Gig Show. I am so humbled and I thank God and Gig Show for having me.

My friend, I am sure you did not expect so much inspiration when you heard the name auditor that was mentioned in this episode, but as you can see, Smiley is so much more than that. Even though what she shared about creative business, protecting your assets, treating your own creative life like a business, and making sure you're protecting it with the right representation, that in itself was a masterclass that I hope you got the lessons out of. And I really believe you should bookmark this particular episode so that you can go back and review some of the concepts she talked about. This does not just apply to musicians and artists, although it definitely applies to those of us in the music industry. But anyone in any creative field, you've got to start to think like Smiley was telling us to think as your intellectual property, as an asset that needs and deserves to be protected.

But then she talked about so many other areas of the creative life where we can really find our purpose in all kinds of ways. I'm so glad she came on the show, and I'm definitely supporting the movie that she mentioned. You can go check that out as well. We'll put the link in the show notes of that independent film that's coming out. Most importantly, though, I hope that you will see the spirit of what we're doing is to help you in every area of your creative life, even those that you thought maybe weren't that important or were beyond your understanding.

We're bringing it all to where you can become that confident creative in every part of your creative life. Well, my friend, I hope that absolutely blessed you. I'm sure it did. Make sure you subscribe to our podcast on whatever app you're using now. Make sure.

You follow us on all the socials and probably the best thing you could do is subscribe to our newsletter. That's the creative checkup. All you got to do is go to Info and you can sign up to get all the information. We're sharing weekly inspiration reminders about our episodes, and some special things that you never find out unless you are part of our newsletter community. So I suggest you go there right away as soon as you finish listening Info or just tap the link in the show notes.

Well my friend, that's all the show we have for today. So until next time, continue to become the creative that you are created to be. God bless and I'll see you next episode. Thanks for joining us here at the God and Gigs show. Please leave us a review on itunes like our Facebook page, or visit and tell us what you thought of this show.

We'll be back soon. In the meantime, go create something amazing.