In an unforgiving business, Fabrizio Moreira has found success with Secret Hit, a subsidiary marketing platform of VIP Music Records. Here’s how he’s using credit cards harmoniously.
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Fabrizio Moreira has been in businesses since the age of 14. In his native city of Manta, Ecuador, he managed the campaigns of local politicians. And while it was lucrative, he itched to leave his small town.
“I wanted more, and I knew entrepreneurship was the way to get it,” says Moreira. That desire brought him to New York City. Soon, Moreira began running a real estate marketing firm, but the fit wasn’t perfect.
“The guy I worked for said I was good at it, but I’d be better off working with musical artists,” Moreira says. “When I heard how much rappers earn, I said, ‘I’m doing this.’ I know how to make someone look good. If I can do it for a politician, I can do it for a musician! I just had to be myself. Then I met a rapper, Soulja Boy, and I said, ‘Give me the keys, I’m gonna work.’ And I did. Even though I came from another industry, I was willing to learn. I wanted to be the best.”
Moreira’s venture began with launching a record label, VIP Music Records. And in 2018, he started Secret Hit, the company’s subsidiary marketing platform. Today, Secret Hit works with over 2,500 artists from all over the world and employs 98 people.
It’s a tough and expensive business, though. “There is a lot of risk involved,” says Moreira. “But rewards, too. One song can generate half a million dollars. A lot of money is being moved.”
To ensure that the artists, as well as his company, are doing well, Moreira is careful with financing and uses credit cards harmoniously.
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What kinds of costs go into starting up a music production and marketing company?
First, you need to have a lot of equipment – like microphones – but there’s also studio time. I pay about $75 an hour, and sessions can be anywhere from four to 12 hours long. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you think, so it goes even longer.
When we create music, we want to own the master. It’s expensive. A single song can cost $750 to $2,000 to create, and that’s just one out of thousands that we produce. But if a song does well, it makes $40,000 to $75,000. A recent song made $200,000. That’s the risk we take.
Of course, there are other costs – like what we spend on food. Lunch needs to be at the studio. If the artists leave to eat, it breaks the session. I also spend a lot on billboards. That’s big-time money. A billboard in Times Square is $3,000 for the day.
Ever been shocked by a surprise expense?
Oh, yeah. One video alone turned out to be incredibly expensive. The person who was supposed to be the filmmaker called us at the last minute and said he couldn’t make it. He was stuck in Cuba.
I already paid for everything – the make-up artist, getting the artist there, you name it. I couldn’t cancel. I had to understand, so I put myself in the filmmaker’s shoes. But what was supposed to cost $10,000 turned into $25,000. Out of my own pocket.
So, you use credit cards to help with those costs?
Credit cards definitely help in an emergency, but they’re also right for the things that offer a delayed return, like the billboards. This country moves on credit. If you want to go somewhere in the U.S., you need credit cards. Well, unless you’re really rich and can pay everything with cash!
The cards I use for the business include the Discover it® Business card and the Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card.
I also have 11 personal cards and I pay them off – and on time. I can’t always keep the business cards at zero with very big payments, but I keep them close to it.
A friend – now my partner – taught me about credit cards. The first thing he said was not to go over a third of the limit. It’s also important to not be late on the payments, and I never am.
You must earn a lot of rewards with those cards – what do you do with them?
Mostly trips. The rewards pay for my plane tickets. I know how to get the rewards I need. Like, if I have $10,000 in cash, I’ll use one of my cards to pay for something, then I pay the card off that day with the cash I have. I’ll go to the Dominican Republic for free this way!
To stay organized and keep track, I use a notebook. I like the internet, but I keep everything on paper – always in handwriting. It’s what I do.
What’s the future for Secret Hit?
Right now, we have enough business to handle. Our main goal is to build our own studio. We were going to do it soon, but with what’s going on in the world right now, we’re going to have to wait.
Opening the studio will be a big expense. All the equipment, finding the right location … we’re planning for it to cost between $350,000 and $380,000. To finance it, we will take out business loans, in addition to the credit cards.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs?
Yes – start learning who and what is real. Not everything you see is. Don’t trust people who only tell you what they did in the past. I hate that. Show me, don’t sell me. I need to see what the person is doing now. It’s got to be fresh.
As for you, work. Produce results and good people will find you.
In business, you need to be strong. When a storm comes, you either have to stand up and get bigger or let it take you down. Every issue I’ve had to face has made me bigger.
What about using credit?
Don’t spend money you don’t have. A credit card won’t solve your problems. That’s not what it’s for. Here’s the lesson: Have the money ready to pay your card before you use your card. Trust me, I learned the hard way.