Whether you’re picking up a basketball, camera, or microphone, there is always a way to share your story.
David Kelly has served in an executive position for the Golden State Warriors for over a decade.
Now, Kelly is merging his love for music and entertainment with the NBA’s first-ever music and film division as the chief business officer (CBO) of Golden State Entertainment (GSE).
“When you really think about it, sports and music and sports and storytelling have always been merged. Not just from a corporate standpoint, but culturally speaking, there’s always been an overlap between the two,” Kelly told AFROTECH in an interview.
He continued, “In the NBA, specifically, from a cultural standpoint, it has always been a part of both worlds. So this is formalizing something that I think, in the minds of most people, already exists. When you think about an NBA game or basketball specifically, music is already part of the game. Basketball will be the only sport in which music is played, literally, during the game itself. It’s not played as walkup music. It’s not played after a goal is scored. It’s during the play itself, you know. You’ve got Kendrick Lamar playing as Steph Curry brings the ball up the court, and so that’s a different sort of integration of music and basketball and other sports.”
With that at the forefront, Kelly says it was a no-brainer to use the platform developed by the NBA and the Warriors to explore the intersection consumers find between sports and music.
“On the film side, the success of so many sports-related films, documentaries, and sports-related storytelling, it just seemed like the obvious place for a team to try to deepen this relationship with its fans, various brands, and to have a lot of different stories that we’re able to tell as a jumping off point to tell those narratives,” Kelly said.
Moreover, the CBO says this is an opportunity for musicians, entertainers, creatives, and brands to partner with the Golden State Warriors to bring their projects to life.
“From a thematic and visual standpoint, there’s this desire to be attached to the brand of the Warriors in the NBA, and this is just being more deliberate in that and allowing that sort of attraction and attachment to be more formalized,” Kelly explained.
As a former musician, Kelly’s music background helps him understand the support artists need to further the platforms and brands they’ve already built for themselves.
Additionally, with a business background, the executive has learned some important lessons along the way.
“I think the biggest thing is understanding that a lot of times, the best idea is not so different or imaginative or original,” Kelly shared. “It’s just viewing things from a slightly different perspective.
He added, “Understanding the value of my perspective on things can open up opportunities and also understanding the limits of my perspective on things and making sure that I’m surrounding myself with a diverse group of people who do things a little differently than I do.”
With GSE, Kelly and the team’s vision surpasses the traditional models of what business and entertainment can look like.
“What we’ve created is not your typical record label, and I think most independent artists do not need the typical relationship that they have with a record label. They need some sort of partner who can help them from a marketing standpoint, from a promotion standpoint, from a brand standpoint — and building relationships with various sponsors and other brands they may want to do business with,” Kelly said. “That’s where my background and understanding of what the life cycle of an artist is helpful.”
Soon, people who admire and respect the culture in terms of Black art can expect to divulge in “James & Nikki: A Conversation,” created by Grammy Award-winning artist and activist Rhymefest.
It provides a deeper look into the famous conversation between renowned authors James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni, which previously aired on a program titled “Soul” more than 50 years ago.
“What Rhymefest has done is he’s taken that conversation, and he’s weaving the themes in some of the direct quotes of what they were talking about, bringing it forward and making it more contemporary,” said Kelly. “Thus, taking James and Nikki and trying to reintroduce them to a younger audience.”
The project will be released in February in commemoration of Black History Month.