From Beatmaker to Scoring Commercials

AFRO Black Business Spotlight

by: Jannah G. Johnson Special to the AFRO
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Volition Sound Branding

Wendell Hanes is a Maryland native who is making noise behind the scenes as the owner and lead composer of the Volition Sound Branding company, which creates and licenses music for advertisements, films and TV.

Hanes was born in Columbia, Maryland and took an interest in music at a young age. His company, Volition Sound Branding, has offices in Glenelg, Md. and New York, NY.

Wendell Hanes started out making beats for hip hop icons such as Kool G. Rap and Nas before transitioning to scoring commercials. (Courtesy photo)

“I got into the whole musical scene when I got into a car accident when I was younger, I was inside the house for a whole summer and I would go into the studio in my house because I couldn’t go outside and do anything,” Hanes told the AFRO.

“I got my first initiation into the music industry when I did some remixes for Sony music for a number of their artists such as Kool G Rap, Nas, Grandaddy IU, The Hoodratz. I did 3 or 4 songs for Epic records and that really helped catapult me into deeper recording sessions within the industry, the pay for these remixes and records I was doing wasn’t much and it felt like a struggle to just get the project so I wanted to forge ahead with combining my editing and music so it was a combination of sound and picture.”

Hanes has worked with Sony, Spike Lee, and countless celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Future and Rihanna. He has also scored a number of prominent commercials including the NBA Finals opening music, the ESPN sports center theme and a McDonalds jingle along with countless other commercials and popular sports events.  Although he landed good projects working for large companies he later struck out on his own and decided to start the Volition Sound Branding Company.

“I always felt like I was leader and I could always do more and when I was working at a company I felt underutilized and that I could have more creative control on my own. I reached a point in my career where the company I was working at, I felt I was accelerating at a rate quicker than my company was, I wanted to build my own reputation and name in the industry, and I felt like I could create a company where I could push the initiatives that I felt were most important to my vision which was expanding beyond commercials like working on television, documentaries, more on the music side of things and I wanted autonomy.” Hanes said.

When asked if he had any advice for up and coming forces within the industry, Hanes pointed out the importance of being passionate about what you do.

“Don’t do it for the money, do what you really love doing and the money will come, when you do things for the money you’re short sighted, letting money motivate you is a short-sighted decision, do something you love so much that it doesn’t feel like you’re working, think about the passion. I was making music for commercials and television and things and I didn’t even feel like I was working. Also, always set your bar to your own standard, the most important person to impress is yourself. If you set your bar and your expectations for yourself above the expectations others have for you then you’ll surpass other people’s standards and meet your own.”

Hanes has recently worked on several documentaries and a book . He is also working on a cartoon and a three part book series entitled “The 30-30 Career: Making 30 Grand in 30 Seconds Producing Music for Commercials.”

To check out more of Hanes’ work visit volitionsound.com.

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