Meet The UBGteam!
CEO - Aries : Follow Him on Twitter! Aries Official Bio: "Music is My Life"
Since as early of the age of four, Aries first love has been music! If you listen to the stories told by his mother and older brother, they'll share with you how Aries use to make music with his mouth around then if non wasn't playing. As a child his mother Emma would always play the latest music and buy the latest records for her collection. Fast-forward years later it was Aries who was buying the latest music releases and recording music off of the radio on cassettes. A child prodigy maybe, no not really but a kid who was definitely musically inclined, yes! "It's always amazing to me when I think back to how early I started loving music, I remember my mom always having the latest songs & albums playing at home or in the car and me always enjoying it!" Aries recalls.
As a kid Aries played around with the singing aspect of music, thinking he could and would be a recording artist one day. From being a member of a group he put together in second grade which he named "The Kiseyes" (Kiss-Ease), to recording multiple solo demos years after & even receiving a call from an A&R of Michael Jackson's now defunct MJJ label to come to California to meet; Aries missed that meeting and shortly realized singing wasn't the path he wanted to go, but music business as a whole was! After graduating from Central High School in Saint Paul, MN Aries enrolled at McNally & Smith (formally Music Tech) and majored in you guessed it...music business! "I learned alot from the staff who also work in the industry. I learned the ins and outs of the music business including marketing, publishing, production, you name it. My free time was spent in the computer lab, where I first got interested in websites and online promotion!" Aries happily remembers.
That interest in online promotion prompted Aries to start his first website in late 1998, a message-board called "T M H Entertainment!" A place where music lovers of R&B & Hip-Hop could come to discuss with others who shared the same interest. The name T M H (The Music Hall) came from a series of mixtapes Aries made as a teen. Less than a year later Aries launched a full website of the same name. Which included news, music streams and reviews. The only thing the website was missing was exclusive interviews with recording artists. Something Aries had dreamed about doing since his early teens, when he use to host a weekly top 20 show for his mixtapes which he had subscribers who would pay monthly & receive approximately 6 mixed tapes per month. So to be able to interview an actual recording artist would be just what T M H needed to really stand out from other un-branded e-zines. Aries got a call shortly from a friend at Elektra Records who asked him if he would be interested in interviewing the artist for their latest release, the debut album from Nate Dogg. That interview lead to a host of others soon to follow, including interviews with Brandy, Jaheim, Ann Nesby, Big Tigga, Avant and later with New Edition, R. Kelly, Jody Watley, Karen Clark Sheard, Michelle Williams, Macy Gray, Kelly Rowland, Nelly, director Lee Daniels and actors Flex Alexander and Derrin Henson not to mention multiple interviews with Ray J, Tamela Mann, Shanice, Kirk Franklin, Ciara, Jon B, Kandi, T.I., and a host of others. In a world full of entertainment blogs and gossip sites, Aries remembers "We didn't jump on the bandwagon with the whole blog, urban e-zine thing because there were none really up around that time. Besides "All Hip-Hop" which had just launched, that's why I started the e-zine so there could be a site like that for R&B!"
Running a successful e-zine wasn't enough for Aries as he soon got the unique & wonderful opportunity to design and maintain the official website for Grammy award winner Faith Evans. Rewind a year before her 2002 release of "Faithfully," Aries had started a host of fansites for recording artists Usher, Shanice, Monica, Mint Condition and yes, Faith Evans! After a chance meeting in Minneapolis at a Faith/Dru Hill concert, Aries met Todd Russaw, Faith's husband and manager. Aries told him about the fansite and Todd asked for his information to check it out and to feed him information for the site. That following summer Aries got a different type of call from Todd, this time he asked him to design & operate Faith's first ever official Bad Boy Records website. So not only was T M H Entertainment.com taking off as one of the only urban music e-zines at the time, T M H was also running the official site for Faith Evans and after creating a fansite for recording artist Shanice, Aries got the opportunity to interview her for the site and become friends with his favorite singer. Monica's World a fansite created by Aries for recording artist Monica was later named her official fansite by her label J Records. And if all of that wasn't enough, Usher World a fansite created by Aries was later named his official site, the reason for "the one and only official site" after Usher's management took over the name. "I hate to brag, well I acutally I don't" Aries laughs, "but we started the world.com's. The first one to my knowledge was Shanice World, then we did Monica's World, Usher World, Kandi's World, Lil Mo's World, etc. then all of these official sites started being named world sites. I should of trademarked that!" Aries was slowly becoming an online media mogul to say the least. "I never thought about it back then, I was just trying to get involved in whatever I could. When industry friends would ask if we would like to be apart of anything I would say yes!" Aries remembers.
Something Aries also wishes he would of did then, "I wish we would of used advertisers for our e-zine and fansites. I use to hate banners on sites, so I never had them on ours for the longest time. That's how you make revenue from them, I was fine paying out of pocket because we was bringing in money from the client websites." The websites include the previous ones stated as well as the official site for comedian/actor Katt Williams, Katt asked Aries to design a new site for him after Aries interviewed him for the T M H e-zine. Also an official fansite for former R&B group 702 and website for actor/singer T Mychael Rambo and several other friends. The business was growing, with mistakes come more drive and later success so with the focus on success Aries made that his determination.
As he embraced his success with open arms, a tragedy nearly caused him his life. In June of 2003, Aries was in an automobile accident on Highway 94 West in St. Paul, MN. He lost control of his car causing it to flip numerous times and crash, ending up on 94 East upside down! The car was totaled and he had a broken femur. Anyone who saw the car after the accident was shocked to know the only person in it survived. "I was introduced to God at an early age by my Grandmother, so I knew the power of prayer. Since I survived the accident, God had another plan for me," says Aries. After months of therapy and determination, he made a full recovery.
In 2005, Aries and business partner Jason Richards decided to take T M H in a new direction. They both decided to re-invent their mission and provide more services than fansites. "I've always wanted to do so many things but it seemed with T M H, people expected us to do sites and that's it," Aries said. Urban Bridgez Group was now founded with a mission to tackle multi-media, marketing and management, with their first artist debuting late this year. In order to capture the mainstream audience Urban Bridgez's e-zine was dubbed as, "bridging music + lifestyle together." The 2005 launch of the new business and e-zine proved to be successful.
Aries credits his industry friends and family for advising him to branch out to cover more projects. "I've been lucky to have met and become friends with some great people in and out of the industry not to mention my family. They have always backed me in whatever goal I've tried to reach. Everyone from my older brother Aaron to Sonja Norwood (Brandy, Ray J.) have encouraged me to reach high. When I accomplish one goal, I strive to reach another one," says Aries.
With Urban Bridgez Group as a whole, some of their present and past clients include RnB productions, Sonja B. Norwood/Norwood & Norwood, Music World Entertainment, Blackground Records, KnockOut Entertainment; recording artists Brandy, Ray J, Shanice, 702, Trey Songz/Songz 4 Peace and Faith Evans. "It amazes me when I think of the wonderful opportunities I've gotten from starting this small little e-zine in the late 90's. It's been a wild ride and I look forward to what's to come," Aries shares.
Aries has enjoyed seeing his hard work pay off from album thank yous from various clients, to UrbanBridgez.com being featured on every major label site and numerous artist official sites and even on the now defunct MTV daily countdown show TRL. But it was'nt til recently that Aries realized how much his work has really paid off, "I was told I was mentioned on "Brandy & Ray J's A Family Business (VH1)" via the UrbanBridgez forum, then shortly after it aired I got so many calls, emails, texts from people saying they heard Sonja (Norwood) mention me. I asked a few people how did they know it was me and they answered, you're the only Aries who works in the industry that does what you do! So being recognized by name only, really showed me how far myself & our brand has come!"
With upcoming projects with UBG's recording artist Poison IVY and projects planned with actress/singer and Knockout Recording artist Tasha Scott and new recording artist London Taylor, it's safe to say Aries and Urban Bridgez Group aren't slowing down anytime soon! Proving that old saying "You don't have to be the biggest, to be one of the best!"
Aries Favorites...Brandy, Shanice, Mint Condition, Janet, Faith Evans, Tupac, Ice Cube and Ann Nesby to start with and the list goes on. My favorite or one of my favorite albums is TROOP's "Attitude," to me that's one of the most perfect R&B albums of my generation!
Favorite Quote: "Change, the trick is to see it as just another opportunity to grow. A chance to change yourself from the person you are, into the person you want to be. When you fear it, you fight it and when you fight it, you block the blessing!"
- Patti LaBelle
Team Profiles Coming Shortly For:
Jason (President), LaRonda (Assistant/Creative Team), Marco & Tishelle (Creative Team) and Dhaani (Lead Journalist).