Hitting High Notes in a Genial City"For the most part, people here are genuinely good people. They care about the little things in life — the kind gestures, the handshakes, the smiles, the warm feelings."
When Shanti Das worked as a Universal Motown executive in New York City, she had a favorite activity in her hectic life: hopping on a plane back to her hometown.
"I never stopped loving Atlanta," says Das, who was born in the city. And it was pretty obvious this native would sooner rather than later pack up and move back to her hometown — she even bought an Atlanta condo and townhome while still living up north. A couple years ago, she finally made her move: She left Motown and Manhattan, and headed south for the last time.
Back home, she started life anew, launching her own entertainment and marketing business. The name she chose: PressReset.me.
Das launched her new business when the music industry was also starting to reset itself. In an age of downloads, musicians found themselves less able to rely on CD income, and more were turning their attention to live performances to attract paying customers.
Das now serves as a guide for such performers — taking singers and musicians through the process of developing a presence, finding the right venues, and attracting the right people. In part to demonstrate how, she launched her own showcase called ATL Live on the Park, held at the Park Tavern at the edge of Piedmont Park, a venue where emerging and established artists (with a heavy R&B cast) can show their stuff. The audience is packed with as many as 100 people at any given event.
Das is well placed to guide others. Besides being a 20-year music industry veteran, she has an overflowing database of industry names. "If I don't know a person directly," she says, "I'm only about one person removed." She's also author of "The Hip-Hop Professional," a book on how to succeed in the notoriously male-dominated hip-hop industry. She has plenty of experience in how to network, how to work a room, and how to be taken seriously. Her chief advice: "Don't let them see you sweat when you go into a meeting."
When Das moved to New York, she was surprised that her native friendliness was rarely reciprocated. When she talked to strangers, "people would look at me like I was crazy. Everybody is just minding their own business." But back home in Atlanta, she immediately fell back into her old ways. "When you come to Atlanta, you talk to everyone — people at the gas station, valet parkers. For the most part, people here are genuinely good people," she says. "They care about the little things in life — the kind gestures, the handshakes, the smiles, the warm feelings."
At her most recent ATL Live showcase, Das says Atlanta's mayor showed up and spent a whole evening there — something else you wouldn't see in New York. He wasn't politicking, he wasn't looking for votes, he was just sitting back and enjoying the music. "It's nice to know that he cares about what's going on in the city from a cultural perspective," says Das. "It's not just from a political perspective. He's so down to earth and friendly."
Which, she thinks, could be said about Atlanta as a whole.
Check out Shanti's Atlanta.