BBA ’92, LAW ’99 | Co-owner and Director of Business Affairs, Axis Music Group
Appreciating his roots: “I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles and New York for work, and my wife (Angela) and I like to travel, but there’s nothing like Philadelphia. We enjoy dining in the city, walking and biking on the river and visiting the museums. And I’m constantly inspired by the new development in Northern Liberties, Center City and Powelton Village, where we live.”
At any given time, Chauncey Childs has five or six projects – maybe more – going simultaneously. And he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“This is exactly how I envisioned my career playing out,” said Childs, the co-founder and director of business affairs for the Philadelphia-based Axis Music Group. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Childs is the business arm of Axis’ operations. He’s tasked with negotiating contracts, drafting agreements, managing budgets, and collecting royalties for Axis, which oversees a host of music artists, songwriters, and producers. Childs doubles as the business manager for James Poyser, BBA ’94, who he first met during their undergraduate careers at the Fox School of Business.
The two crossed paths in a finance class at Temple University, and then again years later in a recording studio at A Touch of Jazz, a Philadelphia music production company. They decided to go into business together, and Axis was born. Today, their company’s operations are two-pronged: Axis writers and producers craft original songs for established artists, and they also write original songs for film, television, and TV commercials.
“When a TV show or movie is transitioning from one scene to the next, someone writes that musical segue. That someone is Axis,” said Childs, explaining one of Axis’ functions. “When we first got started, we used to hustle to get work. And now, after we’ve been at it for 20 years, we still have to hustle, but we also get contract work on the profile of what we’ve already accomplished. We’ve come a long way.”
Childs’ interest in music, and his desire to represent the industry’s top talent, dates to his days at Temple. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business Management from the Fox School, and later his Juris Doctorate from Temple’s Beasley School of Law, to turn that dream into a reality.
“Temple gave me the confidence I needed in order to start my own business,” said Childs, 45, a Philadelphia native. “Both of my degrees provided me with the toolkit that I needed to hit the real world and say, ‘I can be an entrepreneur.’”
Childs’ work, at times, seems never-ending. A written agreement is required every time an original piece of music is penned. The volume of contracts, he said, can be extensive. But he’s also overseen much-larger contractual agreements. Notably, Childs negotiated a label imprint deal with Sony Music, aligning Axis with the international music giant allowed Axis the opportunity to market and distribute their Artist’s music through Sony globally.
“That was a milestone moment for me,” Childs said.
The contracts pay the bills. What’s most rewarding, he said, is Axis’ commitment to developing young talent.
Franklin Walker, a percussionist at Poyser’s church, came on board as an understudy to Poyser. Walker, a self-taught drummer, wound up on tour with rapper D’Angelo and presently performs with Poyser five nights a week on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” for which their band, The Roots, serves as the house band.
Childs said he met another young man, Aaron Draper, at a high school career fair at which he was speaking. Draper, rather than speaking of his interest in attending college, kept reiterating a desire to drum professionally. On the spot, Childs invited Draper to Axis’ studio, believing he could benefit from exposure to talent, top equipment, and studio time. Draper is currently on an international tour with pop-soul singer Adele.
“We’ve been able to take the next generation of musicians, mentor them, and, based on our relationships in the business, give them opportunities to carve out careers for themselves,” Childs said. “I’ve got to say – it’s some of the most-rewarding work we do.”
It doesn’t hurt that stars like Erykah Badu keep Childs’ number in their smartphone contacts.
“It’s an unwritten rule that James will work on all of my albums,” Badu said, “but I don’t step into the studio until Chauncey and Ward White (Badu’s representation) have worked out the details.”
Said Childs: “James and I have put in a lot of work over the years to get Axis to where it is today, and it’s been worth it. Every step has been worth it.”