Ibrahim Hamad Helped Build Dreamville, By Any Means Necessary
In those moments early on, it wasn’t like I had a title, and even after I had a title. Yeah, I’m Cole’s manager and partner, but if we’re on the road and he needs something before the show, it would be hard for him to ask me for favors. But to me, I don’t care, I don’t have an ego in this. To this day, whatever it takes to get the job done right, I’m going to figure it out. I think that’s how our team was built. Everybody had to do a little bit of everything because that’s just how we were built, so I didn’t look at it like I was wearing multiple hats. I just looked at it like we have to get this done. That’s how it always was and it’s still like that.
We’re touching the 10-year anniversary of the Dollar and a Dream tour. How important was doing that tour and only charging a dollar in building the loyal fanbase Dreamville has today?
I think it was super important, but again it wasn’t planned to build the fanbase. All of these ideas that we were coming up with were for survival. Dollar and a Dream, other than the first show which was around the album release because that was a big thing in Cole’s theme, that tour that we did before Born Sinner was literally out of survival. We were worried because we had to build hype around Born Sinner, and one thing Cole and I always did was underplay how big he was. We never took anything for granted like, “The fans are just going to show up.” We felt like we had to work to make our fans show up, we had to work to get people excited. To this day I’m still like, “Man, I wonder if people are going to show up.” To me, Dollar and a Dream was survival because we wanted to get fans excited and promote this album. So we did these shows for a dollar just to get closer to our fans, it wasn’t like we did it to build a long-term fanbase. It was just like, “Let’s do this to get people to come and hear this album,” and I think the reason it builds a long-term fanbase is because all of these moves that we did came from a really genuine and pure place. Cole loved the idea of doing a show for a dollar because he understands that maybe some of his fans can’t afford to buy a $50 ticket. It wasn’t planned but I think it did make our fanbase stronger because I think they connected with the idea that these were moves made from an authentic place.
Is that authenticity how Dreamville has remained true to its roots despite ballooning into a massive company that now has several artists, a music festival, a film branch, and more?
It really starts with Cole. Once he turned the switch and said, “I’m only doing what’s true to me and what excites me,” is when his career really started skyrocketing with 2014 Forest Hills Drive. And off of that, because he only made moves that were true to him, you’re now offering something that no one else offers. So for us and Dreamville, it was very intentional to do what’s true to us and what we love, because then we can never really go out of style. The people that are coming to us for what we give are going to keep showing up. If we start doing what everyone else is doing, then what really separates us? For example, when we booked the festival, we booked it as a team. It will start with literally what I’m a fan of and then we’ll add names to that and figure out what makes sense. I always say, if we book our festival like one of those mainstream festivals that go with whoever the hot name is as the headliner, then we’re not booking it from what actually connects with us. What would make us different from Coachella or Lollapalooza, all these great festivals, what makes us different if we’re just booking the same headliners and lineups? We have to book what’s true to us because if we love it, the fans who are like-minded like us will hopefully love it too. And if they don’t love it, they will trust us enough to be like, “Alright, I’ll give it a chance.” That’s been how we look at it as the brand too, we’re not going to do things just to do it. We’re going to do things because we’re passionate about it and people keep coming back to that because they feel like we’re offering something that someone else isn’t. I also never want to work on something that I’m not passionate about and love.
As we reach what might be Cole’s imminent retirement with The Fall Off era that he keeps hinting at, where do you see Dreamville going from there since he’s the heart and soul?
I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m looking at Dreamville like I want it to grow into this big conglomerate and we want to keep building up and up. Everybody loves the ability to be compensated for the work you put in, but to me, I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I feel like I only want to work on things that I feel passionate about and that excite me, and not just chase how to expand and get bigger. Do I want to get bigger? Yes, but on the terms of us doing things that we’re passionate about.