At the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, the rapper Logic brought the audience to tears with his performance of his seven-times-platinum hit record “1-800-273-8255.” The title is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and at the end of the performance, Logic thanked everyone for giving him a platform to talk about mental health, something “that mainstream media doesn’t want to talk about.”
Audiences worldwide can thank Chris Zarou ’12, founder and CEO of Visionary Music Group/Visionary Records, for promoting Logic and his lifesaving message, as well as the works of artists like Jon Bellion and Chelsea Cutler.
Zarou’s story is made for the age of social media and streaming services. While studying for his BS in business management through what is now known as Adelphi’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies, Zarou applied for internships in the music industry. When he didn’t land any, he founded the independent artist management company Visionary Music Group. Zarou discovered Logic’s videos on YouTube, the two corresponded on Facebook, and the rapper became Visionary’s first client. Zarou taps into the power of internet marketing to grow fan bases and engagement and promote his artists.
Zarou was chosen by Forbes as one of their 30 Under 30: Music for 2018. He was also recognized that year with a Grand Clio Award for music marketing. In 2019, Visionary formed a talent development partnership with Sony Music Entertainment.
What drew you to Adelphi?
It was in my hometown; I lived right around the block. I had been recruited for the men’s soccer team, and though I started out in Buffalo [Canisius College], I transferred to Adelphi the second semester of my freshman year and joined the team here.
Did you have any mentors on campus?
Once I started taking clients to shows, I couldn’t always make classes or an exam. The professors were willing to work with me and were understanding. A lot of them would ask me to tell them more about it.
What made you switch to the College of Professional and Continuing Studies program?
In my junior year, it got hard to juggle everything. I talked to my parents about dropping out. My father, Larry Zarou ’83, had graduated from the program, so he encouraged me to finish my degree. It allowed me to build my business during the day and either do online classes or night classes. I wouldn’t have graduated without [the program].
Was there a particular lesson you learned that you carry with you?
My experience at Adelphi taught me a lot about work ethic. When I realized soccer wasn’t going to be my career path, I started reading books about artist management. I took the time I had devoted to soccer and used it to start my business. That time as an athlete taught me to be disciplined. You have to balance your academics and practice, training and traveling. This was a great learning experience that enabled me to balance being a full-time entrepreneur and a full-time student.
What about your connection to Adelphi matters to you?
That I have my degree. I don’t think people understand how difficult it was to balance work and school.