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How Management Firm PEG Is Helping Drag Queens Succeed In the Music Business (Q&A)

Over its ten seasons, RuPaul's Drag Race has become a cultural phenomenon and a platform to over 100 performers, and many of the queens from the show have used their time in the spotlight to release…

Over its ten seasons, RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a cultural phenomenon and a platform to over 100 performers, and many of the queens from the show have used their time in the spotlight to release music. The most recent Drag Race alum to see chart success is Indianapolis-born Blair St. Clair, who’s debut Call My Life took the top spot on the Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart (July 14).

The electro-pop album was released through Producer Entertainment Group (PEG), a management company that boasts an impressive roster of drag talent, including Drag Race winners Sharon Needles, Jinkx Monsoon, Alaska 5000 and Bob the Drag Queen. The group formed their own record label out of necessity when major labels declined to take meetings with them. We spoke to PEG’s founder David Charpentier and PEG partner Jacob Slane about the mainstreaming of drag artists and their goals to reach a distro deal with a label.

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Why did you start the PEG record label?

Charpentier: There were no labels out there that would take us seriously. They just thought drag was a joke. I remember going to meetings with various labels and one telling me, “We love the music but can you repackage it as a non-drag artist?” I’ve been in situations like that several times, as recently as maybe a year ago. It’s surprising how conservative the record industry really is.

What would you say the biggest misconception about your clients is?

Slane: People think that they are only putting out parodies, Weird Al’ style music.

Charpentier: We represent some amazingly talented vocalists and songwriters. It blows my mind that there isn’t any more focus on these artists.

What are your goals with connecting with a major label?

Slane: It’s only a matter of time before someone at these labels realizes the opportunity here. It’s a complete built-in economy and demand. I would love for PEG to secure a distribution deal like many indie record labels have. That way, they could trust our expertise of this industry and we can tap into some of those larger resources that are still off limits to us.

Charpentier: It is kind of crazy watching late night talks shows and looking up the musical guest and sometimes they’ll have like 15,000 followers, while some of our artists have over a million.

Slane: It’s because they trust the labels. Things like these bookings and radio play — those are things that are still a bit out of reach for us. We’re getting by without them, but I would love to form a relationship with a larger label to unlock those final frontiers.

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How much artistic control do you give your clients?

Charpentier: I like to let the artist be the artist and let them make their own choices creatively, but we still offer guidance and direction. Blair [St. Clair] is a great example. He is very much is a Broadway baby, but upon explaining the differences of potential success of a Broadway album versus a dance pop album, he understood the business and economics behind it. Basically we try to educate the artists as much as we can so they can understand, because it’s a very big investment to make an album, so it’s really important for them to understand the business.

This article originally appeared in the July 21 issue of Billboard.