Making Space: From Music to Philanthropy
How Tiffany Coles is Blazing Trails at Temple
Music has always been a part of Tiffany Coles’ life. Her grandfather was one of the original members of The Intruders, a soul music group from the 70s. As a child, she was on stage and on camera frequently through modeling, acting, dancing, and singing.
Even with music being a constant in her life, it took the aspiring music media maven a while to set her sights on the music industry as a career. Until she was 16, she wanted to be a pediatrician. Her passion shifted when one of her friends, an aspiring singer, asked her to be her media manager. Although not entirely sure what the role entailed, she agreed.
“I’m 16, I’m like okay, whatever that means. We’ll try this out,” she said, “Next thing I knew, I’m in the music business, and I haven’t left since.”
She chose to enroll at Temple in 2016 after attending an Experience Temple Day. Since the university lacked a formal music business program, Coles majored in strategic communication with a concentration in public relations as an alternative path to her dreams.
“I thought, if I do strategic communication, I’ll be able to be an effective communicator. I’ll be able to know how to do all the press and information and stuff like that for my clients,” she said, “Whatever I wanna do in music, I’ll be able to take that information there.”
Coles didn’t stop there. She helped carve a space on campus for those interested in the business side of music – the new Music Business Club. One of her professors, James Donio, mentioned that a former student was starting the club and looking for people to get involved as members and on the e-board. Coles immediately jumped at the opportunity and now serves as the vice president of the organization, which connects, educates and inspires students interested in the business side of music.
“I’m so proud of this club. There were 90 people who signed up at Klein Fest! Especially just being like a club at that point, we had no official paperwork, there was nothing,” she said, “Now we have a website, we have people who write for our blog. We do events, now we have a partnership to do a vinyl giveaway. Stuff is moving very quickly…I’m just so happy.”
She has made a space for herself beyond campus, too. She went from saying she would never work with rappers due to their “crazy lifestyle” to embarking on an incredible opportunity in Los Angeles with the FMA Study Away Program. After feeling unsure about public relations, seeking music industry mentors led her to work for Christian “King” Combs, Diddy’s youngest son.
“Rappers are still crazy, but I’m like wow, they are still these sweet genuine people who still, at the end of the day, just want to be successful,” she said, “So I’ve learned I can’t put myself in a box,” advice she often gives her artists.
In high school, Coles became an avid Twitter follower of Brianna DeMayo, CEO and founder of Taste Creators, an artist agency focused on turning artists into entrepreneurs. “I would screenshot literally all this girl tweets,” she said, “she would just drop gems about the music business, and I was like yo, she’s giving this away for free?”
When Coles returned to Philadelphia, the then-COO of Taste Creators, Lawrence “Watts” Watling, offered her a job after seeing the work she did in Los Angeles. She now holds the position of the “Dot Connector,” brainstorming ideas for social media and services, planning and executing events, coordinating brand awareness opportunities, and soon, artist management.
“It’s just been amazing. I’d say it’s been about six months since I’ve been officially on the team and it’s been so so sweet and they’re like the dopest people I’ve met,” she said.
Recently, Coles decided to round out her life by founding Bosses Give Back, a community service organization. With a mission to expose the full potential of her community through empowerment, opportunity, and service, Coles has partnered with notable organizations: Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, Broad Street Ministries, and the Ronald McDonald House. Realizing that her life’s work involves helping others, she felt it fitting to establish BGB and set the intentions high.
“I envision BGB Babes traveling with Habitat for Humanities to build homes in other countries, and taking mentees with us,” she said. “We’ve already had inquiries about traveling on a service mission to Haiti for 2020, so I am hopeful and prayerful about the future holds for myself and my organization.”
Story by: Maryam Siddiqui
Photography by: Meghan Cavanaugh