Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Richardine Bartee

By Guneet K. Singh

Here’s the scoop! We’re excited to welcome our new NYWIFT member, Richardine Bartee.

Richardine is a journalist, publicist, music supervisor, and founder of the multi-tiered business and magazines GRUNGECAKE and GRUNGECAKE AFRICA. The first digital issue of GRUNGECAKE AFRICA is launching in July 2024. She’s been a member of the Recording Academy since 2015. Connecting with people is very important to her. She started writing about artists in journalism and media and wants to take that further by telling people’s stories through television and film. 

Read our full interview to learn more about her career journey and her advice for starting new projects.

NYWIFT Member Richardine Bartee (photo courtesy of Richardine Bartee)


Tell us about yourself! Give us some insight into your creative journey, your career aspirations and what drives you.

My journey has been a very long one. I’ve been in the media and business space for two decades. A lot of it was me figuring out how to do it. I didn’t have any colleagues or mentors to answer questions at the beginning of my journey so that’s why I always stress mentorship. I started out in New York City with a dream. I was a graphic design art student in Tribeca at the time. I was like, “Wow there are a lot of people here who are talented. I want to showcase what they do.” My genesis was writing about artists and then that later turned into publicity and now wanting to take that even further and be able to tell people’s stories through film and television.


What brought you to NYWIFT?

I wanted to join the community and have an official organization behind me to help support my storytelling. When I started, I didn’t have any of these communities behind me. I learned about the organization through Women in Sound, another group I joined recently. 


You are the founder of GRUNGECAKE, a ​​a multi-tiered business and magazine that focuses on artist development, artist management, brand recognition and damage control. What inspired you to create it?

When I was in college, there were so many talented people. I went to the Art Institute of New York City (which is no longer around unfortunately). I’ve always had a love for different things. When I started my magazine, I wanted to cover people from 22 different disciplines (not realizing how much work that actually is!). I just have a love and respect for so many different types of things. Part of that comes from being from New York and being exposed to so many things like music and fashion. To meet and get to know a lot of the artists and business people was my thing. It’s really about people.


NYWIFT Member Richardine Bartee (photo courtesy of Richardine Bartee)


What’s it been like building and growing the GRUNGECAKE brand?

Lots of patience. Lots of time. Lots of thought goes into it. 

GRUNGECAKE has been around since 2007. It started out as print but is now online. You also have to build a network so there’s that too. There’s a lot of planning and executing and having that paired with real life is a lot sometimes. You establish your rhythm and then something happens that takes you out of it and you come back but it is definitely something that has brought balance and peace into my life. Being able to revert back into my work when real life is difficult brings that comfort to me. It’s therapeutic for me.


What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned as both a publicist and journalist? How did you find yourself doing both jobs?

I started out in journalism first. I didn’t know or understand what a publicist was. People were calling me a publicist by nature because of the work I was doing. It wasn’t until one of my friends, Alex Ghassan, passed away in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire which claimed 36 lives. I put out a post on Instagram in 2016 and all of these journalists started reaching out to me to talk about him and give details. Before that, they weren’t sure who had passed. All the people who passed were in the art community and I’m like, “Try to humanize the people.”

I ended up going on Lisa Evers in New York City with our friend. We did the interviews and reached out to the press. When I did that people were like, “So you handled the publicity” and I said, “What’s that?” and realized I do it naturally. After that whole thing and mourning my friend, I started doing publicity officially in the U.S. in 2017 around SXSW.

I learned patience and that making sure people are quoted and understood is so important or before you know it, you’re doing crisis management. I’ve learned there’s a gift of storytelling regardless of the medium. You have to know how to tell someone’s story to make it attractive and that’s a skill and a business of its own. The art of storytelling will never get lost.


NYWIFT Member Richardine Bartee (photo courtesy of Richardine Bartee)


You’re a prominent figure in the global music industry and have been a member of the Recording Academy since 2015, working with artists like Nelly. How does your approach differ between the music industry and your work in film and television?

I look at it as if it’s all the same. It’s just a different medium. I’m not necessarily a performer, but I am a creative and I’m very good at telling stories. 

Being a part of the Recording Academy is more about the business and politics of music and making sure music makers are earning money. We have the award show every year but there’s so much else that goes on every year like the mentorship program I’m a part of. They’ll match you up with a candidate who’s looking to get more experience in the sector you’re in and you help them.


You created an innovative service to help increase the character and integrity of the music industry which you pitched on ABC’s Shark Tank. Can you tell us more about the service and what it was like pitching to the sharks?

People send a lot of music submissions to us and I was trying to create something that would help that process. This was pre-AI. How do we create some sort of engine for submissions? Can we listen to a certain part of a song for this amount of time and define if it’s a good enough song? It can be very time-consuming to listen to submissions. I wanted to create a system that could help me figure out which songs are worth it.

As a publicist, once I find the great songs I want to be able to send them out for opportunities like sending a song to someone doing a Super Bowl commercial. It came from the frustration of trying to find the proper balance to do what I’m doing at the optimal level. I met with producers over a video call but I didn’t make it to the final stages of being on the show.


NYWIFT Member Richardine Bartee (photo courtesy of Richardine Bartee)


You’re very passionate about mentoring and nurturing new talent. What advice do you have for those just starting their careers?

Whatever the idea is that you have, just start. Even if things aren’t perfect or you’re feeling lost, it’s good for you to put yourself out there. You should always fine tune or tweak things as you go. If I was waiting for perfection, I would have never started. 

I am a true testament of that. My first print magazine didn’t come out the way I wanted it to look at all. You’ll find people along the way who will be able to help you become what you want to become. Just start. No question is a dumb question. Try to not waste time because things move fast. The industry is quick!


NYWIFT Member Richardine Bartee (photo courtesy of Richardine Bartee)


Connect with Richardine on Instagram and X. Check out her work at GRUNGECAKE.


Guneet Singh

Guneet Singh Guneet K. Singh is a NY-based writer and producer. Her first job in the entertainment industry was as an NBC Page and she has since worked in development on multiple projects for NBC from game shows to half-hour comedies. Guneet graduated from Stony Brook University in 2019 with a BA in Journalism and a minor in Business Management. She's incredibly passionate about diverse storytelling and creating a more equitable industry. She is so excited to be a part of the NYWIFT community!

View all posts by Guneet Singh

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