In some ways, CORE Media started the day founder Ruben Cantu left his boss’s office at Sony Urban Music in New York thinking: “It’s time to go home to Austin.”
Ruben had been working towards a music industry career since he stepped into a recording studio at the age of 10 and fell in love with the medium. As a high school freshman, he volunteered for a new radio show the school was producing.
“Most of the kids were trying to be cool,” he remembers. “They didn’t want to be part of the AV (Audio Visual) Club. But I wanted to record music. I knew they’d teach me to use soundboards and mixers and microphones.”
He discovered great mentors in radio. By age 16, he had a job with LatinoUSA on National Public Radio, creating lesson plans for teachers from the programs the station put on.
He eventually had his own three-hour radio show where his first, bootstrapped, company was formed, The Urban Assault. In college, he took The Urban Assault to TV. By the time his undergraduate years were over, he had received recognition for his show, coordinated sold-out monthly events at Antone’s, worked as a promoter for independent artists for radio and TV, and was on the verge of producing the Urban Assault magazine. At the age of 20, Ruben had a volunteer staff of 25 and was majoring in film at UT—another medium he fell in love with.
During his junior year in college he started working as an intern at Sony in the college division.
“I went to New York to work for Sony and MTV. I planned to be the next record mogul. But the competition in that world was brutal. Some people didn’t think twice about stabbing friends in the back to get ahead.” He silently worried whether his own ethics were conforming to fit the industry. “One day, I asked my boss: ‘Does it ever bother you, the type of content we promote? This boy band is targeting our young girls and their latest single I’m promoting is overly promiscuous’”
His boss just fixed Ruben with a look and said “If you’re not comfortable with the music we promote, maybe you shouldn’t be here.”
At that moment, all Ruben’s fears about the music industry solidified. He’d spent his life pursuing something that now felt was corrupt and empty. He’d never realized it fully, but he knew he couldn’t be happy unless his work made the world a better place, and that wasn’t going to happen in the music industry.
Feeling disheartened and lost, he left Sony and returned to Austin. He started working at Apple, and experienced the corporate world. He felt lost and aimless. Frustrated, he slowly started to get his vision of what he truly was meant to do. He would use his vast experience and education to create media that made a positive difference in the world. To create stories that touched people at their CORE. He left Apple to get his master’s in Technology Commercialization/Entrepreneurship and created CORE, which stands for Creating Opportunities that Revolutionize and Empower people through media.
Now all the work he does, whether commercial, non-profit of feature films has to be empowering. Has to tell a great story and make the world better.
“This is what we love and do best.”