What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
Combine passion and fun into your work so you don’t even feel like you’re working at all.
Listen to the recent words of Andre 3000 & make the music you want to hear. Don’t strain yourself trying to create noise that does numbers and appeases the masses . Talk your shit, and talk about what you and yours can relate and vibe to.
If you’re counting on music to be your golden ticket, you’re setting yourself up to risk disappointment, when you should be enjoying and trusting the process. Everything you create and enjoy is a success.
What would you do differently if you were starting in your industry now?
I would try to put out my music more rapidly, instead of waiting, questioning, and doubting myself as I have in the past. I’d also recommend individually dropping each single in the beginning as you establish them. This was recommended to me by a fellow female artist, and I wish I’d listened. Finally just throwing together an overdue collection of first-tracks as an EP without any backing was definitely not my best business move.
Which people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?
One of the most influential people I ever encountered was the woman who managed the group home I was placed in in my teens, “Momma Kim”. She showed me an unfamiliar system of being rewarded for being productive. This was a change from everything great being expected of me, and me being punished otherwise or running away with friends for days on end to avoid punishment. I also had felt the need to steal just to have new clothes. All of a sudden, me not skipping school and getting good grades earned me new clothes for the next semester, driver’s ed classes so I could enter the adult world with a license, and even a passport so I could take my first opportunity to study abroad. Momma Kim inspired me by showing me better ways of life, and motivating me to want to give back to my community once older and able to. Another major inspiration for me was my father, who worked as hard as he could to provide for my family, even after having a major heart attack, up until he absolutely couldn’t anymore. He showed me that anybody can get out and go after what they need and want in life, no matter what obstacles they faced.
What would you say is the #1 key to success in your business?
Financial backing is the major key to making it in the music business this day and age. Talent is important, but, I’ve met some of the absolutely most talented, yet underrated artists during my journey into this industry. I’ve also heard plenty of music I consider entirely overrated. What matters is if you’re enjoying, and able to financially back yourself, whether it be independently, through a label, or private investors. Do what you love, but don’t hurt yourself going broke for it or hinder the quality of your work because you couldn’t afford the costs/percentages being charged by the right producers, engineers, studios, videographers, artists, songwriters, (for those that feel the need to utilize them, I personally have not) etc. How you marginalize your sound matters!
Talk about the biggest failure you’ve had. What did you learn from it?
The biggest failures I look back on tie into my last point, financial. Financial setbacks I encountered were largely due to circumstances out of my control and always taught me to be good with saving. Feeling like you’re next to nothing is a pressure and like no other. It will really mess with your mental. One instance that stands out to me is when when I was rear-ended in an accident, which generally means the other person is at fault. An older white man in his pickup truck was a friend of the 12 in Paramus, NJ, who responded to the scene of the accident and immediately got all chummy. They let him drive away like nothing happened, refused to provide me the man’s insurance info, and it started getting traumatic once they flat out told me they were lying in their report, saying I had been on my phone, and telling me there was nothing I could do about it. They escalated this miserable situation into a worse one by wrongfully arresting me for medicine in my name, claiming I had “intent to distribute”. My shirt at the time was falling down and they laughed when I asked to adjust myself after manhandling and handcuffing me. They even had the audacity to claim me, at 145 pounds, was resisting arrest against the multiple grown, armed cops that detained me, and added that to my slew of fake charges. I felt sexually and generally harassed and mentally beat down. I had to pay to retrieve my beat up car from an impound lot, then had to hire an overpriced lawyer. I was still ruled responsible for the accident at the testimony of the crooked cops and left thousands of dollars down in lawyer fees, car repairs, and court fines. I’ve grown past that situation, but thinking back to it still gives me PTSD and I remain fearful and cautious to this day around law enforcement. Another significant failure that comes to mind in my life was at the start of my real estate business, my first building, that hurt me so bad once covid hit. My tenants stopped paying their rent entirely, but I was still expected to keep up with all the bills on my end. I was going broke maintaining my mortgage, and I took necessary action to climb on top of that situation before it truly got the best of me. There were times I cried myself to sleep out of fear that I’d lose it all, and it hurt knowing that investment would’ve been so profitable if everything had just gone right. I guess I also learned that things don’t always go according to plan and you must be prepared for the absolute worst. I’m thankful that the universe didn’t let me lose it all and I ended up able to flip that property without taking a major L. I’ve reinvested since then into a new location that’s been so much more reliable for me since. I don’t count on those profits alone, and I learned to keep working and save as much as possible.
What has been your biggest customer success story? Why do you think it was a success?
One of my revenues has been modelling and a clients I connected with through instagram that had hired me for one initial shoot, ended up becoming an amazing partnership. We developed not only a strong and long lasting business connection, but also bond that is so rare to come by. As part of the job, they clothed me, ventured me into different parts of the country I’d never before traveled to, and plugged me in with amazing photographers and videographers who helped me grow my social media and build a brand for myself. Simultaneously, their brand grew and I’d say it was one of the most mutually beneficial business endeavours I’d ever been a part of. I’m still super thankful for George, Mandaline, and the rest of that team for giving me the push I needed to embrace and appreciate, rather than fear, attention or criticism as I once did.
What keeps you going when things get tough in your business?
I push through any problems I face by keeping in mind that I’m able to take care of my loved ones and show them a life they thought was out of reach. I feel appreciated by most of the people I grew up with and I’m constantly reminded that all the ones I care about are counting on me. That means, I can’t stop. Sometimes I may not even care enough about myself to be honest, but no matter what, I can’t disappoint the ones I love.
What made you pursue being an influencer full time?
Excellent question as I actually never intended on being a full time influencer. I didn’t see myself bartending or modelling for an extended amount of time at all, let alone becoming comfortable enough with myself and image to make music. I didn’t consider any of this realistic before, and I would say I was really forced to make a choice at a point in my life, but now I’m thankful for it. Fresh out of college and working what I considered to be my first significant, professional job, a coworker or really a flat out OP, found my instagram and showed it to our superiors at work. To this day I still don’t know who was the snitch because I never interacted with anyone in my workplace at all. Either way, I was called out by a supervisor and told verbatim that I had to “pick a side”. This was cruel and unfair to me because I was still bartending at night, as I did throughout college. That had become an income I was accustomed to that helped pay my bills and helped me save up to invest in where I am now. In order to keep my bartending job, making more in one night than I’d make some week in an office, I was obligated to be active on Instagram and promote when/where I worked. I was being asked to choose between the white picket fence life I once wanted, and the lifestyle that made me truly happy then. I’m not a fan of ultimatums, so I chose the side that never pressured me to make a decision. I’m so thankful I did too. Sometimes I ride past the old building I worked at in my Maserati, and laugh thinking of how much better everything turned out for me by being able to focus on work that I actually enjoy. I love partying and working in nightlife. I love music. I’ve even learned to love all the attention my life comes with nowadays and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
When would you decline a paid sponsorship?
I’ve declined paid sponsorships & posts only on two occasions. The first, as you probably guessed, if I felt as though they were undervaluing me and we couldn’t compromise on a fair rate. Secondly, and probably less expected, would be when the product or item went against my own personal standards for my audience and my own image. One instance that sticks out to me was when a designer offered to send merch and pay me in exchange for promo posting in it. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the gear, some of which contained images and phrases my audience might find distasteful and offensive, therefore I respectfully declined.
What projects are you working on for 2021?
Musically, I’ve set goals for myself, & I intend to be more proactive in the studio. I have songs that are set to release before the New Year. Financially, I’ve also set realistic savings-goals for myself and intend to expand investments in my real estate business. I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing my growth and development while all those that believe in me accompany me on my journey.
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