Nikolaus Becker Interviews Creatives

Interview with 19-year-old Emmy-nominated Singer/Songwriter Addie Hamilton MackinCarroll

  1. Did you have a business plan when starting your business? “No, I did not have an official business plan but in the back of my mind my goal initially was to get my music to a large audience. That gave me direction with what I needed to accomplish.”
  2. Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship? Coming from what I have experienced, you need something of substance for people to take you seriously. From a younger female point of view, you have to have some sort of direction and composure in your work when presenting it to other people. In the music industry it is hard to get anywhere alone. You need people to take you seriously and a business plan demonstrates your direction.”
  3. Three pieces of advice for creative entrepreneurs? 1) Use the Internet because it shows a lot of stats on where your fans are. Other than my following in Orange County, I was able to see that I had a pretty decent size following in Europe by using data charts. I also post on social media and promote for people and that makes up a majority of my revenue. For some reason people find it interesting to look at me.”        

2) “Look at your music as a brand. It is not just the sound that is important, as any modern artist might say. It is visual as well, whether it is music videos or appearance on posters. Yeah, I am looking at it more holistically than just the music itself. I got lucky with my genre because when people normally think of jazz they think of Frank Sinatra and all the old starlets but it was easy to differentiate myself because I was a teenage girl with the same sound.” 3) “Don’t be shy about going out there. I was 17, skipping my last class (if my teacher allowed me) a few times a week to go up to LA. It was intimidating being young and trying to get your feet wet into an industry. As long as you pretend or talk yourself into you know what you’re doing a lot of people with buy into it. So, yeah, that’s my advice. Don’t be shy and just do it!”

Interview with Songwriter Mackin Carroll (Founder of The Nova Darlings and Addie HamiltonProjector)

  1. Did you have a business plan when starting your business? “Only a budget”
  2. Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship? A sense of direction is always necessary although at the end of the day, it’s about making the art. Personally, I like to put a lot of work into my music before I know what to do with it. You need a plan of attack as far as distributing because there is no exact medium for music. Now I have to email blogs every night, hit up podcasts, put stuff on Soundcloud/Bandcamp, and be genuine about it too. Expense-wise you need to be creative with what you can realistically afford.”
  3. Did you have any unexpected road bumps? “Just a lot of personal insecurities. You have days when your music is the greatest thing ever and days when you hate your work. It’s hard not to take it personally when you are putting all of your time and personality into your creative work.”
  4. How do you get gigs? “Lots of desperate emails to venue owners, having a website, and two EPs professionally recorded really helps. Be persistent with your emails and genuine. Don’t copy and paste emails to event owners or email them in all CAPS saying ‘We are the dopest band ever, let us play at your bar!’ It is also about talking to people and becoming involved in the music community. I get a lot of shows as a result from hanging out with the right people, but I don’t try to do it in a ‘networky’ kind of way. It is all very genuine. The more you become involved in the community, the more it gives back in dividends.”
  5. Three pieces of advice for creative entrepreneurs? 1) Even though I got a few income statements from Spotify and iTunes, it wasn’t worth the cost I had to pay to be featured on those sites through CD Baby as an independent artist. As an independent artist you shouldn’t make money through record sales but by playing gigs. 2) Record labels are all entrepreneurial…they are looking for people with a fan base. This is also encouraging because you get to build your brand around yourself instead of letting other people take creative control. 3) As a musician, really utilize Soundcloud and social media. Soundcloud is awesome because you can see the metadata regarding the people looking at your content. I also try to play shows with bands that I align myself with creatively. Often times I will be like, ‘I like that persons fan base, I am going to try to get the opening spot for their concert.’”

Interview with Brandon Ponce owner of a lifestyle brand geared towardsbrandonponce“creatives”                      

  1. Did you have a business plan when starting your business? There was no actual business plan but there was a vision, and once that vision aligned with how I was going to work and become profitable, everything came into action. My business just eventually developed through trial and error.”
  2. Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Yeah 100%. Looking back, I really wish I had developed a more formal in-depth business plan. Everything happens for a reason.”

  1. How did you gain traction on Soundcloud with your music blog?

“I think I have reached a little under 1200 people now. When I started doing the monthly collections, people started liking the fact it was all on one playlist. People want to go somewhere where they can stream music continuously in one simple, easy user-friendly location. But I would definitely say I started gaining traction when I would consistently release stuff on a monthly basis.”

  1. Three pieces of advice for creative entrepreneurs? 1) There are a ton of people out there in the world doing the same stuff. It is all about how you are going to separate yourself. It can be the smallest things. Like with ‘Wasted Creation’ and the actual box I ship merchandise out in. Every single I time I go into the post office the box is colored in a unique pattern and the mail guy always compliments me. It is the little things. 2) You are going to fail. No one is going to take you seriously at first. 3) Don’t tell people your ideas- not in a private information type way. Don’t over-hype your ideas. When you are a creative entrepreneur, you are a businessman and you are also an artist. You have to wear a lot of hats. People talk a lot. Go out there and do it.”

Interview Analysis

Each creative I strategically chose to interview. Every single one was in my personal age range and had sprung up a creative venture revolving around their personalities and passions. I have watched each of these three creative minds launch their business from a grassroots level and I wanted to gain insight as to the do’s and don’ts of the music/creative industry. My main goal by talking to these three individuals was to gain further knowledge about gaining traction when kick-starting a music venture. Although every individual I interviewed did not have a business plan, each one had a certain vision in mind and was able to create something out of their ideas. Looking back on their trials, each creative recommended a set business plan. Addie said that for anybody to really take you seriously, you need something that shows direction and substance. So, in my case, that might mean having a chunky portfolio of songs, digital content, list of shows I have played, and a formal business plan. That way it makes my venture look more appealing and feasible to a record label when I am trying to make those next big steps forward, especially since record companies are in it for the revenue. They are looking for individuals with distinctive qualities.

Addie perfectly embodies a sense of brand in her product. She is her product essentially. She transformed her love for early 1900’s jazz/swing and turned it into a profitable business. Addie talked about the importance of having visual and audio cohesion. My music venture is a brand. Addie taught me that I need to refine my visuals and focus them strongly on the direction of my music and at the same time be unique and genuine about it.

Brandon Ponce inspired me to look at the little details of my business plan and change them in the slightest way to separate myself. Because Brandon wasn’t expecting a huge rush of followers on his Soundcloud, it proved the point that people are looking for consistency and simplicity with their digital content!

One thing that really resonated with me was Mackin’s advice to stay away from iTunes and Spotify as an independent artist. As an independent artist, you have to pay fees through third party platforms such as CD Baby in order to be featured on iTunes and Spotify. Mackin suggested waiting until I have some sort of traction through free music via Soundcloud and then attack those bigger record deals. He stressed the fact that you shouldn’t focus on song sales as a primary source of sustainable income until you have a record label behind you. Every interviewee I talked to had said that as an independent artist, gigs are the primary form of income. Mackin also made me realize that once my music is on Soundcloud, there is a lot of extra work aside from playing shows. Getting shows seems to be very hard until you have gained a reputation in your community. My plan of attack is to build my portfolio so that it will look appealing to talent seekers. Then it is going to take countless genuine emails of substance and personal security to channel my vision into a profitable source of income. In order to further gain potential customers, Mackin gave me the great idea of trying to open for artists in my area with a fan base similar to my target audience.

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