Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CD Baby

June 17 2008

Email to me from Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby:

Hi Baba -

If this sounds like you, please let me know:

* - You've had a pretty good success doing music. (You've been a professional: made a living doing it.)

* - You enjoyed it. You'd recommend it to others.

* - You're ready to spend more paid time helping other musicians be successful, now.

I'm working on an idea for already-successful musicians to help the future-successful musicians of the world.

If you're interested in helping, please reply to my personal email and tell me your story about how those above three points apply to you.


Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby

My response:

Derek - you must spend your entire life answering emails. Okay, here's the brief version:

I have had pretty good success with music in that I have had no "day job" since 2003 and have been managing to pay my bills by performing and recording since then. The qualifier is: the music I do is rap, which some people don't consider music at all. I'm sure you're not one of those, but I do feel a bit odd identifying myself as a "musician" when I can't play any instrument nor can I carry a tune in a bucket as a singer. Like many others in my field I collaborate with producers who provide the instrumentals and I just recite my rhymes over the beat, and somehow the result is music. All I can say is thank god rap exists, because if it didn't there would be a world full of wordsmiths like myself who would have no part of the music business.

Other qualifiers/points of interest: I make a good portion of my living performing for students in schools and running workshops with young people teaching them the lyrical techniques that rappers use. It's a mixed bag for me of festivals, schools, clubs, colleges, etc, plus selling CDs after gigs and on the internet.

Final point of interest: my biggest success so far is "The Rap Canterbury Tales" which is an album-length adaptation of the 14th century stories by Geoffrey Chaucer. My story as a professional artist is unusual (unique actually) in this regard. I did a masters in English Literature, graduated in 2003, and immediately went flat-out as an entrepreneurial rap artist, touring my Rap Canterbury Tales performance around the world (on my own dollar at first and then later by invitation at festivals, colleges, etc) while recording and independently releasing my own highly literary brand of rap, which I call "Lit-Hop" (also the title of my third album). I recently started a record label and signed some other artists and released their music etc, so things are moving, although it's a boom and bust life. I'm currently on tour in the UK, and in ten days I'll be playing the Glastonbury Festival.

Some artists/entrepreneurs/musicians try to compete in a saturated market by doing what everyone else is doing, just better, faster, stronger, harder (to paraphrase Kanye). Me, I have been managing to avoid competition by literally inventing my own genre and carving out my own niche. Of course, I am aware that avoiding competition is just another competitive strategy, but it is a strategy that has so far served me well, and if my insight or consultation could help others succeed in the same way, then I'd be happy to sell that service.

If you want to know more about me or my projects, the website is: www.babasword.com

All the best from Stoke-on-Trent, England,

Baba Brinkman

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