Having made their names as hip hop artists, both Joe and Altimet also run successful businesses. On the final day of MA2016, they were centre stage, not for a performance, but to share their insights for a panel on the topic “From Artist to Entrepreneur: My Way”. Here are some of the things they said about their own journeys.
1. They saw themselves as entrepreneurs from the start.
One of the key points that came across was that they found being hip hop artists and entrepreneurs were not mutually exclusive of each other.
At the beginning, the hip hop industry in Malaysia was barely burgeoning, and Altimet spoke on how they had to learn to do things by themselves and solve problems, which is exactly what entrepreneurs do.
When they saw problems in the industry, or opportunities, they took them. For instance, Joe’s hairstyles were always commented on, and he found that people were eager to know who he recommended as a stylist. This inspired him to open his own barbershop, which now has 5 branches all over the Klang Valley.
2. They surrounded themselves with the right people.
“The hardest part is trying to convince others to believe in your vision,” said Altimet, and Joe echoed his sentiments, adding, “There are people who don’t want to see you succeed, they want to see you fail, and they can even be members of your own family. It’s very important to identify the people who are positive and keep them in your crew.”
Joe also said it having doubters and haters could actually be turned into an advantage, because having these people can be a motivation to work harder. But, too much of them will distract you from what you’ve set out to do, so the true believers and encouragers are the ones you should keep close by.
3. Giving up wasn’t an option.
Joe spoke on how when he was working on his first album as part of Too Phat, he had gone around to all the major record labels around KL, only to be rejected by every single one. He was told, “It’s not going to work, it’s not going to sell.”
Eventually, after they had produced the album on their own, they finally managed to get signed onto a label, but it took six months of rejections and of no one believing in their vision.
4. They created their own opportunities.
Like Joe, Altimet also couldn’t get signed to a record label when starting out, so he founded his own.
He was also inspired to start BENUA, a clothing line for men when he attended hijab fairs and noticed that although a good 50% of the attendees were male, only a small number of booths catered specifically to them.
Despite being told that it was not going to work, he persevered, and BENUA has already been part of the Malaysia International Fashion Week 2015 and is preparing for Festival 2017 and a Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
5. Having little or no money was used to their advantage.
Owning your own record label means that you cover the costs for everything. Since they were renting studios by the hour, they ended up being very efficient with their time, as each minute less spent on working on the song meant money saved.
They ended up trying to cut down the time needed to make a song, and they got better at it as time passed.
Altimet shared that this trait serves him well even to today as he balances being an artist and entrepreneur, as he is able to work quickly when he needs to.
6. They make music as a work of art, but sold it as a product.
Even if you see your work as a piece of art and something that is priceless, you have to be clear about drawing the line when it comes to business. Joe and Altimet spoke about wearing many hats when running their businesses and being able to switch hats when necessary.
“You may have a lot of passion as an entrepreneur, but in business and finance, you cannot let passion get in your way of doing things properly, because all that matters is the bottom line,” said Altimet.
When the creative work becomes a product, it has to be valued—how much will others pay for the product or service? The businessman has to go out and make sure the product sells, so that the artist persona can give it all out in the studio to continue doing what he has to do.
Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) aims to build a Sustainable Entrepreneurship Ecosystem by catalysing creativity & innovation for long term nation impact. For its third installment, MaGIC Academy (#MA2016) gathered serial entrepreneurs, founders, philanthropists, investors, corporate leaders and startup enthusiasts from across the globe. You can follow MaGIC on Instagram and Twitter for more information: @magic_cyberjaya
Feature Image Credit: esplanade.com and mynewshub.cc