Innovation comes in many forms. Meet the creative minds inspiring others through art.
Matt B is the definition of a hustler. Born in Oak Park and raised on the southside of Chicago, Matt has been passionate about music since a young age. He grew up in the church, which sparked his initial curiosity in music. His success in the music industry comes not only from working as an artist, but approaching life as an entrepreneur. In 2014, he signed to StarBase Records in Japan where his debut album Love & War took the number one spot in iTunes. Now, he is currently working on his next album set to release in December 2019. Learn how Matt B leverages his experience as an entrepreneur to continue driving towards success.
How did you get your start in music?
I got my start in church as a small child and singing with my brothers. From there, we ended up starting a group called “TriEnd” (pronounced “trend”). Then in 2009, I started my solo career.
Who are some people who have influenced you as an artist?
Stevie Wonder, Boyz II Men, Usher, The Temptations.
How do you embody the role of an “entrepreneur” as an artist?
One has to understand that the music industry is 90% business and 10% talent. The business portion of the music industry separates those who do this professionally from those who do this as a hobby. So education in the business aspects of music is very important in this industry because it shifts and changes so much, which is the embodiment of an entrepreneur.
Why is it important for you as an artist, to also think of yourself as an entrepreneur?
There is no difference between the two. When you think of an entrepreneur who creates a start up, no one gives them money for having a good idea. They have to show why the idea is viable. The same applies for an artist. The talent is the idea, that’s when showing viability comes into play.
What resources do you use as an entrepreneur in music to help you be successful?
Being college educated has helped me as an entrepreneur. Also, understanding the value of good connections and that a resume opens the door, but your personality is what gets you through the door. Life is a game, and even though as artists we are emotional people, we cannot allow those emotions to run our business decisions.
What recommendation or advice do you have for other music entrepreneurs?
There’s something called the 10,000 hour rule. Depending on how much time you put into your craft, it could take you anywhere from 5 years to a decade before becoming an “overnight success”. There are no shortcuts to financial wealth in the music industry. If it looks like a shortcut, you will likely end up famous and broke—which is actually worse than being broke. Also, try to be a jack of all trades. You don’t have to know everything about something. Just try to know something about everything.
What has it been like getting to work with critically acclaimed producers like Bryan-Michael Cox? Who else do you hope to collaborate with?
It was an experience of a lifetime working with B Cox, Tricky Stewart, Donnie Scantz, and The AP Factor. I always saw that experience as them helping to fine tune my craft. Learning new viable techniques that took me from being a good singer/songwriter to being a great one. They gave me vocal tips and techniques to those that came before me, like Beyonce, Usher, Mariah Carey, and more. In the future, I hope to work with Poo Bear and Polow Da Don.
How does your success in Japanese culture influence you?
The Japanese culture (and Asian culture in general) is very rich. It helped to broaden my ideas of melodies, song structure, and helped me understand the importance of lyrical content and appealing to a wide, diverse audience. I am no longer thinking in a narrow minded state and limiting myself to the bounds of what the U.S. market and my local Chicago market appeals to. It has really opened my mind in many ways.
When you’re writing a song and feel stuck, what do you do to get your creativity flowing again?
I try to experience life more abundantly when I’m experiencing writer’s block. The lyrics are in the conversation, which is something that Rhymefest, B Cox, and more have taught me over the years. Songs are a representation of life and I’m not trying to write the next hot record. With every song I write, I try to give my fans a new piece of me to discover.
I hear your next album drops soon. What’s the next step for you after that?
My new visual EP drops December 5th. After the drop, we will release two more music videos from the project. As far as 2020, y’all will have to stay in tune with me to find out. You can follow me @mattbworld for all updates, or sign up for my newsletter at www.mattbworld.com.
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This article originally published on GREY Journal.