Who Are Garey Godson & Hannes Schurig?
Garey Godson is a Warri, Nigeria born Afro-Fusionist with humble beginnings. He started an independent record label with his German friend Hannes Schurig also known as HKMK after moving to Germany for his master’s degree. 5 years later they have been able to turn their hobbies from a passion and further into professional careers. In the last 3 years they have published three bodies of work, namely, Gift Plus Grind, The Lift Off, and just recently in March 2020, the album Still I Rise.
I asked both guys how exactly they were able to get millions of streams and become recognized artists in Germany and across the world.
You guys do your music marketing yourselves. What are some techniques you’ve used to gain traction and grow?
Garey: It’s a continuous and learning process for us. We try to keep informed with the ever-growing technology and re-adapt our approach with each release. Depending on the release we plan pre and post-campaign strategies to engage the audience with new content when it drops. Also, we try to keep our eyes and ears open for new opportunities. Furthermore, creating, and maintaining relationships with our supporters is something we value.
HKMK: One of my best tools is the 20/80 rule. I try to reflect on the most valuable 20% of my work and daily activity cycles and try to optimize them every week. Furthermore, I always look for parts that I can save more time and energy on, so my systems become more efficient. I like to order things as review, track then repeat. This process also works perfectly when working in teams.
Another great asset is making connections and networking! There have been many connections that I’ve built in the past that have helped me grow as a person and as a music producer. I always focus on creating win-win situations.
What the best advice you have on building a brand as a musician:
HKMK: Trust your process & embrace it! My number 1 tool is consciously building new systems that increase my skill, energy level, and gratefulness every day. Never forget being thankful for what you have. No matter how bad it feels, your life is the fairytale of someone else!
What about that checkmark, it’s a major credibility boost as a musician. How did you get that?
Garey: I believe it’s one of those things that happen during the journey. Nowadays its possible to control the narrative around your brand by generating PR content, by taking interviews, building your website and having your music readily available on every possible platform. I don’t think it was one particular action, I think it was rather a collective effort of my team, the audience and the people on the forefront of curating culture.
HKMK: The verification process requires a strong SEO for your brand. People need to be able to identify your brand quickly. Opening up your own artist page and blog is an essential part. Good content speaks for itself and the right audience will arrive soon. I believe it’s about a content strategy plan that you follow longterm without being short term result focused.
What platforms do you believe are most important for artists to have a presence on?
Garey: I think every major platform has its own niche and audience. With fast emerging platforms such as Triller and TikTok not to mention Instagram and Twitter, the opportunities these days are endless. I think it’s about finding where you feel the most comfortable but being open to exploring other channels when the need arises as it’s a game of reaching people.
For music streaming platforms, some of the pivotal moments of my career have happened on Spotify as it regards to reach and editorial placements, nonetheless, I think Itunes, YouTube, and these other DSPs are highly relevant when looking on a global scale.
For instance, in Nigeria where I come from, downloads and radio channels are highly instrumental in breaking new acts. Streaming is a thing back home, but it still hasn’t reached its fullest potential due to the high pricing of consumer and internet-data within these regions.
HKMK: I believe that advertisements and advertising campaigns are really important nowadays because the artists who can reach their superfans are the ones having most exposure in the longterm. Tiktok has been one of the craziest apps in 2020 for viral exposure for several artists. However, we believe that one can build strong projects on every platform. It is always important to build campaigns that really bring value to people or solve an everyday problem.
You did some marketing on Tik Tok recently. How did that work, what did you do?
Garey: It was pretty good for a first to try but there’s a lot to learn on this platform. The algorithm is very different from some of the major platforms, so it requires some consistency and experimenting to figure what works best.
Be yourself but be open to refining and growing with the times. Be clear about your vision and positioning as an artist and surround yourself with creatives who understand what you’re trying to do. Be susceptible to constructive criticisms but don’t drown in them. Let your self-image be the overall guiding factor.
HKMK: Firstly, we searched for a niche and build a content strategy around it. We focused on creating 3D animations that are combined with ASMR Sound Designs. I teamed up with my very good friend @francomelanieh and we started analyzing how our videos perform in terms of likes, comments, share, and view times. Moreover, we started to network with other TikTok influencers in order to build future campaigns and get more insights about how it translates into traffic that is connected to our music on the platform.
Tell me about your biggest challenge you ever faced and how you overcame them
As an independent artist, you must take care of many things yourself. HKMK and I are responsible for most of my management. This implies that we champion the creative direction of the music from the production, digital partnerships, PR, promotion, to bookings, and brand development.
Also, you must look for the right creatives who can capture your vision in the music videos. As an artist, this requires a lot of preparedness and tough skin as you are forced to learn how to be organized and how-to multi-task. I used to think it was all about the music, but when you choose the independent route you chose to be the captain of your ship. There are times where you must fight for your vision to be properly interpreted as there are certain cases where its crystal clear in your head what direction you want to sail.
Although it’s a tedious task to take on, its also given me the understanding of how the music industry functions internally, over the years you learn how to leverage relationships, position, and represent yourself.
One other challenge I have encountered is the changes in relationships that occur during this trip. The music business and life are filled with so different characters. Along the line, you get to realize that people aren’t always who you imagined them to be. Sometimes you also just outgrow certain relationships when you discover that there’s no symbiotic value.
Are there particular people (family, mentors, books) in your life who helped you progress in your entrepreneurial journey?
Garey: I have met a couple of people who have been inspiring through this journey. HKMK definitely, has continued to push me relentlessly. I feel like we all need that one person who is always energized to keep that fuel burning. When I see how he balances several priorities, it awakens the thought that there can be no excuses.
Russ as an artist is someone who motivates me to keep going. His work ethic and passion are simply undeniable. I also just read his book “its all in your head”, I would highly recommend this one for any upcoming artist or entrepreneur. One book which also inspired me to bet on myself no matter the circumstances is “Black Privilege: Opportunity comes to those who create it” by Charlamagne Tha God. I also had a good read with “Thick face black heart” which was written by Chin Ning Chu.
My parents and loved ones have been supportive more recently, because with music I can understand why some people might be somewhat skeptical or have certain reservations at the beginning. I think the more you keep doing it, the more growth you experience, the clearer it becomes that you are in it for the long-haul.
What is your biggest advice to people to becoming a successful entrepreneur, financially, and in terms of personal growth?
I would tell a younger me, don’t expect to see the results of your labor too quickly, notwithstanding it varies for everyone. Most times what people shabbily refer to as overnight success is usually years of sacrifice, pain, and tears. It takes time to build a reputation and catalog that precedes you.
Also, I would say “don’t be afraid to start small” so many people I have come across are so afraid to start from the bottom so much that they end up not making any moves. You don’t need to have it all figured out to do it, it’s okay to learn on the way.
Any final words you want to share with our readers?
Lastly, I would say “bet on yourself and do it repeatedly”. Invest your money and resources in the things you love. In the words of J.cole “even if you let them kill your dreams it will haunt you “
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