One one, two, three, four, five, six thousand. Hmm, sounds strangely familiar to counting stacks in your daydreams. Could the synth-swathed opening vocals of DJ and producer Jenifa Mayanja’s 2017 track ‘Counting Too Many’ be any more fitting to a discussion about success?
The Electronic Music Production & Performance tutor has been kicking ass in the underground house scene for more than 25 years, since staking her claim in New York in the early ’90s. In that time, the tenacious Uganda-born musician has amassed an impressive body of work as a producer, remixer, songwriter, vocalist and sometime spoken word artist.
Her unstoppable demand sees her regularly playing venues around the world. Last year alone, she gigged in USA, Albania, Spain, Italy, UK, Portugal, France, Malta and, of course, Germany. Jenifa is also the founder of eclectic label Bumako Recordings and the co-founder of forward-thinking female-only label Sound Warrior. If anyone has a few success secrets up her sleeve, it’s gotta be our resident deep house powerhouse.
As part of our Career Fuel series, Jenifa penned her perspective on how to make it in the music business. And, you guessed it, it ain’t all about the money.
The Secret Sauce
“Know thyself as a human being, first of all; only then can your greatness as an artist blossom.”
How to be successful in the music business and make lots of money… Okay, so I’m kidding around. You’ll be broke but you will be happy you are living the dream? There is no one way to be successful in the music business but I think most paths to achieving success share some fundamental elements.
Know thyself as a human being, first of all; only then can your greatness as an artist blossom. Knowing yourself means knowing your strengths, weaknesses, drives and purpose. All these things ultimately contribute to how you create music.
Define what success means to you
Some people define success by how many sales of a release they get; some by how many clicks on a Facebook post; others by finishing a track. Knowing what success means to you will save you a lot of heartache and, essentially, envy of what others seem to have that you don’t. ‘Succeed’ is a verb though and you can always redefine it as you grow and change.
Be consistent and persistent
Have you ever seen a blockbuster movie with a seemingly unknown actor being announced as a breakout star? Or, in the music scene, an artist you’ve never heard of suddenly getting major play? It could be all hype and PR machines, especially in the age of social media. But sometimes, the recognition is actually down to that person toiling away year after year. They have been constantly honing their craft, improving and staying true to who they are as an artist. Then one day it all clicks with the perfect opportunity. Don’t change who you are as an artist to fit trends. Be consistent and persistent in doing you!
The secret sauce: be kind and respectful to people
This is something that so many artists, on a small or bigger scale, just don’t pay enough attention to these days. When you are kind, and show respect, people do make an effort to remember who you are. And, by the way, you never know how that small kindness or show of respect might lead to an opportunity that otherwise might have gone to someone else.
Read more success tips from our music team. Tutor of Creative Music Production & Sound Engineering and Electronic Music Production & Performance Brian Ledgwidge Flynn reflects on ‘The Unanswered Question.’