Excuse any holes, this is a work-in-progress.
Frying in Vein (FiV for short – pronounced like the number) is a phrase that signifies passion. I, Hubert Sawyers III – Peer Pressure Cooker, came up with it while brainstorming lyrics for a song. That’s right. I tried my hand at building a music career as the hip hop artist, GAMBIT THE MC. I had a decent run, but I ran out of gas before I hit my biggest revelation – I was not organized enough to be efficient in my marketing efforts. Then once I realized the error of my ways, I had lost my zeal to create music.
Don’t be sad for me, it was this miseducation that I received while trying to build myself up as a viable artist that led me to learning more about marketing and the value of having SMART goals and a plan for a music business. Well, any business, rather.
Fast forward being down-in-the-dumps as a failed artist and a day job career that was going nowhere, I decided I needed a change. This pushed me to where everyone now goes for answers – The Internet. This was about late 2009 and I decided I wanted to start a business, but I didn’t know what kind of business. Regardless I got with a friend to set up my first limited liability company called SORSAW. SORSAW is now a boutique creative integrated marketing agency that specializes in digital communications.
While I was trying to figure out what to do with my LLC, I started FiV as a music blog, which I quickly deemed to be a doomed enterprise. My work with SORSAW drew a genuine interest in music entrepreneurship and all facets that are related to the business of music. It is this interest that has Frying in Vein Music Business Services – a company of SorSaw Enterprises, LLC – where it is today.
I do not profess to have all the answers and I definitely do not believe there is one answer. I do believe that every business has core elements that need to exist in order it to be successful in the long-term. You will not find much “quick-and-easy” talk here. I believe in doing things the right way and a lot of time, it is not quick and many times it is not as easy as most would appreciate. If you are in it for the long haul and you would like practical guidance on being in the music business long-term, then you have come to the right place.
Music Marketing Experience
At Michigan State University, I did a small stint on WDBM – Impact 89FM, a student-run radio station. There I learned the value of positioning your music in a way that compels discerning music fans to consider listening to it. This was also when I met Alexander “Benny Ben” Moore, who became not only a great friend, but a great teacher and mentor in the hip hop space. Benny will eventually become my DJ for performances, which we eventually parlayed our inside jokes built over time into an act that we called Team Double-Stuf Oreo (DSO for short).
It was after college that I took the plunge and made my hip hop music a priority. I connected with the extended collective of the hip hop group, Starving Artists Crew, and recorded a four-song demo. Regardless of my opinion of the quality, there were many that saw my potential. A resulting twelve-inch single was supposed to have been released on SAC Records for a song titled “Lemme Tell You Somethin’,” due to the demo. It has not happened. Yet. 😉
After recording the demo, I started to cut my teeth on stages across Detroit and Lansing. Using my extensive college network, I found I was able to drive a lot of people to see me play, which then led to me booking my own events. This pushed me to learn more about merchandising, print marketing and public relations to help make my events profitable as I quickly learned that the margin for an event was really slim.
My main venue where I booked events was Mac’s Bar, which is on the the southeastern edge of Lansing and only a short drive to East Lansing. This forced me to expand my music network to find other artists to perform at my shows. It is a common practice for artists to book their own shows and then trade gigs with other artists in other markets. This got me performing in Ann Arbor and Detroit a lot more. I used to joke that I was the Harriet Tubman to hip hoppers looking to get to Lansing, which had a booming scene at the time.
In my show booking career, I had the honor of bringing in J-Zone, Thes One of People Under The Stairs and the legendary raunchy funk artist, Blowfly. My best show was a 25th birthday party I threw for myself that marked Starving Artists Crew’s last performance, Thes One and DJ House Shoes. I made the most money I had ever made on an event that night, which was $1400.
Performance-wise, I have opened for Blueprint, Mr. Lif, Camp Lo and countless others in the underground hip hop scene in the early 2000s. You might notice none of the artists that I booked are ones I can take credit for sharing a stage. I never played many of the shows I booked, because I put in a lot of work on both my performances and marketing my events. It was quickly apparent I could not do both or one would suffer. A lesson I struggle to accept even to this day.
I had a good run though. I took a little break after losing money and embarassing myself booking Blowfly, which still turned out to be a good show.
While I was on my music scene hiatus, I really got into helping my other friends still in the struggle better position themselves to find greater success. People like SelfSays, Dante LaSalle, D. Allie of United States of Mind and Progress Report and Zerostarwere friends of mine that I knew from the hip hop scene that I used to just annoy with my advice to actually having them come back to me to run all their ideas before implementation.
After talking with so many of my buddies about possibly being their manager, I finally convinced D. Allie to use my ideas and let me manage them for me. He got Eddie Logix of MidCoast Most to buy into it and off we went. We successfully raised $5000 on Kickstarter to afford to replicate CDs, hire a publicist and build a custom website. The thing that drew me to wanting work with them was D. Allie’s vast connections, Eddie’s prolific production and the business plan and sponsorship documents that were drawn up – by them – for their enterprise.
Doc ILLingsworth is a rapper-producer, who I met through his work with his group, Detroit CYDI. At one point, I tried to manage the group, but had to suspend that relationship due to me being too green on the business. Detroit CYDI makes great music, so I still consult them and their Axis of Greatness comrades often.
Right now, Doc and I are setting the foundation for his music empire. He has many projects in the works and now we are putting together a strategy and a subsequent plan on how to keep things going once they start.
Professional Accomplishments and Affiliations
Brand Camp U