Featured Artist: BRANDYN BURNETTE
Brandyn Burnette is a progressive soul artist from St. Louis, Missouri whom, despite his young age has hundreds of songs under his belt and has toured with the likes of John Mayer and James Bay. Since leaving Warner in 2014 he is now carving out his own path as an independent artist in Los Angeles.
You have almost 40k fans on Facebook and 64k followers on Twitter. How did you achieve this?
I’ve been cultivating a fanbase ever since the Myspace days. I’d post my early demos & acoustic songs. Eventually, in 2014 I released my first mixtape. That’s when Twitter really started coming together. I gave music away for free in an era when people were complaining about streams and sales. I think people are attracted to the fact that they know this is my therapy first & business second.
What does a typical day in the life of Brandyn Burnette look like?
I wake up, make some coffee & answer emails with my girlfriend Molly Moore who is also an artist. I’ve been into the probiotic drink from Whole Foods called Green Vibrance. I mix up a cup of that with some water & kick start my day with whatever musical or business tasks I have. Some days it’s meetings, others it's recording sessions. Some days I’m rehearsing for a show and others I’m planning a video or photoshoot for the next project. I’m always creating, it’s my drug of choice. Never really a dull moment besides when I’m asleep.
How did you get started in music?
I got involved in theatre & arts when I was in high school. My older sister went to NYU for musical theatre, so I basically just aspired to do the same. I remember auditioning thinking that there was no way I’d ever get the chance to leave my town. When I got the acceptance letter I was so excited, but equally disappointed because I knew how expensive it was. A few weeks later when I got the full scholarship letter I broke down in tears. It was the happiest moment of my life. I remember when I got to New York and met my first producer. I took my songs I wrote in my bedroom at 15 and recorded them… Which eventually led to my first manager and first publishing deal. Taking the risk to drop out of school for music was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Besides composing for yourself, you've also written and co-written a lot of songs for other artists like MKTO, Jake Miller and Charlie Puth, to name a few. How did you facilitate co-writes with other artists and get your songs pitched?
I never really imagined myself as a songwriter at first. I always knew I wrote songs for myself but never thought about the idea of doing it for others. Even when I moved from New York to Los Angeles after leaving school, I was so focused on developing my own talent that I never really tried writing for others. But I did learn what co-writing was and how to best use my voice and ideas in sessions with great collaborators. When I got signed to Warner Bros by Kara DioGuardi, who is a publisher as well as a writer, she set me up with a lot of the top producers/writers. I feel like that’s where I got a lot of my training. Mike Caren from WMG also mentored me during my time at Warner. No regrets.
What is your favorite part of being an artist?
My favorite part of being an artist is performing. Creating probably comes second. Communicating with fans is third. The rest is just all part of the gig.
How much of the day to day of managing your career do you do yourself? Is your music your full time job or do you have a "day job”?
I do music full time although I consider getting a job nearly every month. That’s the gamble of the game. My manager is really good at being a 360 degree manager. He helps keep my schedule in order which can get tricky when times get busy.
I understand you've been through the whole, signed by a major label and shelved by said major label..? What have you learned from that experience? How is your life as different as an independent artist versus a major label artist?
The greatest lesson I learned at a major was who I was not. It’s a lot harder as an independent artist, but it’s a lot more rewarding. Each day is a success because the goals are realistic and not farfetched - as some major labels tend to do with new signings. It’s a lot easier to see money being independent because I’m creating everything from the music, the artwork, the visuals to the sound of the records all myself. There’s no middle man. There’s no fancy studios. Just a kid with a dream. I think the future is gonna be limitless and hopefully more artists take the independent route. Not to say “F you” to the system. But to create something you truly love and control. Now is more important time than ever to make something that lasts. Everything is so temporary.
What do you consider the biggest achievement of your career so far?
I think hearing my song on the radio this year has probably been the biggest achievement of my career so far! I hope there is more to come. My future goals are to tour the world.
Your bio on Allmusic.com says "... his sharp, funky, and fresh songwriting caught the attention of industry execs." What is your advice on going from completely on your own to getting a team together?
I think your teams would start with a good CEO and that’s you. Nobody else can know your vision like you. If you don’t have a vision yet, that’s okay. Next you need a strong MANAGER. Someone who can speak on your behalf but always consults you on major moves in your career. This needs to be somebody you can trust. Next up, go get yourself a real go getter LAWYER. You need somebody that people revere. You need somebody that’s not afraid to fight for what is in your best interest. Next, find some MUSICIANS. Whether its producers, songwriters, singers, guitar players, DJ’s. Find people who want to create and create with them. Every day.
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