In an hour-long sitdown on the podcast Independent Living, Brooklyn’s Kota the Friend explains why he opened his flagship store in Harrisburg. PA, the importance of genuine fans, the moment his music became profitable, his passion for helping independent artists, and more.
In his most recent interview appearance, Kota the Friend spoke with COO of BeatStars and ex Funk Volume Co-Founder Dame Ritter on his new podcast Independent Living. The podcast highlights the stories of the world’s most successful independent creators. Together, Ritter and Kota discuss some vital aspects of being independent, which Kota and his brand fltbys have used to accelerate growth.
Flagship FLTBYS (Flight Boys) store in Harrisburg, PA
Kota often gets asked why he chose Harrisburg, PA as the location for his retail FLTBYS store. He elucidated on this point further when asked by Dame in the interview.
“In the city of Harrisburg, PA, one of my friends lived out there and he said he was thinking about buying property out there. And this is at a time when I didn’t even have an apartment. I was renting an apartment from a friend who last minute didn’t want me to be there… My Dad brought it to my attention, ‘you should look into that spot in Harrisburg.’ So we checked it out, and I bought a property. And that’s where I put my store. It made sense.”
In addition to the life circumstances that led Kota to Harrisburg, he explains how the area surrounding his retail store is really nice, with good restaurants, a movie theater, and a growing neighborhood.
A Loyal Fanbase
In a pivotal moment in the interview, Dame asks Kota about a typical member of his fanbase. What is their demographic? What do they do? Where are they? Who does your music resonate with?
Kota answers: “Genuine people. People always talk about when they come to my show how good the people are in the crowd, like, ‘this is the coolest crowd’. And I agree, just because of the people I meet at my shows. All super chill and kind people…People have proposed to their girlfriends at my shows.”
Kota goes on to discuss how he was very intentional with his artist name, image, and the message that he puts out through his music. He creates for his fans. With the hopes that his lyrics and actions will help people, and build a positive community. Starting with the concept that, as he says, “Everybody needs a friend.”
Kota Wants to Help Independent Artists Win
Dame goes on to ask Kota the Friend about his passions surrounding starting a label or helping other artists win.
“I have the desire to work with other artists, but I don’t want to have a label or anything near it. I kind of want to create a way I can help artists win, and win at the same time. Without having to sign anything or signing percentages or rights to me. I just want to create together. Create something dope that helps them, and helps me. I would love to create content for artists and have my signage in their videos, and my company’s signage in it.”
As Kota the Friend and FLTYBS continue to reach more independent artists through opportunities like Flight Night, one can expect both artist and company to take a more hands-on approach toward leading the new guard of independent talent.
Money in Music
“I didn’t even know there was money in music”, Kota shares when asked to reminisce about the early stages of his career. “I wasn’t a signed artist, I didn’t really expect to get paid independently. It just kind of happened. At the beginning of it, I just said ‘if I can put a roof over my head and feed my son that would be it. And I stuck to that. The first time I realized I had money in my Tunecore, I checked it. And I had $8,000 in my account.”
Kota makes clear that early in his career, he was focused on the art, not the money. He wanted enough to provide for his family. The lesson an aspiring artist can take from this is to focus on the art first. Once you create a sound that’s special, the money will come.
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