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There are no shortcuts to building an empire : The Standard



King Kaka

Since I launched my album, I have to admit that I’ve finally been resting well, and I totally needed it.

When you’re doing what you love, you don’t feel the strain as much as you probably should. I remember I had days when I’d be up for almost a whole 24 hours.
I come across people who ask me; how do you manage to do all these things?
There’s a song called Poison in my new album where I say I have 35 hours a day and 10 days a week – meaning I work so hard that you can only equate it to having more hours than most entrepreneurs.

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Overnight success
So, how did I end up where I am?
I was disappointed with a comment from one of my fans last week.
One of the biggest artistes in Kenya paid for him to record a song in my studio. I guess when the song came out, he expected to immediately start getting shows and airplay.
Frustrated that things weren’t going his way, he got onto my page and expressed how unhappy he was with Kaka Empire. He said we only handed him the song and never marketed it.

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The fact that he commented on my wall is not the issue; it’s the fact that he was expecting overnight success, although he represents the mindset of millions of young entrepreneurs across the world.
Now let’s take this as a case study in the context of a start-up. The song is the product and the marketplace is the fan base.
Believe me, I’ve come across so many talented musicians who are not mainstream and they definitely have great songs, but one of the hardest jobs in the world is showcasing talent.
The difference
The beauty of opening a shop is that no one cares who you are, and in most cases, as the customer, you don’t even want to know the name of the shopkeeper. When you go to a shop, you’re only interested in buying milk or bread. That, to me, is a safer business.

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It means that if I want to open a shop, I’d only carry out research based on the location, my capital and delivery, and then I’d be sure to smile more. It will take a customer a few months to notice that the guy who owns the shop is called Matata or Kamau.
When it comes to music or anything to do with talent, it’s a whole different ballgame.
I have been doing music for 10 years now and launched my first album on August 22, 2008. And back then, it was harder to make an impact than it is now when getting online is cheaper and there are millions of ‘how to’ videos.
Back then, we even thought that opening a YouTube channel would need money – that’s why I don’t have my first song, Jam Nakam, on my channel.
The song was popular, so I was told to take it to someone who had a channel who would then upload it for me.

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Let me take you through the business that is music/talent. You get creative in whatever space you have, and then when you’re confident enough, you ‘put it out’ – be it a painting, documentary, dance – and wait for the public’s reaction.
If you’re lucky, the public will give you audience and as you develop your art with time, they’ll love you even more based on your personality. When you go to a shop to buy milk, very little personality is needed.
I remember when I started, I was very ambitious, just like the artiste who messaged me. I knew that one song could change my life, so I took my music to one of the stations, and figured that the following day it would be in rotation, and the shows, the money, the fame would follow.
But no one had prepared me for how hard this journey would be. After I was rejected, I had no other option but to go to Plan B.
I looked at the business angle: the radio station will play familiar songs to get ratings, which it will then sell to its clients as advertising space.
When I looked at it this way, I went back to the drawing board. I asked myself how to create demand for my music. I was prepared for rejection, but planned for success.
I built a community fan base in matatus, and every weekend I’d attend a roadshow event to showcase my work. I did that for a year consistently, and it paved the way finally. The same radio station that had rejected my song called me for an interview.
The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur. 

King KakaKaka EmpireEntrepreneurshipJobsHustle

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