Talk Story: Kimié Part 1
The music business is not an easy industry to gain traction, especially in Hawaii, so the career of indie artist, Kimié Miner, is an amazing case study. Earlier this year, the 31-year-old, singer-songwriter won “Contemporary Album of the Year” at the Na Hoku Hanohano awards for her self-titled record, “Kimié Miner.” It was a pivotal accolade for the Kamehameha Schools alum because it legitimized her years of sacrifice and hustle as an indie-artist. HawaiiBusiness.com sat down with Kimié to talk story about how she learned the music business and the cost of being independent from a big record label.
Q: How long have you been doing music full-time and what did you learn about yourself in this business?
A: I’m still learning first of all, but since 2011 I’ve been an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation): Kimié Miner Music LLC. And I’ve been just doing music since then. I didn’t know I had it in me honestly. You know because you’re just passionate about something – mine is music. To really build a business has nothing to do with music it’s a totally separate thing so it’s about wearing many different hats and knowing when to wear which hat. And, what’s going to be best for the business and what is going to be best for the artist and balancing the two.
Q: How did you learn the music business?
It was all of the above. I mean Fiji was a good friend of my dad’s and when I was first getting into the business I didn’t own my own LLC yet. He told me that you know “the thing you need to know about the music business is it has nothing to do with music and everything to do with rights – it’s important to maintain your rights.” And he is obviously so knowledgeable and so I always remembered that and I’ve definitely made mistakes and signed contracts and took the really long way to get where I was going and all of that, all of the things mixed together.
Q: Do you employ or contract a lawyer or CPA?
A: I actually just had a meeting with my lawyer, Mark Burnstein, and he is a music lawyer here and he is one of the best. So I have him now for contracts that I need to give to people and for contracts that I receive and I have a CPA, Tracey Keahi and so I have her and she is amazing and so on it. Thank God she’s on my team because I’m crazy busy and she just keeps on me, making sure everything is together.
Q: What do you think is the weirdest thing you got to write-off?
A: If I go to a concert I write that off because as an artist and a stage performer the concert is research. I’m researching how they do it. Wherever the show is all over the world I can write that off.
Q: I’m sure you have been approached by record labels, why did you make the choice to be an independent artist versus having the support of a label?
A: Right, I know. I tried that, I did try the label thing. I think I’m too much when it comes to my product. I think I am a perfectionist and I will sit there for I don’t care how many hours or days it takes to make it where I feel like it’s good enough. I want to have the creative control, but now that I’m kind of running my record label and doing all that kind of stuff I’m realizing how much work it is. I am totally down to partner and work with other people, other labels or companies as long as it’s in writing and it says I have the creative control to do these things. I respect other companies like other record labels that got it together as long as they respect what I want, too.
Q: When did you feel like you could make it as an indie artist?
A: Maybe this year – really. I’m watching my business expand from just the three of us to now I have my lawyer, well I always had my CPA, but I’m just like seeing my business growing and so I’m seeing more money coming in and I’m spending more money, but more money is coming in. I’m really starting to feel like, “Whoa this is starting to feel like a business!” It feels really crazy, but it’s exciting. I’m trying to be this business women, but also still be able to be creative because I find that I don’t have enough time in the day to finish writing that song I was working on and that is why I’m really trying to build my team so that I can give it to them and I can still at the end of the day be the business owner.
Q: What are the challenges of being an indie artist?
A: There are many – not having enough time in the day, not having proper staff or enough staff, and finances.
Q: Who do you depend on most professionally?
A: My manager, my whole team there’s three of us. There is my manager and my assistant so it’s my manager, Kimo Kennedy, and he’s in Austin, and my assistant who also helps with tour managing, Kailua Horwitz.
Q: How important is giving back to your community?
A: In Hawaii everyone is about giving and giving-back you. For me a big thing is my community. I feel responsible to give back to my people and to my community. So I work with two non-profits. I work with Nakama Kai and Mana Maoli and both of those are for children. Nakama Kai is an ocean-based program where we teach kids about ocean safety and taking care of the ocean from a cultural standpoint so they see it from a cultural views with Hawaiian values and its free for the kids once a month. And then the other one, Mana Maoli, is for 13 public charter schools in the state of Hawaii and I actually go there and sing with them. We actually wrote an alma mater for Kawaikini Public Charter School on Kauai.
Q: What is your overall career goal?
A: My goal is to branch out and be global. I really want to be global, I really want people in Africa and Portugal to be able to hear my music and recognize it and know it and I want to share my culture and I want to leave a legacy for Hawaii, that’s what I really what I want to do.