Talk Story: Kimié Part 2

October, 2016

As most savvy business people know, doing business in Hawaii is all about relationships. The music business is no different. Just ask singer-songwriter Kimié Miner, Before she could win the “Contemporary Album of the Year” at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards she had to record her self-titled album and that is not a low-cost endeavor. Luckily for her, the indie-artist has a great relationships with people so she got a deal on studio time and production. Kimié broke down all the costs for us in this candid interview.

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Q: Your genre of music is not traditional Hawaiian, what do you call it?

A: So many things, I used to always say acoustic soul reggae that was my thing, but now, with this new album it changed the game, because now there are all of these other genres that are incorporated in it. So it’s hard to pinpoint a name but I’m guessing kind of like pop.

Q: Where did you record your Hoku-award-winning album?

So there’s 11 tracks and thank God [Blue Planet Studios] gives me a deal. We spent 48 hours straight in the studio working and sleeping in the studio on the chair. In the studio it was probably around $20,000 for everything – for the production of the music – and that’s actually a deal because all these people worked within my budget. After, I had to hire the art work guy and then the actual making of the CDs, shipping and then the ordering of the CDs. The CDs themselves was about $9,000. I ordered 3,000 CDs and it cost me about another $10,000 for the production of the CDs.

Q: So where did you get the $30,000 to produce the album?

A:  I take out loans. I did look at grants and even that [Office of Hawaiian Affairs] loan, but it was only $19,000 and I needed more than that. I started out with $10,000 then I knew I needed more so I took out $20,000 more and then I actually took out $10,000 more dollars to promote a music video.

Q: How much did it cost to produce the video?

A: The song was “Trouble” and that’s the fourth the track on the album. I spent $30,000 for this [record] and I’m stoked. I put in a lot of time and effort and then I’m like, “okay we got to promote the product.” We did the “Bottom Of A Rainbow” video, but that was with Waiola [coconut water]. That was just a fun and fast thing and then this one I actually filmed back in September [2015] in L.A. in the desert and it was about $10,000 to shoot – that’s super low cost and I got the bomb deal. The most expensive thing was the owl. Yeah, the owl was $2,000. The owl was the diva of the day, but the payoff was epic. I wanted to push more main stream and I wanted to broaden my audience. Joel Lagoane was the producer of the music video. He was also the director and editor and is a good friend of mine. He really gave me a good deal and helped put everything together. This wouldn’t have happened for $10,000 without him it would have been more like $30,000.

Q: What is your biggest source of income?

A: It’s shifting. I know for a fact that in the music business where its most lucrative is in shows – live shows and that’s where everyone is shifting all their money for marketing, but for me it’s kind of a mix with shows and merchandise. Because I am a song writer too I get all of my publishing and that’s really where I make a lot of steady income. When I’m sleeping it’s money that’s always coming in.

Q: Interesting.

A: When the song is made there is the singer like Brittany Spears, but she didn’t write the song, right? But Brittany Spears gets a small percentage from radio play and from wherever the music is, but the person who wrote the song is the one who gets the money. It’s like if a movie wanted to use the song Brittany Spears wouldn’t get anything it would be the song writer.

Q: Do you get that royalties every time they play your song on the radio?

A: Yes, as a song writer. So can you just imagine people who write a hit song – it’s crazy.

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Q: So what can you expect from them just playing your song on a radio station like KQMQ 93.1 Da Paina?

A: It’s not even per song, it’s by per one million spins or something crazy. I don’t know if it’s a million, but it’s not by per song and then you get like pennies. It’s not a lot, but if your song is playing around the whole world for pennies, millions of times a day then that’s how make good money. A lot of it though now is streaming music online so you get paid for that, too.

Q: And how important is that to you offer your music in a streaming service?

A: It’s super important, especially because I’m still growing and trying to grow my fan base. It’s important that people in Portugal or Africa can hear it, too. And that’s all a part of distribution and this is the first time I have ever signed with a distributor, I signed with Mountain Apple. So I delivered them the product. They are not the label. I’m the label, but they are distributing it so that it’s able to be played and streamed in stores. They do physical and digital distribution for me.

Q: How has that relationship been?

A: Great, I mean obviously the record sales were not what they once were so they have to be more creative in how they are going to get the CDs out and push them, but they know their markets, like ABC stores or 7-Elevens. They know what to push, which CDs and they really do go by that when they are putting them up for the Japanese versus locals.

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Daniel Ikaika Ito