BIM believes that Internet and social media provide unprecedented opportunity for artists, but she feels it has to be harnessed properly.
Why are the founders launching into the deep of an industry abandoned by so many in the last decade to start Breaking Indie Music (BIM)—yet another platform offering opportunities to enhance artists' career efforts?
"Despite all appearances, BIM is actually a nascent tech company," says cofounder Marci Kenon. "We are starting from a point of familiarity, and for us that is artist development and music event production. There are tech opportunities being missed in the music industry because it has been so resistant to the inevitable change that has altered the landscape over the years. 'Going with the flow' opens the mind to possibilities that are otherwise overlooked. We are getting glimpses of what can be, and we are positioning ourselves to usher them into reality."
Kenon believes that Internet and social media provide unprecedented opportunity for artists, but she feels it has to be harnessed properly. "Technology gives a false sense of hope that if I have 1,000 likes and 10,000 followers, I have a flourishing career," she says shaking her head. "That is simply delusional. Ritch Esra of Music Registry, a strategic partner of this venture, stressed the incredible work ethic necessary for an independent artist to flourish. We see BIM as an extension of the artists' efforts as well as those of management and booking."
Recently, Kenon tapped BIM cofounder Alicia Hollins to join her. Hollins is a friend and past business partner with whom she started the Urban Focus Music Foundation (UFMF).
"It's a similar mission," Hollins says. "Just a different vehicle, broader audience and a broader future on the technology side." Hollins sighs recalling the humble beginnings of Urban Focus and the enormous effort required to launch the conference. "Make no mistake, BIM is a bootstrap project launched on a wing and a prayer," she continues. "But that was the case when we started Urban Focus and watched the conference grow from 65 paid registrants the first year to 500 sold out in the second.
"Utilizing a bartered website, a partnership with Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and an advisory board of executives from the Recording Academy, Wherehouse Entertainment, Discmakers and EMI Music Publishing helped us make that leap. We know the formula, and we know from experience that it works."
Marci Kenon, BIM co-founder/CEO, grew up in Harlem. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in journalism and International Relations. She has written the hip-hop column and features for Billboard magazine and Launch/Yahoo. She has interviewed Diana Ross, Russell Simmons, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Nelly, Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes), OutKast and Mona Scott-Young, to name a few.
Kenon also produced the documentary "Higher Ground: Voices of Contemporary Gospel Music" and the accompanying CD "Higher Ground: Hip-Hop Reformed & Reborn" with Violet Brown of Strange Music and in partnership with Image Entertainment, an international distributor. Kenon and Brown would team-up again for the production of UrbanFest, a two-day event held at USC and featuring performances by over 30 acts including Boyz II Men, Seal Paul, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Wailing Souls, Common, and DJ Quik.
Alicia Hollins, BIM co-founder/COO, produced a popular local L.A. cable show entitled "Hot Buttered Soul" giving aspiring performing artists exposure. As the Creative Director of an independent music publishing company, Hollins coordinated with film directors and music producers and guided a production team of songwriters, artists, and musicians to create and record original songs for the company.
Hollins most recently founded THE EIGHT, a non-profit organization providing business consultation and professional tools to teens and adults who aspire to become successful entrepreneurs. Those affordable tools include full-color business cards and post cards as well as state-of-the-art websites to help transform "hobbies" into lucrative careers. Hollins has custom-designed over 300 websites for startups and small businesses.