CAMARILLO, California–In the hip hop world, more artists are electing to stay independent, but in doing so, they face the reality of running their own careers. They have to handle everything from creating their own music, to designing merchandise, to marketing their brand and their songs. While independent artists maintain the autonomy their major record label counterparts traditionally have given up, they still must wear many hats. It raises the question of the pros and cons of being independent. On the one hand, staying independent usually means the artist keeps control of their music, but it also means they may need to perform tasks normally handled by the different departments at a private label. Gifted Stoners, led by its Founder Barion Smith, or BjMrclean Zeus, is one company working to help independents manage their music careers by helping them to write their hip hop songs and designing merchandise.
Can Artists Stay Independent While Still Working With a Team?
The imagination of an artist can produce many ideas, and this is certainly true of independents. However, with no one to help them navigate the complexities of the music world, the artist may struggle to bring that idea to reality.
“In talking to our independents, we have learned that many of them think that in order to be a ‘true, real artist,’ they have to do everything themselves, but this isn’t always the case,” Gifted Stoners says. “The music industry is constantly evolving, and today, an independent has the possibility of surrounding themselves with a strong, creative team that will help execute their vision while still maintaining autonomy over much of their work.”
Defining those roles and the line between independent and loss of autonomy can be tricky, the company allows. “Our independents have told us that they are looking for an architect: someone who will assemble a team to build the whole house instead of the house plus its plumbing. Having this, they say, gives them the confidence in their work that they can share the responsibility of their creations.”
How Gifted Stoners Is Coming Alongside Independents
To provide a ‘house’ for independent artists, Gifted Stoners, founded by Barion Smith, AKA BjMrclean Zeus, takes over some of the tasks they encounter in their careers. BjMrclean Zeus, a rapper himself, helps to write hip hop songs. The company explains that they are seeing an increase in requests for this service, as clients have expressed an interest in trap rap, conscious rap, drill rap, and alternative rap.
In addition to designing clothing for independent hip hop artists, Gifted Stoners mentors new rappers, helping them to stay focused, motivated, and dedicated and to develop their own niche.
“What each independent artist needs in order to thrive in their career will vary from person to person, of course, but we have found that in providing these services, they generally feel more confident,” Gifted Stoners states. “The artist can hand off some tasks to us while they focus on developing other parts of their career and on making a name for themselves in the independent world.”
What Gifted Stoners May Mean for Independents
It is likely that bringing a song to the public will always involve a degree of complexity, of course. However, if more companies like Gifted Stoners help independent artists with some of the tasks common to the industry, it is possible that we may continue to see more artists turn independent, which may lead the music world in a different direction and lead it to reevaluate how the careers of musicians can be managed.
For more information on Gifted Stoners and BjMrclean Zeus, visit: