Kota the Friend’s independent impact continues to shape the hip-hop landscape. His most recent interview on Athletes, Hip Hop, Motivation hosted by Australian storyteller Rush only furthers that narrative.
“When I started making music, I thought the only way I could make it is if I had a record label,” Kota shares at the beginning of the interview. “The only way you can be an independent artist is if you really love what you do. Because it takes passion to be independent.”
That passion oozes from the music of the Brooklyn wordsmith but is even more prevalent when examining the archetype and opportunity he provides for fellow independent artists. In 2022 alone, Kota and FLTBYS have given nearly 50 independent artists a platform, through Flight Night Music Festival, to showcase their talents. Flight Night has become the premier music festival to identify top up-and-coming talent.
Ben Michael, artist manager of Chicago Flight Night performer Brittney Carter spoke about the festival’s impact on his artist.
“Kota has created a culture of generous and engaging fans. Flight Night was an incredible opportunity for us to tap into and connect with a full house of those people. Off the stage, it was an opportunity to meet and build relationships with so many creatives and their teams.”
Kota the Friend’s independent impact through Flight Night is obvious. But the blueprint his career provides for burgeoning musicians is equally profound. In the interview with Rush, he offers gems regarding his creative process and business moves. Both of which should be carefully studied by indie artists looking to break through.
“What’s the one idea you’ve had that changed the game for you?” asks Rush. In a time where content is king, Kota’s response should come as no surprise. “The content I was creating now known as Lyrics to Go…Before short-form videos were a thing, and before Tik Tok, I was making these 1-minute videos where I would write a 16-bar verse over a popular beat, or YouTube beat. I would make this video where I would stand completely still and put the yellow subtitles at the bottom of the videos. That idea took me from nobody listening to my music, to actually gaining fans on a weekly basis.”
Weeks away from the release of Volume 4 of his Lyrics to Go series, Kota’s response shows the importance of finding an original, repeatable format of content, and perfecting it. That consistency bleeds into another point that Kota makes later on in the interview.
“If you love something, you should do it every day…For me it’s music. Music is something I love so I’m gonna do it every day even if it’s for an hour or two hours. That’s how you keep the passion going.”
To make it as an independent artist, one must constantly invest time, energy, and passion into their trade. Enjoy the process as much as the results, the accolades. Kota’s career exemplifies that consistency and creative energy are maintainable when an artist is truly passionate about their craft. With the right attitude and vision, an independent artist can turn their music into a sustainable business. Studying the path of an artist like Kota the Friend, who has turned that dream into a reality is a great place to start.