With all of the music artists there are in the world, and whether they’re upcoming musicians, not as known, or world known, they all have a story to tell. Most of these artists who are known globally are signed by a superior record company to get their music out; however, there are some artists who are not signed and doing their work independently. An artist who stands out is Hoodie Allen, and here’s why.
Steven Markowitz who goes by his stage name “Hoodie Allen” is from Long Island, New York. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a degree in Finance and Marketing. Allen chose those two majors based off of how they interested him and were a challenging combo. In his interview with Mashable, Allen speaks on how he worked at Google as an AdWords associate for the company START (Standardized AdWords Reseller Training) program. A year later, leaving the company to pursue his “dream and passion” of music, Allen had taken the opportunities for live shows to get a jump start in his career of being a rapper.
Making music at the age of twelve, Allen knew he would be much better off making music instead of working at Google. “I love creating, and writing was my first form of creative expression that I took a liking to.” Allen says on how he decided music would be a full-time career for him. He defines himself as a “rapper, singer, songwriter and business owner.” Most musicians have other artists they look up to from listening to them when they were young, or getting inspired by how they make their music and putting it all together. Allen talks about how “Mos Def, Outkast, Beastie Boys” were his favorite artists growing up, but also his inspiration of becoming who he is today.
Starting out in the music industry can be challenging, from either having little to no experience with performing, or not enough fans to broaden across the world. Most independent artists have a tough time with this since no record label is promoting their music for them, or helping them by broadcasting their music everywhere. As an independent artist, Hoodie Allen mentions how he started out in this career by having “made a few songs that people started sharing and playing a lot on the internet” and how he “used that as a spring board to build more fans around the world.” Independent artists typically will try and promote their music like Hoodie Allen does by uploading on websites, or being active on social media. Allen discusses how “it’s a slow process but built organically,” which means nothing is forced, but just found naturally.
Majority of artists will look for a record label to sign them, but Hoodie Allen is one who says he’s “not currently interested in a record deal.” He doesn’t feel the need for a record label to help him further himself anymore than he already has all by himself, and with the help of his fans of course. This career choice can impact a lot on an artist’s life and be full time. Allen mentions how “my career is not a traditional 9-5. I’ve dedicated my life to my job and my job is a very public thing, so I think it has impacted me in multiple ways.” Given a chance to make any changes in his career, Allen says, “I’m my own boss, any changes I want to make to how I work, I can do it.” Interpreting, if he were to make any changes in the way he’s promoting himself, his music, or anything in general he’d do it. An important milestone that Allen had reached early on, was having a number one album on the iTunes charts and selling out MSG Theatre in his hometown. That gave him more self-assurance that he’s on the right track for becoming bigger and better. Continuing with making music and starting to get features, he’s worked with some other independent artists and well known artists. Out of the several mixtape and or albums he has, Allen has collaborated with Jared Evan, Ed Sheeran, G-Eazy, Chance the Rapper, State Champs and many more. Fans of his have always reached out asking for certain artists to be featured on upcoming songs or album. He brings up how he would like to work with certain artists like, “Logic, Jeremy Zucker, Jon Bellion and Alessia Cara.”
As an artist starts out to where they end up several years later, their music always tends to change for the good of their career. A change in an artist’s music would be how they alternate different beats, details in the lyrics or even the way the artist re-designs themselves. “I just make what the music inspires me to write, so based on where I am at in my life I am sure that plays a big influence.” Allen explains on how he sees his music from The Bagels and Beats EP, to latest album The Hype all differs. When an artist grows and matures their music changes from life events happening, and how they express it all in a song. Writing music is a way for most, if not all artists, can escape from what’s going on and put it all down into a rap or song. Allen describes how he writes and states, “let it flow naturally, don’t try to force it. Creativity is a fickle beast.”
To get where Hoodie Allen is now in the music industry, takes a lot of hard work as explained earlier, and devoting to promoting music all on the internet. Promoting is a big factor for artists because it’s how one gains their audience’s attention, and to make appearances on music charts. In the same interview with Mashable, he talks on how he markets his music through the online space and takes a unique approach to social media. Where Allen use to work at Google, he expresses that there’s no other job he would want in the world today. Speaking to other artists in the music industry, whether they are upcoming or already working on their image, Allen breaks it down, “my advice is that it is nearly impossible and therefore you have to not only get lucky but you need to work very hard for a very long time to break through at it.” Allen’s advice isn’t necessarily saying to give up if you can’t make it to where you want to be in a couple years, but more so to work hard and devote your life to where you want to be. He didn’t get to where he is today in the industry by marketing his songs here and there, or promoting himself on social media once in a while. It takes time for an independent artist to become known in the world, let alone internationally.
A popular question every artist will get asked is where they see themselves, as well as their career in five years. “Doing all the same things, touring and putting out music. Hopefully extending into other avenues as well,” Allen says. Given all the information with Hoodie Allen and how he describes himself, it tells a lot about him as an artist. With a wide fan base all over the U.S and Europe, he’s definitely getting up there to becoming well known. Fans are an important factor of being an artist, where they support you and your music. Getting Allen to where he is now, it’s safe to say he has a strong and well built fanbase. On top of having done multiple interviews, radio shows and podcasts, his opportunities for other career avenues are increasing. Working at Google may have given him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to technology, making him a different kind of artist than the typical “Hip Hop.”