5 Lessons From a Teenager Who Founded Her Own Record Label
Many of life's big decisions are prompted by a burning desire to fight a problem or right a wrong. This is how most big businesses were born and it's just the same for Iliana Eve, 14, who started her own record label, Drink The Lemonade, to raise awareness about child abuse.
Owning a record label, or any business for that matter is a serious undertaking. And for Iliana, she has it even tougher given that she's been a victim of child abuse herself. Now she hopes she's able to help other victims of child abuse who may not have the support of influential people like her father, Jonathan Hay, a famed celebrity publicist and Kemar McGregor -- a top reggae producer.
With her first single, Letters, released through Snoop Dogg's record label -- Doggy Style Records which also premiered on Billboard, Iliana already had the introduction needed to make an impact in the music industry. Within a few months, she got to what influenced her music career, recording a song chronicling her experience titled Mommy.
"Recording Mommy was a painful experience of reliving the nightmares and vocalizing them. The lyric that really hurt me is 'the long showers I take that won't wash away the memories'. I'm hoping this song can make a difference, maybe even ease some pain that you are not alone," Iliana said.
Below are some lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Iliana taking the bold step to start her own record label and build a powerful brand from a negative experience.
1. It's not just about you.
While Iliana could have made the whole story about her and focus the narrative on the issues she was only passionate about, she decided to help others who are going through a similar experience as hers to find peace through her music.
If you're so passionate about your product that you fail to factor in whether others like it, you risk ending up being your only customer. When building something, build what would help others -- especially people who share the same story or experiences as yours.
2. Own your platform.
A mistake most entrepreneurs make is building their career on other people's platform. While you might need to start on the platform of others that are already successful, you should take active steps to get yourself a platform you can control.
While preparing to release her first single through a well-known record label, Iliana took the proactive approach to start her own record label. This choice gives her the control needed to ensure her message gets out just as she wants it to, without interference from top executives.
3. Get support from others.
When starting out very early, you should seek as much support as you can get. You can start by using the connections of close relatives, just as Iliana used the connection of her father to meet and work with top producers and musicians in the industry.
Doing this will not only give you the early boost your career needs but will also bolster your confidence and give you the much-needed experience to go further in your career.
4. Build your credibility.
In business, including the music industry, credibility is very important. You can build your credibility from the start by associating with well-known players in your industry.
By working with artists like Snoop Dogg, Cyhi The Prynce (Kanye West's artist) and Eminem's artist Kxng Crooked of Slaughterhouse, Iliana was able to get her name out early. This means when she finally releases her album, she'll have the support of these people and the industry will take her more seriously.
5. No one is too young.
Owning a record label is feat usually ascribed to well-established moguls in the industry. With Iliana owning her own record label at the age of 14, the saying that age is only a number even holds true here. While we have a great number of young entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams and crushing it at an early age, the honest truth is that so many more are still afraid of starting something. The most common excuse within this circle is "I'm too young" and "I have no experience."
Now you have it, a 14-year-old with her own record label.