How Singer-Songwriter Entrepreneur Jimmy Nevis Balances It All

How Singer-Songwriter Entrepreneur Jimmy Nevis Balances It All


Jimmy Nevis, part singer/songwriter, part entrepreneur is following his passion. He took radio by storm with a number of hit singles and his debut album Subliminal was so successful that he signed an exclusive deal with top American record label Ultra Records for distribution in the US.

One of the Top 5 Nominees for the Kia Record of the Year category at the SAMAs 2014, Nevis released his second album The Masses in November last year.

I’ve had to learn my value

As much as music is my passion, it’s also my job. When I first started out I was so naïve that I played gigs for peanuts because I was happy just to be on stage. Those days are over.

I quickly taught myself the terminology of the music industry, got my lawyers involved, and learnt all about percentage splits. Now, I’m being scouted by other record labels and selling out shows. I’m in demand. I have a high value. Undercutting your prices is fine when you’re starting out, but if you want people to value what you’re offering, you have to value yourself.

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In the music business everyone is a hustler

There are no rules and people will trample on you. Also in the early days, I worked with a group of guys without putting contracts in place immediately, and I ended up having to pay out a lot of money. That was a hard lesson, and now I make sure that business always comes before friendship.

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Always give an extra 5%

Stay late, play a little longer, go beyond what you promised. People who give a bit more are the ones who make it. Extra effort never goes unnoticed. Today’s success lies with fans – of music, products and services. Keep your fans happy and the sales will follow.

I’m the jealous type and if I see other people doing well, I’m driven to do even better. It’s a huge motivator for me and that is what has pushed me to extend my reach, and to integrate and collaborate with fellow artists. It’s important to remember that no one will protect your business or brand for you – that’s your job.

Beyond the music, part of my job is to work with other brands

You have to know who you are and what you want to ensure these partnerships extend your own brand. You also have to share the same vision and values and work together every step of the way.

I have a close-knit family and a diverse group of friends, many of them from high school. We are all doing amazing things today, from architecture to speech therapy. We protect each other, but we also call someone out if that needs to happen. You need to rely on your networks. Promote yourself, promote each other, and deliver on promises. Business success today is all about networking.

Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself

If you’re putting on a big show, spend lots of money to get it right, and make sure you are physically in good shape too. If you’re pursuing an idea you really believe in, back yourself. You can’t expect people to find you if you won’t back yourself.

When you’re on stage playing for the fans, you are a leader and you should behave like one. Not once has everything gone according to plan, so I have learnt to adapt and to work under pressure. I’m probably a bit too involved; I still need to learn to let others do their jobs too, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with me.

Related: The Anatomy of John Vlismas

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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