“We cannot dislike the fact that people can get our music for free. People are starving, the bottom and middle economy will continue to struggle to survive in America especially due to globalization and all the technology replacing us. People will always want to find loops to getting what they want. We simply have to adjust with the times, sit down and think about how to increase our value to our fans and continue to thrive with technological advances.”
Will “Big Will” Zhong born November 5, 1984 is a award winning entrepreneur, musician, and author. He is the CEO and founder of Zhong Enterprise, a global business development company. Big Will was born in Changchun, China on November 5, 1984. The name Big Will was given to him by his friends because he was always known for doing crazy and wild things as a kid. Big Will started making music as a hobby even as a child in China. He found it to be a good way to stay away from trouble and at the same time a good craft for improving himself as a person. Big Will then turned to the entertainment side and started his ventures as an entrepreneur in business in 2003 right after graduating from high school.
SKILLY: How did you get started in the music business? What series of events led you here today?
BW: I started out in music due to the fact that both my parents were really into classical music. They played the violin and piano. I kind of just grew up to traditional music. Learning how to read and write music notes was a mandatory thing in our household. I started playing piano at the age of ten, all the way to age thirteen. I stopped because my parents could not afford the lessons any longer at that time, so I had to quit.
Since then I have always been in tuned with beats and melodies because they embedded that trait into my system. I’ve always had the love for hip hop music ever since I was a kid. I loved 2pac, and he was by far my favorite rapper of all time for many different reasons. I ended up producing for different artists, then got into the music business side of things with Universal and Warner starting in 2003 right after high school.
Then things kind of took off from there with hard work, passion and persistence. Everything you see here today is the result of that, simple hard work and non stop pursuit of success.
What are some of the most drastic changes you’ve seen in the music business?
The biggest change is that when I first got involved with the business side of things, people were still in tuned with buying CD’s and mp3 sales where starting to get more popular. Now even mp3‘s are obsolete because there is no point of holding storage into your phone or computer when everything is available in the cloud immediately. The shift to digital media is inevitable, so now we as artists and businessmen in this industry have to adjust ourselves and find more ways to prosper and provide our art to the world.
We cannot dislike the fact that people can get our music for free. People are starving, the bottom and middle economy will continue to struggle to survive in America especially due to globalization and all the technology replacing us. People will always want to find loops to getting what they want. We simply have to adjust with the times, sit down and think about how to increase our value to our fans and continue to thrive with technological advances.
What are some of the solutions you’ve developed to overcome this drastic change?
Some of the things I’ve had that successfully work are things like selling my music independently outside of Itunes and commercial distributors. These companies keep all your customer database and information making it hard to keep in touch and update your fans that actually spent money on your music. When someone pulls out there card or spends money to buy your music, that’s a really great big deal. It means they are heavily into your music. We as artists deserve to know who those people are so we can develop relationships with them.
Itunes simply wants to take our customers, prevent us from reaching them, so they can sell them other music and releases that are similar to our music. This is business practice and completely understandable. However this is the reason why I sell my music outside independently. I also collect way more profits this way and have 100% control of everything.
Another thing is building a cult following. You have to know your customers and know what they are into, then update them with things you know they want. Give away free chat sessions. Give them the ability to connect with you via Skype or video chat. They love these things. Once you have a cult following, they will continue to support your ventures.
Lastly I think that building your audience as wide as possible is good for sponsorship and endorsements. I constantly work with companies and small businesses to help brand their products and services. This can be a great chunk of money if your statistics are right. Product placements always make a good amount of money.
So since music will eventually be completely free, you as an artist are responsible for working around that instead of trying to prevent it.
What other advice can you give to the starving artist that is just coming out right now?
I would say that it’s very important to build your fan base with paid advertising and have financial backing. Your career is just like a business. You cannot just go in, make a song and try to promote it by tagging your friends and social media connections. That gets you nowhere.
You need a full budget in order to make it in this business. And just like anything else, you need to have a business plan of where your streams of income are going to take place. Know how much you will need to spend on marketing, and who to market with. You should know where to advertise and how to advertise your music.
You will also need a good agent and publicist once your music starts taking off so you can get to the next level. You will also need to invest in a good tour manager once you are getting a good buzz so you can start getting paid gigs. All these things amount to your total success. So when you don’t have a budget, your chances of getting in this game is absolutely zero.
What is the best way to promote your music right now?
Again, I would go with paid advertising. Advertising on music blogs and channels. Advertise your music with paid Facebook, Google and Instagram promotions. Build your fanbase up day by day until you have enough to build sales and stats. Do it until you have enough to get your first endorsement even if it’s a smaller company. Go with an energy drink or clothing line. These companies are always looking to expand with artists. I would say all in all that internet promotions work best for new and signed artists alike.
Where do you see the music business five years from now?
Five years from now will definitely be the extinction of mp3 music, and physical data storage. Everything will be in clouds from your desktop to phones. There is absolutely no reason for us to hold any more mp3 files unless you are on plane mode, in which there will probably be internet connection on the flight. Technology will take over everything. It will be just like our current economy. It’s a feast or famine situation. All the big artists will get all the big endorsements from the large corporations because they are the most popular. All the money from the music will only come in the form of publishing royalties, no more sales. And that’s how exactly it’s going to be, without a doubt.
What can normal artists do to prevent themselves from starving from this drastic change?
Again, you need a strong business plan and a strong financial backing to increase your chances of being one of those popular artists because the only way you can make money at that point is from companies sponsoring you. It will be just like an election in a way. Where you will need backing from an investor or private funder first. Then you get companies to endorse you and your music. If you get to a point where you have ten big companies consistently backing you with $5k a month each. You will be getting $50k a month to continue your career. That is the end goal for everyone.
Will good music continue to be relevant or will it just be about popularity in the future?
Both, because the only way to be popular is if you have good music and something people can relate to. Wack artists, no matter how popular they are, are never on the same level as artists who have good music with the same popularity. Would you want to be known as that wack rapper with a lot of publicity? Do you want to be someone that people around the world think is stupid? Good music is something that feeds people’s souls. It’s a critical aspect of life. People need music just like they need medicine when they are in certain moods good or bad. It’s just in this case, music is free and able to be accessed very easily. Good music is the foundation of the entertainment industry. Whether it’s movies, clubs, home, retail or industry, music is a necessity for mankind.
What is the works for Big Will? What can we see coming up this year?
This summer we will be releasing Big Will’s Greatest Hits album this year. It’s a compilation of all my favorite records I’ve wrote and produced. We feel it’s a good time to come out with this release. I’ve had three successful albums up to date with the same label and the same companies who have backed me up. I think a greatest hits record would be epic, along with a US tour and possible overseas depending on our situation, radio play and sales. We are shooting for the stars you know what I mean haha.
Where can we find your music and social media links to connect with you?
All my links can be found on either www.bigwillmedia.com (USA site) or www.bigwill.co.uk (UK site). Whichever one suits your boat. You can connect with me on social media directly and all of that. I appreciate the support of my music and art. Thank you very much!