Rising Star Yonie:

Mixing Music and Entrepreneurship

Competition in the music industry is cutthroat and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) acquaints us with less than favorable statistics: out of the estimated 27,000 new record releases that enter the U.S. market each year, only about 7,000 (26%) comprise products made by major labels. Most records never sell enough to cover exorbitant production, promotion, and distribution costs. In fact only 10% reap any real profits. Mount that with the fact that music industry characteristics have changed dramatically since the golden classics era.

In the past, music was more affordable but barely portable, radio had not been consolidated, and the Internet didn't exist. Musicians had access to services that offered financial support and carried a successful artist throughout their career. Today music is available on wireless devices and comes in all price ranges. More importantly, however, today's artists realize that in order to find success they must mix art and entrepreneurship. They must be adept at multi-tasking and participating ardently in the four cornerstones of music-making: product development, promotion, publicity, and performance. Simply put, these qualities are evident in our profiling of one rising Ethiopian-American music star ‚ Yonie.

With over 400 releases coming out each week and air-time on radio being aggressively purchased by powerful label conglomerates, this 22-year old has managed to navigate his way and successfully self-promote his work now airing on KUBE 93 FM and X104.5 FM in his hometown Seattle, WA. His debut single 'Shake the Spot' has also received airtime on Texas radio stations and is currently being sold at Tower Records chain stores in Washington State. But this is just the beginning. An avid writer, Yonie is currently working on 3 new songs to be released in June. "I work on my music non-stop. As a writer, I'm never off the clock. It doesn't matter where I'm at, if a verse comes to me, I'll stop anything I'm doing to write it down and make sure I don't forget it" he says enthusiastically and his energy is evident.

His words and actions compel us to presuppose that it has been his lifelong dream to become a musician, and he humors us with a story from his childhood supporting our speculation. "I was 9 or 10 years old when my little brother Yosef and I used to imitate Michael Jackson whenever we would have people over at our house," he says, "I can remember getting jealous because, of course, the younger child would always get the most attention. Those early moments in my life helped shape the dreams and aspirations I have today."

Yonie was born and raised in Seattle, WA. He took an interest in writing poetry at an early age and by his late teens he decided to center his talents on developing his writing into song. As he immersed himself in the different facets of music-making he quickly learned one of the most important lessons an independent record producer could learn. Not yet signed to a lucrative label, management of time and expenses were key to surviving solo in the business. "I feel like I'm always on someone's else's schedule," he says, reflecting on his self-propelled start, "Due to the costs and expenses that go into music production, I can't yet afford to have a studio and studio-engineer on-call for me any time I feel like recording a song."

Yonie is doing just that, producing his own songs alongside some of the industry's best mixing engineers ‚ people like Ken Lewis whose client list includes Mariah Carey, Shaggy, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Diana Ross, and Mary J. Blige. In the 1999-2001 seasons he worked as a Ball Boy for the Seattle Super Sonics. "Meeting and talking to players definitely served as a motivational tool for me," he admits, "Being that close to the success of these multi-millionaires helped me to realize that we are all human and all capable of achieving our dreams." Asked about his goals for the near future, he affirms, "With or without a record deal, I plan on touring in the very near future, not only across America, but also worldwide to places like England, Asia, South Africa, and of course Ethiopia!" Truer than he realized, the last destination spot he mentioned has now become his first stop. A Siemens-Ethiopia sponsorship enabled Yonie to perform at the Live Aid Concert 2003 dubbed 'Birr for a Compatriot' benefit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There, he performed in front of a crowd of more than 150,000 people. "Iíve been to Ethiopia twice in my life, in 1992 and 1996" Yonie says, "Some of the images I came across, which will remain with me forever, have been a driving force in everything I do, especially my writing," he divulges.

His role models are diverse. On the personal side, he shows admiration for his parents and their full-fledged support. "My parents never pushed me to realize my potential as a musician. They pushed me to realize my potential period. To be capable of accomplishing anything my heart desires," he tells us, "I admire them, not only as my role models but as my heroes." On the flip side, his childhood idol, Michael Jackson is still very much an influence as well. "To be able to perform a show or make a record that could have such a long-lasting positive influence on music fans, just as Michael Jackson did in the prime of his career, is one of my ultimate goals as an artist" he asserts.

Surveying all that he has accomplished to date we have no doubt in his abilities to make his lofty dreams a reality. His last minute advice for his Ethiopian brothers and sisters is this: "If you want something, sit down and figure out the best way to achieve it, and then act on it. Don't necessarily follow the traveled road. Create your own pathway to success. Create your own reality and then step into that reality. Collecting your reward is easy. Working up to that point is the hard part." Carving his own niche within the music business industry, he has set high standards for other young aspiring artists to follow. ta

To learn more about Yonie you may visit his web site at www.yonie.net

Follow your dreams

Become an Artist..

Do you want to break into the music industry? Start promoting yourself and use the recommended tips below to embark on an exciting career path...

Artist & Product Devlopment
* Songwriting
* Recording
* Distributing
* Selling

* Airtime on Radio
* TV Music Channels
* Put your Music Online

* Get Interviewed
* Use Newspaper Ads
* Get Your Story in Music Magazines

Public Performance
* Get Onstage and Perform Live!