B Martin is a man of many talents. Producer, recording artist, songwriter – the artist does it all. On this week’s episode of the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast, Martin chats with longtime friend and host Brian Calle, to talk about his journey to success and all the lessons he learned along the way.
“I used to feel like I should be writing music all day, I should be recording, I should be doing nothing but studying music and creating it,” Martin explains. “I realized that part of the thing that worked when I started as an artist was doing some business and partying a little bit, then using the energy and the wins from other areas to fuel into music. Like when I was in college when I did well on a test, I’d go home and write.”
Growing up on the East Coast, Martin credits childhood influences for putting the music bug in his ear.
“Rap has always been a part of me,” he remembers. “My brother would always play it in the car all the time – Biggie, Pac, a lot of Jay z, Eminem was huge. Being a white kid from upstate new york, it just resonated that much more – and then there was this kid in my hometown that would always be spittin’ and freestyling and I looked up to him and that skillset.”
“I was always writing here and there, as I was writing more and rapping more in high school,” he continues. “That’s when I started recording with my buddy Matt Green and I dissed this kid … it went viral in my school. It was my first time I was respected and had fans.”
After that, he went to college where he focused mainly on his academics with recreational recording on the side. However, right before graduation, he got in with a local artists’ group where he was able to record in earnest.
“They actually recorded my voice legitimately for the first time and it sounded so much better, and that’s when I kind of got inspired to actually give it a shot,” Martin says.
The group started opening for big acts locally, furthering Martin’s drive. His big break? Winning a contest hosted by T-Pain.
“I won a T-Pain competition where I got on T-Pain’s mixtape and album,” shares Martin. “So he had this song ‘Motivated’ and it was like this pumped, amped-up song. And whomever spit the best verse at the end of it was able to be on his mixtape and album. So I and 30,000 other people [entered the competition].”
Calling it his “alright I’m going to take this serious now” moment, Martin calls the success his first legitimate accomplishment that launched him into the industry.
“After the T-Pain thing, I started getting a lot more shows locally – I opened up for Wu-Tang. And then I got an offer from a local guy about opening for Mac Miller,” he says.
Feeling himself, he may have stepped on a few toes with a misunderstanding on how openers get paid.
“It was a reality check,” he laughs. He called the promoter, smoothed things over, and got back on the lineup.
“It was a good decision because opening for Mac Miller was crazy because his fans were just ready to go. They were so hyped, young kids, just great energy. That’s probably one of my highlights – my dad was at the show, and my brother, and they got to see me kill it,” he recounts fondly.
He went on to open for more big names: J. Cole, Steve Aoki, Lupe Fiasco. From there, the label offers came rolling in. After multiple interviews, he chose his label. It didn’t end up being a good fit, but it was another great learning experience.
From there, he came out to California under the pretense that a big label was going to sign him. However, a deal couldn’t be reached.
Our guest is honest about the struggles one faces trying to make it in the music industry. From wins and losses, learning experiences to knowing your worth, B Martin is full of advice for others.
“If I can give any advice to a young artist, especially a young artist who is popping off in any way – whether it’s getting 10,000 streams or 10 million streams or 100 million streams – is that it’s very important to have a great entertainment lawyer look over your shit, and to vet that entertainment lawyer.”
“Listen to the people around you, listen to the people who have more experience – a lot of people were telling me things, and I was just a cocky young kid,” he implores. “That was a really hard lesson for me to learn.”
“Listen to people who have the experience,” he reiterates. “You don’t have to take their advice necessarily, but really take in the information to digest and consider.”
For Martin, being on a label means everything you do is owned by someone else. Being free from that has allowed him to be more growth-oriented, and explore what he wants as an artist, as opposed to what others want him to be.
“It allows me to be more entrepreneurial, and try to just figure out all these different ways that work,” he shares. “I think there is something really valuable about learning what doesn’t work for yourself, rather than just going through someone else because it creates a great experience for yourself and growth.”
And grow he did. Today, Martin owns Purpose Studios where he writes songs and executive produces albums and tracks for other artists, as well as himself. He brings out their story, and puts it into the world. Passionate about songwriting, letting talent flourish, and transformational coaching, Martin has earned himself quite a following.