Welcome to the first episode of our brand-new mini-series titled, Are you planning to last? Throughout this 3-part series we will be taking a deeper dive into what emerging artists and rising music industry professionals should be thinking about and implementing when launching their career in the music industry. Although the following questions will be directed at emerging artists, all the information being released is applicable to any role within the music industry.
Teaming up with Alphie Valentine, a Self-Talk Specialist, mentor and successful businessman, that is well-known figure throughout the industry, will be walking us through some of the key points that many artists and professionals fail to sustain from the beginning of their career. Piecing together both the power of the mindset with your desired field, this series will supply you everything you need to know on how to sustain a healthy, financially secure and prosperous career.
We are living in a landscape in which thousands of budding musicians are looking for their time to shine; gaining a hit song or album, it’s often found that most artists are unable to sustain not only their talent but the spotlight as well. How is it that musicians like Jay-Z are relevant decades later, financially secure and just as big as when they had started out? Grab your note pad and pen! You don’t want to miss out on greatness!
Originally from Hackney, East London, Alphie re-located to a predominately white area in Surrey at the age of 8 named Coulsdon. Growing up, Alphie would often get excluded or expelled in schools and found himself travelling back to Hackney to stay with his uncle. Soon finding himself involved in gang activity, “I was never the person that wanted to be a bad breed, I was the funny guy” Alphie explains, “I was going down that route for a while, but I was always about dough – I was always wanted to be successful”. Gaining a job in customer service, working soon became a big part of his life, “I’d work; I couldn’t even imagine how many hours, and then go and stunt in the west-end and spend pretty much my whole salary in the weekend”. Craving a lifestyle enriched with luxury, “I loved the balling lifestyle, I always thought I wanted to be rich and my dad was a baller as well” Alphie commented.
Growing up alongside his brother and fellow musician Benga, Alphie examined what came with his brother’s lifestyle and soon realised he wanted a slice. One day, a turning point happened; “We were coming back on the bus from Croydon and I had a flasher (a doctored bus pass), I did a pass back to my brother and the bus driver caught him and kicked him off the bus. I ended up coming off the bus myself and boppin’ 6 miles home. The reason why this is such an important story is because it was a defining moment – I was pissed but something told me intuitively that I was meant to be off the bus” he explains. It wasn’t until the next day that he realised he had to do something better with his life, “The four other boys I was with, got into a madnesson the bus and ended up going to prison. When I got the call, that’s what made me go ‘Do you know what? I have got to do something better with my life’”. Having a conversation with his Mrs, he was made aware of people that were making serious money in investment sales, “I went there, it was a heavily-white populated sales role and very fast paced. I felt uncomfortable but I loved it! For ages I didn’t make any money, I was absolutely brass and then I started to make a tiny amount of money. A guy recognised me as being really talented and asked if we should go away and me help him start a business”. Tempting Alphie into what sounded like the dream goal, the guy said “When we start the company, you’ll come in and have all these juniors working for you. I’ll show you how to be a millionaire, you will be a millionaire”.
The business was formed and Alphie states “When I was meant to start, I started with him and there were no juniors, no office – I was basically sold the dream and long story short, I had to get us a loan to get us an office. We were following cars and parking in the car park and having to wait for cars to come back out. We were eating cup-a-soup’s because we were absolutely brass, but we had the talent and we had the belief” Alphie explained. After a while, the pair got their first big deal in, and the company began to grow, “It went from me and him in a 2-man office, to us having a sales floor that was 80 man and turned over £60 million”.
The company eventually collapsed but in that period of time, he earnt his first million at the age of 27 and every year he was earning above £1 million, “I was spending a lot of money, I was doing a lot of wild fucking things. Now I’ve got my brother Benga who’s this Dubstep superstar living the Rockstar life and I’m with him. Rolling around in Ferrari’s, spent 60 bags putting diamonds on my car keys, sent 23 people away on holiday which cost £160,000, sent my Mrs and her friends to Miami, I went to Marbella before it was cool, shut it down and spent 20 grand – loads of madnesses!”. Alphie soon gained a reputation for being ‘that guy’, going around and partying wild! It wasn’t until 2013 that when the business failed, to no fault of his own, but investors lost money and the business came to an end, “I went from earning £100,000 a month to £0, and because I had no respect for saving money, I lost a lot and it made me go into mad depression because everyone I thought was my friend, fucked me off and life went completely on without me. I always say I went from being treated like a king to being fucked off like a peasant” Alphie explained. Throughout this period of struggle, Alphie sold various assets (watches) to keep his monthly outgoings going, “Which were at one point, £38,000 a month, but I managed to get it down to roughly £18,000 – I was selling loads of watches just to keep up this lifestyle because I didn’t want my family to be effected by my wrong decisions”.
It wasn’t until after he was questioned by his oldest son about their life that Alphie quickly changed his life around “I used a goal writing system and mental activity that I worked on to literally transform my life back around. I started a business with £0, completely sold people to come work for me for £300 a month; they helped me build these businesses back up and now I have businesses, multiple investments, apps, investment in restaurants and things of that nature” Alphie said. Turning a new leaf and sustaining a healthy lifestyle both financially and mentally, “Because I’ve lived that fly boy lifestyle, and I still do wild things – that’s what a lot of people relate to. But, throughout that whole period, I have taught so many people how to get the mindset that attracts success, be it something that is easily quantifiable like money or how to achieve goals at a high level. There’s people that have worked for me that have been in abusive relationships; in-fact one of the best thing’s that I’ve done, was a girl that was in an abusive relationship, I taught her the mindset she needed to have to be able to feel confident enough to leave that relationship. Just working with me, within four months earning £30,000 a year to £60,000 and turning job offers down at £70,000 – I know what I’ve got within this brain is beautiful and genius”, Alphie explained.
By just understanding and implementing the power of the mindset, Alphie has grown to be a phenomenal businessman. Working alongside various artists across the scene, giving them advice and making them realise their greatest potential – we asked Alphie the following questions…
I think it’s the most important thing. The reason why I say that is because ultimately the whole journey of being a musician; it’s like all statistics, if you want to get there and actually do anything that’s substantial – the statistics of you actually making it are very fucking stacked against you, and that’s a fact. For every person that wants to make it, there is 10,000 people that say it but don’t get anywhere near that.
When you have a solid WHY for anything in life; what I mean by a solid WHY, is a WHY that you are emotional about. A WHY that will get you to see obstacles and failures as challenges. They are all the same thing; it is just what your brain associates the word with. When you have a serious WHY that is emotional to you, it will push you past all the obstacles, failures or problems and you will see them as challenges and go at them properly. That’s why it’s fucking important!
‘Formula’ is much more predictable. Let’s talk about how they differ, ‘Fluke’ is ‘I know I have talent, I start writing lyrics, I start recording and I put the music out’ – no matter how it works, you can get a buzz off that, people will repost you and you can go viral. If you don’t plan that, every move that comes to you after, you’re being reactionary. Even if you think that you are getting somewhere; for example, if someone offers you a contract, the time it takes you to plan how you want it to play out, is going to be a lot more challenging because it’s your time. You are going to want to perform, put your friends on and be out there – your whole mind space is completely different. What tends to happen is you keep going and do not have the time or energy to stop, reflect and understand what’s going on, and you crash. Then you have to play catch up from a negative mental state – it is such a different fight!
The ‘Formula’ is much better because the ‘Formula’ is people like Jay-Z and Skepta; ‘I’m still going to use my raw energy and my talent but there’s certain things that I want to achieve’. It doesn’t have to be massively documented and planned out, it just needs to be something that you can go ‘Okay, this is the formula, this is what I would like to have, these are the markers, and this is what I’d like to have maybe 10 or 20 years down the line’. If you think about it, most artists have very short-lived careers – not even 5 years. Why is that? Do you think that’s because they purposely sat down and went ‘I’m going to plan my life for the next 20 years’ or is it more likely that they react to what is happening in the next 5 minutes’ – it’s obvious!
I’m very particular on words, ‘visionary’ is just about looking down the road 20-25 years and going ‘What would I like my life to be about? What things would I like to have achieved? Where can I see myself going?’. Me and you, in 20 years, we are going to be two fucking different people visually, physically, mentally and in our head space. If you can start to dictate the type of person you would like to be, naturally both your mind and body starts adjusting to that. That is what being a visionary is about – unless you plan to die tomorrow, it’s about looking at our lives 20 years older. Are you going to be one of those people that’s like ‘Fuck, I’m 20 years older…look at my shit life’ or are you going to be the person that says ‘Okay, I’m 20 years older, but when I was 18/19, I’m exactly or at least roughly how I said I was going to be when I’m 40’?
Great question. Firstly, the artist must decipher from if they want to be just an artist or if they want to be the greatest. If they want to put out good songs and give themselves a lifestyle or if they want to absolutely pop and bang. If you are going for the higher ground, the strategy I’ve always said is get yourself seen – make sure that you are in front of enough people so that they are talking about you and are aware of you. Nobody gives a fuck about something they don’t see or hear about – fact. Becoming indispensable means, you are working so well on your craft that no matter what, there will always be space for you. Let me tell you some of the people that I really rate for this: Giggs, Wretch 32, Ghetts, Kano and Chip – these people are so fucking lyrically good and so good at their craft, they could disappear for 5 years, drop something in 2025 because there ability has made them indispensable, they will still bang. So often, people are thinking about the result ‘I’m going to have the drip, I’m going to have this rented yard’ – it’s bullshit! When you are indispensable, there will always be space for you, and it protects you for a long time.
Ultimately, there’s something that most people don’t do, and this is a very big skill with communication ‘Seek first to understand and then be understood’. You cannot not like somebody or fuck with somebody who is genuinely willing to understand you before they want to be understood. I learnt this from a book called ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, there’s two things in there that I say to anybody who is wanting to network and grow their circle – ‘Seek first to understand and then to be understood’ which means, I care more about you and understanding you first, before I want you to understand me.
The second one is ‘think win win’ – How can you not fuck with me if I want to understand you and I’m thinking the deal has to be good for both of us? How can you tell me no? If I’m putting you first, and then the deal has to be good for both parties. It means I’ve got to turn up and show you value. Most people don’t plan this and live in the ‘me economy’ – they think ‘me me me’, they’re so self-absorbed that they don’t take time to think; for example, I want Elle to feature me, what the fuck can I do for her? How can I speak to her in a way that she feels it’s actually beneficial for her to do this, rather than ‘I’m the next thing that’s bangin’. If I re-phrased that sentence ‘I understand what you’re doing. Where do you want to get to? Do you want to own your own magazine? What do you think it’s going to take?’ – it’s different, not many people think like that in an authentic way.
Have you planned for 20 years, 10 years or even just 5 years?
What would the future look like for you?