How can you help LGBTQ people succeed in the music industry? One easy step: Share your networks and make introductions. So for Pride Month, Billboard is connecting queer artists with some of their musical heroes — who also happen to be major allies to the community — to get career advice.
Here, Vincint — who released his debut EP, The Feeling, in February — gets tips on navigating the industry from Kandi Burruss of Xscape, who recently won The Masked Singer, is a longtime cast member of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and has written hits for TLC, Destiny’s Child and P!nk.
Can you give any advice on stepping out of my musical comfort zone and trying a sound or style completely foreign to me? I know you have done this in your writing!
As an artist people try to stick you in one lane or one genre of music, but as a writer it’s hard to stay in one lane. You probably are inspired by all types of music. I say do whatever makes you feel good. If you want to try something different, set up a session with a producer whose music is different from what you normally do.
Do you have any tips on getting a publishing deal and making sure it’s the right one? How do you know if a partnership is for you?
There are different ways to get publishers interested, but I would say releasing music that is getting streamed would definitely be one way. If you’re an artist who gets a record deal, a lot of publishers want to sign you because they’ll want to collect on your album. Collaborating with other producers and writers is another way. The publishers who work with those producers or artists will be able to hear your work, and they may be interested in signing you.
Whoever you’re doing a deal with, make sure it’s a company or team that will work for you — meaning that they are always trying to set up collaborations for you with artists or people that are getting placements. They need to keep you updated on which artists are looking for songs for their projects. You also want to make sure they’re trying to get your music licensed in movies, TV and commercials. Just make sure they can do more than just collect off of you.
When you’re writing, what comes first for you? For me it’s usually the melody, and it will be at a very random moment! Do you like tackling songs in a certain order, or you do think it’s good to mix up the process?
It depends if I’m writing to a track that’s already done or if I’m writing from scratch with no music. If I’m writing to a track, the melody is in my head as soon as the beat plays. If I’m writing from scratch, typically a concept that I want to talk about will spark a line and melody, and lyrics flow from my brain at the same time. I used to keep a list of titles, words, or concepts in a notepad that I felt would make great songs. Eventually I would use them and make a whole song just off of a word that I liked.
Did you ever feel like it was harder for people to see and accept your talent because of your gender or race? I sometimes feel that way now about how people perceive me and my own identity and wonder how you dealt with it?
For sure. As a woman there were times I felt I didn’t get the same respect when it was time to handle the business. I specifically remember a time where an artist that I wrote for didn’t feel I should have wanted to discuss the publishing splits on the record. [They felt] that I should’ve been happy with whatever they wanted to give me. On a song that I wrote a majority of! They didn’t have the same attitude with the producer who was a man. The whole situation really made me feel a way. At the end, I still got what I wanted because I wasn’t budging. Sometimes you have to hold your ground to let it be known that if they want your work, they have to respect you.
Have you had that moment when, after writing something that felt so right to you, you show it to someone else and they feel different? How did you deal with that?
Yes! Back when I wrote “No Scrubs” with [fellow Xscape member] Tiny, it was actually a song that we were doing for a project for ourselves as a duo. Our manager at that time said he liked it but didn’t think it was as good as our other songs. Needless to say everyone doesn’t know a smash when they hear it!