As an independent artist, McKinney Griffin has nurtured his music, or "his baby," as he calls it, over the last seven years, but unlike the goals of many mainstream artists, he does not emphasize monetary success. He gives his music away for free.
Griffin, a sociology alumni, just released his first EP, The Rock and The Hard Place, this summer. Although the music video for his single, "Time and Space," has received over 13,000 views on YouTube, the singer-songwriter decided to make his music available for free on Noistrade.com after only 13 people downloaded his song on iTunes.
Since the decision, he has made more than double the amount through donations on his website than he did when his music was available for purchase.
With upbeat guitar-driven lyrics, and colorful, animated music videos, Griffin elevates positive messages while being transparent with his audience.
In the next two weeks, Griffin will head to L.A. and then to Nashville, where he will be expanding his brand and artistry working with publishing companies and record labels, and releasing new music projects.
The Central Florida Future sat down with Griffin to talk about his process making his EP, the inspiration behind his music videos, and how his future plans will impact his music.
How would you describe your music?
I specifically make songs to make you feel good. It’s very up-tempo, it’s very guitar-driven because a lot of music I would listen to when I was younger was rock and R&B. It’s meant to make you dance and feel happy and good about life, you know. Especially for people who may or may not have been like myself, where there were times they didn’t feel so much. I feel like this music is the anecdote to depression or to sadness or to honestly any kind of negative situation they might be in.
Where do you get the inspiration for your music videos?
I will say video games. Well, if you watch the music video [Time and Space], the whole thing was what I was playing with thoughts in my own head. I’m a movie buff - I really love fiction. I love science fiction and I love horror, honestly, and just anything very fantasy and imagination-driven. It kind of reflects in my lyricism and individuals who most people see in my music videos.
What was the process you had to go through to make your first EP?
Well, I was broke when I first got the idea in mind for The Rock and The Hard Place. I didn’t have much money and I think I was in my junior year at UCF doing sociology when I found a really awesome guy. His name is Alan Reitman. He has his own home studio and everything but Alan, more or less was in the same place as I was. He didn’t have a lot of money and he was a producer, but he wanted to climb the latter of production. So he basically had a gift and had an outlet and tools that I needed and I had the songs that I had written that could better his portfolio. So I went over to his studio and showed him a couple of songs and he liked it. And literally we cut the first song of The Rock and The Hard Place that night. We stayed up for 24 hours polishing this thing. Usually he charges about $500 for production but he charged me only about $300 and he let me pay it gradually. Over the period of a month we made my first solo project and the rest is history.
What are some upcoming ventures you are looking to get into?
Funny enough, in about two weeks, I am going to L.A. Not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I have publishing companies and record labels, not necessarily looking at me to sign me as an artist, but add me as a songwriter. I love being the words behind other artists too because I’ve written stuff for friends and other music folk. At the end of October, I’m going to Nashville to stay there for a few months and just extend my brand to the Nashville space where it’s more musically populated and there’s more opportunity. Hopefully, things will grow a lot faster than they grow here.
What would you suggest to young people who want to do music of how they can ‘get their foot in the door?’
You know what? There are a lot of times when you feel like you are not going anywhere. There are a lot of times where you feel stagnant in pursuing your music dream. It’s not necessarily that some of your work isn’t fruitful. It’s not that you are doing the wrong things. It’s just that sometimes, success isn’t what you think it is. You have to do it because you love it. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m doing it because I love it and I love telling my story through song and affecting people. The whole saying having ‘your foot in the door’ doesn’t really exist anymore because we have the Internet, which is such a powerful tool. You are the door now. You have a million, billion avenues to get your product and your music out to the masses, you know. Just a little tidbit, social media like Instagram or Twitter is where I send my music to like literally to about 1,000 people a day. I feel like giving your stuff away for free, assuming that it’s good quality, is an incredible option. I feel like Noisetrade saved my EP. It saved my hard work.
Download Griffin's album, The Rock and the Hard Place, here: http://noisetrade.com/mckinneygriffin/the-rock-and-the-hard-place
Shanae Hardy is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaeH@CentralFloridaFuture.com