Sir Mix-A-Lot in Tech: Social Media, Skype & Surviving in the Music Business
The babies born back when Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back debuted in 1992 are now of official drinking age. As the multi-platinum tribute to a fuller female figure turns 21 today, Mix-A-Lot (Anthony Ray) is still going strong – not just as a musician but also as a full-time “tech fanatic.”
Mix-A-Lot released his first album, Swass, in 1988 and hasn’t lasted almost three decades in the famously fickle music industry just because of good luck. He’s combined talent and a unique style with a love of technology that keeps him engaged with his expanding online audience.
Reached by Skype Video Call at his studio, Mix-A-lot laughs, “As a kid in 1980’s Seattle, I had no local role model for a career in hip hop. When I recorded my first album I was still working at an arcade, fixing up pinball machines and handing out change. I’ve always had to blaze my own path and that’s served me well as the music industry changed.”
He continues, “It used to be that the live shows were the marketing to sell the records, tapes and CDs. Now, it’s been flipped and the music is often given away for free to promote the artist’s brand. Each artist needs to think of themselves as their own walking, talking brand.”
“It doesn’t matter how well you sing, no label is going to be interested unless you know how to build and maintain a relationship with fans through social media and other communications,” he says. “And if you’re good enough at connecting with fans directly – like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – you may not need a label at all.”
Mix-A-Lot has not only embraced new forms of social media and communications but is always brainstorming innovative ways to engage with his audience about his three loves: music, luxury cars and technology. He says, “Skype is the way that that I let fans and journalists see behind the scenes and truly interact with me.” For Mix-A-Lot’s upcoming album DUN 4GOT ABOUT MIX, he is planning to use Skype Video Calls to get fans to participate in studio sessions and play a role influencing his new music.
As a mentor and head of Rhyme Cartel Records, Mix-A-Lot frequently advises young musicians on the importance of being tech savvy. He also works hands-on with artists he represents like songstress Tomeka Williams, lyricist Outtasite and Ayron Jones and the Way (who he describes as ‘Stevie Ray Vaughn meets Nirvana meet Jimi Hendrix’) to build their online audience and work toward finding a national following for their next albums.
And the next step for Mix-A-Lot as a tech guru is the release of his own music-based technology products.
Specific project details are being kept under wraps, but he says, “I plan on introducing some technology in the near future that is going to shock a lot of people – and one of the big things that is going to surprise people is that I’m building it all myself, not hiring someone to do it for me. All I can say now is that I’m creating a new way for kids to make music.”
He laughs, “I’m not trying to be the next Steve Jobs, but if people use my technology to make cool music that they’re excited about, I’ll be happy.”
Sir Mix-A-Lot is on Twitter – @therealmix