We’re back with another installation of our latest series, TuneCore Tuesdays, which aims to highlight artists and other music professionals who are writing, recording, and hustling on their own terms. By showcasing creatives doing it their way all over the globe, TuneCore Tuesdays aims to empower and inspire our diverse community of artists.
This week we’re talking to Atlanta-based soul and R&B artist Keeyen Martin. Check out his video and be sure to learn more about his journey!
It’s always interesting to find out how artists first picked up an instrument or a pad of paper to start making music. For Keeyen Martin, he wasn’t old enough to hold a real instrument, and his handwriting skills were less than developed.
“My grandmother started me at the tender age of two,” Keeyen tells us. “Practicing songs, piano, and holding a toy microphone to imitate performers. I always had a routine of practice, rehearsals, and tagging along to the studio with my parents.”
It was later, but not much later, in high school that Martin would decide that music is what he wanted to pursue as a career. Whether it was performing or within the industry, he was determined. Raised in North Carolina, Martin got the opportunity to start attending studio sessions and eventually began singing professionally as a background singer as major label artists would come through town. But it was more than just laying vocals down for him:
“I studied EVERYONE,” he says, laughing. “I generally gathered that I needed to content with every artist – the quality, the performance, and the presentation were such a priority for keeping up with the industry.”
After receiving a Michael Jackson Scholarship to attend Morehouse College, Keeyen found himself situated in one of the most important music markets in the country: Atlanta.
From there, Keeyen began his independent music career, during which he’d go on to share the stage with legends like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Kanye West, Michelle Williams, and Common, finding stages all over the country to showcase his talent. Its live performance that he sees as an important and ongoing evolution for artists.
“Performing has been a consistent master class,” says Keeyen. “I live by, ‘You’re only as good as your last performance’, and every audience, every fan deserves your best. You meet so many people that champion what you do, and it’s your duty to honor that with a great live show. From starting out so young, I’ve grown so much and learned how to engage and entertain almost any audience. There’s truly so much development that comes from the stage.”
He credits YouTube and for turning him into a stronger social media marketer. Sharing videos and getting feedback showed him how to embrace feedback and data. Operating in the world of modern R&B and soul music, Keeyen is energized by its growth: “So many indie artists are really pushing the genre forward with fresh new music and performance.”
When Martin isn’t in the studio or onstage, he’s in the community committing time to the Atlanta Music Project. He says it’s taught him about connection and teaching.
“Essentially, [Atlanta Music Foundation] is geared to educate and groom the next generation of musicians and artists. I’ve had so much fun teaching students the art of performing and having various sessions about the Music Business. Artists should always remember that we are a reflection of our community and it’s vital to give back to the cities and people that made us.”
In 2010, Keeyen signed up for a free TuneCore account and hasn’t looked back. He cites TuneCore as one of the digital platforms that showed him he could successfully release music whenever he wants.
“It’s been a key component to my success, as I’m in control of not just my music but digital presence as an artist,” says Martin. “I’ve learned how to balance everything from upcoming releases, budgets and tracing my trajectory [as an artist] all from using TuneCore.”