What led you to start your own company?
I have always been an avid listener of rap music and decided I would try to create it when I was 16 years old. After a few months of producing my own instrumentals and releasing them online, I discovered the online instrumental licensing industry. I decided to try licensing my own instrumentals and thus founded my music production and licensing company, Dansonn Beats.
Where did you get the startup money?
Since my startup costs were minimal, I used money out of my own pocket. Once I was able to generate revenue from license sales, I began to invest in more equipment, software, brand development and everything else that my company is built on today.
What was the biggest challenge?
Since the online licensing market is heavily saturated, it was very difficult to break into and differentiate my brand from all of the other existing ones. However, I was able to utilize social media to create my own fan base and better target receptive audiences.
What was the most important lesson you learned?
Time management and prioritization. In addition to running Dansonn Beats, I am a student at USC and am involved in various organizations on and off campus. There are so many different opportunities being at USC. I have realized that I am limited in my time and must prioritize my activities.
How many hours a day do you put in?
Every day I spend about one to two hours doing emails, reviewing comments, site maintenance, etc. Otherwise, I spend about 10-15 hours per week on actual music production and creating new instrumentals.
You’re younger than most of your peers in the industry, is that a challenge?
I work alone at Dansonn Beats, but being younger than most of my peers often creates an interesting dynamic. However, my age has only motivated me to work harder and find ways to improve my company. I have found that being around older, more experienced peers provides me interesting perspectives and insights.
Will you start another company?
I do not have any plans at this moment to start another company, but am definitely open to it in the future.
Could you ever work for someone else?
As long as the company encouraged independence and creative thinking, I think I would be able to work for someone else. If I fit into a company’s culture, I would definitely be open to working there.
What do you do to relax?
When I’m not producing music, I love cooking and watching movies. There are few things more relaxing for me than watching a movie with a home-cooked meal.
DANIEL GONG, 20
Dansonn Beats, rap instrumental music production and licensing company, Los Angeles
Financials: $3,000 in monthly revenue.
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