Meet the entrepreneur helping creatives turn their craft into a career

Four years ago, a friend texted Larry Mickie and told him to move to Charlotte. Mickie, a Richmond, Va., native, music producer and songwriter, didn’t waste much time thinking it over as his friend described how the music scene in the Queen City was taking off.

“Nothing was moving forward the way I wanted it to in Virginia,” Mickie, 29, said.

From rock and pop to rap and trap, Mickie loves music. Even more, his love of music production bought him opportunities with some of today’s top musical performers such as Trey Songz and Justin Bieber. And when he got bit by the tech bug and created MusicLinx, the on-the-go music studio app with over 40,000 users and 800-plus downloads each week, he learned that there’s more to music than just creating it.

“Music is a vessel for me to create, to connect and to bring people together,” Mickie said. “But I knew I wanted to help creatives answer the questions they ask themselves every day: What do I need to do next from a business perspective? How do I make what I do with music or writing or art my actual business versus my side hustle?”

Enter Kanari — a customer relationship management and project management tool designed to allow creatives to oversee and govern projects, relationships, files and invoicing in one place for their clients — with a beta mobile app set to go live in mid-September.

“We learned about the need for Kanari from the MusicLinx community. From there, we asked more freelancers about the issues they’ve faced, and they had similar dilemmas,” Mickie explained.

With clarity in mind, Kanari’s goal is to give its users — music producers, writers, architects and other creative professionals — a better look into the state of their business operations so they know what they need to take themselves to the next level, and can avoid being in the weeds wondering if they need more clients.

“There’s not a more frightening moment for an entrepreneur than saying to yourself, ‘I have to find another client because I can’t afford rent yet for next month,’” Mickie said. “Once you understand who you are and what your business is capable of, you can determine who you want to work with, what your direction is, what your goals are and what you want to achieve.”

One of Kanari’s core values is keeping the tool simple because “simplicity gives you clarity and doesn’t disturb your flow,” Mickie explained, noting that the loudest complaint he and the Kanari team hear from creatives is there are too many available creative tools in too many places.

“Instead of trying to manage your clients in Basecamp and having to go over to Trello to organize your project with your team, we want to give users all the tools they need, curated just for them,” Mickie said.

To find those users, Mickie and his CMO, Bryant Walker, are looking first to the MusicLinx community. Then they plan to tap into the various communities of creative freelancing professionals, such as those on Meetup and Facebook. They are also planning to use social platforms and advertising to reach customers on a larger scale.

For Mickie, Kanari is more than an app or an online tool; he wants it to become the means to help creatives get their businesses off the ground.

“It’s important that people know they can turn their idea and themselves into a brand,” he said. “Kanari is for people who are willing to take that risk for what they believe in. It’s important that a creative knows she don’t need to go back to Corporate America and make a living, that she can start her own business, live the life she wants and work on her passion.”

Photo: Julia Fay Photography

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