Build Your Own Pavilion

There’s a legend out there about an artist who always wanted to showcase his art, but the gatekeepers of his time never allowed his art into their pavilions. Frustrated but unwilling to give up, the artist built his own pavilion in a nearby area and showcased his art there. As more people saw his art, word spread and he became the talk of the town. He would go on to become one of the most well-known artists of his time and his pavilion would reign supreme over all of the pavilions that denied him access. He ignored the doubters and built his own pavilion to reach the masses.

I read that story in the summer before I went to college. I have no idea if that artist was a real person and I can’t seem to find the story anymore. But it was one of the most inspiring things I had ever read, and it shaped how I operate to this day.

I knew I wanted to make music in college, but I was denied from the student groups that made music. Rap wasn’t really their thing. It wasn’t going to work there apparently.

They left me with no choice but to build my own thing. That’s when Kayvon Music was born. I started putting my music out there and selling merch. I used my merch revenue to rent out a performance space. I sold it out and made headlines in the local paper. The rest is history.

In the almost 2 years since graduating from college, I’ve been working to take my brand beyond my college and high school communities. In the process, I’ve kept complete ownership of my work, and everything is completely self-funded. I built this pavilion. And look at my numbers — I’m still growing.

I’m my own label. I distribute my music to all the streaming platforms. I distribute my videos to all the social media platforms. I distribute my clothing releases. I promote my own concerts with my team. I use my skill-set, budget, and hustle to share my work with the masses. Facebook, Instagram, and other places on the internet have made it easier than ever to own your own platform. Right now I’m funding it through my job, but over time I’ll make enough money from this to pay for itself, and eventually turn a profit. Ownership is a beautiful thing.

Don’t let them tell you what you can or cannot do. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you love if it’s good for the world. And if they say you can’t do it, then build an empire so that you can empower yourself to do it. Build your own pavilion.

Your favorite entrepreneurs did the same thing, and probably on a much larger scale than I have. They built something valuable for the world and grew their value selling their product to the masses. They gave up equity in their company but only in exchange for resources that would allow them to keep growing. Then they eventually held on to their companies, or they sold them. Either way, if they were smart about it, their journey was both fulfilling and lucrative.

Unfortunately, a lot of artists, creators, and other builders don’t understand this concept of equity and ownership. They sign deals with gatekeepers that strip them from almost all of their control and equity in exchange for distribution. Yeah they become famous, but that fame and access to the masses can disappear at any time, and there’s nothing those creators can do about it if the gatekeepers choose to go in a different direction. It’s heartbreaking.

I want to change that with what I’m building. I want to help create a world where everyone is empowered to do what they love. Where everyone is empowered to own their work. Where everyone can have a chance. That’s why I love where I work. We do that every day. And I want to keep doing that as I grow.

What are you building? What’s your dream? And what are you doing to get there?