Jazz vocalist Kathy Kosins divulges her business model

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Piano in the Lamont School of Music’s Room 229 [Photo by Hayley Knoph]

DENVER, Colo.-Musician and painter Kathy Kosins shared her model for success in the music industry with students from the Lamont School of Music on Monday. Emphasizing interdisciplinary talent, Kosins ascribed her achievements as results of hard work.

“You have to make your own opportunities,” said Kosins in her lecture.

Since her start in a Top 40 band at the age of 18, Kosins has been doing just that. From recording ad jingles to signing her first record deal with Schoolkids Records, the musician has always found opportunities to keep herself going in the industry.

“I’ve never let doors closing in my face stop me,” she said. “I just keep going like the Energizer bunny.”

Acting as her own agent, Kosins has marketed herself without any “hand-holding.” She has never taken a singing or painting lesson, and as she recounted her journey, one can see her talent for business as self-made as well.

She utilizes cold calls as a major strategy rather than emails that are rarely answered. Recently, Kosins received a reply for an email she had sent almost 10 years ago. With cold calling, she didn’t cite any such issue.

“You have to do so much legwork to get a handful of gigs,” stated Kosins. But without such legwork, “the phone does not ring off the hook.”

Kosins also affirmed the importance of aligning oneself with those who are already successful in the industry. Making such connections has been integral in her career. She recently collaborated with Kamau Kenyatta, the acclaimed producer of Gregory Porter, on her newest album “Guilt by Association,” which will be released in September of 2016.

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Portrait of Kathy Kosins [Photo by Ziggy Spitz]

“Try to find people who are already on the map and make those people your allies,” Kosins suggested. “It’s guilt by association.”

Kosins has established herself as an interdisciplinary artist. While maintaining her career as a musician, she began painting as another form of income. Her art is jazz-inspired, and she has even been asked to paint from the stage. Kosins’s acrylic work has been sold at gigs, and she performs at the receptions for her art shows.

In addition to utilizing the visual arts, Kosins works to broaden her opportunities with singing. Since the jazz world seems to be closing in, she blends her “jazz voice” with R&B and soul styles. In doing so, she isn’t boxed into one sector of music, and she is then available for multiple genres.

“Multi-task your own career because if you just do one thing, you pigeonhole yourself, and you can only do that one thing,” Kosins suggested. She explained that the more variety one is able to occupy, the more opportunities will arrive. “Do it all and try to sell it all.”

Ultimately, Kosins stressed the importance of becoming versatile in the changing jazz landscape. Her success came with hard work and dedication, and she hope that the same will come for the music students in attendance.

“If you never speak up and ask for what you want, you’ll never get what you want.”

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