It is truly amazing when one can make a living off of their creative art. It is a sure sign that you’ve shaken hands, successfully, with art and business.
The learning process and the challenges don’t end, however, as an artist you are overjoyed with the notion that you are profiting from something you love. Your passion and creativity is the source of your livelihood. So many wait forever for that to happen.
“Honestly, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else besides music,” states keyboardist Moses Hall. In addition to being a church musician, the 23-year-old Columbia College graduate is also one-fourth of the band Harmonious Dynasty.
“We met the first week of school and we got together and just jammed,” recalls Moses. “Then there was an open mic at Columbia and we did it and everyone loved it.”
From a spontaneous jam session, where the fellas completely vibed to becoming the house band for Columbia’s Big Mouth open mics, Harmonious Dynasty’s popularity grew, and well, so did their pockets.
Laughing, Hall clarifies, “We put our work in though by doing a ton of free shows and then eventually it changed over to getting paid for our services and the branding.”
“We’re getting to the point where we’re going to put out our own music. But, our niche, we accompany various artists,” he explains. “We’ll learn the artist’s material and then come up with our own arrangement for the show.”
Forming in 2009, to date, HD has performed in and out of Illinois for various artists and venues big and small.
Though the band is a profitable gig, toward Moses’ senior year of college, he was hit sideways with decisions to make. He found himself looking for a job and a new place to live.
“I was stuck and didn’t know what to do,” exclaims the musician. “At the time I was interning at a music company and I was hoping that I would get hired afterward. However, that didn’t work out.”
Just as one door was closing, Moses was facing yet another challenge that would soon turn everything around for him. “I was also in the process of moving because the complex I was living in wasn’t really receptive of music and I’m a musician. So, I had to find a creative space where I could hold rehearsals.”
A few clicks on the internet and he found his new home, a loft space, in Chicago’s South loop – quite a come up. Now, it was really time to hustle. Though the Jamaica Queens native has always been good with saving money and budgeting, the cost of living downtown is hefty, especially when your main income is gig-based and more times than not paid in cash.
“I was thinking there’s no way I’ll be able to carry the overhead expense of this place for an entire year. So, I’m thinking, ‘Lord I’m really going to have to humble myself and apply for a job at Target,” laughs Moses. “I was working on different projects so I’m thinking something has to work out.”
And in fact it had. In what seems like an overnight turnaround, Moses Hall the musician had added CEO and Founder of MoHall Loft to his resume.
The power of social media, when applied strategically, is magical.
“I posted a picture of my new space on Facebook and I get a message from a photographer asking how much did I rent my space out for?”
His entrepreneurial and innovative mentality kicked in and Moses quickly contacted a photographer buddy and inquired about average pricing for space rental and photo shoots. In addition, he took the initiative to call around various studios posing as if he wanted to book space.
“I know how to put up [social media] statuses. I know what’s going to catch people’s attention and what time of day to post something, so I started using social media to my advantage.”
Before he could fully grasp what was happening, six months ago today, MoHall Loft had its first client. An independent artist rented the space to shoot a music video. Clientele boosted from that point.
Located at 2251 S. Michigan Ave., MoHall Loft is a petite event space ideal for photo shoots, intimate music showcases, art auctions, private events and wine tastings. Art works from various Chicago artists adorn the brick walls while a wide window exposes Michigan Avenue and offers a natural light effect. It’s a boutique spot with big business moves.
Due to such rapid success, Moses is even building relationships and partnerships with bigger facilities. He takes a bit of credit for his natural business-savvy aura but also credits his alma mater for really teaching the art technique of networking.
“Columbia is a big network. Yes, the education is cool. You can get A’s and B’s your whole college career and then be stuck broke without a job,” he points out. “But what I’ve learned is you have to network your butt off. No matter what you do, network. That’s literally how I’ve been able to start my business and literally how I’ve been able to have access to a bigger facility.”
From a student and musician, to musician and CEO. But now that the business is in full effect with weekly bookings, often three-five times a week, when is there time for creativity?
“That’s the struggle right now,” Moses admits. “Sometimes it gets hard to balance business and creativity. Sometimes business overrides creativity because you have to focus on so much. So I’m in the process of trying to create a balance between the two.”
As artists we all have a vision, a mission, that we incorporate into our brand. We’re set with an agenda and navigate in social circles to feed that agenda and receive creative energy from others. It’s that vibe thing. Profit makes the journey a livable one. But it’s the art and the message that fuels us.
“I want to have my hands in everything [as it relates to the arts], so MoHall is just a platform. The money helps, but my ultimate goal is to just build that network,” he says. “So now I have a reason to talk to a Fashion Designer. I have a reason to talk to a model or people I wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to talk to. Now I have something to offer them. I have something that they need. So it broadens my whole demographic because I have an event space.”