This Billboard Pop Artist Shares The Meaning of Being An “Influencer”

Published on April 2, 2019

From the piano all the way to the stage, indie pop artist, Shelita is doing it all—releasing singles, educating fans on what it means to be an influencer, and playing around with blockchain technology.

Photo Credit: Shelita

With the release of her latest single, “Religion,” Shelita’s vocals are bending genres with the single’s sensual vocal mashup of hip-hop and trap elements, featuring ASMR triggers that evoke pleasurable emotions for the listener.

The release comes after Shelita having amassed over 20 million streams with her last EP, “Special,” and reaching #24 on Billboard.

Her immersion and passion for new technologies, specifically, the Blockchain, makes her one of the more fascinating artists to keep your eyes on, as she is the archetype of what is possible for modern creatives.

I spoke with Shelita last week about how she got her start and her love for blockchain technology within the music industry.

What Is Your “Religion?”

The pop artist told me that this newest release is her favorite that she’s written to date.

GritDaily: What was going through your mind putting the song together?

Shelita: The song was composed on the piano and I was very much in love. Previously, I used to write melancholy songs, and when I wrote this, I was really in love. I felt the one metaphor people could really relate to how I was feeling was through religion.

GD: How do you define “religion?”

Shelita: You know, some people have negative connotations about religion, and others have positive connotations. For me, love and technology are my religions. I relate to that word differently, but I look at that word and take it to the highest space in my body and outside of my body. I wanted to capture that feeling in a way that wasn’t too analytical.

GD: What’s your favorite aspect about being an artist?

Shelita: I think now it’s something different than what I would have said years ago. Now, I am bringing these songs to you as a gift and loving all over you. I’m very audience driven and giving parts of myself to the listener. Before, I wasn’t doing that at all. It was a different kind of art. It’s now extremely audience-focused. It’s about everyone and not me—it’s about “we” and how we can evolve together as human beings and elevate our minds together with music that I am able to share on stage.

Maintaining Creative Control
Photo Credit: Shelita

Intellectual property in the 21st century has an entirely different meaning than it did, say, ten years ago. The entertainment industry is in flux when it comes to artists expressing their interest to retain creative control over the works they create and the image they have established for themselves.

As a lawyer, watching how the scale of digital rights management is implemented and even litigated, is constantly in motion.

In my conversation with Shelita, she made very clear that she’s not against record labels, but at the same time, independence for her has made more sense.

For my music and image, I AM the label; nobody else,” she emphasized.

GD: Why is maintaining creative control over your music and image important to you?

Shelita: I am not against labels. However, at this stage, it makes more sense for an artist to sign who they are to themselves, first. Build a brand that connects to them, and then translate that to the world, instead of having someone knock on your door and taking that from you and changing everything about you.

So, You Want to Be An “Influencer?”
Photo Credit: Shelita

When you hear the word “influencer” you think of someone with millions of followers and that blue checkmark by their social media account.

But, there’s way more to it than just the superficial appearance of your account. For true influencers like Shelita, it’s all about building a brand that curates valuable content.

GD: With the type of content you put out there, what is your favorite outlet?

Shelita: I have this love/hate relationship with social media. On the platforms, I don’t own the customer relationships, unlike my email lists and phone number list of text messages I send out. With those lists, I own the customer relationships there, because it’s my data. However, with social media, I don’t own those relationships.

But, I’ve always looked at the platforms as a way to curate content and to introduce things to people they don’t normally know. Whenever I have an insight about something, I will share that with my followers. At the end of the day, if you provide value to your audience, they will continue to follow everything you do because they trust your curation of content. That’s how you become an influencer or thought leader. You have a responsibility to your audience to deliver value. That doesn’t mean you post every day—you must think about the type of content you associate yourself with.

Utilizing the Blockchain to Connect With Audiences

Artists like Imogen Heap, Gareth Emery, and Justin Blau, have embraced the power of blockchain technology to better connect with their fans.

For Shelita, it’s just a technology that hasn’t been explained properly to the masses, causing a greater deal of confusion than necessary.

I am very lucky that one of my colleagues at Microsoft has mentored me on Bitcoin. When I read Satoshi’s whitepaper, I was fascinated with the fact that you could create your own token for your own community.”

[…] “Today, if you had to explain to a 95-year-old woman what the internet is, you’d have no problem describing it in one sentence,” she explained. “You’ve used the internet and seen how its changed lives.”

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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