Tink released her debut mixtape “Winter’s Diary” at age 16.
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During an exclusive interview with AfroTech, the Chicago native reveals the significance of touring with her latest project as an independent artist.
“It feels so good,” Tink expressed. “A lot of people don’t know it takes a lot of work to get albums together, to accumulate songs. For me, I’m hands-on with everything. Being independent, I’m in control of everything. So, the dynamic is a little different for me. I write my records alongside Hitmaka. I also produce my records. I’m in charge of the way my visuals look and a lot of decisions.”
She continued: “To finally have a project out and be able to tour it, is a big deal for me. If you know my story, there was a period of time where I couldn’t really release music and I had to take some time away to get out of a deal. So, these moments mean a lot for me. I always dreamed about going on tour with my records, and to watch it happen, it is indescribable.”
Tink has come far from a tumultuous period in her artistic journey that led to her walking away from a deal with Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group. What has always remained evident is her faith in what she refers to as a “gifted ear,” which was showcased to the world since the start of her career.
By the time she finished high school, Tink had already released several mixtapes, including “Alter Ego” and “Blunts & Ballads.”
“It all started when I was younger. I was honestly making mixtapes in my basement,” Tink explained. “So, I know how to make an intro and I know how to connect a song with an interlude, all these creative things I was learning on my own.”
Though she was releasing music without a budget and wasn’t making a penny, creating a body of work felt organic. However, while working under a label, the liberating feeling of releasing music into the world was stifled. During this stage of her career, she had difficulties releasing what would have been her debut album, “Think Tink.”
Unable to depend on her label, Tink worked on two mixtapes to keep fans energized on her own without backing or promotion, per Fader.
“As an artist, you want to connect with your fans and drop an album every year. So for me not to have music out, it was literally just killing me,” Tink told AfroTech.
Tink was able to return to her early career roots, but this time with greater understanding of how to achieve long-term success in the music industry after reflecting on her mishaps.
“I’m grateful for my journey. Everything that happened was God and it was planned,” she reflected. “But if I could go back, I honestly would have just held out a little longer. Fast money isn’t always good money.”
Owning Her Master Recordings
What’s more, Tink was also granted ownership of her master recordings, although she decided not to release any songs tied to Timbaland.
“As an artist, sometimes we don’t think long term and I learned that the hard way. Now I can fix those mistakes,” Tink said. “We work hard and want generational wealth. So, I want my kids and my kids’ kids to have something to fall back on. It’s a big deal to own your masters or just be in control of your career.”
Working smarter and not harder has been paying off tenfold for Tink. There was a time in her career when she relied on platforms including SoundCloud to distribute her music. A fan favorite from the artist includes “Treat Me Like Somebody,” which was released on the platform in 2014 under her mixtape “Winter’s Diary 2.” However, she did not make a dime for the record despite its growing popularity.
“When I released ‘Treat Me Like Somebody,’ this was a different era,” she said. “We were on SoundCloud, and I didn’t make money off these records and I’m not ashamed of that. I feel like that song carries me today. So I might not have got a dime back then, but it’s what’s getting people to buy these tickets.”
Maintaining Her Artistry
In addition to touring, Tink also maintains her artistry by distributing her music through platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music while ensuring that her music is copy-written and she can secure her publishing rights.
“I’m really just paying attention to the business of it. It’s no longer just a SoundCloud thing or, ‘Put it up on YouTube, let ’em have it,'” she elaborated. “We want to get paid.”
"Thanks 4 Everything"
Nearly six years ago, Tink was performing at bars. Now, she’s gracing venues like the Chicago Theatre where she concluded her 13-stop tour in Chicago on April 23, 2023.
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She is grateful to her fans whom have been front and center, and she credits them for making her artistic journey today possible.
“I want my fans to hear that I am grateful,” Tink said. “That’s the biggest thing for me. My fans, they grew up with me so they know that we come from the trenches to the top. Without them, it’s hard to sell out tours and grand theaters now. Where I come from, maybe five or six years ago I was literally still performing in bars. So, you can imagine what this feels like now because a lot of people didn’t see it. My fans made it possible.”