Episode #
019

Find the Beat: Remote Living through the Eyes of Kia Orion of Beat School

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Episode Summary

We all like music, one genre or the other. I don't believe there's a single person that actually dislikes all types of music. Some people love music to a concerning degree like it's the only thing they think about and want so constantly that it feels like an addiction. It's far more than a want, it's a need. Ultimately, music has changed our lives and still changes us every day. That same passion drove Kia Orion to where he is right now - running Beat School and teaching how to create cool music.

In this episode of The New Nomad, Kia joins hosts Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in exploring the world of beats and what it took to thrive in it. From making 10 years’ worth of mistakes and failed tries, Kia finally pursued his passion for music by creating and teaching his students good ole’ ground thumpin’ beats. Our trio of nomads also discussed the challenges in this niche and tips on how to be successful in it. This is a fun-filled (and music tips-filled) episode that you wouldn’t want to miss. Really.

What You'll Learn

Most Overlooked Place:

    Da Nang, Vietnam - check out Blond Travel's take on this destination here: read more.    

Timestamps

[3:43] Selling everything in pursuit of being a digital nomad

[4:35] A million ways to approach online businesses

[6:24] The birth of Beat School - monetizing your passion

[18:58] At the end of the day, it’s all about integrity

[20:45] Do what you love and everything else is just icing on the cake

[25:39] Being comfortable outside of your comfort zone

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. We have a really interesting guest today. Kia Orion is going to talk to us about beat school. And what you think about Beat School is kind of interesting is most of our conversations on this podcast have been about people have gone to do remote work. But many of you remote workers are remote learners, and he's going to talk about learning, music, audio production, etc. And I think it's going to be a really interesting conversation. And even during this period of time, during the pandemic, when you know, we're home you I've heard of people like learning how to paint, how to write, you know how to do a lot of different things. So before we get too far, deep into that, I'm gonna bring in my co host, Andrew Jernigan. Andrew, I know you've learned online for many different things. What's your thoughts on online learning, expanding your horizons and everyday adding something a little bit more to that intellectual capital?

Andrew  

Well, I know that I recently learned that 20% of the sugar in the world comes from beets, so I'm really interested in gardening, the people that are learning the things with gardening with growing things. So beat school, this is gonna be good. Yeah. I was just shocked with that reason. 20% of the sugar in the world comes from beets. 

Allen  

Oh, my God. 

Andrew  

No, okay. I know this, that Kia coming in and talking to us about learning new things. It's not about that red veggie. But you know, it's, it's a really nice thing. I mean, you know, as I think about awakening, getting away from this computer, and simulating the intellect and creativity in new ways. So, we're gonna learn how to make up the beat today. 

Allen  

Well, I first off, I'm almost dumbfounded by that opening gambit. Hey, Andrew, it must be a Friday that we're doing this podcast. I'll just leave it at that for our, for our audience out there. Let's bring in Kia and you know, Kia is in Mexico City today's travelled around the world. Welcome. Welcome to the podcast. You know, really interesting your background, once you share a little bit of your background, before we kind of get into a lot of the gory details.

Kia  

Of course, I want to enter thank you so much for having me. Thanks to the audience for listening to the episode. Um, and you guys are actually kind of knocked out of the park already, in terms of the setup, because I would say my entire Nomad experience would fall I'd say almost more under remote learning than anything. It's been, it's been the most eye opening journey, the last three years, I celebrate my third year, abroad, this this actually this month, so but learning in so many ways. And it was really that was the impetus actually just started off was long story short, was working as a substitute teacher and a bartender in Philly, West Philly, and was trying to work these odds and ends for jobs to make money to support my art. And was maybe maybe got a little bit too gung ho about the four-hour workweek and a Gary Vee podcast or two and figured how can I really leverage living minimally so that I can I can free up more of that time curve. 

And you know, in terms of resources, and then I said, where people building online businesses, and rather than getting paid money for an MBA or something, I figured I would do more atypical MBA, where I'd said, I'll just go, I'm a guy, I got to taste things I got to be in, I got to be in it. So I learned that there's a place in Thailand and Northern Thailand called Chiang Mai, where there happened to be a big community of people running remote businesses. And so I sold everything that was important to the Florida Department. And with about $1,000 in the bank account, bought a one way ticket to Thailand and just started networking, learning from people, failing, trying to start a lot of businesses failing at all of them and until you just beat your head against the wall long enough and it clicks. And three years later, here we are.

Allen  

So you're interested in music and and by the way, later on the podcast will give people an opportunity to to find your music. So tell us about that, that journey to and your love of that. Because so many people aspire to be musicians, but most of them have voices like me. So they're it's gonna be a hopeless experience, and no musical ability in any other way.

Kia  

Allen for what it's worth. I wouldn't say I have a great voice either. The key is like anything that online businesses is there's a million ways to approach it. And so when I was in Philly and really trying to make music I started in jazz band playing alto saxophone in high school. I loved it. I grew up in kind of like Napster limewire era. If you have any older listeners though, I understand that but it was like very much like underground hip hop for a long time. I was really into hip hop and rap and then eventually because I didn't have anyone to make beats for me. Learn how to make the beats for myself for my own have my own art. And along the way never quite figured out how to make make a living off of the music itself and these days there there are so many ways to do it I'm much wiser but I said okay, how can I create some sort of a business that I can bankroll my art journey which I think a lot of artists you know attempt to do and do successfully you kind of have your whatever it is your your baby your art, but then you can monetize something else in order to fund it. 

And so that's that's what I did. I said, What I tried all of the Nomad things I tried to drop shipping store selling fly fishing rods and like glasses for triathletes, and all these other types of Nomad things that none of them fitness, and how can I build a business around, but I really love her. And that ended up being I said, Okay, I, I love teaching my dad as a middle school science teacher. So I said, it's in my blood. And no matter how big I could, I could build my brand from my own music, I always knew there's something about teaching or empowering others with the craft that I'll do forever, no matter what the medium looks like, because I'm just passionate about it. So it took some trial and error to find kind of figure out first, I was selling beats to rappers and that was okay, didn't love it, they weren't great clients, and then ended up figuring out the people that actually, it was much more lucrative if I actually taught people how to make the music rather than selling the music directly to consumers. So that's kind of how the Beat School started.

Andrew  

You can do this from anywhere.

Kia  

Yeah, and so that was the piece to Andrew to good point was being in Thailand, you I heard this really cool quote the other day, that was I'm gonna butcher it, but it's pretty much the idea that it's it's less about intellect, raw intellect, and more about awareness. And I think for me speaking about remote learning, that was a huge piece about just being abroad. And and being in kind of these communities with online entrepreneurs as well is that you don't even realise I grew up in a small town in upstate New York, you don't even realize what's available, you don't know what you don't know. And so it wasn't until I got to Chiang Mai and really started to like, see what was possible. That's like, you be like, that's an option. Like, I need to know that you could do that. And so thinking outside the box, rather than teaching music lessons, one on one, because again, that takes time, and it can be kind of hard to quantify, there's the ceiling can only be so high on kind of those hourly lessons, that instead I said, Okay, I'm gonna approach this music thing from sort of the online entrepreneurship space of coaching courses, digital products, and that and so that's been kind of the journey as well learning online marketing and approaching it kind of from a different, different angle.

Allen  

So online teaching versus a student sitting right where, exactly, so how, what are some of the challenges for both you as the teacher and as the student cuz I assume that you, you help them fine tune what they need to do. And then they go back and practice and come back? How does that work?

Kia  

You must be a pro with this. Allen. That's That's exactly it. You nailed it. I think, I think part of it when any one starting any sort of a course or coaching programme, I think you really want to figure out the access to you, because that's really what people pay for. And honestly, everyone knows, you can learn anything you want through YouTube, like, it's just going to take you a while to kind of like put together this kind of Frankenstein piece. And there's, there's something to be said, for accountability. That's what people have personal trainers, there's something to be said about being able to shortcut that process from someone who's done it before made the mistakes you don't have to. And so as someone who did make all the mistakes as an independent learner, I was like, Man, I wish that there were all these things that I'd known. And so that's, Allen you're 1,000% right, that's exactly what the my approach to it is less about just trying to sell an online course and more about how can I create some sort of a program that's scalable, but also has touchpoints with a coach or with me or with people so that there's that the the pieces on the course that I really think are on the program on the education period is the accountability piece is huge and the feedback piece is huge. So so that I didn't start it that way I started in like I said, I failed, a lot of times started products didn't work. And then I said, Oh, how can I dial in those two things? And that's when I started to see the momentum with the programmes. 

Allen  

But you know, you touch upon something, you know, for a while, remember a few years back, everybody's like, well, 10,000 hours. Yeah, all those things. Yes. Not everybody all worried like oh my god to learn how to play the guitar, or you know, it would be hours, but you provide some shortcuts to that. And of course, a lot of people the 10,000 hours if you want to be a master, I think a lot of people that probably reach out to you are like, I would just like to make my own music heard or, you know, do something that makes me feel happy it what is what's the rationale that you see for people on their musical pursuits

Kia  

a man and he must be He must be he must have been doing this for a while because you've been nailing it, man. Yeah. 1000 that's, that's Exactly, it's people, some kids are like, hey, I want to be a rock star. And so I want to make my own beats. I said, Okay, let's help you make your beats. But a lot of times, it tends to be actually like, guys that are that want to just have more of an ability to pursue the hobby because especially when you're starting out, like you said, with the shortcuts, it's, it's, it feels like there's there's a lot of pieces almost working against you like any new skill, honestly, it's always going to be the steepest climb right at the beginning. You're going to be the worst at it, you just don't know what you're doing. And you got to you got to have that time to kind of just be crappy at it. And I think having someone that can kind of help you through those Growing Pains is really the that's really the the proposition You know, that's the value prop of the programme is okay, I can help you ease that because that's, you know, businesses you're just solving problems it's I help you ease that pain and let you know kind of what what we can do to kind of shortcut that process you can get to actually having fun making your music.

And man like you said guitar or anything like 10,000 hours if you want to be a master but another really interesting piece I found is that art is subjective. And so you don't you know, how many of you curious how many like Juilliard graduates are like rock stars compared to like, there's a kid who's like 17 making beats on like a cracked version of the software that just gets it poppin because he's knows how to leverage marketing and network and so I try to let people know that it doesn't have to be a 10,000-hour time investment it can if you want to pursue the craft but there are ways there are ways to get to where you want to go faster without having to seem like this huge slog for years and years

Andrew  

Wow okay your your music it's changed over time I must say went back in 2018 the you know, the meal more than the holy water and some of that stuff that's a lot different than what you're putting out today. In the in the you know, the quarantine join find volume three that one the lead me almost my favorite. You know, you gotta go to Kia Orion's Instagram and Spotify, listen to some beats. When you know somebody, you know, it's just getting to the different layers of the person. Tell me Have you been muted? inside? You don't sing? But have you been musical and creative forever? Or is this a recent?

Kia  

Andrew? First of all, I appreciate even listening to the songs man and going back. And even though my name, you are the man! Um, you're right. It was it was for a long time, it was just the beats because it was maybe an insecurity. Maybe his artist is an artist, that's kind of the fine balance that you walk is it's insecurity and ego that you're like, how come only my mom thinks this is great. And at the same time you make a tracking, like I should probably just stop because it's all but it's great.

Andrew  

It is great!

Kia  

Here's the thing. This is where I'd actually pushed back on it a little bit, I'd say agree to disagree, but maybe different perspectives saying the same thing. So I think a lot of the piece of talent, one of my favorite books, it's called Talent Is Overrated is this idea of a being a more of a practice than it is like a like a, like a black a god given scale, or someone just like you are an artist and a creator, I think a lot of us have this in us. But a big piece of it, for me was approaching it a just giving myself like I said before, treating it more like a daily practice. And just understand that it's a game of, of you. It's a game of numbers, you create a lot and you're gonna make a lot of terrible stuff. And like that, that's okay, nobody just creates gold every single time. And so that has been a huge piece of it. It's just like that liberty to say, Okay, I'll make some some stuff that's terrible, but you stumble, you you don't just wake up one day and have that inspiration, you stumble on the gems, but you got to give yourself the opportunity to even stumble on them. So that's gonna happen. 

Allen  

It's interest because you know, one of the things that you you add on your, your website was measured, like by how much fun you're having, and obviously, you're having fun. And I think that that's the most part. Like you said, art is subjective. You know, and inspiration comes from a lot of different ways. I mean, you hear about these famous songs that were written when somebody was asleep and woke up and on the edge of their bed, they wrote it on the napkin, you know, and you just never know what's gonna hit you. And I was and that's why I think just even exploring this if you know you're a remote worker Nomad out there and you're like, I just want to mess around with this. Who knows you might have some sort of inspiration that Kia helps you with that something amazing comes from it, right? Yes.

Kia  

And even speaking to your audience about remote workers, I think a lot of, speaking of how much You're having, a lot of the times we get caught up in, in how lucrative it needs to be or follower counts or whatever it is. And so for me, I realized the quick wins that I could have when I was doing the fly fishing rods, etc, etc, would be much more lucrative much quicker, but that it wasn't sustainable because I really think the true power that you can have sometimes is if you play that long game, excuse me of just like how can I do something that I enjoy on a day to day? If you're in it just for the money, listen, more party if you can make it work, but I found for myself, and I've seen it often that it's hard to keep that energy, the excitement for something, if that's your only motivation. 

And so when it comes to remote work, I think a lot of times are these really cool opportunities for people to create courses programs, products, solve problems around things that they're already passionate about excited about that you that you can almost it makes it that that long journey seem almost irrelevant because you're just enjoying the process so much that it's like whether or not you end up at that final destination doesn't really matter because you're already doing what you love. And I think that's where we sometimes get caught in I'll speak with friends at financially doing much better than I am but but it's it's I know that feeling and working years you know we have to drag your butt to work and Sunday evening comes around to get that that like Sunday evening depression Yeah, I've just feeling like a big part of it this Nomad journey was was simplifying things. What do I really need really dialing it in? What do I need to live in terms of money? Is it for our work week? To to the test for your Sure, honestly, no. And then how can I make that happen? And I think it's, it's hard but if you're willing to commit to it in terms of your long term happiness, I think is worth it.

Allen  

Well, you know, the thing about money which I which I find interesting is I through family, friends, we got to have a dinner with the Fountains of Wayne, who are who my actually my brother in law was their RA at college, two of the guys and we so we had dinner if they played a concert, and then we went over and had some drinks with them. And they're like, you know, I said, How hard is this to make money? Because a known band, you know Stacy's Mom. And of course, unfortunately, Adam Schlesinger passed away last year with COVID, a tremendous person of what Academy Awards, but his comment was, just to give you an idea how this works, you know, we make money for performance. But last year, we made more money selling one of our songs to a Korean tire company, for their advertising campaign, that we did everything else. And he says, You just got to pick your spots. So I was just thinking, you know, one of the beats that you create or somebody creates could be picked up who knows where and and that's one of the hard things about the music industry is you don't even know where it's going to resonate, correct?

Kia  

Yes. And and man, you nailed it, Allen, I think that's a piece of it, too, is it feels like we need huge audiences in order to monetize this. And actually, I've been working a lot recently on my own marketing for my own music, not just the beats, but my own music is that you have to you cultivate a small that's where always starts is that kind of small audience, you don't expect to just do one song to get cracking. And even if it does, a big piece, I think for creators, is this something I've been working on myself, is to have opportunities for people to support you. Whether that's merch, whether that's some sort of a membership program, whether that's other digital product like you if you get if you approach it like a digital marketer, there's so many opportunities to create really cool experiences for people. You don't need 1000 a bajillion fans to make it work.

Andrew  

You know, and it's interesting, as I hear this, I think a lot of times well, it's a question of, would you do it? If you're not going to be famous for it?

Kia  

Right!

Andrew  

If you're not, if no one even knows you're behind it, even in the simple things. Would you write a poem even if you knew no one is going to read it? Would you pick up the trash in the parking lot on your way to the store entrance if you knew no one is gonna thanks. To the things in life that you need to do. Even if no one's watching, and no one knows you did it. We need to write the poetry. We need to read the book. We need to write the book, we need to sing the song. We need to awaken from within and do it even no one knows we did it.

Kia  

1000%! I couldn't say it any better, man. It's about it's about your own. I think sense of happiness and joy that you get from the craft. And listen from a guy who's had a lot of years of nobody listen to music and it's not even like I'm some rock star yet too so you know, I'm still I'm still building up my audience. But again, the record label that I released these under, it's called When And Where, because that's really what I believe it's not a matter of if it's just like, it's inevitable that it has, if you're in it for the right reasons. If you're in it to be famous, if you're in it for those things, then it can, your rewards don't seem quite as immediate. But if you're in it, because you really love it, you love the craft, it's, I mean, there's life is. Life is long, but it's also, the older I get through as the faster it goes of just like if I can just spend my time doing things that feel meaningful and purposeful, then that's a good day. And like then I anything else that comes from those things, yes, going to be intentional, takes a lot of time to market, etc. But like anything else is just bonus. If you can spend your time doing what you love. That's really the win. And then all the other stuff is just icing on the cake.

Allen  

That's perfect. And well said too. So we asked all of our guests to really share with us maybe an overlooked person, place or experience you would suggest that our listeners discover, and you've obviously been to a lot of unique places. And obviously not just places, but you've had a lot of unique experiences. Kara share one or two with us.

Kia  

Absolutely, y'all thank you for the opportunity for this, I, I've got a lot. So like you said, I'll try to boil it down. I think in terms of experiences, this might not be exactly what you were looking for. But the idea of just getting outside of your home country, whatever that is, just because there's so much that you don't even realise is kind of like programming in the back of your mind, that's just invisible to you. Um, so I think that is huge. If you're like, on the fence about like, I kinda want to go for it don't like you don't have to go totally balls to the wall. Like I didn't just drop everything, like test it out. Like even that's awesome for work week tip to give it a shot, test it out for a couple weeks even like it. But I guarantee that having some sort of experience outside of your self outside of your culture, for me that it has been one of the most the biggest game changers for me ever just because again, the awareness piece, you don't realise that things function if you don't even realise you're in the matrix. 

I had a business coach that he said you can't read the ingredients from inside the jar. And that really resonated with me that I was like, Man that makes so much sense like so if you're on the verge, that'd be maybe in terms of experience, no matter what the experience is, you're going to learn from it. So just go have an experience, period. And then in terms of places that were overlooked. In my journey, I loved Danang in Vietnam, I thought that was a city that kind of overlooked the two big cities Danang I really enjoyed and then in terms of on this, on this side of the world, I've really enjoyed my time here in Mexico. And so Mexico City there's there's a lot going on food is good, good weather, the people are super sweet. Those would be two I mean, Mexico City. It's not like that's a hidden gem people know that. But I think the big takeaway is just push yourself a little bit outside your comfort zone and try it and just go for it. If you're on the fence. It completely changed my life.

Andrew  

Okay, so people have heard about you, heard your perspectives, some folks are ready to reach out and say I want to know more. I know right now in you're Mexico City and next I think what's your next international destination after you've got two countries in your list next, I think right?

Kia  

Yes. So I'll be so I'm going to go home visit my mom and dad for a bit I've been chomping at the bit to try Medellín in Colombia. I've also been dying I'm super inspired by architecture even though music is my pride and joy, and so Spain is also kind of been on my radar for a bit. So those are kind of the next two it's you know, it might take me a time to get to get over there but yeah, and fellas it again appreciate you even having me on and talking to me about music all this stuff. I hope that you know the Nomad folks listening out there to this might give you a little bit perspective in terms of your own adventures. If you do want to learn more you can find me I'm everywhere at @Kia Orion, Kia like the car. So I got super cool hippie parents shout out to them so that's great for SEO So Google Kia Orion to find it. And if you want to hear my I have my own podcast that I do pretty much this point in solo episodes kind of my take on life different business takeaways, things were met with the music and that's called Creative Contact with Kia Orion. So Google me and slide in the DM email whatever you want. We went about beats Nomad, whatever. I'm all ears and then throw us a podcast so you can find me so. Thank you so much for having me. This is a this was a pleasure.

Andrew  

Yeah, The New Nomad comes in so many different, so many different aspects. And as we awaken new new dimensions of our own existence, we've got to be willing to look outside our box outside our experiences and be alive. Be alive. So these links are going to be in the show notes. Meet up with Kia strike up some beats Allen back over to you. 

Kia  

Thanks so much

Allen  

well and I hate to say Kia every there's an ad in the Philadelphia area and I know you are Philadelphia guy and it in they always say "see yah in a Kia". But I just you know, been waiting the whole podcast to say that but all good, really appreciated having you I'll take because I think people online learning is an incredibly important thing and keeps us growing. Andrew, a couple things that I've learned today, you know, really is about taking action and being outside your comfort zone. I did appreciate his conversation that talent is overrated, because I felt that my talent has been overrated my whole career. And just just game I am trying to I'm trying to keep up with your beats beginning of earlier in the podcast today. So I'll stop there and see what your last thoughts are for the day, Andrew and get your feedback

Andrew  

about how you can learn to mix music from a distance and your mentor your teacher can teach you from wherever you are. And I'm intrigued by that because I know there's some want to be mixed masters out there and I'm intrigued I you know, this is fascinating to me that he can travel the world make his income teaching people how to be more creative providing the you know the behind the scenes the the things and resell it even it's there's so many ways that people are living this location independent lifestyle.

Allen  

Well, first off, I want to thank you for using the word want to be in there, must be your Spice Girls reference for the day. I appreciate that. All right, well, that should conclude today's The New Nomad podcast. It's more than just a community of people, ideas, and spirit. We're trying to help people take advantage of that location independent lifestyle. Please tune in again, and keep on travellng. We enjoy sharing our adventures. You can find us at TheNewNomad.net on InsuredNomads.com. Thanks again. See you down that road.


Find the Beat: Remote Living through the Eyes of Kia Orion of Beat School

About the Guest

Kia Orion

Kia Orion started 10 years of mistakes then eventually started making dope music and officially been living a nomadic life for 3 years and change. He had been a bartender, marketing manager, and even a high school teacher. Originally from New York, he grew up as the guy hustling his mixtape out of the backpack. After college and a brief stint working at Island/Def Jam, he realized the major label life was not for him. Kia spent four years in Philly, and then after hitting an all-time low got fed up with how life was going. So he sold everything he owns, quit his job, and bought a one-way ticket to Northern Thailand. These days, Kia makes music, creates content, runs Beat School, and obsesses over the process.