Many musicians want the spotlight but fail to put in the work

They dream big, but don’t take the countless smaller steps to get there. 

They yearn to be seen and heard, celebrated as unique, but never differentiate themselves. 

They hope one day a powerful industry pro will provide a boost to their career, but neglect to treat their art as a business up until that point. 

Not JoyRukanza! 

This promising artist from Zimbabwe, who was just featured in renowned music outlet The FADER, has approached her music career strategically from the start. 

With an ear to blend pop and R&B sensibilities into something new. 

With an eye for striking visuals and bold branding. 

Bringing skills she developed in finance and tech to her creative pursuits, when many other artists leave their career development and artistic growth up to chance inspiration and dumb luck.  

Commanding the attention of tastemakers

JoyRukanza’s burgeoning music career stands as a fantastic example of how creativity and professionalism are not at odds. And how organization and inspiration can amplify one another. 

When The FADER announced JoyRukanza was selected for coverage as part of ReverbNation’s Opportunties program, I thought, “Great music. Great videos. Great branding. Great story. That makes a lot of sense.”

Only after I emailed Joy to congratulate her did I realize the degree to which none of those elements are even remotely accidental. And I wanted to learn more about how she approaches her style, sound, marketing, and daily efforts with specific vision. 

An interview with JoyRukanza

How do you define yourself as an artist? What’s essential to know about your development as a creator? 

I’m a Zimbabwean independent artist with a passion for exploring diverse musical genres. While my music is rooted in Pop and R&B, I enjoy blending different styles to craft something experimental and fresh. 

My musical journey began in primary school, where I discovered my love for singing as a member of the choir. This passion grew during my time as an active choir captain in high school. It was during these years that I realized my dream of becoming a musician someday. 

However, like many aspiring artists, I had to put my musical ambitions on hold to pursue my college degree. I revisited this passion in 2020 during lockdown and have not looked back ever since. 

You have such a sharp visual brand and sonic identity. What kind of strategic choices are being made there? 

I incorporate lime green into my branding because it’s a bold and attention-grabbing color that aligns with my desire to stand out and make an impact. 

I aim to create a visual identity that is memorable and distinctive, much like the music and persona I strive to embody. Green holds personal significance for me. It symbolizes rejuvenation, growth, and abundance, qualities that I aspire to infuse into both my career and my music. I hope that my journey as an artist is characterized by continuous growth and that my music leaves listeners feeling refreshed and inspired. 

While I have a clear vision for my visual identity, I also embrace spontaneity. Some of the most defining aspects of my look are born from moments of creative inspiration. 

“(treat) each project as if it were subject to a (manager’s) performance evaluation…”

Can you talk about how — if at all — your background in finance and data analysis inform your approach to music as an entrepreneur? 

Absolutely. My background in finance and technology has played a crucial role in shaping my approach to music. I approach each project with the same level of dedication and professionalism that I would in my corporate career. 

This means investing both time and energy into every aspect of my music endeavors, treating each project as if it were subject to a manager one-on-one every week or a performance evaluation every six months. 

I leverage my project and product management skills from my other job and bring a strategic approach to my music projects, which gives me a competitive edge in the industry. 

In a field where there’s sometimes a perception that artists may not be as involved in their projects, I’m proud to defy that expectation. I’ve found that this approach has helped me gain opportunities to expand my professional networks significantly. 

“I prioritize scheduling multiple photo shoots each month to maintain a fresh image.”

What goes into your photo shoots? 

There are several factors that influence the direction of my photo shoots. I usually work with my creative director for most shoots, and we begin by creating mood boards to visualize the aesthetic we want to achieve. We use the mood boards as a blueprint to guide our decisions on location, wardrobe, and the overall style. 

We also take into account the strengths and style of the photographer we’ll be working with, ensuring that our vision aligns seamlessly with their artistic style. 

In some cases, I’m actively involved in the behind-the-scenes aspects of the shoot, particularly when it comes to styling my hair. If the look we’re aiming for is bold or unconventional, I take on the challenge of creating it myself, adding a personal touch to the creative process. 

I prioritize scheduling multiple photo shoots each month to maintain a fresh image. This ensures that I always have a diverse range of visuals to draw from, whether it’s for promotional materials, social media content, or features in publications. 

Keeping a constant flow of new images allows me to stay relevant and engage with different audiences effectively. I also see every photo shoot as an opportunity to visually express my artistry and connect with my audience on a deeper level. 

What caught your attention about the FADER Opportunity? 

The opportunity to submit to The FADER was enticing, particularly because of its status as one of the foremost music magazines. I was aware that being featured could serve as a catalyst for significant career growth and exposure within the music industry, due to their reputation for championing unique voices and pushing the boundaries of music journalism.

I also saw it as an opportunity to connect with a community of passionate music enthusiasts and industry tastemakers who value authenticity. I was really excited about the potential to share my story and music with a broader audience.

“I had been diligently building my career,.. implementing comprehensive pre, during, and post-release marketing campaigns.”

What was required in order to qualify for that opportunity, either professionally or creatively? 

I thought that I was ready for the opportunity with The FADER based on the strides I had made as an independent artist over the past year.

 Professionally, I had been diligently building my career, releasing an album and implementing comprehensive pre, during, and post-release marketing campaigns. These efforts not only demonstrated my commitment to my craft but also showcased my ability to navigate the intricacies of the music industry independently. I had invested time and resources into creating visually compelling music videos that complimented my music.

These creative endeavors not only enhanced my artistic expression but also contributed to building a cohesive and impactful portfolio. Due to that and more, I intuitively knew that I was ready to seize the opportunity with The FADER because I had laid a solid foundation for my career through a combination of hard work, determination, and creative vision. 

My experiences as an independent artist had prepared me to take my career to the next level, and I was eager to showcase my talent and dedication to a broader audience through their platform 

I noticed in our first email exchange that you have a very proactive, collaborative, and confident tone. How important is that mentality or style of communication for an artist’s growth? 

It’s one of the most important things for an artist’s growth. Developing great communication skills, especially when you don’t have a dedicated team, is crucial. 

By proactively engaging with industry professionals and showcasing eagerness to grow, artists can make great first impressions and open doors that lead to invaluable opportunities. 

What are the most important things an artist can do to increase their chances of being selected for an industry opportunity?

To set yourself apart, you have to strive to make a great pitch, have striking branding, great engagement on social, and an interesting story to share. 

In my own journey, I’ve prioritized honing these qualities to increase my chances of being selected for industry opportunities.

I believe all those qualities are equally important, especially if you want to be considered in a pool of super talented artists.

How did the whole process go with The FADER?

I enjoyed my time with the FADER. The photoshoot was very fun and super comfortable. The interview was amazing and the writer really asked some thoughtful questions and wrote a beautifully crafted piece.

Throughout the entire collaboration, the team remained communicative and supportive, ensuring that I felt valued and respected as an artist. Their professionalism and dedication to their craft were evident at every step of the way, making it an absolute pleasure to work with them. 

What are the results so far? How did you use this coverage to drive other results? 

Not only did they publish my story on their site, but they also tagged me on their social media accounts, generating significant traffic to my page. This increased visibility has not only expanded my audience but also provided valuable exposure to new fans and industry contacts. 

Given their reputation and high site traffic, the backlink from their platform has boosted my online presence and credibility, enhancing my visibility in search engine results. Beyond the immediate benefits, I’m confident that the coverage by The FADER will continue to yield long-term advantages for my music career. 

“ReverbNation play(s) a crucial role in… providing artists with access to real industry tastemakers and opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.”

Any thoughts on the value of this opportunity, or about working with ReverbNation in general? 

I absolutely believe that the opportunity with The FADER was incredibly beneficial. As an independent artist, securing such opportunities can be challenging without the backing of a record label. Without the resources and support of a large team, independent artists often find themselves wearing multiple hats and taking on tasks that would typically be handled by a team of over 20 people. 

From end-to-end music production to marketing and promotion, navigating the music industry as an independent artist can be both financially demanding and logistically challenging. However, platforms like ReverbNation play a crucial role in bridging this gap by providing artists with access to real industry tastemakers and opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. 

The opportunity to work with reputable channels in the music industry, such as The FADER, not only elevates an artist’s visibility and credibility but also opens doors to new collaborations, partnerships, and career opportunities. 

I am incredibly grateful to ReverbNation for facilitating such opportunities for artists like myself and will continue to leverage the platform because it empowers independent artists to pursue their passion and connect with industry influencers, ultimately helping to level the playing field and democratize access to opportunities within the industry.

What’s next for you? 

I’m currently working on the deluxe version of my debut album, ‘MatterMoreForSis,’ set to be released later this year. This project is particularly exciting as it involves collaborations with some phenomenal artists, promising fresh perspectives on the album. In addition to that, 

I’m eagerly looking forward to sharing my music through festival performances and embarking on a tour to connect with fans and reach new audiences. 

What’s one specific goal you have NOT yet achieved in your music career? 

While I have many aspirations for my music career, one dream that stands out is to perform at iconic platforms such as COLORS and NPR’s Tiny Desk. The intimate and authentic settings of these shows offer artists a unique opportunity to connect with audiences on a deeper level and showcase their artistry in a raw and intimate way.


Thanks to Joy for taking the time to share her wisdom, and I hope readers can learn from her strategic vision, boldness, and effort. Combining those three things with raw talent can obviously lead to good things!

To follow JoyRukanza’s journey, connect on Instagram, X, or Facebook

For additional info and exclusive content, visit joyrukanza.com

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