Fitz Martin has always had a passion for music. He was initially inspired by his uncle and his cousin, a rapper who introduced him to some of the biggest names in the rap world, including Tupac and Biggie.
“There was a band at my home,” he said. “That’s how I learned music: Whenever a band member didn’t show up, I played the instrument for my uncle.”
A multi-instrumentalist, Fitz plays keyboards, drums, and a little guitar. He took music lessons throughout his academic career. Fitz attended a school for the blind and then went on to college. Fitz has had progressive vision changes since his childhood and has remaining peripheral vision.
Fitz earned a degree in Video Arts and Technology, doing so well he earned a spot on the National Honor Society. But all along, music was in his heart.
“At every college, I took lessons to learn to read music, write music,” Fitz says.
Getting into the business
Although he’s an audio engineer and video producer today – the founder and CEO of Will Power Entertainment LLC in Brooklyn, New York – his path took some turns like many musicians. At first, Fitz says, his goal was to record music for himself and his friends. In fact, he didn’t even think about it as a job. It was just what he loved doing.
“My friends and I had an R&B group, and we needed studio time, but we were young and didn’t have $40 an hour, the rate back in the early ‘90s,” Fitz says. “So when my cousin’s studio wasn’t busy, I’d give him $40, and he’d let us spend the entire night there.”
But he knew he couldn’t afford to keep paying for studio time, which is when he got the idea to establish his own studio. He started buying equipment one piece at a time: a speaker, a keyboard, a computer – whatever he needed.
“There’s a saying in my Jamaican culture that kind of translates as, ‘If you put one yam in the bag, eventually you fill the bag up,’” Fitz says. And that’s exactly what happened.
He officially founded Will Power Entertainment, LLC in 1999, and is working to add a Manhattan location to his established Brooklyn studio.
“I’ve worked with some pretty big names,” he says. “I worked with Fivio Foreign on a remix with a Beyonce sample on it that was a big hit last year,” he says, referring to a Fivio song that samples “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, Beyonce’s first group.
Mastering many skills
Over the years, he’s worked with various artists, and Will Power Entertainment, LLC., is a one-stop shop. Not only does Fitz produce music, he publishes the music, produces music videos, manages artists, and helps them put together live performances, including doing the booking.
He works with a team of engineers and videographers. The latter are especially helpful because of Fitz’s vision loss, but creating a video requires a team effort, no matter your vision!
When Fitz is in the studio at the mixing board, he has plenty of tools to get the job done on his own. He uses a braille notetaker as well as connecting it to his computer to be able to read the screen. This is helpful because when you’re trying to listen to music, a tool like VoiceOver is intrusive. He also has an OrCam, so if he forgets what a button on the soundboard is, he just puts his finger next to it, and the OrCam tells him verbally what it is.
What’s more, Fitz isn’t only devoted to the success of his artists and his business. He is in the process of opening a nonprofit called Voices for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which will teach visually impaired students how to be audio engineers.
Although being an audio engineer is a great career path for someone who is blind or low vision, it’s not because their sense of hearing is stronger. “That’s not how it works,” Fitz says. “I depend more on it, so it’s developed more.”
He adds that he’s always been inspired by Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, whose career arc was much like Fitz’s.
“I did this all by myself, with a family that’s always been there for me,” Fitz says. “I create relationships, and every day when I wake up, I’m like, ‘Let’s get going. Let’s do something. Let’s have fun.’”
Fitz has even more to share about his career experiences. Join the APH ConnectCenter for a Career Conversation on November 2nd at 6 p.m. Eastern as we interview Fitz and provide time for the audience’s career-related questions! Register here.