Everything I discuss here largely depends on your music being GREAT and even then there is no guarantees, but for the most part, give yourself the best chance – This is the Million Dollar question, literally. Its not as simple as many think, yet not as “extremely hard” as it always seems.
A few years ago it went like this, the artist would make a record(s) and take them to a record company either themselves or via a manager and if they liked the artist and music, that artist was signed for a ton of money, or the artist was lucky enough to be discovered by Jay-Z and the rest history. Well, historically, for the most part this has not worked out so well for the Industry. Somewhere within 2004-05 record company’s saw that the million dollar deals given out were not panning out. The artists were simply not selling the records expected. So across America, Heads of A&R departments were systematically fired! Thus the “Single” or “EP” deal was born, created and perfected by the company’s. They began to take far less risks, as well as creating various safe, distribution deals, not to mention signing production company’s to short term deals, putting all the weight on the production firms to produce. Oh yeah, did I mention, at that time you or your production had to already be in the execution of selling MANY records by yourself, which is what attracted the record company’s to you.
Then the inevitable happened. TREND CHANGE IN HIP HOP. In the birth of artists like Drake, Lil Wayne’s evolution and Niki-Minaj, record companies began to see the endless reaches of the “new rap artists” and required just THAT. No longer today can you as a NEW Rap artist come in with the Thug, shoot you in the head story. If you are already famous doing that, fine, these guys have planted their base, but for YOU, its much different. The artists that can go from Core Rap audience to Top 40, is Lightning to a record company and the artist who cannot is simply wasting their time. But no one from any record label is telling anyone this. We’ll get into why at another time. This isn’t the only challenge for the aspiring soon to be famous rap artist. The other is this. Several artists believe that all they have to do is make the records be it, a single, or an EP (generally 6 songs, give or take, with a massive promotion) and post it on youtube and facebook and Bingo, a record company will hear my stuff and immediately begin the short search for me, OR, “I’ll just make thousands of copies and surely they will all sell just like that”. HELL NO!!! Not to say any person at any time cannot acheive selling thousands or millions of records themselves without the help of a label. Hey, Slim Thug did it. But are you willing to work as hard with a fever as he did before he got a deal?? Most will say yes, but most don’t even know what that means, nor will actually do it.
Okay, pull up a chair, lets break this down a bit. question: How can you sell records when no one knows who you are? I’m not talking about your friends who all say your hot, no, I’m talking about the general public, those who don’t know you. How can you sell records on a ten dollar promotion? You can’t. To even give yourself a good 50/50 chance here is what you must do in my professional opinion:
1st) Make the music.
2nd) Mix and MASTER IT!!! Please!! NO MORE OF THIS CRAPPY SOUND. Sound quality, is about 30-40% of your future success, its the first thing people in position to help you, listen for.
3rd) Be financially prepared to get your CD’s professionally packaged, meaning your CD, CD label and cover must look like the one’s in the store PERIOD!! Someone like an A&R or prominent agent will not make a fool out of themselves handing off your $1.29 CD and cover. Not gonna happen, some will take your CD and tell you anything and that’s as far as it will go. Some of you may have already experienced this.
4th) Plan to promote, promote, promote, promote for at least 6 months to a year, without even attempting to sell a record. Build your story, build your CD’s story, build the “Why should I buy this? Why should I buy into you? Reason for the public.
5th) Go on a promotional blitzkreig from hell to high water and work it to death. Manage at least 25 hours a week devoted to this and let nothing interfere with it, you know, the same way we do with our jobs our kids and our money.
6th) Use the social mediums you frequent so often, Facebook, InstaGram, Twitter, YOUTUBE (This is a big one) Janga, Bing etc… Talk with people, listen to their music as well, be in the execution of constantly promoting yourself, by way of posters, blogs, vlogs, snippets of your music, **internet radio.**
7th) Take some time and at least 2 to 3 weekends, devote it to getting out to the clubs, be seen, mingle, socialize with other artists, go to the clubs and or events that popular DJ’s attend/perform and hey, if you can mange it, get a song or two in Popular DJ’s hands to play at clubs/parties even local DJ’s. Its 50/50 that they will, but it won’t hurt to TRY, you will have to put on your people skills for this. if you don’t have people skills, read a couple of motivational books to tighten those skills.
8th) Give some tracks to Barber Shops/Hair Salons who play music in their shops and please DON’T FORGET THE STRIP CLUBS!!!! If you have the right sound, beat, lyrics, strip clubs will play your music to death, people will want that song just because.
9th) Get from around Negative people, and get them from around you. The last thing you need is association with persons who do not believe in you, they become cancers. Even a fool can hurt you without really trying because they are fools!
And finally number 10) – 3-parts –
(A) Pay attention to the Hip Hop trends in your community/City, tri-State area, look at what is happening, what’s not, what’s not anymore, what’s new.
(B) Perform at at least 2-3 Open-Mics a Month, this way you can keep fresh, practice and get people to hear your songs, as well as network with those who by chance can help you directly or Indirectly and…
(C) FINALLY if you have done this for 6 to 12 months, TRULY have done it, I’m not talking about half-asssin it! But truly busting you butt, the you are ready to print those records. BUT you must really go hard. Be smart. If you are worth your salt, you will make your money, you will get signed or the deal you desire. At the very least, by the time you petition yourself to an agent and or manager, or seek out a distributor yourself and or through one of the persons previously mentioned, you will have given them a great working chance to represent you properly, you will have created a story of “Why”. By doing this and will have given yourself THE BEST start. There is an (11) Its simply – check where your info is coming from always!!! I promise you, people on the streets, in your hoods, at your water coolers, don’t know crap!! If they did, they would be successful at what YOU are trying to do, don’t rely on “Hood” information when it comes to YOUR music/rap career. Record company’s aren’t talking to them either. Till next time, keep your head up and lets do this thing right!