In the early 1980s, when rap started, there were few rappers
and producers, so they had no difficulty standing out. Today, it seems everyone wants to be a rapper
or a producer.
As more people want to get into the rap music business, it
gets cheaper and easier to do so. The
price of production equipment, recording equipment, and microphones has dropped
substantially, making rapping and producing open to more people. And it has become easier than ever to get
music to the masses by uploading finished songs to the internet to share them
with the world on free MySpace pages, or inexpensive websites. Marketing has become cheaper and easier as
one can sit at home and use the internet to market, promote, and drive traffic
to ones website or MySpace page. Because
of this, it seems that everyone wants to be a rapper.
The days of needing a record label are over. So why do so many people still want to be
signed to a record label?
Regardless, there are less labels, less money in the
industry, less people buying CDs, and less positions for artists to get signed
to record labels. So if you really want
to be an artist, and have your heart set on being part of the traditional music
business, you will need to STAND OUT!
You stand apart from all of the others by building a BUZZ.
As I travel around the country, I meet tens of thousands of
people who say they want a career as a rapper (and even more who say they want
to be a producer) yet very few stand out.
Handing a demo CD to anyone is a waste of time, energy, and has never
been very effective at catching someones attention. What I do see, are the artists who stand out
because they are putting in the work and building a buzz.
Grinding. An artists
grind is far more important than their talent.
Talent is easy to findpeople who will work hard are less easy to
find. You may think you are the most
talented rapper around, but the truth is that talented rappers and producers are
a dime a dozen. There are more than 300 million
people in the United States.
Not only are you competing with other artists from your
area, but you are competing with artists from all over the country. The odds of winning a lottery are probably
greater. So how will you stand out?
The best way to do so is to choose an area thats
workable. I suggest taking a map and
drawing a circle around your city that extends about a 5 hour driving time away
from where you are based. That will
become your territoryyour marketing area.
Your first step is to own the city or town that you are from, and then
expand out slowly in that territory (the 5 hour circle around your home).
After youve made your songs, you will choose the best one
to focus on as a single. Its best to
ask for feedback from strangers (malls, gas stations, and high schools are good
places to get feedback) as to which song is your best one. Strangers will be far more honest than people
who know you. To build a buzz in your
own area, you will work that single locally.
That means you will attend all of the open mics, perform as much as you
can (if a major artist comes to town, you should be the opening act and you
accomplish this by building relationships with the key clubs and promoters in
your area), hang posters, distribute flyersbasically get your image and song
in front of as many people as possible. Make
sure all of the local DJs know who you are (club DJs, mixtape DJs, and even
eventually the radio DJs). All of the
employees at the local record stores and clubs should also know who you are.
Its important to promote your song in as many places as
potential consumers whod buy your music will be. So, marketing yourself to retirement homes
and nursery schools would not make sense, but college campuses and hood malls
make perfect sense. Anyplace where large
amounts of your potential fans gather is ideal.
As your song and name catch on in your own area, you can begin to expand
your buzz within that 5 hour circle. You
can also begin to attend the regional conventions and record pools. You should already have some sort of buzz
before traveling, unless you are attending to learn more about the business
(there are many free websites these days where you can go to learn how the
music industry works, however).
On the record label side (Im talking about the real record
labelsthe ones that have a track record of success in putting out rap records,
not Lil Rey Rey from down the block who printed up business cards saying hes a
record label), the people who sign artists to their rosters are called A and
Rs. Their job is to help the artists
who are already signed to the label make their records, and to find new
talent. Since there are tens of
thousands of rappers and producers, its hard to catch their attention if you
do not stand out. Some of the major
labels have A&R Research staffs, whose sole job it is to find the artists
making noise in their own areas getting radio spins and selling CDs on their
I have gone to 12 music industry
conventions/gatherings/record pools since the start of this year. I have received over 1,000 demo CDs thus far,
and I cant even sign anyone to a record deal.
So someone that CAN sign an artist, how many CDs and MP3s do you imagine
they get in a week? The ONLY way you are
going to stand out is if you put in the work and effort to build a buzz for
yourself. Instead of going to them, you
want them to come to you.
The chance of you sending a CD to a record label and getting
their interest is so slim that the odds of you getting struck by lightening or
winning a lottery are greater. Even with
someone very connected in the music business (like me) cant help you if you
dont stand out among all of the other rappers and producers out there. Great music is no longer enough. You have to have a strong buzz, and you have
to be willing to work harder than everyone elsenot just in your own area, but
in your own region. Without a buzz, you
may as well just go get a job and make music to be happy as a hobby. By the way, there is nothing wrong with doing
it for the love!!