Welcome to my new advice column, which is designed to guide the misguided aspiring artists and/or future entertainment moguls. Twice a month Ima hit you with industry knowledge, wisdom and if youre hard-headed I might have to hit you with a written ass-whoopin.
Why my low tolerance you ask?
Simply put, the industry has changed and a lot of yall havent gotten the memo.
Not to mention, there are things that havent changed, and yet you all pretend some new law was written. Well, that stops today.
This Yo Kangol column will introduce you to the people you should know as well as the questions you should ask. Anyway, you ready? Aiight, Let us begin.
Allow me to introduce one of the key playaz in the game today.This dude is the glue that holds Alicia Keys camp of artists, musicians and writers together.
Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for my dude, Mr. G. Flowers
YK: How did you get started in this business?
GF: I started as a musician. Ive played the guitar since the young age of 7 with my older brother who played the keyboards and bass, and my younger brother who plays the drums.
We performed together throughout our school years covering Top 40 songs and other genres of music. Also, my father and grandfather played guitar, so music was imbedded in us. Years later I became the manager for my brothers and partnered with my account Bert Padell who intentionally gave me a desk in a hallway.
He said in two months I would thank him for placing my desk there. He was right. That placement allowed me to meet everyone I needed to meet which led me to meet Alicias manager Jeff Robinson and later my brothers and I became her band
YK: What advice would you give to someone who is as talented as you and are trying to get recognized?
GF: Its a totally different business now. The days of walking in a demo tape are over because of the internet. Some artists think its all about having a page up. Theres more to it. You can have a myspace page but if people dont know where to find you theyre not gonna come looking for you. You have to promote and market yourself. My motto is: Build your fan, one fan at a time. Be passionate love what you do and the money will come.
YK: Do you suggest to that those promoting on myspace copyright their material?
GF: You should always copyright your songs. For those that cant afford the proper way, theres the poor mans copyright in which you mail the song to yourself and never open the package. There is nothing you can do if someone steals your song which was never copyrighted.
YK: Do these artists need management of the top or should they wait?
GF: Its always great to have a team together of people that care about you. Find someone who cares about you First as a person, then build, grow and stay with them. Some of the most successful artists have been with their managers from the beginning.
YK: What is the standard percentage rate for a manager?
GF: The standard percentage rate is 20%. Ive seen some try 25% but 20% is standard.
YK: What overall advice would you give to everyone trying to do what were doing?
GF: Just stay true to yourself and true to your craft. Cross your Ts, dot you Is before you address a cat like me. If youre not ready, Ill give you constructive criticism but others will not give you a second chance. So take your time and do it right. I would never tell someone to stop perusing their dreams.
YK: If someone out there believes that theyre ready to see you, how can they reach you?
GF: They can email their mp3s or links to email@example.com and though it may take me two weeks to a month to get back to you I listen to everything. If you want the truth talk to me. Im not a dream-killer but Ima give you the truth and thats what it is.
And now onto the readers:
YO Kangol, as a new artist, what are some common misconceptions that you or other new artists may have or will run into??
Terry J. Orlando, Fl
Yo Terry, One of the biggest misconceptions for new artists is their need to ignore the word Business. This is exactly what its called The Music Business. Allow me to me introduce you to the real world of CNN.
As an artist you become a product and your name becomes a brand. As an individual, you also become an employer while your homies (your hypeman, road manager, security, dancers….and those other ten dudes that do nothing) become employees. The check that pays them will have your name on it in bold print. That makes YOU a Company. You will experience greater success the minute you realize that you are not just a rapper Youre a Businessman.
Yo Kangol, For a bunch a dudes starting at the bottom with no money and just tryin to get the material out there, do you think its fair for someone to draw up a contract along the lines of no matter what the track or album does monetarily at this stage, everybody pitched in their part without thinking of any financial gain?
So there should be no financial gain initially, up until a major deal has struck.? Im a writer and I write for other artists. This R&B singer is going to use one of my songs for his projects. We all at the ground level starting out. Im not looking for any compensation b/c we all tryin to make it together. but yo, if there was a major deal to be struck best believe imma be like wassup? from that point on, not for previous efforts.
Geno, VA Beach, VA
Yo Geno, The worst thing that can happen to you right now is this project blows up and you find yourself spending all the money you aint got, on legal fees in an attempt to get all the money you should have had. In other words, draw up a contract now. Think of this as your prenuptial agreement. If the project makes No money then theres No Beef. If the project makes Big Money then theres No Questions.
The same applies for your work with the R&B singer. Come to an understanding and put that understanding in writing, get it notarized and this will prevent you and your boys from starring in the next series of BEEF.
Yo Kangol, I’m tired of hearing all these terrible artists on the radio… I would like to become an A&R in the industry to give people with actual talent a chance… How would I go about doing that?
Young Chris, Sacramento, Ca.
Yo Chris, Becoming an A&R Director is all about your reputation as someone who has the ability to know what the people want to hear by way of being a producer of several hit records, a popular DJ known for keeping a party rockin or a seasoned individual who has been part of a successful music machine/production team which has earned credibility, again through their success of hit songs. There is no A&R school. Your degree comes as you show and prove. Though I agree that there are a lot of whack songs out there those songs become hit songs and the A&R director responsible for picking that piece of sh*t still has a job and that whack song just made him or her a better A&R director because once again, he or she showed and proved that he or she could pick a hit.
You gotta understand something: Theres a difference between a Great song and a Hit song. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston is a Great song. Whoop, There It Is by Tag Team is a Hit song. Publishing companies want Great songs while Record Companies want Hit songs. Can you pick a whack-cheesy Hit song??? Think about it. Could you separate yourself from what you like and sign a cheesy artist with a whack song with some new Latin-Country/Hip-Hop Macarena Dance??? Honestly, the average person probably wouldnt. As my animated commercial dude Chester Cheetos would say It aint Easy being Cheesy.
Thats pretty much all the time I got right now but please comment below and let know what you think about this column. I gotta get back to making preparations for my 25th year anniversary celebration. Thats right. Twenty-five years of entertainment, wisdom and knowledge is blessing this column. If youre in the New York area on October 1, 2008, please come celebrate it with me. If youre not No Problem b/c in 2009 Im bringing the party to you in ATL, Miami and LA. http://www.myspace.com/kangol25th
Until then, Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org and dont forget to include your name and the city & state youre from. I look forward to giving you what I wish I had…GUIDANCE.