Building yourself up as a rapper or a producer

How many times have you downloaded your favourite artist’s song and thought “that was a sloppy job. I could’ve done better”? I know I have. We are always quick to point and say we would be able to do better and be better if we had the chance. Some artists claim that they have bad luck when it comes to making it in this music thing while others will say that they don’t have enough connections in high places. Whatever your reason, is that reason enough to stay mediocre for the rest of your life? If the answer is no then it’s time to effect a change in your career.

I get asked by artists to be signed or be put onto my roster from time to time. Sadly, what I’m running isn’t a record label, but if I did have a label and I was signing artists I probably wouldn’t go for those artists as they haven’t shown me in any way that they would be a good investment. I look at artists who have been hustling backwards that say “if only I had a manager, things would be different”. The truth is that a manager can only take you as far as you’re willing to go and how far you are willing to go is determined by the amount of work you are willing to put in. When I say work I mean all the other stuff you do besides actually making the music.

Are you interacting with fans on a one on one basis?
Are you doing proper social media upkeep?
Are you doing your best to keep your brand looking good?
Are you doing the research and getting yourself gigs?
Do you have a professional set of pictures done?
Do you have well recorded songs that you are happy releasing?

If you say no to any of these then you’ve been hustling backwards in my opinion. Before you expect anyone to help you on your road to potential success, you need to lay the first bricks yourself. When people around you see that you’ve been hard at work laying bricks then they will be more willing to help you build your wall. At this stage you won’t need to go looking for a manager or a lucky break because they will all come right to you. You know what’s they say: “The harder you work, the luckier you become” .

I often speak about hustling correctly and recently Dmania, an artist I’ve worked with for many years, asked me what I actually meant. When I say one needs to hustle correctly they need to be putting in the thinking time to be different. It’s easy to base your next marketing plan off some artist who is well-known, but this isn’t going to always guarantee you a good result. You are given the opportunity to be different every day. As an artist, it’s your job to be creative every day. Why is it that so many artists claim to be so unique and original but then do the same thing when it comes to marketing their music? I think it boils down to a lack of knowledge and courage of what may work so they slip into the pattern of doing what they’ve seen working with other artists before. Copying another marketing plan verbatim then leaves the artist frustrated as their results are nothing near what the original artist received.

How do we fix this?
How do you make sure you have a good marketing plan?

Make sure you’re not being conventional in your thinking. Make it a point to write all your ideas down and pass them around frequently for opinions. Let your closest people tell you the flaws in the plan without you flagging them down as haters of your work. Once your new and fresh idea has been refined sufficiently, start implementing it according to your plan. By doing this you have come up with a solid plan that may eventually fail, but you’ve taken one step in the right direction. You’ve initiated the process of being what you want to see in the industry.

As an example, people who know my work know that I have a broadcast list over whatsapp that I implemented more than two years ago. I use these lists to send out well crafted messages to people I connect with. I initially wanted the platform to be one that is free of spam, polite and value adding because of the nature of whatsapp. I wanted to be more visible than I am on twitter or Facebook without being a nuisance. It started with 20 people and grew. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they were being spammed by garbage impersonal messages about new music. It’s been a total revelation because it’s stayed very personal, relatable, honest, non-spammy and informative. My messages have even since evolved to short voice notes that are only sent on Thursdays. I found that having a voice note was better than a long text. To this date the engagement has been brilliant and no one has asked to be removed. I won’t change the formula just yet because it’s working so well. I was a small change that I wanted to see in the industry because over the last year I’ve seen more and more artists adopting a similar mechanism over whatsapp. Most messages are still promotional and they fail to see that promotion can’t be the basis of every message, but I can see a decrease in how spammy they make their messages. This is one example and it won’t work for everyone, but I encourage you to try out different tactics and be the person who sparks change in your small community. Let it grow and watch how people start to adopt your strategies.


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