So I’m waiting my turn to perform at this local hip hop event and an artist approaches me. I just finished watching his performance and was impressed thinking he could rap extremely well and his songs were very catchy. It was surprising that he recognized me from a rap battle on a TV show I did 4 years ago. We began to engage in conversation and he asked me something I’ve been asking myself for years. What are we doing wrong?
This question stems from the years of doing shows such as this and still remaining at the same level with the talent that we both possess. I thought to myself, I’ve been asking that question for the last 7 years. Are we not being patient? Is it because we do not know the right people? Is it money? Is it our friends that don’t buy our music, share, or go to our shows?
“What are we doing wrong?”
Our music doesn’t suck, we can rap better than most artists today, and we have the image, the talent, so what is it? Throughout the years I have tried to predict my success “Oh 2012 I’m going to blow” or “2015 I’m going to be on tour”…which none of these came true. I felt lost for years watching the new generation of artists flourish while I sit back and think to myself “that should be me”. This has given me many mixed emotions such as anger, confusion, and despair. I’ve given up months on end. I’ve done mixtapes, shows, music videos, tv, I can rap extremely well, why am I not where I want to be? After 7 years of working and research, the answer finally came to me. I studied how the last couple of artists were able to gain their notoriety. Then I studied artists that I knew personally and what they were all doing wrong. The answer is simple…the underestimation of the internets power.
Throughout the years I have tried to predict my success “Oh 2012 I’m going to blow or “2015 I’m going to be on tour”…which none of these came true.
We do not use the internet’s full capability to promote ourselves. In the last 5-7 years, every artist whether in mainstream or underground success has derived from the internet.
Drake, which would to be considered the top of the rapper totem pole, was the most downloaded artist from Canada on MySpace. Kendrick Lamar had cult like followers. The internet has given us Wiz Khalifa, A$AP Rocky, Joey Badass, Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Fetty Wap, Kevin Gates, MGK, Macklemore, Action Bronson, Logic, Dej Loaf, and G-Eazy. Some of which would never reach their full potential if it wasn’t for the internet. If you take the first XXL Freshman cover and compare it to the most recent, you can see that every single artist from 2011 on is selected due to their internet fan base.
There are no gate keepers, we are them. 20 years ago if you wanted to become an artist you would have to find a record label willing to put money up to pay for your production, videos and studio time and in return share profits. Now with today’s access to technology, we can create our own studio, our own production and our own videos.
So I ask myself, I’ve put out great videos, why haven’t any of them peaked. The songs are just as good and the quality. The answer is simple… my lack of consistent promotion and marketing. I did what most new artists do when it comes to music videos. I’d create one and just keep posting it on my Facebook with hopes of it one day taking off. I was living in a fantasy world. That brings me to another answer, we underestimate the power and reach of Facebook.
I’d create one and just keep posting it on my Facebook with hopes of it one day taking off. I was living in a fantasy world.
Facebook is the biggest social media platform with more than a billion followers with most followers using it more than any other internet source. Some users use it more than they watch television. I had to realize that my Facebook friends are not going to help me get to where I want to go. Yes, as bad as it sounds, this is my reason. My Facebook friends are nothing but a speck of Facebooks true reachable ability. My Facebook friends make up 0.00035 percent of Facebooks user base. Which means it’s not probable with these numbers to reach a max potential which I desire to attain. It’s the people I don’t know that’s going to take me to the next level.
Facebook has a great and extremely affordable marketing system. You can literally pay Facebook to target a specific audience and depending on the amount of money your willing to spend will determine how many people it will reach.
For example, I recently shot a video in Dominican Republic about the Dominican Republic. I had a picture I put on my artist page and paid a small 5 dollars to promote it. I specifically targeted all major cities in the D.R. to reach. In two days I gained 605 likes, more than I’ve ever gotten on my own. In only two days. Not only did I gain 605 likes, out of those likes at least 5 people were now my new friends and future fans. I would have small talks with them to stay connected, now they like my posts. It might sound small, but let’s do the numbers.
The answer of what we are doing wrong is: the consistency of a social media presence combined with great music and unique visuals. This and smart marketing and promotion behind it, targeting a specific audience.
If I can get my video to reach at least 100,000 people for 50 dollars and if I can get just 1% of those random people to become my fans, I will have 1000 new fans. If I can get 0.5% of those fans to share my music that’s 50 people spreading it to at least 1000 new people assuming each fan has 200 friends. This is small doable numbers, for pennies. Now you might ask well if it’s that simple why most artists don’t do this. Well for one their brainwashed of thinking their talent will outweigh marketing and promotion and all they have to do is “rap”. Another thing that is most artists think they will be “discovered” and someone will “put them on” which in this age is very unlikely to happen. Talent and uniqueness has a big factor in this as well, you can have a video spread to millions, but if it isn’t good then it just isn’t good. The answer of what we are doing wrong is: the consistency of a social media presence combined with great music and unique visuals. This and smart marketing and promotion behind it, targeting a specific audience.
Now as we speak I have three music videos awaiting release, with crazy concepts and visuals backed with great music. I Snapchat. Instagram,Facebook andTwitter everyday and my new favorite Musical.ly; where you can literally make mini music videos of your music everyday. Fun fact: Musical.ly is a sleeper in the social media world, with a user base over 10 million with the average age stemming from 12-17 years old. You’re going to want to jump on this quick before every other artists starts to use it to promote their music. The crazy thing about all these platforms is that: they are free!
The reason I post material all the time is not for my friends, it’s for the people that don’t know who I am. What I am doing is creating attention, I want to be all in your face at all times. I do not want you to forget about me so when I do drop my music videos it won’t feel like it’s “out the blue” but a journey my fans has taken with me. What I’m building is a social connection through the internet where a Facebook friend of mine becomes more than a fan but somewhat as a helper. I want my fans to connect with me personally, before musically, so when I do release my music they feel something personal when they listen or buy. This also makes the fan feel that he is part of your success which makes him/her a success as well. Now this process takes time. Maybe years, maybe months, who knows? But I do know without a shadow of doubt that this formula will work. It has for every artist in the last 7 years.
Every new artist from 2010 and on had been birthed from Youtube. The internet gives us the freedom to create our own fan base. 15 years from now there will be no record labels. There will not be a need for them, only those surviving living off the royalties of records before the internet age. With artists touring the world and making millions without the help of a record deal show that they are not needed anymore. For me, I’m greedy. I don’t want to share my music profits with someone who has nothing to do with the creative process. There are people today that had nothing to do with the making of a record, not even in the studio while the record was recorded, making more money off it than the actually artist who created it. It’s insane and it’s robbery, but 20 years ago musicians did not know any better. Some might say “I need to sign a deal because I need an advance because I’m broke and I can’t afford studio time and videos.” I have the perfect solution, get a job, save, work hard and get promoted, move out, build your own studio and network to find the right producers, artists, and directors to help you on your journey. Shit, that’s what I did and I’m still doing it.
I don’t want to share my music profits with someone who has nothing to do with the creative process. There are people today that had nothing to do with the making of a record, not even in the studio while the record was recorded, making more money off it than the actually artist who created it.
Any artist that I meet that tells me there goal is “to sign a record deal” makes me think that they already lost in this game. If you can’t create a name for yourself and put your own money up to promote yourself, what makes you think a record label is going to? This isn’t the 90’s where record deals were giving out like charity. With the revenue of labels skyrocketing down due to the influx of music through the internet, the idea of signing an artist strictly on talent is almost non-existent due to the extreme risk factor of monetary loss. For example you have Rapper A who has incredible musical ability, and songs are incredible but yet, only have a few followers on Facebook with nothing else. Then you have Rapper B who has basic rhyme patterns and shitty destructive music, but has hundreds of thousands of followers. Now I know Rapper A is a better artist but he has no fan base which means no revenue. Now even though Rapper B sucks and I don’t like Rapper B, I know that Rapper B has a guaranteed fan base which means guaranteed profit. Rapper B is going to be signed and grow while Rapper A sits and complains about how he is so much better than Rapper B without realizing why Rapper B is considered more valuable. This is what is happening now.
I know I am not considered a legit musical artist because I do not profit off my music as of yet, but I can guarantee with smart advertising, promotion, marketing, great different music and visuals on a consistent basis will propel me to a level I could never even imagine. You don’t just put a song out online and it just “blow up”. There has to be something else to it. Recently, Desiigners hit “Panda” has broke records. Now to the average hip hop consumer, it feels he just put the track out on Soundcloud and it blew up. Actually Desiigner had a pretty big fan base after he released a song called “Zombie Walk” where he used the app “Triller” to promote it. He says in an interview that he had his whole hood doing the zombie walk. So when Panda was released, he had a plentiful fan base anticipating it’s arrival and excited to share it with the world. It’s thinking outside the box, it’s not recording a video and just posting it on your wall every 5 mins, and tagging a random person which is probably the one thing you never want to do. Yes, daily use of social media with several posts a day are going to annoy people, you are going to lose followers. But I rather lose followers by posting every day to sacrifice for new ones who can take my music to new heights. Ever since I’ve came to this conclusion, I gain at least 5 followers everyday on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It might sound small to you, but with momentum building, anything is possible.
So to my fellow artists if you don’t take anything from this, at least remember this one thing; the people who are going to take you to the level you desire are strangers. Finding a way to get and keep those strangers attention for your entire career is the challenge you and I both must face in order to complete our music goals…..good luck!