No, I’m not talking about that b-word. The b-word I’m referring to is BUDGET. You’ll hear plenty about marketing strategies, promotion, managers, and a whole lot of information about how hip hop artists can increase their exposure, and build a fan base. But you rarely hear the cold hard truth about the investment of money it takes to break an artist and sustain a significant buzz.
Social media marketing is not enough to build a hip hop career on. Success in this business, just like any other, requires planning, money, and sometimes a little bit of luck.
If you’re brand new to this, you already know that the recording process alone takes some dedication of time and money. Some of you are able to bypass this monetary investment by either recording your own music, or by having producers who are down with the cause. Hopefully you and your producer know what you’re doing, and have the skills to produce a quality product. Because if you don’t, you’re completely wasting your time. And I’m on the receiving end of a lot of music that’s a complete waste of time.
Okay, now let’s get beyond the recording phase. Got graphic art work? That shit costs. Did it yourself? Oh yeah, I can tell. Merch costs money too. And you need visuals now man! A release is half-assed without videos these days. The fans are using YouTube to listen to and share music. Only those of us in the industry are sharing Soundcloud and Bandcamp links. Gotta shoot a visual and that shit better be nice, or you’re just wasting your time. So you gotta pay someone that knows what the fuck their doing. Visuals are supposed to make the song better by perception. Oh your homeboy shot it with his HD Handycam? I can tell.
Okay, now you got the video shot. You gotta get those YouTube views and likes crackin. You can always pay for views. Won’t help but you can do it. But hey, you can get them shits on World Star Hip Hop. Know this though, unless you’re getting your ass whooped by a homeless, crackhead hooker in a parking lot, you got to pay to get your video on there.
You see this game is filled with a lot of fuckers who are less talented than you, but more than willing to outspend you. Want radio? You’re paying out the ass, G! You can stand in line all you want every Music Monday; you’re not going to get into the playlist rotation. Those local mix show DJs? Most of them want favors and straight up cash because the stations aren’t paying them shit. It’s against the rules to take your money but hell, they gotta eat. Wanna know why there’s so much of that drug shit in hip hop? It’s because them d-boys got the loot to get access. You thought they worked for the post office?
The promoters want you to pay to perform. You don’t have a fan base, you want your 20 person entourage to get in free, and they ain’t buying shit from the bar, so why should the promoter take the loss? It’s business. You could rent out a venue on your own and have at it, but that’s when you get real with yourself.
How much are you willing to invest? Do you really want success? How do you define it? I’m telling you now, if you want a shot at mainstream success, start with some commercial, mainstream songs.
This blog is not going to blow you up. Only a few heads come around here. You’ll get some love from your peers if the shit is hot, but there’s not enough mainstream gossip and strippers here to get you the kind of fanfare you desire. Most other hip hop blogs are only fucking with you if you have a buzz already.
Artists on major labels hate to be on them right now, that is unless you’re somebody like Jay-Z or Kanye.
Being independent is the only way to go now, but you gotta go hard or go home if you want to win. And you’re gonna have to spend some money, doesn’t have to be your own, but somebody’s gotta fork over some stacks to help you stand out in this over-saturated industry. And that reality of the business unfortunately trumps the talent most of the time. You’ve heard the 90% business, 10% talent mantra. That’s the game. You don’t like it, go into tech and build apps. The odds of success will probably be much better without all the haters, cutthroats, and bullshitters. But if you’re one of the few who are driven by an indescribable passion to be great at this, you’ll find the path.