BABA: You Might Be Failing As A Rapper Part 2 & 3 – Value & Entitlement
I had all the intention on sharing this Saturday, but I then decided that it would be a good idea to merge a couple of the categories. So, this week for our BABA series I’m going to talk about entitlement and value. What I listed in my original 10 Reason You Might Be Failing As A Rapper is listed below:
2) You think you’re entitled to something. A lot of rappers, and managers for that manner, don’t understand that it is not a blogger, magazine writer, fan, or anybody else’s job to listen, review, post, tweet, like, share, download or support YOUR music. That thought is hilarious to me…and I’m an artist too. You are creating “creative” content and you have to realize that nobody has to like you. It is the blogger and writers job to fuel THEIR audience. It is YOUR job to fuel the audience and the blogger with great content. You are a pawn on their board, and as arrogant as it sounds you must understand this. You don’t pay them, the advertising money from their visitors pay them. It’s important to realize that, and believe me, they can do just fine without you. I haven’t even mentioned event booking, but I will later as this is a great segue to number three.
3) You don’t understand the importance of building appropriate relationships with the people you want to help you out. Or, if you do, you don’t do it very well. I’m more interested in sharing somebody’s music I’ve had a conversation with than somebody that’s obnoxious and annoying. The same goes with event booking. It’s simple human stuff, man. Build relationships with the people you want to work with. Network. Don’t hit them up on Twitter and demand them to listen to your music if you don’t know them (hell even if you do). If you don’t know them, follow them on Twitter and strike conversations with them randomly based upon what they are talking about. Don’t invade or intrude, but be persistent. If you are in the same city that they are in, go to their events. Make yourself known with class and respect. Offer them something. You don’t have to kiss ass, but you must realize that you must add VALUE to whatever they are doing. Being socially pleasant is possibly one of the biggest skills you can acquire.
Now, I understand there are websites that ask you to pay, and there are promoters that either won’t pay you, or even ask you to pay to play. Fuck all of that shit, but make sure you gauge the value of the situation. If you get asked to open for Brother Ali with no pay, and you’re a little-to-no-name act, fucking open for Brother Ali and shut the fuck up. Sound harsh? Well, do you know how many people would PAY to open for him? Build that relationship. Nurture that relationship. Certain opportunities do NOT happen more than once, so grab that opportunity and push forward around that momentum. You must also find ways to work with rising artists in and a step above your bracket, as well as in and outside of your city. Find a way to be valuable to them. This rolls perfectly into number four.
It’s interesting sometimes to sit and talk with people, or just watch how people react on Twitter or Facebook for that matter, and to see that some people really get upset that they were not chosen to be a part of something they think they should. Actually, I can understand that much of it, but a lot of times some of us get so upset at the fact that we weren’t chosen that we might think that we really were entitled to have what somebody else does. This person has been me before, and it happens from time to time, but it’s important to take moments like these and reflect. Why didn’t you get chosen to open up for that artist? Why didn’t you get featured on that blog? Why didn’t that person reach out to you, and why did they reach out to this other person instead? Know these things.
We as individuals are built to expand our own enterprises. Our own brands. If I take a lot of time in defining my brand at BDTB to display a certain type of content, or as an artist to put out a certain type of music, it should be obvious that I am going to be careful about who and what I let act as a co-influencer within in my idea. The same goes for event promoters who are bringing acts to your city, venues that might allow you to perform, sponsors that help promote, and so forth. These are their own enterprises, and they need to and should do everything they can to protect their idea for their own livelihood. Sure, some of these people may “help” a little more than others, but don’t mistake that with what they truly want: success within their idea. Not yours.
It is your job to either put in the effort at building these relationships, find a way to do it yourself, or to simply pay for a type of service. All of these things are options, but know that somewhere down the line you are still going to need to learn how to build relationships. And, it’s outrageous to think that you are entitled to something because you did something you consider noteworthy. The world does not revolve around you and your goals and aspirations. The world is filled with people trying to build themselves up higher than you, and you might get lucky through networking to find somebody that just happens to have what you lack. I’m guessing they are getting something out of the deal too.
It’s kind of like a football game. On any given day anything can happen, especially if you’re prepared like that fella above, but if you don’t put yourself in the right situation with the right preparation you may not ever know. I’ve been in beat battles that I’ve lost and thought I’ve won. I still to this day think I would have won a couple if a couple variables were switched; that’s irrelevant though. There are many events that I’ve seen where I thought to myself, “man, our music really fits their style…we could gain a ton of fans if we opened for them.” That may be the case, but I need to put myself in the position to be seen by the people promoting the show. No, that does not necessarily mean be a pest, it means do something that adds value to the situation. I mean, can you even bring anybody out to the show? Why would a promoter want to put an act on a bill that is not going to bring any people out to the show? How are they supposed to protect their livelihood and not come out of pocket if the people they book don’t have a genuine fan-base? That’s your job.
Look, people get booked because they add value to a situation, and even though I would never pay-to-play again because of the principle of it, the booking people are trying to get value out of the situation. Sometimes it’s the only way they can get certain artists to your city. It’s something you need to understand that’s part of the “game” of the music business. And as much as I despise them, sometimes these pay-to-play gigs might actually benefit you. You need to personally gauge whether or not this is what you want to be labeled as for your brand, and if doing this is really cost effective in the long run. I mean, you and 16 other artists is different than you and 3 other artists. You need to be the judge of that. Personally though, you can fuck off with that. Ha.
The same thing goes for getting your music on blogs and publications. I’m all for promoting local, independent and even barely heard of artists, but you have to able to help us help you. For example, let’s say you have a great song, but you’re artwork is extremely bad or too small (this happens 75% of the time), and you uploaded your song to some random file uploading site instead of one of the ideal ones we suggest. That means that I have to not only search the internet for an image to represent your song, but I also have to download your song in hopes of not getting a virus, re-title your track, and then upload it to our own service. Let’s also say that you only have 200ish followers on Twitter. That means that the post will only be seen by a small percentage of people other than our own fan base. In other words, you aren’t bringing us too many new website fans. That’d be fine if you were at least making it easy to share your content, assuming it was actually good, but since you have made it a lengthy endeavor to share your tune, we will most likely just delete your submission.
Actually, if you don’t follow our guidelines here at BDTB, I personally won’t even read your introduction. Do you really think blogs that don’t regularly post submissions do any different? What makes you think that it’s OK to waste my time? If you think otherwise you might want to get over yourself. You are not the exception to the rule. We wrote submission guidelines for a reason.
I’m going to close this out with saying again that the ability to build positive relationships, while being socially pleasant, might be the biggest asset you can have as an independent musician. Sure, you have to be good at the music stuff, but after you get good there’s only a couple handfuls of things you really need to really excel at. I say only a couple handfuls, knowing that it could easily be many handfuls, because once you start really building relationships, you’ll find people that are willing to put their skills with your skills in the hopes of helping each other. You’ll have friends and such that will give you honest feedback on your works. You might leave a good impression on somebody that knows somebody that can help you. You might gain a fan. You might gain one of those really great fans that not only checks out your music, but tells damn near everybody he/she knows about you.
Maybe you’ll meet a great producer or emcee that compliments your style. If you do not work with people outside of your bubble, which you never will if you don’t build, you won’t expand your fan-base. If you don’t expand your fan-base, you will always be only local. The more you do in other areas, the wider your reach becomes. The same logic goes for shows.
At the end of the day, you’ll create more opportunities for yourself by not being a conceited “Hollywood” asshole. Sure, you won’t get along with everybody, and you may not want to build with every single person you meet regardless of who they are, but it’s more productive to stop being the hater and instead put yourself in the position to get hated on. If you do all of these things so great, and still seem to be coming up short, then you might just fall into the previous category: You’re Not Honest With Yourself. With that being said, I love you. Follow me on Twitter.