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#41: Just Do It! Pt 2 

Part 1 of this series was #31: Just Do It!

As I mentioned in that show and blog post, people wildly underestimate how long it can take to achieve a specific goal.

It's rarely the case that a task is actually hard; it just takes much more energy and time than I thought it would.

It's like Hercules when he's swimming in the Underworld and trying to get to the old ladies before they cut his life thread...but he's aging like 20 years as every 5 seconds passes.

And because of that, it becomes hard to accomplish big tasks.

Of course there are the instances where I don't have the skillset and it's not something I can easily figure out.

But most of the time, those tasks are things I have to do rather than ones related to my passions and calling that I'm CHOOSING to do.

Maybe you're not trying to start a business or have a career as a musician.

What are other areas in life that usually take way longer than we thought?

Hmm...getting a job. 

Finding a spouse/partner.

I've made the mistake of thinking that a few job applications would do the trick.

You could be a few swipes away on a dating site from your dream person.

Or...

It could months later with many interviews or dates or people you've talked to and you've got no job or partner.

That's usually how it goes unless you settle for the first lousy offer.

When I was looking for a job a few years ago, I read that it was common for a highly qualified candidate to wait 6 months before getting a decent job offer.

You'd think that if you had a lot of skills and experience, it'd be a cakewalk to land a good job, right?

Nope because all the interviewers are brand new faces who don't know who on earth you are.

It takes a lot of time and energy to prove that you're someone worth hiring.

Let's think about this if you're in business or a musician marketing yourself.

You need to put in a lot more effort and time than you thought you did just to get noticed by a few people.

This is where my local indie friends seem to come up short.

One of them complained that some folks who moved here from out of town were a popular act here.

He was like, "They're not even from Austin."

Ironically, my friend wasn't even originally from Austin either...he's just been here longer.

I got the weird idea that he felt entitled to have more success than the other group just because he's been in Austin longer.

The stories we tell ourselves!

Nobody owes you anything, especially when they don't even know you.

The more popular act made better records than my friend and put on a better show than he did.

They also had a strong networking game.

In other words...they put more time and effort into the whole thing.

Why was my homie so entitled? 

He hadn't done much. 

If you want people to talk about you, you need to actually do some stuff.

And probably a lot of stuff.

Getting rid of your entitlement will help. 

Then, you are free to succeed or not succeed.

You're willing to do the work no matter the consequence.

Like it's 2:30 am and I haven't posted in awhile.

It's really easy to stay embarrassed and just continue not posting or just...fade away.

Or go to sleep.

Or whatever.

But I'm posting anyway.

(I did take Excedrin and these are normal waking hours for me so no harm no foul ;P )

There's a lot of excuses people give as to why they think others should just bow down and pay attention/$ to them...

  • I've been here longer
  • I'm 50 and you're 20, you're dumb
  • I have a PhD
  • I'm an artist
  • I made music
  • I put music online
  • My music is on iTunes
  • My childhood was worse
  • I'm a Christian
  • I'm not a Christian
  • I'm gay
  • I'm a woman
  • I'm not gay
  • I'm not a woman
  • I'm not a man or a woman
  • I can rap good
  • I made something and now I'm selling it

The most wonderful feeling is realizing that a lot of people are judging and criticizing you and pretty indifferent about whether or not you succeed.

But I kind of like pissing people off by existing and publishing my own content that they think sucks.

It's fuel to me to know that people are out there talking about me.

Hey, free publicity.

When I'm dead my name won't be on nobody's lips for too long.

Don't worry about your content having pristine quality...like I've said, if no one even knows who you are then...it's not like the president is going to be looking at your content.

But even then....

The president eats KFC and McDonald's so quality is not exactly his standard.

You see what I mean though?

Some people LIKE low quality.

By low quality I don't mean that the IDEAS behind the content suck, I just mean that the execution is low budget/bad skillet/not great.

If the ideas and personality are there, you're allowed to have grammar and spelling errors and iPhone videos (Selena Gomez shot both of her new music videos on the new iPhone...just saying...) and out of focus photography.

I just posted an IG post today and I'm pretty sure I'm not all the way in focus (I'm the subject of the pic).

And I thought it hilarious, I posted it anyway and on purpose.

I'm gonna post pics that aesthetically offend people on purpose.

I haven't gotten many leads from IG anyway so, it really *doesn't* matter.

To me it matters more that I hooked up with a new photographer, got some free photos, and made it work for my content strategy.

A lot of people just sit around and go "I can't afford a photographer" and I have no idea how to find someone who won't charge me.

You gotta be creative ALL THE TIME.

Not just when you're making music.

Sometimes when people act like marketing is a nasty disease I have a hard time dealing.

Doing marketing is like being in a room with someone whose face is ugly but has a beautiful soul.

Marketing has an ugly face but a beautiful soul.

So everyone just thinks it's ugly cause they never took the time to learn about its soul.

I think of marketing as an art for sure.

You have to take a product or service, one that probably hundreds of thousands of people are also doing, and compete for business.

It's like the Business Olympics.

There aren't really awards for best marketer or best copywriter...just best CEO, best artist, best product etc etc.

Even the fans and consumers get more love!

Without any marketing, no one even knows who the CEO is.

So let's give it up for the folks who magically and masterfully turn $50 into $150.

Let's give it up for the folks who take aesthetically crappy media and figure out how to get people paying attention.

Because that needs to be you (if you don't have anything else...just DO YOUR BEST LIKE MOM ALWAYS SAID)

And you don't have give yourself any label that you don't want.

Don't call it marketing just call it..."not being a dumbass if I want people to care about who I am."

If the president can eat KFC and McDonald's as his preferred meal choices, and still become president, then nothing is impossible for you my friend.

Post those out of focus photos with the grainy quality and "umms" in your podcast and blogs that 5 people will read.

ALL of my favorite entrepreneurs and musical artists started off with crappy YouTube videos.

They all came up in the 2000's decade but I really don't think it's changed enough for you to suddenly need $1000 videos.

In fact, people are tired of the polish and fake and deceitful marketing so...

Time for some honest, authentic marketing.

Now, this doesn't mean you should lose mystery.

Configa and I were on a phone call this week and agreed that posting 5 selfies a day is a bad idea.

But a couple selfies a week...I don't see the problem.

Just make them flattering.

Google how to take better selfies.

I think I actually learned one tip from Justin Bieber and it improved my selfies a lot...

In general, don't post unflattering stuff.

It can be crappy aesthetics and still be flattering.

If it's flattering but the aesthetics suck I think that only adds to the mystery.

When it's all clear and polished and perfect there's not really any mystery...unless it's staged mystery...but then...it's staged.

People like authenticity.

But at the same time, they like being lied to.

Just ask any honest person who goes on dates - they're still single.

You gotta learn to cloak yourself in some mystery, not give it all away, not be too forward and revealing.

You can do that at any quality level.

Basically, you have to learn how to be authentic and lie to people all at the same time.

I actually do have a term for this: I call it "staged authenticity."

Some people I've worked with have claimed that marketing is dead because everyone wants authenticity.

Believe me my friends, marketing will never be dead as long as humans exist.

And believe me, people THINK they want authenticity.

It's exactly like how we all know that girls don't want the good guy she says she wants.

She THINKS she wants the gentleman who opens doors, waits to sleep with her, is her friend, is super nice.

But nope - that's not what she responds to. She wants the guy who gives her an EXPERIENCE.

So you gotta give your people an experience and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Bieber's YouTube videos worked so well not because of the videos - there was something special about that kid!

That's what I'm getting at.

Just communicate YOU in the most flattering light.

Finding what's flattering and what people respond well to takes time.

Unless you've already got an incredible charm - then please stop reading and go make content.

Find and exploit your charm - that's why we love those old hip-hop records because they had charm, not polish. 

This is music from people who can't afford stuff.

I want to talk more about this in Part 3.

P.S. You can take down content any time you want.

I do this all the time.

Then it becomes sort of a game - if you can simply delete it then is any of this even real?

(It's not real anyway; time is an illusion, you're going to die and then sun is going to blow up. One day soon it won't matter if you did or didn't publish content and give yourself a shot at ALL THE THINGS YOU EVER WANTED...it's better to just go for it.)

Makes me think of a discussion I had about panic attacks with former co-workers: I thought I had bad anxiety at times, but I found myself in a convo with 3 other people who said they get actual panic attacks.

Maybe I've had a couple before, I don't know.

But theirs sounded BAD.

And these were people way more competent at their job than I was (not music or marketing related lol).

One of them said she keeps Xanax or some other anxiety med with her: "Just knowing that I have it in case I need it makes me feel better."

So think of the delete button like your emergency Xanax: it's there if you need it! Should make you feel better!

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#40: Use Social Media (Don't Let It Use You) 

A lot of people complain and argue on social media...often about politics. 

What if they continued that conversation on a blog post, podcast or video?

Then at least you're turning your complaints into something productive...the potential for a future revenue stream.

If you only want to distract yourself on social media, maybe this blog isn't for you.

Every time you post content online (a single tweet is content), you're placing a tiny brick in the foundation of your brand.

I believe that everyone is their own brand whether they realize it or not.

Even if you don't have a tangible product to sell.

Your opinions and beliefs that you post online are branding you.

We’re using Facebook and Twitter to brand ourselves, but most of us aren’t strategizing our brand.

We’re helping Facebook and Twitter’s brand more than ourselves.

‚ÄúIf you‚Äôre not paying for it, you‚Äôre the product.‚Ä̬†

Every time you post, you’re allowing social media platforms to keep their doors open.

They sell data and ad space. 

They can't do that without consistent, loyal users.

I said in Episode #11 to take your relationships off social media as soon as possible.

The reason why is because you don’t own your social media posts or followers - the platform does.

Every pic you post of your cat or kid or event isn’t your photo anymore.

Facebook owns it.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use social media, just that social media is a tool for you to use.

It’s just one part of your overall strategy to connect with people.

Since you don’t own your social media posts and you don’t own your list of followers, you need to have a list of contact info outside of social media.  

Relying ONLY on social media could lead to a bad time if your account goes down for some reason.

You can organize your opinions and monetize them one day

If you're archiving your thoughts online anyway, why not organize them beyond social media?

You may be one of these people who can talk all day...

I see a lot of long Twitter threads...

There's your outline for a blog post or for a show.

Turn on your mic and go to town for 30 minutes...then post it.

Then do it again and again and again.

It's cathartic, almost like therapy where you get relief just by getting it out of you.

It might be a long time before anyone wants to buy anything from you.

But maybe someday they will.

If you keep going, you'll find your niche.

Doing this at least gives you control over your problems rather than being a victim of them.

You can at least say you turned the negatives into a positive (you have a cool blog, show, art, etc).

Most people just complain on social media and do nothing positive with that energy.

The energy is always going to be there.

It's up to you to do something negative or positive with it.

Ranting and raving on social media is one way to use that energy...

Here's a more positive way to use that energy, which will also help distract you from your woes:

Turn those same opinions into a well thought out argument, organize it into content on your website, then promote your site and mailing list through social media.

Find your people and community who want to hear from you.

One day, your following and archive will be long enough for you to charge $ for something.

A subscription site, a book, a course, a speaking tour, services for hire...the sky's the limit.

In the peer-reviewed "How much is social media worth? Estimating the value of Facebook by paying users to stop using it," the researchers found that a Facebook user's account is worth at least $1000 a year.

If Facebook were going to pay someone to deactivate their account based on the value of the account (to Facebook), they'd need to pay the user at least $1000 a year.

That’s how much FB owes you for a year of using their site and posting on it.

That’s how much your membership is worth to them.

If you’ve used FB for the last 10 years like I have, that’s $10,000. 

We’re all basically part-time employees with no paperwork. 

If you’re regularly on a handful of social media sites, you’re promoting those sites for free.

The least you can do is use your accounts as a tool to develop your own voice and brand. 

Those long tweet threads make a good outline for a longer piece of content.

You can then promote your content through social media and drive traffic to places you own like your website, channel, mailing list.

It gets you off someone else’s turf like Twitter and playing by your own rules.

If you don’t like to write, record a voice memo or video and go on Fiverr and get someone to transcribe it.

Then you can post the transcription as a blog post or just post the audio/video recording. 

Go earn your $1000 that Facebook won't pay you. 

Take care of yourself by organizing and monetizing your views. 

It’ll take your mind off all the things you can’t change.  

This is in your control.

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#39: The Evolution of the Mixtape 

The evolution of the mixtape goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of hip-hop and rap.

The mixtape has always been an effective medium for street music to be passed around.

I asked you on Twitter if you think the mixtape is dead - it seems not.

Mixtapes have transformed throughout the years since those first hip-hop tapes in the '70s.

It remains to be seen how its role for rappers and DJs will play out.

We can break the evolution into four eras:

1. The ‚Äė70s-‚Äô80s focused on the DJ.¬†

The first hip-hop mixtapes were mainly live mixes for fans to relive concerts.

Hip-hop broke through the mainstream on radio and vinyl sales with "Rapper’s Delight." 

But the majority of hip-hop fans knew that hip-hop was mainly captured on low quality dubbed tapes.

These mixtapes weren't made professionally in the studio.

Some early hip-hop crews like the The Furious Five had dozen of live mixtapes they’d sell at their shows. 

In Red Bull Music Academy's "History of Hip Hop Mixtapes," Grandmaster Flash said people with money would be the ones hitting him up for his tapes...

‚Äú'The people that was buying my customized tapes [in the ‚Äô70s] were the scramblers, the dealers, people that had money,'¬†Grandmaster Flash¬†told MTV.com¬†in 2007. 'I was making a couple thousand dollars a month, easy, just doing this.'‚ÄĚ

That’s almost $5k a month in today’s dollars since the value of a U.S. dollar has doubled since 1980.

Just for dubbed live tapes. 

This was an incredibly lucrative market... even though the tapes weren't sold in more established music stores and catalogs.

These always have been street tapes, away from the eye of the mainstream. 

2. The ‚Äė80s-‚Äô90s shifted focus to the vocalist/rapper.

Fans, labels, and music executives began to focus on the rapper instead of the DJ's skills.

DJs responded by making compilations with exclusive artist freestyles.

They concentrated less on their mixing.

Turntablism and scratching became less prevalent. 

Mixtapes were used to launch rapper careers.

The music was no longer focused on DJ skills or live shows but on the vocalists.

Labels and record distributors caught on and the mixtape process became industrialized in cities outside of New York 

In some ways, mixtapes replaced four track demos.

Artists previously pitched their demos to record labels to get signed and drop a more professional album.  

3. In the 2000s, the DJ became unnecessary for a mixtape.

The mixtapes were still curated by DJs...until 50 Cent dropped 50 Cent is the Future in 2002.

As DJ Drama said in Billboard, "There's the mixtape game pre-50 Cent and post-50 Cent."

This changed the entire mixtape landscape.

Rappers no longer needed a DJ co-sign to launch their careers.

The long era of DJs controlling the music was officially over.

Artists used mixtapes for free promotion and to build hype... 

Jacking popular beats with their own raps and promoting as their own song. 

50 Cent is the Future was a smash hit and led to his signing to Shady Records.

Shady released his #1 rap album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'.

50 Cent is the Future came after his first label, Columbia Records, dropped him.

They shelved his still unreleased original debut album.

50 Cent took his career into his own hands by dropping his own music...

Much like how Jay Z created his own label when he couldn’t land a record deal several years earlier.

50 didn’t even record this album in the U.S...he had to record it in Canada because he couldn’t find a studio in the U.S. who would record him.

Talk about no excuses. 

Another 50 Cent mixtape before Get Rich Or Die Tryin' had the hit single "Wanksta"...paving the way for mixtapes to achieve radio success. 

Blogs and mixtape sharing sites moved many careers forward with these digital downloads during the late 2000s.

Examples include: Meek Mill, Young Jeezy, Drake, Mac Miller, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, and Lil Wayne.  

4. The 2010s…the "studio album" mixtape era

Mixtapes from artists like Drake and Chance the Rapper seem more like studio albums.

They perform well on the charts and award shows .

We're in the era of the "studio album" mixtape, but... 

The mixtape is still, at its heart, a reflection of the streets. 

It’s one of the cheapest ways to throw together a project that reflects your skill as a rapper.

You don’t need original beats or be good at mixing and mastering.

You don’t have to spend a ton of $ on artwork.

There’s charm in the DIY makeshift project that fans still connect with.

This is the spirit of the original dubbed tapes.

It still lives on today as rappers drop mixtapes via physical CD or through platforms like Soundcloud. 

Mixtapes were a way to bypass radio, stimulate your fan base, and stay discreet.

They still are for the majority of hip-hop artists.

Despite the commercialization of the mixtape, they still remain a medium for artists to utilize.

And a way for mainstream artists to satisfy their fanbase in between albums. 

Of course, the mixtape can also mimic a professional studio album if it wants to...

Many mainstream artists in the last several years have taken advantage of the free promo that comes with a highly professional release.

This is quite the opposite from the early days...dubbed tapes from live shows, which might have been recorded on an audience member’s boombox and still sold like hot cakes.

Sometimes at a steep price.

The tapes had to be handmade.

Now, a mixtape that sounds and looks like a full studio album is available to anyone on the planet with an internet connection. 

You don't HAVE to give away your mixtape for free...

Nipsey Hussle sold his physical mixtapes for $100 each last year.

"[Nipsey's] mixtape sold out in 24 hours, and just like that [he] had $100,000 and a whole lot of hype. 'It’s time we acknowledge what we all know: the music is free,' [Nipsey] said. 'We shouldn’t force people to buy it, what we should do is create different methods to monetize the connection.'" 

Smart dude, RIP.

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#38: Is Hip-Hop Dead? 

Another requested topic: hip-hop vs rap.

This is always an interesting discussion, often facilitated by Nas' 2006 album Hip-Hop Is Dead.

We ask is hip-hop dead?

No, it lives on in the underground, people say.

It's led me to ask how you define "the underground."

Nas admitted that although there were deeper implications in his album title, he also named it Hip-Hop Is Dead just to get people talking.

The conversation hasn't stopped.

If you look at the history of hip-hop as a subculture, you could argue that its origins are largely gone...

But that the spirit and power of the movement live on.

We find that most people think of hip-hop as a musical genre.

The "purist" way of thinking is that it's a specific subculture exclusive to its origins in the Bronx and Queens boroughs of New York.

From there, it spread via radio and performance and grassroots word-of-mouth.

That¬†subculture was unique to that era in the ‚Äė70s¬†¬†

It's often referred to as a lifestyle that incorporates at least four elements of hip-hop: DJ’ing, rapping, graffiti, and breakdancing.

Rap is simply one of the elements...

You could make the argument that as hip-hop grew more in popularity, rap evolved into its own separate category...as a musical genre.

Is rap a lifestyle or subculture? 

A community of people, a spirit, a movement?

Or is it a musical genre?

If you go back to its origins, hip-hop is inherently underground.

That is how it started.

If you're staying true with the original spirit of the subculture:

Music made from turntables...bootleg mixtapes passed around...illegal distribution and profit of copyrighted music...

The idea that a hip-hop artist should not care about money (the way a modern day rapper is perceived to care) neglects the fact that a lot of illegal profit was made during the early days of hip-hop.

In "#39 The Evolution of the Mixtape," I wrote that early crews were making as much as $2000 a month selling bootleg mixtapes in the '70s.

That's pretty good money for no radio play, small niche audiences, and underground mixes.

I've heard arguments that say if you hear rapping on the radio, it can't be hip-hop.

Hip-hop in its original form is by definition underground (if you believe that).

But there’s one problem...

I haven’t really found a good definition of what underground is.  

Has the internet changed the definition of underground?

Is there no more underground anymore? 

An article by Festival Peak argues this about the history of the underground:

"Underground" literally meant you couldn’t see or hear from that artist.

They didn’t have an outlet.

It’s the first time that a light went off in my head by hearing the word "underground."

When something’s underground, you can’t see it.

You don’t know it’s there.

In the older days, being underground meant people couldn’t see or talk to you - literally.

But the internet has made it possible to book all your shows, distribute your own music and have direct relationships with fans. 

Many people mix together "underground" and "independent."

It seems popular to say that independent artists are underground, especially if they're not on radio or considered mainstream.

I took to Twitter to ask you your thoughts on this.

Looks like you don't agree that underground and independent are the same thing!

However, more people agree that the internet has erased the inherent underground nature of music that can't be seen or heard.

If you can distribute your own music, are you underground?

If you have enough core base to make a full-time income from music, are you underground?

These are existential questions that may not have a definitive answer.

But I always come back to KRS One's famous quote:

‚ÄúRap is something you do. Hip-Hop is something you live.‚ÄĚ

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

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Hip-Hop Daily Dose #37: What Would You Do With $1 Million? 

Just a couple things first...

1. The new Laidlaw Media podcast show.

It's Episode 2 and we got another fire episode on the way before December hits!

2. Diving into hip-hop memorabilia.

Starting my collection and giving away my first pieces for free...

The first is an autographed photo of Common.

I have two different photos...if you win, you get your choice.

DM me your email or just click here to sign up.

You'll be entered into all my free contests.

Let me ask you...

If you had $1 mil, what would you do with it?

It's one of the most common questions I've heard throughout my life.

It's easy to sleep on it, but your goals and desires may be buried deep within your answer.

Most of the time I hear people saying they'd blow it all.

It's easy to spend it on a nice house, luxury car, vacations, and expensive products.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend $ on yourself and have fun.  

But...the people who would blow through it all probably aren’t listening to this podcast 

There’s no way you’re listening to this if you don’t have long-term goals. 

Maybe in the past you answered this question and said you’d blow most of it.

$1 mil isn't actually a lot of $.

You'll likely need more than that to retire...just for 20-30 years of living expenses.

We’ve heard hundreds of stories of athletes making millions and blowing through it all ending up bankrupt.

It's easy to do.

The Breakdown

You'll have to pay tax on this income.

You don't really have $1 mil.

Let's keep it simple and not get too bogged down in the taxes...

We'll just say you're starting with $750,000 cash.

Here's what I'd do with mine.

It aligns with my life and career goals

25% of $750k = $187,500

  • Pay off debt
     
  • Put one year of living expenses in checking account ($30k)
     
  • The rest in emergency savings

25% of $750k = $187,500

  • $187,500 invested in index funds and/or real estate
     
  • Not touching this until retirement

We've used up 50% of the total $750k.

Aight.

$5k for business travel

One thing I forgot to mention in the audio show was the $5,000 I'd spend for traveling.

In the show, I only accounted for $745k instead of $750k.

Whoops, my bad.

That $5k wouldn't be for a nice luxury vacation.

I'd go to LA, New York, Atlanta, or possibly an international trip...

To meet music industry contacts and make beneficial connections.

I'm not getting a new house or car at this point.

$50,000 to upgrade my home studio recordings

Nothing too crazy.

Just good quality gear, mics and products to improve the acoustics.

The final $320,000...

All for Monikker Music content and promo.

  • Content production (could get expensive - outsourcing for videos, photos, social media, other content)
     
  • Merchandise and packaging
     
  • Building funnels and creating new digital/physical offers
     
  • Funding a tour

The rest would go to advertising to promote all of the above.

I should have $100k for the advertising budget.

And that's it...

With enough good content, merch, offers, and a good live show + using my advertising $ intelligently...

The goal would be to turn a profit out of $ spent on the entire second half of the $1 mil:

Business travel, upgrading my studio, and content + offers + promo.

If it takes longer than a year to recoup my investment, I still have over $100k in emergency savings.

This allows me another year or two at least of living expenses.

That's more time to successfully turn enough profit on my asset investments.

What would you do?

How has this post and show made you think differently about it?

Drop a comment below or Tweet me.

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Hip-Hop Daily Dose #36: Should You Release a Single, EP, or Album? 



Got a request for today's show from @smokegenerxtor.


Great topic.

In this show and post, I talk about the pros and cons of EPs, singles and albums.

I find often that people don’t know what an EP is.

They’re typically not artists. 

Just as often, I find artists who seem to think an EP is beneath them. 

I’ve never quite understood the stigma against EPs. 

Why is an album better? 

Especially in the current musical climate:

People are ADD.

It’s hard to get and keep their attention. 

A lot of artists release standalone singles to combat this and give people a quick taste of their music.

Personally, (both as a fan and an artist), I’d rather hear 5 rock solid, incredible songs than 10-15 that have filler on an album.

Even if I really like that artist, I don’t tend to listen all the way through albums as much as I used to.

I want to hear the highlights.

But shouldn’t any release, whether it’s a single, EP, mixtape, or album only be filled with your best work?

That’s my mindset and how I want to approach any type of project.

My approach is that any song I write could be a single.

I’ve picked up this idea from TobyMac, who says he writes every song as if it would be the single.

I think sometimes artists get the idea that a ‚Äúsingle‚ÄĚ means it‚Äôs the most commercial track on the project....

Or the most pop, or has the widest appeal.

I just can't come up with a good reason to not get as many listeners as you can with your music.

That doesn‚Äôt mean you have to water it down or go ‚Äúpop‚ÄĚ or anything like that.

In my head, it means you’re bringing your best...music, lyrics, and delivery.

If somebody who didn’t know you picked any random song from your project...it should be as strong as any other song on the record.

Even if you’ve got different tempos, styles, and vibes on there.

That’s my mindset but I’m curious to know what you think.

Think of your project as your resume.

This is all that somebody has to go on right now...they’ve never heard of you before.

How are you going to approach that situation?

If you want to date somebody or make a new friend or business connection, do you bring your less impressive ‚Äúfiller‚ÄĚ game?

Or are you out to make an impact on them?

You’ll probably at least try to be your sharpest, funniest, charming version of yourself.

Winning a new fan is a lot like seducing somebody (romantically, professionally, or otherwise.)

Give your absolute best.

If you’ve only got the juice to do that on 5 songs, I’d rather hear that project.

You might have to record 10 or 15 songs to get the 5 best songs.

What is an EP?

A recording project between 3 and 8 songs. Total run time doesn’t go over 30 minutes.

Apple actually inserts 'EP' at the end of your project title if your project meets their specific requirements for an EP.

Their definition of an EP is: a record than contains 4-6 tracks and is under 30 minutes.  

We tend to think of a single as just one single song, but Apple and Spotify have different specifications.

They consider a release to be a single if if has 1-3 tracks, and each track is under 10 minutes.

If any of the tracks were over 10 minutes long, they’d consider it an EP.

A lot of artists put "EP" in the title and cover art of their project on their own accord.

I'm not sure why there's such a need to make sure everyone knows this ain't a legit album!

The pros and cons of releasing an EP

Pros:

  • Takes less time and $ to create¬†¬†¬†
     
  • Easier to plan out a concept or theme¬†
     
  • Audience attention is on the decline (shorter projects may keep their attention)
     
  • Easier to justify asking for the sale ($5 for an EP vs $10 or $15 for an album)
     
  • Big artists used EPs to help them get a record deal, including Black Flag and Eminem¬†
     
  • Used by established artists to keep fans happy¬†in-between album releases¬†
     
  • An excellent project with 5 tracks is better than a good project with 12 tracks¬†
     
  • Keeps audience hungry ‚Ķ you always want to leave them wanting more, not less¬†
     
  • Less room for disappointment¬†

Cons:

  • Often seen as an entry level debut¬†
     
  • Not taken as seriously
     
  • Media outlets don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs as newsworthy¬†
     
  • Weird stigma that an album is better because it has more music on it

EPs are great for artists still building their core base

You're more likely to introduce new fans to your music.

How likely are you to listen to an entire album by a random rapper you saw online?

At this point, I don't always listen to the full albums by artists I've followed for years.

An EP is easier to digest...especially if it's full of your absolute best music.

Whether it's our collective attention span or our patience that's declining...we move on quickly.

We like to stick with what we're familiar with (as much as we say we want novelty).

How will you break through to someone who's never heard of you before?

An EP can give people a taste of your sound and whet their appetite for a larger project.

Maybe people look down on EPs because they see them as an appetizer with the album being the main course.

I’d take an excellent EP over a good album any day.

But there’s no denying that an EP can essentially work as a glorified demo, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It’s better to give people less and make them want more...than to give them too much.

Always leave your audience wanting more.

This will only help convert people to your side.

I often find that albums are just way too much (even with my favorite artists).

Save the less impressive cuts for your subscription site, mailing list, free download, or a B-side compilation later on.

You can use them for standalone singles in-between projects so people know you’re around with music good enough to release.

Sometimes artists don't release singles from EPs.

Why wouldn't you promote one project as heavily as you promote another?

It doesn't make sense to hold back on EP promotion...except that media publications don't cover EPs as often as albums.

Screw the media!

You've got social media, email, and texting accounts.

Plus doing live shows...and your website.

Get your music in front of people with or without media publications.

I love when artists release most of a project song by song before the final project release date.

Some of my favorite artists will drop a new song every week or every other week before the final release.

Only a few songs on the album are still unheard on release day.

There’s an excitement I get knowing I get to hear most of the album ahead of time if I pay attention. 

It's one of those treats you give to people who always want to hear more from you (your core or true fans).

I think it’s a good strategy to release multiple singles from a project.

Spend anywhere from 1-3 months promoting the crap out of each single.

If every song is hot and you’ve approached each song like it could be a single, why not? 

Most artists just drop the full project at one time with no pre-launch promo...

Other than some social media posts talking about the project.

You can drop one or two singles before the project is out to build anticipation for it.

This does take planning.

Here's what Quartz said in "Unless You're Adele, You Have No Business Releasing Album Tracks All At Once":

Superstars like Adele can get away with dropping a full album of new music...but it doesn’t make sense anymore for lesser known indie artists to spend years working on a new album and not drop any new music.

Quartz advocates for dropping steady singles throughout the year.

Then releasing them in a compilation such as an EP or mixtape.

Everyone's favorite rapper, Macklemore, took this approach to his success:

“More mainstream artists, like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, took similar routes when breaking into the music scene. The Seattle-based hip hop duo began pushing tracks from their debut album 'The Heist' more than a year before the record dropped in 2012 to hype it up." 

The Chainsmokers stayed creative with their track releases:

"[They]¬†released a new original track every month, along with music videos, behind-the-scenes videos, and other social content. After fans started discovering the new and older tracks, the Chainsmokers compiled their songs into an EP called 'Bouquet,'¬†released in October. As of today (Oct. 29), the compilation is number two on the iTunes dance album charts.‚ÄĚ

Whether you've only got a couple singles, a few tracks for an EP, or a full album...

Take the temperature of your core base and marketing strategy.

Have you built enough momentum for a full album release?

Is it reasonable to expect many people to buy it?

If yes, an album might be great for you.

Are you still scraping just to get people to remember your name?

Maybe you could drop your hottest single and promote the crap out of it (see other Hip-Hop Daily Dose shows for ideas on how to do that).

Got people asking what's coming next? 

Drop them with a single every month or so and then compile into an EP or mixtape.

Whatever you do, always remember that it's not so much what you're releasing but how you do it, and why.

Don't give up!

Want the best marketing tips, hip-hop coverage, and free music you can't get anywhere else? 

Just enter your email underneath "Be Part of the Movement" on the Monikker Music Home Page. 

Welcome to the Community :)

Laidlaw Media Podcast, Episode 2 

A brand new show from Laidlaw Media, headed by Configaration Records CEO and producer, Configa.

This is the second episode.

Click here to go back to the first show.

In #2, Configa begins an artist spotlight series.

The first feature artist is Maddogg McGraw.

Submit your music to Configa if you want to be considered for a future show.

Next, Monikker recapped a few recent and upcoming hip-hop releases:

  • New Black Star!
  • Lil Kim's¬†9
  • Yelawolf's Ghetto Cowboy after his separation from Shady Records

Last but not least, Monikker talked about a new Eminem autobiography entitled Not Afraid: The Evolution of Eminem.

Michael Carter (aka MC Said) hopped on the mic to finish out the show.

He detailed a riveting re-telling of Eminem's life and career.

MC made some unique points and observations...even re-naming some of Eminem's albums based on new context.

Tweet us your thoughts on the show @configa @laidlawmedia @monikker @101mwc.

Enjoy, and enter your email on the Laidlaw Media website to get new shows and more news. 

Sign up at the bottom of the home page.

Mini Manic: "Nothin's Real" 

HADES is back!

Mini Manic, his duo with New Orleans-based vocalist and guitarist, Jillian Kay, has released its first song.

The music is published via HADES' independent Austin-area record label, Black Market Pluto.

"Nothin's Real" is a trip hop-drenched track with Jillian's deep bluesy vocals.

Jillian's tortured vocals pull you in while HADES' music sounds darkly urgent.

The poetic lyrics represent a soul looking for relief in a broken world.

Reflecting on the new music, Jillian Kay said:

"It's crazy how it came together so unexpectedly.

Hades hit me up to collaborate and at that point I'd never really explored into this genre of music. It felt experimental to me.

I was definitely intimidated at first, but we just opened up another cool little door. I'm excited to keep moving and exploring with this project."

There's an other-worldly feel to the sound.

It's as if ghosts are trying to help us see what they see...the invisible forces around us.

It feels like Janis Joplin was transported back here to settle some unfinished business of her soul.

In the verse:

"Simplicity pulls me out of the self-induced coma my soul's been exploring.

Sacred is broken, nothing aligns in normal formation for spirits as I'm Aquarian, 'I'-rrationally trying to rationalize."

In the chorus:

"Nothin's real...something else shows its face and nothin's real..."

The beat has dropped out and it's mainly manipulated effects behind her vocals.

It feels...ghostly.

Jillian's howls of "Nothin's real!" at the end of the chorus may be the most impactful moment.

I start to believe her (ok maybe I already agreed with her) but now I really believe!

It sends chills down my spine.

The unique sound perfectly captures a dark, cynical, (possibly) fatalistic view of human behavior.

In the next verse, a critique on society:

"Stand back while society burns down...

What's been found by the world's been twisted around, listening to conspiracy sounds."

HADES and I talked about the collaboration back in October.

He described it as "spooky and dark, and bluesy. It's nuts."

Maybe it really is like HADES from the underworld, giving us a glimpse into what hell is like. 

The spider-like key/guitar/horn parts tip toe around in the background shadows, starting at the end of the chorus. 

There are things going on underneath we don't completely know about. 

The spiders fully emerge at the end of the track while Jillian hums. 

I'm really imagining HADES the producer as the mythical HADES of the underworld... 

Locked away in this creepy, dark, candlelit room making music... 

While tortured souls stop by to record guest vocals. 

You can see silhouettes of spiders and cobwebs in the corners of the cold, stuffy, dusty room. 

Ok, I've combined Miss Havisham from Great Expectations with HADES of the underworld.

That's what this feels like:

A Miss Havisham-HADES musical mashup...

It's creepy and wicked.

Black Market Pluto expects to release more Mini Manic songs one by one...the next song expected by the end of November.

HADES said about the new music:

"I'm just hoping these songs find someone who enjoys them and shares them to other people who could potentially enjoy them.

That's what we are currently doing."

Send an email to blackmarketpluto@gmail.com and request to be added to the BMP email list.

Subscribe to the Black Market Pluto Youtube Channel where they'll be dropping new songs.

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #33: No Excuses, Pt 2 (A Real-Life Artist Example) 

In Hip-Hop Daily Dose #32, I read parts of an email sent by a real-life artist who is retiring his stage name.

They sounded like a bunch of excuses.

I wonder what his email would sound like if he focused on promoting his new album...

And less on all the circumstances he feels are out of his control.

Below, you can see an example of what I would've written in this email.

It admits "failure" or that circumstances aren't what he'd prefer...

But doesn't condemn or vilify his audience.

His reads should feel good before clicking through to the link and ordering the album.

It doesn't work well to shame people into buying your product, going out with you, or getting the deal you want.

People really don't like pity parties.

Lift them up, get them on an emotional high, and get them excited about what you're offering.

-----

Subject Line: 3 reasons why I'm retiring [stage name]

Dear friend,

So many people have asked me why this is my last book/album.

I want to answer this fully in today's email.

First, you're amazing.

You've supported all four of my indie projects at 200%.

I've had a lot of success with my self-released projects.

And I've truly had an incredible career.

6 Dove awards...setting the world record for freestyling...

Almost a million albums sold...

This music has taken me places I always imagined and so much more.

However, I've had to face the reality that records and shows aren't selling like they used to.

I've wanted more shows that pay me enough to sustain my family.

I'm still open to it, but right now my career isn't at a place where it's happening.

This makes me sad because the live performance is where I connect with you the most...

You're probably one of the wonderful people I've met over the years at my shows.

The second reason is pretty straightforward: I've found myself in too much debt.

It's finally taken its toll.

I won't go through the sob stories, but I've worked with organizations who went out of business, went bankrupt, or I didn't get paid royalties...

It's totally screwed me up.

And since I don't have more people buying my music or booking my performances, the hole of debt just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

The final reason is also simple...I have failed you.

As much as I want to blame this on bad pay, the downturn in the market, low record sales, and everything else...

The truth is that I didn't get the job done.

I didn't deliver enough value.

I've been relying on social media to promote my music for me.

I expected you to care more.

But I've realized that you've got so much going on in your own life...your own career, family, friends, tragedies, hobbies, and health...

I scroll past posts and ignore other people's emails all the time.

I know you're no different.

I'm crowdfunding my last album and book...

I'd love for you to be part of the process.

--> Click Here To Be Part of Christian Hip-Hop History

Two of the best packages have already sold out.

There are so many other rewards such as:

  • hanging out with me at the studio
  • getting a follow from me on social media
  • physical book copy or audiobook
  • let's get lunch together
  • graffiti art made by me
  • live show
  • and much more...

If any of these sound even just a little bit awesome to you, I encourage you get yours now because...

2 packages have already sold out!

And the crowdfunding period will end soon...

If either of the above 2 things happens, the prizes aren't available anymore.

I don't want you to miss out on this exclusive part of CHH history...my last album.

I'm offering all the prizes way below their market value...

It's my way of saying THANK YOU for being here for me all these years.

Words in an email don't do justice to my appreciation.

After this, there will be no more music or merch coming out from the artist you've followed all these years.

Don't wait until it's all gone.

--> Going, Going, Gone (Don't Miss Out)

P.S. Over 50% of exclusive prizes have been taken already...

Join 138 people who love my music...

There's only about 300 packages, and over half are gone.

You can't get this exclusive merch and experiences with me after the album release.

I've saved the best for my last album and I want you to be part of it!

--> Get It Here Before It's Gone

Want the best marketing tips, hip-hop coverage, and free music you can't get anywhere else? 

Just enter your email underneath "Be Part of the Movement" on the Monikker Music Home Page. 

Welcome to the Community :)

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #32: No Excuses (A Real-Life Artist Example) 

I'm exploring an email from a hip-hop vet who is retiring his stage name.

First, I should note that I very much respect this man's talent and values.

However, as a digital marketer (and in light of my previous show about how much control you have over your life), I couldn't help but analyze the email from a marketing lens.

Especially because I reached out to this rapper via email at the beginning of the year and pitched my email marketing services (no reply).

I don't think I did my job of properly following up with him.

Hey, no worries.

We can set the record straight on a few marketing topics here.

This was an email sent out to his mailing list, which I've been subscribed to for a few years.

Out of respect for the artist, I'll keep him his identity anonymous.

This is not a diss or a reason to laugh, make fun, or put down a fellow artist.

It's simply a possible learning opportunity for anyone in music who has to market their music.

If no one else learns, well...I will.

#1. The artist starts off by saying he makes less $ from shows due to the downturn in touring.

He's been told that he's too old to get the shows now.

As I said in Hip-Hop Daily Dose #30 ("Are You In Control?")...

If we can find an example of anyone else who is doing what we want to do, then we must recognize that it's possible.

And then, most crucially, we must take responsibility for making it happen.

No one else is going to swing at bat for you the way you will.

No one is as interested in seeing you succeed at a certain task as you are.

If there are other older artists who are able to make enough money from touring, then we have to consider it a possibility for us as well.

This artist has a smaller fanbase than many of the older artists I can think of who are still killing it...but...

A slew of older artists have recently produced albums and successfully played gigs to support them.

Chuck D is 57 and on the road non-stop.

A Tribe Called Quest released a late 2016 album and toured in 2017 to support it.

Big Daddy Kane is still out there performing.

Eric B and Rakim have upcoming dates.

The average music fan has no clue who any of the above artists are, yet they're still booking regular shows.

Kanye West has nearly ruined his reputation dozens of times and just achieved a #1 album.

I'll even mention a virtually unknown rapper, Mr J Medeiros, and his French counterpart, 20Syl...who are completely killing it in France right now.

Now, I realize this artist at hand is in a unique niche market (Christian).

I also know there are OG's in his market who constantly tour and play big festivals...they may not be strictly hip-hop and they may have a larger distribution reach for their records, but the example is there nonetheless...which means it's possible.

Did this artist completely utilize every tool available to him to promote his shows and sell tickets for more revenue?

For instance, he didn't respond when I pitched my email marketing services to him...which I would do for free.

That's constant emails to his base, which are proven to still be highly effective.

As I noted in my email pitch to him, he's had periods of months without sending an email out.

I know because I've been subscribed to his mailing list for years and searched for emails from him to see how often he sent them.

This is just one example of not fully "squeezing the juice" out of a very basic marketing tool available to ANYONE.

This artist probably has thousands of people on his list.

From my perspective, there is no excuse here.

Particularly when trained copywriters hit you up to write for you for free.

(Key takeaway: don't turn down free work from ANYONE - ok, almost anyone. If they're nuts or clearly incapable at basic comprehension, that's another story. There are few people I would turn away.)

Going back to the "Are You In Control?" show...if you are of the 10X mindset ...or if you believe "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" then you MUST maintain the mindset to aggressively go after what you want.

There is no external human force that is truly a gatekeeper; it is an illusion.

It's all within your grasp, but it is up to YOU.

If you want more shows that pay you enough, you must take 10X the action to achieve this.

There's also a common saying: "How you do anything is how you do everything."

If this artist slacked on his email list, my guess is he slacked on other things that led to a lack of well-paying shows.

The locus of control I talked about in "Are You In Control?" explores your belief that you control circumstances vs your belief that outside forces are determining your circumstances.

The only way to be in full control is to believe that you're calling the shots on your career...not the market, not booking agents, not venues.

In this email, the artist takes the stance that outside human forces have dictated his lack of well-paying gigs.

One last common phrase that applies here: "Hate the player, not the game."

#2: The artist has been gypped by organizations that owed him a lot of $ and went out of business or bankrupt.

In addition, the evils of streaming have caught up to him.

Artists don't make $ off streaming and people don't buy records like they used to.

The artist says that "you" reading this email will find all this terrible, but will still not buy his music.

I think this artist has some fundamental issues with his mindset around money.

His income is completely dictated by external forces.

He's left his livelihood and ability to support his family completely in the hands of venues and music buyers...

Instead of taking full responsibility for his music-related income and doing whatever it takes (which most would likely find unreasonable) to make it happen.

Yes, it's true.

It's unreasonable to spin the narrative around...

To find the positive in streaming and how you could use it to market your music....

To research ways to compel your audience to buy instead of blaming and shaming them for not buying...

I've made these mistakes.

We were all upset about streaming in 2015.

This has been the reality for years now.

Instead of figuring out how to solve the problem, the artist has chosen to maintain a victim mentality mindset and shrink into these limitations.

Every artist has to deal with these realities.

Yet, somehow...

There are plenty of artists able to sell music and book shows.

Which means it's possible that he can too.

It's awful that he was not paid $ for his work...that these organizations who owed him quite a bit of $ peaced out and left him standing there empty handed.

That's not okay.

But he's used that as an excuse.

And lumped it in with a "shame on you, music fans, for not being fully compelled by my marketing messages I haven't fully developed" kind of message.

There's only one CEO of your brand...

Of your music career...

Of your life.

You.

In business, the CEO bears the ENTIRE weight of the company.

No matter who did what and what bad choices may have been made by others, the CEO must take 100% responsibility for what has taken place.

#3: People don't know that the artist has new music

This is the most glaringly obvious admission that the artist has not properly marketed himself over the life of his indie career (I realize he was signed to a label before and they should be pulling their weight with marketing purposes).

In reason #3, the excuse he gives is that people are getting worse and worse at paying attention.

He puts the responsibility on the audience to pay attention...

But the responsibility is 100% his to get their attention.

This is literally the most important rule in marketing.

Ok, Rule #1 is "Don't be boring."

Rule #2 is "Get their attention."

After that, keep their attention...

Rule #1 and #2 are almost exactly the same.

How do you get someone's attention?

Definitely don't be boring!

Repeat after me: Other people don't care about you and your work.

They like Drake.

We need to realize we're competing with Drake and not just the artists in our niche markets.

You have to put out a ton of material - and not just music.

And not just social media posts.

The artist writes that social media algorithms hide a lot of posts that we can't see...so it's not completely our fault we haven't seen his posts about new music.

This breaks another big rule: take your relationships off social media as soon as possible.

I talked about this in Hip-Hop Daily Dose #11 and explained exactly why you need to do this.

I'll go into further detail in the future.

Here is a real-life example of exactly why you need to do this!

You can't reach your audience directly through social media.

You reach them directly through email, text, messengers, phone, and snail mail.

By the artist's own admission, much of his fanbase can't see many of his social posts...

Based on his statements, I assume he's been putting most of his marketing priority on social media.

Big mistake.

In this reason (I'll call it an excuse), the artist cements his philosophy that his music sales are solely in other people's hands.

He expects people to buy just because he made new music.

He has severely underestimated the time and effort it takes to market a product, regardless of how long he's been around in his market.

All of his excuses center around a mentality that leaves him powerless...

When in reality, he is the only one in control of this situation.

He says it's the market's fault, the venues don't book or pay older artists, people don't pay attention, social media and streaming are very flawed, he got screwed...etc etc...

I've heard this story so many times from so many artists...

It's an old record playing over and over.

Let me share a quote that has recently inspired me a lot:

"People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I do not believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, they make them." - George Bernard Shaw

If only this artist had the George Bernard Shaw mentality...

I'd be writing a very different post.

Perhaps it'd be a real-life example of someone who had all these outside forces pushing him away from his goals, lots of people telling him no...but he kept pushing until he figured it out and broke through to the other side.

Like most of us, his scarcity mindset is likely deep rooted in the environment of his childhood.

Adopting an abundance mindset would help him see that there's no "pie" to get a slice from...everything he wants is freely available if he goes after it.

Since he is looking to outside forces for his needs and wants:

Is the Almighty God he believes in not capable of providing him with a sustainable income from music and touring?

I ask that because if you share that faith, you can adopt an abundance mindset based on these principles.

Surely the God that provided for so many in the Bible is capable of providing for you - but you have to push through and see it through.

God may be your spiritual CEO, but you are your human CEO.

You gotta work through the human wiring of procrastination, doubt, finding a scapegoat, and making excuses.

It's the only way.

P.S. On this last excuse, the artist put a call-to-action right after he basically shamed his fanbase for not buying his music...before the call-to-action, he sort of gave them a way out by saying it's not COMPLETELY their fault since social media algorithms hide posts...but if you've read this far, please support the new project...

Hey you!

You're bad at paying attention to me!

I don't know how you made it this far in my email, but...buy my music now!

You wanna lift people up, fam.

Make them feel good, then ask them for the favor.

People buy when they're on an emotional high, not right after shaming.

His last reason was for personal reasons that have nothing to do with marketing, and I don't have much to say on this.

I applaud that he's putting his family and the health of his relationships before his career.

He did employ a valuable marketing concept by listing 4 reasons for retiring his stage name.

The subject line for the email was "3 reasons why I'm retiring [stage name]."

Minor inconsistencies like these are actually interesting to people...

It gets them curious...

And yes, gets their attention.

It's less of a "Wait, he lied!" and more of "That's interesting, I wonder why there are four reasons when he said there'd only be three?"

Curiosity keeps people coming back.

Good job on that.

This artist does write interesting lines in his emails, and as a longtime follower, I find interest in what he's saying...

I just want to take the opportunity for you to learn from this "lacking" mindset.

I can't say he'd be touring and selling music like a Rolling Stone if he did things differently, but I have a sneaking suspicion he'd have a much better shot at it.

One thing is for certain:

Blaming other people for the outcomes of your life is not the best success strategy I've seen so far.

This is a real-life example, in an artist's own words, of the victim and scarcity mentality danger zone.

Want the best marketing tips, hip-hop coverage, and free music you can't get anywhere else? 

Just enter your email underneath "Be Part of the Movement" on the Monikker Music Home Page. 

Welcome to the Community :)

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #31: Just Do It! 

One of my marketing projects this year has had several hiccups.

We took awhile to create the product...

Took too long writing the marketing material for it...

The project leader likes tells us to "Jump out of the airplane with no parachute."

In other words, it's better if we launch the product imperfectly and risk it blowing up in our face.

Finally, we had everything ready at "good enough" status.

We've learned what the project actually needs after launching it.

One of my favorite hip-hop examples of the "Incomplete Launch" in action is Kanye West.

Kanye originally released The Life of Pablo while he was still working on it.

He compared himself to an artist, Pablo Picasso, and said his music was a great work of art always in process.

I remember hearing a few tracks with vocals I thought sounded sloppy...and later, I swore that they sounded like they'd been cleaned up.

Maybe I'm making this all up in my head.

But this is a great example of putting content out there before the final cuts have even been made.

It hasn't been perfected yet, but it's good enough.

More recently, with his Jesus is King release, Kanye tweaked the music up until the very last few hours before release.

He held listening parties, added and subtracted songs from the original playlist, and wouldn't stop fiddling with the mixes.

This guy's a perfectionist, but also knows how to put his material out there both before it's ready.

Kanye has allowed thousands of people to sample the product before it was finalized.

My guess is, he applied some of the feedback from those people when he tweaked the mixes.

I bring this up because I've observed many of my artist and business friends, including myself, hesitating to simply move forward.

Just do it!

The analysis paralysis will only continue if you keep hesitating.

Most products and services can and should be tweaked as you go.

In most instances, you DON'T need all the things you think you need before launching.

For instance...

So many of my friends insist on having a website...

A logo...

A complete funnel...

Social media accounts...

Enough followers...

Hosting an event...

You'd be surprised how many people I've met who made a lot of money without any of these things at the beginning.

What is your product or service?

As long as you can provide that to a consumer/customer, and you have a way to contact them, you're ready to go.

A lot of people think their product/service needs improvement before they put it on the market.

Are you able to help somebody solve a problem right now?

Don't let your beginning or intermediate skills stop you.

If you know more about a subject that anyone else in the room when you walk into a particular room, you're immediately the expert on that subject (in that room).

Package your expertise in its current form and get out there on the market.

Let's take my podcast show, Hip-Hop Daily Dose, as an example.

I know a lot of people who wouldn't have published their first show without establishing the show music or getting a tagged intro...

They also wouldn't record without a better mic.

They wouldn't publish it without cover art.

Or before submitting to iTunes.

They'd want to create unique posts for all their social media accounts

They want a SUPER OFFICIAL podcast debut.

Me: I just turned on the mic and recorded the episode.

Mastered the track.

Posted to my Soundcloud only.

No cover art for the first 15 episodes.

Only shared it on Twitter.

Got a lot of great responses.

I'm able to re-create this method almost every day.

I DID add music and a pre-recorded intro/outro between Episodes 15-20, and my makeshift cover art came along around then too.

I'll change both of those in the future.

For now, they're good enough.

As long as the core content, which is the material presented in the shows, is good enough to go...that's all that matters.

Now, a lot of people will say that's wrong...

The cover art needs to be amazing!

I should've used a better mic!

I should've re-recorded the audio that has flaws in it!

But here's the thing...

If you postpone getting good content out there because of these other aesthetic issues (that most people will ignore anyway), you're just hurting yourself and your brand.

They're all excuses...all of them.

It's way more impressive to the people who are worth impressing that you took action every single day.

Unless your quality is truly awful and distracts from the content, nobody who matters is going to care about it.

Why?

They want a proactive, action-taking person who can produce ideas and execute.

That's it.

If you get interest from someone who has a decent budget, they're going to pay for the elements of quality you're lacking!

The tools are easy to pay for if you have the money...the brains, ideas, and talent behind the material...not as easy.

They'll pay for the tools, or just let you continue to produce with your current resources...

And they'll pay you to do that for them.

A lot of people with money can't even tell or don't care.

They'd rather pay you less money to produce a decent podcast than pay big bucks for a super high quality one...which, by the way, would have the exact same content.

Same content, different tools used.

If the mic is good enough and the audio flaws are minor, most people won't notice them.

If your content is compelling and valuable, why would your audience notice minor aesthetic issues anyway?

They should be focusing on the content.

If the content really sucks, that's another story.

Even then...post it.

You'll get better...if you keep doing it.

People care less about superficial quality than we think.

Just check out how many people are lined up at Walmart to buy generic cheap crap that's clearly inferior to the superior brands.

Focus on making the content and product as good as possible.

It's the most important!

I can't tell you how many songs and videos have impacted my life that would be criticized as poor quality.

I love that stuff.

I never cared.

Sometimes the lack of production quality is endearing.

It has its own unique character it wouldn't have if it were more professionally produced.

Quality is important, but you can figure it out later if you don't have all the resources right now.

When I read about my favorite brands and companies, many of the early versions of their products were inferior to later ones.

You have to start somewhere.

The only way to get to the other side with high quality is to start where you are right now!

Maybe you can relate to this religious/spiritual metaphor...

I grew up in church, where I was told that God will "take you as you are."

He takes you in the broken and current state of sin you're in, and improves you...over time.

It's not an instantaneous change necessarily, because you're still a creature of your old habits.

Over time, your heart and soul are molded and shaped into a high quality individual who commits fewer sins...

(I think that's the goal, at least.)

So think of your projects as your prodigal sons...you're waiting for your chance to mold and shape them into a more perfect state.

But for now, you take them as they are and love them where they're at.

The "sins" of your aesthetic flaws will be smoothed out over time, don't worry :)

Just go for it!

You hurt yourself more by waiting on minor things than by publishing something you can take down or tweak later.

Again, I'll repeat that it's way more impressive to put out quality ideas on a consistent basis with "good enough" production value...

...than to publish less frequently with an amazing production value.

It establishes you as someone who takes action quickly.

Someone who has an overflow of great ideas.

Someone who doesn't get stuck on all the little details and can see the big picture.

To all my people still stuck on quality:

Kanye West is known to record songs on his patio.

Sure, he's using nice expensive mics (I assume), but I was surprised to hear he records vocals on his patio.

I'd think that'd be a no-no for a huge recording artist...

The vocal environment and acoustics of a multi-millionaire professional studio are usually deemed pretty important.

Kanye is willing to make the most of his resources.

He understands what's most important to his projects...GETTING THEM DONE.

So do what you can with what's available to you.

Make it as simple as possible.

No, you don't need a website. You don't need a logo. You don't need cover art. You don't need the long laundry list of excuses you used to avoid putting yourself out there.

Most of the people who ask for your website aren't actually interested.

Most of them are the "Let me think about it" people...

They almost never buy!

Sure, websites can be an important part of a brand identity...eventually.

But when no one knows who you are, you're probably just building a website as a hub for people who aren't even interested.

The majority of disinterested people won't even make it to your website.

If someone is truly interested in your product or service, they've been waiting for it to come along.

They don't need a website to be convinced.

They will sign up very quickly.

Let's unpack why most people who visit your website are the "let me think about it" people who don't buy:

You haven't yet provided enough value over time.

Most of these people are unaware of you and unaware of the problem you can help them solve.

They'll need a lot of time and repeated exposure to convert over to a fan/customer.

And how exactly do you make that happen?

Providing consistent, valuable content.

Contacting them directly.

Following up with them.

This content will likely need to be free, because...they're not a customer.

You haven't won them over yet.

They have to pay bills, they want to go to the movies, and save for their kid's college education just like everybody else.

Why should they buy from you?

People wildly underestimate how long this can take, and how much content it takes to make this happen.

There's also the gap in understanding exactly WHAT content you should be creating, and then adjusting (tweaking) your material.

How are you going to provide consistent content to your audience while you're working on your website, logo, saving money to upgrade your production equipment before you can record, etc etc.

The list could go on forever if you let it.

You could spend forever saying you need a better XYZ before you "go live" with your brand.

If you're starting out or still in the early stages (which might be for quite awhile), you don't really have a brand yet.

Why worry about your "branding" materials such as the website, logo, etc when you don't even have a brand?

A brand is developed over time based on your reputation...

Which is based on what you consistently do.

Just launch, my friend.

Move past the cringy feelings that your stuff isn't ready, that it needs to be better.

And just go with no reservations.

In Hip-Hop Daily Dose #15, I talked about "The One Thing You Must Do Every Day" to move the needle forward for your brand/career.

It's worth listening to for the sake of clarity.

If you can nail down the ONE most important thing that'll help you with your goals, you know what to focus on.

You'll identify what else you should do consistently as well.

If a specific piece of content or product/service will do the most for your business or career, then identify what that is and do it every day.

As I mentioned in that show, I've chosen a daily audio show (podcast) as the one thing I should do every day.

I believe this gives me the best shot as building the long-term value of my brand.

I'd like to write a long-form post (such as the one you're reading right now) for every show.

That may not be possible every day, but long-form written content is very valuable.

It's a good secondary goal to have along with the daily show.

Will I fall behind? Slip up? Have to focus on other tasks in the future?

Definitely possible, even probable.

But the most important thing is letting yesterday be yesterday.

Be here now, and do as much as you can today.

Then put it out there and let the market decide what it wants.

Sooner or later, you'll hit the nail on the head and give people exactly what they want.

You'll only know what the right chemistry is...what the right potion is for your niche...if you show up every day and put the work in to find out.

I believe in the future of your brand.

I believe in you.

Just do it.

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Just enter your email underneath "Be Part of the Movement" on the Monikker Music Home Page. 

Welcome to the Community :)

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #30: Are You In Control? 

A few days ago, my horoscope (wait, hear me out on this!) said:

"The power you want so badly right now will eventually come to you-but first you have to stop wanting it so much! You deserve more control, so stop looking upon it as a sort of gift you're waiting to be given. You kind of already have it! You should feel confident in what you are doing right now, and fine with just riding out the situation. Letting the world spin around you is all you need to do in order to feel more in control of your own life than ever before."

The locus of control concept "is the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control."

It's easy to have a victim mentality.

To blame outcomes of situations on external events.

I do this all the time.

I've been re-reading The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone.

He encourages you to take responsibility for literally everything in your life.

All those situations that aren't your fault...wait, yeah they are.

The guy who hit your car from behind?

Well, he wouldn't have hit you if you had left earlier...taken a different route...been doing something more awesome with your life instead of driving to a gig or a client...

Etc.

It sounds harsh, and may be a little out there as an idea, but there's a lot of power that comes with embracing that responsibility.

Now, I'm the one in control - whether the situation turns out good or bad, I'm the cause of it.

This helps us as artists, who often feel like we're subject to the whims of the market...

To the whims of fans...

We complain that everyone has such a short attention span.

That's why our music won't sell.

Is that really it, or do we need to make better music?

Do we need to find out what people WANT, and deliver that to them?

We complain that the market is over saturated.

That's why our music won't sell.

Is that really it, or do we need better music and better marketing that DOMINATES the market?

If you dominate the market, it doesn't matter how many other people are part of it.

The fact that other people are dominating means it's possible, and we're just salty.

We complain about the cost of creating music and "unfair" practices (see my recent post "How Artists Get Screwed By Producers").

That's why we can't get our music made.

Is that really it, or do we need to find the resources and get extra creative to make it happen?

When we accept that our success or lack of it is all our fault, one of two things happen:

1) We shut down.

2) We turn on and go into turbo mode.

After that horoscope reading, I thought hmm...this is true, I've been waiting for my "day of power" for a long time.

How do I have power and control right now though?

Every time I turn on my mic to record a show or verse, I have ultimate power.

It's like the Nas line, "All I need is one mic."

I may not say everything I could say in a completely uncensored manner, but I'm controlling what I say...

And I get to publish it to the internet for anyone to access it who can find me.

I'm in control of my Twitter account, Soundcloud account, blog, website, etc.

I also have the power to attack my marketing strategy to find those people instead of hoping they find me.

I flipped the switch on my mindset when it comes to being a DJ.

Here I am, thinking about how:

  • The market is over saturated with DJs
  • I'm a rookie competing with vets for show bookings
  • No one knows who I am
  • All the mistakes¬†that are likely to happen

But then I look down at my DJ controller...

And that's they key word:

Controller.

I'm in control of the music at ALL TIMES, any time I'm on the decks.

No one can take that away from me.

No matter how "good" or "bad" I perform on that controller, I'm in control.

That is power and control.

Let's take a look at that horoscope again:

"You kind of already have [control]! You should feel confident in what you are doing right now, and fine with just riding out the situation. Letting the world spin around you is all you need to do in order to feel more in control of your own life than ever before."

Letting everyone else do what they're gonna do while I pay no attention.

My only goal is to dominate my tasks.

Using all the control that I do have right now.

And waiting until it all snowballs.

There's irony in looking to a horoscope for guidance on control and power in my life.

Grant Cardone, the aforementioned author, said that he could never look to a horoscope because he believes he's in full control and everything is within his power. 

In this situation, however, I saw the connection between these concepts in different parts of my life:

Observing other DJs and reflecting on my own path, the books and shows I've been consuming, my friendships and relationships...

Perhaps the only thing standing in my way of having more control is my belief in the circumstances.

Change your belief, change your perspective...

Perhaps that will make you unstoppable.

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Welcome to the Community :)

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #29: The "Lil Wayne Formula" That Could Explode Your Career 

Lil Wayne's rise to massive success was no mistake.

It was his strategic use of content marketing that took him from popular rapper to superstar status.

Although most of us indie artists won't achieve platinum albums, there's a lot to learn from Lil Wayne's come up.

You can apply these principles immediately.

Content marketing happens when a brand publishes free, valuable content that its audience wants.

Lil Wayne didn't use ads, big budgets, or gimmick campaigns to sell his art.

He created a crapload of content...

In his case: mixtapes.

"Content marketing" wasn't even a catchphrase in the mid-2000's when Lil Wayne was doing all of this.

Now, brands are hip to the term.

It's becoming the standard to publish loads of videos, podcasts, long-form written copy, online courses, and photos...

...as often as possible.

Let's look at what Lil Wayne did instinctively.

Wayne focused on what he does best: smoking weed and writing entertaining raps.

He wasn't worried about all the other forms of content.

He knew that if he got high quality music in the hands of his fans, they'd keep coming back for more.

When we're creating content, we often ask:

How much is too much?

Won't our audience be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content we're pumping out?

In Wayne's case, there was no such thing as too much music.

Between the release of his fifth studio album, Tha Carter II (2005), and his sixth, Tha Carter III (2008), Weezy churned out three mixtapes.

Consumers didn't have to buy them...they were free.

The mixtapes were so good and so popular that when Weezy released Tha Carter III, he had enough momentum to have the best-selling album of 2008.

There's one other key part of his strategy between the two albums.

Wayne did a ton of features on other artist's tracks.

Between 2005 and 2008, he must've done hundreds of guest appearances.

Many of them charted high as hit songs.

Artists are often selective about whose track they'll feature on, but Wayne said he didn't care who it was as long as they could pay his fee (rumored to be a minimum of $80,000).

He didn't discriminate as much as other, much less popular rappers do.

In those three years between albums, Wayne may have worked on over 1,000 songs.

Compare that to the average rapper, who probably doesn't even drop a project of 15 songs per year.

How fast did Lil Wayne work?

He wasted no time releasing The Dedication mixtape...7 days after Tha Carter II studio album dropped.

Many top music magazines considered his mixtapes among the best records released each year.

In general, mixtapes have a reputation for being lower quality than studio albums.

Lil Wayne didn't sacrifice quality just because he was making free music.

I'd be remiss to forget all the work Wayne did before 2005-2008...and everything he did after the massive success of Tha Carter III. 

Wayne dropped his debut solo album in 1999. 

Eight - count them, eight - mixtapes dropped between 2002 and 2003 with his group, Squad Up. 

He hadn't even released a solo mixtape yet. 

From 2000-2004, he released 3 solo studio albums and 3 solo mixtapes. 

Wayne could've taken it easy after having the best selling album of 2008, but no... 

From 2008-2018, he dropped 10 mixtapes and 6 studio albums. 

He went hard for the first 10 years before reaching massive success, and went hard for the next 10 years after. 

Saying that he went hard is an understatement. 

He was a machine.

In Tha Carter documentary, which covered the time period in 2008 when Tha Carter III released, Wayne said:

"I want every artist to feel like they got to do way more than what they do. That'll be better for us as listeners...I do everything."

The documentary showed Wayne spending most of his free time recording with his portable gear...

On the bus, hotel, wherever he was.

Was it just work ethic that made Lil Wayne so successful?

No.

Talent was definitely necessary.

But compare Lil Wayne's output to another workaholic rapper...Tupac.

The story goes that as soon as Tupac was released from prison, he went straight to the studio to record his next album right away.

Tupac made over 500 songs in his short lifetime (no mixtapes), and only one song ever hit #1 on the charts ("California Love").

If he hadn't had a workhorse mentality, we wouldn't have all those Top 40 hits we love.

And he never would've achieved a #1 record.

The moral here is that the more swings you take at bat, the more likely you are to hit a home run.

Tupac would urgently record a song, and immediately go into the next one.

He seemed to have the intuition that he wasn't going to live a long life.

I'm not sure what Lil Wayne's motivation is...

Perhaps escaping his childhood environment: "to survive and flourish amongst the horrors of his upbringing, he had to keep working with the blinkers up."

That's how The Fader put it in their article, "The Carter Documentary Showed Us How Small Lil Wayne’s World Was."

I just know that it worked really well for him.

Another thing to add about Wayne's success...

In Tha Carter documentary, Wayne said he's been on the road since the age of 11 or 12.

"I haven't went home since. It's nothing to me. It's easy."

It's not just an obsession with recording music then...

It's also an obsession with performing live.

How can an indie artist apply the content strategy of Lil Wayne?

1. Create music obsessively

2. Increase your total output of all content you make (visuals, written, audio)

3. Get really smart about how you promote your content

Have a website?

Write some blogs.

Make videos.

Start a podcast...if you're a recording artist, that one should be easy.

Only record your audio at a studio?

Get a USB mic that plugs into your computer for $100.

Record it on your iPhone.

You don't need equipment that costs thousands of dollars.

It doesn't have to be an analog recording.

Lil Wayne's mixtapes are full of beats he jacked from other artists...they're not even originals.

A HUGE "no-no" for all the indie singer-songwriters and perfectionists who want everything 100% original!

If you want your version of Weezy success, (assuming it's on a smaller scale...but heck, let's get ambitious...you want a platinum record?) you'll have to adopt a Weezy mindset.

Be open minded and super creative.

Remember, when you have limited resources, you must have unlimited creativity.

Use every available moment to brainstorm, plan, and produce content.

I have to add in a few other things about marketing your content...

This was important in the 2000's decade, but even more so now.

People have used these marketing techniques for decades, but the digital era has made it critical.

What I'm talking about is:

Making sure you have a way to contact your audience directly.

Yes...not only do you need dope songs, videos, photos, blogs, podcasts, and everything else you can think of...

You also need to compel your current and future fans to hit the play button on your content.

Which, over time, will hopefully, *maybe* compel them to buy your stuff.

It's a long shot if you think people will naturally find you on social media, follow you, and be extra excited about anything you're posting.

They're not.

They're worried about themselves 100% of the time.

You have to get and keep their attention.

Sure, you may get a True Fan here and there who loves indie music and will buy your $10 album on Bandcamp.

Can you make a living off the rando's that show up here and there though?

I doubt it.

Which is why you need to nurture your fans into Super Fans, also called True Fans.

You need to reach them outside of social media (phone, text, email, mail).

This takes even more time, understanding, and marketing IQ.

I've done some Hip-Hop Daily Dose episodes on these topics and will be doing more in the future.

You can hear my three-part marketing series on marketing and social media:

Click here to check out Episodes 9, 10, and 11.

Enter your email at the top of the Monikker Music Home Page and I'll send you more blogs and podcasts in the future.

Weezy had a much bigger platform to ride his mixtapes on...you probably don't.

It's time to get to work on a much bigger scale than you may be used to.

I know I'm extra motivated by Weezy's story now.

Final word about talent...you and/or other people may not think you're very good right now (which is subjective).

The only way to get better is to keep going.

If you've adopted a Weezy mindset and you create non-stop...you should improve at insanely fast levels.

If you don't improve, it may be true that you're better suited for a different career.

The vast majority of people should improve unless they truly have zero ability.

My point is...if you made 100 songs in 2020 and dropped them with a solid marketing plan...

...and you keep going into 2021 with the same Weezy mindset...how could you not succeed?

I just don't believe that you won't eventually break down those doors you're behind now.

For more info on music marketing and social media, Click Here to check out Episodes 9, 10, and 11 of my podcast, Hip-Hop Daily Dose.

Enter your email at the top of the Monikker Music Home Page and I'll send you more blogs and podcasts in the future.

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #28: How Artists Get Screwed By Producers 

This audio journal is all about my frustrating experiences trying to get exclusive music from producers for my rap projects.

I realize this may sound like it's coming from a place of complaint.

My mindset is NOT to be a victim.

I simply want to share the experiences of an artist who, on and off for the last decade, has tried to:

  • get exclusive music for my songs
  • get taken seriously
  • come up with money for vocal engineering and recording
  • $$ for mixing and mastering
  • $$ for marketing

I don't think I even talked about the band that I quit my job to join...that was a scam too.

That guy was a good producer and had me record on a whole bunch of tracks...which he never finished.

At least, I don't think.

Who knows, my work could be out there...my lyrics could've been copied by somebody else.

Another one of my many music biz "failures" that I'm sure I'll talk more about one day.

I've seen lots of producers over the years complaining about rappers wanting free beats.

For the purpose of this discussion, I'm referring to artists who make beats and instrumentals as "producers" and those who provide the vocals as "artists."

(Some do both, but many only do one or the other.)

I just want to share one artist's side of the situation...

Finished songs depend on the vocals at least as much as the music...so why is the burden of cost often completely on the artist?

Why do rappers (not signed to a label) have to pay for:

  • The music production
  • Studio time for vocals
  • Clearing of any samples
  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • All the marketing & promo of the song

Why don't producers pay artists to provide songwriting and vocals for their tracks? 

The artist is expected to front the costs of all parts of the track...

...and gets paid zero for their labor of writing, recording, and marketing the music. 

Then, they usually split profit from the track with the producer!

It doesn't seem to make sense.

Artists can easily spend a minimum of $1,000 per song.

If you want an exclusive beat from a reputable producer, many of those start at a minimum of $500.

Then you have to put in the work of writing the lyrics and recording vocals...which, by the way, no one is paying you for.

You do free labor, which likely took you just as much time and possibly longer than the producer spent making the beat...

Then you gotta go into the studio if you don't have a set-up at home you're comfortable with.

Oh, you DO know how to record and engineer your vocals and you have the equipment?

Again, free labor that no one is paying you for (the ability to write, perform and record your own vocals...plus cost of the equipment).

These are real skills.

Good songwriting and vocal performances don't just shoot out your butthole.

It takes time and money to develop these skills.

I've seen so many producers online complaining about artists asking for free beats when all their piano lessons and gear for production cost a lot of money.

Well...

Ditto, kiddo.

Recording costs:

A studio costs a minimum of $20-$40 per hour...you're probably spending at least $100-$200 per song on recording costs.

If you're able to engineer that all yourself, you just lost $100-$200 by not being paid for that service.

Ok, so you're down anywhere from $300-$700 now for the beat and studio time to record vocals.

Now comes mixing and mastering...

A lot of internet producers aren't going to do it for free.

I've been lucky to have friendships with a couple producers who mixed my stuff for free.

But only for a song here or there, not for a full project.

Clearly, it wouldn't be appropriate to ask for free help very often.

Mixing and mastering costs vary, but I rarely see it cheaper than $50.

Let's put the range at $50-$200+.

Waitttt...you also know how to mix and master yourself?

Another $50-$200 no one paid you for.

Man, this really sucks so far.

Alrighty, this track is finally done and we've spent or done labor that's worth at least $350...

...and that is very very low.

It doesn't include any pricing for the services of composing song lyrics and the actual performance.

It's strictly the cost of a cheap beat, cheap studio time, and cheap mixing and mastering.

Ok, marketing.

Even if you don't spend much $ on this, you're probably going to spend a lot of time sending emails, social media posts, and messages.

If you have a podcast show, if you make videos, and you promote your music on here: this counts as time and money spent on marketing.

You gotta write press releases...pay for submission to distribute the music...pay for cover art...

You need to get interviews and features on other people's podcast shows, radio and/or TV if possible, and written publications.

Is the producer there for any of that?

Have you ever seen Beyonce's producer interviewed instead of her?

Let me know if you have...

Did the producer work with you on marketing strategy for any of this?

Wait and you spent like $1000 for a song that's 50% theirs? 

Sounds like a scam if you ask me.

Btw, where did you get all your marketing prowess?

You mean you spent time and money on courses, masterminds, reading articles, trying strategies and failing, spending money on ads, programs and marketing tools...over the course of the last several years?

Daaaang.

So since the song bears your name on the cover, you're burdened with the cost of literally everything...

...and likely still have to split profit 50/50 because you don't actually own the whole song.

I think I've clearly shown that songwriting and vocals are worth at least as much as music production (if not more), depending on experience and resume. 

There's a reason why Nicki Minaj spit: "$50k for a verse, no album out!" 

It's not just cause she's famous, it's cause her lyric writing and performance skills have REAL VALUE. 

Whether it's the producer paying that fee or another artist, doesn't matter. 

The point is her songwriting, performing, and marketing value were worth that much at the time she wrote that lyric.

Producers are probably saying:

"Well, you've got to prove yourself first.

Nobody knows who you are and I don't know if you're going to market it well...it's a risk for me.

I have to make sure I'm compensated for my work."

A. Everything is a risk

B. Does anyone know who you are either? If not, it's equally risky for me to buy beats from No-Name Producer too!

C. Even if you're respected in the local hip-hop scene, if no one (other than artists who need beats) is buying your stuff...you're a No-Name too fam. Sorry. 

D. If no one's gonna buy the finished track based on your name brand either, then how come I'm not getting paid for my work by you?

Let's make some assumptions from the producer's side for a moment...

The producer needs lyrics and vocals in order to have a hit track, or a finished track that end consumers are interested in buying.

BUT...

A lot of producers probably get most of their revenue from artists needing beats, and not from the actual finished product with vocals.

For many producers, the finished product is the bare instrumental.

Producers wanting to get more rotation in iTunes accounts, however, probably need a lyricist/vocalist.

After vocals are added and the song drops:

Many artists are lucky if they make $50 back per song..

Why is that?

For starters: Obscurity, lack of marketing skills, lack of budget (hey, you'll learn about marketing for free on this site if you stick with me)...

Let me ask you...

Would you say a song is equally 50% music and 50% vocals?

Would a music fan say the vocals and lyrics are more important?

My guess is, many would.

If the end consumer (the person we're making the music for, the buyer of the music) deems vocals 100% necessary for them to consume the song, then why wouldn't the burden of cost at least be split evenly?

Why isn't there a more defined trade/barter system between producers and artists?

Throughout my 20's, I bought catalog beats that hundreds of others also bought...because that was all I could afford.

Lots of these beats have samples...

I eventually just avoided all sampled beats if my intent for the track was commercial release.

I didn't want to deal with trying to clear the sample.

Didn't want to deal with the possibility of having a breakthrough song and getting in legal trouble.

I find it insane that producers sell beats with uncleared samples.

From my understanding, that's illegal.

And I believe it's unethical...

I've always felt if you have copyrighted samples in your work, you shouldn't sell it.

If I can't sell the finished product without getting the sample cleared first, why would you think it's ok to sell it to me?

Any music with copyrighted work in it would just be given away as a freebie by me.

That's the model given to us by rappers who make mixtapes off bootleg beats and give it away for free.

And there have been a lot of legal implications with that as well.

I want to clarify that I do like beat catalogs and still plan to take advantage of flash beat sales...

...just not for a proper studio album or EP.

Those are good beats for freebies/mixtape material (in my opinion).

This episode of Hip-Hop Daily Dose covers my frustrations and gives specific examples from my career.

All I ever wanted was an exclusive product that no one else has made, that I can legally sell, that is worthy of marketing the crap out of.

Sure, I know this is very possible to get...

But doing it on a budget?

Getting people to take you seriously?

It's not easy.

To be fair to producers (whom I'd very much like to hear from), I know a lot are great at marketing.

A lot do help the artist promote the end product.

Producers have to have their own brand and they're very hip to that.

And I have a ton of respect for production...which should be clear, because I want my project to be done the right way with great production.

How could I not want to give people the very best project I possibly could?

To monetize it and make a living off my work...

To partner with other artists, producers, brands, and businesspeople.

That's the dream.

I just want to present you with messed up stuff I've experienced from the side of someone who writes and performs song lyrics.

Just like the producer invested time and money into their craft to provide a service, so has the artist.

Music fans value the vocals and lyrics just as much as the music (Right? Would a Nas track be a Nas track with just Large Professor on the boards?).

To act like the music should be paid for ahead of time but not the lyrics and vocals is just crazy to me.

There should be more collaboration on the marketing if profits aren't solely going to the artist.

Live performances are also part of marketing the music.

It takes time and money to develop a live show and the skills to crush it.

Artists have to dodge scams and pay-to-play...they get paid less than they should.

All venues are in the business of paying as little as possible for entertainment services.

There's an entire system of venues and online organizations taking advantage of talented artists.

I think we need a better system of doing things so artists don't get screwed over as much.

Perhaps we could all come from an even more collaborative place in the future...I'm hoping for peace and great music.

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Stuck on your ideas and feelings? Write it down. 

Have you ever found yourself shooting down a creative idea before you fully explore it?

For instance, you have an idea for a lyric.

A project.

An invention.

A new method.

But instead of writing it down and allowing yourself to develop the idea, you shoot it down.

You think it's too cliche, too cheesy...

Or just not good enough.

Maybe you've experienced Imposter Syndrome like me.

One thing I've learned about creativity is this:

There's no such thing as a bad idea.

There are just better ones.

And it's usually subjective.

One person might think it's great and really relate to it.

Another person might not.

The more personal it is, the more universal it is.

We often think we're the only ones going through something.

It's a lie! 

So many other people are also going through a similar situation and can relate to you.

You just have to find them.

But you have to start somewhere!

Often, you start with an idea that's been done before many times, or is considered cliche.

But if you keep going...

If you allow yourself to process the ideas and thoughts that come with it...

It can lead you to a more original, developed idea.

It clicks and you can move forward with it.

The problem isn't with the idea itself, but how you feel about it.

Allow yourself to entertain an idea.

A great way to do this is by writing it down.

Then continue to write all thoughts you associate with it.

Let's do an example real quick.

This isn't even a creative idea - it's just a personal thought I have.

This is my journaling process to work through my feelings about a situation.

Take for instance: "I'm sad that _____ happened and I don't know how to move on."

I write down what happened.

I write how I'm feeling about it.

Then I keep asking, "Why?"

And also, "What else?"

What else are you feeling?

You write that down.

Ok, then...why am I feeling this way?

And what else am I feeling about it?

How does it make me feel about other things?

Ask "why" and "what else" a few more times and keep writing what you feel.

When you pinpoint WHAT you're feeling, then you can understand why you're feeling that way.

And also, what it means.

You can then approach it logically.

You see the situation from a different perspective.

A creative idea is often just a matter of perspective.

Changing your perspective on it can lead to different conclusions, which leads to a more informed action.

I encourage you to keep writing, and to keep asking "Why?" and "What else?"