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written by: Tony Guidry,

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In today’s “monkey see monkey do” world where most people wanna be celebrities, for little to no work, it seems like 99 out of 100 people are rappers/artists/producers or label owners. Everybody wants to use the “Rap Game” to be famous and get rich. So I get asked all the time, “Tony, what’s the “rap game” like?” This is a hard question because everybody has their own description and understanding.

Some people say that the “rap game” is like a dice game – just get in and try to get lucky – bet big on the easy points (aka the “sure thing”) and hope you get your bread up before you crap out.

Other people say the “rap game” is like “double dutch” just jump in with the right timing and don’t stop moving. Stay in the rhythm of the current times, follow the trends and hope you don’t mess up.

Still others claim that the “rap game” is like the dope game – but I can’t agree with that at all. You can’t go to jail for selling music or marketing an artist. In the dope game you don’t advertise or promote or market yourself or your product publicly unless you wanna go to jail. Unlike most products (besides cigarettes) drugs sell themselves because of people’s addiction. A drug supplier with consistent supply and great quality will grow and flourish (until he goes to jail or gets killed).

Despite what a lot of people believe – music doesn’t work like the dope game. An artist with consistently solid music won’t draw the attention of the masses without a plan to present themselves to potential buyers (marketing plan). With music you don’t have to go look for it or hope it’s good when you buy it – most of the best music is marketed and promoted directly to the customers. Today you can get your music for free, and this is exactly how most people in urban communities get their music – either by downloading or from their local bootlegger. Either way, in the “rap game”, the creator of the music often gets paid much less than they deserve. Artists like Lil Boosie, Z-Ro & Webbie are prime examples of how much bootlegging runs rampant in the “rap game”. These guys would’ve easily gone gold or platinum (or maybe even multi-platinum) if not for bootleggers. In the dope game this wouldn’t be tolerated – in the “rap game” it’s virtually uncontrollable. So in my opinion the dope game isn’t at all like the “rap game”, but…..

There are people that come from the drug trade who have thrived as executives in the music industry. But don’t think they succeed because the dope game is like the “rap game”. They succeed for a very simple reason:

The “rap game” isn’t a GAME. The “rap game” is a BUSINESS just like selling drugs is a business.

We see in the news all the time how a CEO from ATT is hired to run GM or how the CEO of Equal Sweetener company is hired to run Carnival Cruise Lines. Selling phones and selling cars are greatly different. Phones cost hundreds of dollars at most while cars cost tens of thousands of dollars. How about the sweetener company guy running a cruise line? Two totally different products, different demographic, different everything EXCEPT for the fact that certain principles govern ALL businesses who sell products or provide services.

The “rap game” isn’t a GAME. The “rap game” is a BUSINESS.

Business principles govern the success or failure of a label or artist. The quality of the music and talent of the artist are determined, examined and developed BEFORE the final product is released according to proven music industry success methods. If the chosen artist’s talent level isn’t great, then a songwriter or ghostwriter will be brought in. Top notch producers, recording & mastering engineers will perfect the sound quality. Media coaches teach shy or inexperienced artists how to conduct themselves in front of the camera. All of this is a part of the creation process when releasing a project professionally.

Varying Promotional Engines, Marketing Plans & Engagement Strategies are selected to work this project. Radio Consultants, Social Media & Internet Content Marketers, Publicists, Street Teams, etc. are all pieces of the puzzle in getting people to actually listen to the music and hopefully make purchases.

The music industry has many many many moving parts. It’s not a game at all. It’s a quite complex business that few have taken the time to study and master. Music industry CEO’s are paid lucrative wages for their mastery of the principles governing success in selling music. Even the best CEO’s release “flops”, but the successes are so stellar that the failures are used as lessons to improve the “success formula”.

Anyone can learn how the best in the industry are able to continuously churn out hits, become hugely popular and make outrageous sums of money. Just realize that it takes work and study and dedication and sacrifice. The key to winning in the “rap game” is to understand FULLY that it’s NOT a game at all. Music is a business; and the people who approach it in a business-like fashion will have the best chance at succeeding.


Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A Scratchy ThroatA Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of music industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists. Tony is also owner of Authentic Artists Alliance and exclusive booking contact for Trouble (Duct Tape Ent/2 Tru Ent), O.Z. Mr. 28 Grams (Fratt Boi Muzic Group),Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent) and DJ Rell. For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: or


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