As an aspiring rapper you gotta understand something about spreading your music…..
If you’ve never been to a city – you aren’t hot there. PERIOD.
If somebody likes your music in a city that’s 500 miles away – you’re NOT hot there.
If a DJ that’s 100 miles away decides to give your music some spins – you’re NOT hot there.
You gotta GO TO the places where you wanna build a fanbase, and put in the work required to establish yourself a strong hold in that market. You gotta make sure that the PEOPLE attach YOU to the music.
Too many times when an upcoming artist has a great record – the song might start to catch on in a certain area….but the people jamming the song don’t know (or care) who the artist is that made the song.
As an artist – you gotta be OUT THERE with your music. You gotta make sure that the people see YOU as the driving force behind the music they love.
If you’ve put in enough work and touched enough hands for the PEOPLE to start liking your music – but haven’t worked to make them fans of YOU – then there’s no need for promoters to book you for shows……the DJ can play your song and the people will bounce around to it anyway. But when the PEOPLE fux with you AND your music – that’s when you start gettin’ to the show money. When the PEOPLE put YOU together with the hot song you got out – that’s when the demand for your presence starts.
You don’t need to kiss these promoters asses to get booked for shows….you ain’t gotta be friends with the club owners to get booked for shows….your focus should be on the PEOPLE who go to the clubs….when the PEOPLE wanna see you on stage – that’s when you’re gonna start gettin’ show money.
If you feel like you’re being hated on – or blackballed – then save up a few nickels, rent out a spot, and throw your own event – with yourself as the headliner. If it’s empty, then you know that you’re not as hot as you imagined. If it’s packed, then the promoters will notice and start to book you OR you can book yourself over & over & over again locally and make all the money from your buzz. If you’re a real solid hustler & businessperson you might even book the local “hot artist”; and open up for them at shows until your buzz is strong enough to carry your own event. Please don’t confuse this with paying to open for someone. In the scenario I’m speaking of – you rent the venue and so you get the door money – all of it – whether you book another artist to help bring out a crowd or not.
Understand your reach as an artist. Even though every fan is important, having one or two fans in cities you’ve never promoted in does NOT mean that everybody loves you there. I’m sure there are some people who like Scotty ATL or Jose Guapo or Peewee Longway in Dallas, TX – but none of those artists have real followings in that city. Those guys are all super hot in Atlanta, but aren’t a big draw in Texas. They may have fans in Dallas, but not enough to make the impact necessary to do a show there.
Too often aspiring music artists fantasize that another city has recording contracts laying around on the ground, or that they’re being given away. When you see 2 Chainz, Future, Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, Migos, Rocko etc coming out of Atlanta that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to be recognized and “get on” there. When you see “Bobby Shmurda” come “out of nowhere” to get a deal at Epic that most certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy to get a record deal in New York (ask any NY artist what the competition level is there).
It’s also very important for aspiring artists to understand that while bigger cities have bigger opportunities, they don’t necessarily have MORE opportunities. Bigger cities have much stiffer competition, more conmen and snakes – and in reality LESS opportunities per artist than smaller cities. If you live in a small town where there are 1-2 hip hop venues in your city and a few dozen rappers, it’s a much better ratio than being in any of the five boroughs of NYC, where there may be a couple hundred hiphop venues, but at least a few thousand rappers competing for the ears of the people.
If the average small-to-mid-town rapper realized the amount of shadiness that goes on in the music business, they’d be happy to engage in the process and WORK their way to the bigger stages. Rappers get murdered over music bs in larger cities like L.A., N.Y., Chicago & Houston. Even Miami & Atlanta have seen rappers, djs, producers murdered or charged with murder of another music industry person. I haven’t seen these kinds of music business related murders in Lafayette, Louisiana or Tampa, Florida or Augusta Georgia. People in the music industry have been assaulted or killed in any sized city, but not always over music. In the bigger cities, we constantly see aspiring artists hurt, extorted, coerced and yes killed over the potential money that can be made from the music they created. Don’t lie to yourself that it’s easier in the larger cities. It’s not.
Ultimately my points are:
1) Never trick yourself into believing that you’re following is bigger than it really is. The worst possible thing you can do to yourself is to believe that “everybody” likes your song or that “everybody” is loving you as an artist. All you gotta do is look at Lil Wayne, he’s sold over 15 million albums and people STILL say he’s wack and that he’s trash. A lot of people call for the “old Wayne” but the “new Wayne” has sold more albums in the last 6 years than the “old Wayne” did in the first 10 years of his career.
2) Don’t assume that if you move to another city the doubters & haters will disappear. The same way most people don’t want to hear your music in your hometown – is EXACTLY the same way they’re gonna be in a place where you are a total stranger. It’s often worse when a small-town artist heads for the big city thinking that talent will win them recognition. It’s not that you’re being hated on – it’s simply that no one cares…..until you put the work in & separate yourself from the majority.
You cannot rap, sing or produce your way to success in the music industry. You’ve got to WORK your way there!
Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A Scratchy Throat. A 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) and Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent). For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: OGTonyG@gmail.com or Tony@aScratchyThroat.com