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Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Tony’s Two Cents On The Relationship Between Aspiring Artists and DJ’s

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I recently joined the Southern Muscle Radio (@S_M_Radio) conference call to shed some insight on guerrilla marketing & grassroots promotions for indie artists. This is my advice (& warnings) to indie rappers & DJ’s alike.

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Mixtapes (pt 2) – Is Selling My Music A Realistic Goal?

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This is a follow up to my “Should I Drop A Mixtape” post. Here, I’ll explain the traditional and technical meanings of what a mixtape is, and the way the word is used today. I will also clarify with an example how established artists benefit from “giving away” music, as well as touch on aspiring artists selling their music.

Let me start by saying that there is no way to limit the meaning of the word mixtape to fit only the dictionary definition. The term mixtape has evolved over the years. “Mix tapes” date all the way back to the late 60’s when truck stops & flea markets would record a collection of popular songs onto an 8-track tape and sell them. This practice continued with the introduction & mainstream acceptance of the cassette tape in the 70’s (the cassette tape was originated in 1963, but it took several years to improve the sound quality of music recorded on this medium).

During the 1970’s hip-hop pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Master Flash, Kool Herc and DJ Hollywood would sell copies of their club performances on cassette. During this era and into the 80’s, these same DJ’s & others would sell customized recordings to individuals at very high prices. In fact, during the 80’s amateurs & pro’s alike made mix tapes. A kid might put his favorite 10-15 songs on a tape and that would be his personal mix tape. At the same time DJ’s in every major city were selling mix tapes that included the latest hits, often blended together into one seamless track that included DJ techniques like cutting, scratching, beat juggling, back spinning, and of course mixing. During this period of time the term mix tape became one word in hip hop culture. Mixtapes were made and sold far and wide all over the country, and even shipped overseas as rap music began it’s global growth and started to strongly influence pop culture.

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CD’s and their superior sound quality took over from cassettes, but the term mixtape stuck around despite the change of format. DJ’s still made their mixes, and kids still recorded (burned) their favorite songs to the new medium. At the same time that the cassette to CD transition was going on (1990’s) – the term mixtape began to be coined by aspiring rappers to define projects they used to promote themselves or an upcoming album release. Moving into the further digitization of music with mp3’s & iTunes, etc. the term mixtape became a word to generally describe full length albums released for free, sometimes all original music, other times consisting of freestyles and remixes of already popular tracks.

Flashing forward into 2014, the mixtape is alive and well. In today’s music world, the word mixtape still continues to mean free to the consumer. I very often talk to artists and managers and indie label CEO’s who ask me how to sell their mixtapes. My advice begins with the simplest solution for an independent artist or label:

“Stop calling your releases of all original music – mixtapes. A project ultimately designed to sell is either an EP, album or street album.”

I’ve laid out my opinion on who should actually drop mixtapes in another article titled “Should I Drop A Mixtape”. To somewhat expound on what I covered in the previous article, I’d like to point out the obvious to indie artists: There’s a lot of competition out there.

Music has become a single driven marketplace. Realize that the reason album sales today aren’t comparable to what they where 10 years ago is because you don’t have to buy the whole album to listen to your favorite song.

Today’s music fan listens to the songs he or she likes. Today’s music consumer can choose which songs they’d like to listen to instantly. Fans of particular songs will download the songs that catch their ear or their attention. Whereas a fan of a particular artist will listen to every song their favorite artist makes. If you are an artists, you should have recognized this by now and adjusted accordingly, but so many have not adapted.

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In today’s music marketplace the mixtape is used most effectively by artists with a following and fanbase. To give an example, in late 2013 Young Jeezy dropped a mixtape – a free project of all original music. The free mixtape was also put on iTunes & Google Play and other digital marketplaces for paid download. This project had a single (R.I.P.) that sold over 500,000 singles. A gold single came from a “free” mixtape.

For artists who have a significant fan base, the exact same project that is on a free download site will garner sales to their hardcore fans, and also to those people who don’t download music for free. Yes, there are still plenty of people who pay for music. As a general rule in urban music, women are more likely to purchase music and less likely to go for the free download. Also, unfortunately, rap music is the genre most affected by free downloads.

However, don’t ever doubt the fact that music still sells. Music is clearly headed down a path of streaming over downloads, the future is plain to see. Subscription services will allow you to listen to unlimited music on your phone, computer, home or car stereo, etc. all for a monthly or yearly fee. It’s coming just like CD’s replaced cassettes & mp3’s are replacing CD’s. But today – in the present marketplace – downloads AND physical copies still sell. It is up to the artist to make great music and up to the team to market and promote the music in a way that causes the people to become interested and engaged. Make your music represent something of value and your fans will pay you for it with no problem.

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I’ll go as far as to say that aspiring artists with smaller fan bases have an advantage over artists with bigger followings when it comes to the effect of bootlegging on music sales. Very often, if you’re a hard working & grinding street artist there will be fewer places for people to find free copies of your music. Also, as an aspiring artist, when you DO start getting bootlegged it’s an actual sign of your music catching on. Bootleggers don’t make copies of music unless it’s hot. Personally, if an artist I work with is just starting out – I keep their music in the hands of the biggest music bootleggers in every market we touch (but that’s a “guerrilla marketing” story).

I hope this helps to clarify any grey areas in my earlier article.


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) and Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent). For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: OGTonyG@gmail.com or Tony@aScratchyThroat.com

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Should I Drop A Mixtape? The Difference Between Building & Growing Your Fanbase

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I’m working with an artist who’s dropping a mixtape. This artist has 52,000+ REAL twitter followers & 30,000+ REAL Instagram followers…..he’s booking at 3-4,000 a show in his local market and charging $2,000 for features. In other words, he has a following. In anticipation of his ALBUM that will drop on iTunes, Google Play, etc. later this year, we are giving his fans a mixtape project. Yes, we are giving away free music to an artist who has hundreds of thousands of paid downloads. This artist has recorded over 80 songs for his album and we’re not gonna just scrap the songs that don’t make the album…..we’re gonna share some of this great music with his loyal fans for free. (and sell it on iTunes too, for the people who don’t want the hosted version of the mixtape)

I’m also working with an artist that has 3,000 twitter followers & 3,000 instagram followers. He’s presently booking for $1,000-1,500. We are still in the process of building his following. He will NOT be dropping a mixtape. His album will be out in the fall/winter for sale only. We’ve given away 20,000+ singles over several months and spent our budget primarily on traveling to establish this artist a presence in markets that surround his home. Giving away an entire mixtape for this artist wouldn’t make sense.

As a new or little known artist, with a project containing 45-60 minutes of music on it – it’s very hard to get people to listen to any songs on your project, much less the whole hour!

When you aren’t a well-known artist, you have to build a following. You do this by releasing great music – consistently – that you get out in the streets and get to the people PERSON to PERSON, and share on the internet with people who are ALREADY fans. As a general rule, new fans are found FACE to FACE…..and then they follow you on social media if they like your music and persona. After you’ve grown your following to a certain level, there will be enough fans mentioning you on social media to catch new fans attention. But in the beginning, your best place to reach fans will be going to meet them in real life and winning them over one by one.

As a little known or new artist, you will have to meet and greet and attempt to win people over to listen to your music FOR MONTHS. Before you get to rock the crowd. Before you get to perform on stage. Before the DJ’s start playing your music. Before anybody cares that you’re an artist. You will have to work the streets and interact with people in real life for months. Before you get paid a penny. Before you get booked. Before anybody calls with interest in you. You will have to CONSISTENTLY put yourself and your music on the front lines to be ridiculed, criticized, hated on & disregarded. This is the only way your music has the chance to be heard and loved.

 

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When you’re building a following for yourself nobody owes you anything. Nobody cares about your rap dream. There are 100s or 1,000s or 10s of thousands of rappers in every city competing for the ears of listeners. Your potential fans already have favorite rappers. They don’t want to hear you saying that you’re better than every other rapper. They don’t WANT to support you. They just wanna live their lives. You’re not being “hated on” when people pay your music no attention.

They don’t care about your music or you – and they shouldnt! You have to CONVINCE them to listen to you and give your music a chance. You have a better opportunity for success by providing them ONE song that they can bump for 3 & a half minutes and decide if it’s jammin’ or not.

If you make an inferior product, don’t expect bookoo love from people. If your vocals are too loud or too low….if there are tags all thru the song….if the production sounds like a copycat of a popular song, etc. If your music contains any of those things, you’re making it harder on yourself to win fans. 20-25 unmixed songs, .99 cent beats, recorded on an amateur setup will have you known as a trash rapper. There are soooooo many trash rappers out there today that most rap fans don’t listen to local artists until that artist has consistently dropped quality music and is “bubbling” on the local scene. Don’t rush to drop an unprofessionally prepared project and become the next trash rapper.

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Also, don’t blame fans for not rocking with you. Dissing the people because they feel your music is garbage doesn’t make sense. When you record your music and CHOOSE to share it with others, you’ve gotta be prepared to hear their opinion of your music. If they listen once and sling it out the window, they’re not hating – they just don’t like your style of music, whether it be your raps or the beat or whatever. You cannot force people to be fans of your music. You can only consistently attempt to get them to listen. Once they listen, that’s your chance to win them over. If you blow your chance, by pushing garbage music, that’s on you.

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The purpose of this entry is to enlighten newer artists about the effectiveness of dropping a single vs a mixtape. The money a new artist spends on production, studio time, features, etc for the 20-25 songs that get put on  a mixtape can be spent on executing a solid promotional plan behind your single. It’s better to record 5-6 songs that you plan out and record to perfection & then promote — than to record 20-25 half-assed filler songs and drop a mixtape that nobody is gonna listen to unless they went to school with you.

This is just a simple suggestion based on my personal observations and the success of the artists I’ve been blessed to work with recently.

When you have a following, you’ve gotta feed em music constantly for the following to grow.

To build a following you have to promote your single constantly until you build up fans.

Both methods require consistency – but you’ve got to be honest with yourself as an artist and realize which position you’re in: growing or building. In order to grow,  your fanbase must eat. In order to build, you need people to listen. Recognize the difference and take advantage of where you are in the process.

 

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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) and Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent). For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: OGTonyG@gmail.com or Tony@aScratchyThroat.com
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Tony’s Two Cents: You Gotta Work To Succeed In The Music Business

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Allow me to share some insight with rappers who choose to understand

Being a rapper and trying to gain new fans isn’t as simple as making a great song and then handing it to someone…….if it was that simple we’d have a billion successful rappers.

Every song you make won’t be a keeper….you may love every song u make with all your heart – BUT – the way that YOU feel about a song isn’t what makes it great. The way the PEOPLE feel about your song will make it great or average or mediocre or garbage….

Understand that when you decided to become an artist, you put yourself in a position to have your talent judged and criticized and ridiculed and clowned the same way that you wish to be congratulated and praised and approved of and complimented.

There isn’t as much hate as you think against you…..there is just a lot of indifference. Nobody cares about your rap dreams or your “little rap songs” until you’ve put in the work to make your dreams start to become a reality.

It’s no one else’s responsibility to “give you a try” or “give you a chance” — too many rappers these days are approaching potential fans like they are owed some kind of opportunity.

Approaching a total stranger thinking that they “owe” you anything is a recipe for disaster……

You gotta work to be respected…..and be consistent to get heard these days.

Ain’t no rap soup kitchen where you can go and get some free fans because you’re down on your luck……if you don’t work you don’t eat…..and just like ANY real job – you gotta work until you get your paycheck……you can’t get paid in advance & can’t get fans in advance.

A fanbase or following is built from the work you put in, along with the consistency & quality of your music….add in professional presentation, total dedication to each project, focusing on what’s truly important and treating the people who become fans with respect <—– that’ll help you to build your fanbase.

But all that ignorance…….refusal to learn……stop & go rap hustling…….bullshit graphics…….stolen beats with the watermark playing thru the whole song…..dick riding……thirst for attention…..trashy live performances…..lack of proper preparation…..trying to clone what’s already successful……and general buffoonery all combine to make your quest to be a successful rapper next to impossible.

Most aspiring rappers are out here panhandling for fans….& nobody feels sorry for you because you’re not poppin…….If you put your effort into really trying to reach people instead of trying to front…..then maybe people will begin to identify with you.

Until then, nobody wants to be the fan of a SUCKA……and it’s so obvious that a lotta u cats are as fake as ur watches and chains…….try being yourself and putting in your work…..it’ll carry you to places that you never even imagined or maybe have only dreamed about…..

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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) and Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent). For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: OGTonyG@gmail.com or Tony@aScratchyThroat.com

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Solving the Puzzle of Success in the Music Industry

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Think of the music business as a puzzle with 10,000 pieces. You’ll have to work through trial and error to put everything together, but if you are organized and focused it’s only a matter of time before you solve the puzzle.

Don’t get overly excited just because you’ve got the bottom left corner done. That doesn’t mean you’ve completed the picture. In other words, if you’re beginning to get paid bookings or if club djs are playing your single heavy the picture isn’t complete yet. These are accomplishments, but they’re not completion of your task to be successful with your music.

Sitting around staring at the box and daydreaming won’t help you….but studying the whole picture AND the pieces can help you begin to place things in their proper place.

Don’t try to force pieces where they don’t belong in an attempt to make them fit the way that YOU want them to fit.

Study the big picture and master the process of connecting and linking the pieces until the picture begins to form. As portions of the picture begin to form, remain focused at trying different pieces in different locations. Keep an open mind and don’t be distracted by anyone saying that this puzzle is too complicated.

In the music industry you’ll see super talented artists not get their proper recognition. Don’t allow yourself to say “the industry doesn’t like talented artists”. Look at Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, AB Soul — look at J. Cole — look at Big Sean — none of these guys are “gangster rappers” and all of them are lyrical. Dig deeper than their latest video to understand their rise to fame. Decipher the puzzle. Did all Big Sean need was a Kanye co-sign? Or did he make great music that was marketed to perfection by Def Jam (which distributes GOOD Music)?

Also in the industry you’ll see artists rise to prominence that aren’t exactly stellar talents. I won’t name names. I’ll just say that as an indie artist you can be discouraged by the next person’s success. They may have made a simple song with a catchy hook and on point production that they pushed and pushed and pushed until breaking through. When you’re working on your puzzle don’t compare your talent to others as a way of complaining for your lack of success. Don’t ever ever blame. Study the bigger picture. Break it down into pieces that plainly show the process that can lead a mediocre skilled artist to prominence.

It is your responsibility to separate and sort the pieces. It is your responsibility to put all the pieces in place exactly how they fit & precisely where they go. If you work on this puzzle consistently and are dedicated to solving it, the process will take time.

The amount of time you need to put everything in it’s place and create the completed picture of your music industry destiny depends solely on you. It’s not an overnight process or a one month process. The completion of this puzzle takes years (yes YEARSSSS)!!!

 

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Be dedicated. Remain focused. Stay consistent. For those few who are able to decipher the placement of all the pieces; success in the music industry is a beautiful picture.

I wish you the best in pursuit of your dreams.

 

 

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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) and Racked Up Ready (Bow Ent). For digital marketing services or booking inquiries email: OGTonyG@gmail.com or Tony@aScratchyThroat.com

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