Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Genesis" Mixtape Promo Video -R.I.M. @DMVSRIM

Diamond In The Rough Music Group's artist RIM has released a promotional video for his upcoming mixtape "The Genesis" which will be released December 14th.  You can follow RIM on twitter @DMVSRIM and Diamond In The Rough Music Group @DRMGRecords

Blog Entry #10 Presentation

This is a video for my final presentation

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blogs I commented on

I dont feel as if people should be judged based on there skin color. If anything, being mixed should show that they come from not just one race which means that can relate and are more diverse to other races. It is a sad fact that today in the 21st century, racism still exists.

I really respect Martin Luther King for always making a difference but by not using violence as a means of persuasion. Using Ghandi's words, showed that he understands that also Ghandi himself was a supporter of being influential without being violent.

I found the Convocation to be very inspiring. I always used to read Dr. Ben Carson book while in elementary school so I know the type of environment he was raised around. Seeing him now and all of his accomplishments has definitely inspired me to keep striving for more! 

I really don't understand why preachers today would do such a thing. They are suppose to be role models for kids and the community but this type of behavior gives them a bad look. This is a serious offense and he deserves whatever consequences that he is faced with.

I really liked the format and the moral of the poem. You have deep appreciation for your sister which shows you have a big heart. I also liked how you used repetition throughout the poem.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How Do Publishing Deals Work?

Entertainment lawyer Barry Menes talks about various publishing deals and how money is made distributed from such arrangements. Know the biz!!

Music Business: Having A Manager

In this video clip, Whitney Broussard, an entertainment lawyer, talks about the importance of knowing when you need a manager. He also talks about knowing when you’ve reached the limit for doing everything thing yourself, and knowing when to get help.

The Power of Free Music

Great video of artist Amber Rubarth talking about her experiences with giving away her music to her fans for free and the benefits that came from that.

12 Years With Taxi

Taxi is an independent A&R company, connecting musicians with labels, publishers, and music supervisors. On the 1st and 15th of every month, they provide a list of industry opportunities for members to submit songs to. Screeners forward the most suitable material for each listing to the person who requested it. I’ve been a member since 1997.
Recently, two of my songs were featured on a large cable network, and I signed an exclusive publishing deal. All thanks to Taxi? Nope. The music supervisor found me on thesixtyone and I connected with the publisher through Sonicbids.
Over the course of twelve years and 100+ forwarded submissions, with $3525 spent on membership and submission fees alone, I haven’t made a single deal through Taxi. In fact, I haven’t received so much as a phone call or e-mail from an interested party (cue the crickets).
The obvious counterargument is that my music simply sucks. Perhaps it does, but it still managed to get forwarded many, many times. They thought it was good enough.
In the course of promoting my new album, I asked a handful of publishers and music supervisors about Taxi. Their impressions were lukewarm to negative. Two described it as “worthless.” They had both used the service and felt that the quality of submissions was lacking. The overall consensus among those I spoke with was that Taxi is for amateurs.
Before I go any further, let me emphatically state that Taxi is not a scam. Michael Laskow and his team work tirelessly on behalf of their members. I’ve seen it firsthand at the conventions. They are good people running an honest business, and this article is not meant to disparage them or the company in any way. Their track record is impressive, and they deliver what they promise. They can get your songs into the decision-maker’s hands, but they don’t make the decision.
I suspect that many of you are in the same boat as I am. You want to pursue every possible opportunity for the songs you’ve already recorded, but you aren’t willing to record new material targeted at a specific listing, or even rewrite or re-record a song to make it a better fit. You simply want to get as much mileage as you can out of what you’ve already got. If that’s the case, maybe Taxi isn’t for you.
You might consider joining Taxi if:
  1. You want to sign with a label. If you’re young and attractive with a radio-friendly sound, a large following, verifiable sales, and touring experience, Taxi might be able to hook you up with a label. But with all that going for you, do you need one?
  2. You write songs solely to pitch to other artists. Taxi provides opportunities you won’t find on other “tip sheets,” and they seem particularly well-connected in the country music industry.
  3. You want to earn a living through film and TV placements. If you’re disciplined enough to write cues to spec, day in and day out, and treat it as a job, you can make a lot of money after a few years. Check out their video series on the topic. You’ll want to sign up for Taxi’s Dispatch service to receive daily last-minute requests from music supervisors.
  4. You want to get better. The cost of membership might be justified purely as an educational expense. The conventions, called Road Rallies in keeping with the automotive theme, are top notch. Song critiques are a mixed bag. I’ve had the same song get 9′s and 10′s on one critique, and 5′s and 6′s on another. That’s the subjective nature of music. I don’t take any particular criticism seriously until I see it more than once.
If you’re thinking about signing up, be sure to check the listings first to make sure the industry wants what you’ve got.
-Brian Hazard

4 Steps to Getting Your Music in Film and TV

Still reading?… ok :)

Step 1: Lay the Groundwork

After being a songwriter for a many years (while being a comedian for a living!) it was only two years ago that I decided that my next “job” was going to be getting my music licensed. I was already a prolific writer and had learned how to record my own songs in my own style at home (and still learning everyday). If it was to be my job, then I was going to work hard and do whatever it took, all day everyday (around kid’s pick-ups, housework, etc).
So I started writing and producing more, listening to critiques and honing my craft (which turned into a song a week for a year). The learning curve was huge, especially on the technical side. I signed up on various music sites and submitted my songs to every opportunity that I thought would fit. These are the sites that I uploaded music to and monitored the listings that came into my inbox on a regular basis:
I also uploaded my music to every other music site I could find: Last.fm, ReverbNation, OurStage, thesixtyone… It’s all very time consuming but you want people to be able to find you easily.

Step 2: Build Your Team

I found a publisher through Sonicbids that I spent time forging a relationship with, and signed many songs with them exclusively. They have found me placements that have really upped my fan base. It also connected me with a music supervisor who wanted my music for an indie movie and also with a producer who flew me to Sacramento to record Beatles songs. It has gotten me two music business conference showcases and many internet radio play spots and features. So Sonicbids has been the best money spent so far.
Through Taxi I found another publisher who I have also signed many songs with, but non-exclusively, which means I can also pitch these songs to other people when the opportunity arises. Taxi costs the most but that publisher has made me the most money, plus Taxi has a free music conference for its members every year.
I got one of my songs on an ad through Broadjam but submitted to MANY listings to get it. But they are good at showing off the artists that they do get placements for.
I had pretty much ignored YouLicense until I got an email from a Korean Record Label through them, who are now working on releasing a CD of my music in Korea.
All these sites cost money either to join, submit or both. Each has it plusses and minuses but I figured it would cost a whole lot more to go back to school. I have been relentless and found success with all and will continue to submit because you never know where the next placement will come from.

Step 3: Produce Targeted Content

Consistently writing and producing a lot is so important because I can’t be too precious about my songs if I want to make money. If I do make a mistake and sign a contract that I regret then I like having a lot more songs where that one came from. Also, instead of just having songs that I think I can submit, I have started writing with placements in mind. Taxi had a listing that was looking for a song with the word “happy” in it, so I wrote a song called Happy, which was picked up and is one of my most successful songs… and it’s only 1:40 mins long!

Step 4: Make Connections

After reading an article by a music supervisor on how they are okay about getting polite emails with links to music, I then sent out hundreds of individual (no block) emails out to any music supervisor I could find an email for. I was very polite and sent links only (they hate attachments!) and follow-ups when I had new music. I got nice replies from about 10 of them but some have lead to placements and at least a direct contact who knows my music.
And then there’s the social networking. Yup, you have to do Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, because you never know who you will meet there. I read an article on “Be Interesting and Interested” and that has served me well in my interactions. But you have to be genuine. If I can spot fake from a mile off then so can everyone else. There are several supervisors who use Twitter to find music and I have had a few placements just by reading my Twitter feed at the right time.
So that is how I have managed to get my music on TV, movies and ads. In case you are wondering, here are my placements. It all started with the “Insight” ad in September 2009.
MTV – Plain Jane (3 placements)
MTV – Real World (3 placements)
MTV – 16 & Pregnant
Ghost Whisperer
Mayor Cupcake (movie) – 3 songs including opening credits
Seeking Happily Ever After (documentary) – closing titles song
Royal Caribbean (ad)
Insight Communications (ad)
I am sure there are many ways to skin a cat (unlucky cat) and this is just my story of how I am getting my music placed. I love what I do, from the writing to the recording and mixing, and even the social networking and emailing. More importantly is that I am grateful for getting to do what I do every day, and this makes the days that I get an email telling me of a placement even better. Those are the happy dance days!
-Helen Austin

The Benefits Of Getting Your Music In A Film

Getting a single released by a major record label these days can be the least likely way for you to get any type of financial success from your music.  From my own personal experience, I’ve gotten paid much more for the use of my music in films and commercial advertisements than I’ve gotten with label releases. Joel Sill, an independent music supervisor and publisher, in this video, talks about getting an artist’s songs in a film and the lucrative benefits that come along with it. Don’t ignore this path to getting your music out there!

How to Properly Send Your Music Over the Internet

I felt the need to write this post because so many artists fail to send me music correctly.  This can be an annoyance to DJ’s, bloggers, podcasters, or anyone else on the receiving end of your delivery. You need to make the process of downloading and listening to your music require the least amount of effort.  If this becomes difficult for the receiver, you may very well miss an opportunity to have it heard. Here a are a few dos and don’ts to take note of when sending your music out.
1. Label your mp3′s properly. Artists who rip their music from CD’s, end up with files that look like this, “01 Track 1“. I don’t know what the name of this song, and if I can’t connect it to the original email, I won’t know who the artist is either. Always rename your files so that they can be properly identified by the recipient or if they happen to be passed around.
The name of your mp3 files should look something like this. ..(Name of the song_Artist name.mp3).  You should also tag your music. Tagging encodes additional information into your mp3 files like, the album, year and genre of music. You can do this without additional software but there are a few out there that make this process easier if you’re dealing with multiple files. Here are a few.
2. Unless you’re asked, don’t send send your entire album or mixtape. Dj’s and bloggers usually get a large number of submissions. And they don’t have time to wait for large files to download then sort through a number of songs to decide which one to play. Send your strongest single first.  Only send the download link of your entire project as an option. If the receiver likes your single, then they can then chose to hear more.
3. Don’t send links that expire. I get this all the time. An artist sends me a link to their music and once I click on it, I receive a message that the download link has expired. Because of the large volume of submissions, it may take several days until your intended receiver gets the chance to download your file. Please avoid doing this unless you’re absolutely certain that the recipient will download the file within a few days.
Avoid these bad habits and you’ll be sure to give the receiver of you music one less headache and increase your chances of having it listened to

The 7 Music Marketing Commandments

1. Focus on building your audience.
2. Fans are key. An opening slot for the big name, a random appearance at a show for a different demographic, is close to a waste of time.
3. Don’t keep hawking your CD. Sell your music! Acts think if they deliver a CD, they’ve made a dent. No you haven’t, the gatekeepers in media just throw them away, they certainly don’t listen to them. How do you get someone to really check out your music? By making it readily available online!
4. Criticism is irrelevant, only sales figures count. It does not matter what the media says about your music, only the fans.
5. Reviews only matter if they’re in a place your fans read them. Jam band aficionados might check you out (online!) after reading about you in “Relix”, if you’re an indie act, Pitchfork means something, but the review in the paper…who is that for? That’s just a mash note from your publicist, justifying his fee, no music fan gets turned on to music by the newspaper. That’s like advertising drag racing in a sailing magazine, birth control in “Highlights”…huh? As for live concert reviews…they never send a fan to give his take, so why should the review matter? (And if you want to reach the aged audience that still reads the newspaper, you might as well advertise in “AARP”.)
6. Marketing is secondary to music. Old wavers would like to say it’s the reverse, point to Ke$ha and other flavors of the moment, saying they have the power to build stars. That’s an old media circle jerk. Fewer people are paying attention, fewer people are buying the music, almost no one wants to see these acts live and there’s no longevity. This is just the dying gasp of an old system. Yes, there will always be Justin Biebers, teen phenoms, but beneath a very thin veneer of ubiquitous stars there’s a vast wasteland. You’re better off building from the ground up, brick by brick, your goal is to get to the middle, to sustain a career.
7. Publicity makes you happy, makes you think you’re accomplishing something, but unless you reach the core audience, it’s worthless. Believe me, this “Fast Company” piece is not for Carolla’s audience, it’s for his advertisers, potential ones, at best. If you get off on seeing your name in print, if you want to do interviews, go for it. But the odds of dividends are frightening low. Because most people don’t care. And if they do, its not for long. Don’t forget, reality TV is about making fun of those featured. That’s what television is now. Credible acts stay off! Hell, who wants to go on Letterman, be pre-interviewed, tell a funny story from growing up and look like an idiot? It’s about him, not you!
This is an excerpt from an article on Bob Lefsetz’s blog. He’s gives it to you straight when it comes to his opinions about the music biz. Subscribing to his blog will definitely make you wiser

Eminem & Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" = Super Producer Alex Da Kid

We head into Westlake Studios with super producer, Alex Da Kid. We chat about his new hit, "Love the Way You Lie" featuring Rihanna and Eminem. We also talk about his work with Bobby Ray and Hayley Williams and who he'd like to work with in the future. Hosted by Michelle Marie.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

8 Reasons We’re Thankful Dipset Is Back Together

Happy Thanksgiving bitches! Now that Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Freekey Zekey are back together, and a Charlie Brown Dipset X-Mas is right around the corner, we’re hyped to see what our favorite Harlem crew is gonna cook up this year and next. In fact, they’re playing Hammerstein Ballroom tomorrow night and you know Complex is going to be in the building. In the spirit of the holidays, we figured we’d celebrate by rounding up some our favorite Dipset moments from the past few months with 8 reasons we’re thankful for the reunion. GOONIES!
1) Kanye saying Dipset is “so necessary.” Despite the fact Cam and Jimmy jacked ’Ye’s “Runaway.” and took a shot at him six years after Jay and Dame broke up, ’Ye played the bigger man by explaining to Funk Flex that Dipset’s voice in hip-hop is “so necessary.” Face it, guys, you know you’d smack up a crackhead for Ye’s beats. Are you fronting on us? Is that necessary?
2) The video of Dipset and Dr. Dre in the studio. No, we don’t know what’s up with Dipset signing to Interscope or if that’s ever going to happen. Stop asking us. However, we are proud to say we debuted footage of the Good Doc and Harlem’s finest cooking up in the studio. So at the very least, we can say Dre still produces beats and doesn’t just hock overpriced earphones. Dipset x Detox? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
3) “Salute.” Once Dipset deaded the beef they got right back to the most important thing of all: Making music. “Salute” remains one of our favorite songs of the year because Dipset is in full effect, proving they can still recapture the energy we loved so much. You think we give a fuck about sparklers?
4) Araabmuzik. Props to the whole crew (Cam’ron in particular) for always having a good ear for beats. Lest we forget, if it wasn’t for Dipset we probably would have never heard all those great beats from The Heatmakerz. We were hoping Dipset would hook up with them again—but even if they don’t, it’s all good, because we’ve been introduced to the MPC stylings of Araabmuzik, who happened to produce “Salute.”
5) 2010 BET Performance. Dipset missed their shot at reuniting live on stage two years in a row at Hot 97’s Summer Jam. In the end, the first high-profile Dipset reunion performance took place when they performed “Salute” at the BET Awards this past October. Hey, we’re not complaining. It’s just good to see those guys together on stage again.
6) Cam is in a better mood. Is it just us, or did Cam seem like he was grumpy all through the beef—as well as the release of his last album, Crime Pays? Either way, he seems like he’s all smiles these days. Probably because fat chicks at the mall never had asses that smelled so good. Wait, what?
7) Freekey Zekey’s bone marrow charity work. We love Freekey (II), but he was never really much of a rapper. Now that Dipset is back together, he’s back to being a relevant rapper (well, semi-relevant) and an entertaining hypeman. And hey, it seems like he’s using his fame for a good cause. Freaky recently helped register bone marrow donors in NYC. Good for him!
8) It gave us an excuse to put together The 50 Greatest Dipset Songs. In case you couldn’t already guess, we’re pretty big fans. Besides, what else are we gonna do this time of year—put together another Thanksgiving mixtape?

Sure You Can Spit A Rhyme, But Are You Marketable?

In a market saturated with so many hip hop artists, you’re going to have to go beyond just lyrical skill to make an impact. You know, the kind of impact where you influence the way a group of people dress, speak, and think. Far too many emcees ignore this aspect of their careers because they feel that they should remain free from “gimmicks”.
This is not the right line of thinking if you’re an artist who wants to expand your influence. Ask yourself, what defines you? If someone wanted to impersonate you, what would they wear? How would they speak? If you have no answers to these questions and have not thought about them, your cultural influence and marketability will be limited.
Whether it’s Kanye’s shutter shade glasses, Jay’s Yankee fitted, Tupac’s unique way of wearing his bandanna,  or Emenem’s white t-shirt and bleached hair, these artists all had more than a just musical impact on the culture. Why? Because they didn’t blend in with the rest of the pack. They dared to be different. Not just musically but visually as well.
Your marketability decreases when you ignore this part of your career. You have to show that you can have some impact in changing the way people think about you and themselves. Those that do this win. And this doesn’t just wok for mainstream artists. Independent artists Tech N9ne and MF DOOM, have a loyal cult of followers worldwide because of this aggressive separation from the herd. DOOM is a prolific emcee but he wouldn’t have the same mystique and impact without the mask. That shit has made him sort of a folk hero.
It’s difficult to be different from everyone else because most people are afraid to face ridicule, but eventually most of the laughers and haters become imitators. Create your own lane, stay persistent, and this will inevitably lead to a more successful career as an artist.

The Ever-Changing Rap Music Business

This article was written back in January at the turn of the decade. I just recently discovered it. It’s a MUST READ for every hip hop artist!
The Ever-Changing Rap Music Business
By, Wendy Day (www.WendyDay.com)
2009 marked the end of a decade and there were many changes that occurred in the music business.
When Don Diva called and asked me to write about the changes I’ve seen over the last 10 years, I started writing this before I even got off the phone. It’s easy to write about something you live and are passionate about. In fact, it almost wrote itself. I’ve been in the music industry for almost 20 years now (March 2010 marks the beginning of my 19th year) and there are very few people left who started back when I did or who’ve been in it as long as I have. I chalk that up to the continual changes and to insanity—ya gotta be a little nuts to stay in this industry any length of time. Especially the folks like me who do this for the love, and not solely for the money!
Since The Dawn Of Hip Hop
Before I talk about the changes over the past decade, there are two changes that have occurred over the past two decades that I need to mention first: the music and the industry people. The music went from being an art form in the 80s and 90s, to being a business. When Hip Hop began in the late 70s and early 80s in the Bronx, it was art. Artists made music to express themselves, tell stories, and entertain fans. And although artists today also do the same thing, the motivation has changed drastically. Artists rarely make music today solely to entertain fans, express themselves, or tell stories. Almost all well-known artists try to make music that is marketable, fits a radio format, and will sell to the masses thereby bringing revenue and income to the artist. It went from being an artform to big business. Many years ago Chuck D said “Rap is the CNN of the Ghetto.” Today, it’s the new dope game—everyone is trying to hit a lick and make a quick buck in the music industry, it seems.
This change in the music (from art to commerce) also brought about a change in the people working in the music industry. The industry originally went from people outside of the artists’ community pimping them to people inside their community pimping them. At one time, the folks coming into the music industry to work were people who loved the musical art form, lived it, and wanted to be surrounded by it. Qualified workers were attracted into the fray. This changed in the 90s, bringing in people who saw the music industry as a “come up.” It became an industry with a low barrier to entry (meaning you didn’t need any special training or knowledge to work in the music industry) and where anyone could believably proclaim themselves a specialist or authority within any area of the industry (marketing, promotions, etc). Access replaced aptitude. It went from being fun to being the cut throat, over crowded, greed driven business that it is today.

Spreading The Wealth
In the 90s, I watched (and helped) the music industry shift from being centered in NY to giving access to many other areas of the country (L.A., the Bay Area, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Detroit, Atlanta, etc). The music went from being lyrically motivated (artists used to HAVE to have, and prove, their skills) to being motivated by sales (measurement of success was whether an artist could sell Platinum as opposed to lyrical skill). It became a multi-billion dollar business by its height in the early 2000s.
That geographic change also changed the discovery of artists and distribution of music from national through the Major Labels, to regional through independent labels. This is when Rap-A-Lot, Cash Money Records, No Limit Records, Swisha House, etc, sprung up and began to make money and gain fame. Even in NY and L.A., the major labels began to sign production companies like Bad Boy and Death Row to focus on urban music. As long as they brought in more money than they spent, and let the Majors continue to own all the masters, it was all good. Even when wars broke out.
Change Gon’ Come
And then things began to change in the past decade, and the change happened pretty quickly. The internet came along, increased in popularity, and by the height of rap music sales, the labels were complaining about all of the free downloading and swapping of the music through outside web based companies like Limewire, Kaaza, and Napster. This also affected software companies and the film industry, but not like it impacted the music industry since what was being “stolen” was only 3 or 4 minutes in length per song…by the millions. As bandwidth got wider in the internet world, the problem increased due to the ease of downloading. Instead of labels embracing downloading and figuring out how to monetize it, they fought it. Unsuccessfully. Fans were happy to take songs for free because it was common knowledge that their favorite artists weren’t being properly compensated for it anyway.
The internet also leveled the playing field. At one time, the only way to “get on” in the music industry was through a major label based in NY or Los Angeles. They were the gate keepers who allowed access to the industry because they controlled the distribution and the radio promotion, so either an artist had to make a connection with a label employee to get a deal or they had to sell a large amount of their own CDs regionally and attract a record deal from a Major label (or a successful middleman label or production company that already had access like Bad Boy, Death Row, DTP, Grand Hustle, etc).
The Playing Field Is Leveled
The internet allowed any artist the opportunity to upload their music to a website or social networking site and reach their fanbase and consumers directly without going through a Major Label’s distribution system. This was especially attractive to many artists without any funding opportunities. With an influx of artists coming into the marketplace, there was an even larger absence of how the industry worked or how to market and promote music successfully. It seemed easy and was treated as such. In reaction, up cropped unsavory people ready to prey on that ignorance, and lack of proper funds—the “get a deal” websites, the marketing and promotion websites, the Ning social networking websites for “members only,” the A&R evaluation websites, the producer websites that help you sell your beats, the consultants, etc.
This past decade has allowed many artists to flex their entrepreneurial skills and become their own independent record label, uploading mixed CDs, EPs, and singles to the web and building a buzz. Hundreds of thousands of websites, MySpace pages, and eblast companies sprang up to give these new artists access to the fans. Ancillary companies sprang up everywhere to help market, promote, distribute, and educate artists about the new frontier—the internet. People with no experience and no track record were jumping into the fray because they had computer knowledge or ability to reach artists through the internet. Internet sites were hiring people on the fringes of the music business because they needed authorities on urban music but couldn’t tell who was who.
People who believe they have talent or who think it’s easy to succeed have come into the marketplace in droves. The mindset that music is free began to prevail—not only free to own through downloading, but free to market and promote. Poorly financed “record labels” began to spring up and sign artists to “deals” because they felt they could make money digitally without spending any money (or spend limited money). The focus became to look for one hit that could make them millionaires overnight. Artists signed to those companies in droves hearing affiliations with major labels like Universal and Asylum, for example. Some folks took songs to radio to land deals (for a fat fee whether the deal came or not). There was a rebirth of “one hit wonders,” especially coming out of Texas. The legitimate labels began avoiding Texas artists for fear that they’d only get one hit wonders, thereby hurting all artists in that region.
The Splintering Effect
The internet also leveled the playing field with the industry. No longer were the key players behind the scenes people with a track record of success, people with trained skills, or people that the industry chose to “let in.” Through the internet, anyone with a healthy email list or some blogging skills could post their ideas and opinions online and attract followers to their opinions. The music industry went from a gatekeeper basis (an inner circle of a few choosing who to let into their circle) to a popularity basis (whomever had the largest following on the internet became accepted in the industry). An entire blogging culture sprung up, and gossips like Sandra Rose, Nicole Bitchie, and Media Takeout, and urban news sites like AllHipHop, HipHopDX, and SOHH took the places of importance of XXL, Vibe, and Source magazines because they could spread information quickly. Sensationalism also found a place in Hip Hop with sites like World Starr Hip Hop and Vlad TV, and artists soon learned that if they do scandalous stuff on video, they will get millions of views within days. Fame began to rule the music industry as artists vyed for reality shows thinking it was the next get rich scheme, only sharing too much information with fans and pushing them away in disgust.
Until the blogging sites and websites popped up, fans had to wait til the next month to get news, new music, reviews, and gossip–and only in printed form. In today’s instant internet culture, we can almost find out that Keiysha Cole is pregnant the day she conceives the child, or we can hear the latest Young Buck/G-Unit dis the second Buck finishes recording. Also, the magazines were based in NY for the most part, as were the staffs, so the bulk of coverage seemed to center around NY artists and lifestyle. The internet opened the coverage up to the world, so now the artists and topics covered are more international and chosen by whomever controls the websites—so information is no longer based solely in NY. The sales now reflect that shift.
The downside of this easy access is that the bloggers are not trained in journalistic skills or ethics/integrity, nor are they backed by large corporations with legal departments that reel in the inaccurate content. These folks can pretty much say whatever comes to mind no matter who it affects. They also don’t have access to the bigger, more famous artists, so they write mostly about the newer and local artists, thereby splintering (and scattering) the coverage even further. They feed off of each other regurgitating the same information overloading viewers—the rush to be first outweighs the need to be accurate. The popularity of Blogs and Websites also changed the overall point of view in general from News to Opinion. So an industry that once had less than a hundred artists in circulation, now has thousands with everyone giving their own opinion about them. This is far too many for fans to absorb so they tend to tune out most of the superfluous information.
This same scattered approach also affected promotions and marketing. Gone were the days of people accessing music through one or two local radio stations, a handful of TV stations or video shows, and a few magazines. Now to advertise and promote, artists and labels have to reach potential consumers wherever they’re getting their news, information, and relaxation—and these fans could be playing video games, surfing any one of millions of sites on the internet, listening to terrestrial radio, satellite radio, or internet radio, etc. The ways to reach potential fans has become too fragmented, and therefore too expensive, to use for marketing and promotions purposes. Magazines began to shut down because they couldn’t afford the lost advertising dollars. TV shows switched to reality TV format because they were cheaper to film and had a “trainwreck” quality of viewership, as their viewer base (and therefore advertising income) reduced. The most scandalous and extreme seems to attract the most attention (see “Balloon Boy” for proof of this). The downside of this need for extreme measures to attract attention is that it often makes the urban music industry feel like the WWE.
Cash Rules
As recording equipment became cheaper and more widely available to the masses, the amount of rappers, singers, and producers increased. This over saturated the marketplace with music. Anyone could now make music inexpensively and upload it onto the internet. The quality of the music began to decline. The industry went from thousands of potential artists to hundreds of thousands of potential artists (as evidenced by the number of rap MySpace pages). As the necessity to be lyrically skilled disappeared, anyone could call themselves a rapper. The ability to develop a buzz switched from skill to funding. Anyone with an investor could promote themselves alongside successful artists. Where lyrical skill once made an artist stand out, now image and adlibs were the stand out features for many rappers.
Cash became king in the past decade—people began to buy their way into the industry both on the artist side and the label side. It became a joke amongst industry people how those without money had talent, and those with money had no talent. More and more unsavory people were coming into the music business with the intention of getting a share of that money, and the old adage “a fool and his money are soon parted” became the norm in this industry. With this new influx of people, it was hard to tell who was real and who wasn’t, so the instances of people getting jerked out of money soared and continue to soar today.
Anyone spending money at a club or spending money on wrapped vehicles and flyers became a target for folks trying to get a check from them. I watched D Boys give industry folks $125,000 in a duffle bag to guarantee record deals that never materialized. I watched a shady Atlanta radio promoter take $45,000 in cash and not secure one radio spin for an indie label. An indie label had a bunch of DJs on “payroll” for years to play records that never came out. A consultant set up a label and helped them spend over a million dollars to sell less than 1,000 CDs with no distributor in sight. A small distributor allegedly put mixed CDs by well known DJs into Best Buy and forgot to pay them til they got sued by the DJs and the Major Labels—and it appears Best Buy still sells those CDs despite the cease and desist letters while the indie retail stores selling legitimate mixed CDs got shut down by the Feds. Gotta love this past decade!!
Today, anyone can walk into any industry event and pass out business cards saying they are a manager, or a promoter, or even that they own a record label, and they will be treated almost the same as Chris Lighty (a real manager), Alex Gidewon (a real promoter), or Jason Geter (a real label owner)—three people with extremely long, proven track records of success. Anyone with good game can bullshit and get over easily in this industry, and most do. And rather than starting a business based on seeing a need and filling it, most people band wagon jump. When they see someone doing something, they take that same idea and run with it. Anyone with internet access can be a Blogger or own an Urban Website. Anyone with a $200 iFlip can run a website or DVD Magazine. Anyone with an email list can have an eBlast service, and anyone with access to a free Bridge line can offer conference calls. Anyone with access to a handful of DJs can start a DJ Crew. Anyone with access to a venue can set up an industry seminar or conference. Truth is, anyone who can see someone else doing anything can jack their idea and replicate it, and there seems to be no downside or consequence for this action. On a positive note, anyone with access to any of these things, who is willing to put in the time and hard work and build something real, can easily stand out in this industry. Whether or not they can make money from it is the question…
Greed Took Over
With major labels desperate for revenue, and desperate to have things go back to the way they were (an impossible dream), they cut expenses by firing key staff members or squeezing out staff with track records of success and experience, replacing them with new people who were willing to work for less money. As money became harder to find, and as the labels were downsizing (meaning salaries decreased while workload increased), many enterprising label employees began to make money on the side by signing artists willing to give them a kickback or a percentage of their careers. This changed the artists getting signed from a talent basis to a financial incentive basis. This meant that the artists coming into the labels’ pipelines were there only if they were willing to take less money, do a shady side deal, or sign a 360 Deal with the label. Talent no longer mattered. The attitude amongst labels was that artists are a dime a dozen and if one artist won’t agree to this, some other artist certainly will. And they did.
This greed spread into every area. Producers became a dime a dozen and were asked to give up a share of their ownership in the publishing in exchange for placements. Some management companies, like Roc Nation, made it a prerequisite to be placed on one of their artist’s albums that the producer has to give up a percentage of their publishing for the placement—even producers with Platinum hits under their belts. The albums have become about who benefits financially instead of making the best music possible.
Many of the labels only use producers that they have on staff to produce albums because they want a bigger ownership financially. For example, Young Jeezy albums (my favorite artist) have a plethora of CTE owned producers on each album so that CTE can collect the lion’s share of the publishing and income. The radio singles seem to be well known established independent producers, but the album filler seems to be mostly CTE staff producers. This is the new music business model and neither CTE nor Roc Nation are the only companies taking a bigger share of the pie as the price for doing business with them—they are actually the norm. Could this possibly be why sales are so low in the rap music industry? Is the music suffering from this need for ownership instead of using the best music possible? After all, it’s a business today, not an artform. The industry is run on a need for ownership and money (greed) instead of displaying the best talent. Capitalism at its finest….
In the middle of this decade, the Major labels changed the recording contracts that it offered artists. The standard deals went from artists getting a 12% to 15% share of the pie after they paid everything back out of their small share, to “360 Deals.” These oppressive deals take a percentage of everything that the artist earns while signed to the label. In 2005, I stopped doing deals with labels because the deals became so oppressive for artists. I’ve even seen Atlantic Records refuse to work an already signed artist until he agreed to convert his contract to a 360 Deal—a worse deal for him, even though his leverage and popularity had increased in the marketplace. His lawyer advised him to do so, as well.
Once used to a healthy profit margin that afforded grand lifestyles for those at the top of the food chain, the major labels became disgruntled as sales dropped while they missed the boat on less profitable digital sales. Taking on the role of dinosaurs fighting for survival, they tried everything from stopping the new digital revolution, to fighting it, to suing it, to band wagon jumping too late. Nothing worked for them. And they still haven’t learned from their mistakes—they still continue to fight the ways the consumers want to receive their music, even though they are willing to pay for it.
So to justify their continuing existence, the labels decided to take an even larger share of the pie from the ONLY aspect of the equation that they controlled—the artist (or the “content” provided for digital download). Back in the day, labels took roughly 88% of the pie while giving the artists 12% of the money AFTER the artist paid back everything spent on them from that 12% share. In exchange for giving up the lion’s share of the sales, the labels always told the artists that they’d make 100% of the touring. Any show money, was the artist’s to keep! Not today!!!
When the shit hit the fan financially for the labels, they decided to tap into the show money, and all other streams of income for the artists, as well. After all, if your profit margin is made smaller, you need to eat more of everyone’s income to keep the fat cats at the top, and the stock holders, happy. Most 360 Deals share in endorsement income (15% to 30% depending on the artist), performance income (10% to 30% depending on the artist), merchandising income (20% to 50%) and Film/TV money (15% to 40%), and as has always been the norm: 50% of the publishing income (ownership in the actual music and lyrics).
How do labels justify taking an even BIGGER share of the pie from artists? They complain that they are doing all of the developing, investing, marketing, and promoting. Their argument is that they believe in the artist when the artist has nothing, and they feel that assuming the lion’s share of the risk should result in sharing in a lion’s share of the profit. If the label is developing and building the artist to a level of super stardom, they feel they have the right to share in a percentage of everything that super stardom affords the artist. So if they drive the artist platinum, they feel they should get a piece of the tour that came from the fame the label helped the artist build, and a piece of the endorsement deal or film income that came from the fame that the label helped build. I guess I could see this argument better, if I actually agreed that the labels did their jobs well of building artists. No 360 Deal to date, has resulted in an artist becoming a SuperStar.
40 Is NOT The New 30
A major shift this past decade has been in demographics. The age of the fans has changed. They’ve grown up into other types of music than rap. Urban music is no longer the mainstream center that it once was. It got old and uncool. Hell, the bulk of our rap stars are older than 30 years old!! Jay Z and Puffy turned 40 this year. And even though their lyrics say that 40 is the new 30 (LOL), that’s the age of the average rap fan’s Dad! Who wants to follow a star that looks like somebody’s Dad!? We don’t have new younger Rap Stars replacing the older Rappers yet other than Soulja Boy. While sales have proven there still is a market for Jay Z, it’s not what it once was. We need a new crop of rap stars that are able to deliver what the mass audience wants….whatever that is. The folks controlling the music industry are all as old as the rappers. When I came into this industry at 30 years old, I was often the oldest person in sight. Today, the industry is made up of folks 30+. How can someone so far away from teenagers in age know what a teenager wants to buy? They are still the bulk of the music buying public. And the folks running most of the labels are my age or older! No wonder the music industry is so out of sync with the youth.
So, while sales have declined in urban music, the artists have been treated worse than ever. They’ve been asked to give up a larger share of their already limited income, and the labels rationalize this by the fact that there are more artists than ever to choose from. Talent doesn’t enter into the business decisions as it once did, or as it should. The music has suffered because it has been created to fit established radio formats (which are bought and paid for through payola) rather than made to be creative and artistic. Artists are controlled through money and financial incentives, and are quickly replaced when they don’t conform. Greed has taken over the industry and artists’ mindsets (most, not all), and drives the current urban music industry. The barrier for entry has been lowered and allows anyone with access and a business card a way in to make his or her share of the pie—usually without delivering what was promised. This industry is very shady and the majority of people can not, or do not, deliver what they promise. And it’s aging quickly.
Yet all in all, it is a fame based industry where glamour seems to reign supreme. People continue to want in and are willing to do anything to get in. It’s an industry that is built on smoke and mirrors and hype and sells dreams for profit. And the truth is, I can’t imagine doing anything else in the world than being right here in the middle of it all, trying to do what’s right and make sense of it.
In the past decade, overall, I’ve seen things grow exponentially worse even though the access has opened and the playing field has been leveled with the internet. I believe the key to on-going success in this music business economy is two-fold: 1) We need to get rid of the old guard—fire everyone who has played a part in getting us to this point, and start over. Everyone! We need to set the standard of doing good and fair business with a consequence for those who get excessively greedy or who jerk people. Those of us in positions of power for years are too set in our ways and remember the days of huge income too readily and we need to be replaced by folks with no expectations and who are willing to embrace the future no matter what it brings. And 2) we need to bring it back to the music and deliver what the fans want, how they want to access it, and what they are willing to pay for. With the internet it’s even easier to tap into research and development of the music and deliver what is needed and wanted. If it’s a customer based business, we need to treat it as such. The artists need to be talented and compensated fairly for what they bring to the table. Lil Wayne, Taylor Swift, and Susan Boyle have proven in 2009 that people will buy what they want to buy—by the millions. In the next decade, let’s give them what they want, shall we? Before the music completely dies.
via the diggersunion

Reasonable Doubts: Jay-Z’s Biggest Regrets

In recent a interview about his new book Decoded, Jay-Z seemed to express some remorse about lyrics he’d recorded for “Big Pimpin”. Since he doesn’t write his rhymes down seeing them on the page for the first time gave him pause. He told the Wall Street Journal that the words were “harsh” and that “It was like, I can’t believe I said that…What kind of animal would say this sort of thing?”
In 1996 Jay-Z’s “Regrets” stood out as one of the best song on his debut, Reasonable Doubt. As Jay pimp struts into his middle-aged years we imagine he has quite a few more regrets to add to his tally. In light of his “Big Pimpin” revelation and the release of Decoded we’ve made a list of what not-so-young Hov wishes he could take back.
5) “The BluePrint 2”
Jay-Z- The Blueprint 2 Cover
Easily the most un-focused of his catalog The Blueprint 2 was panned for being the polar opposite of its predecessor. Where The BP was lean and soulful, BP was bloated and pretentious. He even went into the lab attempting to trim the fat and re-released the project as the Blueprtint 2.1 but no on was fooled. Jay-Z wouldn’t touch the Blueprint franchise again until 2009. In hindsight, tagging it “the gift and the curse” might not have been such a good idea.
4) “Super Ugly
Smarting from the verbal uppercuts of Nas’s “Ether” Jay-Z hurried into the studio and hijacked Nas’ “Got Yourself” and Dr. Dre’s “Bad Intentions” instrumentals (how appropriate) and unleashed a blitzkriege of personal info about Nas, including that he’d slept with his baby’s mother Carmen and left condoms on her baby seat. The diss was perceived by many to be desperate, reactionary and not in the same class as his first shot “Takeover.” Even his mother made Hov get on the radio and apologize for hitting below the belt. Allen Iverson wasn’t happy about being thrown under the bus either, as Jay insinuated that he slept with Carmen as well–and he was married at the time.
3) “Ride…or Die”
In 2005, Jay-Z lost his nephew in a car crash. He was driving a Chrysler 300 given to him by uncle Hov as a graduation present. Jay-Z documented the death on “Lost One” rhyming “My nephew died in the car I bought/so I’m partly under the belief it’s partly my fault.”
2) “Guilty Until Proven…Guilty…”
After debuting the video to “Do It Again” at Irving Plaza Jay-Z and Dame Dash rolled up on Lance “Un” Rivera at listening party for Q-Tip’s Amplified and stabbed the Undeas Exec for allegedly bootlegging In My Lifetime Volume 3. Hov pled guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to three years of probation. He was facing 15 years if the case had gone to trial.
1)”Justify My Thug…”
At the age of 12 Jay-Z shot his brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. The way the story is told it sounds like Jay was just a materialistic kid protecting his belongings. However, Jay-Z told Oprah that his brother was “dealing with a lot of demons” and said that his 16 year old brother was stealing things to feed his drug habit. So while Jay may not like talking about it, he’s more like Ossie Davis in Jungle Fever putting Gator Down for stealing than Nino Brown. And contrary to some reports this is not new news and he spoke on the incident in the 1997 song “You Must Love Me.” “Saw the devil in your eyes, high off more than weed, confused, I just closed my young eyes and squeezed…”
While we’re sure Jay has plenty to be thankful for this Holiday, we also know he’d love  to have a  reset button on these.
-EZ Street

Feds Sieze and Shut Down Popular Hip-Hop Music Blogs(OnSmash)

Popular rap websites Onsmash.com and Rapgodfathers.com have been shut down by the feds in what appears to be linked to a wide-reaching federal crackdown on online piracy of music and movies. The two sites were popular with Hip-Hop heads as go-to destinations to download new music.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, seized the sites on Friday along with a handful of other torrent sites and replaced them with a notice that read: “This domain name has been seized by ICE – Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”
According to the New York Times:
“Among the domains seized were torrent-finder.com and those of three sites that specialized in music: onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com and dajaz1.com. TorrentFreak, a news blog about BitTorrent – a file-sharing system that has tended to elude the authorities because it is decentralized – said that at least 70 other addresses had been seized, most belonging to sites related to counterfeit clothing, DVDs and other goods.”
Expect sites like On Smash to come back in some form or fashion because shortly after news broke @OnSmash tweeted this:
Screen shot 2010-11-27 at 10.09.14 AM

Mixtape: Chris Brown – In My Zone 2

Chris Brown is back in his zone for his latest mixtape, In My Zone 2. The R&B star dropped the set — his third mixtape this year — at midnight EST. Like his debut mixtape, In My Zone, Breezy takes turns rapping and singing on part 2, and welcomes a few guests like Gucci Mane, G.O.O.D. Music’s Big Sean, J Valentine, Keven McCall, Petey Pablo, and more. Favorite tracks are Last Time Together, Another You and Life Itself ft. Kevin McCall. Jump to stream and download.
01. Chris Brown – Ms. Breezy (Feat. Gucci Mane) (4:42)
02. Chris Brown – Shit God Damn (Feat. Big Sean) (2:52)
03. Chris Brown – Talk That Shit (2:48)
04. Chris Brown – My Girl Like Them Girls (Feat. J Valentine) (3:32)
05. Chris Brown – F*ck Um All (Feat. Kevin McCall & Diesel) (4:18)
06. Chris Brown – Christmas Came Today (Feat. Seven) (2:02)
07. Chris Brown – Glitter (Feat. Big Sean) (2:16)
08. Chris Brown – What U Doin (Feat. Big Sean) (2:16)
09. Chris Brown – Drop Rap (Feat. Petey Pablo) (4:14)
10. Chris Brown – AWOL (3:47)
11. Chris Brown – Seen Her Naked (3:19)
12. Chris Brown – Last Time Together (3:26)
13. Chris Brown – All Off (Feat. Kevin McCall) (4:07)
14. Chris Brown – Life Itself (Feat. Kevin McCall) (4:08)
15. Chris Brown – Sex Love (Feat. Lonny Bereal & Seven) (3:01)
16. Chris Brown – Another You (3:56)
17. Chris Brown – Boing (3:57)
18. Chris Brown – Quits (Feat. Kevin McCall) (2:06)
19. Chris Brown – You Want Me (Feat. Seven) (2:58)

Success in Hip Hop: The Reward of Hard Work

If you want to achieve some really big and interesting goals, you have to learn to fall in love with hard work.”
When I share great quotes with people I usually tell them that they’re not just for their benefit, but that they are reminders for me as well. See we’re creatures of habit and most of us need to break some of the bad behavior patterns that are keeping us from the success that we desire. And it doesn’t matter how you measure that success. Rather it be wealth, or just completing that project that you’ve been taking way to long to finish.
You’ve got to not settle for being mediocre…by your own standards. We all know when we’re slacking of, or taking shortcuts. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. You don’t live for them, and everyone in this game is going to have their fair share of haters and people who want to shoot down their dreams. I can’t think of one artist that doesn’t. But know this, most of those successful artists got there with a tremendous amount of hard work and focus on what they wanted. Even the ones you think are wack. In fact they probably worked the hardest.
Succeeding in this game is not easy. But what do you lose by working hard at something you love and have a passion for? Nothing! If you have a gift, refine it, polish it, and continue to challenge yourself. Most of the time, the only person that can stand in your way is yourself.
keep grindin’!

Your Influence is Your Value

Hopefully you’ve been beating the social networks hard and long enough to realize that your number of friends and followers doesn’t equate to success. Sure it’s a factor, but accumulating people on these networks don’t mean that they give a shit about your music. I have Facebook friends that have pushed their network numbers to the limit, then they release a single only to discover that those people couldn’t care less.
You’ve got to be interesting and entertaining. There are too many other things competing with you for the attention of those consumers and fans for you to be boring. I’m following a few artists on Twitter that happen to be some real assholes, but I find their messages amusing sometimes and a lot more entertaining than someone who regularly tells me what they’re having for breakfast. The technology that exist now gives you the opportunity to go beyond just creating good music. Your focus should be centered around the quality of your product and your influence.
Essentially, your influence is more durable than a hot single that will soon be forgotten. You should ask yourself these questions: What are you about? What’s the message in your music? Who are you the voice for?  Do you wanna know why your favorite rapper is doing that collab with that wack ass rapper that you hate? It’s because that wack rapper has a potent influence on his fanbase. You may continue to scratch you head and not understand why, but that’s because his music doesn’t speak to you or your lifestyle.
Find your voice. Don’t try to please everyone because you’ll never succeed at it anyhow. Don’t be a carbon copy of someone else either. That’s for losers. The technology has made the world your stage and you only make this Earthly trip once.  So you may as well go out of this biyatch making an impact and a difference.

Breaking Your Me, Me, Me Habits

We’re living in an age dominated by social networks. Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are populated with artists, business owners, and casual users who are just screaming for attention. It’s normal to see status updates like…”I’m about to walk my dog.” “Damn this hamburger is good!” or “I’m on my way to the gym!” These are people who make it a point to share almost every little piece of their lives with the rest of the world, and they want feedback.
Many artists ignore this and only use these networks to aggressively push their music. They send you their music without an introduction, tag you in Facebook shit that you aren’t in, or just boldly post links on your wall without notice.. If you’re one of those artists who use this kind of ambush marketing strategy then you’re using a strategy that’s bound for failure.
Ask yourself;  Do you like to have conversations with people who only talk about themselves? No, and this is no way to build relationships with people who could potentially become fans of your music.
For a second, start paying attention to the things that interest other people when you’re on these social networks. You have probably only conversed with a very small number of them that follow you on Twitter or who have become one of your Facebook friends.
Here’s a challenge for you. The next time you see those many tweets whizzing by that you normally don’t pay much attention to, make an effort to respond to some of them. Particularly respond to those people whom you’ve never connected with. Also “i like” or comment on the status updates of those many Facebook “friends” who are strangers in your network.
We’re all trying to be heard, but one way conversations never work when you’re trying to build real connections. People are more likely to take an interest in your music if they know more about you as a person. Take the time to find out what’s important to those around you and when you’re ready for their support, you wont have to push so hard.

@Chamillionaire on Major Label Shenanigans

Fist off let me me say that if you’re a hip hop artist, you should be following Chamillionaire’s Twitter feed. Why? Because his internet grind is the bizness, and you can learn a lot from observing how he uses social networking tools to connect with his fans.
This commentary from Chamillionaire is loaded with a lot good shit that you should pay attention to. Primarily, the info on the importance of handling your paperwork before the release of your project is priceless. Chamillionaire paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to be an artist on a major label and shares some of the battles he has to fight in order stay true to himself and his fans.
I posted of video earlier of Chamillionaire explaining how he stays on top of his business to make sure he’ll always have a financially secured future. You can watch it here.

7 Twitter Dos and Don’ts for the Independent Artist

by Lola Sims
With the newest social media trend being Twitter, a lot of established as well as independent artist have taken to the networking site as a way to increase awareness of their brands and movements. Although the site boast music friendly opportunities i.e. New Music Monday’s, a lot of users are starting to complain about the onslaught of music they are either tweeted or fill their timeline. Rightfully so, if your a DJ, radio personality, or have anything to do with the entertainment industry you have to expect these tweets to fill your timeline from time to time So, I have decided to come up with a couple quick do’s and dont’s for independent artists that can help further as well as build their relationships on twitter without being blocked ignored, or unfollowed.
1. Do be considerate in your approach.
Just like how you have to be careful in how you approach someone on the street, you also have to be considerate in the way you come across on twitter. I think a lot of people feel as though they can act any way the want because they are not in front of that person or because its through the internet. What most don’t realize is while a lot of people use twitter for networking purposes, many use it to keep in touch with peers as well as people they already know, so you can’t catch feelings with someone when they choose not to follow you back or respond to an inquiry to rate your music. Because in hind site why should they care since you didn’t take the time to build the relationship with them personally?
2. Do follow people who are relevant to what you are trying to accomplish.
More times then most when I check some artists following list I see nothing but “models” and other women they have followed all because the look good in their profile picture. I have nothing against following models, video vixens, and other women on twitter but please make sure you handle business too. Tweeting a sexy vixen over which bra color she should wear today instead of tweeting someone with a submission opportunity really defeats the purpose of networking on twitter.
3. Do build a genuine relationship with those you are following.
Just like in life, business is based off of relationships. Because a person knows you or has heard of you ultimately helps you get your foot in the door and in this case with twitter your music heard. Why would an editor take the time to download your song and listen to it if they have no personal interest?
4. Do get to know your followers
While some people see followers as a popularity contest, the one’s who are really winning are those who see their followers as more than just numbers. The people that are following you do so for a reason. In someway in 140 characters or less, which is the allotted type for a twitter tweet, you have captured their attention and you should acknowledge it and better yet try to keep it.
5. Don’t bombard people with your music
We all, yes even myself, get excited when we hear of new opportunities, but you have to know how to handle the opportunity. Tweeting your music to new followers, new friends, and random people on twitter can become annoying to some and cause for you to be blocked and ignored.
6. Don’t miss out on opportunities when permitted
There are 100′s of opportunities weekly from different users available for independent artists. Most magazine, sites, and blogs love for people to submit music because it ultimately helps their site traffic as well as adds to their content, but only send when asked or if you already have a relationship. You don’t want to become one of those emails they always ignore.
7. Submissions: Don’t do more than you’re asked
Last week, I tweeted an opportunity to my followers which was re-tweeted over and over again. It basically called for independent submissions for interview opportunities. For those who responded I requested 1 song and a bio. I got 10 songs from one person, 5 songs from another, and emails everyday for the last week asking if I listened to the music. This can become a bit much and cause many to just ignore you instead of listening to your music.
I hope these quick Do’s and Don’ts have in some way helped you take full advantage of the twitter networking. Feel free to give me a follow @LolaSims.
Tweet you soon.
Lola Sims is a publicist for artists
PR & Publicity
Follow me on Twitter /LolaSims

Don’t Let Your Internet Grind Kill Your Street Grind

Internet marketing has become essential to any hip hop artist who wishes to spread their music abroad, but spending too much time navigating online social networks can take you away from the kinda grassroots street networking that made hip hop the force it is today.  A well developed hip hop movement is and always will be built on the local level first.

I’m sorry, but a lot of the shit you hear and read out there about internet music marketing and the digital music landscape, don’t necessarily apply to the hip hop artist. They’ll tell you that CD’s are dead and that you should concentrate on your number of Twitter followers, email blasts,  and Youtube views.  Hip hop has always gone against the grain and made moves underneath the radar. A large part of the reason why vinyl, a format that was said to be replaced years ago,  is still alive today is because of hip hop.
Independent hip hop artists became the heroes of their hood, and moved units out of the trunk of their cars in numbers that made the major labels crap in their pants. In my years in the music business, I can truly say that I’ve never seen another genre of music that was able to move on the streets as well as  hip hop could. These artists were so successful, that they didn’t need the labels, and once they did strike deals with them, the terms were mutually beneficial. This was all do to a direct connection with their community and fans. Some of these artists seldom left the boundaries of their city.
Little has changed about those fundamentals. Until another format completely takes over, people will still buy CD’s on the street. Just ask the bootleggers! You have to understand that fans are drawn to you as well as your music.  They relate to your message and what you represent.  Having a physical CD gives you  the opportunity to pass off additional information with your music that you can’t do with any other format thats gain enough popularity. Send a fan off to download your music on iTtunes and i’ll bet you that you’ve lost a sale.
Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and the other Internet social networking services should be used in addition to your ground hustle. It was never meant to replace it.

No Overnight Success: Create Something Great, Then Wait

A lot of you think that success in this rap shit is going to come over-night. It’s not gonna happen! Yeah you may occasionally see a rapper, out on nowhere, create a new dance and appear to blow up instantly. But trust me, even that artist has a story of struggle to tell.
Don’t get it twisted. Just because you may feel that he’s on some lame comercial bullshit, it didn’t make it any easier for him. I’ve seen about 30 different rappers trying to break through with 30 different dances in my city, this year, alone. Most of them won’t get pass double digits in YouTube views.
You should be focused on making some of the most incredible music you can, release it regularly, and develop a kick-ass stage show. Everything else is built off of this foundation. Cultivating success didn’t begin and end in the music business. It takes time develop and grow any business. Let me  give you a few examples and put a few things in perspective for you.
About 10 years ago Tim Westergren founded the now successful online website, Pandora. About 2 years into it, he lost almost all of his funding and he continue to build that company on faith, credit and a some employees that worked for about 2 years with no pay. He is just now, after many struggles with major labels and other obstacles, enjoying some of the fruits of his labor. His story is an educational and inspiring one. You should check out this interview.
It took Facebook almost 6 years to become the giant it is today. Twitter, after starting 4 years ago is just now starting to explore ways to profit off of it’s very popular service. I could go on and on with similar success stories. What these startups have in common is that a lot of time was spent on building a great service first before trying to cash in on undeveloped idea. Myspace abandoned this principle and quickly lost its value.
You have to stop whining about the field being crowded with too many artists. There’s an abundance of tap water yet it didn’t stop them from putting it in a plastic bottle and successfully selling it. Be innovative, keep creating, keep building, keep collabiin. We’re all given the same amount of hours each day. The successful just chose something different to do with their’s.

Timbaland & Magoo ft. Sebastian – Fried Chicken

Well, Timbaland has latched onto the idea that he needs a day named after himself to release weekly music in order to stay relevant, just like the million other artists who decided the same thing months ago. Ah well, whatever is necessary to get free music. The latest, a very simplistic beat that features longtime collaborator Magoo and brother Sebastian, has them talking about, well, food – quite fitting since this track came out on Thanksgiving.

Video: Swizz Beatz Talks DMX Struggles

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview With Mark Henry (@MarkHenryDC) stupiddope.com

The voice behind the tracks, the rhythm of the melody, the mask behind the production is Mr. Mark Henry from the DMV!!! Fueled by the energy of the sensation from music, Mr. Henry delivers with perfection… His words are laced with motivation that inspires his personal structure for beats!!!
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Mark Henry has produced tracks for the likes of Wale, Raheem DeVaughn and Rick Ross.  The hungry producer has gained accolades including a win at Speaker Box 3 in Baltimore and high recognition in Ohio’s Scribble Jam and Red Bull Big Tune in DC.  Since then, he has gone on and gained praise from Fat Joe and helped Raheem DeVaughn start his 368 Music Group. With a big future ahead of him, Mark Henry took the time to talk with stupidDOPE about his career.
How and at what point did you start to compose music? I started composing music back in 05-06. One of my friends made beats on this program called Fruity Loops. As soon as I saw it, I was interested. But, for the first couple of years, it was all fun and games. Nothing serious. In the beginning, my beats were made from all stock sounds. Kinda like what Soulja Boy did when he first dropped. Maybe like a year into it, someone showed me how to sample. That’s when my beats began to sound interesting.
Who are your musical influences? I listen to everything from Hanz Zimmer to Curtis Mayfield to Metallica to Quincy Jones. I’m influenced by sounds. You could put me anywhere on this earth and I’ll probably come up with a dope beat, lol.
How do you describe your music to people? I usually tell people that I can capture a sound for any genre. I think that whatever mood one of my beats was meant to put you in; it will take you there.
What was your first major producing job? I would say my first major producing job was a song I did with Raheem DeVaughn, Freeway, and this other artist from the west coast (I forgot his name) called “Paper Boyz”. The song has still not been released though.
What project that you’ve worked on thus far that was the most rewarding? I think that working Wale’s “More About Nothing” project has gotten my music to circulate a bit more than before. I produced “The MC” and “The Breeze feat. Wiz Khalifa” on the project.
What is your motivation to create new music? So far my life has been my motivation. Every experience I’ve had from the day I was born until this very moment has had an impact on every beat that I compose.
What qualities do you possess that you think have brought you this far? I think it’s my ability to capture any feeling or sound that people can enjoy. I can produce any genre of music.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a producer? Nothing is given to you. If you want something in this industry you have to go after it. If you sit around waiting for people to make moves for you, you’ll get nowhere fast.
Name a few of your all time favorite albums? Life After Death, The Blueprint, The Chronic, Jagged Little Pill, R., Nas “Untitled”, Port of Miami, The B.Coming, The Firm, Diplomatic Immunity, 808’s and Heartbreaks, and there’re many more. That’s just off the top.
What song is on repeat on your mp3 player right now? Mickey Facts – Cold Summer
What should fans look forward too for the rest of 2010 and beyond? Look out for Da Phuture’s new single “Stupid Dope Moves”.  Gotta video out now by The Winners Circle called “Til The Lights”. Diego Cash’s new project called “Honorable Mention” (Gotta song on there Called “The Shore Club” feat Rick Ross & Midian). Fat Joe’s new project. Raheem DeVaughn’s new album called “A Place Called Loveland” (Gotta song on there feat. Marsha Ambrosious). Wale’s next project. Wiz Khalifa’s next project. Mickey Factz new album. Jim Jones new album. J. Holiday’s new album. and many many more albums and songs and features… I’m outchea #workin!
Is there anything else you want to share with the fans? To anyone who listens to and enjoys my music, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate it. Here are some ways you can hear some of my music and reach me:
Twitter: MarkHenryDC
Myspace: markhenryproductions
Facebook: MarkHenryDC
DJ Teck provided the images of Mr. Mark Henry!!! DJ Teck is a popular Disc Jockey & photographer in the DMV area!!! The stupid “DOPE” t-shirt worn by Mr. Mark Henry is from the 368 Music Group affiliate Durran Whaley’s clothing line, Envius Couture! The DMV is surfacing with an immense amount of talent!!!
Signed, IamRRA