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#HipHop101 Mixtape Etiquette for the new artist

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted in the HipHop101 section, but what I’m going to talk about is really going to be able to help some people who listen. Although I am an artist, my first love in music has always been the business side as far as marketing, management, and promotion. One of my favorite things to do behind the scenes is organize collaborative Mixtape or Album projects which requires you to work with and organize a lot of different people that do a lot of different things. You have artists, producers, DJ’s, record labels, managers, graphic artists, bloggers, promoters, etc who can all be involved with this kind of project. It can be extremely difficult sometimes when you are dealing with so many different people and personalities but no matter how difficult it can be, I personally find that the finished project always ends up being worth it and whatever or whoever the difficulty was, you learn from it and move forward so that you can make each project better than the next.

With that being said, what I want to address is the Etiquette of Artists. I am very aware that we live in a day and age of social media and we are living in a generation of selfish people. Be that as it may, I am going to explain to you the honorable way to conduct yourself and you can choose to ignore it or pay attention. I am going to tell you the truth about somethings and it might hurt your feelings, but you will be alright if you can get out of your emotions and listen to the logic because this is after all business regardless of what you see portrayed on television or social media.

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  • YOU ARE NOT FAMOUS. Unless you are cashing million dollar checks, have hundreds of thousands of dollars in endorsements, have gold or platinum records, or have been recognized as one of the greats for your well seasoned and decorated music contributions? SIT DOWN. Relax. you don’t deserve to be disrespected, but you better stay humble. If you are unreasonably a jerk, nobody is going to want to work with you and eventually you will end up biting every hand that tried to help you get fed and burn down all the bridges extended to you. Unless you are an outstanding artist, producer, graphic artist, DJ, blogger, promoter, manager, and record label all in one? You will eventually need the help of other people so it’s best to conduct yourself as a professional. In my opinion I don’t understand how people can say they want music to be their full-time job so they don’t have to do anything else but they’ll behave like professionals for their job at the gas station and act like they have no manners or common sense when it comes to conducting themselves as an entrepreneur (which is technically what you are as an independent artist).
  • Value an invitation. There is a lot of work that goes into a collaborative project. Far too many times people undervalue the time and work that’s put in to a collaborative project especially if all they did was submit a song. This is no way means the creative process and recording is under valued, but the point I am trying to make is a collaborative release has many components to it and if you are invited onto a collaborative project (especially one being presented by an artist, group, or label that holds weight under their name or brand) there are a few things you can easily do that show you appreciate the opportunity of exposure and free promotion.  The LEAST you can do is share the project and support it especially if you were invited on. Even if you pay for a slot, what was the point of purchasing your exposure opportunity if you don’t even support it? If you are invited onto a project, turn in your music in a timely manner. Nobody should have to chase you down to give you an opportunity. If you want to be taken serious as an artist? Be professional. Nobody is going to keep calling, texting, inboxing, or emailing you in order to put your music on a project that’s overall cost isn’t coming out of your budget. What all of us as artists need to remember is that there are millions of us. Sometimes it’s not even natural talent that help people move forward in this very competitive business, it’s things like honoring your word, professionalism, and integrity.  For me personally? I will help a less talented artist who is a good person ten times over breaking my neck for someone who is super talented but a headache to work with.
  • Label your tracks properly.  When you are submitting a song, nine times out of ten whoever is collecting the music is slammed with emails. Make sure you do your part to cut down on the instance of error and costly mistakes. Your email should come with the MP3 of the song, Artist name, track name, and producer name. One thing that happens far too often is people do not label their tracks properly and then expect everyone to stop what they’re doing to correct spelling errors, add something or delete something. Once things like promotion is started or track lists have been designed and released it is far too time consuming and costly to make changes and frankly, unless the error was a track by a heavy hitter? Chances are you’re going to have to deal with the error and move on. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another and nobody died because of it.

 

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For those of you who may be very new, there is a difference between a Mixtape and Collaborative Album.  A Mixtape can be done by an individual (normally a collection of their music they are putting out for free in order to generate a buzz before an album comes out, a free project an individual releases in order to start building a fan base, a free collaborative project from a group/label/ DJ that showcases a collection of artists / producers. The key word though is FREE. The only time there is ever a charge for a Mixtape is if hard copies are pressed up then you are paying for the actual hard disk and shipping, not the actual music. Artists can be invited on by a DJ/Group/ Label or slots are sometimes available for a fee. Purchasing a slot would be something you charge to your promotional budget and you should only purchase slots on Mixtapes that target the fan base you want, and or are hosted/produced by a reputable organization/DJ/Label/Group. I say that because I can’t even count the number of times a no-name brand or group has slid in my inbox trying to sell me a Mixtape slot for hundreds of dollars. No thanks. If you are debating on purchasing a slot, google the other Mixtapes they’ve done. Combine all the numbers from all of the sites you see it posted on and decide if the slot fee is worth that investment for the level of exposure you find. ( Side note: Any slot fee over $100-$150 you should look for downloads and plays of ten thousand or more but BE CAREFUL…. some of those “downloads” aren’t organic, meaning they could have been purchased. So the best way to make sure it’s legit is see if the project comes up on multiple sites and check all of the stats before making your decision.

A Collaborative Album is actually for sale. Normally a collab album will have one producer and feature many artists on their beats, or put out by a label/group and showcasing their artists and producers. On this kind of album purchase you can expect all original tracks.

I hope some if not all of this was helpful or enlightening. One more helpful tip until the next time… if you are an artist and consider the music industry your ideal profession? Do some research about the “business” you say you’re in. There’s a lot of “artists” that don’t even own the name they’re making beats or recording songs with, and there’s a lot of producers selling beats they don’t technically own although they made them.

That’s all for now! Be blessed –

Q

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#HipHop101 How much of my own money will I spend on making music?

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I’m so sick of folks out here acting absolutely crazy. I want to explain a very simple principle to you. First ask yourself this,

If you played little league…. Are you now a professional baseball player?

If you drew pictures in Art class….. Are you now a professional artist?

Should everyone that can carve a turkey be a surgeon?

Fam… just because the world has made it easy for you to make music, doesn’t make it your profession. It’s actually VERY disrespectful to those in the game that have suffered and clawed their way through being broke and all kinds of other things you have NO IDEA that await you in the music industry. Making music is a beautiful thing. I think everyone should experience its joy. It is OKAY for it to be a hobby. Too many people aren’t honest with themselves. Honestly Fam, let’s keep it real. There is music links circulated all over the net of some music that’s terrible. It’s not even recorded properly and it just wastes space in cyber space.

I don’t know who has been lying to you, but I’m going to tell you the TRUTH about what kind of money goes into funding your own music career. Incase you didn’t know, you will spend THOUSANDS of dollars on it and possibly NEVER make any back. You will give away music for the first few projects. Those projects will cost you money. Promoting those projects properly (which means you hire someone to promote you) cost money. The more you want it exposed, the more money it costs. If you don’t promote your project, you will not build a fan base. If you don’t have a fan base, who’s going to buy your music? If you buy downloads and followers… what happens when you put a song on iTunes? If you have 100k fake followers and can’t sell 2 Singles for $1… why on earth are you wasting time & money? There are THOUSANDS of other emcees JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER then you. I’m not trying to be mean, this is REALITY. You should know exactly how big the mountain is.

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SOME OF THE WORST THINGS PEOPLE DO EVERYDAY:

Tweet strangers (people you don’t even follow) your links directly. They don’t click on it. You’re wasting time.

Tweet your music to famous people hoping they click it and love it. Let me know who get signed that way when you find out.

You are the only person promoting yourself. If you don’t invest in you, why would a label?

If you are still doing illegal things and your MXTP cover is your product, who is going to sign a law suit waiting to happen?

DISRESPECT THE DJ If you don’t know how important the DJ is? You are banned from making anymore music. It shows you researched NOTHING.

Get on social media and DISRESPECT the people that created the music of the game you’re trying to get into. NOBODY invests an artist who is disrespectful, immature, & unprofessional. You know why? THERE’S A MILLION MORE OUT THERE.

Not have help. There are a few (not many) folks in the music industry (myself included) that will not take your for a ride and rob you and actually give you what you pay for. What I’m telling you FOR FREE would cost you THOUSANDS of dollars to HOPEFULLY one day learn it from a Management or Development person.

Get mad when people don’t like your music. If this is you? You are banned from hip-hop. NOBODY likes everything. How dare you ask people to listen and when they tell you the truth, you get mad? You need to pay attention. Why? Because this is your BASELINE OF FEEDBACK. If 100 people listen to your song and anything over 80 say they didn’t like it? You need to seriously re-consider doing music or the kind of music you’re doing or accept that your fan base is going to be smaller then you anticipated.

Waste your money.

Not know what kind of rapper you are.

Hobby Rapper

Freestyle Rapper

Battle Rapper

MXTP KING

Feature Rapper

Indie Artist

Label Artist

Let me expound here a little bit… When asked “who is your fan base?” EVERYBODY is not an acceptable answer. Everybody would include kindergarten, middle school, high school, and senior citizens all in the same group.. In the words of Sneak Vandel,  “FALSE”. We’re going to get into this in depth in another article but it’s something you need to think about. I also want to give you a reality check about “getting signed”. In the words of Gryndhousz, “You have a better chance winning the lottery.” and that is 100% true. The days of getting signed to a major record label for a 50k advance and all that are long gone unless you are an artist ALREADY making money and numbers on your own that warrant such a deal. These days labels sign known artists or very young artists, they get a 100 page contract and lose all sense of ownership and identity to themselves as an artist. Make no mistake, anyone raking in the dough on the level you aspire for? Most of what you see come across in costume, dress, sound, etc is entirely dictated by the label that own’s the artist. We’ll visit that in depth in a future post.

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Fam, this information would normally be contained in a development or management session. I am spilling FOR FREE what I use to eat & pay my bills with because in all honesty, I don’t want you stupid. If I know the way, it’s my job to share it. I don’t depend on any of you to buy services here, hit my blog, or buy our music. I depend on God. What most people don’t understand is that giving things away can get you credit at a bank you’ll never owe it back to. #ProphetTweet LOL Okay, back to business. Let’s start with something basic… Your first MixTape.

You want to drop your 1st MXTP

Studio Time: $35-$250 p/h depending upon where you go. You get what you pay for in most cases unless you happen to personally know somebody. If you don’t know the studio ask to hear some of their work!

15 Song MXTP: You should record a minimum of 25 songs to choose from. You should never just throw something together.

25 songs x $40 per hr for each song to record

25 songs x $40 per hr for each song mixed (bare minimum it’s more when it’s done 100% professionally)

If you want your tracks Mastered, it’s going to cost an additional $25 -$100 per song

Features: Well this depends on what kind of splash you’re trying to make on the scene. Let’s say the fan base you’re aiming for is Little Wayne’s fan base because for whatever reason he is your hip-hop hero. You should be aiming for those kind of sound features. Get Wayne out of your mind though unless you have a million dollar budget for this project because a 16-bar verse from him is going to cost you well over 50K. Your feature cost depends on the caliber of the artist. There are some you can get for $500-$1000 but nine times out of ten you have to know somebody that knows them to get that price, so plan on $1000 at least for each feature. If you’re having a well known underground artist feature, they may not charge you for the verse if they like the project but they will definitely charge you for their studio time which would roughly be $100.

Production: On a MXTP if you are using other people’s beats (aka “industry beats” beat from a song on the radio) this won’t cost you anything. If you have a friend or team member that makes them you’re still fine, but if want original music and don’t have anyone around that makes beats? You can tack on anywhere from $100 (for something decent)- 5k per beat depending on what kind you want & the caliber of the producer. So multiply 15 songs x $100 per beat and that’s another $1,500 on the bill.

Artwork: Decent underground artwork $30 -$100

Duplication: If you want hard CD’s, you’re looking at $250 off the rip (CD & Case) depending on how many you want and they are expensive. Sometimes 50 CD’s are $200.

Promotion: Typically, folks who make hard CD’s skip this step and just pass out CD’s which of course only reaches where YOU DO. Artists that are hip to social media should hire people to promote there.

If your MXTP is hosted by a DJ, add $100-$5, 000 depending on the status of the DJ

If you do an indie video, add $300-$500

Also add what you afforded for the song’s promotion again because the video also needs promotion.

Add in promotion costs for however long you plan to promote this project.

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You will do all this for FREE music. This music you are GIVING away. You have to build a fan base. Nobody is going to buy your music unless they know you or they just rock with you like that. Honestly, if you put out a song on iTunes today, how many people do you know for a fact would buy your single for $1? Count them times .70 (iTunes sells your track for $1 but you only make .70 off each single). That’s how much you’d make with no fans. It costs $10 to load it to iTunes so subtract that from that number. It costs roughly $100 to copywrite & publish the track so subtract another $100. Whatever you’re left with is what you’d make right now selling a piece of music with no fan base. Is your number positive or negative? You will more then likely do this kind of project at LEAST 2-3 times before you should even try to sell anything. Fam, if you are not willing to commit to that? You won’t make it. Some of us have lost EVERYTHING over our music. My team? In the words of @kinggeorge427 “We starved together, we’re going to eat together.” Anyone of the greats in hip-hop, went through most if not all of everything I mentioned. If you’re not prepared for battle, don’t try to be a soldier. We’re only hiring warriors in hip-hop for the next 5-10 years. But if you’re ready? Welcome to #OPERATIONREVOLUTION

If you are in need of organizing, help with your project, or are interested in pricing for this kind of service, click the Queen the Prophet BIO at the top of this page and submit the inquiry form. Please allow up to 72-hours for response due to the high amount of inquiries received.

This has been a @queentheprophet public service announcement.

#HIPHOP101

#HipHop101 for New Artists: Releasing Your Music

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Once you come out? You stay out.

When you’re a well established artist (with an established fan base) your fans will find your stuff as soon as it’s out and listen to it. This takes YEARS to build and the reality is it may or may not ever happen. Who are fans? The people (not your few friends that know you and tell you everything you do is good) that don’t know you at all and they genuinely like the music. My recommendations to any new artist would be to start by drop singles only until you can regularly pull 500 legit plays on a song. Once you’ve done this a few times and you see that your numbers are growing and consistent, then drop a whole project. During the time you’re dropping and promoting singles, you should be recording and STACKING music. If you prematurely drop a full project and you have no real audience, who’s going to download it? *crickets* …… Then all of the time & money that went into the project is basically wasted.

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Generally speaking, you should have something in rotation every season (i.e. if you just started yesterday, that is one song per season). Full projects like Albums or MXTPS should be promoted HEAVY for the first 6 months and still promoted for the remaining 6 months of the year.What happens is to an artist the music is old to you, so you’re bored. This is exactly why artists need assistance in Management and Marketing. The music is not old if people haven’t heard it. Everything should be planned and timed. Each release should have it’s own momentum or build up. For example, if you’re releasing a single that is just as important as a whole project. A whole project should ideally have a promo flyer, commercial, you release the first single, 2-weeks later drop a second single, 2-weeks later drop the entire project. Then the whole project should be the focus of promotion for an entire year. What happens most time like I said, artists get bored. The worst thing you can do to yourself as an artist is record, release, record, release, record, release what you’re doing at that point is your not putting the proper promotion time behind your release (video, single, project). What happens when you don’t put the proper promotion time behind a project? Wasted time and money. This is where you will see an artist with 20 songs on Sound Cloud and nothing has over a few hundred plays … if that. One of the worst ideas you can have is buying plays, likes, and views. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT REAL. Although most people do it to “give the impression or appearance” that there song is better than it is, it profits you absolutely nothing but “feeling” like a rockstar for five minuets. If your music sucks? It sucks. Not everyone that can use a band aid or knows CPR is qualified to be a surgeon now are they? It is in your best interest if you are SERIOUS about your music is get a legit feel for how it does. Otherwise you’re going to basically just keep wasting money. You’re not fooling Jay-Z, Diddy or anyone else you tweet your You Tube video to with 10k purchased views.

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Speaking of money…. your music is going to cost you thousands of dollars and there is a 90% chance you will NOT make back what you spent and a 100% you’ll end up broke (some of us more then once depends how many years in the game you hang on) before you make one cent. An artist being talented or a song being good has very little to do with the Artist’s success. To quote a very good friend, GRYNDHOUSZ (Indie Artist with over 70k sold) “You are not a singer or a rapper. You just sing or rap until you can feed your family off of it”.  BEFORE YOU RELEASE ANYTHING, you should have a plan and budget for promotion. It is a waste of time and money to release a project and have no money saved to promote it. Each project (single, video, MXTP, etc) should have a strategy for release & promotion. This includes researching the best yet most cost effective way to get your music out and in as many places as possible. The general public thinks that you can just “get your music on the radio”…. sure you can, if you have $80-100K to launch a Clear Channel campaign for 6-months. (If you’re not sure what Clear Channel is, it proves you really didn’t research the career field you say you’re in). Any artist you hear on a main stream radio station has spent six figures to get there. I’ve had people say to me “Well when a label signs me, they’ll pay for that.” Again, this proves how little you’ve researched. No record label in the world is going to invest that kind of money into someone who is not already an established money maker you have a better chance of winning the lotto.

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It always makes me laugh when a brand new artist starts charging for versus. First of all,  WHO ARE YOU? Seriously, who are you? There is nothing wrong with asking to cover your studio time. Honestly you shouldn’t even THINK about charging anybody anything until there’s a reason (i.e. you’re pulling thousands of LEGIT views, plays, etc. ) LOTS of artists prematurely TRY to start charging just because they’re tired of spending all of their money and not getting rich and famous fast enough, which of course realistically probably won’t happen at all. When it comes to money and your music, the best piece of advice I can give you is do it for the love. If you do it for the love, you’ll never be disappointed. 

What I have just shared with you for FREE, would have taken you years and cost you thousands to learn, if you ever ended up learning it at all. Take heed, Be Wise, You’re Welcome.

INDIE ARTISTS: This is a must read, trust me! It will save you time & money http://www.thegryndhousz.com/10-indie-commandments

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