In 2016, indie hip-hop has literally become the new mainstream! With the rise of hundreds of successful social media savvy artists making a killing financially, why would anyone need a label anymore when in essence, you are your own label/brand today. The social media business has literally sucked the life out of all the major record labels and its only getting worse and worse, the power is in the artists hands now, having the ability to reach millions of fans via Facebook, Twitter, IG, Snapchat, Vine etc.
I mention 5 must-do’s if you’re an indie hip-hop artist that will cater to the new year 2017 so you wont get left behind.
However, there’s somewhat of a universal playbook that all hip-hop artists should keep in mind when creating a strong foundation that will result in both short-term gains and long-lasting relevance. Implementing these 5 action items won’t guarantee fame and prosperity, but they’ll highly increase the likelihood of achieving your goals (first rule: make sure you set some!) and taking your career to the next level.
1. Be a master at your craft / Perfect your live show / Be original
This is the clear-cut rule of thumb that should be obvious to all artists, but too often gets pushed to the wayside in favor of useless gossip, controversy, and online bickering. Before you can put any other piece of advice into action, a tireless dedication to perfecting the craft of your music is what matters the most.
Don’t rush into releasing song after song if you’re not yet comfortable with your artistic identity and how you want to portray your art to the world. The most genius marketing blueprint in the world will not meet or exceed expectations if it’s not backed by quality music that connects with your target audience. So whether you break out with a catchy single that goes viral or create a full-length album, putting consistent hard work into your craft is what enables every other strategy to follow through as planned.
Putting on an exciting live show that has your audience fully engaged is something you need to work on religiously in order to make the next step in your career. Standing still and rapping your lyrics into a microphone isn’t nearly enough to make a $20 ticket worth it for your fans, and these live shows are absolutely vital to your income as an independent artist. So when you’re in the studio creating songs, keep in mind how the music will translate on stage to an audience that wants to feel like they are a part of the show and not just being rapped at.
Practice makes perfect, and the more you perform, the easier it will be to get rid of any stage fright you may have. If you’re truly looking to make a career of being an independent hip-hop artist, this aspect of your artistic makeup cannot go ignored.
2. Brand yourself (Have your own Website)
Now this is probably the most important must do for 2017. I come across hundreds if not thousands of artists who jump the gun and decide to push material without considering the fact they need to actually be a brand! By implementing these steps here, you will have a competitive edge over thousands of new indie hip-hop artists.
-Make sure you have you own .COM (Weebly, Wix, WordPress) and implement re-marketing pixels from your social media outlets in order to do some serious re-marketing campaigns to all who caught interest to your site. Have a mailing list account! Make sure to have your S.E.O settings all up to date & all your re-marketing pixels are working 100% of the time. And if you’re the type of artist who see’s this as difficult, then just quite now and work your 9 to 5!!!..LOL. Here are a few example sites I like.
-Stop using gmail, yahoo etc as you email, make sure to use a professional email so you can set yourself apart! This goes hand n hand with your .COM.
-Only use Artist/Biz pages on your social media (LIKE PAGE/BIZ PAGE) & literally dump your personal life sucking personal pages. This will definitely pay off in the long run.
– Make sure to have merchandise ready for anyone who wants it! Regardless if you need to give it away for free, or sell them for a dirt cheap price. T-Shirts, Decals, Stickers, USB Albums etc. This is called investing into your career!..LOL
3. Invest in your own music career $$$. Take the risk!
The best way of achieving long-term success as an indie hip-hop artist is continuously reinvesting back into the music. When you make money from a live show or new merchandise, take a percentage and spend it on new studio equipment or for management compensation. Buying a new car or the latest pair of Jordans may seem fulfilling in the short-term, but that high wears off a lot sooner than you might think. Long-term success requires a responsible, financially sound business plan. Being smart with your money is a necessity in taking these previously mentioned action items to the next level and, ultimately, achieving independent success.
4. Hit social media hard! (As if your life depends on it!!)
Yes!!!… As if your life depends on it. Make sure your on IG, Twitter, FB everyday! Adding between 10-15 relevant #hashtags to each post. Uploading videos on IG is a big plus nowadays! You will be surprised how much more followers you will gain in a short amount of time just by being consistent. Thank fans for their comments, likes and ask them to follow you!
Your FB LIKE page allows you to boost (SPONSORED ADS) your music posts, depending on your budget, and receive great engagement which you can utilize for future boosts. Start by hitting a wide audience, within weeks, you’ll see your fan demographic, stats, posts clicks, cities reach and more!! As you get more familiar boosting posts, you will fine tune ads hitting people who are interested in your music the most!
5. Create and maintain blog and media relationships
The coveted big blog post is another barometer of success that many artists take extremely seriously. And while receiving coverage from popular and well-respected websites does widen the reach of your music, there’s a fine line between pleading for a post and truly building a relationship with influential writers and editors.
Make sure you filter though the good blogs and bad blogs. I run into plenty of hobby bloggers who don’t take their job serious, and once in a blue moon update their sites. These are the blogs you really need to stay away from. You want to make sure regardless how big or small the blog is that they publish daily, they network with all the artists being promoted and their business social media pages are active on the daily! You will be surprised how many small blogs are out now that actually get you more hits than bigger hip-hop sites. So I would suggest as a rule of thumb, to always check the blogs social media outlets & blog feed and make sure they are active everyday!
Don’t feel just because all the big names are on Complex, XXL, WorldstarHipHop, 2DopeBoyz, Hip Hop DX etc, you need to be up their too! Make sure your latest music is posted on as many quality music blogs as possible and your branding is on point before approaching these bigger Hip Hop sites.