On “Making It” in the music business…
Every now and then I have a correspondence with a really cool woman who is trying to help her son navigate his way through the music industry. She hit me up recently to ask if I’d be down to produce some songs for him. Here’s my response. You might want to read this excerpt if you’re considering becoming a world famous rapper.
RE: Your son, XXXXX…
I checked out his Youtube channel to re-acquaint myself with his style and work. Working with him requires a massive conversation and a lot of it we have already discussed. I would love to have a discussion with him but here is the thrust of what I’d say:
It all starts with his own initiative. Period. He needs to show passion and he needs to do it publicly. His social media needs to be popping. Lots of new stuff all of the time: New songs on Soundcloud, new videos every two weeks on Youtube, shorter videos and photos on Instagram, engaged tweeting to members of his community and wider. If he doesn’t get on that, he’s not doing it. Social media is essential for an independent artist.
All this social media activity means he needs to be generating lots and lots of content. He needs to be writing ALL THE TIME! If he’s not, he’s not an artist. Dre would lock Tupac in a room all day and expect him to write write write. At the end of the day, Pac would come out with three new songs…5 days a week! That is the core of who your son wants to be. If he’s not down to do that, he’s not interested in the job.
As he keeps moving forward he will outgrow rhyming over other people’s beats (which he does a lot on his Youtube channel.) For me that meant making my own tracks. I am incredibly happy that I broadened my skill set in that way. It provides way more opportunities than just being a good MC. There is no shortage of good MCs out there. He needs a better work ethic than everyone else. He needs to be a better MC than everyone else. He has to have more charisma than everyone else. He needs to be more pleasant to work with than everyone else. Those are the things that are going to push his career forward.
When he gets to that point, then I might be down to work with him. That’s not at all to say that I’m too good for him. It’s just to say that we’re all struggling to make our careers happen. I would really need to see a ton of his own initiate for me to contribute a lot of my time and energy to help him move forward.
A big incentive for me would be to see a capable team around him. You can’t pull this off alone. His team would include a good manager, a community of creative people (MCs, producers, DJs, videographers). A board of directors essentially.
All that said, I’d be down to talk with him (and you) more about it. What I’m talking about is strategy. Career strategy. Not art or rhyme skills but the long term plan of attack to be an artist for a living. In my opinion, being a star is a goal one should strive for and cross your fingers for but it depends on forces beyond our control. Making a living doing your art IS something a person can do a lot to cultivate.
Wow, long email. It’s a really complicated subject I guess. Keep in mind there are tons and tons of resources out there meant to help fledgling artists take flight. CDBaby.com has a whole blog devoted to it, there are interviews on youtube about this stuff. My friend, Bosko created a podcast about it you can check out here:
Have him check it out and tell him to keep fighting the good fight!