Success in the multi-billion-dollar hip hop music industry doesn’t work like in the movies. Oftentimes, independent artists post their music online hoping for overnight success. While this can happen, it takes often years of hard work, plenty of organization, planning, and some luck. You don’t even need a major label to achieve success today. But for independent hip hop artists to achieve success in the industry, here are some laws to observe.
Research What It Takes to Win
While formulating your plan for success, make sure that you have all sorts of trackable things that you can market. Major record labels aren’t in the business of promoting musicians that don’t have these sorts of solid numbers. These include online download numbers, independent record or song sales, online presence on popular industry websites and blogs, YouTube views, tours, etc.
Any endorsement from established artists is especially important. All these things not only work for you if you want to get signed, but these numbers work well for you as an independent artist, too.
Using Your Resources Strategically
One of the most important things to keep in mind while you’re seeking success in music is to make sure you have another source of income to stay fed, have a roof over your head, and keep your bills paid. Having no money at all leads to stress that can interfere with your creativity. Not every artist has a benefactor to cover most or all of their expenses.
You need to learn to manage your resources, no matter how limited they may seem to you right now. In fact, the less you have to work with, the better you will learn to manage and make the best of what you have. It will teach you how to strategize how to turn each small bit into something bigger, a skill that will only work for you more as you gather more resources later on.
Keep Your Creative Drive and Vision
Your individual creativity is the ability that can set you apart as an aspiring unsigned hip hop artist. Find what sets you apart from everyone else and focus on that. There will be many moments where things will look to stall, so you need to keep that drive to prevent doubt from letting you become lazy and/or eventually give up.
Clearly defining your vision as an artist is how to keep that drive going. Overnight success is a myth. Be realistic and understand that trial and error is just a part of the game. By persistently finding what works best for you, you’ll eventually find yourself develop into the artist you were always meant to become.
Make the Best Music You Can
Remember that industry success always begins with the music. You have to connect with your audience, or you aren’t going to find any success in the music industry. Obviously, song promotion becomes a lot easier when the music is actually good. It’s actually most important to study how strangers react to your music. Your friends and family will often say whatever they think will help, not necessarily what actually will. It’s not easy, or everyone would be doing it. Attaining success can be such a thankless job, but eventually, you could be one of the lucky few that make it to the top of the hip hop music ladder.
Become a Master of Multitasking
Independent or not, at the end of the day, your success lies with you. Learning how to become a multitasking master or a great delegator of responsibilities is a major component of gaining success. Whether you look to sign or not, be persistent in your networking and find people that understand your brand as an artist. By having people on your team that are all on the same page, you can get a lot done, even with only having a handful of people. Promoting a music artist is hard work, but having your own team do it can make sure your vision and your product’s message stays consistent.
While there are the rare few who find quick success by signing with a major label, remaining an unsigned artist and being independent is quite valuable. Nothing against labels, but when you sign with a label, you become immediately subject to their rules and whims. Staying independent as long as you can actually work in your favor. The more established you and your brand are, the more you will have control over long-term.
Develop Your Identity and Your Team
There is no one perfect recipe for success for independent recording artists. But one thing that always works is developing your identity as an artist and building your brand. Bringing together a professional team to build and develop your brand can eventually create music that can sell itself.
Work Hard and Be Humble and Realistic
Every success comes with a little bit of luck, and it’s no different for unsigned musicians. Have a strong head on your shoulders and be humble and realistic. Don’t give into trends or just mimic everyone else. Most of all, don’t get an inflated ego. Work harder with your actions, not just with your words. And, of course, don’t be a spammer when pushing your brand and music.
Balance Online Presence with Physical Presence
Having an online presence, both on websites and social media, is important. But nothing beats good old-fashioned networking and performances. Balancing the two successfully is how you create a loyal fan base. You can’t just spam the Internet with links and hope people come see and listen to you.
Know the Business
Just because you wrote, performed, and produced a song doesn’t mean that anyone owes you anything at all. You need to know how to sell tickets or some other product. Otherwise what venue or sponsors will want to have you? Music promotion as an independent artist can actually be done on a limited budget. But you still need to learn how to invest that money properly to build your music business. If you’re not investing in your business, then your music is just a hobby.
If you’re looking for a major record deal, it will take an investment of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars into your business. You need that kind of investment to bring in the returns that labels are looking for when signing artists. Therefore, investing in your own indie music business is smarter since you can still make a significant income with less money invested. This way you get to collect everything you invested.
Be Visible and Consistent
The most important thing when selling any product, especially music, is to stay visible. Even if you have to play some free shows to get publicity, you should. Even if it’s only in front of family and friends, consistently performing is the only way you’ll master your craft. Once you have your songs down, get them recorded. Should you make them into videos and upload them to YouTube?
Yes, and not just because some sensations have come out of it. Yes, this means you’re essentially giving your music away, but it’s worth it. You have to have something to link to that’s easily available, especially when it comes to sharing your product on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. You have to keep up with the competition and get your word out there. Once people get into your music, they’ll help spread the word for you.
While the daily grind of the music industry is quite challenging, learning how to deal with the ups and downs will shape your eventual success as an independent hip hop artist.
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