Without a doubt, many artists brag about making it to the finish line alone. But, the finish line in the form of winning awards for ones music and the wealth that comes with the accolades, are rarely if ever achieved single handley. This particular message of “I did it by myself” or what it even means to be “independent” has been conflated to mean that rap artists should lock themselves up in their studios and search the internet near and far to find every answer regarding how to become a successful rap artist. Now the ability to conduct research is very important, and learning what you can do by yourself, is key. But how many scammers have you run into along the way claiming that they want to “help” you, only to send you streams in the form of bots? Trust, we’ve all been there. Yet the question remains, if not by yourself, and not with the help of scammers, then who do you surround yourself with?
Not all of us have the magnetic energy of Kanye to convince another person to drop everything and film our day to day lives. It takes a lot for others to see your vision. However, there are a few key players who you should look out for as you progress in your journey. But before I jump into the key players, let's first cover what you can do by yourself:
- Locate all of your lease and exclusive agreements and, if need be, follow up on all oral agreements “with the homie” to mark them down in writing.
- After step one is sorted out, then upload your music to SongTrust and BMI or ASCAP accounts to ensure you are receiving all mechanical and performance royalties.
- Are you using Distrokid, CDBaby, TuneCore, or UnitedMasters? Research the platform that is right for you and pick one, it’s that simple. This is where you collect your streaming royalties.
- Next, it is highly encouraged that you have a phone with a nice camera, plus calendar and email capabilities, if you want to step your game up with a professional touch.
- Create an artist account page or convert your existing social media pages to host your work as an artist.
Now, the team.
First, start with a needs and wants list. Who do you absolutely need? I would recommend that you need two types of managers: one for the road and one for business. The road manager will work with the business manager to secure your shows, but will be present at the shows to support you during performances. The business manager focuses on keeping your lease agreements in order, negotiates deals on your behalf to maximize your revenues, and tracks all spending. Both individuals are people you really need to trust. More than their roles call for, they become your closest confidants in your journey from music to music business to life predicaments; they hold you down.
Next, who is on your want list? Is your social media game on point? Marketing can be a particular challenge for some artists who are not naturally inclined to post their lives on a daily basis for all to see on social media. But in today’s music climate, social media is the name of the game. Fans need to ultimately love you for you. So if it is a weak spot in your game, then try to find individuals who can help you create a calendar so that you are posting intentionally to engage your fans. They can even help you think of creative content to post, in between assisting you with your release campaigns when you drop new music. Remember, social media’s algorithm depends on both quality and consistency.
Lastly, you’ll need to find a mentor who you can trust to navigate you through this crazy journey. The music industry is unlike any other. Artists must trust their instincts as much as the players of the Squid Games had to, to make it to the end. A mentor clears the path of unnecessary branches and other obstacles by giving you a forewarning of what is to come. Mentors can be other artists, an entertainment lawyer, a family member, and/or anyone who has your best interest at heart and understands the journey you are embarking on.
At this point, I’m sure you have some people in mind. But remember, creating a team is no easy task if meetings are not hosted regularly and projects are not executed according to the plans you all create. Your role as the artist, is to also bear the responsibility as captain of your ship. Identifying everyone’s strengths will be key in your ability to delegate accordingly and make adjustments where necessary. Not everyone will stay for the entire journey, but as long as the people beside you believe in the journey and put the work in, you are sure to achieve your goals of critical acclaim and influence on the culture with the right people by your side.
When All In-House Entertainment works with artists, we provide them with the team they need immediately. The additional support goes a long way and allows our artists to focus on what they do best, making music. Whether it is for a project or the artist is looking to get signed, we only work with artists who believe that they are a force to be reckoned with. I support artists with their administrative dealings by helping them get their music portfolio organized and represent them on the ground when scheduling performances. Our marketing team gives the artist the structure they need to consistently post quality material on their Instagram and Tik Tok pages.
Let us know how we can support you in your journey as an up and coming hip-hop artist.
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Authored by Wanjiku "Kazi" Mbugua
March 26, 2022