Since starting this blog, I have learned some of the tactics that people use to get their projects heard in the rap game, some good and effective and others bad and annoying. Though Front-Free isn’t a major blog just yet, some of the things I’ve heard from colleagues tell me that the same things still apply, so I’ve decided to write out a list of tips for aspiring rappers if you want the average blogger to not only listen to, but post and promote your work for you. I say “average blogger” because appealing to the majors, though advisable, isn’t going to build you an online fan-base like trying to soak up as much online real estate as possible in the blogosphere. And once you’re on the major sites, you run the risk of getting lost in the sauce as your work gets posted among established artists that their readers are more prone to listen to over you.
I hope this is helpful to both aspiring artists (not just rappers) and the bloggers who have to sift through tons of submitted content and figure out what to post and what to mark as cornball spam.
- Twitter Spam: Don’t Be That Guy – I don’t know who told rappers it was a good idea for their online presence to be solely about tweeting people who have never heard of them links to videos, but they were told wrong. Nothing is more annoying on Twitter than receiving links to music from people who haven’t even bothered to follow you or build any sort of rapport with you. That isn’t to say don’t use Twitter to build a fan-base, because that is crucial…just do it correctly and stop tweeting your music into a vortex.
- What’s In A Name – Everything. I’m more inclined to listen to an artist with an interesting name with an ill reference to it like “Scaramanga” than an artist with something cliche (“Stack Chips”) or something with a ridiculous spelling (“Da Madd Doktah”). You may think your name has some deep meaning, but no one cares to find out what it is until they’re already familiar with your work first. Your name is often what appears in the subject line of the e-mail before a blogger gets the opportunity to see your face, get the meaning of the name (if any) and hear your music, so your name or even the name of the song or album/mixtape can make or break you. No one wants to listen to “Big Stanky”.
- Keep It Short – You’re unknown. Nobody wants to hear a 23-track LP from you just yet…hell, I don’t even want to hear 23-track LPs from rap legends. All rappers could stand to go back to about ten tracks per project, so as an amateur, you’ve got to know your role and understand people haven’t committed to wanting to hear you for the duration of one track, let alone more than twenty. But say someone does end up downloading your mixtape, sight unseen. Where do they start? They could hear your worst three songs and give up before they get to what you would call your best, just because you’re not there to point out what to pick first. Should have just made a shorter project, but now your vanity’s landed you into the land of the unheard.
- Maintain an inclusive but persistent web presence – You never know who’s watching on Twitter and what bridges you might burn. While it’s important to be genuine, it’s also important to be really conscious of the groups you might exclude with your word selection or point of views. Women and gays support hip-hop too and offending the wrong ones could be the difference between your video being sent to someone who can help your career or being overlooked because you can’t grow up. It’s also key to be persistently accessible and not just tweeting links, performances and other things regarding your material. A lot of celebrities do it this way, but many of them are also actually busy…or their handlers are wise enough to know that letting them loose on the web could be disastrous. Building actual social connections on Twitter makes people more inclined to support your work, whether they actually like it or not!
- Get Quality Artwork & Visuals – It’s 2012 and there are way too many different methods to make your basic cell phone pics look professional for rappers to be trying to pass off crap as their press images. Instagram is the obvious choice for phone pics, but I’d advise just downloading the pic to a computer and using a web-based (free) program like BeFunky.com or Citrify.com to edit and put cool filters on your images.
- Be Original – If you’re asking folks to listen to your demo so you can get on, chances are you’re not mobbin’ in a brand new Benz. This may not always apply, but either way, nobody wants to hear an aspiring rapper rapping about Jay-Z’s life. The best way to get heard at the ground level is to be unique, so that people can say that you grabbed their attention for this reason or that reason…not because you sound like this one or that one. What makes you special? Be unique…you can always sell out later if that’s the jacket you feel like wearing.
Hopefully this is helpful to some of you. Believe me…I get it…putting your art out there is one of the scariest things to do and I always commend the bravery…just doesn’t mean I’m going to give your music a spin. And trust that if I’m saying it, other bloggers are saying it too. The most important thing is to be yourself. As bloggers, it’s important that I/we never become too jaded to lend an ear to as much new material as we can, because clearly it’s up to us to keep the genre fresh and give aspiring craftsmen a shot at gaining at least a few more willing ears.
Crap Artists x Despot