2013 is reaching its end and well, it has been just about the same as the years gone past.
Artists emerge on the local scene, releasing sharpie scrolled mix tapes for a few dollars a
piece. Blasting the streets and social media, claiming to be doing big things, making all this
loot from drugs or prostitution. Getting a lot of response from the members of society that
live that life and those who fake at living that life, with no follow up of equal value. Let's call
these guys the rappers.
Then we have the artists who release soulful, deeply developed lyrical mixtapes with the
sharpie on the disc. Generating a buzz with the hip hop heads and holding to their guns of
remaining independent from major labels and defiance of mainstream political agendas.
Now, both of these groups exist in what's called the underground of the music industry. All
independent artists start here and either get signed, stay independent or quit. Each of these
groups and there are more and more subcategories in hip hop, hit a glass ceiling. They fail
to utilize the tools available to them in their own city. These artists suffer from what's called
middle child syndrome. Egos get too big because one group opens up for a national act or
gets over paid to do a private party and boom. A local celebrity is born.
These tools mentioned above are the local publicists, marketers, bloggers and journalists
whom have intentionally stayed in their hometown to help develop the scene. For
example, in Milwaukee, WI there is Random Media Distribution. Mason is a college
graduate, and RMD’s sole owner. He specializes in marketing and public relations in the
areas of mass media attention and press release circulation. Translated, that means he's
the guy who has a working relationship with national affiliates who can get you and your
events on televised morning shows and public interest pieces during the evening news.
We move further south to the next county of Racine, Wisconsin we have Enicar
Records. Jon Frizo is the owner operator of this store front offering all the physical
requirements an artist needs. Recording, mixing, mastering, instrumentals, merchandising
of your brand and a location to sell your items on consignment. 2 fine examples of
untouched resources in Wisconsin. Now you may ask, "Biggz, how come I haven't heard
of these people?" Or the better question "I have contacted them in the past and I haven't
received a reply back." Now, bare in mind I do not speak for them personally but 1) if you
haven't found them or someone of equal value you really aren't looking right and 2) if
you haven't heard back and the message has been seen, well there's a good chance it's
because you are on some bullshit.
Now, not every member of the business community thinks like this. Many cast aside
common sense for a couple extra bucks even if this means attracting clients that shut down
businesses, get permits revoked and have no respect for the community as a whole.
The quality tools, the Craftsman of the local scene if you will, don't do business with people that aren't serious. By
serious I mean legal paperwork: C-corp status, tax id numbers, trademarks, copyrights, those steps
above signing up for BMI or ASCAP. If you have all this in order and still can't get nowhere,
well maybe it's time to reconsider your career choice.
Egos are still rampant as ever, nobodies beefing with nobodies over $5 from ten years
ago or 2 people using the same industry beat. Hell, this year I saw 2 "respected" groups
throw temper tantrums on stage during their sets and storm out. These are people acting
like Kanye when they aren't even his bus driver. And local artists beefing...what's the
point? No one cares. All your doing is fucking it up for the people who aren't about that
bullshit. Makes me sad. Another hot topic this year, as it will always be, the term Pay To
Many promoters in Milwaukee use this useful tool completely wrong. Like using a hammer
to tighten a bolt. Originally, ptp was set setup for promoters to figure out what artists had a
loyal fan base AND were willing to invest in their own careers. Example, show A has a 20
minute slot with a buy on of $250 and each artist gets 25 tickets at $25 each to sell. Sold
at face value you make a $250 profit, that's an extra $250 after you make your buy in. Artists that usually complain
about ptp tend to be the one who can't sell the tickets or unfortunately have been burned in the past. Yes, there are
shady promoters out there that have manipulated and corrupted
this tool into a bait; luring in naive artists to cover all expenses for tour dates while they take a nminimal risk on their
own endeavor.. But, for an artist who is properly ready to throw down $250 to double their money, they
should be planning to buy more tickets to
sell. In other words, they have a loyal fan base and we haven’t even gotten into the profit
generated in on stage exposure and merch sales.
Many promoters have adapted the PTP style by fronting the tickets to trustworthy artists on
a consignment basis. This trust comes down to knowing people. I am a fan of a hybrid of
these two methods. You create an artist credit system. Unless the artist is being recruited
by the promoter to perform, all first timers do cash up front, an immediate pay to play even if on a friend level too.
Business is business. Once that artists proves that they do draw like that and their on time with their receipts have
shown that you do draw a crowd and also have a quality stage show, your "credit score" goes up.
Simple, effective and helps build a working relationship.
One thing that irks me personally, and it seems to only happen in Milwaukee, is that you
have artists leaving the city like its the exodus for hubs like LA, ATL, NYC just to be mixed
in with the others that run. Yes, some do make it and earn a decent living but once they
do, do they come home and give back? Is the knowledge passed on or is it strictly held
tight to prevent someone else from having an easier time? Makes no sense to me at all
why someone who is no one in the industry full time, wants to forget the assholes back
home that shit on them coming up, we all have that notion. What about the future? The
dude working in the Miller Valley doing 50+ hours a week to support his family and his hobby
but is free-styling and smiling the whole time? Or the lil lady who is entering high school
with dreams of being the next Da Brat but only has knowledge of being a jump-down and a
Take some pride in your hometown and enjoy a slice of humble pie because when you
first picked up that mic, your home town scene showed you enough love for that love to
grow into envy then into hate thus becoming your inspiration. Whether you’re a rapper,
hip hopper, DJ, publicist, producer, director, or a moron that pays to use a brand, similar to
a franchise, but reaps no benefits to their career unless the city where you are from has
unconditional love for you, you will fail. And yes if people pay enough attention to talk shit about you or say that you
sound better in one style it still counts, they still count as a fan. Enough of all this senseless bullshit violence that has
been spreading around. Like a fucking virus just over the stupidest shit, all because someone is too pussy to take an
ass beating and they start shooting.
I write this as my look on 2013. In opinion in order for 2014 to be strong, we have to
continue the innovation that I did see. Keep networking with out of city artists, drop your
mixtapes with a scheduled reason and make a hip hop world for all of the community
to enjoy. Be a professional and take that extra $500 bonus and file your llc, get a dope
graphic and some merchandise. If you reading this and you are one of the innovators, I
salute you and offer my services to you. Leave your email in the comments and let’s get
to work together. If you're are one of the douche bags reading this, those that keep doing
the same shit without going anywhere, best of luck but you keep your douchebaggery over
there, we going this way. Over the course of 2014, I will be releasing articles on the proper
construction and maintenance of your brand including one major point being the difference
between marketing and promoting. Questions will all be answered, douchebaggery battled
and butt hurtness will probably happen. Until then, thanks for a fantastic and brilliant 2013
and I say Allons-y to 2014.