So you feel that you have the skills and tools necessary to put together your debut mix-tape, EP or album but don’t know where to start? Over the years I’ve seen many artists do some do’s and don’t’s while putting a project together and I thought I’d share some with you. These are just some simple tips to get you started on the right foot & to ensure your project reaches it’s full potential. Whether you are a singer, rapper, or musician these steps will come in handy for any artist out there trying to make a name for themselves.
1.) Make Sure Your Project Has a Concept.
One of the biggest problems I come across while writing reviews for various artists, is that their project sounds like a bunch of recorded songs just thrown in together with no real flow, projection or fluidity. What do I mean by concept? Concept is simply the artistic backbone to all of the songs being tied together. You want to stick to this component so that the tracks don’t sound misplaced. Now a concept doesn’t HAVE to be this in depth, emotional, “trying to hard” message. It can be something as simple as…a revelation you’ve had, a certain life experience, an artistic view point or sound, etc. I’m a firm believer that just skill alone will not suffice on a project without concept.
2.) Make Studio Time.
You may have heard this quote before: “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not…you’ll find an excuse.” This is especially true when it comes to finding studio time. All starving artists have their side jobs, but you must not forget to make studio time a priority. Excuses such as “my producer quit on me”, “studio time is too expensive”, “I work too much” are all obstacles willing artists have to overcome. Simply put, if theirs a will, there’s a way and if someone lets you down, it’s “on to the next one” to quote the great Jay-Z. Make sure when you’re in the booth, you are focused, ready to work and free from distraction. Unless you are recording a free-style session, make sure to have all your pre-written work organized and ready to go. Same with beats, make sure you have them all picked out so that you don’t waste time going through various emails.
3.) Show Face.
Nothing defines an artist more than a live performance. How well you are able to connect with the audience, how you work the stage, energy level, professionalism and broken inhibition to freely express yourself are all aspects of putting on an impressive performance. No matter what the venue is, big or small you never know who’s watching so you always want to give your 110%. Some of the greatest artists of all time were discovered doing live opening acts for bigger artists which lead to deal signing. If you haven’t booked the venue of your dreams yet, remember that progression can take time and don’t let that stop you from hitting the stage.
4.) Video Shoots.
Videos are vital to an up-coming project, it allows your demographic to experience the song an a cinematic level. It’s always good to drop at least one or two videos before the full length album/EP/mix-tape drops. Budget wise, if you really think about it, you don’t need much to pull off a video- it’s using your space and tools in a CREATIVE way that matters. Take Tyler The Creators “Yonkers” video for example, or The Roots “Birthday Girl”. You can still make an impression while evoking your music without a million dollar budget. It’s also important to be consistent with video releases, not just music videos, but also consider recording studio sessions, behind the scenes footage during shows and interviews. This is a good way for people to know you more on a personal level. Just remember to make sure that the video accompany’s the track and to be open to trying different angles, scripts and treatments- most of all, trust your director.
5.) Use Social Media- MARKET yourself!
This is something that is pretty self explanatory, but some boundaries need to be put into play. Create an artist page on facebook that people can “like” so that your fans can stay updated and connected. DO NOT spam your friend’s wall every time you release a new song or video. Same goes for twitter- please don’t go blowing up people’s mentions, it’s just not a good look. The most professional thing to do is to get a website, there are tons of online building sites that use simple layouts and are very user friendly. I’ve also seen other creative and innovative ideas such as stickers, t-shirts and hats- all are great items to begin getting your name out there. The most important thing is to begin brain storming on what your logo is, what you want to stand for and what you want to represent from an artist’s point of view. Once your project is complete, upload it to soundcloud or bandcamp (I personally like bandcamp better) and begin reaching out to blogs who will most likely accept submissions as long as it’s a quality effort and a solid debut. Now, I personally will download an album or a mix-tape online BUT I also LOVE hardcopies and I know for a fact I’m not the only one. I love looking at cover art, looking at track lists, I just like the physicality of having something I can hold in my hand, something that has the potential of being classic and something that I can keep forever. I could just be a pack rat but I keep all hardcopies of projects I really enjoy. So, make sure that you have that available to your listeners as well. It’s also easier and more effective for someone who has never heard of you to bump your music if you hand them a physical copy rather then saying “check out my website”. Always…ALWAYS keep hard copies on you wherever you go think of these as your “business cards”.
I hope that was helpful, so until next time-CHECK US OUT! -@dreafool