It’s tough trying to get your music heard, especially when the industry is over-saturated with beats, rappers, singers, and everyone in between. There are many ways that you can promote yourself and your music, but you must think outside the box and not always focus all your attention online.
It’s Not Just About Beats
You love making beats and love producing a full track, maybe even with an emcee on it, but the fact remains that unless you are promoting your music, it will just end up sitting on your hard drive doing nothing. Countless times I’ve done that myself and even if you make beats solely as a hobby, it’s still not fulfilling having your beats just sitting there.
If you want to make some money with your beats, or possibly take it to a whole new level by being a producer/artist then you definitely need to think beyond just “beats”. Promotion is the key and so is networking, two things that a lot of beat makers greatly lack.
Promoting The Right Way
I’ve already mentioned how to market and promote yourself on Twitter, but what about beyond that? There are other websites out there such as Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and many more, but have you ever thought of promoting yourself outside in the real world?
Taking a look back, the ways that I used to find out about certain events happening in my city were at a minimum. However, I always found out what was happening and what shows were taking place because even though there was no internet, there was never a shortage of ways to find out about the latest happenings.
Some of the ways that I would find out what was happening:
Word of mouth
I would have to say that word of mouth and flyers were the best ways for me. Radio also was huge because we had a local Hip Hop show and they would announce the latest concert information.
For beats though, how can you promote using the old methods? Newspapers are useless at this point, but the rest can still apply. Let’s take a look at your promotion options:
Word Of Mouth
This ties into you networking with as many people as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s your milkman (do they still have those?), your doctor, or your girlfriend’s mother’s uncle’s dog’s neighbor. By telling as many people as you can that you make beats and you want to do this or do that, it will help. You never know what’s around the corner and it could be something big. Your milkman (LOL) could have a cousin that knows 50 Cent.
I would recommend that when you talk to people, tell them what you’re all about and what your goal is with your music. Are you making beats as a hobby and just want to sell a few beat CD’s for some quick cash? Or are you looking to collaborate with some emcees and put out some quality music?
Flyers are dope. Even to this day, we still use flyers all of the time to promote albums, parties, and concerts, but it’s just mostly we see these flyers online. The fact is though that flyers are still a very powerful way to get the word out to the masses. Have you ever seen people standing outside of the club at 3am passing out flyers? I have. I have many times. This is a great marketing tool because it’s so easy to make a flyer, get it printed on thick colored paper, then all you have to do is pass them out!
I would recommend that for flyers you put down your name, website address, a quick description of who you are, and what type of music you do. Put some information such as your latest album is out or just promote your website. Regardless of what you put, it should give the person reading it a good understanding of who you are, what you do, and where they can find you.
Street Teams are unique because it’s like an all-in-one group of people that you hire to basically just push your name out there real quick. There’s different types of street teams, but I find the ones that help the most are the ones that do some dirty work, so to speak. They will go out one night and put up a bunch of your flyers on poles, walls, cars, and hand them out. They’ll wear a t-shirt with your name all over it and they’ll hand out demo copies of your latest beat CD.
I would recommend you do just as I mentioned. Print up some t-shirts, flyers, and CD’s then go out and find 5-10 people that will help you out. It could be your friends or it could be friends of friends that you pay a bit of money to do this for you in one night (or more, whatever you want).
Advertisements / Magazines
Advertising is a great way to let people know about you and your music, but it’s costly. The last time I checked (years ago), it was $5000 to take a full page ad out in your favorite Hip Hop magazine. Putting ads online is a better solution (and cheaper) but remember – we’re not focusing our attention online. So should you take an ad out in a magazine? On the side of a bus? It depends on your budget and how far you want to go.
I would assume that advertising in this manner is beyond your budget (it would be for me!) but it’s possible that you could still pull it off if you talk to the right people. As I mentioned under the “word of mouth” section, if you talk to as many people as you can, you might be able to meet up with someone that’s in charge of putting ads on the sides of buses. I know it may sound crazy and/or stupid, but it’s possible.
I don’t know what kind of Hip Hop radio shows are in every city in every country, but I’m pretty sure that most cities have some sort of local radio show, most likely from a college campus. If you can find a small local station, hit them up. They’ve always got their ears open to new music and they’ll be glad to have some local talent on the air if they can. Maybe it’s even a school that you’ve attended, or your brother/sister/mother/father attended and you have some sort of connection to it. It could also be that you’re just familiar with that school and their radio shows so right there you have something to talk to them about when you ask them to help promote your music.
I would recommend that you approach these local stations and tell them who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish by being on their show. Tell them that you make beats and you have a beat CD that you’re trying to promote, or ask them if you could play some of your beats on their show and get some local emcees to call in and rap over them! Think outside the box.
The advice I’ve given can easily be applied to a band or a rapper who’s trying to promote themselves. However, it’s aimed at beat makers that are trying to get their music heard and promote the hell out of it. Use the advice as is or use it as a starting point and then add your own ideas to it.
In part 2, I’ll be covering the networking aspect of getting ahead in the music industry.