With the number of independent Hip Hop artist on the rise and the number of independent hip hop artist that understand business or marketing, on the decline, I figured this would be the perfect time to show upcoming independent hip hop artist some of the mistakes they may be making.
If you’re making any of the mistakes on the list, depending on your situation, you can fix it. Now with almost everything in life, sometimes mistakes can become a blessing. So, before you hit me with “But, Wiz Khalifa didn’t have a 9-5 job”, please understand that you’re not Wiz Khalifa.
1. Being too cool for a “9-5” job
In the hip hop industry, many independent hip hop artists think having a “9 to 5” job is the “wrong” way to become a successful rapper. When you’re in the early stages of your music career (before you start making money), you’re going to need to have some money coming in. A day job is perfect for this. It will help you put some money in your pockets, pay your bills, fund your hip hop career, and depending on your job – help you learn new skills.
2. Choosing an unoriginal rap name
How many rappers do you know with similar names? I can think of a few off the top of my head.
This is a big mistake that a lot of upcoming independent rappers make. See, if you choose a name that is close or the same as someone else, you’ll open yourself up to a couple of potential problems.
Potential Problem #1: Getting Noticed
If there are 2 different rappers with the same (or similar) name, which rapper will show up first in the search results when someone searches for them? Maybe you. Maybe him. It all depends. You’ll always fight this constant battle of trying to be more relevant than the other person.
Not to mention trying to secure social network and domain names. One of you will always be the guy with the number 1 at the end of his social media URLs (ex. twitter.com/youngtrapgod1 instead of twitter.com/youngtrapgod).
Oh yea, and if the person with a similar name as you gets into trouble or gets a bad reputation, that reputation will carry over to you and your music.
Potential Problem #2: Trademark Issues
Most upcoming rappers will not have their names trademarked unless they take their career seriously (and got the money). But, if someone has their name trademarked and you’re using the same name as them, expect them to take action on you. Especially if you become successful.
Remember when Soulja Boy’s name was actually “Soulja Boy” and not “Soulja Boy Tell Em’”?
People need to be able to find you without much work or problems. Don’t complicate things by choosing the same name as someone else. Choosing a unique name is a much smarter move long-term.
3. Bad Marketing / Spamming Your Music
If you care anything about your music career, don’t spam. Spamming your music on social media is like standing in front of someone in person and constantly telling them to “check out my mixtape” until they respond to you. That would be rude as hell and probably make them not want to associate with you or check out your music.
That’s a horrible strategy. Doing this MIGHT help you get some short-term views and plays, but will kill your chances of building a meaningful relationship with people.
Remember, views and plays do not make you successful, people make you successful (fans, your team, etc.). Don’t sacrifice your long-term career for a meaningless short-term gain.
4. Not building relationships with influential people
People should be your main priority. If they aren’t, switch your priorities. Building meaningful relationships take time and most young people are impatient (including me). See what the influential people in your city are doing and add value to their life. You can add value by helping them solve a problem, promoting their music or events, or by simply supporting them.
You want to be the best friend a person could have. You want them to be able to proudly brag about you to other people and want to introduce you to other people. After a while, this starts to compound and eventually you’ll know a ton of important and influential people.
5. Trying to do everything by yourself
In the beginning of your music career, you probably won’t have a choice but to do everything yourself (and that’s ok). But, after your first few song releases, you should be able “sell” your vision and have people join you to build a small team (if you’re doing it right).
Depending on your goals (you do have goals, right?), your team may be completely different from the normal “get a manager” or “you need publicist” talk that a lot of people spread. You want people in your team that are smarter than you in specific areas and can help free up your time to focus on creating the products (music).
6. Not creating good music
If you’re not creating good music, you’re going to struggle as an artist. If you know the right people and have talented marketers behind you, then you can still be successful. But, there’s a catch.
In order to build networks with the right people and have talented marketers behind you, you need to have something of value to offer them (usually a growing fan base & potential for profit). But, how do you plan on getting the growing fan base if your music sucks?
Good music will make your job of becoming a successful hip-hop artist a lot easier. You will not only sound better than most rappers in America, but you’ll also be able to present yourself and your brand better.
7. Not Learning
Boy oh boy. Why do all these new rappers think they already know how to make it in the music industry?
You wouldn’t walk into surgery with a doctor’s outfit on talking about “let’s go”. Why? Because you don’t know what to do.
Take the time to learn how to win in the music industry. Get a basic understanding of finance, marketing, sales, and business overall. If you’re reading and learning daily, you could have a decent understanding of what it takes to succeed within 6 months (possibly sooner).
In my opinion, the smarter you are, the easier life overall becomes. So go watch some educational videos on a site like Youtube.com, Lynda.com or Udemy.com; subscribe to our blog below, and read articles online. Most of the information you need is available online for FREE. Don’t let success slip by you, because you’re too cool to learn.