From Grindtime Ike (Mr. Ike).

The Dark Side:

 I get comments about me being negative about the "local" bowel movement. The reason I call it a bowel movement, because it builds up, then moves slowly, just to go in the toilet. I have been around and have seen the "local" hiphop genre from the very beginning , grow and crash. The current artist suffer from what I call the "Mind over Matter" syndrome. What's in their "Mind" is more important than what "Matters".

Let me dumb it down and comment on how this makes any sense. You representing a city in a city that doesn't support you or your movement. That's like spending a lot of time and energy fishing in your own bath tube expecting to catch something. Along with that, artists NEVER have a detailed business plan. "Getting On", "Unifying", "Grindin", and "Pushin On" are words without a definition. 

The problem with "unification": That's rappers, rapping for other rappers, to get props or shine. But you are marketing to people who are not going to support or buy your music. After a while, all those rappers will start to sound just alike and originality goes out the window. Unification or Collabs happens after artists have made a name for themselves, bringing 2 different fanbases together. I hear people saying blowing up and "gettin on". Hate to say this, but major labels are not signing hiphop/rap artists like they use to. If you pay attention, the Hiphop/Rap genre is slowing being erased like Disco genre. When you look in the newspaper, they have even removed the Hiphop/Rap charts and put everything under R&B or Pop. So, in order to "Get On", you have to do it yourself. 

Now, "Grindin'". This is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but you going to have to pull your skirt down. A lot of "Grindin" is more of "Shining". Rappers brand themselves more than their music. Your music is what makes your brand. You see a lot of videos on Youtube as artists want to be seen, yet those songs are never available for sale on itunes or any other outlet. Views and Likes are not going to make you profitable. A lot of the views are "fake views" from bots, search engines, etc. Just like I was explaining to someone, when you have 215,000 views and only 146 votes, that throws up a red flag. Enjoy the fabricated buzz. 

We are the only genre that do mixtapes and give our music away. The crazy part is, people don't want our "free" music with DJ tags and talking over the music. Datpiff is popular with local artists, but there is NO local artist with over 500 listens. The closest to 500 is Mr. Mack "Self Made: Fear Factor Feature Presentation" with 454 listens (uploaded in 2009, 6 years ago). Mixtapes... Mind Over Matter. 10 mixtapes, 0 releases = hobby.

The Light Side:

I'm going to use Tech N9ne & Hopsin as examples as they are very successful independent artists. Hopsin "Got On" with Ruthless Records who didn't promote his CD or had a marketing plan which flopped. So, quit focusing on "Gettin On". Here is some unchecked boxes on most local artists checklists. 

1. Do you have an official website? Social Media is cool to network, but you can't brand yourself with just social media. That's a business without a headquarters with many distractions. Tech N9ne (www.strangemusicinc.com), Hopsin (myfunkvolume.com). Your official website represents you, your music, and your brand ONLY. No distractions. That's your world headquarters.

2. Do you have an official release? Mixtapes are cool for promotions, but its like a trailer for a movie. Well, for most artists, that movie never comes out. Your official release is your resume. Even if your official release gets pirated or bootlegged, your music is going viral. Something mixtapes are suppose to do, but when mixtapes are "free" with DJ tags.... it has no value. Also, no one looks for mixtapes. That's why artists have to spam links all day long that gets skipped over. Mixtapes are demos with a lifespan of 2 weeks. Official releases have no expiration date. How often do you hear a person looking for a "mixtape" that's 5 years old? 

3. When promoting your music, do you have album version, radio edit, instrumental, and accapella available? This opens up the areas where your music can be played. Some internet radio stations play uncut music, but some are still traditional radio friendly only. There are also DJ's who still do actual mixtapes with mixes and blends and use those instrumentals and accappellas to make remixes.

4. Are you with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) such as BMI/ASCAP? Artists leave a lot of money on the table.

5. Have you shopped your music to Film/TV? This is a great way to promote your music and make a chunk of money. Depending on movie budget, you could make $500 to $30,000 plus royalties if your music makes the cut. Broadjam, Music Clout, Film Music Network, Music XRay are some places to look into.

6. Do you have anything to sell? You make music, upload music to youtube, soundcloud, audiomack, etc. So, if fans like your music, then what? You have 100,000 listens. Ok, they heard you. 200,000 listens. Ok, they still heard you. You keep releasing mixtapes that are either free or no one buying it because its a mixtape. It suppose to be free. So, what's your plan to become profitable? Think about it.  

The Director's Cut:

Quit thinking "local". You don't have to blow up in your own city first to be international successful. You hear people say they going to put this city on the map. I'm quite sure everyone local know where they are. You want the world know where we are, so get your music out to them. Treat your brand like your kids. Take care of it and watch it grow and become successful. It may become expensive, but it should be priceless.

If you focus on building your fanbase as much as you do other rappers, success would come quickly.