By, Wendy Day ( http://www.IndustryReport.com is my Blog)
This is for the artist’s team to read!
To gain a fan of your artist’s music, either they will like the music or the artist. Some fans are attracted because they feel they have something in common, some fans like who the artist is, what they stand for, or how they think, and some fans simply feel the music. Many fans will just jump on the fan bandwagon because someone they like and/or respect likes your artist. Hell, maybe your artist did an interview that reached somebody, or maybe he or she was kind to them on the street. Who knows. The point is, your artist needs to reach people wherever they are so that the potential fans take notice. It’s up to them to like the artist or not.
You can’t control them liking your artist, just like you can’t force the music, or your movement, down their throats. Study after study says people like to discover music on their own. It’s up to you to think of creative and clever ways to help them discover your artist. You invite them into your artist’s world and you hope they not only come, but stay awhile.
Your odds of building fans increase anytime there is a large gathering of potential fans (people who fit your demographic and target market) in one place. It reduces the costs of reaching those people individually and on their own. Likewise, anytime you can reach tastemakers (like DJs) all together in one spot, it’s beneficial because they have the ability to go on and spread your artist’s music amongst those who listen to them and value their opinions. That’s why DJs, blogs, writers and reviewers, radio and video shows, etc have value. They can introduce your artist (music, ideology, personality, etc) to potential fans, and they have the authority that fans readily accept. They are influencers.
Fans are the goal. Fans liking your artist and supporting him or her is actually the main goal. It’s up to you and your artist to find and keep them.
In today’s world of music, there are too many artists–it’s over saturated. This makes it difficult, or at least challenging, to stand out. So those who do stand out are often one of two extremes: very good (Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Adele, and others who are critically acclaimed by many) or very scandalous using shock value or sensationalism to stand out (Riff Raff, Trinidad James, Psy, Gucci Mane, Miley Cyrus, and others who are sometimes maligned by the media, authority figures who appoint themselves gatekeepers, or by more entrenched fans of music–the purists).
There is a third group of artists who stand out, and they are the unsung heroes of which I write about now: those who outwork all of the other artists to build their buzzes regionally. These artists stand out because they are constantly moving forward making new music, posting new videos, performing as often as possible, marketing themselves, continually promoting, handing out music, flyers, and posters, hanging posters and flyers everywhere, attending industry events, engaging with followers on social media, promotional touring, and meeting and greeting fans, DJs, journalists, bloggers, crowds, radio people, retail stores, etc. And they’re catching it all on video and uploading it to their blogs and websites.
Every artist needs a team to help develop and enact a plan. It takes a crew to help with every aspect of the plan. No artist can do it all by himself or herself. But just as it takes other people to complete tasks, each person needs to be clear about their function and to stay in their lane. There also needs to be a system of checks and balances to determine how well each person fulfills their tasks. One bad apple can poison the whole bunch through loss of momentum, reduced motivation, wasted money, and bad attitude.
The biggest problem I see with artists and their teams is a lack of work ethic. Some egos prevent people from handing out flyers or hanging posters. These frail people are not well suited for the music industry. Some team members only come around for the celebrations, big events, fame–things that make them look good, and events that attract stars. These groupies aren’t beneficial for your career. Artists need the folks willing to put in the work and who will come to all events, even the ones that have 30 attendees. This is about building a career to feed your family, not to floss and appear larger than life (which was really overdone back in the 1990s–grow up, it’s 2013!)
Every artist starts with zero fans. At some point they have to begin marketing and promoting their music and building fans. No artist starts by performing to 3,000 screaming fans or hosting BET or MTV. No artist starts out getting $5,000 a show–they perform for free everywhere they can, whether it’s in front of 15 people or 1,500. No artist gets spun by the top DJs at the top clubs right away; it takes work, promotion, and great music to get there. No radio station hears a song and begins playing it 30 times a day, right off the bat. It takes money, work, promotion, and great music.
Everyone begins promoting to a small room with a handful of potential fans. These days are crucially important because these early fans (early adopters) usually influence many people. They are tastemakers and the masses of people follow their lead. So if your team isn’t willing to attend these events because they can’t floss or pop bottles, you have the wrong team. They are using the artist to build their own fame and fill their attention starved needs. Cut off the cancer now. Keep the team members willing to work no matter what.
The BET Awards are coming up in Atlanta. This is the busiest and most expensive weekend of the year in Atlanta’s urban music community. Because all of the rap and R&B stars descend on the city for that one weekend every year, every Baller, Ho, D Boy, and Wanna Be flocks to the city to pretend they are somebody while getting their brush with fame. Or they come solely to ball, floss, show off, mack hoes, make money selling stuff or themselves, or just to be groupies.
I’ve seen artists and label owners truck high end cars and bikes across country so they can floss in their Ferrari, Lambo, or on their custom Harley for the weekend. That’s one way to stand out, but it signals to the industry that you have money and then the goal becomes how folks can get money from you instead of how they can help build your artist’s career. Besides, Cash Money has already done this to death since 1996. Be unique. Know who your fans are and what will impress them, it’s not always money driven.
Every new and wanna-be artist comes to the city during the BET Awards Weekend to stand out, meet established artists and industry people, promote themselves, and hopefully shine. The competition is fierce. Thousands of artists come into town. This year, 2013, happens to bring in the A3C music festival a few short days after the filming of the BET Hip Hop Awards, so even more artists will descend on Atlanta with dreams of building their careers and fan bases.
If your team is more interested in meeting Meek Mill, seeing Ricky Rozay perform, having you open for Young Jeezy, attending Jermaine Dupri’s party, going to the hottest strip club to throw ten thousand singles, or posing in photos with everyone who is known by more than 5,000 people, your project is doomed. Events that attract large amounts of potential rap fans to a city are perfect opportunities for an artist and their team to go from club to club, event to event, performing and handing out music, flyers, and links to potential fans. The artist can interact and build with potential fans.
It’s also a perfect opportunity to market and promote at Atlanta high schools (clean songs only) and college campuses, barber shops, hip hop gear shops, strip clubs, clubs, flea markets, and malls if you don’t live in Atlanta. The more fans see your artist’s name, the more intrigued they will become. Rarely do they see or hear of you once and join your movement. It takes repetition, work, and attending both the big events and the small events. Like politics, you need to campaign, spread your charisma, pose for photos, sign autographs, shake hands and kiss babies. Endlessly.
An artist need to be as charming and personable in a room full of 5 people as in a stadium with 25,000 people. In fact, the smaller venues are more important at every stage of the artist’s career–early so the fans get up close and personal, and when the artist is famous to prove he or she is still humble (even if they have become Hollywood). NO ARTIST STARTS IN THE STADIUMS. All artists start small and build a career as fans accept them.
Last week, I brought a rapper to a music conference in Orlando. The beginning of the event started with over 500 people in attendance to hear the speakers and watch the performance showcases, and yet dwindled to 30 people by the end of the night (when he performed). It was a shitty situation that he was slated to perform at the end (should have been a prime position had there been a superstar act scheduled to perform, or if the room temperature in the club had not dropped to an unbearable 60 degrees–folks left in droves to get warm) but he rocked it! He performed two songs to 30 people as if he was on stage at Madison Square Garden. Hopefully he and his team realized that during the day was everyone who mattered regarding breaking artists in Florida, and hopefully they met, interacted with, and got numbers from the folks that could catapult their artist’s career forward in their home state. It certainly wasn’t an event at which to floss. It was 100% work.
You can tell a lot about a team by how they react in different environments. If your team all want to accompany you to BET Weekend, but skip the small, local shows and events, ditch them. I’ve watched successful artists attend and work every event (big or small, major or minor) when coming up because their career was their #1 priority. As a team member entrusted to build your artist’s career, you need to be the first one awake in the morning and last on to bed at night, and the first one out of the van and the last one back in, when moving around promoting your artist.
Promoting the artist is first and foremost, the label is secondary. The label’s fame comes when the artist is on top, or close to it. You need to be everywhere, campaigning for your artist, right along with him or her. All of your free time should be maxed out promoting the music or artist, regionally. Already saturated your town or city? Focus on the next closest town, and then the next closest one to that one, and so on… Forget flossing until your artist is at the level of Jay Z or Kanye. That is, IF, you are trying to build a star, and make money instead of just wasting money. I’ve seen folks blow millions and have nothing to show for it. Don’t be that person.