50 Things You May Want To Do To Be A Rapper

Posted on August 4, 2016 by

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By, Wendy Day

I understand. You want to be a famous rapper. Maybe it’s because you love hip hop culture and want to show your skill. Or maybe it’s because you want to make a ton of money and feed your family. Maybe you just want to be famous, adored by millions of fans, and/or get laid a lot. The reason isn’t important right now. What is important is that you do the things that will REALLY benefit your career and move you closer to your goal of being a successful rapper.

These are some things you can do, in no specific order, to build a successful career as a rap artist:

  1. Hone your skills. Be the best rapper you can be. Strengthen your rhyme skills, practice performing, build your breath control so you can rap many songs in a row without losing breath control and without losing your voice. Practice your show until it’s a reflex.
  2. Meet other people who have similar dreams so you aren’t the only person out here alone with a dream of being in the music industry. Get to know others in your area and online who rap, produce, promote, DJ, or work in the music industry. Share information freely. Help each other.
  3. Learn what jobs exist in the music industry and how they can help you. Example: street teams, publicists, video and filmmakers, producers, promoters, DJs, lawyers, accountants, A&Rs, digital marketers, publishers, etc.
  4. Research the name you want to use as a rapper. Make certain it isn’t being used by someone else, or trademarked, or was used by another rapper in the past. Is the .com available? Is the name available on ALL of the social media sites? For branding purposes, your website, social media names, YouTube name, and SoundCloud name should all be identical. So if your website is SmellyStankyPants.com, all of your social media and streaming accounts should be @SmellyStankyPants and /SmellyStankyPants.
  5. Copyright all of your songs
  6. Trademark your name
  7. Every song upon completion should have a split sheet that lists who wrote the song, who produced the song, who appears on the song and what percentage each person owns. Each person should sign it if you don’t already have a contract that states ownership of the master and splits.
  8. Read All You Need To Know About The Music Industry by Don Passman. Reread the chapter on publishing and performance rights organizations.
  9. Read How To Get A Record Deal by Wendy Day whether you want to get signed to a record label or stay independent.
  10. Join ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. Sign up for SoundExchange.com.
  11. Film yourself pretending to do an interview. Now watch the recording. What could you do better?
  12. Incorporate your company, your touring company, and your publishing company….separately.  I used corporate.com to incorporate my companies and many of my clients’ companies.
  13. Read everything you can find about the music business. There’s a lot of bullshit out there, so try to learn from legitimate sources. Just reading gossip sites and rap blogs is not enough. You need to learn the ‘behind the scenes’ information, too–the business side of the music industry. Don’t assume you know how it works. You don’t.
  14. Define your image and stick to it. What is your image? What do you represent? What do you stand for? What are you against? What other artists are similar to you? How are you different? How will you stand out?
  15. Learn how the music business works. Put a plan together.
  16. Make a list of everything you need to do, and do it. Knock it out, one by one. Cross each item off the list when it’s completed.  Return every business phone call and email.
  17. Build an email list of fans and potential fans. Anyone who likes and enjoys your music should be invited to join your list. You should email them once a month or every other month with updates on your career, but don’t spam them. Don’t ever sell or trade your list, and don’t over sell yourself. No one likes sales pitch emails. They are fans, without them you are nothing. Be professional–use an email service like MailChimp (up to 2,000 subscribers free), Mad Mimi (gets pricey after 10,000+ subscribers), or Constant Contact (can get expensive as your list grows above 500+ subscribers).
  18. Build a professional website. Update it regularly (weekly is best). Add new music, new videos, tour updates, new merchandise to sell or give away, new blog posts or vlog posts, etc. This is where people will go to find out everything about you.
  19. When you Google yourself, what do you see? If it’s not everything positive about you, fix it. SEO is key! Your Google search should display your website, all of your social media, your music on iTunes, your Wikipedia page, video links, and positive articles about you. If negative things pop up, or if nothing comes up, hire someone with a proven track record to fix this.
  20. Update your Wikipedia page.
  21. Set up accounts at SoundCloud, Audiomack, YouTube, and social media: Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Build your following by engaging with followers and raiding similar artists for their followers (follow some of their followers and a few days later unfollow those who didn’t follow you back. Keep repeating this process until you have your own group of followers that’s expanding naturally due to your incredible content, engaging comments, and sparkly personality. If it’s not growing, adjust your content and interact with them more productively).
  22. Start a Facebook fan page. If you already have a personal Facebook page, shut it down after you move your followers over to your Facebook Fan page. The goal is to exceed 5,000 followers, and you can’t do that with a regular Facebook page. You should never confuse your audience with a fan page and a personal page. If you’re a rapper you need only a fan page.
  23. Make sure you post videos to YouTube and post videos to your Facebook page. Facebook spreads Facebook videos farther than posts with YouTube video links. Does your Instagram feed directly to your Facebook fan page? It should.
  24. Don’t spam people with your music or videos on social media. Interact with them, engage them, build a rapport.
  25. Don’t buy or use fake views, fake likes, fake followers, or fake spins on social media, Soundcloud, YouTube, etc. It’s always obvious and you will look like a clown.
  26. Stop focusing on getting a co-sign, a feature from a famous rapper, an opening slot on a famous rapper’s tour, etc. If you don’t have a strong buzz already, none of that stuff will matter.
  27. Make great music and test it with potential fans. Play it for people who do NOT know you and get their honest feedback. What your friends, family, and team think does not matter when getting fan feedback on your songs. DJs are also ideal for feedback., provided they are honest with you.
  28. Build a team of people to help you market and promote yourself. Since there’s most likely no income yet, you will need to depend upon people who believe in you and are willing to help you because they want to see you succeed, as opposed to people who are just looking to get paid.
  29. Put the most effort where you are getting a response. That’s true on the Internet and in person. If people two towns over are embracing you better than fans locally, show love where you’re getting love. Ditto on social media–if your Instagram following is growing faster and stronger than Twitter or Facebook, put more time into your Instagram. Every artist is different regarding where the bulk of their fans and attention is. Go where they support you and build from there. Don’t ignore the others, however, just adjust your focus.
  30. Work with other artists and producers in your area. Network with, and get to know everyone who’s doing something in music in your area and in your circle online.
  31. Network and become part of the music industry. Meet and engage the bloggers, DJs, tastemakers, and label employees. Interact with them whether you like them or not. They don’t owe you anything. They were here before you. Respect them, interact with them, and be nice to them, even if they don’t pay any attention to you. Look at it as a test to see how cool you can be even if they ignore you. There are a million new artists trying to “get on,” everyone here before you is already on and no one helped them. Prove yourself. Stay positive and upbeat. He who lasts longest…successfully…wins.
  32. Never, ever, ever threaten anyone or put your hands on someone. Walk away. You can not undo a reputation as a bully, extortionist, or asshole. People help and support people they like. They do not support or help people they do not like or that they fear. The Suge Knight era is over.
  33. This industry is full of snakes, charlatans, inept workers, and fuck boys. Learn who they are and avoid them. Don’t do business with them even if you see an advantage. You can’t change the perception of being seen with or working with someone with a bad reputation. As my high school principal taught me, “When you hang with shit, you smell like shit.”
  34. Look up ‘loyalty’ in the dictionary. Now internalize it. Be grateful for those who’ve helped you along the way and tell them you appreciate them. No one owes you anything.
  35. As soon as your buzz can withstand it, monetize everything: music, YouTube, ads on your website, shows, etc. Start low and increase your show price as your fame/hype increases. Don’t be too aggressive, the goal is to perform every night so you reach as many fans as possible rather than once or twice a week at a high price.
  36. Travel throughout your region. Being the most famous rapper in your neighborhood isn’t enough traction to earn a living from rapping. Be the most famous rapper in your region–that’s a 7 to 10 state area.
  37. Finding an investor to fund your marketing and promotions is an excellent idea.
  38. Don’t say anything about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t say to their face.
  39. There is no such thing as privacy as you begin to get famous. Either accept and enjoy that fans will approach you in public all of the time or stop going out in public.
  40. Be respectful to everyone, be humble, think before you act, and stand up for what’s right.  Follow your gut.
  41. If you wouldn’t want to see it printed on the front page of The New York Times, don’t put it in writing.  Stuff leaks, people forward private emails to others, and assholes post stuff on line for no reason.
  42. Music is based on taste and opinion.  Your least favorite rapper, DJ, or producer is someone else’s favorite rapper, DJ, or producer.  Therefore “wack” or great is just an opinion.  You don’t decide who’s talented or not, the fans do.  It’s all opinion.
  43. The goal is to be a successful rapper with a long, successful career.  Focus on long term, not short term.
  44. Stop being thirsty and replace it with hunger to succeed.  Respect yourself.
  45. Don’t be a groupie.  Respecting another’s talent or craft is awesome.  Dick riding is not.  Show respect, not thirst.
  46. Surround yourself with good people who are smarter, wealthier, stronger, and better than you.  Aspire to greatness.  Allow your light to shine.  Be the best person you can be.  Lead by example.
  47. Haters and trolls are a by-product of every fame based industry.  The more success you achieve, the more negative some people will be.  Ignore them.  You can’t win an argument with an idiot.  They win as soon as you react.
  48. Don’t let anyone not already inside your inner circle get in your ear.  You have a plan, stick to it.  No one gives you advice or input without an agenda of their own.  Don’t let them rock your boat to fulfill their own agenda.
  49. The team who helped you achieve success got you there.  If you change teams in midstream, you will definitely alter the path.  I’m not saying not to do it, just consider it from every angle.  A new path may or may not be a better path.
  50. Listen to those who came before you and succeeded.  Listen extra hard to those who came before you and failed.

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