#DearRappers: 7 tips for building and maintaining good relationships [Article]
Vancouver, BC – Originally published April 28, 2014 – As West Coast Editor of HipHopCanada for close to two years, I’ve seen and heard almost everything from artists in the industry to the point where very little surprises me now. Sometimes us editors take it to social media to vent and chalk it up to #EditorProblems but is anyone really listening to our small tips of golden advice?
One thing I have discovered is that your relationships are everything in this industry so I’ve come up with seven of what I feel are very important tips for building and maintaining good relationships in the biz. These are just a few of the useful tips I’ve learned in my short time in the industry and let’s face it, free advice is hard to come by. So read up – they just might help your career one day.
#1: 10% talent, 90% business etiquette
Sure, you’re the dopest rapper in the game and your 10 YouTube videos should speak for themselves, but guess what? They probably won’t. You’re a tiny spec in a highly saturated game, so using your business and communication skills to stand out is your best bet.
Reaching out to media and promoters is a risky game. Once they’ve gotten a taste for your poor etiquette, your emails have likely found a way into their spam folder. First impressions are everything. Reach out before you need something, introduce yourself, make nice. At the end of the day an email saying “Hey, I’m Random Rapper, just wanted to reach out and say I love what you’ve been doing. Hope we can work together in the future” goes a lot further than a YouTube link with a “Hey, fuck with me” at the bottom.
Be clear about stating your business, too. Not everyone is a mindreader and knows what you expect them to do with just the link to your new single. It takes two extra seconds to type “Hoping you can post my new mix on your blog – here’s the link.”
#2: Don’t spam me, man
You know what spam is, right? When you send an impersonal message with your video link to a bunch of people, you look lazy and really, you’re not fooling anyone. Chances are I’ve seen your 25 video posts in a row on Facebook so if I fuck with it, I’ll support and post on my social medias in my own time. I don’t pressure you to repost every single interview and show review I do, so quit attaching your links to my socials without stating your business.
#3: Your team are your biggest fans – treat them that way
There are a lot of snakes in the music biz so it’s wise to do your research. Once you’ve found the management, producer, photographer, publicist and booking agents that you trust, hold on to them for dear life. They will be your number 1 – 5 biggest supporters, they will hustle for you and put their reputation on the line to move you up the ladder. Your career has now become their’s too so make your people your top priority and they will seamlessly make you their’s.
Think of your team as a grow-op: if you are watering your plants regularly, making sure they get the right amount of sun, love and care you will have a flourishing, quality batch of green to distribute by mid-spring. Don’t try to pass off bunk as high-grade just because you didn’t care for your crop.
Also, contracts and marketing plans are important. They outline exactly what is being given and received so everyone is doing their part and there are no feelings of being taken advantage. You also want to make sure you are getting the work output expected. Contracts don’t have to be scary as long as both parties are on the same page.
# 4: Respect your connection’s connections
If someone is linking you up with an opportunity through one of their connections that’s almost as if they are linking up the gig for themselves. Treat your connection’s connections with respect. If you look bad, your connections look worse. Nobody wants to cosign a flake or a rapper with a bad attitude and often there are very few second chances.
#5: You win, they win
I can’t even count how many times I have heard the old “when I start gettin’ it, we all gonna eat.” Empty promises are not uncommon in the music industry. Don’t bother accepting a favor if you have no intentions of paying it back. There are few freebies in the music world so if someone is generous enough to help with your grind, don’t forget about them. Once the money comes in hopefully you’re paying the people who helped you when your pockets were empty, and not contracting out new peeps.
#6: Gratitude not attitude
So, that promotor put you on his show, your publicist just sent out a press release that got posted on 50 different blogs and now you’re happy, right? If you’re too cool to show you’re thankful to the people who have shown you the time of day, what’s stopping them from ignoring you next time? A simple “Thanks for [insert favor here]” is all it takes. Follow up, be grateful and drop the attitude.
#7: Not everyone will do shit for free just because you ask them. Time is money
If you’re reaching out to someone to connect on a project, money talks – every time. Unless you’ve been walking their dog for years or have rescued them from a burning building, don’t ask for shit for free. It’s unprofessional and nobody wants to see a “Hey, you should jump on my project. I’m the dopest in the game. Let’s work!” in their Facebook inbox. Sure you are buddy, you and the hundred other aspiring rappers who hit me up this week.
Use email too. Facebook is for friends and people who don’t take their biz seriously.
If you can’t provide a fee, ask about trades or payment plans. You probably wouldn’t give up a free 16 to a random stranger right from the jump, so you shouldn’t expect handouts either.
Written by KassKills for HipHopCanada
Notice: The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily those of HipHopCanada or its affiliates.