Today’s tip is dedicated to you label execs and recording industry personnel out there. I get a LOT of music sent to me daily. From time to time someone will call me based on the information that I put in my videos and ask for some advice. One of the consistent topics that come up is “the next”.
You guys are looking for “the next” Migos, “the next” J Cole, “the next” Kendrick. I realize to some it is just a figure of speech but to some, they are actually trying to duplicate that acts entirely.
To the artist that read this, what I am about to say might contradict some of my previous topics somewhat because it will steer from the individuality concept for artist but from a business perspective, it still holds true.
You guys need to stop looking for “the next” as if you think you can copy that formula for success.
YES there is definitely a blueprint for success to get IN the game. But even with that blueprint, there will be various deviations to those tactics, plans and schemes based on the current environment, trends, and taste.
What worked last year for ANY artist on billboard will NOT work EXACTLY or verbatim for someone this year.
The industry doesn’t work like that….
What worked for Chief Keef to get on might now work for your artist.
How August Alsina got in the game might not be the same path that you want your artist to follow.
Because there are definites that are constants and those constants are based on each individual act and what THEY bring to the table.
You may have the dopest rapper/singer known to man but you can’t take the Drake/J Cole route to stardom because YOU are not RocNation or YMCMB, You don’t have the staff that they do. You don’t have those years of experience accumulated. You don’t have those levels of networking and relationships that exist to open some doors that others will never get to knock on.
You should NOT spend your time trying to copy what others have done.
You need to focus on what YOU have and assess your strengths and weaknesses accordingly.
You need to do a serious market analysis and see when, where and how is the best time to optimize your budgets, expenditures and time.
At any step of the way you are prone to come up against any number of obstacles, are you ready for them?
Here are a few pointers:
Are you artist insured? ß Serious question there
What happens is something happens to him? Are you able to recoup from selling their existing catalog to cover your assets? You spend more on cars, clothes and drugs but insurance is roughly $150 a month (worst case scenario) for a $100,000 policy. This not only provides peace of mind for you but also for the artist and his family. You can’t control what others do, but you should at least be prepared.
Make sure you copyright everything that is done monthly under one collection with the Library of Congress. It only cost $65 to copyright a collection. Get the lyrics typed up and send them in electronically. CYA (cover your ass) at all times. Here is the link: http://www.copyright.gov/eco/notice.html
Make a paper trail wherever you go.
If you are working with producers that are NOT inhouse, please make sure you discuss splits (split sheet) and other legalities so that it isn’t a surprise to them later when and/if you decide to distribute the works for commerce. A split sheet at least shows the seriousness of the situation and makes it something tangible for all parties. Handshakes mean NOTHING, you better put it on paper or you might hear your track on the radio with another artist (K.E. on the Track is notorious for this). Use this link to get a basic split sheet for your records http://hiphopencounter.com/?page_id=4331 when it comes time to publish this stuff legally, you can use the split sheets as a base for filing with your publisher.
Keep a receipt.
Along with the split sheets, you better have great bookkeeping. I am sure you have told your artist that EVERY dollar spent on them is recoupable (you get this money back first before they receive any money) but for it to be valid, you need to keep accurate books. Dropping a stack here and there without receipts will amount to nothing later if some sort of contract dispute or a third party gets involved. By keeping accurate records, if Universal approached you about a distribution deal and they wanted to see how much you had vested into the project, you can show dollar for dollar where everything was spent but without it, you loose leverage in negotiating. Download Quicken and start keeping accurate records please, plus it helps with taxes. Your accountant will love you for this, lol.
This post wasn’t intended to belittle or berate what you are currently doing. This was only intended to have you to begin taking this game seriously. As much as I love Hip Hop, I hate the game just as much due to the frivolous and unethical business practices within it.
I beg all of you to begin doing proper business from the top and let it trickle down to your artist and others that you have in your network.
And if you ever come across anyone that says “I don’t sign contracts” or “why we got to be on paper”? ……that is a red flag; run the other direction for the sake of the integrity of your business.
In closing, you need to stop looking for “the next” and focus more so building a viable brand with what you have. You start focusing on “the next” then you are creating a carbon copy of something that already exist thus not allowing your artist to be them. If you want to look at what is NOW, great. But don’t create the mindset that you want to duplicate what others have done, you can’t. It is impossible.