It’s becoming more and more clear to me that hip hop artists are being used like disposable products by the industry now. I would love to blame the music industry and record labels but it’s not all them. There are a lot of factors that are making it difficult for an artist to have a career longer than 2 or 3 years. Some hip-hop artists sell a hell of a lot of singles but albums never make the cut in sales. How does this apply to you, the independent artist? I’m about to tell you and put you up on game. First let me make a few points to consider before you release your next project online. This stuff not only applies to hip hop artists but all genres. If you doubt my notion of “the disposable artist”, go back and look at the hottest songs from 2008, 2009. 2010 and so on. You will find tons of hip-hop artists you forgot about the are no longer relevant or even still signed to major labels at all any longer.
Hip hop artists longevity & things contributing to the “disposable artist” phenomena
Torrent sites – People can go to their favorite torrent site and download anything they want for free illegally.
YouTube – The most overlooked culprit. Some people create playlist of audio/lyric videos and listen to entire albums free daily (I do)
Mp3 players – If there was ever a reason to not listen to a full album its the mp3 player. You can easily create playlist of just your favorite songs
Most indie music is free - Most sites like Reverbnation, Soundclick, Purevolume etc have loads of downloadable music that some artist post for free.
The free mixtape – Self explanatory. Mixtapes are great for all genres especially hip hop artists
Attention span of target audience - The attention span of the masses is much shorter now, if you made an impact the previous year and did nothing the following year are considered to have “fell off”.
The silver lining: How to take advantage of these circumstances:
There are tons of obstacles not listed above, but lets focus on what I mentioned above. You have a huge opportunity to leverage these circumstances for promotion to increase your sales. When life gives you lemons… Make lemonade then add vodka. If you are an artist make a YouTube channel and brand every video. Post videos of yourself doing everything music related. It works, people will feel like they know you. Use the free indie sites to advertise yourself. Pick some songs you don’t mind giving away then promote them like you life depends on it (it does). Torrents? Well that’s another article entirely but basically there is a way to promote yourself via torrent, but you gotta research that yourself fam. As far as attention span of listeners, be sure to use that in structuring your music and production. I know you thought that 1 min intro to your song was a great idea but nobody cares, get over yourself and make some hot tracks that will lock ‘em in. I’m not suggesting being unoriginal, I’m suggesting being creative and clever. As far as the free mixtape, it’s obvious how to use that to your advantage, no explanation needed. Good look fam, more on this subject soon, I gotta go, I got work to do!
About Joey Cutless
Joey Cutless is a Music Producer, Composer & Engineer that has been a pioneer in online beat sales, TV licensing, and marketing of all things production related for over 15 years.