I have a story, and this story took place recently. It’s summer, and rightfully so my boys and I took a vacation. Not so much of a vacation as an extended weekend get-a-way. Anyway, we were in Vegas and I know "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" but this story needs to be shared.
So I was walking down the strip headed back to my hotel with the fellas when I notice a man standing on the corner holding CD’s, which turned out to be his demo. As I approached, we made eye contact and he asked me if I was a fan of hip-hop. I told him I was a fan, but I failed to mention how much of a fan I really was as well as to what degree my involvement in hip-hop stems. He told me he’s a young rapper trying to get his hustle right by making music and selling it, as well as getting exposure along the way. He offered to let me listen to his mix tape, and tried selling it to me for 10 dollars.
First, I asked why he was selling it for so much money. He told me because there were 22 quality tracks on the mix tape. Then I asked him, if he really wants people to listen to his music, why not just give it away to people who are interested in listening? (Now one of the worst places to do so is probably the Las Vegas strip since a high percentage of the people walking by are probably intoxicated and won’t hold on to anything for dear life except their drink). He asked me, “If I give away my music, how am I supposed to eat?” …so I told him:
If you are really trying to get your music heard and build a fan base, you need to supply people with music to listen to. Unless you find that rare person that thrives off finding fresh new talent to listen to, or someone that enjoys following the career of an artist as they move up in the game, no one really wants to buy music from someone they’ve never heard of. Especially, when everyone can download music from an artist they know they will like, for free. You'll make your money doing shows, because if you are dope on record then people will want to come see you live...from there your success comes from not just being a recording artist, but a performing artist as well.
That’s the gist of what I told him before I walked off. The point I was trying to make to him is that using your music as a promotional tool to build a fan base rather than as a unit to turn profit would be way more beneficial to an artist in the long run as opposed to earning the quick buck now. You could make some money now and acquire a few fans, or develop a large fan base that will ideally garnish you with enough people to sell out a venue for a show…I personally would choose the career move.
this blog may also be viewed at: One Love For Music Blog