How To Be a Successful Independent Rapper
Here is a simple overview of how to be a successful independent rapper. There are 9 steps explained below. This article is a tribute to one of my favourite legends, Nipsey Hussle.
Related to how to be a successful independent rapper:
1) Understand effective marketing
In the simplest form, marketing is raising the profile of the brand and its products or services in the public memory. This is part of how to be a successful independent rapper
So, in that case, I would say that independent artists understand all the basic aspects of marketing their music, most successful rappers are doing some kind of attraction marketing.
Watch the music videos closely, success leaves clues.
But keep in mind that I write “understand effective marketing”, which makes the difference between success and failure.
For example, you can market your music by connecting everyone on your Twitter account to a link to your new single.
Or you can market your music effectively by creating a solid Facebook video marketing strategy and applying it regularly.
2) Relentless work ethic
There is a saying: “Hard work meets talent when talent is not working hard.”
Yet, everyone knows that deep down this is an important step for how to be a successful independent rapper.
Nothing is being successfully accomplished in this world without hard work and enthusiasm.
Case studies of successful artists, whether they are superstars like Kanye West and Drake or independent grinders like Yo Gotti, and the only constant factor is that they put the long hours on everything else.
How do you think Drake keeps making radio hits? How do new rappers come up on YouTube and dominate with millions of views within a week of publishing a new video?
It’s about hard work. But not only music.
3) Music industry knowledge
Like the founder of the Rap Coalition and veteran of the music industry, Wendy Day said:
I think the most important feature is to seek the knowledge and experience to do it correctly. Either hire the right people who have the knowledge and connections to help you succeed as an artist, or you can learn to do it yourself.
Educating yourself thoroughly about the music business will make a big difference in your success as an artist.
Make sure you understand the basics of music publishing and licensing of your content, especially if you’re looking to set up your own independent record label.
With the previous point of Wendy, if you do not have the experience or the time to learn about the music business, you must make sure you have a solid team to face your weaknesses.
Set up a strong team around you.
Just because you are an independent artist, does not mean you have to do everything by yourself.
There are only so many hours a day and you must be smart in the tasks you devote your time and the tasks you delegate.
Depending on what level you’re at, consider a manager, marketing director or marketing promoter, tour manager, graphic designer, lawyer and tax accountant.
It does not have to be right away, but you must have a plan to slowly increase your team as you reach new levels in your career.
4) Effective social media presence
How many rappers do you know who are really active on Twitter or Facebook?
What about the newcomers who spam for their fans with music links?
People often send me Facebook and Twitter messages with just a link to their YouTube video.
Fair enough, it might get clicks, but this isn’t a real commitment to the fans.
Build a real interaction with the followers, you never know who you might connect with for the next big step.
It’s good to be active on as many social media networks as possible, but unless you can manage them properly and interact with fans regularly, stick to one at a time.
It is better to be active and effective on 1 – 3 platforms.
5) Produce regular content for fans
We currently live in a highly connected world and consumers can get immediate satisfaction and receive access to get everything right away.
As an artist, you should try to satisfy your fans needs when you learn how to be a successful independent rapper.
There are only a few large artists who can give up on social media and return to commercial success. Kanye, Eminem, Drake and Kendrick, to name a few.
Everyone else must create and distribute material continuously to keep in touch with fans.
Some ideas include lifestyle posts (super popular), news bulletins by email, tour videos, blog posts, and guest articles, whatever it takes to get in touch with your fans.
6) Investing in building their brand
The time and money you invest to build your brand is now the most important thing you can do for a long-term career in the rap game.
Like Nipsey Hussle said, all money in.
Other artists can copy your thoughts, fashion, and music.
The only thing they cannot copy is your brand and essence.
Think of the most successful independent artists in the game and how they express their brand to their fans.
Everything you put in can help build your brand grow, especially positive steps.
It’s a long-term investment, but it will definitely pay dividends if you try now.
7) Focused promotion campaigns
Marketing is your general strategy to increase the knowledge of your music and brand with your target audience; promotional campaigns are more tactical and focused.
For example, a launch album would be a promotional campaign.
This is where a great manager can assist you for greater success.
To make sure you get the most out of your promotional budget, your campaigns must be planned and accurate. Below is an example.
Think of the best distribution channels for this project: will it be online, offline or both?
Which platform will you use: Bandcamp, SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, etc?
In which publications and blogs will you focus?
If you’re just getting started, it is better to choose 10 to 15 to send personalized press releases/interviews instead of sending 1,000 spam messages to 1,000 people.
8) High-quality product
Keep this short and sweet. To become a successful independent hip-hop artist, the inspiration for the music must be with you.
I do not mean to have Grammy-winning music, I only mean the music that fans will take to it and your heart is in it.
Music production is out of my area, so I’ll leave this step to you.
Although, some ideas about trending content and commercialisation are needed to make music that people want to hear, otherwise, it does not work.
9) Create realistic goals
One thing that is ambitious is another with realistic goals.
It’s great if you have ambitions to become the world’s greatest rapper and achieve the most money it is possible.
But it’s much better to start by focusing on your achievements so far in your career and set up some personal and practical goals.
This is because you have more control over those elements.
For example, J. Cole. went from publishing songs online to standing outside the JAY Z building, trying to produce it for the legend. Only after Hove heard “Please Lights” that he decided to sign the rapper with Roc Nation.
From that, he released a number one album, went platinum and is now selling stadiums around the world with his own documentary and record label Dreamville Records, distributed by Interscope.
There you have it, 9 steps to help you focus on how to be a successful independent rapper.
Faithful in your success!
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