Sunday, October 2, 2011

Learning About the Music Business and How It Relates To Rap Music

Learning About the Music Business and How It Relates To Rap Music

September 30, 2011

By Sahpreem A. King, Multi-Platinum Music Producer, Author, Educator, and Music Business Guru

I believe that anyone entering the music industry should be licensed are at the very least be required to take a class on the basic tenets of this vocation. If music business professionals were licensed, artists would know who and who not to deal with. If artists were more educated, VH1 would have to stop playing episodes of “Where Are They Now” and “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” would have to drag Robin Leech out of retirement because artists would stop getting fucked over by unscrupulous labels, managers, agents, and lawyers. If a basic code of ethics were established, the music industry on a whole would greatly benefit from a much-needed face-lift and fair dealings. But I digress.

On a daily basis, I counsel aspiring artists and music business professionals and I found that most of them really don’t have a clear understanding of this business, nor a path of direction. Many of them are dreamers waiting on their knight in shinning armor to come and rescue them from obscurity; offering a three-album deal with a million dollar advance. Like I said, they are dreamers. In the new paradigm of the music business this is mere fantasy and fact that these people are stilling hanging on to the dream of getting signed is a clear indication of what is wrong with the music industry in total. Why would you give up over 90% of your income for someone to offer you services that you could provide for yourself? That is ludicrous! The only conclusions that could be drawn is that you are either too lazy to roll-up-your-sleeves and put in the work, not that talented and need tons of cash to promote your shitty music, or you do not believe in yourself enough to throw caution to the wind and say “fuck it, I gonna be successful.” 50 Cent said it best, “get rich or die trying.” If you really want to become successful in the music industry, be free of voluntary financial slavery, and want to be a total independent, then the only challenge that awaits you is learning how the music industry really works.

Learning the economics (the science of money) of the music industry is as important as having the balls to go it alone. There is an art & science to making money in the music industry and both Diddy and JayZ are prime examples of making tons of cash, when you think beyond rapping. Rapping is going to get you in the door, but unless you wrap your mind around learning the intricate details of the music industry, simple business principals, and marketing practices, that door may quickly slam shut in your face. Why artists can’t see the music business for what it is baffles me. It is a classic example of indentured slavery or better yet Pimps Up, Hoes Down. While you’re out on the track (tour), getting Sweet Daddy his money, independent artists are earning three or more times your income without a Pimp, and they are doing it without selling millions of albums. Wanna know the secrets to succeeding in the music industry…hard work and talent? As a rapper you are the spokesman for hip-hop culture you are the Hannibal of the A-Team of Hip-Hop and you are charged with leading, b-boying, djing, and graffiti into the annuals of history. Your mission is clear; you must become successful enough in order to open doors for others, maintain your self-respect, knowledge of self, and honor to the code of hip-hop. Anything else is extra. Notice I didn’t mention money? It seems the more money some rappers make, the less they become interested in keeping the culture and alive by giving back. The hip-hop nation will cease to exist if we fail to lift each other up and stay true to the culture. The reason why we are in the dilemma we find ourselves in is that record companies and labels don’t get it. In fact, they never have.

In the late 80’s/early 90’s growing up in Amityville, NY, I watched Tommy Boy Records turn De La Soul into flower children, when in fact they were conscience, fun-loving suburban MC’s, but the record executives felt they needed a gimmick. Believe me, De La were not the only rappers that were forcedly marketed as something they were not and certainly not the last. What really upsets me is that most rappers today, couldn’t even name one De La Soul song. I’d bet a $1000.00 that Wacka Flocka couldn’t recite an entire verse from a Big Daddy Kane or name one KRS One song. Okay, I’m being a bit hard on him, but the fact of the matter is rappers today are not rooted in hip-hop culture and more importantly history. The rappers of yesteryear paid the dues, which enables today’s rappers to drive Bentley’s and Mercedes Benz’s. I personally knew and know rap pioneers who ended up homeless or died penniless as a result of the music business’s inherent greed and deception. If you’ve ever wondered why rappers today sound like garbage, it’s because they have modeled their careers and styles after other rappers who were garbage. What rappers need to understand that we are all interconnected within hip-hop culture without a rich history and time honored tradition of education and collaboration. Each one, teach one.

As always peace and blessings…and remember an uneducated man is a financially disadvantaged man…stay humble, stay hungry.

Sahpreem A. King, Music Business Guru
© 2011, Sahpreem A. King,

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