How to Get a Hip Hop Record Deal

It seems new artists are coming up like weeds everyday, why shouldn't you be the next to get a great record deal? As wonderful as it all sounds though, many don't consider how much effort must go into getting in front of a record company exec. Here are some points to consider:

Start With the Right Mindset
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to remain positive... that doesn't mean being unrealistic though - you have to have a balance of both. If you don't believe in you, who else will? 

You also have to be diligent everyday about your craft. You need to be writing lyrics or composing new songs everyday. Learn some music theory or listen to a genre of music that you don't normally listen to. The more you do something the better you get at it right? 

Another very important mindset trait that you need to have is a spirit of cooperation. You can't show up to a potential deal meeting acting like diva... at least not right off the bat right? Record companies like artists that will be cooperative and pretty much say yes to everything they throw at you.

Put Together A Good Demo
Your first task is to find a good rap instrumental to work with. Finding good music isn't that difficult as there are tons of Producers on the internet. There is plenty of variety in style, genre, bpm, mood, price and licenses to choose from. 

The most common license types are Standard, Non-Exclusive, Premium and Exclusive. Be aware of and respectful of the license conditions attached to the instrumental. You want to use it properly so you don't end up in a lawsuit situation later on when you're super famous! Once you have the music, get your vocals recorded, arranged and mixed and mastered.

Do a little research and try to find the best engineer that you can. This does not mean that you have to record in some big, fancy, expensive studio. There are many small local studios, some home studios, that have very good engineers (or people that can mix & master a track well.) A demo isn't meant to be perfect, as A&R Execs don't necessarily expect them to be. But with that being said you still should present the best offering you can. Most people only get one shot to impress!

Make Sure People Know You Exist
One of the common networking methods of Rap and R&B artists is to host events in their local popular night club, birthday parties in particular. After numerous events, the benefits are that you are able to build relationships as well as, expose a large group of people to your talent. If they come to associate both you and your events as a good time, they'll make that same association about your music which is a very good thing!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr to name a few Social Networks, are great ways to meet the masses. As an artist you have the ability to instantly touch base with more of the world than past generations of musicians ever did. People are more compelled to become fans of your work if they can see who you are and what you're about. Join music services, forums and internet groups as well. Some of them have subscription services that help push your music. Reverbnation, Soundcloud and Bandcamp have extra features for subscribers that can place your music in more places than you could do on your own

Getting a record deal is very doable, but it's not a cakewalk either. Certain factors definitely have to be lined up. You have to have your head in the game and work on your skills everyday. When you put together that demo you want your best to be heard and always, always ALWAYS be accessible to people and build your fanbase. Your team can carry you faster and further than you ever could alone.

4 Ways To Develop Your Lyrical Style

instrumentals, hip-hop, rap, pop, jazz, music
1. Expose Yourself To More Music
  • Classical Music – No not Jay Z's classic album Reasonable Doubt, but old fashioned Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Debussy, or Rachmaninoff. Try to stay awake and you'll most definitely get a better idea as to how real music should be played and interpreted from a phrasing perspective.
  • Popular Music – Today's radio hits, whether you love them or not, the reality is they make money. Analyze a few and see if you can find similar characteristics in both the music style and in the lyrics.
  • Different Genres – Every genre commonly played today obtains influences from others, and there is plenty to learn from the perspective of people of different interests. Just a few songs of a genre you're not used to a day can really open up your musical ear.
  • Obviously you should already be listening to plenty of your own genre of music, which brings us to our next point. 

2. Be Brutally Critical in Your Analysis
Don't just listen to a verse, say you don't like it, then write it off; at least not at first. If you're not into a song is it possible the track is simply bad? Most of the time it will be! However, see if you can figure out what exactly it is about the song that's bad. Is it the production? Are the lyrics too simple or don't flow together? Is there an a cuss word in every sentence?

It may seem counter productive at first to analyze bad pieces of music, but if you can pinpoint exactly what makes someone else's flow unappealing, you will be less likely to make that mistake yourself.

lyrics, hip-hop, verses

3. Brush Up On Your Language Arts
Regardless of how boring you may find the subject, you can learn a thing or two from Shakespeare. Similar to listening to different styles of music helps you develop your own, embracing various types of sonnets and poetry can add a unique style to your work. Also, get very familiar with the various literary elements, don't be like all the mediocre rappers out there who can only compare two separate things using “like” or “as”. Considered to be one of the all time greatest rap tracks “I used to Love H.E.R.” by Common is actually an extended metaphor throughout all three verses, look it up.

4. Experiment As Much As You Can
You can read up on all the musical theory, lyrical styles, and literary elements your heart desires, but until you start applying what you've learned, no real progress has been made. Create random experiments writing 64 bars of music in 6/8 time signature with at least 7 metaphors (not similes), switching the beat to a jazz feel half way through, all while painting the imagery of downtown Chicago. Would this result in your first No. 1 hit single? Maybe, maybe not, either way that's not the point, the point is to develop your musicianship stronger and stronger. If you want to sell more than your competition it takes training like an elite.

All that's left to do is put in the work, use these tips and give yourself some time. In a very short while you'll be standing out from the other guys.

The Ups and Downs of the Touring Life

There is a false sense of glamor that exists in what life is like for touring Hip Hop artist. If you've ever talked to someone who said they had an easy, non stressful experience on the road, you were probably having a conversation with Jay Z, Drake or someone of equal status.

The fact is, unless you're as well known as Wiz Khalifa or Lil Wayne, each who charge several Hundred Thousands of dollars per show you probably can't afford much more than a manager to help your life on tour go more smoothly. This means most of the work is going to fall on you and members of your entourage. Unfortunately, sometimes the pros of touring can without fail out weigh the cons.

The Road and the Stage
Sure the performances you do are mad fun to perform, but take into consideration everything else that is involved both before and after the show, such as sound checks, possible interviews, cheap food, getting changed, instrument maintenance, publicity acts, and most of all, traveling.  

Switching time zones, having to sleep in uncomfortable coach bus beds or cheap motel rooms, seeing the same people each and every day, and having to function on little to no sleep can all take a serious toll on your experience, no matter how much you love the music.

Birthdays, Holidays, and just overall quality time with your friends and family can become next to non existent if and when you decide to head out. February 7 – May 7 may not look like a long time on paper, but when your significant other is upset that you missed Valentines day it seems a lot longer. Your focus can go to the fact that all you want is a home cooked meal and your real bed -- those few weeks can become an eternity.

Thankfully with technology these days, it is now much easier to communicate with the ones you love. It's a good idea to make sure you have a good cell phone or invest in a WIFI capable tablet to video chat with your family and friends. 

Make sure your Tour Bus (or Tour Van) is stocked with all the necessary supplies to make life as easy as possible on the road. Do as much pre-planning on the venue locations as possible. Check, check and RECHECK your venue arrangements,  especially the sound.

Lastly, make sure all your bookings are clear BEFORE you leave for tour, this will save you all kinds of headache in the future. Being on tour may be an enormous pain, but just like most things in life, if it isn't difficult it won't be worth it.