I hate to pick on rappers, but let’s be real; even though rappers brag about all the money they have, the truth is A LOT of them don’t have money like that. Ladies and gents, most of these rappers aren’t “making it rain.” While a lot of musicians are broke and are struggling artists, no musicians from any other genre brags about how much money they have except rappers.
With all that being said, rappers (more specifically, underground rappers) need to stop being afraid to be musicians who are able to look at themselves as a BUSINESS. No musician makes any real money until they are able to conduct themselves as a BUSINESS. Unfortunately things like business and marketing take a back seat to a rapper’s new mixtape that they continuously spam to random people on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. (*sidenote: Rappers not respecting business and marketing was talked about in more depth in the blog, Your Music Might Be Great, But YOU Suck!*)
I also see a lot of rappers constantly handing out their music for free. I believe that the fans should get something for free in some capacity, but they shouldn’t always get free albums and free mixtapes! This practice is not only detrimental to a rapper’s career, but it spoils people and gives them a sense of entitlement when it comes to how they get their music. This kind of activity also devalues an artist’s music and it devalues rap music as a genre, if it hasn’t already. I understand that in this day and age, it might be harder for a rapper to sell their music to someone who can really couldn’t care less about who they are. If a rapper was to value their music more, they would be able to find a way to turn their fans into buying customers who not only enjoy said rapper’s music but also fuels their career financially.
Rappers in this economy will need to learn how to be an artistpreneur or work with people who are business-minded and can take their brand to the next level. If rappers want to stand out, they will need to think outside of the box!
Rap as a music genre will continue to be piss poor (in regards to business, marketing, professionalism, quality, etc.) until rappers learn how to value their music more and change their approach on how to sell it. In a time where major record labels aren’t necessary to succeed, rappers should embrace the ways of free enterprise when it comes to their music. Free samples of music is cool, but also offer something else that will help the fan in some way. When I say help the fan in some way, I mean something that will be beneficial to them. Something outside of music that will make their life better. Offer a product or service that will not only help them, but will also make them remember you a little bit more than any other rapper. Don’t be the average mixtape rapper who wastes his/her time spamming disposable music all the time; be MORE than that.
As rappers, we need to make people see the value in our music and not just view it as a commodity. You can look at any successful rapper, mainstream or underground, and I guarantee you, they have some kind of self-sustaining business model where they’re not only offering great music, but something else of value to their fans. In a highly oversaturated market, the only thing left to do is to dare to be different.