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10 Marketing Tips For Hip Hop Artists

1. UNDERSTAND EFFECTIVE MARKETING

effective marketingIn its simplest form, marketing is the anchoring of a brand and its associated products in the public’s mind. In this sense, every artist understands the basics of marketing their music. Link spammers also use a form of marketing, just not a good one.

Effective marketing, on the contrary, makes a huge difference and determines success or failure.

By effective, we mean that you focus on the most successful and goal-oriented actions. For example, you should not clumsily send links to strangers and risk blocking your accounts and damaging your brand, but rather think of concrete ways and means that are more valuable for the customer / fan and achieve your desired goal (e.g. awareness, as positive as possible). In doing so, you analyze the chosen actions and adjust them or stop them if they do not promote the achievement of your goal. The whole set of your actions is your marketing strategy.

2. TIRELESS WORK ETHIC

tireless work ethicThere is a saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”. Hard work and dedication are a significant part of success.

As an example, look at some successful artists – whether they’re major superstars like Kanye West and Drake or independent artists like Yo Gotti – the common denominator among these guys is the amount of work invested.

Only those who work consistently and hard can, on the one hand, produce enough music to implement marketing strategies without interruption and to meet fan expectations, and on the other hand, pursue consistent product improvement.

This work ethic applies not only to the creation and perfection of your music, but also to its distribution and promotion, communication with fans and your own continuing education.

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3. KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

knowledge about the music industryAs Rap Coalition founder and music industry veteran Wendy Day said, “I think the most important attribute is acquiring the knowledge and experience to do it decently. You either hire the right people who have the necessary knowledge as well as connections to help you succeed as an artist, or you learn it yourself.”

Thorough education about the music industry will allow you to grasp your options and avenues, greatly influencing your success. Make sure you understand the basics of publishing and licensing music. Especially if you plan on starting your own label. This way you can build different income streams and align your marketing strategy (see point 1) with them.

4. STRONG TEAM AROUND YOU

musician artists strong team around youIf you don’t have the experience or time for advanced training (very inconvenient!), it’s important to have a solid and capable team around you to compensate for your weaknesses.

Just because you’re an independent artist doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own. There are only so many hours in a day, so you need to think carefully about which tasks you devote your time to and which tasks you delegate.

Depending on what you’re still missing from your arsenal, consider hiring service providers from the following areas:

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Legal stuff
  • Financial / Accounting

It doesn’t have to be immediate, but you should be clear about where you want to go and at what level you want your team to grow and how exactly.

Freelancer platforms like Fiverr or Freelancer are ideal for organizing service providers from different fields. Especially because as an artist you usually work project-oriented (e.g. album) and don’t need the service providers permanently. At the mentioned platforms you can find support for every mentioned area (and much more). The costs are also kept within limits.

5. EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

effective social media presenceThe goal of an effective social media presence is to achieve authentic engagement and genuine interaction. Blindly posting link after link with the hope of becoming the next big thing does more harm than good.

Deliberately choose a few platforms that you “look after” properly and interact with fans there on a regular basis. It is better to be “properly” active on 3 platforms than to use all platforms only for presence.

Try to engage with your fans and don’t slam them with links and arrogance. If fans know that you regularly respond to comments and messages, they’ll be more likely to leave them.

6. PRODUCE REGULAR CONTENT FOR FANS

produce regular content for fansAnd here comes the art of social media management: creating good content on a regular basis that gets your fans to interact. So don’t post to have posted because you’d like to make 3 posts a week. Bullshit is bullshit, even 3 times a week.

Fortunately, since we live in the age of Big Data, you can evaluate your posts on the various social media platforms and see exactly what your fans are most interested in. Try new things regularly and see what works.

Also create enough content. Besides your music, this includes videos (making-of, interviews, answers to questions, general interaction), photos and anything that “helps” your fans in any way.

7. INVESTMENT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BRAND

invest in the development of the brandInvesting time and money in building your brand is the most important point for a long-lasting career in the music industry. Other artists can (and will) copy ideas, fashion and music. Your brand, however, cannot be copied.

Everything you bring in contributes to building your brand, whether it’s positive or negative. Your new logo has as much impact on your brand as your performance at a show/tour. It’s a long-term investment that will pay off if you put the effort into it now. It also affects the quality of your music.

8. FOCUSED ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

Your marketing strategy is the overarching plan and generally serves to raise awareness of your music and brand among your target audience. Advertising campaigns are one measure of this and are much more tactical and focused.

For example, the release of your album is a (big) advertising campaign. To make sure you get the most for your advertising budget, the individual ads (e.g. on Facebook, Instagram, etc.) need to be carefully planned and precise. Should the campaign be placed online, offline, or both? Which distribution platforms do you want to use and promote (Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, etc.)? Who is your target audience?

Which music blogs do you want to target? It’s better to pick 10-15 suitable blogs and send them personalized press releases instead of spamming 1000 blogs with a general mail.

9. HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT

high quality music productionThis point gets short: to be a successful independent artist you need very good music. It doesn’t necessarily have to be nominated for a Grammy, but be able to build a fan base and excite them. You have to make music that people want to hear, otherwise it just won’t work. That’s not to say that you should copy currently popular songs and styles, but rather examine and develop your own music for success. All platforms give you the opportunity to do this (statistics on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, etc.).

10. SET REALISTIC GOALS

set realistic goalsBeing ambitious is one thing, setting realistic goals is another. It’s fine if you plan to be the best rapper in the world, make the most money, win awards and fill stadiums. Setting achievable goals based on your plan is a much better way to approach your career.

Goals help you remind yourself where you want your journey to go. Start small, e.g. you want to be in front of 25 people at your first gig, release a mixtape in year X, collaborate with a specific artist, etc.

The SMART approach can help you properly formulate relevant goals:

  • SPECIFIC - set specific goals, e.g. "increase engagement rate" rather than "be popular".
  • MEASUREABLE - goals must be measurable, e.g., "1 album in 2018" rather than "make many albums"
  • ACHIEVABLE - goals have to be achievable. So if you know you can't produce 6 albums this year, you shouldn't set that as a goal.
  • RELEVANT - Driving a Lamborghini may be the goal of many people, however this goal would not be relevant to your success as an independent artist. Your goals should all be aligned with and support a common global goal (success as an artist, profit).
  • TIMELEY - When setting goals, make sure you limit them to a time frame, e.g., "200,000 Spotify streams in 2018, 300,000 Spotify streams in 2019," rather than "reach 1 million streams on Spotify"

It doesn’t have to be immediate, but you should be clear about where you want to go and at what level you want your team to grow and how exactly.

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