2011 New Year Resolutions for Christian Hip-Hop Artists

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It’s a new year and time for resolutions! Some of these will make you laugh and others that hit too close to home may make you cry. Good! You’ll be better for changing things up.

Resolutions for Artists, DJ’s and Record Labels

1. Find Accountability.
We could really start and end the list with this. This is an obvious one that you’d think was well… obvious to everyone. It’s not. You’re never above it. 2010 showed me dozens of public and private examples where it was clearly needed… in every area of our scene. It’s time to start practicing what we preach.

2. Stop Spamming.
How is this second on the list? Maybe it’s a bit high but it doesn’t lessen the significance of the problem.

I am on no less than 300 different email lists coming from artists, record labels, organizations and so on. None of which I signed up for or opted onto their list. Guess what? That irritates me and makes me not want to deal with them. That’s some GREAT marketing isn’t it?!? It’s the worst kind and is a waste of your time and resources. Stop it. How much of the spam that you receive do you actually pay attention to? None. How about those of us on the receiving end of yours?

We all know that “connections” often make or break things in the music industry right? What are connections really? RELATIONSHIPS. Hmmm.

3. Learn Proper Communication.
This one shares some common ground with the second item on this list.

Learning how people receive communication and information will help you learn how to properly deliver. Different people, cultures, people groups, countries and so on will be responsive to varying types of information. Learn how to adapt so you’re delivering the right message to the right person. Ask yourself… do you like to be talked “at” or talked “to”?

Okay I’ll use the “R” word… relevance. It’s a big deal irregardless of if the word sounds trendy in our circles. I know that this is a struggle in our scene because frankly not a lot of us know who we are to be communicating with. Are we sent to reach the church? Are we sent to reach the unchurched? Maybe at times a bit of both? Maybe one now and the other later in life? Figure that out. When you do, learn the best ways to communicate with that audience. You will make a significant connection if you do. If you continue to just do whatever… expect “whatever” level success.

Learning proper communication applies to virtually every part of what we do in

4. Keep Your Word and Be On Time
Here is a tough one. Most of us run on “hip-hop time”. It’s our worst enemy and erodes the value of our word in addition to decreasing the chance people find us dependable. Ouch.

Bottom line… your lack of success, lack of opportunity, lack of (fill in the blank) probably has much to do with your level of professionalism on this one. Waiting for a blessing when you’re continually late or even missing important meetings with people… well, um… maybe you missed the chance because you were late or passed over because you aren’t seen as reliable.

5. Learn Humility
I’m the most humble! No for real… I am! Funny thing… that’s a joke but is one of those “haha it’s a joke but I’m partly being serious” things.

Pride can manifest itself in how highly you consider yourself and your skills on the mic.

Pride can manifest itself in how highly you consider yourself and your ministry or how you do ministry.

One of those often gets a free pass because it’s not as easily seen by people. Breaking news… pride is pride. I’ve seen both do some really ugly things. By all means be excited about where things are for you but know when you’re crossing the line and be accountable.

6. Learn that Social Media is about Relationships
Why do people use social media? To be where their friends are! Why do artists use social media? To spam your friends about their new record! It’s funny for sure but is mostly true.

Most in our scene are missing a golden opportunity to really connect with people. Instead you’re only shouting a marketing message at them.

Learning how to do social media correctly takes time and you’ll make some mistakes. Learn from them and find the best way to engage people. Turning people off here will usually turn them off for a long time.

7. Create a Facebook Page. Don’t Use a Profile
Page? What? Profile? Huh? Aren’t they the same thing? Nope.

A Facebook page is something you use for your artist or record label etc presence. A Facebook profile is what you use for your personal page. The one you should be using to stay in touch with friends and family… not promoting your music (very much).

8. Creativity Is Okay!
You don’t really have take the same press shots 14,924 other artists have done. That’s boring and a waste. Be compelling.

You don’t really need to make your cover stylistically similar to the last Lecrae or Reach Records release. I know, you want to capture that audience and sell your records to the same kids. I get that. Find a better way and remember that originality stands the test of time. Besides, if someone wants a record that looks like Lecrae’s they probably are buying Lecrae and not yours.

Create something that people will remember… be compelling.

Your beats don’t all really need to sound the same. Branch out and switch it up with different producers. There are many promising producers waiting for chances to produce beats. Put in work and find something fresh and new.

Cliches are boring. Don’t become one.

Listen… have the courage to be creative. You can still be relevant to your audience but also do something new that also challenges. After all… a popular hip-hop cliche is to say you are “changing the game”… well, go for it. Do something different.

9. Revive the Mixtape
Hip-Hop Mixtapes are not compilations and compilations are not mixtapes.

A hip-hop mixtape is an experience and one that is increasingly rare (like DJ’s who actually spin vinyl). Scratches and blends… the listener waiting to hear how the next transition will go. Less exciting is a “mixtape” without any of that stuff but heavy on the current mixtape cliches (cue lots of obnoxious yelling and air horns) and is just a bunch of songs put together. That type of “mixtape” is when you put your favorite mushy songs together for your wife.

10. Kill the Self Pity
Aww… you can’t get radio play and your record isn’t selling. It’s definitely everyone elses fault right? We’re all sleeping! Nobody out there knows how to appreciate an artist like me. No, we don’t. Your stuff either really is awful or you don’t know what you’re doing and are too much of a blockhead to be honest about it.

It’s understood that our genre generally has fewer opportunities. Fair enough. But… we have tons of others that go unclaimed.

Your record doesn’t get airplay (assuming its “good”) because you can’t figure out how to properly deliver the music to DJ’s or Radio. Same goes with getting coverage on websites and in magazines. Oh and your record doesn’t sell because nobody can find it or nobody knows about it! Yeah, that’s right… you’re pointing one finger at everyone else and three are pointed right back at you. Ironic?

Writing all of that made me laugh. For real… chances are there is a better way to approach each of these things than what you’re currently doing. Figure it out.

11. Stop Pimping Your Email Address Book
Today was a nice (sarcasm) reminder of this for me. If you’re one of those people who likes to invite everyone you have an email address for invites to services (Dropbox etc), contests, things that will win you a free iPod etc… think twice before you do it! It’s impersonal, doesn’t apply to most and it’s just not cool. Worse yet, you’ve exposed my email address to even more people who shouldn’t have it. Doh!

12. Lay Off the Forum Promotion
The quickest way to get ignored on a message forum is to always be quick to promote yourself and slow to actually contribute something worthwhile.

13. Find Qualified Help
Don’t know how to market yourself? Don’t know what a marketing plan is? Don’t know how to approach radio and DJ’s? Need help with cover artwork ideas or maybe some feedback about what you have? Simply don’t know where to start? Find someone with real world experience to help you. They will be able to work with you to solve these problems and if not, will point you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid of work. I won’t give you a fish but I will teach you how to catch one yourself.

Remember… The person immediately with their hand out asking for your payment information isn’t usually the best option.

14. Facebook and Twitter Are Not Myspace
Why are you “friending” anyone and everyone who pops up on your recommended list? I know why! So you can post a “welcome message” on their page that’s actually a marketing message. Gotcha! Bad form. Don’t do it.

Doing this too much can actually get you booted off of Facebook. You’d probably deserve it to if it happens. Stay away from this and you won’t have anything to worry about.

If you don’t think the person on the receiving end of the friend request knows you… send a personal greeting with a not explaining why.

Do your marketing on your Artist Page and not your personal Profile.

Twitter spam is rising and its another way to turn people off. Consider it an honor if someone follows you. Provide good information to people and they will continue to follow you. Using the @ reply to spam people who don’t follow you… yeah, you’re not gonna want to do that. If it’s legit communication, fair enough. If it’s to send them a link to your new song or worse yet to buy your album… don’t click submit.

15. Take Yourself Less Serious
Promoting yourself, your album and your record label really isn’t all that there is. Doing music can also be fun and it should be. Mellow out the stage persona a bit and be relatable to fans. Those that do that tend to build a much more lasting connection with people.

7 COMMENTS

  1. […] 2011 New Year Resolutions for Christian Hip-Hop Artists 2011 New Year Resolutions for Christian Hip-Hop Fans […]

  2. Word!

    I probably should have explained #7 a bit better.

    #7 is a logistical issue and a terms of use one with Facebook.

    Personal “profiles” are meant for personal use while “pages” are meant for companies, musicians, stores etc. Using a profile for what you should be using a page for can get you suspended and/or deleted from Facebook. I’ve seen it and it’s a bummer for sure!

    In terms of how you use your personal profile…
    Light promotion of your stuff isn’t usually a problem. Your friends and family will (usually) be interested.

    The drawback of doing it too much is that you annoy people and get “hidden” (which can happen with a Page).

    Tactful and tastefully done marketing is a tough one to master for sure. I’m still learning.
    Profiles have a max friend limit of 5,000. Pages are unlimited and afford you pretty much the same stuff as a personal profile does.

  3. Word to 2, 5 and 9. If you keep it the feeling of the promotion personal (i.e., building on 6) then I don’t see the problem with 7.

    Hate spam…I don’t even open it.

    Overall, pretty sound advice.

    Thanks!

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