The Top 10 things you can do to improve the music industry in 2011

Happy New Year to all of you! Looking forward to a great 2011. Ive been jotting some notes down the past week and it turned into the post below. Im not a writer … so don’t judge me … but I do offer what is written below as a challenge … a challenge to all of you who are in the industry to improve the quality of what we present to the world and to support one another so that we can collectively improve what we present to the upcoming generations. Read on …

1. I BELIEVE!
If there was anything you can safely remove from your life in 2011, it’s doubt. If you have chosen the music industry as your career, it has to be a decision you can stick with for awhile. Things don’t happen quickly and they certainly require a lot of work. You have to be all in or you won’t make it. There is no way to put that delicately.
I’m not saying don’t have a 9 to 5 job or you should sell your house. I’m talking about the decision you have to make that this is the career you want above all others. You have to KNOW its possible. If you aren’t able to make that commitment to yourself, then the decision may be to bow out gracefully now and give those you are determined more of a chance.

2. KRS who? and ASCAP what?
DJ NoPhrillz always amazes me with his ability to recognize almost any sample in a track. As a DJ that skill is an important one. He studies his craft.
The people that came before you paved the way and there is much to be learned by what they have done. Understanding the evolution of music through the generations and having genuine respect for legendary artists in essential knowledge.

On the flip side, its very important to pay attention to current trends. You may not like Wiz Khalifa but you should pay attention to his movement because there are some great lessons in the impact he created. I remember about 2 years ago saying “If I get one more email from this Wiz person, I’m going to scream” lol. That’s a true story but eventually I listened to one of the tracks in the email blast and a year later he’s the new “it” kid. Pay attention to current trends, sounds, and styles. It will help maneuver through the industry.

If you are lucky enough to have a team, then you may have a lawyer or manager who handles a lot of the business stuff for you. However, there is no excuse for not having an understanding of your business. That’s exactly what your career is … its a business. And just because you may not know law, your are not exempt from knowing what you are signing your name to. Furthermore, understand your publishing because that’s how you get paid. Its not about trusting people but ultimately its (I repeat) your business. With google and people in your network, you have no excuse not to understand the basic business principals.

3. What a Wonderful World …
Home town love is a great thing … sigh … and its important! Having your city behind you makes all the difference. Don’t fall into the trap of localizing yourself however. There is a common complaint in this city, “The local media doesn’t support me”. Well really what are you doing so that they do?
The population of Philly is around 1.5 million. The population of the world is 6,890,317,848. You do the math.

There are a lot more people to be reached and a lot more people that will spread your message. Reach out to them! That is one of the things the internet is best at doing. Eventually your city will catch on, especially if you are getting spun in Africa. Take advantage of the resources available to our generation.

There is caveat here … if you can’t seem to get your city behind you at all, it may be your product. I wish I could say that every artist I listen to is good, but sadly that is just not the case and truly the reason why I will never be in a booth.

4. Go T E A M!
If you friends and family don’t have your mixtape/album in their car it is because of 1 of 2 reasons. 1. They don’t really love you or 2. It’s not good. Either way it means that its time to re-evaluate.
The BEST form of promotion is word of mouth. If someone tells you to listen to something, you will more likely to take the time to listen. When someone says to me, “Hey this kid on my block raps, you should check out his mixtape”, then I find myself more curious about the artist. I especially like when I get into someones car and they are playing something I never heard. Sharing new music with people is the best.
Artists need their friends and family to talk about them to people who wouldn’t normally get exposed to their music. Your friends really have to love it though to do that, so make sure its quality. Having a team of people outside the industry that genuinely enjoy listening to your music will benefit you above all else.

If you looked at my personal collection of music .. there is a ton that personally I don’t listen to but that I recognize as good. The reason? Cause someone will be around that I know will like it and I can play it for them … have a conversation about it and they may be a new fan of that artist. I often talk about my favorite indie artists in addition to our Exponent artists. I put many a people on to other emcees and musicians around the world simply by telling them to listen.

And really it is okay to give props to another artist without the addition of #pause or #nohomo … you all should be showing respect to one another so that we can build as a group.

Surrounding yourself with yes men though is not a good thing either. You need people close to you who are willing to give you an objective opinion, not just the people that want to be in your videos or get the girls with you. Take criticism as suggestions and use what you can to improve. Listen, Grow, and Learn everyday.

5. Donald Trump likes it Big!
Donald Trump wrote in one of his books a story that always stuck with me. He was walking with his children and saw a homeless man on the street and said to his kids. “That man is 10 million dollars richer than me”. Its true. Trump invested a lot of money into things that didn’t work out and was about 10 million in the hole. But he quickly turned it around into an empire. The key is multiple streams of income which can be gained by investing. Invest in yourself first.
If you are an up and coming person in the industry and you don’t have a budget for yourself then now is the time to do it. Even if you put 50 dollars away a month. Its something.
In all honesty if you come to me in a BMW with $300 sneakers and tell me you can’t afford our services. I’ll loose all respect for you.

Every cent I make goes right back into our companies. Hence the one winter coat I have, but I’m proud of that. I believe in what we are doing and know it will all come back. The fear of failure is removed and I never made it about money. I made it about goals and little successes. Money is and will always be a result of what you do … if its the goal you will be broke quickly. You have to create a way to maintain your investments and generate new income regularly.

Now while I admittedly have done this in extreme situations… it drives me insane, “Can I get on the list?”
Lets got to an example:
People pay to get in to a show = promoter makes money to pay DJ and venue = DJ know has income to produce better mixtapes etc. = venue can make improvements to the quality of entertainment and night life
People now have better selections of music and place to go
People are happier
People now do better in life cause of said happiness
The people doing better are now making more money (Attitude = income)
round and round and round we go

Ok this is extreme but you get the point.

If you aren’t paying don’t expect people to pay you!

Don’t charge $5 for a mixtape and then go take one from another artist … offer them money in return even if they don’t ask. This is a big problem in Philly. Use some of the money you are now budgeting to attend events and monetarily support artists you enjoy, so that the same will be done for you.
Let the dollars circulate ….

6. Put yourself in a box.
“In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.” – Sir John Lubbock
Well said Sir John! If you are sleeping till 2pm each day then you must be rich and I envy you.

I’m a list maker and I use my calendars for everything! Schedules I believe are a key to success! When you wake up in the morning do you say to yourself “What am I going to do first?” If the answer is yes you are already subconsciously wasting precious time.
Schedules, lists, and structure are things to be embraced … not to fear. Having daily goals will have you feeling accomplished. Being organized is a big key to success because in organization you find balance for the many hats you wear!

7. I update Facebook 5.372 times a minute … I’m a beast!
Kudos for handling your online promotion! There needs to be some standards set. Sending a song to someone on twitter you don’t know, posting on someones wall once a day, tagging unnecessary people in pictures … its been done and played out. It’s causing people not to like social networking anymore and in fact is having the opposite effect. Have respect with you online networking. There is one person in particular that called me once to ask if he could post his new song on my wall on facebook. I was so blown away by this courtesy that of course I said yes. Have respect for the contacts people have built up on these networking sites and be careful how you approach people in cyber space. Over doing it is not necessary … don’t do more … get smarter with what you do!

8. Go DJ!
Go Bloggers, Go Writers, Go Industry Peeps
Really? Do I need to explain?
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT CAN HELP YOU! The blogger of today could be the MTV host tomorrow, the DJ at your high school may be on 100.3 tomorrow. Don’t disregard anyone … because if they are reaching out to you and you don’t take advantage of it … its your loss.

9. Soulja Boy is whack!
Oh you think? Well not at all actually! Music aside the kid was a marketing genius at 16!
The man knew how to brand himself …he created an ‘image”.
Yikes! I hate the word “image” .. it’s so confining but its needs to be discussed.
What’s the saying? “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”. You have to represent something. You can’t just throw it all out there and wait to see what sticks. Maybe its that you wear blue socks all the time or possibly you use the word dope in every track …. but you need to find what makes you unique and run with it. Soulja Boy had a dance … and now his net-worth is greater than mine … so I have to look at what he did because (see number 2).

10. I know him … we text everyday.
While texting is wonderful … I’m a big fan of BBM too, there is something to be said for face to face contact.
Being out and about allows you to meet people in person (I know … crazy right). The relationships that you build actually talking to a real life 3D person last a lot longer than cyber relationships.
The art of networking has taken a crazy turn. The internet is great to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet but it can never replace real life talking in my opinion. Get out there, spend some of the money you’ve been saving, support other artists, watch them support you, shake their hand, and then later ask them if you can send them over a track to check out … see if your responses don’t change.

I’m sure there is so much more I can add to this list … but the general idea is this … you are responsible for your life … if you are not getting out of it what you want then don’t expect the things around you to change … change yourself and attitude towards the world.

Wishing you all the best of success and much happiness in 2011!

Jodie S.

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