I’ve been wanting to say this for a while now, but the timing never seemed right for me to say it without coming out like I’m just simply complaining about things. But hey, opportunities stay presenting themselves, and now the time has come.
So apparently this last weekend at Summer Jam, Peter Rosenberg decided to (in a nutshell) say that a Nicki Minaj single was wack. Wayne then flexed his Young Money arm and pulled his crew (well, almost all of it, besides Tyga apparently) from performing at Summer Jam. The day of the show. Event planning nightmare. Fan disappointment ensued. Etc., etc., you get the picture. (For the record, I didn’t think what he said was all that fucked up. Most chicks like Nicki Minaj’s music. Most men like her ass. What’s new?)
If you follow Peter Rosenberg at all, you’ll know that he’s the man behind Hot 97′s Sunday show “Late Night With Peter Rosenberg” in which he showcases the best (well, what he deems as best) in underground Hip Hop. This usually involves a lot of Odd Future, Low Budget and various DMV’ers (since that’s his origin), etc. It’s a usually predictable show, but it is a welcome change from the usual Hot 97 lineup of music. I’m not mad at him at all, and as an opinionated asshole myself, I feel he’s entitled to his opinion. Whether or not he should have exercised his freedom of speech while working for the station at such a large event is another story, but the man can like what he likes. Apparently Nicki Minaj is not in that category.
But I’d like to take this moment to expand upon something I think is going unmentioned in relation to this incident: it’s no longer cool to be a Hip Hop purist. You know, the type that still blasts nothing but golden era ’90′s jams on their iPod and still makes it to every Rakim performance within a 50 mile radius of their residence. This is going to sound ridiculous coming from me because for the longest time I was a self-proclaimed Hip Hop purist. I still am, in the sense that I have a great appreciation for that “real” shit, still blast it every now and then, and still concern myself with the news and current events pertaining to this scene.
In the last year or so, Rap music began to feel like work to me. It should have, since I made it the only thing I was working on. Some of the joy went away. In order to preserve my raw passion for this art form, I turned to new genre’s of music to provide me with entertainment. I’ve been getting deeper into House music, hipster shit, even music from other places in the world. There is more to life than DJ Premier. Rakim. Fu-Schnickens. People want to hate on Nicki Minaj or Drake or 2 Chainz or whoever the fuck they want to throw shade at, but when is the last time one of your favorite golden era types released an album? More specifically, one worth listening to? Yeah, I’m looking forward to that Wu Tang and D-Block collaboration as much as the next Hip Hop head, but I’m also not going to cry if it’s disappointing. The people we once admired are aging, they’re slowing down. Things are going to change and as growing humans we need to be open to that change.
To be honest, at this point the Hip Hop purist posse, “backpackers” we can call them, are annoying me these days. I never thought I’d get to this point but it’s true. Why? Because their whole stance is narrowminded. Fuck Nicki Minaj? It’s too easy, but go listen to her verse on Kanye’s “Monster” and try to tell me, as someone who assesses lyricism so thoroughly, that her verse was trash. I dare you. Fuck Drake? Fuck 2 Chainz? They’re so ignorant and untalented? Tell me “No Lie” was a shitty single. Tell me you don’t already know the words.
Hip Hop has changed. Just like a human who is born, grows, changes, gets old, slows down, and dies, Hip Hop is in a life cycle. Too much of the same is boring, and hating on shit for no good reason has never been cute. Should Nicki have backed out over Peter’s comments? Hell no, that was some extra shit, but at the same time, it was the perfect thing to do because all parties involved are getting a ton of press off of the debacle. If you think I’m going to be in NYC tonight and not listening to Funkmaster Flex’s show this evening, you must be crazy. Case in point. But not opening one’s mind and ears to new sounds is just doing oneself a disservice.
In other words, this whole “beef” is stupid. Hell, it might be a publicity/marketing stunt (and a damn good one at that). But what it boils down to is that shit changes, you either accept it or act like an old school asshole about it and don’t, and life goes on with or without our opinions thrown into the mix. Liking a Waka Flocka track or two doesn’t make me any less knowledgable or appreciative of the amazing Rap music that came before him, it just means I want a change of pace. And if that means I’m no longer a true-school Hip Hop head, then so be it. The same way I’d be mad if I paid to see the Summer Jam line up and Nicki didn’t perform (I still haven’t seen her live show, and whether or not I dig her music aside, I’d be interested to see her perform), I’d just like to enjoy whatever I listen to in peace. The same way us “older heads” (the irony is that we claim to be old but are really in our 20′s) are complaining about the ignorance the kids listen to these days, don’t try to front like you didn’t grind on some booty to “Back That Azz Up” when Cash Money Records was still poppin while you were in high school. Change happens, grow up and get used to it.
That’s my drunken, semi-relevant rant for this afternoon. Play nice out there in those streets party people, eyes is out.
Above is a “video” I received tonight, showcasing Bronze Nazareth’s song (which has no official video as of yet) featuring Masta Killa and Inspectah Deck from his upcoming album School For The Blindman which will be released on September 13th. The track is available for purchase on iTunes. Important to note: this track was not available to download for free.
Artists these days are skating on thin ice by blasting a track they don’t wish to release for free, but want people to hear in order to build anticipation for an upcoming album. I’ve seen a few approaches to this dilemma used constantly:
1) A soundcloud link with the download option disabled
2) A snippet of the track released, usually along with another snippets from the album
3) Very annoying drops all over the track which encourage the consumer to purchase the drop-free final version upon release
4) A YouTube “video” – emphasis on the quotation marks. This is when the mp3 plays in full on a YouTube file, but it’s not actually a music video, it’s just a promotional image for the entire duration of the song, or something random.
Let’s focus on scenario number four, shall we? This actually relates to the other three, but let’s start simple. The beginning of the decade has been an interesting time – misuse of resources is trendy, it seems. Facebook isn’t just a place for friends anymore, it’s also a place for pervy dudes to troll on women and rappers to spam you in any way it is possible to tag a person’s name in anything. My oven isn’t for baking things (in fact it doesn’t function), it’s my backup storage space in case I run out of room. Whipped cream cans aren’t for making ice cream sundaes even better, they really just exist now so hipsters can extract the lone particles of nitrous and kill their brain cells. And apparently now YouTube isn’t just for videos – it’s a place for sound files.
For a while now I’ve had a tiny list of artists with videos I enjoy watching that go along with songs that I don’t like hearing. Beyonce and Shakira almost always fit into this category. It’s easy to hit the mute button on sound, but what happens when you want to hear a song but don’t want to look at irrelevant visuals? The above Bronze Nazareth promo blast literally just placed Kill Bill scenes behind the song – very unnecessary. Especially seeing as how videos are flash intensive and my aging MacBook Pro likes to move slowly when I have too many flash-intensive windows open now. I’d almost rather see a black screen. Or post a Soundcloud link with no download option and instead post the album art with the post.
But that’s me being picky. Let’s actually make a serious argument that goes beyond personal preference.
Here is the main reason why this tactic is useless: there are websites that exist that allow you to rip audio from video files directly into mp3.***
Gone are the days when only DJ’s and producers with ProTools or whatever the fuck they use these days to record whatever audio is coming from whatever source are the only ones who can easily rip sound files from their visual counterparts…like yanking samples from movies, ripping audio from vinyl, etc. With a simple copy/paste of your faux-video’s URL into [unnamed site's]*** handy little converter, I have the mp3 version of your song, minus the video, in a matter of seconds. I can also download the video itself, but who needs that?
Unless you’re Kanye and Jay-Z and apparently have enough dough on stash to not only chop up Maybachs but guard your album so tightly that it doesn’t leak prior to release, a rinky dinky little faux-video on YouTube isn’t going to stop your track from leaking. Don’t waste the time. Luckily for you guys, I have enough tact and enough of a lack of free time to bother doing this, but some asshole out there will. If you’re not ready to have your track out yet, don’t put it out. In any form. This isn’t me being a fiend for free shit and stingy with my dough, it’s just the plain fact that at this point you can’t fight technology’s capabilities, and people’s inability to fight the urges to misuse them.
Soundcloud audio can be yanked. As long as the audio exists somewhere in public, it can be stolen and turned into an mp3 and uploaded to a file server. Most people know this, some still don’t. So if YouTube “videos” and stream-only links don’t work, what are the other go-to options? Snippets or drop-laden annoyances?
A snippet lasts about as long in someone’s mind as the snippet lasted in their ears. There are advantages and disadvantages to that which can be discussed later. Drops? I’ve heard DJ’s spinning in clubs that actually play songs with DJ drops or promo drops still on them, long after the albums the songs belong to have dropped (pun intended), drop free. I kid you not. I do not cosign that behavior at all, a good DJ would go through their music to check for abnormalities such as sound quality, drops, accidental clean versions, etc., but it happens. So the drops didn’t deter too much, now did they?
I’ll say this again: if you’re not ready to literally give the song away, do not put it in public. Once it’s out there, it can be obtained for free. Some people will be righteous and buy it, some people won’t. Fact. Be prepared to take the loss, or keep it to yourself. Or at the very least to appease me, make a real video for the song. More often than not, I choose not to post songs that get blasted to me as these faux videos, when in fact I would have posted it had it contained an actual original music video.
The choice is yours, artists. Choose wisely.
***Note from management: I seem to have ruffled some feathers by directly linking to the site I use to acquire video’s not intended for download (so what, I like to watch all those parts of documentaries on YouTube without having to stream them online when it’s all choppy because of my internet connection and so I download them instead)…I’m not one to change my point when people are ticked off (the point remains), but they also had a good point – guess I made it too easy for some of you that are still in the dark. So…link removed.
Well, it seems as if the latest trend in e-mail blasting is to do us blog and media types a “convenience” and include an embed code for videos in promotional e-mails.
I appreciate the thought. Really, I do. Any intention to streamline my day does not go unnoticed, however, the effort is useless.
Let me break down a few reasons you shouldn’t jump on this bandwagon, and should just go ahead and leave the embed codes out of your emails…
First of all, not all embed codes are created equal. For instance, the version of WordPress I run here at UntitledType doesn’t support iframe codes – aka now the default code provided by sites like YouTube and Vimeo. So chances are the embeddable code you just put in your email is absolutely useless to some of us, myself included. I’m going to have to go seek out the old version of the code anyway. Some people’s layouts also necessitate a certain size video (great example, I can’t go any wider than 480 pixels here), so even if you give me an old embed code, if the size is 520 wide, I still have to tweak it. In which case it’s still easier for me to click your video (which, by the way, gives the video another hit/view, which is advantageous to you, which me embedding it will not do), so I can have YouTube do all the proportional math for me and make it properly sized.
Now, that said…
Take a look at the code above. Makes for an ugly post, right? Well, it makes for an ugly e-mail, too. And if it’s really a crapshoot as to if an embed code will even be able to be used by the recipient, why clog up your e-mail blast, distracting from the real point – your video. It takes all of a few seconds to click on a link and get a code, and trust me, anyone you’re sending this to can handle the task. We all know that we skim through e-mails a lot of the time, just due to the sheer amount we receive, for the sake of time management and quality control. Less is always more. Leave out the clutter, keep the substance. We’ll figure out the rest. We promise.
Consider this next time you want to include that icky looking code all up in an e-mail. It may not be as much of a favor as you think.
This lesson in my way-too-sporadically ongoing series on my personal philosophies to marketing music is about the possibly amazing track that gets bogged down by email wordiness.
Remember when people rapped just for the sake of rapping? One of my best memories of how I fell in love with Hip Hop was the concept of the cipher. They weren’t rapping because Lady GaGa’s meat dress inspired them to wax poetic about the advantages of going vegetarian. They weren’t kicking rhymes because their dog died and their sudden bout of grief suddenly made death metal an appropriate genre in their life, and they decided to spin their talent and rock over some headbanger shit to vent their sadness. They were rapping because they just felt like rapping. Plain and simple. Summer or winter, on school grounds or off, drunk or sober, they rapped. They rapped as if they had no other care in the world. They rapped about everything, and/or they rapped about nothing.
I miss that. A lot of the submissions I receive now just feel so intellectualized. In some instances it makes sense – I’d expect something like that from someone like Immortal Technique. The irony? I’ve not once received an Immortal Technique track in my inbox which had an explanation for his train of thought behind the track included in the email. And yeah, I’m on his publicist’s e-mail blast list. He just simply releases music. He raps about what he raps about because he fucking wants to.
“N*ggas don’t even listen to God, so why the fuck would you listen to me?”
(note: from here on out, this post will also be a mashup of recently released videos and tracks I’ve received this week that go along with what I’m saying. You know you like my multitasking)
I actually do listen to you, Immortal Technique, but the irony is that if your publicist included a “Immortal Technique explained his thoughts while recording this track by saying…” statement in an email with your next track off your “are you going to release this shit, or not, dammit!” upcoming album, I’d ignore the statement.
Why? I don’t always want to know why an artist thought a certain way and why a track came to be. Music is art, dammit, and a lot of the beauty of art is the mystery and various interpretations that it may present to the consumer of said art. One track, let’s say what I’m listening to right this second (Donnis’ “Me & My Boo,” in case you were wondering), might make me feel some kinda way. It might make the person sitting next to me feel an entirely different way. It’ll conjure up different memories for each of us. Where I might be impressed with the beat, they might be more impressed by the lyrics. A snare might stand out to me, whereas the bass line may stand out to them. It’s all personal experience. Which is closely intertwined with spirituality, but let me not get that deep right now. When an artist takes away that mysterious aura (that’s the word of the week here at UntitledType, word to “swag”) surrounding their work, it takes that enthralling mysterious element out of it for the listener. I don’t want to know why Q-Tip was rapping about clothes instead of liquor on Mobb Deep’s “Drink Away The Pain (Situations).” Really, I don’t. I just want to appreciate the track as being fucking dope.
The other issue with this concept is more directly tied to the difficulties of marketing a product in the digital age, and less to do with my personal preference. It’s no secret that we all believe the internet is shortening attention spans, and part of the reason Twitter took off so much is that it’s so concise and timely, just as a promotional e-mail should be. Submissions to inboxes are very similar to submitting a resume for a job – less is more. Quality over quantity. Just like a hiring manager, the people taking music submissions are bogged down with material. There is only so much time in a day, and way too much rap music to sort through. Two paragraphs on why you made a track is just delaying my reception of your song, and there’s a high likelihood I won’t read it anyway, especially if I’m out and about and checking my email while on my phone.
Let’s examine a few submissions I’ve received this week which are falling victim to this…
This email was a general fail for a few reasons, the main one being that to listen to the track they’re forcing me to “Like” it on Facebook, and sorry homie, that’s just not happening. Why does it even make sense for me to “Like” something that I can’t even hear? What if I dislike it when I hear it? Now I just told my whole timeline that I like it. Fuck you for making me like your music that I haven’t even heard. But the second fail was this explanation of the track, as told to some publicist by Gilbere Forte:
“This “Burn Me Down” record is more than just a new song featuring a crazy verse from the homey Tyga. Its the realization that this music shit is meant to be. Everything that has happened up to this point has happened for a reason. The people I’ve met throughout my life, the places I’ve been, and the things that i’ve beared witness….have all led up to this. It was all preparation for what I feel is about to happen. Back to the record. Those of you rocking with me since the beginning are already familiar with the original “Burn Me Down” off 87 Dreams. It was ALOT of people’s favorite song after the first listen of the project. So I felt it’s only right I give it new life (w/all new verses) as the introduction to my next solo project entitled 87 Dreams To Reality. What is that you ask? Its what happens when you take a dream and make it your reality.”
Not only could that use some proofreading (for real, I’ll take you way more seriously if some of you would take the time to proofread your submissions), but he went off on a tangent within the quote! “Back to the record.” Yo, you were talking about the record. Which tells me you’re over-intellectualizing your own shit, just for the sake of saying something. Stop that. Just give me the track, and let me reach a verdict about it on my own. Sure, rappers aren’t necessarily writers. But a publicist should take the time to make sure shit is grammatically correct and logically cohesive and relevant. This was a marketing fail. Especially coming from a company that works with some pretty big names.
Next up is a track from the homie BurntMD. BurntMD is a cool dude. He rocked at our sold out “Welcome Home DJ GI Joe” show in Vermont when Joe got out of the feds, he shows up at Southpaw in Brooklyn when I least expect him to, and he’s nothing but friendly. But never in my life have I heard him say some shit like this:
About Smugglers’ Notch:
Beginning almost 200 years ago, smugglers used the heavily wooded mountain range and the caves and caverns along Vermont’s Long Trail to transport illegal or embargoed goods across the Canadian border. In the early 1800s, the U.S. Congress placed an embargo on the imports of all English goods. In order to circumvent that embargo, the British merely shipped their provisions to Canada and smuggled the materials down the Long Trail and through what is now called Smugglers’ Notch Pass. Since the large caves in the Notch could be used to store supplies, it became an ideal focal point for much of the smuggling from Canada to the United States prior to the War of 1812.
More than 100 years later, the Notch was again used for smuggling alcohol during prohibition. Again, our friends from the north were not persuaded that Congress was acting in their best interest and freely smuggled alcohol through Smugglers’ Notch Pass and down to central and southern New England. The caves and caverns in the Notch were ideal for storing alcohol at approximately room temperature, while the smugglers were avoiding the revenue agents. Today, Smuggler’s Notch exists as an all year round tourist attraction and resort.
This is actually the best possible way to unleash background information about a track. It’s well written, it’s informative, and I walked away learning something that in general has nothing to do with music and I would never have researched otherwise. Most importantly, the email gets the relevant shit out of the way before going into U.S. history (a personalized greeting making me feel like I’m not associating with a robot begins the email, a good joke is included, the download link is dropped at the first mention of the song, and though I can hit up BurntMD myself, at this point I feel appreciated enough to want to associate with the publicist rather than ignoring the email blast because I may not necessarily recognize that person’s name).
But in an era where 140 characters reigns supreme, as much as I don’t have beef with this blast, it could have easily been shortened to, “Click here to learn more about the real Smugglers’ Notch” and linked to the Wiki page, which does exist. I opened this email on my iPhone, and the amount of scrolling involved due to the sheer length of the email could have been avoided. And then it leaves it up to me whether I want to know what that place is or not. Either way, this is a far superior email than that which was sent out for the Gilbere Forte track, so props to Matt Diamond.
Am I making sense? If you must include background information, there is definitely a right and wrong way to do it. But ask yourself – is it necessary to do so in the first place? Will doing so actually take away from the user’s interpretation of your art? Like the argument for women dressing modestly, sometimes it’s best to leave some things to the imagination. Plus, if your track is that perplexing and someone really wants the background information on it, guaranteed the question will be asked during an interview. It’s a struggle to think of shit to ask that hasn’t been asked before. Someone, somewhere, will dig for that detail. And when they do, it’s pretty flattering that they cared enough about your shit to even ask.
And this has been another edition of my tremendously neglected series on music marketing. Until next time..
I know I wanted to do these music marketing posts and focus on, well, music marketing, so this post may stray a bit from the formula I had it mind in the sense that it applies to way more than marketing and therefore won’t be too topic specific.
One of those guys that historians tell us was extremely wise, but that I figure was just on a lot of drugs and was really bored, was once quoted as saying “I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.” His name was Socrates, and he really did drop some verbal gems on ‘em every now and then.
If you see my logic in putting that song right there then I’m glad you’re reading this website right now. Anyway…
Socrates, as well as many of his other philosophical partners in scribe, were onto something with their theories that the best type of wisdom is the knowledge that you don’t actually know shit at all. If you constantly feel like you have a lot to learn, your mind is going to be thirsty to figure out new things. If you feel like you already know it all, you’re doing your intelligence a disservice because you won’t be receptive to new knowledge. Funny how their theories are so simple when you break them down in casual terminology…all those law and philosophy classes I took would have been way easier if these guys’ version of the English language wasn’t so lofty and eloquent.
This quote is the underlying basis for my point though. I’ve been ranting about the music biz and my so-called “higher education” for a bit on Twitter today and it made me want to reiterate something I’ve talked about before: I went to college and majored in Geography. Have I done anything with that degree since graduation? Nope. I’m pursuing the music industry, and essentially everything I’ve done in the scene so far has been accomplished with sheer persistence. Sometimes experience is more useful and valuable than sitting in a classroom, and I’ve learned a ton, but I also know there is a lot about the scene that I don’t totally understand.
So you know what I do? I play dumb and ask questions. I straight up tell people, “look, I don’t know too much about this, can you explain it more? Can you point me in the direction of a resource where I can learn more about this topic?” It’s cheaper than sitting through a class about the stuff, and it’s less time consuming than sifting through pages of some heavy ass book to find the answer to a simple question. The biggest resource you have is the people around you who have been doing this longer than you have. Ask them things. Don’t be afraid that they’re going to look at you some kind of way for not already knowing something you feel you should know. It’s more admirable that you make the effort to try to know.
I remember submitting a story to XXL’s site and getting a short list of edits back. One of the comments was asking me if I should use an em dash in a sentence. Truth be told, I had no fucking clue what an em dash was. I ran straight to Wikipedia, and when that didn’t make much sense, I asked some of the writers I know. It’s just one of those nuances of grammar that I missed since I wasn’t an English major. Em dashes weren’t part of high school English curriculum. Not my fault. But instead of just guessing what to do or making the edit and keeping it pushing, I made the effort to figure out why my original approach to the sentence was in question, and I’m a better writer for it in the long run.
What does this have to do with marketing? If you’ve ever wondered why someone uses soundcloud links to blast tracks out instead of hulkshare ones, ask them. What are the advantages of using Mad Mimi for mass emails? Don’t fall for fancied website rhetoric that is phrased in a way that will entice you to use their service, ask someone who actually uses their product and isn’t hired by the company to tell you how great it is. Did someone hit you with some legal mumbo jumbo you don’t fully understand? Ask them to elaborate. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there waiting to make its way into your brain, and that “reply” button on your email is so easy to use.
Plus who the fuck wants to pay for and sit through some collegiate level marketing classes? Not I.
And there you go, my music business advice for the day. Fuck college.
Today I had a little conversation with the homie Amir in which we were talking about the “old” New York. You know, that scary place where people sold crack on corners and mugged people and shit. All that stuff that still happens rather rampantly in the farthest reaches of the outer boroughs, aka East New York. Sure, rich model broads and stockbrokers still do drugs I can’t afford, there is still a “peep show” sign here and there around Times Square area, and apparently prostitution is still a thriving and widely accepted business. But the city is definitely a happier, safer place, where people like me can walk home through previously warzone-like neighborhoods with relative ease. Not to say that I’m a wimp or even look very out-of-place, but I’m not exactly the type that looks like they’re going to fuck someone up.
My partner in conversational gem dropping then said this:
Emphasis on that last line: “hip-hop is so much safer now”.
Say. Fucking. Word.
Rememeber when Suge Knight was dangling Vanilla Ice from a balcony? Or when Tru Life was on the streets running up in Mobb Deep’s studio and pistol whipping muhfucks? Actually, remember when Tru Life was on the streets at all?
Just like how there are good and bad sides to the gentrification and crime clean-up that NYC has seen in the recent years, there are good and bad sides to this twinkie softness creeping up not-so-subtly on rappers and their resulting rap shenanigans. I like to draw the metaphor of hipsters moving into Bushwick being the same shit as the internet changing up the music industry.
Once upon a time, Bushwick looked a lot like this:
And the people here looked like this:
Yeah, mad gangsta, and mad dead. In fact that’s a photo from 1979 at Joe and Mary’s Restaurant in Bushwick of the murder of noted Italian mafia associate Carmine Galante.
Anyway, Bushwick pretty much still looks like this. The main difference is that now the people that live here, especially in its western half, look like this:
And they opened businesses like Beauty Bar on Broadway, where the hip folk descend to drink cheaply and take photos like this:
A far cry from the drug wars and blight that was happening here a few decades ago.
Once upon a time, rap looked like this:
Come to think of it, pretend Ja Rule’s face isn’t on that, because I can’t forget about this song:
The utter irony in this is that he’ll be on his way to jail next month for two years on a gun charge. Someone give that man a hug (unless you’re his cell mate, please). I think he’s confused. Not that you can’t be a loving man and own a gun, I know a ton that do, but romping around as 2nd string talent to Jennifer Lopez in a music video to a song that conjures up images of butterflies and daffodils in my head? Not exactly Israeli-made desert eagle material.
Anyway, now rap looks like this:
With a dash of this:
And just as I enjoy being able to hit up Mr. Kiwi’s at Myrtle and Broadway 24 hours a day for vegetarian, organic, and overpriced goodness as much as I enjoy being able to kick it in music studios with little worry that I might catch a stray bullet in an elevator on the way out (“sick leave” doesn’t exist for a freelancer anyway so that would be extra, extra unfortunate), there is some extra soft shit going on now that could use a proper 1980′s style ass kicking.
Twitter didn’t exist in 1998. Neither did Worldstar, or if it did it wasn’t nearly what it is now. Messageboards were the vintage counterpart to comment threads. What was a nahright? Hell, what was a blogger? Picture messaging? Skype? All those picture/video/messaging services that give people like Kat Stacks ammo with which to fuel their fame?
Life was different. If you wanted to call someone out, you had to do it the normal way: in person. People got made examples of to teach them lessons. Now, in the present, on any given day I can go to my inbox and see a new email blast from VladTV about the latest C-List celebrity “Twitter beef.” If your beef can be contained in 140 characters, your beef ain’t beef. I’m callin’ you out like Taco Bell’s faux-beef. If your beef requires multiple tweets, your beef is actually a phone call you were too lazy to make mixed with a desperate need for attention. I think the latest one was Nelly and his old manager. Or the guy who was never really his manager. Or whatever the fuck they were saying. Hell, just a little while ago our favorite bald headed female Amber Rose took to the tweets to say “fuck Vibe magazine.” And what did Vibe do? The EIC released an official statement on their website, and then of course, twitter blasted it out. If this was 1998 you know what she would have done? Ran her bald and sexy ass into the Vibe offices and slammed that issue down on a desk and caused a fucking scene, behind the scenes. Or something. It wouldn’t have involved running straight to Twitter and hiding behind the safety blanket of public support in the form of retweets and the ability to delete something after you write it. If she wanted to take shit public, what she really would have done is run to one of the competing magazines and aired out her feelings about Vibe through a story with their journalistic foes.
Oh yeah, that’s so menacing and scary, and I’m sure they will retract the whole article and apologize to her. Except they didn’t, they stood by the article, so all this accomplished was drawing more attention to an article she doesn’t agree with. Way to go.
Bloggers have it out for eachother, one day I will refer to this era of the music industry as “The Keyboard Wars,” rappers who talk a tough game are getting aired out courtesy of direct messages by video vixens thirsty for some limelight to accentuate their baby oiled frames, and the worst enemy to record labels is now the advent of file sharing websites. And what does anyone do about it? Talk. Tweet. Email. I’m not saying that the era of violent rap beef should be reinstated, because killing people over the entertainment industry of all things is just ass backward. Killing people over anything is really a pretty shitty solution in most cases. But if people begin to think that they can just pop off at the mouth, in public at that, without getting properly checked for acting out of pocket? Shit is only going to continue to spiral more and more out of control.
In fact, when shit does hit the fan and some furniture starts getting thrown around and people are getting their ribs kicked in, people find it comedic now. Oh, these internet chumps finally got mad and stepped away from the mouse pads, eh? What a bunch of clowns, right? Nah. The clown shit is popping off at the mouth and using the internet to stir up problems. Maybe Suge Knight does need to come back through and regulate some of this shit. I don’t know. Just like the residual bad shit that still remains in Bushwick can have a plus side (like still being able to buy caffeinated Four Loko on the block and coming up on a $10 iPod deal from a crackhead), some of the sketchier shit in the rap business was keeping this recklessness out of control. Can you imagine the day when Sean Price shows up at some blogger’s door ready to punch their nose into the back of their neck for trashtalking him or leaking his album, or when Lil Kim actually girlfights Keyshia Cole off of Twitter on the streets of New York? Exactly.
One thing people ask me about a lot in my actual real life off the internet is tactics to marketing their music (or brand, or other product, etc.). In most cases people want to know how they can better utilize the internet to promote themselves. How to stand out. I figure maybe I’ll start addressing some of the questions people bring to me, or just things I happen to think about relating to the topic, here at the site. And, as always, if you want to submit something or ask a question, you can always hit up untitledtype[at]gmail. It’s not like I’m a marketing genius or anything, I’m really not (if I was I’d have like a million twitter followers, right?), but I do know a few little things.
Today, I said something on Twitter that I’d like to elaborate upon right quick.
Many artists these days are hiring Public Relations professionals, teaming up with DJ’s, or getting their friends to help blast out their newly released mp3′s to as many contacts as possible. Of course word of mouth is an important aspect of getting your numbers up, but who is doing the talking also matters. Let’s make a hypothetical situation, shall we?
Let’s say that among the various things that Kim Kardashian does, but doesn’t seem to do well (like sex tapes [open to debate], reality TV, and singing), she decides she wants to start a boutique PR firm and help upcoming rap artists by sending their materials to her bevy of important industry contacts and then hopefully gaining them media opportunities, etc. off the strength of their product. Let’s also say that Jay-Z found some time in his day to do the exact same thing with different clients.
Kim K. and Jay-Z both know a lot of people. The “right” people. This can’t be argued. But as far as Hip Hop is concerned, which person’s opinion would you trust more? As a member of the media, I’d be way more likely to open an e-mail about a new artist coming from Jay-Z than I would from Kim K, never mind that Kim K’s artist may actually have more talent. What has she cosigned in the past? Skechers? Well, they’re still ugly kicks. Midori? Yeah, still not drinking that, and neither is anyone else I know. Meanwhile, on the Jay-Z side of life, Carol’s Daughter seems to be doing well (and I’ve heard good things about it), Roc Nation is chillin’, and nobody ever questions what Jay-Z is or isn’t good at doing, unlike Kim K. See what I’m saying with this?
It goes beyond a person’s prior success stories and aptitude for business tactics as well. If they’re a person who deals with multiple clients, are the other people they’re representing also people you want to be associated with? Does the person cosigning your product have a reputation for being a shady, sketchy individual? Have they done people dirty in the past? Does their taste in music generally suck? Sure, people may change for the better over time, but trust if you know about some things in that person’s past, so do other people. Though that may have nothing to do with your music, you need to consider how that will reflect upon you if you hire them to be a brand ambassador of sorts to people you need to be working with. Choosing someone to help you handle e-mail blasts or field media opportunities should not be a matter of choosing the cheapest price or picking out your most accessible friend who knows the most people and is enough of a “yes man” to give you that semi-public and oh-so-important cosign.
In summary, to quote Nas: “you should watch the people with you, let them street rules hit you, if you hang around snitches you get judged for that, cuz you condone it, you know it ain’t no love for that, it’s slugs for that, oh you ain’t know your man was talkin? That’s why you stand with em, til you both land in a coffin?“