Every month I find myself in a barbershop, record store, or club parking lot listening to artists complain that record labels will sign just about anybody. I hear them complaints about radio stations not playing independent music. I also hear them talk about the lack of opportunities for artists with real talent to get heard. I've listened to so many different versions of these same arguments for more than five years as an artist, a manager, a studio owner, and a consultant. These complaints were the exact reason that we put together our OnTheGrindMixtape.com. The goal of this site was to establish a level playing field where artists could submit music to DJs and A&Rs, with the best records receiving a serious promo push including placement on 5,000 Mixtapes distributed in Atlanta. Ironically, when I mentioned this program most artists would be all ears until i told them there was a $20 submission fee. I've had artists tell me everything from "You need to put me on there for free..." to "You should be paying me to submit music." I laugh it off because these are the same artists that sit around complaining about their situation, which brings me to the title of this article, "Why Wack Artists Get Deals!"
This is actually a very simple question to answer. I'm not insinuating that you can't be talented and make it in the industry but the truth of the matter is less talented artists work harder while artists that are more talented tend to think they can get away with doing less. An artist that is less talented has something to prove and will go the extra mile to prove it. Less talented artists may find it harder to get others to believe in their dreams, so they will often be forced to take on more responsibility, often being their on manager, promoting their own shows, selling their own cd's, and pretty much being a one man movement. On the flip side you have artists that are more talented but surrounded by people that constantly inflate their ego with praise fooling them into a false sense of security as if they have already made it. At this point, many artists tend to think that their talent alone justifies thheir success and that they should not have to perform the menial tasks of passing out flyers, selling CD's, networking, etc. So, these artists get so consumed in this false image that they miss out on every opportunity that the less talented artists capitalizes on.
Go to any open mic and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about, a room full of nobodies pretending to be somebodies. Let me just point out that I am not knocking independent artists. If anything, I hope this will be a wake up call for the ones that sit around at these events just waiting for their turn to perform. There's nothing cool about sitting in the back of the club acting Hollywood. There's nothing cool about not networking, not clapping for other artists or criticizing other acts. The reality of the situation is you're at a damn open mic! You just paid to perform like the rest of the artists. You came to the club and signed up to get on stage like everybody else. Nobody called you down to the club to perform and there is not a check waiting for you when you get off stage. There were no radio commercials or a dressing room in back with your name on it. You're just another artist trying to make it.
Ironically, at that same open mics I will see less talented artist clap for everyone that performs even if only in hopes of having the favor returned. I watch as they float around the club passing out their CD's and talking to anyone who will listen. They are hungry and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it. It reminds me of the old Hertz Rental Car campaign "When you're number 2 you try harder." This is not to say that these artists aren't good, but they understand that they are not where they want to be so they will do whatever it takes to get there, unlike their counterparts that feel they are god's gift to the industry and expect everything to be handed to them.
To be perfectly clear, I am not saying that you have to suck to make it in the industry. I am simply stating that success doesn't come overnight. It has to be worked for. This article is about staying humble. A lot of great artists never realize their potential for success due to their work ethic. Too often artists get so wrapped up in their own hype that they start believing that they're too good to shovel the sh**. They think that passing out flyers, selling their own CD's, participating in contests and performing at open mics is beneath them; but when you don't have a promotional budget to employ people to do these things or people booking you for shows…. Guess what… It isn't! There are artists with deals that still hit open mics trying to build a buzz on records so that the label will give them a release date. There are producers with platinum plaques still worried about getting placements and here you are sitting in the back of the Peacock acting Hollywood while waiting for your name to be called off a list to perform.
This is just a public service announcement for all those bitter ass rappers, singers, DJs, producers, managers, and models that always complain about someone "less talented" getting the opportunities they feel they deserve. Quit waiting for opportunities and start creating them.
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