Being Humble as a New Artist

The following is an article I wrote for Street Knowledge Entertainment‘s Knowledge Blog.  It’s regarding the importance of being humble in the music industry.

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Being Humble as a New Artist
Eric Phillipson of SpeakYourMusic.com

New artist’s listen up! We need you! The industry needs you! You need you!  Over the years, through the declining industry, there is one trend that I’ve seen grow more and more.  That is the disappearance of the humble artist and the larger and larger presence of the big-ego artist.  It’s not that I don’t understand your swag or the fact that you’re the artist.  I get that.  What I don’t understand is all of the hating going on in the industry.

I can’t tell you how many artists I once worked with (keyword: once) who felt that they were above others when it came to certain promotional tactics or just working with some people.  Now I’m not talking about your somewhat established people, I’m talking about the ones who are trying to build a fan base or who are not yet making money off of this music they love (by the way, check out Q’s post on giving your music away for free).  These are the artists that need to come down, be humble, and take the “all promotion is good promotion” road.

Now being humble applies to many different things, these are what I’m going to cover:

  • Management
  • Promotion
  • Fans
  • Networking

The first one I want to talk about is management.  I see a lot of artists who hear that they should get a manager and then don’t even use them.  When someone wants to book a show, they give them their number or book the show themselves; they cut their “manager” out of all of their deals.  Don’t do that.  If you tell someone that they can be your manager, set up an agreement for compensation, and let them be your manager.  It’s aggravating when you’re told to manage someone so you put effort into them only to have them start cutting you out of the deals.  The being humble part comes into play just off of the simple fact that you need to trust your manager if you’re going to have one.  If you don’t trust them, get a new one.  Management is there to take a load off of you so you can focus on making music, and take yourself to the next level.

The next thing I want to talk about is being humble in the promotions you do.  I’ve seen brand new artists, who had no buzz in an area, who were not willing to go out and hand out CD’s or hang up fliers for a few hours during a late-night promo run. That has to stop!  If you have no buzz, you need to pull all stops and get out there and get yourself a name until you get to the point where you can hire street team help to handle that for you.  I know there are tons of artists who feel that lying about their fan base will bring in more fans or add to their swag; it won’t. If you know you have no buzz in an area, be honest with yourself and get out there!  If people haven’t heard of you at all, they will be more willing to listen to you if you’re actually out there rather than having someone else out there trying to pitch your music.

The fans! Answer every single one of them.  Even something as simple as “thank you” is perfect.  I’m talking to the people who get the MySpace messages or the Emails or have a few people come up to them after a show.  Not the ones who have mobs of people coming up to you.  There are too many artists who get sidetracked and read messages from fans without ever replying.  You’d be surprised how much fans are willing to promote artists who are willing to recognize them.   By the way, make sure people who receive your CD’s during handouts can contact you!  Just set up a “fan” Email address and slip it inside of your CD’s so that fans can contact you.  Fan mail is always a rewarding feeling.

The final aspect of being humble that I want to talk about is being humble while networking.  I’ve known some artists who don’t give others who are trying to come up the time of day.  I’m not even talking about on an artist level either.  Don’t always try to network with bigger people, sometimes networking with others who are trying to come up will work wonders for you.  Be sure to network with people coming up in other aspects of the entertainment industry, not just music.  For example, network with new clothing companies, people breaking into acting, graphic artists, TV people, people who are trying to start their own next big website, people who are trying to break into radio, etc.  Some of these people are bound to do great things, and even those who don’t become huge will still be willing to help as long as you can help them.  Plus, these people would love for you to support their new ventures and it always looks good when you are sponsored by someone.

In the end, being humble as a new artist can take you far.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some fake people out there who will try to take advantage of you, just always be sure to check your ego and remain a humble person,  you never know who you might meet because of it.

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Be sure to check out Street Knowledge Entertainment home to Philly based artist Trel Mack.

-Eric Phillipson

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Building Your Fan Base: Basics

I want to keep it basic today.

Here is the VERY first step in building your fan base.  Most people skip this step for no reason.

But, here is what you should be doing.

Network with people in your industry.

Simple.

Ok ok, I’m not just going to leave it there.  Listen, a lot of times when we want to build our fan base, we think too much about going out there and soliciting fans to listen to the music, or check out the webpage, or download the ringtone.  This is all great, but why stop there?

By networking with people in your industry (DJs, Artists, Promoters, etc) you are putting yourself in the eye of their fanbase as well.  I’m not talking about taking over their fans, I’m talking about new avenues of promotion (i.e. putting on shows together).

For the record, I am assuming here that you are building genuine relationships with the people in these industries.  Don’t go up to another artist and ask him if he can let his/her fans know about you, that’s just disrespectful.

A.B.P. = Always Be Professional

Nobody likes their time wasted, especially someone who is trying to get their own business up and running.  Make sure that when you are networking with these people, you are letting them know Whats In It For Them.  For DJs, try to setup a mixtape deal, they host, you pay some manufacturing costs.  For other artists, set up a show together, for promoters help them promote a show or an event in exchange for a performance or an opening for a larger act.  There is always something you can offer and when networking, you should always offer up those skills.

The key in building your fan base is first networking with the people already in your industry.  If you support them they will support you.  Their fans will follow their endorsements.

If you have any questions regarding this, feel free to Email me (see contact page).  I may pull your question for a new post!

-Eric

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It will never be perfect…

My bio says that I started in the music industry when I was 9 years old and would carry my uncle’s equipment.  What about my step into entrepreneurial music business?

I started a record label. Our mission was successful.  Take a town with little to no publicized hip-hop scene and turn it into a town where artists could get shows, media was calling, and fans were purchasing.  We stopped the record label around the time I moved so that artists and everyone involved could go their separate ways, but, I want to prove something here.

What right did I have to play expert and start a record label? Record labels take vast knowledge of the industry and up until that point I just knew how to market an artist (very well I might add).  The truth? I didn’t know what I was doing 100% of the time, all I had was a dream and an obtainable goal in mind.

There is never a perfect time to go for something, if you spend your life waiting until you’ve learned enough, or you’ve planned enough, you will never get anywhere.  I made plenty of mistakes along the way, I put money into things I didn’t necessarily need and purchased glossy flyers when matte would’ve done just fine.  I’m glad I did these things though, I learned greatly from them.  Running my record label gave me the knowledge to pay attention to every detail, delegate, and all around get things done.

But that doesn’t matter.  The most important thing that it taught me was this:

If you have a dream and you don’t pursue it NOW, you can’t expect it to come.

Will certain things not work out? Yes, and you make adjustments and carry on.  You can’t find out what works if you don’t learn what does not first.

If you want to work with someone, why are you waiting?  You should contact them as soon as possible! But, make sure you are networking properly, don’t just ask them to do something for you… that’s bad business. Want to release an album?  Why aren’t you working on it?  As an artist you’re never below anyone or anything, so long as you take action.

Do something for yourself today so you can make it count tomorrow.

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Thanksgiving reminds us that…

Every year, during Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the importance of being humble.

If you’ve seen my article over at skemusic.com (Check it out here) you know my feelings on how being humble can increase an artists overall network, and the importance of being humble in this industry as a whole.

But why?

Continuing with the theme this week: It helps you relate to your fans on an individual level.  If you go around acting like you’re better than everyone, when the reality is your just fronting, the possibility of building a genuine fan base is going to greatly dwindle.

Though I don’t agree with the true historical context of Thanksgiving, I greatly appreciate the accepted overall message behind it. The message of reflection, of taking the time to acknowledge the things which you are thankful to have in your life.  A time where even the most egotistic people are humble.

Its important to remain humble.  I promise, if you remain humble in your socializing, you will receive greater praise for your accomplishments, and will no longer need to tell people to “get like you” rather they will tell you that they are trying to get to your level.  I prefer praise from outside my own psyche personally.

So with that being said, here is my official list.

50 Things I Am Thankful For:

  1. My Family
  2. My Friends
  3. My Team
  4. Having food of Thanksgiving
  5. My Network
  6. You
  7. Music
  8. Hip-Hop
  9. Culture
  10. Knowing my ancestry
  11. Being able to follow my dreams
  12. Having the ability to think on my own
  13. Being humble
  14. Having to work hard
  15. Belief in a higher-power
  16. Technology
  17. DJs
  18. Rappers
  19. Musicians
  20. Go-Getters
  21. Michigan
  22. The Midwest
  23. The negativity that keeps pushing me to be better
  24. Positive people
  25. Good health
  26. Having the opportunity to gain the experience I’ve gained in the music industry
  27. Education
  28. Moleskin notebooks
  29. Hoodies
  30. Sports
  31. My German Shepherd who keeps watch on my house
  32. Books
  33. Having the ability to travel
  34. Having been overseas
  35. Living in America…even though there are a lot of foul things that take place…its still a great country to live in.
  36. Having leadership skills
  37. Being a fairly good speaker
  38. Relaxation after working hard
  39. Big Brothers, Big Sisters & American Red Cross: Two organizations I volunteered for who truly care about the people they affect.
  40. Having shelter and clothing
  41. Koala Yummies (don’t ask, I’m old school)
  42. Lemonade stands as a kid, for teaching the foundations of business
  43. Teachers and Mentors
  44. Everyone who pushed me to do better
  45. The UP, eh?
  46. The ability to communicate instantly with people all over the world
  47. Sharing of ideas via mastermind groups
  48. Being able to give back
  49. Community
  50. Those people who strive to make the world better even when the odds are against them

Have a great and humble Thanksgiving!

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