This topic has been on my mind for a bit now. Often times people ask me for my opinion on their music, and I'm still trying to figure out why. Anyways, I get mixed reviews of my reviews— I've found people are sensitive (it's okay I'm an artist too when it comes to this What's the Movement stuff). With that being said, I made a pledge that WTM will always remain honest and positive. I don't sugar coat, I don't do favors. If your music is subpar, there is no room for you here. WTM only features music that I consider as dope, period. Like every mom everywhere says, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." To make this simple, this will be the only ounce of negative mention I'll make here. I'll explain as precisely as I can as to why your music didn't meet your expectations and flat out flopped.
1. Promotion, or lack thereof.
This is half the battle. Let's take it back to freshman philosophy: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You could drop Good Kid Maad City or Illmatic quality work, but if you're the only one who heard it...welp, you guessed it, it doesn't matter. WTM Staff, Issah, says it best, "Snapchat or it didn't happen." Or more simply put, “limiting yourself to local shit is how you remain in the local mix. You really have to branch out and level yourself up.”
Get from behind that laptop, actually go out to shows and meet people in real life. When you do, don't just leave after you (or your favorite artist’s) set is over. You never know what you'll hear or who's there. You might need that link or email from someone. Get their business card, ask for a feature. Everyone knows someone that you don't know. Oh, and buying followers is trash. Those fake follows and robot plays on your soundcloud don't mean anything if no one knows the words to your songs at a show. Just saying.
Writer/Actress/Producer Issa Rae discusses the benefits of networking across versus networking vertically.
2. Your album was too long.
Since starting Pass The Aux Radio with my friend Bre from ThaGreyMatter.com this was a recurring theme. I've heard really, really good sounding albums, but twenty tracks is a lot to sift through. I know you really like that one song that was a two-parter on a Timbaland type feel, but do you really need a 7-minute track? Can you hold the audience’s attention for more than an hour? While you're still breaking out, consider EPs over LPs. Save the LP for when you're signed. Concepts are great when you get the point across and entertain quickly. We are a microwave generation unfortunately. If you got it like that, ignore this rule, do you, but consider this advice.
3. The project wasn't visually appealing.
Like I just said, we are a microwave generation. We want things fast and in a hurry, and visually appealing. My friend Brian taught me something the other day — the most effective method of learning is by absorbing information in multiple senses: seeing, hearing, and saying aloud. Now all of those college lectures and PowerPoint presentations are making sense. This means you have to put some vision behind your audio. Music videos and photo shoots are more necessary than an accessory. Plus some behind the scenes content is always dope. "The Making of..." videos are a guilty pleasure of mine and it's a great means of promotion (<--- hint hint, reason 1).
4. You sound just like everyone else.
No one wants to hear the next Drake. He copies everyone anyway (oops). We get it. You're inspired by Meek Mill. Your music spirit animal is Lil Yachty. That's dope (if you're into that). You wanna know the real reason we don't care? If I want to listen to Future's sound, I'll listen to Future, not Earl from down the block. I'm all for supporting local artists, however if you can't find your own lane to drive in, I gotta merge or we're going to get in an accident. Besides, it's not just you that sounds like Future, it's everyone in your graduating class too.
5. You're a jerk.
Let's face it, you're pretty much a dickhead. You won't make it in this industry with this “take and not give” attitude. Sure this advice might come from an angsty place, but it's an honest one. You won't make it in any industry without allies. If you are an artist of any facet you will face hate. "He's a hater, she's a hater." Sure, point the finger because it may or may not be true, but self reflect just a little bit. You can't please everyone regardless, but you definitely do not need to create enemies for no reason. They don't want to see you win. You can up and buy a helicopter and there will still be people on four wheels saying, "you didn't get that new chopper though." They don't matter. The people that celebrate your accomplishments are the ones you keep on your side. Don't burn bridges without reason; you'll always need someone. Everyone wants to eat. You want a slice of the pie so bad, but you missed out on the person willing to give you the recipe. Don't be twitter fingers either, no one respects that guy that doesn't exist in real life. Go back to rule one.
I made it to the end without telling anyone their music is garbage. You should be proud of me, it's hard. I have some gems in the vault and most times I don't reveal them. I mean one of the rules to success is to never reveal everything you know. This is my service to all the guys recording in their bedrooms using the foam from their mattress as a pop filter. I wanna see you win. I can't guarantee that it you avoid these mistakes, you'll pop. This music industry stuff changes all the time but you'll make it just a little bit further than you are right now, I promise. If you have any questions or flat out don't agree with me, shoot me tweet, it's time we all had the conversation.
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