Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting the easy part :o/ (believe it or not)

We all that are in this arena wanna get a deal, right? 

Some be like, "nah, f**k that joe! Im doin' me son...", but man, in order for us to provide for our families like we want to - it takes you (the artist) co-venturing with a Major Label or affiliates thereof. 

Shit, since I was 13 I been pursuing this venture. 

It seemed simple one day after watching LL Cool J's Driven on VH1. 

He looked on the back of a tape, wrote down the address, and sent off his lil demo - BOOM!

DEF JAM is birthed!!!

ha! So what do I do eh...?


Didn't hear nothing back for years, matter of fact, STILL haven't heard anything back from them niggs/niggettes.

As the years progress and me being the "Critical Thinker/Observer" I am/becoming, I start to understand the ins and outs of actually having a deal. 

Like, I understand the difference of the artist you are BEFORE the deal and after.

and guess what it is?...No difference

You don't get a deal off:
*skill level
*you're talented (besides being Gods Gift to the world)
*your songs are "DUMB HOT!" says an A&R, Vice President, or Big Wig of a Label
*you dress nice
*you're metaphors are CRAZY!
*you have 1,000,877.6 mixtapes out 
*you do ALL open mics, talent shows, etc
*your myspace page having a billion HITS lol (like anybody cant pay for that, ha!)

I wish I would've not only KNOWN but first-hand witnessed this before graduating school or stopped playin football.'s all good now because I actually have a deal with Universal but just as I thought - things aren't as easy as they seem.

For an artist man, its all about the music - and indeed it should be.

I said to myself, "Marky, you focus on your music and being creative with each and every song you do this way you'll stay motivated and youthfully inspired"

yeah, all sounds good until "things" start changing around you.

I call these "things" *Factors* or *Variables* , sort of like Science Class lol

these variables sometimes are the essential pieces of the puzzle and one wrong move can lead
 to...JENGA!!!! (google it) 

Man oh man, the music industry is crazy so its hard to keep yourself 90% into the MUSIC and 10% into whats happening in your career (business wise), into the politics, into who's who, and then into the way music is changing everyday. (Thanks to Blogs tho, we can manage!)

You find yourself at about, uhm, damn near 50%/50% ya know...

and me, being the "Critical Thinker" I am makes the 50/50 seem more like 80/20, go figure!

I remember earlier this year I think...or no, it was around this time last year that Saigon was like, "I QUIT this rap game!"

Im like, how the hell you gonna quit man - you're signed dude!

This is what Im thinking while reading his blog.

This man had a nice lil buzz, was on Entourage, and signed to Atlantic Records via Just Blaze!

But then, I thought - there has to be a lot of BS behind the scenes that unsigned artist don't fully know about.

As far back as I can remember, I thought that getting a Record Deal was the victory!

That is what all the grind work is for ya know?...WRONG

You know what getting a deal means?...huh?

Well, incase you don't/didn't know - a deal means you have 1 shot and a deadline.

1 shot to pull something significant off business wise, which means bring the label back more than they dish out.

So you know those who brag on "BIG BUDGETS" and "oh, I got a 1 million dollar contract" - well, thats great but that heightens the chance of failure and null-n-void of your contract thanx to this music climate - not to say that the money doesn't/can't play a HUGE factor in your success (ie music spins on radio, video plays on tv, commercials, endorsements, etc) .

Thanx to internet and other means of stabilizing the marketplace using your own resources to get to where you need to be, smaller deals are the new "Big Budgets", I think...

Now, selling isn't a big deal anymore because of the digital marketplace and your quota (whether high or low in the sales dept - all depends on your deal structure).

The other definition of having a Record Deal, to me, is Deadline.

yeah, a deadline until you are released to the world as this artist that you are at this moment of release! (re-read slowly if it doesn't make sense lol)

What I mean is that you are now on a race across the USA to touch as many people as possible with your music. 

ok, I relate it to politics - Obama wasn't as popular roughly 1 1/2 years ago right?

Well, he got on the campaign run across the country and touched the people - made them believe and feel like they are apart of him. 

Back over to music - now if your music isn't all that tight meaning can't match up to what's hot now, you're coma-toast son... unless you're uniquely different lol (and not because your clothes fit extra tight)

If you can't produce something the label likes within a certain period of time w/o over extending your budget or for whatever reason, they'll drop you.

Oh man, I forgot about that point - yeah, they'll drop your ass in a heartbeat.

but the point I was talking about is now the pressures on up until your album drop to touch as many people as possible and have them believe you and feel like they are apart of you.

Before you are signed, you can go as you please.

You can develop, change your style up, try new things.

Well, all is changed once you're signed. 

You can still try new things and all that, but no time - you're racing against the clock.

Note that there are 4 quarters to a year.

Jan-March (1st) Apr-June (2nd) July-Sept (3rd) Oct-Dec (4th)

These are essential in understanding buyers and customers. 

People shop more when?

around holidays (obviously, due to deals and whatnot) but when else?...when the suns out! (2nd and 3rd maybe right)

Well, thats another breakdown for you guys later...but needless to say a deal isn't what you guys think it is.

I have to get across the world and I don't mean by feet neither or doing shows everywhere I touch down. 

I mean radio, video, billboards, etc.

This is the resources that seems to make people BELIEVE that you are a STAR ya know?

Nobody knows you until your song is HOT and playing about 30-50 times a week.

and the messed up part about it is...its out of our (the artist) control on the first go around.

And like I said, you only get 1 shot - but its not me aiming the gun.

So does it count if it miss? :o/

(R.I.P Shakir Stewart - Vice President of Def Jam)



lady a said...

"i wish you insight so you can see for yourself" ;)

thanks for that major dose of insight. I was watching something and the person got signed and someone told them "you worked hard to get here...not you have to work even harder to stay!" aint that the truth!

I have faith in you Marky!!! You've been doin this way too long not to succeed! Especially being the critical thinker/observer that you'll make it :)

D. Omen said...

you on my heels with the insightful and depth blogs.

I AM JASMINE said...

No, it doesnt matter if you miss. Always remember that. You're so young. You have such an expansive life ahead of you. Create a path for others. You're on the right track....

Lyriciss Flowz said...

and that's real talk. a lot of these unsigned artists don't know a lot of those ins and outs. now, i am one of the artists that's just doing me and waiting until the right deal comes, but yes, the goal is to get the deal. but people need to realize what comes along with that deal. too many artists are so blind to the game that they sign the first contract with more than 4 zeros on it (and some people for even less), and end up in debt because of numerous factors. i suggest everyone that's an artist that makes dope music and doesn't know this business? LEARN IT. ASAP. this ain't '93. these labels won't develop you, put your album out, let you flop, then work with you so you can come correct on the next one. you mess up? you DONE. so manage your artistry and your business. learn to juggle both out here, and you got a 50% chance on surviving in the 21st century generation of music business.

Peace & Hip-Hop

Mo Betta said...

Long winded lil light skin brother ain't ya? *sheesh*

But seriously son people don't understand. That's why I tell folkz you honestly don't know what you would do until your put in that position. I appreciate you taking the time out to break things down. I understand the stress that comes with the record deal thats why I drop by your page, Wale's an etc to drop off encouragement!

Keep grinding!

KT said...

again, good read!

I think what alot of artists mean when they say, "i want a deal", i think they really mean they want the exposure/promotion. Me personally, i'd take the promotion and exposure versus the deal. Just some type of way to get my music out to the public as efficient as possible. Now the part about artists not really understanding what it means to have a deal i think is true. Like many people, i just hate hearing the "i just bumped into him, he heard my music and the rest is history" makes the grind seem so pointless.

Marky said...

Yeah KT, exactly - that shit blows me young.

But everybody has a point man...

Mo-Betta, you's a good nigga man. I've yet to see you write something hateful to anybody coming up or moving up.

We need more of that equally across the board.

KNOWxONE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KNOWxONE said...

Good read as always Marky. You've got the potential and charisma to be whatever you want. It's just so sad that the politics that revolve behind closed doors in this industry have not really changed at all. I agree with Lyriciss about learning the basics of music business, even if you're a big name artist, just for the simple fact that you're less likely to get jerked by these cut-throat labels / company execs. Be persistent, be consistent, don't be naive or blind to the fact that you could get the rug pulled straight from under you, but most importantly - BE HUMBLE! And no matter what, good or bad, stay on your grind. There's more to this game than being signed to Def Jam.

Side note, I've been tryna get ahold of you fam, but your phone was out of commission all day... Get at me!

Calypso said...

Long...but a very good read.

pronounced kM, duh. said...

I'm certain you deserve it & it's a plus to be a "critical thinker/observer" prior!

Two things:

1. 1,000,877.6 mix tapes tho?!?!
2. Did u just call be a JENGA, NINJA?!


Praverb said...

Congrats fam on the deal...and thank you for the words of wisdom

I will admit that I always THOUGHT it was about lyrics but I am slowly that my thinking was flawed...

Y.H.G.M [Young Hustlaz Gettin' Money] said...

couldn't have said it better myself... and "I aint even on yet" but congrats on ya deal & that post was great. Good shit there. Keep it up! [DMV] lets GoOo!


FaMe said...

so the question is now, do you think it's better to have a deal or do your own thing in this day and age.

Blogs saved music. Look at Mickey Factz and all the rest of those guys on XXL's cover. they all did it online.

I'm leaning towards D.I.Y

Marky said...

Yup, I agree...but to a certain extent

Everybody's journey is different ya know

Anonymous said...