Tag Archives: Kanye West

Rule No. 1 for the unsigned artist: Get on your grind (aka check yourself before you wreck yourself)

Everyday I'm Hustling DigitallyRecently, I’ve been approached by a number of artists and producers looking to get signed to a record deal.

I always entertain anyone who seeks out my advice, because it shows initiative.

But I’m always concerned when the objective, notwithstanding my advice, remains fixed on securing a deal.

It’s not that it’s an unobtainable goal.

But it’s unrealistic.

As one record executive told me, getting signed to a record deal is more difficult than shooting a hole in one – by hitting a golf ball through a hole in a brick wall first.

For some reason, these cats act like the labels are just handing record deals out.

“All you’ve got to do is be discovered.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told about artists that are discovered.

That’s all it takes.

Record a song.

Post a YouTube video.

Get discovered.

And go from obscurity to fame, overnight.

“Madonna was discovered.”

“Lady Gaga was discovered.”

“Katy Perry was discovered.”

Yada yada yada.

My response is uniformly: “No. They weren’t.”

To be fair, there is that rare exception of a truly discovered talent, plucked from obscurity.

Like Rihanna.

But that’s a different story for another time.

The reality is that virtually every artist you’ve ever heard of, especially the superstars, busted their asses to get where they got.

Invariably, they were passed over, several times, by several A&Rs, at several different labels, before they finally got on.

Do you know how many people dissed Kanye before he was finally signed to the Roc?

It was a running joke in the industry how often Kanye asked folks to listen to his demo.

Katy Perry was dropped by Columbia before being signed to Capitol Records.

Lady Gaga was performing at open mikes since she was 14 (and she attended The Tisch School) before she was signed by Akon.

Justin Beiber is probably one of the few artists truly ‘discovered’ in recent memory, when Scooter Braun happened upon his video before taking him to Usher.

But their deals didn’t just happen.

It was the result of relationships, work and in some instances, dumb luck.

Many of the people who have approached me don’t have even the most fundamental basis for talking record deal.

There’s no website.

No Facebook page.

No Twitter account.

No YouTube channel.

Not digital presence whatsoever.

If they have any of the above, then there are few (if any) likes, followers or views.

If they’ve got a MySpace page, SoundCloud or ReverbNation account, there are virtually no fans and abysmally low play counts of their songs.

The content on their pages are old and haven’t been updated.

At the end of the day, I’m left scratching my head, trying to understand why these cats seem so…entitled?

If you haven’t done the work, how can you expect to win?

It’s like saying you’re going to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but you’ve never trained a day in your life.

Sure, it’s possible that you could get off your couch, hit the starting blocks and blow Usain Bolt away.

But it’s not probable.

Sure, it’s possible that you could record a song tomorrow, post it online, and some A&R somewhere will be at your doorstep offering you a deal.

But it’s not probable.

And with the ten hundreds of thousands of aspiring artists out there on their grizzy, going HAAM, what makes you think that you’re going to grab the brass ring first?

The game has changed.

If you’re trying to be a successful artist, know that your success is being gauged by empirical measures:

Facebook likes.

Twitter followers.

YouTube views.

SoundCloud plays.

A Google results page.

This is how A&Rs today are gauging an artist’s viability.

Can you draw a crowd – online?

Sure, you can sing.

But so can literally tens hundreds of thousands of others.

What makes you stand out from the crowd?

It’s your hustle and your (digital) ground game.

So artists, if you’re reading this blog, and you want to know what it takes to get a record deal, it’s one of two ways:

1. Know somebody;

2. Get on your grind (and build a digital presence).

Any questions?

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The trouble with Gerry (not his real name) the Petty Tyrant (aka Karma is a bitch!)

No petty tyrants

I am so mad I can’t sleep.

I’m literally writing this post at 2:34 am Thursday morning.

To be honest, I’m probably more disappointed than I am mad.

But I’m mad.

Why? You ask?

Because the world is full of petty tyrants.

And unfortunately, I’ve had a run-in with one that has my stomach in knots.

If you know me, you know that I’m an easy-going person.

I’m pretty unflappable.

I’ve dealt with ’nuff PTs in my day, and come away unscathed.

But this one here…

Indulge me, if you will, and let me spin you a yarn.

I believe in paying it forward, and for the past few years, I’ve been working with several not-for-profits, helping them to build their digital and social media chops.

One not-for-profit (which shall remain unnamed because we still work together in spite of said PT) has been the recipient of a lot of my attention.

The great thing about them is that they serve kids.

Hundreds of thousands of kids.

And like most not-for-profits, they are somewhat behind the times.

A lot of their current programming is steeped in the old school.

So from day one, my objective has been to bring them (kicking and screaming if need be) into the modern age.

At the end of the day, if you’re an organization that serves kids, it behooves you to offer programming that speaks to the increasingly technological world in which these kids live.

To their credit, most of the organization has been willing to change, in order to get with the times.

But not Gerry (not his real name).

Who’s Gerry?

That’s the petty tyrant.

Just so we’re clear, petty tyrant (an expression coined by Carlos Castaneda), refers to individuals who simply live to frustrate, exasperate and annoy others to distraction.

They’re two-faced backbiters and gossips.

Your modern day hater.

Now Gerry (not his real name) is new to the mix at this not-for-profit.

Before dealing with him, we had run several programs with the kids.

Based on feedback we’d received from kids in our previous programs, we put together a new program that the kids (in our initial session) really responded to.

But somehow, between this first session (held last Thursday) and the second (which would have been held today), Gerry (not his real name) put the kibosh on the entire program.

Just like that, a program for which numerous individuals invested countless hours to bring to life, has been deaded.

Over some straight BS.

Mind you, Gerry (not his real name) has been trying to throw salt in the game for a hot minute.

My strategy for Gerry (not his real name) has been pretty consistent.

I deal him with kid gloves.

He has a fiefdom, which he guards jealously.

Any threat to his authority is dealt with by excising it from his fief.

Prior to dealing with Gerry (not his real name) I got the 411.

I was regaled with tales of his treachery.

Apparently there were a host of individuals, no longer working for said unnamed not-for-profit, who owe their untimely departures to Gerry (not his real name).

In fact, Gerry (not his real name) is currently engaged in smear campaign against a new target, another one of his colleagues.

But that’s another story for another time.

Since I don’t work for the not-for-profit, I took the intel about Gerry (not his real name) under advisement.

And since Gerry (not his real name) wasn’t particularly discreet about his scandalous behavior, I figured it wouldn’t be long before he was exposed for the wretched snake he was.

You’re only going to be able to get away with talking shit about folks in your organization before there’s a target on your back.

Karma is a bitch!

Anywho, Gerry (not his real name) has apparently trained his sights on our program.

And now the 13 kids signed up for it are going to be extremely disappointed when they find out that its been scrapped.

That’s really what has me up in the wee hours of the morning venting to y’all.

I could give a fuck about this Gerry (not his real name) fella.

We all have to deal with petty tyrants in life.

It’s the fact that he’s taking away something very valuable from these kids that has me all up (literally) in arms.

Our program teaches real world digital skills, an area in which this not-for-profit is woefully deficient.

Our instructors – Ivy Leaguers, computer geniuses, music and entertainment industry veterans who work (and have worked) with big dawgs: think Kanye West, Cee Lo Green, Jay Z, Beyonce, Mos Def, Common, and the list goes on – were essentially giving their services away, to make this program happen for these kids.

And Gerry (not his real name) is throwing away an opportunity for these kids to work with people and projects of this caliber.

Why?

Why indeed.

To hear Gerry (not his real name) tell it, the logistics behind our running the program were proving too difficult to manage.

Bullshit.

But who knows why petty tyrants act the way they do?

All I know is that I’m going to try to get my program back.

For the kids.

Fuck Gerry (not his real name).

His treachery is (eventually) going to catch up to him.

Like I said, karma is a bitch!

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iPad Mini. iPad Jr. Whatever you are, just get here already.

I’ve been quietly watching from the sidelines to see what, if anything Apple is going to do with the iPad Mini.

So far, there have been (the standard) sightings of the Mini, leaked to the internet.

And oodles and oodles of speculation about what features will be baked into it.

To be honest, I can’t say that I’ve followed any of this chatter closely.

I’ve done that dance before.

Wait with bated breath, only to be let down when the <insert name of much anticipated Apple device here> actually arrives.

At this point, it’s just that I know how Apple does.

Why should the iPad Mini be any different?

We all know what the iPad mini should be.

But it’s unlikely that it will be what we expect.

I firmly believe that the iPad Mini should be a small version of the iPad.

It should be fully functional with all its current features intact.

That means, the iPad Mini should have: a forward and read-facing camera, wifi, 3G, essentially everything the current iPad 3 has.

But will Apple give us the device we expect?

Probably not.

It will most likely be like the original iPad.

You remember how disappointed you were when you opened up your iPad and realized that there was no camera.

But wait!

Here comes the iPad 2, with what?

Wait for it…

…A camera!

Bastards!

Why did do they do that to us?

Wasn’t the iPad really just a big iPhone?

Didn’t the iPhone already have 2 cameras!?

So why strip the iPad of what everyone assumed would have been a natural feature to include in the iPad?

Money, obviously.

But they’re not going to do that to the iPad Mini?

Are they?

Isn’t the whole point of the iPad Mini offering to compete with the other smaller form tablet devices in the market today?

Shouldn’t the strategy be to bake all the bells and whistles that devices like the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Note have?

Wouldn’t it be counter-intuitive to withhold features that consumers are already used to on the current iPad?

I got my son the Kindle Fire, and it really is a great device.

Now there’s the blown out HD version, which is a real step up in a number of respects for Kindle.

Higher resolution screen.

Faster processor.

More storage.

Additional ports.

4G LTE.

They blew it out!

Apple would be wise to follow suit and go H.A.M. with the iPad Mini.

H.A.M.=hard as a motherfucker for my Kanye West challenged readers.

Unfortunately, experience tells us that Apple doesn’t always do what’s best for the consumer.

So while I’m interested to see the new iPad Mini, I’ve set my expectations very low.

Do I want it?

Sure.

I’d rather have an iOS device that synchs with the rest of my Mac world, than some other device that doesn’t.

Will I be disappointed.

Sure.

History tells us that Apple is notorious for putting out products that often fall far short of user expectation.

Apple should just release the iPad Mini and put us all out of our collective misery already.

But with a constantly moving announcement date, its unlikely that we’ll see an iPad Mini in the wild anytime soon.

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Filed under branding, iPad, opinion, technology