Tag Archives: Lady Gaga

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under branding, music

Barbara Walters’ list was bogus. The REAL most fascinating people of 2009

These folks were worthy of your voyeuristic attention this year.

Last night, I watched Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People of 2009 on ABC, and let’s just say I was underwhelmed.

After wading through *YAWN* Lady Gaga (who looked like Barbara Walters her damn self), Jenny Sanford (played out by her philandering husband), Glenn Beck (racist wasp), Tyler Perry (he’s RICH b*tch!), Adam Lambert (“I’m gay.” Duh!), Brett Favre (bustin’ out at 40), Kate Gosselin (Jon is a punk), the Jackson children (and why exactly are they fascinating?) Sarah Palin (Moronic, yes. Fascinating, no.) and…wait for it, wait for it…Michelle Obama, I was like that was BORING!

Michelle Obama is Barbara’s most fascinating person for 2009. Why? Oh, because of her great arms. What kind of absolute nonsense is this? How can a woman’s arms make her the most fascinating person in the entire United States? Does Michelle Obama have the best arms of any first lady? She might, but who cares?

I was so disappointed that I decided to create my own list, as follows:

10.  Jay Z. 2009 was a big year for Jay. It marked the first time he had a Billboard number 1 single, Empire State of Mind with Alicia Keys. He celebrated one year of marriage to Beyonce Knowles, and turned 40. Big things for the biggest name in hip hop.

9.  Bernie Madoff. Bernie made-off with an alleged $65M of other folks’ money. Even after he was caught and under house arrest, he tried to smuggle jewels and cash to his family and friends. I think they’re considering changing the name of the hustle from Ponzi to Madoff scheme, because Bernie took duping to new heights.

8. Dr. Conrad Murray. After the heat that Dr. Jan Adams (the doctor that killed Kanye’s mom) received, I thought that Black male doctors would have stepped up their game when it came to dealing with their celebrity clients. I was wrong.

7. Black women who support Chris Brown. What a commentary on the self esteem of women of color, when they rally to the defense of a punk ass b*tch who puts his hands on women. It’s one thing for his immature friends (Omarion, Ne-Yo, Puffy) to stand in his defense, because they’re boys. But the sheer hostility that other Black women demonstrated towards Rihanna, was SCARY.

6. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He had amnesia and forgot he was a black man. How could I NOT put him on the list?

5. Jaycee Lee Dugard. Props to this girl for living through kidnapping and 18 years of unadulterated torture at the hands of a pedophile (he needs to be castrated). Her story gave hope to thousands of parents of missing and abducted children.

4. Lil Wayne. Who else can be perpetually high, have two baby momma’s (Lauren London and Nivea Hamilton) give birth at the same time, be featured on three top 20 Billboard singles and have a documentary (The Carter) all at the same time?

3. Charla Nash. She’s on the list for courageously surviving being attacked by Travis the Chimp because she didn’t want her daughter to be alone in the world AND for showing us how she looked on Oprah.

2. Maria Belen Chapur (aka Governor Sanford’s mistress). Her milkshake was so good that this fool went AWOL for it. Bump governing South Carolina. Bump the wife, the kids. Gimme some of that Argentinean booty!

1. Tiger Woods. Until he was caught, he displayed panache worthy of the most fascinating person designation (what’s the count at now, 15?). Who knew that the squeaky clean, world’s number one golfer could be so trifling AND sloppy?!

Full Disclosure: I picked my wife’s brain for some of the individuals featured on the list. She vehemently disagrees with Jay Z (she thinks he should be number 15 or 16).

1 Comment

Filed under Smack talking

Best female rapper in the game? I think not. Who is Nicki Minaj, Part 2

I’ve gotten a bunch of push back from folk who felt like I didn’t give Nicki Minaj a fair shake in my post yesterday.

Is Nicki Minaj the best female rapper of all time? Nah!

A few suggested that Nicki Minaj is the ‘best female entertainer’ in the game right now. Others claimed that she’s got exceptional lyrical abilities, unmatched by her peers. And at least one person opined that she’s the best female rapper of all times.

Not one to forego an objective and even analysis, let’s examine each of these claims in turn.

Claim No. 1: Nicki Minaj is the best female entertainer in the game right now.

Response: Bullocks! Sheer and utter bullocks.

Rationale: For anyone to make this claim, and believe it, they’d have to say that Nicki Minaj trumps the likes of serious entertainers like Beyonce, Shakira, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga, each of whom puts on a wicked live show.

If you focus solely on female rappers, then perhaps that claim has some validity. With Remy Ma doing a bid, Foxy Brown on permanent hiatus, Lil Kim struggling to make records, Lauryn Hill lost in la-la land, and Missy Elliott relaxing in her riches, there is an absolute void of female MCs. Moreover, artists like Trina, Da Brat, Rah Digga and Lil Mama, have ceased to be relevant, making this void even more pronounced.

Summary: Nicki Minaj is NOT the best entertainer in the game right now, but perhaps she is the most entertaining female rapper out today.

Claim No. 2: Nicki Minaj’s lyrical abilities are unmatched by her peers.

Response: Negatory. No. No. No. No. NO!

Rationale: Unmatched by her peers? It’s fair to say that Nicki Minaj is a rapper. That would place her in the same group as Biggie, Jay Z, Nas, Rakim, Grand Puba, Tupac, etc. But we’re not going to pretend that she can hold her own with any of these icons. If we focus only on female MCs, then she’s in the ranks of Lauryn Hill, Missy, MC Lyte, Rage, Queen Latifah, Eve and Remy Ma (to name but a few).

Even the most cursory examination of the lyrics of any of her songs, illustrates that Nicki possesses fundamental lyrical ability. But she’s got nothing to match the sheer wordplay of a Lauryn, the complexity of Missy or the intelligence of MC Lyte. Even if we focus only on her delivery (if you can get past that annoying voice), she pales in comparison to Remy or Eve, whose signature staccato delivery can’t be matched.

Summary: Compared to virtually any of these rappers, her stuff is marginal, at best.

Claim No. 3: Nicki Minaj is the best female rapper of all times.

Response. Pure unadulterated nonsense.

Rationale: Nicki Minaj has a total of ZERO records charted on Billboard. Outside of her ‘mixtapes’ she has released ZERO albums. She has no real spins to speak of in BDS or Mediabase. Grammies? Nada. With most of the female rappers named in this post each generating units moved in the MILLIONS, she’s got a loooonnnnngggggg way to go before she can even be mentioned in the same sentence.

Summary: Nicki Minja does not possess the track record to qualify for the ‘greatest female rapper of all times’ moniker.

Cats need to slow their rolls when it comes to Nicki Minaj. She’s got passable skills and a banging body, but passable skills and banging body do not a female rapper make. Let’s see if she’s got staying power, and can come with something more than pity-pat simple lyrics.

12 Comments

Filed under branding