Monday, September 26, 2011

"5 Questions" Interview with HipHopAtLunch.com's Mike Boyd Jr.

I recently interviewed Mike Boyd Jr., Founder of the emerging hip-hop artists site HipHopAtLunch.com. Check out what this bonafide hip-hop head had to say about the importance of catchy subject lines, building a fan base and much more!
1.) I know you receive tons of emails. So when a hip-hop artist is trying to pitch themselves to the Artist Spotlight or Reviews section, how can they make themselves stand out in the mass of emails you receive daily? Hip-hop artists and managers should ask themselves the following question: "If I were in the shoes of this blog, website, DJ, or tastemaker, what would entice me to open an e-mail?"  Personally, I think artists and managers should also put more time into crafting interesting subject lines. More often than not, a bad subject line will get your e-mail immediately deleted from my inbox.
2.) I definitely consider you a source when it comes to uncovering some of the freshest and newest hip-hop talent. How do you stay abreast? When a new artist jumps onto my radar, I'll check him or her out to see if their music and image matches up with their buzz and story.  Sometimes it takes me a few listens before I can really hear what's going on with the music and movement, especially if I'm listening to an artist from a different region!  Having said that, I'm always watching for trends and listening to a select list of tastemakers. 
3.) Where are you based out of? HipHopAtLunch.com covers a wide range of artists; however I've observed that HipHopAtLunch.com has recently been a great platform for Atlanta hip-hop artists, such as Pill, Future and Trouble. The reason I ask is because I'm from SW Atlanta.           I'm originally from Saint Louis, but HipHopAtLunch.com is based out of New York City.  As mentioned in your question, my site has been supporting a good deal of Atlanta artists lately.  This is the case because I feel that some of the best new talent in the game is currently coming out of Atlanta.                                      
4.) In your opinion, what are some examples of some hip-hop artists, who are doing a great job of promoting themselves across the Internet and what are other ways in which artists can build a buzz and following outside of the Internet? Mac Miller and Rostrum Records are doing a great job with grass roots and viral marketing.  For example, they recently made videos to announce Mac's debut album title (http://bit.ly/MacMillerAlbumTitle) and release date (http://bit.ly/MacMillerDropDate).  Most artists would have simply tweeted out that type of information.
For building a buzz and following outside of the Internet, I'd suggest that artists think of events that their fan base would like to attend.  For example, Mac Miller could throw a listening session or album release party in the same park that he named his album after.  He could also have a scavenger hunt around the city of Pittsburgh and give concert tickets to the winners, etc.
To build a buzz, it's important to focus a good amount of your efforts on current fans.  Try to turn the people who 'like' your music into people who 'love' your music.  They'll spread the word to their friends.
5.) Who are some of your favorite new hip-hop artists? & What mixtapes are you currently listening too? Some of my personal favorite new hip-hop artists are Big K.R.I.T., Trouble, and Future.  If you are not familiar with those three artists, I suggest you check them out now!  I'm currently listening to Future's Streetz Calling mixtape, Trouble's Green Light and December 17th mixtapes, OG Ron C and DJ Candlestick's Chop The Throne project, and Curren$y's Pilot Talk 2 album.
*Where does the name HipHopAtLunch come from? Originally, HipHopAtLunch's main focus was an e-mail newsletter that went out to my subscribers every day around noon.  By reading the e-mail, kids and young adults could keep up with the hottest emerging emcees and hip-hop news while on their lunch break. Nowadays, I use my e-mails to inform those in need of new music as to projects and artists that they should be checking out. If you're on my list, you can expect to get a message whenever I feel the need to share some info!
Hit me on Twitter, @HipHopAtLunch, and I'll add you to the e-mail list!
Thanks Mike!












Thursday, September 15, 2011

4 Tips For Hiring a Graphic Artist For Your Mixtape

Your mixtape cover art is an important and extended part of your image and should be a dope and forthcoming visual representation of what’s to come on your mixtape. When hiring a graphic artist for your mixtape cover, you need to make sure they understand your music and brand and that they can bring your ideas to life or that they can bring forth their own creative mixtape cover ideas that will represent you and your mixtape effectively. So with that being said, here are 4 tips to consider when hiring a mixtape cover graphic artist.
1.    Versatility- When selecting a graphic artist, make sure that they are versatile and that they are creative and that they have a range of design skills, because you want someone who can convey your individuality and the themes and messages of your music, not someone who has a one size fit all approach to designing mixtape covers.
 
2.    Track Record- Request to see work they’ve done in the past and ask for testimonials. Additionally, when you’re hiring for services, such as PR/marketing or website design check track records as well.
 
3.     Professionalism- I know that the hip-hop industry can be a little casual, but business is business. Make sure you have a timeline for the work and ask that the graphic artist is being consistent with you and communicating effectively with you throughout the process.
 
4.    You Get What You Pay For- If you want good value for something, allot a budget and pay for it. When you are a DIY type of hip-hop artist, who more than likely has a day job it is important that you are budgeting and planning in advance for these types of cost.

Find Out How Your Music is Being Categorized on YouTube via Music Discover

Music Discovery is a YouTube tool that allows users to make playlists and discover new artists and music videos, similar to Pandora. However, Music Discovery is not finalized. Music Discovery is a part of YouTube’s TestTube, which is where YouTube developers test out new ideas that aren’t quite finished yet, while inviting viewers to give them feedback on their unfolding developments. Check out music discovery here at http://www.youtube.com/testtube.
So here’s how you find out how your music is being categorized:
2.)   Click “Try it Out” under YouTube Music Discovery
3.)   Type in your name in the search box and click “Disco” & YouTube will generate a playlist of your music and similar artists.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"5 Questions" Interview with DJBooth.net's Brian "DJ Z" Zisook


I recently had the opportunity to interview Co-owner/operator & Editor-in-Chief,  Brian "DJ Z" Zisook of the popular and well-respected hip-hop site DjBooth.net. Check out what DJ Z had to say about Internet buzz vs. real life buzz, how to pitch your music and much more! Dope interview with lots of great tips!


1.) I've seen you tweet examples of how not to pitch your music to DjBooth.net. What are some examples of how some upcoming hip-hop artists have effectively pitched themselves & music and caught the attention of DjBooth.net? Also, how do you feel about hip-hop artists pitching you their music via Twitter and Facebook? Great question.  The most important thing to consider when pitching your music (or the music of your artist) is time.  Ask yourself, "How long will it take this person to get through this submission?"  If the answer is 10 minutes, you've lost them before they've read a single word.  If the answer is 5 minutes, they will most likely give up after beginning.  If the answer is 3 minutes or less, you have more than a fighting chance.  The next closest factor to time is organization.  Reading countless emails is hard enough on the eyes, nobody needs wacky fonts, different size text and several colors.  Set the size to the standard 12, the color to black, and the font to default (do no over think things to try and get someone's attention).  Make sure to include all the basics: the music (attached as an MP3, or available in 1 click through a service like SoundCloud), the title of the release, the production credit, the project information, links to a website and social networks, professionally-taken promo photos, and if available a bio or EPK.  At the end of the day, though, no matter how conscious someone is of time and organization, the music must speak for itself.  If the submission is quality, it will rise to the top.

As for the second question, do not ever send me music through Twitter or Facebook.  It is unorganized, unprofessional, and won't be considered.  Would a mail carrier try to deliver your mail through the opening in your car window?  No, its not the right way to do things.  Same deal here.

2.) What are some of the criteria you use when deciding to feature the music of indie and upcoming hip-hop artists?We receive thousands of submissions per month, so its hard to pinpoint any set of specific criteria that determines who is and who is not featured at DJBooth.net.  As I mentioned in my answer to question #1, the music must speak for itself.  If you don't catch our ear in the first 30 seconds, your time is over.  Also, if the song (MP3) is not mixed and mastered, you probably won't be featured.  Mixing and mastering music is like breaks on a car; they are not optional, you need them or else it just doesn't work.

3.) Tell me more about DjBooth.net's participation in the A3C Festival. Also, could you give a little background on the A3C festival for those who don't know what it is.
DJBooth.net, for the second year in a row, was invited to present a showcase at the A3C Festival in Atlanta October 6th - 8th.  Our showcase is Friday, October 7, at the outdoor stage and will feature performances from Big K.R.I.T, Jean Grae, Saigon, Pill, Aleon Craft, Jon Hope, Yonas, J. NiCS, and a few others (who have not yet been announced).  For more information about A3C and its growing movement I would suggest people visit their official website, http://www.a3cfestival.com/.
Kayla's Note: A3C is the largest hip-hop festival in the Southeast.

4.) In your opinion, what constitutes an artist having a strong Internet buzz. What hip-hop artists do you think do a great job of promoting themselves across the Internet? A "strong Internet buzz" can be very misleading.  If an artist has a strong buzz online, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can translate that semi-success outside of the net.  For example, Artist X has 20k Twitter followers and an additional 25k "likes" on Facebook.  Those are both very respectable social network statistics.  Does this mean Artist X will be able to book and sell out a venue that holds approximately 250 people, lets say, in 8-10 major market cities across the country?!?  Maybe, or maybe not. The simple mathematics (if they are real numbers, and not artificially inflated by blank accounts or paid-for bots) tell us that they should be able to - but most artists in that range struggle mightily (without additional artists as supporting acts). 

Artists who have done a great job of parlaying Internet buzz to real world buzz over the last few years are Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Big K.R.I.T, Curren$y, and Freddie Gibbs.

5.) Who are some of your favorite upcoming and indie hip-hop artists? I could literally spend the next five hours listing artists, who I believe will play a big part in shaping the sound of urban music over the next 5-8 years.  Currently, I am a big fan/supporter of Dee-1, Emilio Rojas, Fortilive, GhostWridah, Gilbere Forte, Hoodie Allen, J NiCS, Jon Hope, Kendrick Lamar, Kyle Lucas, Logic, Laws, Macklemore, Nikki Lynette, Novel, OnCue, Phil Ade, Rapsody, Smokey Robotic, STS, Soul Khan, Thurz, Yonas, and Young Scolla.  And that is the "Cliff Notes" version, if you will [laughs].

Thanks Z!