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!

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