Monday, April 29, 2013

Check out my Guest Blog Post on ReverbNation "5 Tips For Preparing For Your Hip-Hop Mixtape Release"!

In this guest post, Kayla Calloway gives independent and up-and-coming hip-hop artists tips on how to effectively prepare a mixtape release.

Whether you are prepping for your first mixtape or this is your next go round, here are 5 tips for preparing for a successful mixtape release excerpted from “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Marketing & Publicity.” So in the words of Trinidad James “Lemme give you a checklist:”
1. Choose a DJ
When starting out, especially if it’s your first mixtape, choose a DJ who is on the come-up as well and who truly believes in your music. Or you can go the latest route used by emerging Atlanta hip-hop artist, Rich Homie Quan, and host your own mixtape.
2. Find a Studio
Find a studio that you are comfortable recording in, and once you have blocked time, make sure that you come prepared. Write your rhymes at home and be ready to go when you arrive to the studio.
3. Mix
Have your mixtape cleaned up and mixed by a professional engineer who knows what he is doing. Make sure that the sound is clear and crisp and that the sound levels are balanced throughout your mixtape.
4. Hire a Graphic Artist
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 cover ideas that will represent you and your mixtape effectively. So, with that being said, here are three tips to consider when hiring a mixtape cover graphic artist:
  • Versatility: When selecting a graphic artist, make sure that they are versatile, creative, and 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-fits-all approach to designing mixtape covers.
  • Track Record: Request to see work they’ve done in the past. Additionally, when you’re hiring for services, such as PR, marketing, or website design, check track records as well.
  • 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.
5. Use Social Media to Gear Up for Your Mixtape Release
  • Engage: Follow other hip-hop artists, both up-and-coming and established, who have similar fan bases and followers. Additionally, follow DJs and other hip-hop influencers, such as hip-hop editors, bloggers, etc. Keep track of who’s mentioning you.
  • Get Fans to Promote for You: Constantly engage with your fans and include them on your journey. For example, you can ask fans for feedback regarding the title of your mixtape, which track to promote, mixtape cover art, etc. Join their conversations; don’t just always flood them with links pertaining to your music.
  • Plan: Plan a content strategy so you do not get distracted from the bottom line.
This list covers the basics. However, I would like to also mention the importance of working to build your fan base prior to releasing your mixtape. For more hip-hop marketing and publicity tips, visit Got any questions for me? Leave a comment below!
All the best with your mixtape release!

Kayla Calloway is a hip-hop enthusiast with over 5 years of PR experience, with specific concentrations in media relations and writing. Kayla has a strong rapport within the hip-hop editorial community and is the author of “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Marketing & Publicity”. She has secured media placements in XXL, The Source,, Creative Loafing, AJC and more. Kayla can be reached on Twitter and Facebook.

6 Key Tactics For Organic Success On Youtube From Hip-Hop Artist Rob Scott

Check out this cool article "6 Key Tactics For Organic Success On Youtube From Hip-Hop Artist Rob Scott" from                      Hypebot contributor Natalie Cheng:

Monday, April 15, 2013

8 Hip-Hop Blogs That You May Have Never Heard Of

I recently came across a site/service called Inkybee, which is a service that helps subscribers find the most popular bloggers in whichever niche that they are searching for. I recently took advantage of their free trial, which extends through April 30th, and performed a hip-hop search and came across several hip-hop blogs that I was not familiar with prior. So without further ado, here are 8 hip-hop blogs that you may not have ever heard of:

1. Passion Weiss
Description/Tagline: Interviews, Mixes & etc.

2. Mostly Junkfood
Description/Tagline: New Music, Reviews, Interviews & More

3. Tom Clements
Description/Tagline: Written by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. An Indie UK hip-hop blog

4. The Metropolitan Jolt
Description/Tagline: We're like you, we like good music.

5. This Song is Sick
Description/Tagline: A electronic & hip-hop music blog featuring only sick songs.

6. The Music Ninja
Description/Tagline: Discover Everyday Music

7. Rap Ruler
Description/Tagline: Your hip-hop measuring stick.

8. Fist in the Air
Description/Tagline: Columbus & Cincinnati, Ohio music site.

De La Soul Adapt To The World Of Singles. But Who Is Truly Embracing Disruption?

Check out this interesting article: "De La Soul Adapt To The World Of Singles. But Who Is Truly Embracing Disruption?" by Hypebot contributor: Clyde Smith

Top 10 Ways Musicians Are Using Vine

Check out this interesting article: "Top 10 Ways Musicians Are Using Vine" by Hypebot contributor: Clyde Smith

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"5 Questions" with Marketer & Musician Simon Tam

I had the opportunity to speak with musician & entrepreneur Simon Tam regarding tips on how indie and emerging hip-hop artists can secure sponsorships and endorsements. Simon Tam is President and Founder of Last Stop Booking, author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements, and performs in dance rock band The Slants. Check out what Simon had to say about crowdfunding, the importance of following up and more! Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at, and you can follow him on Twitter @SimonTheTam

1.) At what stage, should an indie/emerging hip-hop artist consider seeking out sponsorship opportunities and/or endorsements?
I believe that an indie artist should begin working on creating partnerships from the very beginning of their career. Now, that doesn't mean that they need to begin asking and sending out proposal packets or anything...but it does mean that they need to be aware of their target audience, learn how to build that audience, and find out what motivates them. Don't just use social media to promote oneself, use it to build interactions and engagement - that's the kind of thing that sponsors like to see. It doesn't mater if you have 100,000 fans if none of them interact with you. Even if you only have 1,000 fans but you have high levels of engagement, content, and interaction, you'd be a much better prospect. From the very beginning, begin cultivating contacts by building relationships with people who might be able to help one day. This can be from friends, family, or even never know who knows somebody and who might be interested in working with you one day.
2.) What tips would you give indie/emerging hip-hop artists for researching and targeting specific sponsorship opportunities?
It's all about understanding your target audience. Too often, we focus on the companies that we like: they're big, they seem to have money or power, they're sponsoring other acts, etc. However, we need to focus on our fans. Potential sponsors want to know that your fan base is their target audience as well. Therefore, get as much data as possible - demographics, behaviors, common interests, etc. You can use fan surveys to find out the kinds of things that they enjoy (also great for developing a plan to have great merchandise) or you can use Facebook's Page Manager to see what other "likes" your followers share. That is a great starting point because those companies know you have a special relationship with their potential customers.
3.) What are some tips for creating an effective sponsorship proposal?
The most effective sponsorship proposal is one that is catered to your prospect in every way possible. In other words, don't have stock language that seems generic. Find out what motivates the potential sponsor: target audience, unique niche, your markets that they want to reach, etc. Do your homework first and create something that reflects their company. Focus on their return to investment: everything in the packet should answer the question of what they will benefit from sponsoring you.
4.) What are your thoughts on artists using crowdfunding for album/mixtape projects? What are some tips for setting up a crowdfunding campaign?
I think crowdfunding is a great way to fund projects, however, it's important that artists approach it the right way. First, people need to stop viewing those who contribute as donors. They're not. They're investors. They're investing into your art and expect some kind of payoff as a return for their investment (usually music or products). So treat them like V.I.P investors. That changes everything: how you approach them, how you ask, how you follow up throughout the campaign. Like sponsors, you don't begin a campaign at the launch of your kickstarter or IndieGoGo project, it starts when you begin building that relationship up with your fans. If it is one of trust and transparency from the start, they'll be more likely to help. Recently, I did an interview about this with Entrepreneur on Fire with a specific emphasis on music funding (it's part of a series of ten interviews). You can get more information/thoughts on that here:

5.) How should artists go about identifying the sponsorship/endorsement point of contact?
There's a number of things that I recommend for this: start with who you know already (both in terms of companies or contacts) and ask them. You can also use Linkedin, the company website, Hoover's, Datamonitor, or other business resources. It's usually the marketing department or business inquiries line but sometimes they have a dedicated sponsorship staff person as well. In my book, How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements, I have an entire section that walks you through the process.
*What are some tips for effectively following up with the contact?
Number one: just do it. Over 99% of artists do not follow up in anyway and fall through the cracks. Following up will immediately set you apart from the beginning. Second, always give them a reason to continue the conversation (even if they say no the first time): ask them questions on when would be a better time to follow up, see if they're willing to meet for lunch or coffee (your treat), offer to give their staff free copies of your CD, ask if they know anyone else who would be a good fit, etc. With every piece of communication that you ever send in, you want to make sure you're building that relationship and that they get something of value from the interactions, otherwise you'll just be seen as an annoyance, a gold digger, and it makes the relationship seem one-sided.