Text 9 Nov 84 notes Too Many People “Playing Record Label”

This is really starting to get annoying. There are so many supposed aspiring artists, labels, producers in the un-industry right now. And by “un” I don’t mean “Underground”, I mean “un” as in “Opposite of; contrary to." And I’m tired of having to watch them play "record label" the way people used to play house when they were kids…totally and utterly make-believe.

The advent of new technologies and media is awesome. Don’t get me wrong, but it is also allowing for more and more no-talent, no-drive, no-budget-having pretenders to take up space in the universe. Anyone can have a page on twitter, tumblr, myspace, facebook, reverbnation, soundcloud, …etc. Anyone can download a music software program to use from home (for free if they’re even a bit resourceful). I understand all that and I appreciate it. However, my complaint starts when people make a mockery of the music industry by giving themselves titles that people used to have to earn. Having a cool name and a logo does NOT make you a record company. Having a software program or fruity loops does NOT make you a producer.

I am proud to call myself a Music Producer. I am proud to call myself a Songwriter. In some circles, those titles still hold weight. I earned them through years of hard work, dedication, spending money and most importantly, actually accomplishing goals and MAKING MONEY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, with major and indy artists, established record companies, film, television, radio and more.

Along the way, by default, I had to learn many things. Besides learning how to use SSL boards and 2-inch tape machines (back in the day) and all the top tier music software, gear and hardware, I also learned to use Excel, Photoshop, Powerpoint, Flash, HTML, …etc. Those are necessary tools of business, music or otherwise. I learned how to write Offering Memorandums, Executive Summaries, Business Plans, Grant Proposals, contracts of all kinds, cue sheets, split sheets, bios, Marketing Plans, Promotions Campaigns and more. I learned how to register music with Mediabase and BDS (easy things to do btw) and, furthermore, how to access those sites and track and report spins and record progress. I learned all these things working for myself and working for various labels throughout my life. I know there will be people reading this who are saying to themselves, “Ummmm, that’s not very impressive. Those are simple things.” And that brings me to my point.

It is not rocket science. The music business is NOT some enormous enigma. It is a business like any other business. It has its key differences of course that make it extraordinary, but in the most basic aspects…it is still a business. And as a business, it contains rules and norms. I am not talking about the creative side here. Creatively, I am an artist and I would never try to assign rules or parameters to music. However, the business, by nature, does have its own set of standards and practices. In order to have success, you must learn what these standards and practices are and you must either run your business according to them or choose to go against the grain and set new trends. I am not saying be a part of the machine, but you must understand the machine in order to join it or find ways around it. All of that is beautiful. I love the music business. 

What is not beautiful is lazy, un-inspiring, complaint-filled wannabe’s taking over the internet and social media with their half-ass musical attempts. Stop playing record label. Stop saying people are “hating” on you because your “career” is not going anywhere. Your city is not hating on you. Radio is not “hating” on you. You just don’t understand that you are really not playing the game. You are watching from the stands and asking why no one is passing you the ball. You want in the game? Good. Congratulations…so does everyone else. “Wanting” it is not good enough. You have to be ready and willing to sacrifice and fight for a chance to play. It will take time and money and lots of hard work. Here is my advice…Go play something else. Especially when it comes to Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is sacred to some of us. Some of us have given our blood, sweat, tears and money to Hip-Hop for over 30 years. So forgive me if I sound like I am taking this onslaught of wack music personally. I actually am.

I know I am no authority on what is hot and what is not. There are so many different genres even just within Hip-Hop music that it would be too hard to find a unanimous definition of dope. I get that. But what I don’t appreciate is seeing so many “record labels” and so-called “artists” all over youtube claiming to be the next big thing and using titles that were once reserved for serious people. If you make beats, cool, but that doesn’t make you a producer. Anyone can rap. Rhyming is taught in schools ever since kindergarten. Being an emcee requires skill and talent. Work on your delivery, tone and song concepts before calling yourself a Hip-Hop artist. Maybe you are just a rapper…be honest. If you came up with a name for you and your people and your music…cool, you have a club of hobbyists, NOT a record COMPANY. Unless you are creating a REAL business with REAL money and a REAL plan, you are only “playing record label.”

I can’t think of any other industry where people “pretend” and “act like they know” as much as they do in the music industry. Guys play basketball at the park. You may find one or two delusional guys who think they are on their way to the NBA from there, but the reality is…most people playing in those pick-up games understand and accept it as their hobby. Adult baseball leagues playing on Sundays do not expect to see big time MLB scouts on a regular basis. I understand there are exceptions, but honestly, most people play for fun and don’t “pretend” it is their path to a million dollar signing bonus.

There is a path to real success in the music business. People like Wendy Day (follow @RapCoaliton on twitter), Paul Porter (@RapRehab and @IndustryEars) and Jesse Jess (@UrbanThreshold) tweet daily with useful information. I see people re-tweet and thank them for their knowledge, but how many really listen? Wendy Day recently wrote an amazing book called, “How To Get A Record Deal,” Paul Porter launched a website this year called raprehab.com and Jesse Jess launched newmusicbiz.net. 

I wonder if the industry will start to change based on this easy access to information. The easy access to recording tools caused a negative change, in my opinion. This free access to tons of music business information should bring the un-industry to a place of clearer understanding. Maybe our understanding of the business will catch up to our understanding of how to create music. I hope it will drive the talented and dedicated people in the right direction and drive the un-industry into a deep, dark abyss. I learned so much the hard way, through trial and error. If you are paying attention and following the right people on twitter (and reading the articles on their links carefully), you could save a lot of time and money. I named 3 good follows in my rant. I know there are many more.

Much love to all the REAL aspiring artists, labels, producers, songwriters out there. And much love to the REAL people still left in the REAL music industry. For whatever its worth…I can be a resource, a weapon to use in your fight. I am launching a webinar style show soon and it will be FREE. Just a place to video blog and interact, answer questions and get some cool guests to add their two cents. I plan to do my part and give back and teach the REAL up-and-comers. I am down to network with positive people…always!  I am here. Get at me. @shystimusic on Twitter.

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