Skip to content

4 Things Aspiring Artists Need to STOP

    As a creative consultant, I spend a lot of time giving advice to up and coming artists.  As we head into the New Year, I’d like to share 4 things aspiring artists absolutely need to STOP doing in 2014 and beyond.

    STOP claiming you have a movement

    If no one knows you except your friends and family, you do not have a movement.  Even if you have a few hundred followers on Twitter and Facebook, you still don’t have a movement.  You don’t get to label something a movement; it just happens organically when, 1) a growing number of people start to develop a genuine interest in what you bring to the table and, 2) those people begin to show real support by attending your shows or downloading/buying your music.  Until this happens, your “movement” is just a dream.

    STOP saying you’re different

    If I had a dollar for every artist I met who swears that their music is different than everybody else’s music, I’d already be retired.  You cannot flat out copy everything from your favorite artist, down to gestures and mannerisms and have the audacity to say you’re original.  You cannot rap like Drake over actual Drake instrumentals while trying to sell me on how you’re going to change the game.  Develop your own style.  It’s ok to be inspired by successful artists but it shouldn’t make you want to actually be them.  And that goes to the guy I bumped into a few weeks ago with the painted-on Drake unibrow.

    STOP expecting free things

    You’re going to have to invest in your career.  Giving your music away on ReverbNation, SoundCloud, or Bandcamp while promoting yourself on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram will only take you so far.  At some point, you’re going to need a solid branding/marketing plan.  Without a doubt, you’ll need a budget to pay for those services only a professional can offer.  If you’re serious about taking your career to the next level, you’re going to need to pay for videos, photography, mixing and mastering, websites, publicity, and more.  However, if the thought of spending money on what you claim to be passionate about turns you off, you should probably…

    STOP pretending you really want a career in the music business

    If you’re not willing to work your ass off to pursue your dream, don’t expect Kanye to magically knock at your door and sign you to his label because he heard the music you posted on Twitter.  If you’re serious about your career, you’re going to have to make compromises and sacrifices.  Are you ready to work on your craft tirelessly? Are you willing to let go X-Box, Play Station, girls, weed, and hanging out with your boys and replace these distractions with productive activities that will get you closer to your goal? If not, stop pretending that you’re “about your business”. Keep doing your music as a hobby and find another career goal that suits you better.

    I hope these 4 points will give aspiring artists something to think about as they plan for the coming year.  Most importantly, I hope 2014 brings us artists with original, inspiring, thought-provoking music.  Fortunately, something tells me a change is coming.


    Sebastien Elkouby is a Hip Hop Culture historian, freelance writer, creative consultant, and award-winning educator. Check out his educational program,Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture and blog, For more info about his creative consulting services, contact him at [email protected]