It’s an everyday thing on social media. You had a long day, you’re just getting home, and decide to make yourself a glass of tea. You’re so satisfied you tweet out “Nothing beats a nice glass of tea”, then your notifications go off. Are people really feeling tea like you are at the moment?
No. Like clockwork, the Tweetdeck wolves are in your mentions:
“You need beats? I got that fire 87 beats for a dollar!!!”
“I got them (Insert Famous Rapper) type beats on deck”
“Check out my new beat video on YouTube”
It’s maddening right? I don’t understand how ”producers” who ignore the spam in their mentions and inboxes decide to spam others in the hopes that they can sell them a beat. Even if you sell a beat here and there, it’s not a sustainable strategy for success. More than anything, it’s a waste of time and a good way to turn off someone who you could have had a working relationship with.
As a beatmaker who was sadly about that life at one point, I can honestly say that strategy might have worked 2-3 times at best in the 6+ months of elapsed time I did it. Now as (primarily) a writer who gets random follows and mentions to check out beats, I can honestly say I am probably not going to listen to whatever you put in my mentions. Furthermore, I can do nothing for you. Do not send it.
Social media has birthed an odd music networking ecosystem that’s more focused on quantity than quality or actual communication. MC Yung Lil tweets out “send me some beats”, then dozens of producers race to be the first to Yung Lil’s mentions to get heard without knowing the first thing about him. Besides being a terrible environment for anything resembling organic art, it’s essentially a lottery. I presume producers believe the more people you show your music to, the better chance someone will bite, right? Wrong.
As artists, some of us become so consumed by our inner narrative that we don’t consider how we come off to those that don’t know us. No matter how much time you invest into your music, once you decide to market yourself by solely @ing people and jumping in mentions like a kamikaze, you become a grain of sand at the beach. Music spam does nothing to differentiate yourself in an already oversaturated market. Essentially, you’ve drowned yourself.
There are more personable, effective techniques to building your name as a producer or simply turning a profit if that’s what you want to do. Up and coming producer Cole James Cash notes “I got noticed by media because I was different, my approach was different, I networked in real life, and (I also) forged true relationships.”
If you’re a producer who’s really looking to become relevant in the music industry there are myriad ways to go about it. First off, it’s important to understand the primary objective of networking is to filter out the thousands of artists on twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud and Reverbnation who have no intention of being serious artists.
That starts with getting off the computer and meeting people in real life. Those “email me some beats” relationships lead nowhere. Once you find yourself in venues where there are nothing but artists investing in themselves you’re ahead of the curve. Go to networking events, showcases, shows etc. If you can, get a manager to help you. Making a good impression on artists and staying persistent with communication gives you a much stronger chance of building a relationship.
It’s important to listen to an artist’s music and become a legitimate fan, that way you know if you’ll have chemistry. If an artist decides to work with you, stick with them. You can progress together, and once you reach a collective plateau, branch out. Many of today’s major beatsmiths started out as in-house producers. You should preferably look for local artists, because proximity feeds progress.
If you’re amenable to dealing with major labels, you can also make a collection of full songs with your beats and send them to publishing companies. It may be more of a long haul and relatively expensive, but if your music is good it will pay off. Find the names, numbers and e-mails of publishing companies that accept music from your genre, then write and record full, properly mastered songs. Put together 10-15 then mail them out.
For those not looking to be the next Mike Will Made It, who just want to commodify a hobby, consider licensing your music to video game companies and movie studios. Providing quality, mastered music for small scale films and video game scores can become a consistent income. Somebodies’ music is going to be used, why not yours?
If you don’t have the funds or network to utilize the previous avenues, you can make due with what you have: your talent. “If you cant find any rappers, try to compose a body of work with no rappers and really show your beats can carry you with or without an MC,” Cole advises. Cole Cash has carved his own niche with conceptual beat tapes that play out as instrumental narratives. He made his “BBW:A Pornographic Opera” with no industry connections and “literally 0 dollars”, and it earned him press in numerous outlets, including Unkut.com, Kevin Nottingham.com, and BonafideMag.com.
He’s springboarded the notoriety into numerous opportunities, including an upcoming album boasting industry features. Cole Cash credits artistic originality to his success. “Everyone is doing the same shit. How is it someone like me with almost no connections broke in? (By) being different and gaining the respect of my peers,” he said. If he can do it, you can as well.
Whatever the case, whiling away your days sending your beats to every twitter profile in sight is a futile effort. The story you hear of a producer “getting on” like that is the exception that proves the rule. Make bypassing the muck of beat spammers, desperate for a hollow “lets work” tweet, rule number one of commodifying your craft. Don’t work harder, work smarter.