When it comes to starting a career as an independent hip-hop artist, it’s vital to embrace teamwork. While you are obviously independent and therefore not latched onto any kind of record company, you are all alone.

This means that you have two choices:

  • You can do try and do everything that you can to an admirable yet amateur level.
  • You can invest in assistance and aid from people who you know and can work with.

The latter is always the best option. Just like you wouldn’t try to run an entire 5-man band all alone, you wouldn’t try to run a hip-hop front without assistance.

How can you make sure you can be a good marketer, composer, editor, producer and planner all at once? You can’t. Simple.

Since you need to bring in some help to help out with some of the key functions of being a musician, it pays to know who the most important member of your team is going to be.

As you go around planning who you will be hiring, it helps to know what kind of people an independent hip-hop musician will need.

Again, you aren’t able to call on the marketing gurus or the promotional pulling power of a record company.

So, you need help to find the people who can fill that gap for you and make sure you can make the right calls. Naturally, that’s a whole lot easier said than it is done!

In a bid to help you out in that regard, we recommend that you have a read through this piece. We’re going to help show you who the single most important member of your team is going to be – outside of yourself, of course.

What role do you focus on when building a team?

It’s something that could be argued on forever, of course. In our opinion, though, the most important member of your team as an independent hip-hop artist is on the promotional side of things.

You’re a hip-hop artist, so you don’t need someone writing you lyrics or coming up with a personality for you. That’s part of your power: you are authentic, here to sell a particular art form and personality.

Unlike a pop star, you aren’t stuck with trying to find a way to become authentic or appealing to the wider public.

You need to instead find someone who can make you stand out from the crowd, to help promote that authentic nature of yourself. For us, the most important person that you can choose to hire is your Booking Agent.

Yes, the booking agent is your single most important ally. While a manager is always a major part of the team (and more on a manager in this article[LINK]) it’s not as vital as a booking agent.

Without a booking agent, you might struggle to actually get anything worth managing going in the first place.

Make no mistake: choosing the right booking agent is one of the most undervalued skills in the independent music industry.

If you are serious about getting someone onside who you can trust and who can do the job that you need, then you need to be able to start looking around for someone who can come in.

You also need to understand the skills that makes a good booking agent. I mean, anyone could be your booking agent technically.

The difference is that if you are serious about getting a good booking agent then you need to start looking around at who can help you out.

Booking Agents: The Skills that Matter

So, it’s vital that you invest the time and effort needed to find a good booking agent. Getting an agent who can do all of your booking for you is a major skill in itself. They need to be good negotiators to do this, though.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you lack the kind of transferrable personal skills that you can use to help negotiate deals, or if you lack star power, then you need some help.

Otherwise, you might just find that gaining credible experience that people can take notice of is more challenging than you might have expected.

The booking agent is something that can be hard to find, but they need to be a good networker.

A good booking agent is someone with friends in the industry who have been on the lookout for a high quality hip-hop artist. They can not only find you work, but they can find you relevant work that actually is going to help you improve.

You don’t need a booking agent that just takes whatever they can get. They should be out there getting you good deals, promotions and generally pushing your name out there in a way that you couldn’t do alone.

It’s a vital skill; one that is for sure going to push you further up the ladder. They should be legally minded and able to deal with thins like booking tours, setting up guarantees and working with other acts to help you get on their tours at the same time.

While this is arguably the most the difficult person to find, the stress they can save you from dealing with is quite significant.

If you are serious about becoming an artist with a long-term future in the industry, you should invest all the time that you can into finding a good booking agent.

You cannot afford to make all the bookings yourself. Unless you are both a sharp negotiator and a business mind, you will find it hard to reach the kind of deals that a good booking agent could do for you. With that in mind, then, you should be much more willing to start searching for a new booking agent.

If you get the right person, it could make the perfect addition to your team. As an independent hip-hop artist, it can be the difference between relevance and obscurity.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.