Even as an independent hip-hop artist focusing on your grind, you should never underestimate or devalue the quality and the importance of a good media persona.
Stop The Breaks has written extensively in the past about building media relationships in articles like:
- How Independent Hip-Hop Artists can Build Relationships with Bloggers
- How to Write a Music Pitch Email to Get Featured On Blogs
- Creating a Media List for Your Independent Rap Press Releases
While as an independent artist this is more likely to be independent publications and blogs rather than big-name industry standards, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Your main aim in the earliest phases of your career as an independent hip-hop artist is to try and make as many media friends as possible.
Think about it logically – people simply do not know about you. Therefore, you need to be noticed without spending an advertising budget you likely don’t have. The best way to do this? To get involved with the press.
Local websites, publications and social media channels are the perfect place to start making friends. Local influencers and opinion holders will be the ones you want to impress the most; they could just be the ones who you need to start recommending you ASAP.
However, building friends in the press means a lot more than just providing free content and being nice. It means giving the press people you work with something back.
Help them to create cool angles on content, always be open for a quote and never be shy to help out when they need a little assistance finishing a story off.
Let all the press that you want to try and charm know that you are always open for a chat or a discussion about any particular topic you feel you contribute to.
Showing that you are eager to make those friendships and connections is one of the first steps you should try to take, moving forward.
How to be media friendly
Like most hip-hop artists, you are likely not going to have the best starting position with the press.
Unless it’s a hip-hop magazine you will likely have to fight through some unfair prejudice with editors and interviewers. Accept that now and prepare to combat these problems – being media-friendly is so important.
Offer more than they ask for every single time. If you are doing a ten question interview, be as expansive and as open as you can be for media-friendly improvements.
Give background information, offer addition context to answers and just go that extra mile to show that you do genuinely care about how you come across.
Media people respect and appreciate up and coming artists who are happy to give them a bit more than they asked for.
The more that you do this, the easier it becomes to get people around you who will be more positive than they would have otherwise. This is not networking or any kind of scamming, either; it’s all about making the right impact.
Your music only tells so much about the person; so you have to be ready to give the other side of the story when prompted. This can be hard to get your head around but it is by no means a lasting challenge.
Once you start to see that your music is the front, your personality the fusion, you can start to make big changes to the way that you live your life.
So, to be more media-friendly, simply give them the time of day. The hip-hop industry is notoriously hard to break through for local and/or independent media. If you can make your presence felt by those who are there, then you should almost certainly look to do so as quickly as you possibly can.
The media appreciate people who treat them with respect, not contempt. That respect is then mutually reciprocated. This allows you to start making big alterations to the way that you work with these media people. You’ll be less wary of stories being twisted, for a start!
That strong media relationship plays a critical role in helping you to establish a strong means of understanding with any press team that you operate alongside, too.
If you need to handle interviews or you are doing a bit of PR for an upcoming event or gig, a sympathetic press member is more likely to make you come off at your best than someone looking for a scoop.
Beware enemies in the press
However, as a young artist who has a fledgling career, it can be over before it’s begun with the media. You want to be able to spend time looking at how to make the best relationship, not the worst.
Avoid arguments, calling them out during interviews and other such insulting decorum. If you would like to keep people onside, then beware the fact that enemies tend to be good at pretending they are friends.
The music industry, especially one so anti-establishment as hip-hop, has struggled to make its voice heard. By using the power of the press you can bridge that gap.
Having good press friends allows you to be heard in more than one location, making it easy for firms to get investment and move on once they maximize the market.
Just always beware of those who are looking to make a story about you, not the music that you play. If possible, avoid this kind of journalist but it’s always likely to occur at least at one stage.
Give yourself a better chance of being prepared by having other avenues of positive promotion. It’s OK to get bad stories printed against you – so long as your meetings and friendship with other press members can help to avoid this problem.
This is such a hard thing to get right, but it’s by no means an impossibility. A good media relation is going to be a major milestone for you to know that you are on the right track. The more information that you can give to a media type, the more likely they are to create an accurate story.
Don’t misuse the press for false coverage, but don’t ignore them to create little to negative coverage, either!
Working with the press as an artist is a hard thing to do, but if you concentrate on making friends rather than trying to make interviews controversial, you can begin to find that the press is happy to promote you when you need it most.
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