As an independent hip-hop artist, one of the main things that you need is a good first impression. When you are trying to advertise yourself to the public, you need to come across as the best representation of yourself.
It’s important that you do this for the simple reason that first impressions count.
If your first steps into promoting yourself fall flat, you might just have lost anyone listening to you for the first time forever. It’s why, when it comes to promotion – especially on the radio – you need to be super precise.
So, with that in mind, how can you go about making your first radio steps a success? How do you avoid falling down the same traps and getting into the recurring issues that others need to deal with when they fail?
Build a background
Start developing an electronic press kit which contains everything the media needs to know about you. Get some guest posts on blogs, speak with hip hop websites and even try get yourself a little spot on some podcasts.
Anything that you can point to that shows you already have a budding media persona is a good thing. It makes it much more likely that the people you are dealing with at the radio station will take you seriously.
Podcasts in particular are good as it allows you to show that you can handle an interview format and that you sound good on the waves – it’s an underrated but very important way to get noticed.
Many of your competition won’t go this far, so you can put yourself ahead of the queue with a bit of invention.
Send samples to radio stations
Obviously, it helps if you send a sample of your music along with the radio request. Let them hear you and also give them some supplementary material that proves you are who you say you are.
Maybe a blog post link about you, an article in the local press, anything at all. Something that proves you actually have an audience.
Without proof that you are already on your way to being a success, radio stations will be reticent to play your stuff. Give them proof that you have a following, though, and it becomes much easier.
Don’t let the chance to introduce yourself pass you by – be upfront about who you are. Coming across as super professional and floaty in your letter requesting play time or an interview will not go down well if you then turn up and are nothing like described.
Don’t try and pull the wool over the eyes of anyone when you are trying to get on the radio. Be as honest about who you are and what you represent as you can; be sure that they understand the background of your music history and your personality before they listen.
Don’t start firing away to the big radio stations in your state; you need to be realistic about who will give you a chance to get heard by the public.
You need a huge amount of coverage and successful response to get on the big mainstream stations, so start local. Find hip-hop stations, get yourself spotted on these kind of stations first and then you can move up the ladder.
Trying to for the big dogs without a massive a successful promotional history behind you is going to be tough, so be realistic about who is likely to play your music at the start.
Now that you have a good idea of how to go about getting yourself involved in the industry, let’s look at attitude.
You might be feeling pretty confident in yourself now that you have picked up a radio spot – but how can you make sure that spot is going to succeed?
Respect the demand
When you go on radio – whether it’s for your music, an interview, or both – remember that nobody is tuning in just for you. They just so happen to be listening, and you then have that small window of opportunity to make yourself as appealing as you possibly can.
Look at how artists who you respect have handled themselves on the airwaves, on a podcast and the like. Can you be like that?
Just remember that you are here to promote yourself and your personality as much as the music. Be yourself – you want the listeners to pick up on your authenticity.
People dig authentic artists so they will be far more likely to actually pay attention to what you are saying if you come across as real.
Avoid trying to hype yourself up or having a persona for the radio; as far as your own reputation goes, it’s an easy way to bullet your overall appeal.
Keep it nice and simple and respect the fact that nobody is listening just to hear you; you need to convince them to pick up their ears and give you a chance.
Express yourself, don’t hold back
In the modern age, many people are sick of bland and dull artists that don’t offer anything unique. If you just offer up the same opinions as the rest, then you’ll likely get the same attention as the rest – none.
If you want to get around that problem, then you have to learn to truly express yourself and to show you are more than just another generic artist.
Got an opinion on the political scene? Make it heard in your music. If you get asked about it on radio, don’t shy away.
Be forthright and don’t let people think your opinions or takes are just for hype or to try and create a stir. Express yourself as you would if you were talking to a fellow artist; treat this like an audition to show that you are more than just the usual.
It’s a hard thing to do and as an independent rapper it’s easy to worry you might go the wrong way with expression. You always have that fear you will say the wrong thing or make a controversial statement that could hurt your credibility.
In society today, though, it’s better to show that you have a bit of life and personality about you rather than being one of the new-age artists who merely conforms.