Truly blessed to have the opportunity to interview the knowledgeable and insightful Wendy Day. If you do not know who Wendy Day is please get acquainted. Wendy is a master negotiator, rap fan, and provider of knowledge. To put it simply Wendy Day can teach us a lot about the record industry.
She took the time to answer questions and promote her latest book How to Get A Record Deal. She talks about the inspiration behind the book, indie versus major, Rap Coalition, social media, hip-hop blogs and more.
Please take the time to read this interview and leave some feedback below (shoutout to FuNkwoRm for the conducting the awesome audio interview with Wendy Day).
First and foremost, what inspired you to write How to Get A Record Deal?
I grew tired of seeing all of the misinformation spread on the Internet about how the music industry really works. The music industry is a very closed industry, meaning that those at the top of the inner circle are hard to reach and keep the circle tightly closed so that not everyone can access success easily. They do this for financial reasons--why let someone reach the top when they would pay to go through them? This mindset has always bothered me and I've spent two decades openly sharing knowledge and secrets about how to succeed in music.
I thought the Internet would make it easier, and in a lot of ways it has. But it also spreads lies, misrepresentations, and incorrect information just as easily. My book is a reaction to that! Additionally, "How can I get a record deal" is the #1 question I am asked, so if I can just point someone towards the answer instead of explaining it 100 times a day, I can get more work done. Hahahahaha. But seriously...
Within How to Get A Record Deal you touch on the different kinds of record deals (the 360 record deal, joint venture, distribution deals and more). Should artists still desire to pursue a record deal given the recent success of independent rapper Macklemore?
I haven't thought artists need to sign to a record label since the 90s, as evidenced by the deals I've negotiated. In fact, since 2005, I've refused to negotiate deals for artists to sign to labels because I strongly believe that it's not in their best interest... But not every artist is entrepreneurial enough to run their own company. Not every artist is meant to be the boss.
The ones who can't run a company effectively or who are better suited signed to a label, need to pursue that option. Additionally, it takes a lot of money (funding) to do what Macklemore, TechN9ne, and Mac Miller have accomplished. 99% of the rappers out here are broke. If an artist isn't able to invest in himself or herself, or find investors, the choices are limited. It's impossible to succeed in music without funding. Impossible! (I hope the folks reading this are able to prove me wrong!)
You also share insight on the differences between being a signed artist and being an independent artist. I notice that a lot of artists, signed or independent, rely on Social Media to stay in touch with their fans. On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for artists to have Social Media presence?
A scale of 1-10 in importance? 12. Hahahaha. Seriously, it's hugely important because it's a way for artists to reach fans directly, which is necessary today. But where most artists fail, is that they rely SOLELY on social media and the Internet (probably because they don't have the proper finances and the Internet is seen as a free way to promote and market). You STILL have to work the streets. You still have to reach fans where they live and relax BEYOND just the Internet. But the Internet is very important today--it can not be skipped, it just has to be part of a well-rounded marketing and promotions plan. It's a piece of the pie, not the whole pie. Also, artists must interact with the fans not just post verbal diarrhea or beef with them.
My concern about viral occurs only when an artist focuses solely on blowing up virally. So many artists put their all into spreading a video virally and social media because it's cheap and they don't have enough money to properly build their career, and it's just not enough to build a strong buzz. Because they don't understand the industry, they think this is an easy in and the reality is that it's really just a way for them to lose money.
Internet promotion is just one piece of the pie. You still need press, street and club promotions, touring, etc. It's like buying a car and it's just the body. It's not enough! You need the engine, the wheels, the seats!! I understand it's all you have and you're doing the best you can, but it's not enough. You're wasting your time and money. Better to regroup, raise more money or find an investor, and do it right. You have a better shot at winning the lottery than blowing up virally. And remember, the goal is not to "get on" or to get a deal, it's to build a successful music career with longevity. Getting a deal is but one possible step in that process.
How do you feel about Hip-Hop Blogs (i.e. 2DopeBoyz, Nahright, Miss Info, Rap Radar)? Do you find them effective?
Yes and no. The major blogs are the folks breaking new music. Provided the blogs and websites are well respected and visited by many fans, they have extreme value. The ones charging artists to get coverage are not effective. Fans know which artists have a real buzz and who's just paying for it. So those sites lose credibility. The problem is that if you already are known or have a strong buzz you can get covered on the legitimate sites.
But what's a new artist to do? He, or she, has to build from the ground up before trying to get the 2DopeBoyz, Nahrights, Miss Infos, and Rap Radars to cover them. Just like you don't start with the biggest DJ in a city to play your record, you don't start with the most popular bloggers either. You build a foundation first.
Now, we have a plethora a bullshit blogs and websites out here that cut and paste articles from the real sites and blogs, or print bullshit rumors as fact. For example, last week a dumbass blog printed a photo of Lil Wayne saying he cut his dreads off (they were just pulled back behind his head). Other blogs are posting release dates for Lil Boosie when the prison and family aren't even releasing his out date. This spread of rumor, innuendo, and lies is not helpful or beneficial to anyone.
I think there are just a lot of f*ckboys and ass clowns (male and female) who think blogging is a way to get on in the industry, and no one takes them to task for their f*ckery. If there are no consequences for bullshit, we will always have a plethora of bullshit. I also think there are a lot of egoists bloggers who think their opinions matter even though no one cares.
People should purchase How to Get A Record Deal because...
...they are smart enough to know that if they understand how the industry really works, they can navigate it successfully and win!
Where can we purchase How to Get A Record Deal?
It's only available digitally because I want to keep the price as low as possible. How To Get A Record Deal is around $6 at Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Nobles. You can read it on any computer, tablet, smart phone, laptop, etc.
I notice on your Wordpress page and on Wendy Day Dot Com you stress the importance of having a good team. A good team consists of...
...a manager, an entertainment lawyer, a booking agent, a music industry accountant, a publicist, and an Internet specialist (for your website and social media campaigns). The manager implements your vision and helps you build a successful career. The lawyer negotiates all contracts and makes beneficial introductions to people who can help your career excel. The booking agent books shows, gets you onto major tours, and helps boost your touring income. The accountant pays all federal, state, and local taxes and puts you on a budget so you can achieve all of your financial goals. The publicist spreads the word about you and controls the spin of how you are seen. And the Internet guru collects email addresses of fans for you, runs your interactive website, apps, and social media allowing you to interact with your fans and to make an impact online.
Recently you wrote an article titled Not Everyone Succeeds and you included this quote: "I realized today that most people fail because of their mindset". Would you mind expounding on this quote?
I hope the article explained it but I'll try to do so here faster: many, many people fail because their mindset isn't set to win. Either they have a negative self-talking voice in their head (I can't do this, I'm not smart enough, people like me never win, I'm too fat, or poor, or over worked, or tired to succeed at that--fill in the blank with your own excuse!), or they sabotage themselves from succeeding. I know many rappers who have babies right before they blow up.
This forces them to financially and emotionally care for others at the exact time they need to be mashing the gas on their own careers, diverting their focus at a crucial time. I know many rappers who f*ck up their careers with drug or alcohol addictions, or by going to prison over things that could have been avoided. I know most people don't live up to their potential for success for a variety of reasons that hold them back. Until we get our minds right, it will be hard to find the energy and determination to do what needs to be done.
So basically, we need to know WHAT to do, and then be able to actually DO it! I can give the most talented rapper with a healthy budget the blueprint to succeed in the music industry, but that does not mean he or she will follow it. Most do not.
The Top 5 Record Deals that you were involved with include...
Only 5? Ok...but in no particular order of importance: Cash Money, No Limit, Eminem, Twista, and David Banner.
Have you negotiated records deals outside the hip-hop genre?
Nope, my passion is rap music so I stayed with what I know. You see, I'm a fan of rap. I understand it. And my deals are more matchmaking deals--meaning I negotiate deals for artists with the label that best fits them. If a street oriented rapper wants to sign to a radio focused label, that will never lead to success. So I always put the radio artists at labels with strong radio departments (or I made damn sure there was a budget to hire extra outside independent radio promoters), for example.
Street artists went to labels who were good at marketing and promoting at the street level. But just so there's no misunderstanding, I believe artists today should secure investors rather than signing to a label. Major labels are dinosaurs, horse and buggies, and steam engines--great for historical reference but almost useless in today's society.
What is the most overused term in this genre?
I could make a list. Hahahaha. My first thought was "swag," but then I thought of an even better one: "I own my own label." THAT is not only soo overused, but it's so misunderstood. How do you own your own label if you've never sold records (the true definition of a record label)? How do you own your own label if you have no money to market or promote your music properly? List everything a label does--oh, you can't list more than a few things out of the long list of what a label does? How do you own a label if you have no experience in putting out records or even in any kind of business at all?
Are you an LLC or a sub-chapter S corp? What's your tax rate and do you pay in quarterly? How are you a label but you spend all your money on weed and chains instead of great production and studio time? That's like me waking up tomorrow and saying "OK, now I'm a heart surgeon." I have my own hospital! You gonna pay me to operate on your Mama's heart? No? I didn't think so. You own a label like I own a hospital...
Rap Coalition is...
...a not-for-profit artists' advocacy organization dedicated to the support, education, protection, and unification of rap artists, producers, and DJs. We believe it's time for hip hop artists to take control of their own art form!
Have you ever thought about teaching and if so what subject would you excel at?
For 20 years I've taught monthly seminars for artists wherever I have lived, so I guess I've already excelled at teaching the business of urban music. I stopped teaching in 2010 (after a year of webinars to educate artists online) because I've been focused on building an educational website this past year for rappers called SlavesNoMore.com that will facilitate learning online for artists. I am hoping to have it up and running by March.
How can the masses get in contact with you?
WendyDay.com links all of my websites, free blogs, and everything Wendy Day. The best way to reach me is at ThisIsWendyDay@gmail.com or on Twitter @RapCoalition.
Any final words?
If you are an artist, learn the business side as you hone your skills. You need talent, but even more so, you need an understanding of how this industry really works.