Describe life in the UK as an up and coming hip-hop artist. What are some of the challenges you have to deal with?
It can be tough, hip-hop is still a very niche genre in the U.K and doesn't get the same coverage as Pop, Indie or EDM. It means you really have to work harder and smarter! A lot of what I do is still very grass roots in my approach. It's very much about going out and meeting people face to face. A lot of rappers have been picked up over the past 3 years by major labels, but if the labels and the artists don't have a clear direction what you have got is a lot of them either sitting on the shelf of being dropped, which is unfortunate. I think now more responsibility lies with the artist so I focus on making personal connections with people. Word of mouth is still the best tool for promotion in my opinion, it's just a case of using the internet and new media to amplify that.
How hard is it to get international press coverage and what are the benefits of securing it?
Smaller American blogs have started to pick up on what I do, which is great! I think one of the benefits of living in this era of the music industry is everyone is accessible. From London I can send an e-mail and it will reach someone in Miami in exactly the same time it will reach someone living 20 minutes from me. That means it's really a question of understanding your target audience and applying that to a specific country. I also take note of artist who attract a similar audience to me and look at where they've been getting coverage. This year alone I got my first sale in Japan, Sweden is actually my number 1 streaming market on Spotify and I've worked with artists in America. It goes to show your fan base can start growing from anywhere in the world.
What are the best media outlets for a UK based hip-hop artist?
Over the last 5 years I would say GRM Daily & SBTV are two websites which have been key in terms of setting trends and helping artists on the come up. Both of these outlets have supported my music so it's a good look, I think more are starting to brand themselves in a distinctive way as well. I think also the effect of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) can't be overlooked, their "urban" station BBC 1Xtra has pushed through rappers over the last few years. Every top 40 UK artist (hiphop or not) has been supported in the BBC in one way or another - whether it's through their radio or television outlets.
What are some of your goals and aspirations?
My single biggest career goal is to have my own world tour. I'm very much the touring artist and being on the stage and performing is where I excel. I think even with the changes in the music industry the number of people willing to come and see you perform live has been a pretty solid indicator of how well you are doing for quite a few decades.
You have achieved some success at self-funding and organizing your own shows. Would you mind sharing 5 tips for approaching venue promoters?
As soon as I knew I could bring 20 friends down to a gig I'd like the idea of doing my own show. Be grateful for the people who come out and support, I thought it would be more beneficial to do something really small, but still my own than to just keep on doing open mic gigs where I'm only performing two songs, with 10+ other artists performing and the event isn't even that well promoted....if you want something done right you got to do it yourself (or pay someone a lot of money to get it done right). My top 5 tips would be:
1) What's your budget - How much do you have to invest for your show? There's no right or wrong answer to it, but obviously the more money you can put into this the better your options.
2) Plan - How many people do you want to attend? What do you hope to gain from the night? Who's the target audience? How are you going to promote? What incentives do you have to make people come to your show?
3) Be professional - I treat the venue owner, bar staff, bouncer and even the cleaner with the upmost respect. I'm firm but fair.
4) Learn to negotiate - When arranging prices for venue's, even equipment or special offers always negotiate the lowest possible price - believe me no price is fixed.
5) References - I always make sure I go to the venue beforehand unannounced on a regular night, just to see how it operates and to check the sound system, clientele and everything else. I also make sure I follow up with previous promoters or DJ's who have done events at the venue and get their opinion on the venue.