Courtesy Of : IllMuisk.com
PART 1 :
Research is the key ingredient that defines the salability of a product. In your case, it's your music. So before you head to a government office to incorporate and spend money on any other official documentation regarding the creation of a legal business entity, you have to have good product to sell.
Most artists mistake themselves, because they think that if they like the song, everyone else will too. How do you really know who likes your music?
1. Define your market
Who are you trying to sell to? Are you selling hip-hop to underground fans? Are you making commercial hip-hop meant to be consumed by teenage women and young adults? Who would buy your music? Be specific. Are the people you are trying to sell to in different income levels, where do they live, where do they shop?
For instance take the following example, use it like a worksheet.
My Name: M.C. Artist
My Product: Song Name: "I'm Angry at the World and I Hate My Girlfriend And I Use Abstract Vocabulary and Weird Background Noises"
Style: It's underground, the lyrics are sophisticated, and I use a lot of heavy and big words. Kind of like Company Flow.
Who would buy it? Definitely not teenage girls looking for love songs or kids. They don't understand the words, and it doesn't sound like anything mainstream. Underground Hip-Hop fans would like my song. Maybe college kids and more sophisticated Hip-Hop listeners.
Where do the buyers hang out/live? Most fans of this music live in the big cities. A lot of people are on the internet. They are of diverse races and different income levels. I've noticed a lot of kids from the suburbs who are middle-class like it. Also, I know of a pretty big group from the East Side that likes it. From what I know, they hang out at "Dick's Hip-Hop Cafe and Store" on Lexington Avenue and etc. They go to M.C. Stupid's concerts at the Roxy. Some of these people are my friends.
If you could test out your music, could you do a test? Uh, yeah.
There is a pseudo-scientific audience assessment that will help you understand the people you are going to market and music for. Remember, that even though you think you are making your own music for yourself, in fact, there will be a consumer. The objective of my little exercise is to take a pseudo-logical approach at analyzing your potential consumer.
After you have done such a sheet, defining who buys your music, who it would appeal to, you have to see if anybody actually likes your music. Now, major labels, as I've said many times, test their audiences in order to know if the album is a flop or not. Negative reviews can mean that an album might not be released!
So, how do you test your music ?
You can't do it scientifically, because you don't have the resources to use population samples of that nature, nor the drawing power a company has to get a pool of people. You must test the music yourself. Friends don't help much because they may be overtly supportive, or will be jealous of you. Spend a month having different people from your potential audience listen to music that you say is NOT MADE BY YOU. The best thing to do is to lie and say "Hey I work for So-and-So hip hop records. I would love it if you'd take your time to listen to a snippet of this song and give us your input." Don't say that you made the song, no matter what, because that will bias the listener extremely. Go to the place where people that listen to the same type of music congregate, tell them, "hey what do you think of this rapper?" or "this song?" Just get a general feedback of what people like and dislike. If you see a pattern, like 20 people saying "this part of the song sucks," and you don't think so, you should head back to the studio and see if that part of the song REALLY sucks. Usually, it does. A lot of artists can't look at the situation objectively. In this scenario, you are forced to look at the situation objectively.
Make sure you have all the opinions written down. After you talk to somebody, write their opinion. You are trying to gather people's opinions of your music in a pseudo-scientific way. Though it's not perfect, what people's opinions are of your music, indicate their desire to buy a specific product, which in this case is your song.
If you have more time, you can test your hypothesis on other people. Go out of who you think is your target audience (in my example case, it was an underground crowd) and take it to the jocks and the cheerleaders at your school, the fraternity or sorority girls at your college, or whatever crowd is different in your social environment. Go to them and say "I work for So-and-So Records Street Team, and they want me to ask you what you think of this song." Have a portable CD player ready, and just have them listen to the song. Maybe you'll find a whole new market you have to focus on. What if 10 out of 12 sorority girls like your sophisticated underground Hip-Hop? Well, then, that gives you more information in which to strategise your plan of action.
The outcome of your pseudo-research will make you go back to the studio, retouch your tracks, change them, or not even use them. If you ask 100 people, and 80 hate your track out of your target audience, you should ask yourself: is it worth my time to pursue this track, or do I have others I can work with? Furthermore, you'll see if anybody actually likes your music and will buy it. If nobody likes it, going back into the studio may be a more prudent option than jumping the gun.
Let's say you find tracks people really like. Ultimately, you would want to have every track diagnosed so your album will be strong, but the fact of the matter is, that 2 to 4 tracks usually carry an album for a mainstream audience. If you're underground, that is a different take. The ambiance of your record may carry the album. Either way, let's say you have the product ready after 1 month of asking questions like a crazy person to your target audience and other members of the consumer pool.
You should really be thorough in your research. It shouldn't take a day or two. It should be around several weeks to a month of actively trying to get as many people from your target audience to give you their opinions.
We've done so much already, and you haven't even went to making an Ltd. or Inc. yet!
I DID YOUR RESEARCH CRAP, GOD, WHAT DO I DO NEXT ?
Don't think of research as "crap" first of all, because it's telling you who is going to give a f--- about your music and buy it and who won't. The next step is to find out how you get your album out there.
ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT I'M NOT EVEN UP TO INCORPORATING MY RECORD COMPANY YET? IS THIS MORE "RESEARCH," GOD. I WANT TO START MAKING MONEY!
Look, wiseguy. You have to find who is going to DISTRIBUTE your record. You can't sell your record without knowing what distributors, retail outlets, corner stores, smoke shops, are going to want to sell your record.
So, you already have your compilation, um, album. It's called "M.C. Artist: Lyrical Dali" or something like that (jk, underground fans, I love you all.)
Thus, the next rational question: WHO IS GOING TO SELL MY ALBUM?
Oh, I bet you would like a large retail outlet to sell your record. Odds are, they won't. Why? Because nobody knows you. Go on the internet and find records of artists similar to your style and see who distributes them. If it's WEA, UNI, or any of the biggies, you are in a different game. But look at similar styles in smaller selling artists, is Caroline Distribution their main arm? Who else is doing it? Who are the local distributors in your area? What stores that are NOT record shops, will they sell your record? Perhaps a Hip-Hop clothing store? What about the smoke shop? What about... WRITE DOWN EVERY POSSIBILITY... brainstorm who will sell your records! After you've done this, categorize each type of shop and distributor, and then start calling.
Here's an example:
"People that would sell my record"
1. Arseface Records shop on Ventura.
2. Tower Records (maybe)
3. Ganja Joe's Smoke Shop
4. Dick's Cafe
5. The Internet
6. The BP filling station on Figueroa.
7. My friend Louise.
8. Jumpstart Distribution (in my area)
9. Caroline Distribution (national)
10. Chong's Hip-Hop Clothing
11. My shows
Once you brainstormed, go to the internet, or to a telephone book, and find similar companies to the ones you've listed (not your friend Louise, or the internet.)
You look on the internet, and find that there is a competitor to Ganja Joe called Acid Sam's in your area. You find that there are five other distributors like Jumpstart. Arseface Records has competitors called Hellhole Record Shop and others.