10 HUGE Reasons You'll Never Make It As A Rapper or Singer

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Artist & Producer
Hey FP, how y'all doin? Here's a post I wrote elsewhere about becoming a successful rapper or singer and some things that up-and-coming artists don't think of. I thought it might be useful here too. I feel like this stuff is critical so I hope it helps some newcomers get in the game right.



Let's face it, most people won't make it in the music business.

Here are 10 reasons why..

1. You Don't Know What You Want: Label vs. DIY

Before digital downloads and YouTube, musicians would only get noticed if they got hitched to a major record label. But with the internet, the age of the DIY started and for young musicians, this seemed like a dream come true.
The DIY way is to make your dream come true yourself by taking on everything yourself and cutting out the middlemen - being in total control of your product.

But that’s not always enough – there are only a handful of DIY super-success-stories. To really make it big you still need the help of a label.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a successful career as a totally independent musician. It’s totally possible the DIY way. And even if you want the help of a label, you have to start the DIY way.

So know what you want to achieve – super success with a major label or average success as an independent.

And then go make moves that take you in the right direction. Labels need massive mainstream hits, Independents just need to deeply connect with a few thousand fans.

2. You Think You Already Know Everything

Not a super sexy one, but it’s probably the most important one. Always be learning about how to better yourself.

Get yourself books about marketing your music, making better songs and the business side (publishers, radio, television and media outreach, licensing, etc.) The books aren't cheap, but they are a worthwhile investment.

Also, there are tons of free guides or free ebooks that contain information about different aspects of the music business.

This is the internet right? Everything you could want to know is out there. Here’s a free guide I wrote on everything you need to know about the music business (just an introduction, of course) and another awesome one here about music marketing specifically.

You need to learn everything you can, it'll only make you better

3. You're The "Yo Homie Check Out My Tracks!" Dude

Why is that still even a thing - do people think it works?

A good way to start is to put your mp3 tracks on social network sites - especially the ones for musicians, there are loads of them out there and most are free. Stuff like SoundCloud, ReverbNation and BandCamp are good examples but there are lots of them.

Just don’t spam your music links everywhere like twitter/facebook/etc. No one cares, and no one listens. All that plastering your music in status updates and comments and messages does is alienate potential fans.

And it reeks of desperation and is annoying as hell (as a potential fan) to get "check out my songs!" messages. Music mostly spreads through word-of-mouth and third-party recommendation, not through asking for plays. And those messages all get ignored - for real.

I know it’s not a popular opinion, but sometimes you have to spend money promoting your music. Go to Last.fm, Radio Airplay or Jango and buy some spins. Get some new fans on facebook with ads.

You also need to try reaching out to bloggers/media/press. But again, don’t spam them. Find out how they want artists to get in touch and hit em up.
Also hit up hip-hop/music/music-biz forums like this one and post your stuff in appropriate sections.

And finally, get creative with it – do blogs and video blogs, podcasts and vid-casts about stuff your audience likes. If your band writes about social injustice, then find related sites and blog on them, leaving a link to your music. Do charity gigs for good causes and look for local festivals and get onstage and do your thing. Human interest stuff is always a hit (at least locally) – think "local band adopts badly injured dog as their mascot" or "Local band visit inner-city school to inspire kids"....get the picture?

There are so many ways to promote your music.

4. You Think You Don't Need Your Own Website

This is a part of promotion but it deserves its own point because it’s that important. Having a facebook or bandcamp isn’t enough. You NEED your own website. It’s like having an office or store front. A place that you own and control.

You know that facebook can one day just up and decide to delete your fan page and you lost all your “likes” overnight, right?

You can try to build your own pro looking website (free trial) at ReverbNation and sites like Bandzoogle. Just do it, it looks professional and you always have an easy way to send potential fans to a place they can hear your music.

5. You Don't Have or Use an EPK (electronic press kit)

Also a part of promotion, but important for a number of other reasons – like getting live shows. This can be done super easily, there are scores of tips on the net on how to create your own press kit, what to put in and leave out and who to send it to.

There are lots of sites with loads of tips on what to include and how to do it. Reverb Nation and Sonic Bids both offer paid electronic press kits. And if you have your own website (which you should) you can just make a page on it your EPK.

It’s easy to do and comes in handy when you’re reaching out to press/media.

6. You Know Nothing About Licensing, Publishing and Copyrights

This is a complicated topic. But you want to make sure your songs, music and lyrics are copyrighted to the person/s who wrote, performed and created them. This protects you all and stops future disputes from happening.
You can send your songs to yourself by special delivery, you sign it when it returns but you don't open it. It's just a guarantee (in some countries – check yours) that you are the owner of the songs on a particular date...

Officially copywriting a creative work isn’t that expensive though, and it will protect you if a song does happen to blow up.

Oh and if you use samples, make sure you try and clear them through a group like the Harry Fox Agency.

7. You Don't Really Know Your Fans, Love Them, and Treat Them Like Family.

Know your target audience - who are they? Age? Preferences/Interests? Where do they hang out? What do they like/do/say/think/feel/etc. – is key to success. No use playing heavy metal to a crowd of emo lovers or pop fans!

Social network sites are great for finding them because most people are on them, but you still want to know what kind of stuff they like so they’ll take an interest in the things you share online and cater to them. That way when you share your music, they trust your shares already and are more likely to click to listen.

And once you find them and get them listening through your social network sites, playing live, promoting your music, etc... you need to keep them interested and engaged. It pays off in more ways than one.

The secret is to “give them a stake in the business” and make them feel invested in you as an artist! Make them love your music so much, and make them feel like an exclusive insider. They’ll be falling all over themselves trying to promote you.

Enlist their help for tours, gigs, merchandising, get ideas from them, ask them what they'd like you to do next...involve them and you have them for life.
Offer free stuff in return for their help in promoting you or just because...there's nothing more effective than the 'carrot' at the end of the stick!

8. You Think "Selling Music" is the Only Way To Make Money in Music

This is a business/career so you need to live. But spins and streams don’t pay the bills. You need to find different sources of revenue. And there are lots.

Merchandise and the live show experience is key here. But go beyond that – offer subscriptions for a steady stream of new music. Write books about your music’s meaning. Get creative with ways to get paid, because no one’s buying music anymore (yea… tell that to Drake… 500k+ units in how many days??)

For real tho – most of the time, music won’t sell enough to buy you an expensive dinner, never mind letting you live.

9. You Don't Play Well With Others

Sometimes, it really is about who you know. This kind of goes back to point #1 full circle – the music business is a relationship business. The size of your professional network will be a big factor in your success.

Become acquaintances/friends with radio DJs, bloggers, music manufacturers, promoters, venue owners, other artists/musicians/bands – anyone even tangentially involved in the music business.

That's why record labels are able to do what they do - they have these solid relationships in place.

LinkedIn is a great way to do this online, but don’t forget about doing it offline in different cities (ex/ at music conferences) too.

10. You Think Your Music is Good Enough

This is last because it’s probably the most important of the whole list. The rest of the 10 steps won’t matter if you don’t get this one right. Your music needs to be phenomenal.

And that means it needs to be "on par" with other industry recordings, for one.

But this doesn’t just mean get your stuff mixed and mastered. That's a given - you need to do that. You also need to WRITE KILLER SONGS and USE KILLER BEATS. Learn about song writing, music theory and study good music.

Be a perfectionist (but don't let it stop you from actually putting out your music).

This is a competitive business and you literally have 3 seconds to impress someone. And first impressions count.

Your songs are your entire reason for being in the music business, so make sure you make GOOD music.

Yea, music is subjective and everyone has a different opinion of what's "good." But you really need to bring your A-Game in this over-crowded music business.

And listen to constructive feedback (not the haters) and get your shit critiqued by pro’s. It can help.

The Final Word

In the beginning you’re going to have to wear every hat there is. And it’s going to be a long, hard road with lots of failures before you see your success.

Nobody said it was easy, but at least you can decide the level of fame you want, where, when and what you'll play and manage your career in stages and at a pace that suits you.

Good Luck!
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The Suburban Cats
I think people want to do everything themselves just so they can say they did it all themselves. If you don't have the experience and knowledge then how can you? The smartest people ask for help because they know that they don't know everything. It takes years sometimes decades to master things like singing, producing, and mastering. Look at the song Rap God by Eminem there were eleven writers for that song. ELEVEN! He didn't do that all himself. Hell he didn't even make the beat. Theres power in numbers. And with the music industry as competitive as it is you need all the help you can to make it.


Great post.

But, the myth that you can mail yourself a dated copywrite (also known as the "Poor Man's Copywrite") will not actually work.

I do REALLY like your point about making phenomenal music. Too many musicians (and too many moderators will cosign) believe that as long as you copy the latest trend that is on the radio you will be successful.


New member
Really informational post im not gone lie ive made a couple of these mistake but hey you live and learn


New member
Mentioned a couple things I do in all honesty, now I must say this has slightly changed my perspective on my approach to the music I create. Thanks for the inspiration.


New member
This is the era where rappers can't look at the fans as just consumers you have to make them apart of your movement for real.


New member
Great post man. Glad I took the time to read. I never realized the social media aspect. I have been guilty of putting my shit all over twitter/facebook and now looking back, it probably just affects me negatively. Very helpful stuff. Also, do you have any recommendations for someone that simply can't afford to pay for help? I am in college so I am extremely broke, which is why I have been pain-stakingly trying to teach myself how to do it all.


New member
I will add on to say this.. MOST ARTISTS WON'T INVEST IN THEMSELVES!! We're in the information age and you still have artists who want everything for free.. Free promo, Free beats, Free support (Spamming).. If you know there's someone or something that's willing to invest into you & your career ,then why won't you invest in whatever it takes to get you to the next level??? I only work with serious artists ONLY!!!.. I don't need those needy artists who expect everything for nothing.
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super informative shit here. Honestly, just gotta keep grinding , and making sure you're not skipping any steps. Stay hungry i would say

DJ Disconnected

Coming from a producer POV, getting and listening + being thankful and taking feedback from your fan base is very key for anything in the art world. They only want to watch YOU grow. Be thankful for them.
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