Last night was a night of epic proportions for the entire state of New Jersey. The first official Jersey Music Meeting was hosted by our very own Marisa Mendez and DJ Drewski of Hot 97!
Taking place at Dolce Lounge in Elizabeth, NJ, over 300 people packed out the 2-room venue for an exclusive Q&A session with the most prominent faces of New Jersey including Hot 97 music director, TT Torrez, DJ Bobby Trends, Vin Rock of Naughty By Nature, Itchy House Productions, and OVO Sound producer, Mike Zombie.
Although the event was geared towards musicians, all creatives were invited to show up, ask questions, network, and get answers to their most burning questions about their respective industries. So much knowledge was offered at the event, and incredible gems were dropped about how to further yourself in whatever path in life you choose.
Read on below for the best tips we got from our first Jersey Music Meeting!
1. Build Your Team
As much as Marisa M. and Vin Rock drilled into everyone that you need to have a solid team to ride with you and support your music, we’re going to say it again. One man can change the world, but it takes a whole team to create a wave, get noticed, and generate a buzz. Do you think Naughty By Nature ever showed up to an event with no supporters in the crowd?
2. The Radio Won’t Put You “On”
The best thing TT Torrez could have said the entire night was her first comment. Simply getting your record put in rotation at any radio station (not just Hot 97) will not get you famous. Will it give you avenues to generate more money and promote yourself? Yes, but as a radio intern, I’ve seen countless independent artists get their tracks spun on radio, only to do ABSOLUTELY nothing with that milestone. You have to put the work in yourself to keep the momentum going, not the radio station. They’re simply too busy.
3. Want A Start? Intern!
Marisa said it, but I’m proof. Intern, Intern, Intern! If you’re not willing to dedicate months (and in my case YEARS, circa: 2012) of your life and your skill with very little to no pay, just to learn the game and soak up knowledge & make valuable connections, you won’t get anywhere. Rappers can intern at studios and magazines (don’t go dropping your mixtapes on everyone’s desk), photographers and models can intern for designers, DJs can intern for a bigger DJ and open up for them. Shake hands with the right people, and get in where you fit in.
4. It Takes Time, Consistency, and a Thick Skin
As per DJ Bobby Trends, you have to get your face seen by the people you’re trying to impress. Meet up with them at the studio. Give them your mixtape 10 times, and follow up to see if they’ve actually listened to it yet. If they didn’t like it, suck it up and move on to the next one to begin the process over.
5. Open Yourself Up To Different Avenues
Marisa opened up about her journey to her ultimate dream of being a radio personality, saying that she never intended to begin her career as a blogger. Even still, she stuck with the tasks she was given, and when Funk Flex approached her about an internship under him, things started being put in motion for her future. Now, she’s basically famous from her weekly podcast with Joe Budden.
6. You HAVE To Collaborate
During his many insightful interludes, DJ Drewski encouraged the crowd to find out just who was in the room with them. Nobody expects an artist to also be his own graphic designer, engineer, DJ, and promoter. If you think someone else is on their job, ask them for a business card and then actually follow up with them via email.
7. Digital Sales Are New School, but Footwork Is Still Important
Having Vin Rock as our special guest of the evening was incredibly important for his “old-school” (I say that lovingly) perspective on breaking into the music industry. As noted above, you need to make your presence known by having solid people that support your music, and will talk about it everywhere and get you into the right places. But it’s also important that you attend networking events (yes, rappers need business cards), write a professional email, pass out your mixtape & flyers, give pop-up performances in the street, wear t-shirts; do whatever you have to do OFFline to get your name out there.
8. Inve$t In Your$elf
Although TT Torrez made sure it was clear that you can not pay to be heard on the radio, you can certainly pay for your own promotion and how you get exposed. Look into promotional packages & public relations firms, save your money this week so you can have gas money to go to that networking party next week, order business cards, pay for that VIP ticket if it means you can get into an intimate meet & greet after the event. As Marisa also noted, sometimes we go broke and hungry trying to make a dream happen. It’s all about what you’re willing to invest.
9. Dream Big, But Start Small
By now, you’re aware of the astronomical success that Fetty Wap has attained. He didn’t just wake up, decide to be a rapper, and write “Trap Queen.” TT Torrez recounts the success of Fetty Wap, maintaining that he performed at countless small venues and showcases just to promote his brand and his music before he was noticed by Funk Flex. So many artists look down on open mics and showcases, but when the majority of them are FREE, and you never know who’s in the crowd watching you…why wouldn’t you perform anywhere that you could grab a mic?
10. You Have to Show Support To Get Support
At the event, so many artists left immediately after hearing their music spun by DJs Dark Kent and D-Nellz. This is the biggest mistake an artist could make — not showing support. Whether that means thanking the DJs to spin your music (because without us, you wouldn’t get heard), or staying to hear what kind of music other artists make, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by refusing to show love. No one says you have to jump on tracks with every artist, but a simple “That was dope, I enjoyed that,” or a retweet can go so far. From a blogger standpoint, and to echo Marisa, if your music happens to be picked up by a website, show them you’re thankful! We need to see that you appreciate our help, and just maybe we’ll be willing to help you out again. Build relationships with not brands, but the people behind the brands. Work at maintaining those relationships; it can only benefit you.
Special thanks to Hot 97, Dolce Lounge, DJ Dark Kent, DJ D-Nellz, Marisa Mendez, DJ Drewski, Vin Rock, DJ Bobby Trends, TT Torrez, and Chunn Public Relations.