For our 2nd edition of the Jersey Music Meeting, artists from all across New Jersey, New York and Connecticut were treated to some heavy knowledge bombs from a new round of panelists consisting of a few elite faces of the radio and music industries.
Taking over Elizabeth, NJ’s Dolce Lounge once again, our exclusive panel included Hot 97‘s DJ Enuff and Megan Ryte, Scottie Beam of the Hot 97 Morning Show, and Atlantic Records Director of A&R, Orlando Wharton.
Overall, we’d say that this time around, some good questions were definitely asked and the passion in the room was on a thousand! We’ve compiled another list to expound on all the free game that was given out last night, so think of this as your 2nd study guide to the music biz, and see our top 10 tips on artist development below! See tips from our last Jersey Music Meeting here.
1. It’s Going to Take Some Money
DJ Enuff said it clear as day: “[The music business] is all about money, and stocks, and what the company is worth. It’s not JUST about your talent.” In terms of major labels, you might have all the talent in the world, but if you are not marketable…what’s the point in having a huge corporate giant behind you? Being marketable means that you have what it takes to be a household name. You know what Nicki Minaj represents and who her fan base is. You know what crowd Marilyn Manson caters to, and how well he succeeds in his market. That means the people you reach out to have to know who you are, and what you represent, off the rip. A company must see at least a potential return on their investment if they were to take a chance on you. This money tip also coincides with our next point.
2. You’ll Need to Look Like Something
As Scottie Beam & DJ Enuff lightly touched on the topic of image, it’s a very important subject that many artists overlook. Even if you perform at a random open mic in the hood, you need to look as if you already have a major record deal. Invest in current-looking clothes that represent whatever image you’re trying to achieve. Invest your time, money, or resources in a hairstylist/barber, clothing stylist, and a makeup artist for whole new transformation (make sure you shout them out on the gram). Ask store associates for help, and tip them. Create relationships with little-known clothing boutiques/designers and maybe get some free or discounted gear with the promise that you’ll wear it to a show, or promote them online. As my dad would advise, at the very least, make sure your clothes are clean and ironed. Image and first impressions are everything and absolutely no one likes a slob.
3. It’s Not Going to Happen So Fast
In our digital age, we’re used to having things instantly, so why should fame be any different, right? Wrong. First of all, if you went to the JMM to find out how to get famous, you were there for the wrong reason. It takes years of grinding, not just for a paycheck, but for a wave to gain even a tiny bit of traction in the mainstream eye. There’s no one you can pay to “get on,” there’s no one blogger you have to know, and there’s no one venue or hit single that is going to propel you into stardom. You must work every step of the way. Sorry, not sorry.
4. Make Repeat Efforts to Connect
“If you’re really networking and I keep hearing your name, I’m going to want to know [who you are]. I didn’t start listening to Dougie F. because he came up to me out of nowhere; he did do that, but I probably met him about 6 or 7 times before I decided to listen to his music,” says Megan Ryte.
5. Don’t Burn Your Bridges If It Doesn’t Work Out
A lot of artists are extremely sensitive, and for good reason, but keep the emotions out of the board room. As Megan Ryte & Scottie Beam so eloquently put it, “Don’t DM us a link saying ‘Hi,’ and then curse us out a minute later when we don’t respond!” Who knows the reason why no one responded to your email. Perhaps the person honestly didn’t like it, but this also goes back to our last point. Adjust your content, and try to reach out to that person again, but if you’re sure it won’t work out, just say thanks and keep it moving. A thick skin goes very far in this industry.
6. Support the Industry to Get Support
Gone are the days where radios and major labels don’t support indie talent. A&Rs come in every form, and often times, they secretly plant themselves in events and open mics just to find that new spark. The real work from the artist comes in when they make efforts to go to industry mixers and events, prepped with business cards and about 30 other teammates, to make faces seen and their presence known. Just go up and shake the event organizer’s hand. Tell them who you are, and what you do/who you work for, and leave. Then do it every single time that person has an event, and invite them to yours. Is it awkward? Hell yeah, but life won’t happen until you step out of that comfort zone. You’ll get better at networking. Over time they will come to recognize your face and understand that you’re serious, but you must make the first contact.
7. It’s Not Up to One Person
Radio playlists are selected by a jury, so to speak, as per DJ Drewski. Until you personally get it in writing that your song will be played on the radio or endorsed by Diddy, you need to put in the footwork to impress every last person who has a say in what gets heard. Find out who the decision-making DJs are in your local station, and put in that repeat effort.
8. You Must Have Fans…Not Followers
Orlando Wharton, the man responsible for the success of Fetty Wap, says that the first thing he notices when he scouts artists is the crowd an artist can bring out. People notice a movement, you just need people supporting your movement. Followers on social media don’t always translate into customers or fans in the crowd. Do you have people that will actually buy merchandise or tickets from you? When you are able to sell out even small venues such as Dolce Lounge, then you’ll know you have something special that you can bring to a label, words offered by Megan Ryte. The music game is every bit a popularity contest.
9. Make Online Presence a Priority
Scottie Beam touched on how important it is to have a great social media presence, but we’d also like to include approaching bloggers for website placement. As a blogger, a lot of artists who come to me for website placement have no idea how to send a professional email, let alone what should all be included in the message. Artists need to understand that bloggers are real people, and our job takes time out of the day because we’re actual writers…with degrees. I could write a whole other post on artist/blogger etiquette, but it really boils down to having all of your material high quality and ready to go from the first message, and just being respectful. Which brings us to our final point.
10. Show Some Respect
If you were at the event, then you remember the guy who got on the mic after downing some liquid courage. If you go to any industry mixer/event and get drunk, you’ve already set the tone that you’re not serious about your career. Keep a level (sober) head at all times, and allow the people that you came to speak to, to actually answer your question. You’re not going to like everything you learn about the industry, but you know nothing while these people have all the answers. Stand out and be remembered in the best way possible for your dope look or great sound, and not how trashy, weird, and disrespectful you made yourself look. Even if you disagree with the information you’ve been given, everyone will respect someone who accepts defeat or criticism graciously than someone whose first response is to curse you out.
Special thank you to Marisa Mendez, DJ Drewski, Hot 97, Scottie Beam, Megan Ryte, Atlantic Records, Orlando Wharton, DJ Enuff, and Dolce Lounge.