Chasing Placements 101
Face it, producers - beatmaking is the new rapping. Right now, chances are your whole block is filled with kids packing a pirate copy of Fruity Loops and a "Dr. Dre Drumkit", all hoping they can become the next Timbo.
So how are you going to separate yourself from them?
* HAVE BEATS, WILL TRAVEL - CONFERENCES AND SHOWCASES
Like rap battles, beat battles are a great way to get the crowd hype and to pit your skill against other cats trying to make it on the same path. Unlike rap battles, however, beat battles might actually lead to a career (no shots).
They can be expensive, but if you're serious about your beats, any producer who has been to one of the many events now held all around the US will tell you that they are worth the cost.
Even if you're not competing in the battles, producer conferences and showcases are a great place to network with A&Rs, managers, and other producers on the same grind - and, if you're lucky, you might get a chance to meet a famous rapper or producer, who often volunteer their services as judges and panelists.
- Dynamic Producer [www.dynamicproducer.com]
- One Stop Shop [www.moneymanagementxl.com]
- iStandard Producers [www.istandardproducers.com]
* NO PLANE? NO PROBLEM - BEATMAKING ON A BUDGET
If you can't afford the time or the money needed to travel, or live overseas, there are still other options. Australia's M-Phazes used his manager as a proxy at last year's One Stop Shop beat battle, which he was able to win. For those of us not lucky enough to have that opportunity, the web is full of sites allowing you to showcase your tracks in different ways. There are too many sites to list, so here are some of the big names:
- Loud.com recently finished up a producer contest, offering $15,000 and a three track deal to the winner. J Cardim took it home, and is already working with rappers like Saigon - hopefully Loud will bring back the contest for another season.
- DynamicProducer.com, PMPworldwide.com and MusicPlacements.com offer industry opportunities regularly. The staff filter through all the tracks that are submitted for the opportunity and pass on the best of those to the A&Rs. A great option for those who haven't yet been able to make their own connects within the industry and labels.
- There are a vast number of sites where you can sell your beats online, but RocBattle.com is one of the most prominent. The site also offers regular online beat battles.
* INCREASE THE LEASE
Many producers will tell you one man's trash is another man's treasure - the beats they think are throwaways will sometimes be the ones that make the rapper's eyes light up. That being said, sometimes you need to make some quick cash, and can't afford to wait around for a big placement.
Leasing beats is an online hustle that's emerged over the last few years, offering non-exclusive (e.g. resellable) use of beats for a lesser fee - but don't be so quick to make your whole catalog online. We'd suggest going through your portfolio with some friends, getting some feedback, and using that to categorize your beats into top tier bangers, solid heat, and bottom of the barrel Dre knockoffs. Put the lower grade material online and save your top stuff for bigger opportunities.
Leasing a beat doesn't mean you can never sell it exclusively later on down the track, but something you are making readily available is a less attractive commodity. In a year or two, your perception of a red hot banger will change, and your old A-grade material may filter down anyway.
Do it yourself on [myspace.com] or [soundclick.com], or use one of the many sites out there like [IveGotBeats.com].
* MIX GAME PROPER
If you hear a track with a raw beat and mind-blowing lyrics, but the rapper has a sub-par voice, chances are you wouldn't be interested in hearing more from that artist. The same goes with your beats - you might have a great idea, but unless your mixing is right, it's not going to cut it when you're trying to land a major placement. Why give something that could potentially sound good a chance, when they have a hundred other CDs with clean mixes?
Don't stress - the pros are here to help. For advice from some of the top engineers in the game (Just Blaze's engineer Ryan West, Grammy winner Bassy Bob Brockman) head to [elementsofmixing.ning.com].
* STAY STRAPPED
It's common sense, but always have a copy of your hottest beats on you. Make sure you always have your latest tracks, too, so you avoid a situation where you're trying to explain why "my new stuff sounds much much better... but I don't have it with me...". If CDs are too unwieldy, try carrying around low capacity USB drives - they're small and can be reused if you need to update your catalog. Just make sure you label them.
* BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS
Always remember that there are other ways to make money from music without landing that number one single. TV, radio and movie placements are all ways for producers to make money, and they are often looking for tracks in the hip-hop/rap/R&B genre - we've all see the infamous clip of Bleek in a shampoo commercial [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRkYBp4pjA]. Check out [www.taxi.com] and [www.the3030career.com] for more information.
* FACE THE MUSIC
Finally, nothing is more useful than getting out there and making connections, face to face. Build with your local DJs, who can connect you with local artists. Build with your local artists, who may tour with more major acts. Be seen and heard - people knowing your face and knowing your sound, even locally to start with, is invaluable. At the end of the day, it could be the difference between your success as a producer, or forever being DresApprentice418 on MySpace.-Joey Maker