This was created for two main reasons, to help you the artist/PR agent/Record label/company, and to hopefully stem the tide of spam we get on a daily basis. Below will be a few key points that pertain more solely to our site, and other underground sites, as well as some more generalised information and help. Please don’t read these pointers and tips as criticism if you’ve made a few of these mistakes; we’re all guilty of making fools of ourselves at on point or another. The trick is to handle it with honesty and a big dose of humour.
Right, with that out the way; let’s get on with this.
* “I sent you a video/LP/EP/song a few days ago, why hasn’t it been featured yet?”
1) There are only 3 of us running this site, Stix, Adam and myself, Aimee. Tricksta helps out from time to time, but he runs Park Street PR/UK Runnings full-time and has to worry about that first. We all have outside commitments including full-time jobs and babies. This means it might take us a few days to get through the whole inbox if we have 150 odd emails. It’s not a case of simply posting material up as soon as we get it, we actually take a great deal of time and care into publishing articles, especially if they’re reviews.
2) Maybe your music is just really bad. Sorry. (Which leads us nicely on to the next part).
There are times we’ll promote music that neither of us are particularly big fans of, but we can recoginise the hard work, passion and positivity the artist has put in, and think our audience will enjoy it.That being said check the site’s headline, we’re an underground site not Kiss FM. We both want to protect and help progress this culture, not damage it. Stix and Adam both have good politics and aren’t idiots, and I’m a gay woman so you do really think we’re going to promote racist/sexist/classist/homophobic music? Have some integrity, and don’t create awful music just because you think some shady company MIGHT give you a 360 deal ONE DAY. There are millions of artists that manage to make a full-time career out of music without calling all women bitches, and talking about flossing ice. We don’t want to perpetuate a negative image of hip-hop, the mainstream media is doing a good enough job without us. STOP SENDING IT TO US, WE WILL DELETE IT. You don’t have to be a serious Sally all the time, there are plenty of groups that make fun party music-and we love them. No one says you can’t talk about drugs/violence/etc within the context of the song and who you are, but if you’ve written 3 LPs worth of songs purely glamourising it all, and you’re not recognising that it’s not a good thing, then you are fucking up. Read a book.
* “I love your site, it’s so good! Hip-Hop Times & Life is my favourite site everrrrr”.
Mate, if you’re going to tell porky pies then at least learn to get the name of the site right. I know we’re not the only website that will attest to this. We know we’re not really your favourite, and that’s fine-it won’t affect our opinion of you. Just please, please remember that when you send group emails to people it’s often polite to BCC your contacts first, otherwise you just look silly and dishonest. Just write a little paragraph about who you are, and the material you’ve sent. That’s all you need.
* USE social media!
Seriously though, if you don’t utilize Twitter, Facebook, Youtube/Vimeo, Soundcloud and all that other stuff then you REALLY need to sort it out. Especially Twitter. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had emails from dudes who don’t even have a working Facebook. Get Twitter, and include it in your email! It’s for your own good.
* Do you just promote rappers/producers/DJs?
No, we aim to promote all elements of hip-hop: MCing, DJing, Bboy/Bgirl, Beatboxing, Knowledge and Graffiti. We try to give all elements an equal amount of coverage, but of course music does take preference. We are working to promote more of the other elements such as graffiti (you can check a interview we did with Keegan from The London Vandal) and breaking (and the one we did with Bboy Fordy), but we are only three people. We are always on the hunt for news concerning hip-hop, and love interviewing and promoting the diverse spectrum of people within this culture. Knowledge-wise? We’re probably the smartest people you will ever meet.
* If we promote you/email you/tweet/share on Facebook it helps if you reply and share at your end too.
An obvious one right? Well sometimes a few people seem to forget this one. If you’re too high up to step down from your mighty throne to say thank-you, or help promote yourself then it’ll just leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, and we’ll be less inclined to promote you again. If dudes from Wu-Tang can click ‘retweet’ then you can too (yeah that’s right, we’re big boots).
* Don’t be a dick.
This is probably the biggest piece of advice we can give you, but the one that so many people ignore and to their detriment.
Think of underground and independent culture as a giant, international High School. Remember when Gemma stole your boyfriend? You and your friends told everyone that she had crabs, and he had a small penis. Remember how by the end of the school day EVERYONE knew? Well keep that in mind when you decide to be rude, or think you’re the best thing since hip-hop was invented. If you’re an egotistical dick, then everyone is going to know. This is a culture/family and people are friends, and they talk. If for example, a friend from a record label told us that you’d fucked them over, then I’m afraid chances are we’ll be less inclined to work with you. Actually we won’t work with you at all. Well, I mean you did steal Gemma’s boyfriend.
The positive side of this however is if you’re respectful and a generally nice person then that will get around just as quickly, if not quicker. We’ve made a lot of friends through this culture and this website, and we’ve linked up with some awesome people just because they presented themselves honestly and in a humble manner. Do you ever wonder why we promote a lot of a particular artist? Well that’s because they not only make great art, but they’re good people too.
*Promotion companies to the rescue!
Look, we realise not everyone is born and suddenly knows how to best promote themselves. Some of us just aren’t naturally gifted when it comes to promotion. That however is where promotion companies come in handy. There are a lot of really great companies that will market you correctly, in the sense that they won’t send pointless junk emails to people that know won’t like your art. They’ll know when, how and where to properly promote you.
Our boy Tricksta owns and runs Park Street PR, which is pretty much one of the biggest PR companies in the UK, and he also deals with North American clients too. He’s been in this for an odd 20 years plus, and knows what he’s doing-and he won’t rip you off. If you want a good company behind you, then I suggest you give him an email and see what he can do for you. Tricky deals with more than just MCs, so don’t think it’s just rappers only.
I Still Love H.E.R is a really good PR company that we’ve worked with over the last year and half. It’s run by really good, honest people that have put us on to some awesome artists; and they know how to properly market you without expecting a million billion diamonds and jewels in return. They deal with U.S, Canadian and European clients.
Now these are just two that I’ve picked that we know, and will happily represent. There are literally hundreds of others that we support, but this article is big enough already. We do have a label and promotions archive on the right hand side of our front page of our website, with a list of a few companies that will help you so I out; so I suggest you take a look.
I hope these bits of advice have helped you in some way or another, and if you’re still interested in working with us then just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can make a plan or two.
Stix – Editor/CEO
Aimee – Co-Editor
Adam – Staff Writer
Tricksta – Contributor