Thursday, August 28, 2008

So You Wanna Be A Dj? Part 11

Hi and I hope you are all well, great responses from these blogs, glad I can be of service...
On this blog I wish to talk about how you as an artiste can really help yourself especially when signed, the biggest mistake all of us musicians make is we tend to think our job begins and ends with making music. It doesn't!!!! As a label owner ( PROPA TALENT/IMPROPA TALENT) I had to learn this the hard way for myself, but also have to explain this to my "budding artistes" that I had signed on my labels. It is a very different story when you are signed to a giant label that is prepared to spend hundreds of thousands on you to promote your ass and get you to the masses who will in turn, hopefully buy (not steal) your music. Think about it, if you make drum and bass for example, the amount of financial return you can expect is very small unless you are PENDULUM, RAM RECORDS, or any of the legends. I know that only a small group of us made it in that genre. Now imagine you own a label, why should you spend thousands of your hard earned money for no return? You begin to see things in a different way, it effects what music you sign, should I go for hip hop... pop? Of course I am sticking to what I know, drum and bass, house and breaks, I have spent 20 years around that music! But, when my artiste record comes out, I will probably look for help in releasing it, as songs are a different kettle of fish.

So now you have the label perspective, what can you do if you chose an indie label like mine? (stupid to sign to a label that has no clue how to understand your music). You make electronica in whatever form, and you need to let people know you exist so they can buy (not download for free) your music. (of course I nag about stealing music, it's fucking wrong!)

The best thing I can tell you is what I have learned, so always look at what other DJ'S are doing who are successful... PAUL VAN DYK, DEEP DISH, TIESTO, check out their website, how they are presented, where they are presented, do they blog? what do they do?
I am a firm believer in the thought that god helps those who help themselves, so get your fingers out of your ass and set up a MY SPACE, FACEBOOK, I LIKE, YOU TUBE page.... Start talking to your fans, if you have none, make some! Look at all I do, from blogging to podcasts, there is always something to say, so many people are interested in music and want to Dj, or produce, you will never be lonely for fellow humans who wish to share in this topic.

Pod-casts are great too (see PROPA PODS) and really help get your sound out there......
The most important tool you have is your website ( and the internet. It is there at your fingertips and this generation never had it so good. We are in the wonderful position to create opportunities for ourselves, it's so much better nowadays in a way.

Of course, there is a lot more you can do, there is always more, it never ends, from hiring a publicist to an army, I could go on, but for those who do not have the cash to do this, these baby steps will help you in your quest for fame and glory.

Being an artiste means you live, breathe, and shit being an artiste. I have met many people who are in love with the fantasy of being an "artiste", they are romantics! The reality of being an artiste is very different from what most think. Imagine an iceberg, what the public sees is one tenth of it, the performance! What joe public does not see is the other nine tenths it took to get there. The long hours for very little money, the obsession you have to have in the studio, the passion you will need to get you through those tough times and a stubborn iron will to say "fuck you I believe in me" when all others say you're finished. We will talk about what the daily grind actually involves in my next blog, but that's all for now. Hope it helps!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

So You Wanna Be A DJ? Part 10

So now you have a basic grasp on production, DJ skills, how to present yourself, blah blah, what next? Should you get a manager? An agent? How do you climb that ever elusive ladder to success? All I can tell you is my own experience, which doesn't necessarily make me right. You have to follow your own path and listen to your gut, because it's nearly always spot on.

I have had managers since day one. Some people are lucky, they find the right person early on and never need another one... I have had 4. Some were great, they were extremely connected and really did a stellar job. However, it's easy to be great when you have a record deal and the world is knocking on your door, all opportunities come to you. I think a great manager is one that creates opportunity and lights a fire when the wood is damp so to speak.

One thing all mangers are great at is taking 15 to 20 percent of ALL your income. So, you have to decide if what that person generates for you financially makes that worth while. Bear in mind you will pay that as well as 10 to 15 percent to your agent. Back in the day when I had my record deal with Sony I also had a business manager who took 5 percent, they are vital for keeping the books straight when you're on tour, paying all your bills when your not around, they are a godsend. I'll recommend London & Company who rep all from SLASH, COURTNEY LOVE and tons of the top electronic acts, too many too mention. In the end I ended up making very little profit because I paid so much out, however had I known then what I know now, things would be very different. Hence the reason I write this bog: to help you guys.

Basically you give away 40 percent, then are also taxed at 40 percent, you do the math. On paper, you're loaded but in reality you're not. My solution was to manage myself in the end. I have spent 20 years in this business and if I don't know how it works by now then I'm fucked and dumb. So I learned, I asked questions from those around me who knew, god bless my publicist for all her endless help: LAINE COPICOTTO @ Aurelia Group. I listened and I hired the best people I could afford and built my own team. A great label manager (Leigh, I love ya) from URBANTORQUE RECORDS, and my partner in the studio TYLER REVATA, and me working my ass off is all I need for now. It's a full time job but I love it, and I take enormous pride and joy in what I do.

Remember, no one is going to care as much as you will about your career. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to finally be the one driving my "car" so to speak, after all, I am the fuel, the engine the whole damn thing is me, so why trust it to other people? ALWAYS stay in control, watch over your books (look what happened to STING, he was stung for 8 million by his accountant who stole the lot!) ask questions, find out what they are doing for you and don't just wait for them to do it, that's hard work for most people and most people are fucking lazy. I make my career happen, so don't sit on your ass waiting for your career to come find you, create opportunities, then implement them into your team. Call me paranoid, but I learned all this the hard hard way man.

Lets talk about agents. God, where to start? Many people don't know that I started out as my own agent, I simply wasn't big enough to get any agent attention so I had to get the work myself. This was no picnic I can tell you, in those days, calling up every promoter, sending mix tapes, getting on pirate radio stations were all options that worked. Nowadays, without an agent, you are fucked. I have had the best and again the worst agents. TCA actually stole money from me, my rep at COLLECTIVE said no one was interested in me (that made me laugh) and finally I am with a great agent now BULLITT BOOKINGS, started by DEEP DISH which is great because they see it from the DJ's perspective as well as the promoters'. I guess it's like finding the right doctor, takes some time till your comfortable.

Now I am not always the easiest person to work with, but, I work really hard and I only become difficult when people don't to their fair share. Constantly fucking up simple shit like "should I pick up money at this show or not?" It's not rocket science!!!!!! My biggest hope for you is to find an agent that cares about and likes you and your music, and is hungry to prove him/herself. When someone is batting for you, you'll be surprised how many shows you will get. Don't think that the biggest agent is the best, better to be a big fish in a little pond than a minnow swimming with the great whites (yes I simply love sharks!). I found that the big agents look after the big djs and all the other acts don't get the attention needed, it's ridiculous to sign to an agent who reps 100 acts, how on earth can they find the time to make things happen for little ol'e you? Think about it. They say they will when you first meet them, but try to get them on the phone when things are tough, it's not cute at all.

Still, you will need an agent with connections and some leverage so it's a tough decision you'll have to make yourself. I could go on and on re this subject, but I don't want to sound too bitter, before signing to BULLITT I had almost lost hope and thought I would simply rep myself, I truly felt that all agents were parasites, but the truth is a great agent is worth their weight in gold, and we need them as much as they need us, within one month of being with BULLIT, I was so busy I couldn't believe it, after being told no one was interested it is now the mantra my team all say when we accomplish anything... "but no one is interested" we all have a good giggle at that!

And that was a mouthful. Wishing you all a good couple weeks, till next time,

Love and Bass, DJ RAP

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