How ATL Took Over New York As THE Modern Hip Hop Music Mecca…

Atlanta has become the mecca of hip-hop because it has built an infrastructure where each generation helps the next crop of artists “get on.” While New York hip-hop has no such farm system due to years of infighting.

There’s supporting your friend’s dreams, then there’s what Atlanta rapper Young Thug did for his fellow ATLien Lil Baby. Last week, Lil Baby told XXL that Thug wanted him to focus on rap so bad that he literally paid him to stay out of the streets and get in the studio. “Young Thug, he gave me all the jewels…He said ‘Bruh you can rap, you got it. You could be next.’”

It turns out Thug was right. Lil Baby is one of the most in-demand artists in Atlanta off the strength of his Harder Than Ever album and Drip Harder collaboration with Gunna. What’s more fascinating about Thug’s charity is the fact that Lil Baby didn’t even sign to Thug’s YSL Records. He signed to industry behemoth Quality Control. Thug didn’t profit off of Baby’s come up. But he’s just paying forward the good treatment he received from Gucci Mane, his mentor figure who gave him a $25K advance to sign with 1017 Brick Squad without hearing a song. It’s also worth noting that upon Gucci Mane’s 2014 incarceration on gun charges, he sold Thug’s contract to 300 Records, saying “I didn’t want nobody to take advantage of him. I wanted him to be his own boss. ”

Gucci and Thug’s good deeds weren’t about turning a profit, it was about seeing the next person shine. That communal mindset is part of why Atlanta is the new mecca of hip-hop. Despite their share of internal conflict, they embody the immortal words of Paid In Full’s Ace: “everybody eats, B.” If only New York’s hip-hop scene had the same mindset since the turn of the century. They more accurately reflect an observation from Paid In Full’s Rico, who noted “half these niggas wanna be the man just because.”

While Atlanta hip-hop has built an infrastructure where each generation helps the next crop of artists “get on” with weighty features and gestures like Thug’s, New York hip-hop has no such farm system due to years of infighting. While the whole Apple was grappling to be King Of New York, Atlanta simply resolved to be royalty together.

Last week was the 10-year anniversary of his ThisIs50 fest, where 50 Cent threw an olive branch to several artists he and his G-Unit crew had been beefing with throughout the 2000s, including the Lox and Joe Budden’s Slaughterhouse. At the time, 50 said “they say New York City, we don’t actually get along, that’s not true. We could work together and get more money than we can get apart.” Fabolous tweeted in response that, “it’s interesting to see 50 Cent unite with NY artists when he’s one of the reasons NY hip hop became so isolated & crumbled…Do u agree NY?”

50 called Fabolous’ comments “disappointing,” but he didn’t issue much of a counterpoint. It’s hard to disagree with his assertion if one connects the dots. Rapper IDK called 50 Cent a “superhero” to his generation, but the G-Unit general wasn’t using his power for good. 50’s gripe with Ja Rule and Murder Inc. had him throwing lyrical darts at anyone who collaborated with Ja. His indignation with Fat Joe and Jadakiss’ appearance on Ja Rule’s “New York,” and Havoc’s appearance in the video, caused him to throw shots at all three artists on “Piggy Bank.”

The drama went deeper when, in the midst of antagonizing Styles P by proclaiming he could “stop a record” at Koch Records, he ended up getting into it with Cam’ron on Hot 97. 50 Cent then essentially split Dipset in two by having Jim Jones and Juelz Santana perform onstage with him right after he and Cam’ron traded disses. As Dipset member Un Kasa recently recalled, the chess move spelled the end of Dipset as we knew it. Of course, 50 ended up squashing his issues with all of those crews, but it was too little too late.

That said, New York’s fracture isn’t all 50 Cent’s fault. The tension that he perpetuated wasn’t new to the city. New York rap, more than any other region, is predicated on a concept of lyrical supremacy that’s ripe to breeding a culture of hostility. As Nas proclaimed on “The Message,” “there can only be one king.” And artists’ fight for King of New York status often devolved from healthy competition to real-life discord. The ’80s had the Juice Crew vs. Boogie Down Productions and Kool Moe Dee sparring against LL Cool J. In the ’90s, certain members of the Wu-Tang Clan had strife with The Notorious B.I.G. over whose mafioso-stylings were superior. Nas and Biggie were on a collision course before Biggie’s untimely death. Who knows how much acrimony they could have bred had the lyrical sparring continued. JAY-Z and Nas’ subsequent fight for the crown seemed inevitable in the wake of Biggie’s death.

But Atlanta has never been on that program. It was during Atlanta’s mid-2000s rise that Young Jeezy and other southern rappers rankled traditionalists by declaring that they’re “not a rapper” at all. New York’s greatest MCs have hoards of battle rhymes referencing them being the best, but you’d be hard-pressed to find similar in the Atlanta rap canon. Their passion for the craft and sense of competition doesn’t manifest in the same way that it has in New York because the thematic priorities are so different. It’s why the city’s biggest rappers can not only coexist but put on the next artist with no qualms about their own light being dimmed.

That said, the city’s rap scene hasn’t been 100% harmonious. There have been numerous beefs, including Gucci Mane and Jeezy; Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka; TI and Shawty Lo; TI and Ludacris; and Future and Rocko. Some form of conflict is natural within any large collective. But what’s impressive about the Atlanta scene is that (for the most part) they’ve been able to either squash their conflicts or allow them to fester without fracturing the entire scene.

Perhaps they know the cost of sowing discord in the city’s tight-knit scene. As 2 Chainz noted on Everyday Struggle, the city is small, and “everybody got a Draco.” Gucci Mane and Jeezy’s beef, which culminated in Gucci Mane fatally shooting Young Jeezy’s artist in self-defense, is an example of how far beef can go. And it seems like, consciously or not, artists have resolved to never let things go there again. Most are in a different space in life, as evidenced by Gucci Mane and Jeezy being able to be in the same spaces multiple times in the past decade, including a Beyonce show in 2016.

There’s simply too much money to be made in Atlanta, and too many young artists like Lil Baby, Gunna, inspiring both the previous and next generation to further their career. Only recently has New York adopted similar energy, with contemporary mainstream acts like A$AP Mob, High Bridge, Casanova, Young MA, Dave East and others working with each other. Hopefully, they can take cues from Atlanta, who have operated with a model as similar to socialism as there will likely ever be in hip-hop. Eventually, it will be Lil Baby’s turn to reach out to the young artists under him who “got it” and lengthen his city’s unprecedented run. If recent history is any indication, that won’t be a problem for him.

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Story Via Andre Gee (Okay Player)

Andre Gee is a New York-based freelance writer with work at Uproxx Music, Impose Magazine, and Cypher League. Feel free to follow his obvious Twitter musings that seemed brilliant at the moment @andrejgee.

ARTIST MARKETING…Follow the Leaders

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Not Really Sure How to Market Yourself or Your Project – Ok, Let’s Discuss.

If You’re Trying to Decide Which Strategies to Use, the Answer is EASY!

ALL OF THEM! 

1. Know your brand

Before you can market your band, you need to have your brand in place.

What’s unique about your act? Which aspects of your story are the most compelling and set you apart from every other band out there? How will you present yourself consistently — from your onstage look, to your social media tone, to your logo and color schemes and photos?

Once you’ve honed your brand, the specifics of your band marketing strategies and fan communication will flow from there.

2. Use your email newsletter

Your email list is an incredibly valuable direct line to your most dedicated fans. You have no control over Facebook’s ever-changing News Feed algorithm, but you can always use your newsletter to reach the people who want to hear from you the most. Plus, email is by far the most effective way to sell your music, tickets, and merchandise.

3. Have a website

Investing in a great band website is one of the most important things you can do to maximize your marketing efforts. No matter how many newsletters you send out or how many Facebook ads you run, a poorly designed, outdated website — or no website at all — will hurt your credibility and give off the impression that you’re not serious about your music.

When done right, your band website acts as the central hub for everything. You have full control over the user experience and the data, and you can sell your music and merchandise direct-to-fan.

4. Use social media

Managing several different social media pages can quickly get overwhelming, so the key is to focus on where your fans (and potential new fans) are most active. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great places to start, but you should also explore platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and even Pinterest, and see if it makes sense to put the effort into building a following there.

5. Focus on streaming

While we still have a long way to go before the average artist can realistically earn a living from streaming revenue, there’s no arguing that services like Spotify and Apple Music have become the new go-to for music fans to discover bands. These days, having your song included in a curated Spotify playlist can be just as effective (if not more) than traditional press coverage.

If you don’t already have your music on all of the major streaming platforms, sign up with a digital distribution company like TuneCore, and get your releases up there. The setup process is easy, and there’s really no downside!

6. Leverage the power of YouTube

Video is a powerful medium for band marketing. By adding a visual layer to your artistry, you’re reinforcing your brand while allowing fans to connect with your music in a deeper way.

Youtube is one of the first places people search when they’re trying to find a specific song, so make sure you upload all of your original music and official music videos to your band’s channel. You might also want to consider regularly posting unique cover videos, vlogs, live performances, or interviews so that you show up more often in search results and make yourself more accessible to potential fans.

7. Perform Live….Everywhere!

Performing live is one of the best ways to get new fans and market your band. Start by focusing on your local scene, and don’t hesitate to play charity events, fundraisers, or private events in between your music venue/bar gigs. Once you’ve built up a strong local following, you can turn your attention to regional weekend tours and music festival gigs, mix it up with multiple genre festivals to gain even more exposure.

8. Build Relationships and Get Reviews.

Getting publicity for yourself or band is all about relationships, but you shouldn’t wait until you can finally afford a music publicist to start working on your strategy. Keep a running list of any local or independent music blogs that have covered bands similar to yours, and make a note of their contact info and any pitch requirements listed on the website.

Even if you only hear back from a couple of small blogs at first, you can use those initial reviews to build momentum and buzz, and eventually work your way up to getting covered by bigger publications with a wider reach. Plus, you never know where those small bloggers will end up in a couple of years, so make sure you maintain those relationships.

9. Create band merchandise

Let your diehard fans do the marketing for you by donning a T-shirt with your band logo on it!

Besides the usual suspects like clothing, stickers, and posters, there are thousands of creative items you can offer your fans — think phone cases, flasks, or even handwritten lyric sheets. Just make sure that whatever merchandise you create is aligned with your brand, and something that your fans would actually be excited to purchase.

10. Run contests

Running an occasional contest or giveaway is a great band marketing idea — you benefit from the exposure, and lucky fans of yours get something for free from a band they love.

You could do something as simple as a social media ticket giveaway for your next show, or as involved as a VIP listening party or scavenger hunt around your city. Whatever you do, try to make it fun and exciting so that people are incentivized to spread the word on your behalf.

11. Don’t forget radio

Radio might not be your first thought when you’re brainstorming band marketing strategies, but targeting independent and college radio stations can be a very effective way to promote your music.

If you manage to grab a program director’s attention, you’ll be able to tap into a new audience that trusts and enjoys their music curation.

12. Look into sponsorships and partnerships

We’re not talking about some huge, unattainable contract with a major international brand — you can partner with local businesses and work out a deal that’s simple, authentic, and mutually beneficial.

Do some research on companies that are already working with bands similar to where you are in your music career. Take note of what both parties put into and get out of the arrangement, and think through what sorts of things you could offer and would benefit from.

As an example, you could strike up a collaboration with a local graphic design firm. They create a unique, limited-edition merch item for your band to sell at your next show, and in return, you give them a cut of the profits and help promote them on your website and social media pages.

13. Engage your fans

As you’ve read through these strategies, you’ve probably gathered by this point that it all really boils down to this: build genuine relationships that turn your casual fans into devoted superfans, and they’ll supplement all of your efforts with the most powerful marketing of all — word of mouth. It obviously requires consistent hard work to engage and nurture your fans, but those superfans are the key to building a legitimate, long-lasting music career.

14. Build Your Team…Don’t Give Up

This is a hard business, surround yourself with positivity and people that will motivate you when you get discouraged! Trust me, it will! But Don’t Give Up!

Follow @1kimberlyjo on IG for some inspiration

Thanks Lisa Occhino for the words of wisdom!

The 2017 Teen B.E.A.T. Summit Is On The Way…April 3-9, 2017 Atlanta GA

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The B.E.A.T. Summit will bring together the most creative young songwriters, performing artists, visual artists,future executives, djs, and music producers…for seven (7) days of captivating workshops, engaging experiences, provocative panel discussions, artist showcases, hands-on-training, daily business luncheons, celebrity appearances, new product demonstrations – a full range of exciting events!

Visit www.TeenBEATSummit.com and sign up for updates, early registration announcements, special give-a-ways, and passes for exclusive pre-B.E.A.T. Summit events.

Email us at TheTeenBEATSummit@gmail.com for sponsorship opportunities, group registrations, volunteer sign up, and media requests.