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Monday, November 10, 2014

Why I toured around the US from NYC to Bumfucksville

One of the Things I'm asked most about is not just how I'm able to tour but why take these sporadic dates zigzagging the country? 

It defies all touring logic in where an act books of series of dates in towns within an hour or so drive of eachother. For example: Bellingham to Seattle, Seattle to Olympia, olympia to portland, portland to Eugene. But for me it was something like Seattle to NYC, NYC to Spokane, Spokane to Denver, Denver to New Hope, PA, NEW hope, PA to Salt Lake City. 

There is a method to this madness and the method was rooted in test marketing. It went as follows:

1. I vowed to take any show opportunity anywhere I could get it whenever I could get it. NO EXCUSES. I quit my job packed up and went wherever my name was on a flyer. That doesn't mean I didn't attempt to route dates close by - I most certainly did but as a novice booking agent I did what I could.

2. I needed to take in all the data I could about the city I played and when. Was my show the only game in town? Is this a big city? College town? Data data data. 

3. I took note of the outcomes. What was the general sentiment of the crowd? Was there a crowd? If so why? If not why? Who was the local support? Who was the promoter? How do they factor into the local scene?

4. I added in promotional efforts like college radio, online ads, etc and measured what kind of affect they had on the show beginning to end. Did having radio play in the market affect the bookers decision? Did it have an affect on the turnout? 

5. I measured things like: who bought merch? Who declined? Why? How did they purchase? Cash or card?

By detaching myself from a specific goal like ticket sales I was able to come to a conclusion on some key things going forward.
The first being: can I actually tour?
Next was: where I had the biggest successes and what did those cities have in common? What were the factors?

Then came: what markets didn't work and what were the factors?

So after roughly 100 shows in 3 years with close to 70 of those being out of state I have an idea of what works for me and where so going forward I can efficiently tour and plan according to what I know. 

We can tackle markets that mirror the successful ones and still build in those where we see big opportunities going forward.

That my friends, is the method to my madness and how I'll happily go from NYC to Bumfuck Nowhere :-)

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Things that are Rapper kryptonite.

So a lot of you know I got my bachelor's in Music Business this summer and am getting my Master's in Internet Marketing. Through that i've been able to put together some really good studies and this one I think is probably most beneficial to my fellow rapper friends.
If you're wondering why no one is really catching on, here's why.

1. You don't really know who your audience is.
Sure, you made a song for the ladies and a song for the club because as many of y'all say "I NEED something for the _____". Then the next step is to think that whoever you made that particular song for is your core audience. I'm here to tell you that your core audience has nothing to do with the music you make, it's what you represent.

2. Even when you do know who your audience is, you try to get another one.
Wrong wrong wrong! The 1-hit wonder graveyards are filled with careers of guys who came out one way and by single #2 tried something altogether too different. So you identified your brand and your audience and you have a core but then you somehow try to switch things up. For what?! Now - don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with trying to engage another group but you never desert your core fans. Take Drake for example, when he first started out he was a rapper's rapper delivering mixtape after mixtape of mind blowing bar after mind blowing bar. As his career path took a turn for the Top-40 he tailored his sound to a more commercial angle with a focus on the ladies. Hate on him if you may, but it seems the minute you say Drake has gone soft he reminds his early fans why they loved him in the first place.

3. It's not what you think but your consistency sucks.
You can drop a mixtape a week for the next year and still be inconsistent. How? You have no definitive sound and no definitive brand so you hop on every trendy sound that comes out. The only thing consistent is how you DON'T bring anything different to the table. One thing that seems rather obvious but is painfully not is that fans of the creative value authenticity over everything and in rap, there's a million soundclick producers ready to give you some free or cheap trap beats which is great! The problem is, no one will ever say these words but if they disregard your music what they're really saying is "if I want authentic trap - I know where to find it and it aint here."

All in all, your authentic self is the best brand you can be. When you can identify with who that is and build your persona - your 2 or 3 qualities that are authentically you that make you relatable - everything will follow.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Russell Wilson moment

Cleaned out my email and had a Russell Wilson moment. About a year ago one particular venue in Chicago responded to my booking email by saying: "thanks for your inquiry I'd be interested in booking Q Dot. We don't book hip hop much here but upon reading your bio and checking your facebook and listening to your tunes you're not like most of the 'rap' we get in our email which is refreshing but my concern is your style isn't what our crowd expects from a rapper. let me know your thoughts on this." 

I missed this email all together at the time ... But what I gather is because I'm an educated, family oriented black guy who also plays an instrument who doesn't do drugs and doesn't run around flashing guns and money but I  wear my jeans around my waist with my shirts buttoned and my hats facing forward I'm not "what your crowd expects" of a black guy. 

Great to know that I'm doing my part by just being myself I'm impacting the way people view Black men - including other black men.