Ten Rules to Succeed in the Modern Rap Industry - STUDIO 11 (2023)

With all due respect to Eminem and NWA, sometimes aspiring artists watch movies like 8 Mile and Straight Outta Compton and automatically assume that launching a hip-hop career works just like they see in those movies. Here at Studio 11 we meet and work with many aspiring unsigned rappers on a daily basis. With hip hop and rap being a multi-billion dollar industry, one of the most common questions we get asked here in the studio is what the artist should be doing with their music in order to have the best chance of a successful career. 90% of what we do in the studio is related to the hip-hop industry, so we get asked these questions pretty frequently. Luckily, in the 20 years that Studio 11 has existed, we've encountered many A&Rs, notable artists, executives, and music producers who have made big names in the industry.

So the suggestions below are drawn from our years of experience and working in this industry with artists like Chief Keef, Crucial Conflict, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, R Kelly, Twista and the managers and producers who have also worked with them. When rappers strive to get promoted on various hip hop/rap blogs and websites, these are the people they are basically hoping to inspire and collaborate with. To help you answer these questions, we've put together this list, which focuses on advice that may help you get your stuff online, as well as a general guide to achieving success as an independent artist.

Keep in mind that this advice does not necessarily guarantee success when entering the industry. But through our experience and industry connections, we've personally seen what it takes for artists to go from zero success to this Kanye West success. For what it's worth, I used to wash cars at a Toyota dealership before getting into audio engineering and production in the music industry. I had to make the tough decision of whether to keep the same job that paid me or quit and pursue my passion by starting as an unpaid intern at a major Chicago production studio. For both myself and the rest of the Studio 11 staff, it's easy for us to identify with the up and coming artists and rappers out there selling CDs out of their cases to pursue their dreams. From what we've learned, one of the best tools to start a thriving career is the advice of the big industry players you want to work with one day, along with smart planning, brawn and a pinch of luck.

Rule 1: research, research, research

“In the current atmosphere of the music business, taking development from your grandmother's basement to the world stage can be extremely difficult. Taking a chance on an artist, especially a rapper without buzz or traction, is something most record labels generally don't do anymore, especially for male artists or rappers. When we say buzz, we mean identifiable data about you or your brand. The data we are talking about can be summed up in the form of trackable Broadcast Data Systems (BDS), media-based radio plays, huge hype on a mixtape or album (thousands of online digital sales, blogs or reviews and recognition from credible publications). ), online presence on major music websites, major music video streams on Youtube, recommendations from outside organizations or notable artists, etc.

Lots of up and coming artists and rappersWunderhow these specific criteria can be met when other artists or "competitors" have the funding, business contacts and managers. Getting signed or becoming a successful independent artist like Chance The Rapper takes a well-orchestrated and thorough plan.

Rule 2: What you have and how you use it

“Make sure you have a job: there's a good chance you won't make much or any money if you start working on your passion. For many, this can create a stressful state of being and really disrupt your creativity, especially if you're just eking out a living and living day-to-day. Find a job that allows you to pay your bills and put groceries in your fridge until your purposeful hobby blossoms into "worthwhile pursuits."

“Determination: This is the trait that will move you in a positive direction when apprehension sets in, when you reach those times where you're going nowhere, when absolutely nothing is happening, or even when you're making progress.

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“Artistry: It all starts with the ability to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Even if you find yourself going in a direction that other up-and-coming artists are following (producing, rapping, singing), you should find your own little pocket or niche that will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and completely differentiate yourself.

“The Resources: Learn how a little can make a big difference. You can basically do almost as much with a few people as with many, especially if that's all you need. Remember Nas' saying "All I need is a microphone". To summarize this analogy, he essentially means that with this one simple tiny thing (the microphone) he has the power to do a lot and potentially change the world because he will use it (the microphone) for everything he does can get out. Learning to prioritize and work with essentials in the smartest, most productive way will force you to always make the most of what you have.

“Game Plan: Once you have developed a coherent and reliable system with what you have, it becomes important to exploit what little you have with a strategic approach. Make the smallest steps count towards the much larger steps.

“Foresight: Have a coherent (and realistic) plan of where you want to be and what you think it will take to get there. Understand that 99.9% of the time, success won't happen overnight. Through trial and error, it will take you time to develop the right pace and rhythm, which will ultimately streamline your strategy and reveal the artist you were meant to be. Don't be afraid to try things!

Rule 3: Be the best artist you can be

“The most important thing new recording artists forget these days is that it's all about the music. It's really the most important thing. The recording artist won't get very far if their song or music doesn't resonate immediately with audiences you don't personally know. Just like Crystal Pepsi, if your product sucks, you just won't get anywhere with it. Count on your friends and family for support, but try to withhold their opinions (unless your friend or family is in the music business). Always consider how people you don't know will react when they hear your music, especially people who like your music more than they don't. This is the best measure.

Well, if you want to make that mojo work, produce or find the best beats/instrumentals that not only define your artistic vision, but allow you to write undeniablycommercial hits. And more importantly, write and write and write. The rule is that the more songs you write for a given project, the more opportunities there are to produce a big commercial hit or multiple commercial hits. Take your time and make sure your words are well written and rehearsed. The flow and energy of the words you deliver will really sell the song. Yes, this might not sound easy, but remember, if it were easy, everyone would be a multi-platinum recording artist. It takes hours and hours of thankless, arduous work, combined with heartbreaking rejection and soul searching, to become a commercial success as a recording artist.

Regel 4: Multitasking

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The most important thing to remember as a recording artist is that it all falls on you, whether you're independent or signed to a big or small record label. It's important to have a team around you that can take on multiple responsibilities and understands their specific role in the team. If record labels are looking to sign you, make sure you choose the label that not only understands you and your brand, but also knows how to expand it in a way that is positive for your artistic identity and vision. It's also important to build your relationships with people within the industry, whether they be record label executives, radio and club DJs, venue owners and promoters, as well as podcasters and music reporters. Be consistent and persistent, but not overbearing. More importantly, just like we said in Rule 3, you must have an amazing product and a dedication to being great.

Rule 5: The Edge of Independence

Learn to enjoy and take full advantage of your independence without trying to give a fuck about big labels. The more buzz, money, and notoriety you can independently generate, the more you can negotiate and negotiate a better deal for yourself when labels approach you. Remember that it's better for the record label to be at your mercy than for the label to be at your mercy. The only way to create such a negotiating environment is to be the best independent artist you can be. It's about putting yourself in a position of undeniable strength when it comes time to deal with record labels. What opens up a deal is when the label understands you don't necessarily need it to be extremely successful.

Rule 6: Develop a successful brand

There are no universal guarantees in the rules or advice for aspiring young recording artists looking to leave the family home and make it as a professional in the industry. However, there are several steps one can take to improve one's chances of future success. If you make music and don't do anything with it, how can you expect and ensure success? These basic steps consist of, but are certainly not limited to: finding a team of people with the expertise who believe wholeheartedly in your vision and music, developing an image as an artist that will properly brand you and your music, and to create a product that is undeniable in its ability to sell itself.

Rule 7: Speak softly but carry a large stick

For the chance to break out of the parental home and work for an artist, many things have to happen and also a little bit of luck. It is important for the recording artist to keep and maintain a realistically good head on their shoulders. You won't get very far if you have an inflated opinion of yourself or the whole approach. Be unpretentious, don't just follow others or industry trends, and most importantly, be yourself. Generally, if you work really hard for yourself, the results will speak for themselves. Lastly, don't spam or constantly rush people who you're trying to sell yourself and your music to. That can put people off. Give them the bread, but let them decide if and when they want to take the first bite.

Rule 8: See me, hear me, know me

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The last 10 years have seen a trend in the concept of needing an online presence to be successful. While an online presence is certainly required to build your career, it definitely has its pros and cons. Many artists like to promote their music by sending out links to potential fans through social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The problem is that many of these people consider these ads to be spam due to the callous or unmotivated approach to the ad.

The real world is all about developing a proactive balance between an online and physical presence. The internet is vital to a recording artist's success, but networking, performing and physical promotion are equally important in building a following. Remember, back in the day people didn't have internet to promote their music. They had their music and the trunk of their car to sell and promote. Not only has this helped produce some of the most successful recording artists in the world, but it has also helped create and promote new genres of music and sound that are at the forefront of trends today.

Rule 9: The Wolf of Wall Street

One of the biggest mental misconceptions of recording artists is the belief that people owe them something for making and releasing a song. Just because you've made a song or songs and can perform them doesn't mean a venue is obligated to pay you for your time. In order to facilitate paid bookings, the recording artist must be able to sell tickets and/or bring heads (audience), which in turn helps generate additional revenue for the venue or business from the drinks, food and other products that they sell within the borders.

The business of music really is a business. It is crucial that the recording artist invests in themselves and their business until a healthy income flows back into their pockets. There are more ways to invest than just money. Time is an investment. Emotions are and investment. Perseverance and dedication are also investments. If you're not making any income from performing or appearing in other artists' music, it's pretty obvious that you haven't taken the time to really invest in yourself. Going the independent route in the beginning is a smart way to go because it can be done on a small budget, but it's still kind of a budget no matter how big or small it is. Until the artist realizes this and invests wisely in their business, it's just a non-revenue hobby.

The opposite of this philosophy is that if the ultimate goal is to land a major record deal, it is imperative that the recording artist invest the right amount of money to ensure their "music business" becomes a success. Usually this means investing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money doesn't just fall out of the sky, although it would be nice. This is the result of a strong focus and dedication to the continuous growth and development of their business. If a recording artist is to expect great returns from their music business, which is what record labels are looking for in potential artists, then they must invest heavily and wisely in themselves.

Overall, the artist has to understand that both directions (independent vs. label) take time, money and of course a lot of effort and incredible talent. But realize that in 2017 you don't necessarily need the major label like you did 10-20 years ago. There are many other avenues available to the independent artist to generate sufficient income simply by investing in their independent "music business" until the money starts to flow. Chance The Rapper is an amazing example. But remember, he didn't get where he is now by slacking off. He got there because he believed 100% in his music business and invested everything he could.

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Rule 10: Nurture and maintain consistency

After all, one of the most important things a recording artist needs to maintain in today's music market is visibility. If at the end of the day you're making the best music the world could ever hear and no one really hears it, what's the point? So you have to be out there, visible, heard and seen, touched, even smelled if you know what I mean. Get out there and do as much as you can, wherever you can. Learn to be hated, learn to be appreciated. Learn what works and what doesn't. You have to make it airtight. The more you perform, the more you master the craft of live performance. Many artists have defined their careers through their live performances. Record your performances and show them on sites like Youtube and Vimeo. These sites have helped create many recognizable names in the industry so be sure to have your stuff uploaded and links available to share.

Giving away music for free is also important. There are so many out there trying to make it in the industry as a recording artist as well that it's important to do things that allow people to become fans without investing in you first. As we have already said, social networks have become an important means of advertising. You need to be present on all websites, facebook, twitter etc. and reach out to people from all walks of life. The key to these sites is understanding the best mechanics to reach potential fans. It often revolves around the things you post on your page, the creativity behind those posts, and the specific goal of each post. Don't think of it as a way to reach people with your music, but as a way to help tell your story. Remember, all people like a good story. And when people like a good story, they take care of everything related to it, like music, content, and products, and help spread and promote the word. Ultimately, this translates into revenue for your music business, and when record labels see that people care about you, they'll want to care about you, too.

Call us at (312) 372-4460 if you plan tomake a record in Chicago!


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The performance focuses on youth empowerment, creativity, and working together embodied by hip hop's four principles: Peace, Love, Unity, and Having Fun!

Who is the No 1 rapper in world? ›

No other rapper has had the same level of consistency as Jay-Z. Listening to Jay-Z is like listening to a man who has lived his life to the fullest and has a lot of experiences to share. He's the richest American musician. Jay-z has won 22 Grammy awards and is also one of the highest-selling artists.

How can I be successful in rap music industry? ›

7 Essential Steps On How To Become a Successful Rapper
  1. Introduction.
  2. Step 1: Write your own song lyrics.
  3. Step 2: Do Vocal Practice.
  4. Step 3: Choose your Sound or Genre.
  5. Step 4: Create High Quality Music.
  6. Step 5: Distribute your music.
  7. Step 6: Promote your music online.
  8. Step 7: Diversify your Sources of Revenue.
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What is the number 1 rap song ever? ›


What are the 5 laws of hip hop? ›

The Five Elements of Hip-Hop: emceeing, deejaying, breakin', graff and beatboxing.

Are there rules to rap? ›

Really, there are no rules. It's more of a matter of what's effective at evoking emotion, understanding, interest from your audience. Have you tried writing a rap before?


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