How to Prepare for a Record Label Meeting

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Below is a transcript of an interview at the 2017 Coast 2 Coast Music Conference with our very own Direct 2 Exec alum Yaasiel “Success” Davis of Atlantic Records describing how an Indie Artist can prepare and be ready for their first label meeting with a major record label A&R. Interview was conducted by J Hatch of in Miami on 9/2/17.

Panel Transcript:

Hatch: 00:00 This panel’s going be called you know preparing for the meeting. My name is Jay Hatch co-founder of standard. If you guys heard about standard we’re the largest producer coalition out there we do about 110 events a year for music producers and songwriters. I also manage focus formerly of aftermath. he did six records on Compton’s album I have a singer songwriter by the name of Kaydence that I manage she’s worked with Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato Cassie and few others.  And I’ve had the pleasure to know this gentleman for the last probably eight to 10 years and proud of his growth in the music industry. This probably like our 10th interview I think we’ve done. But do me a favor and Success related records is a big deal with us today. So we’re going to talk about a lot of different things in regards to how to prepare for you know A&R meetings how to get prepared for label meetings in general. But I want to read to you a little background yourself because you didn’t really start out music at first. Give everybody a little bit of background how you got in the game for the most part.

Success: 01:02 So I mean I am from Chicago originally so I grew up as a musician myself and I went to college down in Tallahassee for FAMU. So while I was down there me and some of my guys from Chicago we was rappin and then I started doing local shows at a company called Street Team entertainment. So like TJ’s DJ’s was a big supporter of ours Jermaine Dupri Lil Jon you know all these type of guys because we started making noise in you know Tallahassee Georgia area and then at that time T-Pain and his father had their group. And so we started performing together hitting the local scene. We would go to Atlanta and we would go to Gainesville, Duval. All up and down Florida Georgia and then I realized that I was better negotiating the deals and you know getting my group paid and working records on you know radio stations rather was FAMU and FSU or Gainesville and etc. So I just realized I was better behind the scenes instead of being on the stage. So once I finished school I came to New York and I honestly I was doing finance at the time. I got a job in New York doing finance and I started managing producers on the side because I’m from Chicago I came up with guys like Kanye, Common. These are friends of mine. So when Kanye came to New York he was already rockin with Roc-A-Fella. He called me to the studio at the time called Baseline Studios and introduced me to everybody Bean’,  State Property, Cam. Dipset was there. Jay, Memphis Bleek his whole team everybody Just Blaze. So what happened was you know I work my relationships and became the producer connect because a lot of the guys that were producing under Kanye and No .ID were from Chicago so I became the link between that sound that everyone was trying to get and the industry. There was no Twitter Instagram so I had to figure out who’s who and worked my way and meet people and also was the sneaker connect. So I would get calls about beats and sneakers and you’d be surprised. I met a lot of guys that I’m still tight with Fab, Clue, Jadakiss the whole D block. All of these guys would hit me up for kicks and beats. And then you know I did that for years working my finance gig during the day and hustling sneakers and beats at night. Working the studio Circuit. New York was still lit as far as studios at the time. And then you know I started meeting executives and started signing artists on the songwriters side and signed a couple of artists on management and then that took me to being recruited by Atlantic to be A&R on the executive side. So that’s the short version.

Hatch: 04:17 How long you’ve been Atlantic now?

Success: 04:19 About seven years now. Almost yeah.

Hatch: 04:22 Clap it up man. Yes a good a grind right there. So in a game you kind of position yourself I guess as a relationship guy.  You know with the sneakers as well as just being able to connect certain people how relationships played into your every day you know hustle as an A&R as a person who has to make things happen on a major level for major artists in general.

Success: 04:46 Honestly relationships is everything. Like you know I’m not going to say I owe my career to Kanye but had I not had a relationship with Don C Kanye then that wouldn’t have taken me to Baseline Studios at that particular moment because if I was like A, excuse my french, A fuckboy they wouldn’t have brought me around they’d be like not bringing him around the situation so because Don and I used to throw parties in Chicago we had a relationship. So that relationship got me to meet Kanye long before he popped up. Me and him maintain a great relationship. And everyone I’ve met says then it’s all about relationships more than anything you know relationships have gotten me Jobs has got me chicks have gotten me. You know. Any way you can imagine you know back home I’d do some political stuff on the side. All based on relationships. Obama you know I’ve been around a lot of important people when it was all my relationship stuff.

Hatch: 05:47 So you’ve been an A&R at Atlantic now for the last seven years you’ve worked with songwriters producers artists. How has your job changed along with the climate of the music industry with the digital side of things. How is your job different than it was when you first started?

Success: 06:03 That’s a good question. A&R changes like every two years honestly because I feel like right now at this moment there’s a lot of acts that are popping up as far as research. Whereas when I first got in it I could take a new artist and say yo I see some talent in this kid. I’m going to sign it, develop it. You know I’m saying take them in a studio put them in with different writers and producers learn how to work records teach them how to perform teach them how to pick dope beats. All of these things development things nowadays. The roster is kind of lit. So if I was to bring some artists to the chairman like Yo I believe in this kid it’s a harder battle because now he wants stuff that’s moving already. Like we don’t have we don’t do taking an artist from 0 to 15 or 20 anymore. Honestly we’re looking at artists that have already started that process so I can get them at like 20 percent and take them to you know Cardi B status you know 100 200 but if i just say Yo this kid raps good. I like his flow. I think we should sign him. His going to be like I got 70 rappers on the roster go get one of them poppin. We not signing that and just start from scratch. So a lot of it is based on research. You know we always looked at MediaBase, bds, SoundScan. All of that but now it’s like you actually got to be moving. You got to be connected with some sort of fan base on some platform rather it’s you know if you’re lit on Instagram if you know if you’re selling out shows in a particular region if you’re trending on you know Spotify or whatever the case that it has to be connecting with some some kind of fan base for us to get into it. So that’s a big part. It’s not about developing you know R&B is a little different. Like we still put a little development into R&B acts because their process is slightly different but even R&B you look at a lot of the R&B guys that are poppin and they still put out mixtapes sort of speak. And you know those are considered their first project you know.

Hatch: 08:19 So you know the panel is called preparing for the meeting but prior to actually going to the meeting they need to have these things kind of in place right, as you were saying. Can you give an example of maybe either an artist that kind of popped up on your radar or somebody you’ve been watching I know you’re closer to the Cardi B situation as well. Can you maybe talk about just the what the precursor to assert certain successes were that you saw in advance in terms of being prepared for that success.

Success: 08:49 I mean Cardi is interesting situation. We thought you know we watched Cardi since before Love and Hip Hop. Honestly I knew some people that knew her. She was lit on Instagram. You know she she didn’t have a million followers she had about I recall like 600 or 700,000 followers. And say what we want about Cardi she had her platform. She had girls that were tied in. You know she was given advice. She was talking about finessing dudes. You know whatever she was talking about she had a fan base and so that got her to the point of OK. TV was like you know what. We put her on TV she’s a movie. So she did that and then she realized after one season of Love and Hip Hop she’s like you know what I want to do more.  But she made a huge impact on Love and Hip Hop in itself to the point where everybody knew Cardi B she started getting these bookings. And what happened was it’s funny because when we first started talking about Cardi I’m not gonna lie people was like nah man. And then we showed these videos where she went city to city where she put out the mixtape and it was like OK it was cool. We didn’t think anything we thought it was just like a New York local thing. But there’s footage on YouTube in every city everybody know word for word for word and we was like them is this really something you know I mean she went to Jamaica. She was in Puerto Rico like word for word. And it was like OK maybe there’s something here. So you know she was just destined for greatness. And then we put out the first record “Hit A Lick” and it was cool and you know it did good. She did South By, she did Summer Jam. She did some great venues but she, you know, when she would come out of office she’d be like na i’m not there yet. Like I want more. And then this Bodak Yellow happened and it was just you know it was just like damn. And I get a lot of people still come up to me like Yo I could not have called that Cardi B thing out for nothing. Like I ya got that and I’m like she she had it. You know you give her a platform and she took total advantage of it.

Hatch: 11:04 So sometimes it’s not always about the music necessarily it’s about kind of building out on that foundation. So when you do put the walls up in the ceiling up and all kind of sticks for the most part. What about anything recent any any new artists aside from Cardi that maybe you just kind of saw the potential in talent wise and when do you make the decision to put yourself behind it and stamp yourself on it so you believe enough in it to want to  move it forward or bring to the bigger guys.

Success: 11:32 I mean there’s definitely signs. You know I keep myself close to the creatives. I’m not necessarily one of the guys that that just kind of watches what’s moving regionally. You know I’m still a studio guy so I’m in the studio figuring out who’s writing the best hooks and who’s got a dope vocal and who knows how to write a song for themselves and for other people. So there are certain signs that I look for in the studio and you know penwise and vocally on the R&B side. And then again I work with my research team and anything that pops up we’re on it every day. If five hundred people Shazam a record in Atlanta. My guys are coming over like 500 people just shazamed this record. So one of us is getting on a plane to Atlanta to figure out what it is what it’s about.  Is it a gimmick? Is it legs? With no radio. You know I just got a plaque on PNB rock with zero radio. Platinum records. So it’s a lot of stuff happening digitally online that I don’t even look MediaBase anymore. Honestly my research guys are watching. You know they still watching it but me personally you know there’s other movements happening elsewhere on numerous platforms.

Hatch: 12:58 Dope Dope. Let’s give it up to Success for being here. Got some more to talk about.  Now let’s take it to the meeting and we have a couple of different people we got the producer, we’ve got the songwriter, we got the artists. Let’s talk about the artist first and foremost when they’re getting ready to come see you. And they get a chance to meet you out. You like their stuff. You want to hear more. They reach out you check out their stuff and you like it you want to hear more. What should they prepare for? The artist specifically when they come to see you what do you want to hear what do you want to know? Give me some basics.

Success: 13:26 So artists first thing. I mean obviously you want to have your music right. CDs honestly are ancient. When you come into the office I don’t honestly in my office I don’t have a CD player thats facts. I got an aux cord. I’ve got a laptop. If the only thing you got is the CD and I got to figure out somewhere in the office to play it you know people give me a CD. My car still has a CD player. So occasionally I can play it in a car but I’m like man don’t bring me a CD. You know I understand people still hustling out the trunk selling CDs or after the club they putting a CD in your car. But when you come to a label meeting don’t bring a CD.  It’s just you know it’s a disservice to yourself. So you know jump drive. On your phone. You know nowadays a lot of people got the 7 so we had to get the 7 converter for the aux cord. Well yeah music is first and foremost. As I said even if you play me some amazing songs and you are an artist looking for a deal. That’s not even half the battle because what else are you doing. You know who’s your demographic? Who are you talking to? What perspective are you coming from? Are you performing? You know what venues? and when does the next show that I can pull up. I’m asking are self-releasing your project? Is it on spotify? Is it on Apple? Is it soundcloud only? like all of these things you should have information and a plan about you know well we started off on soundcloud and then I went and got Empire distribution deal and just like a stream and you know or I went to TuneCore and put it on all platforms like i’m asking all those key questions because if something’s going to move it needs to have the ability to move. So if you know your song is lit on Apple Music you know for me to be able to track those numbers you have to be on Apple Music if it’s only on soundcloud  you’re still slow because you know we notice soundcloud numbers are not all real. So if you tell me your i’m poppin on soundcloud and that’s the only platform then I have to run that to my research guys to let me know if there’s a real number or not. But yeah music and  then just having your presentation ready and having your information you know?

Hatch: 15:59 So that’s the artist side of things. Let’s talk more about on the creative side with the artists and producers you get a chance to meet one of these dope new producers or the new songwriters at an event. You know you want to come up to the office what do you want to hear from those guys creatively?

Success: 16:14 Producers just come with a dope beat pack man. The funny part is that most of the hit records that are found from producers It was not in the stash that they came to play me like they all come prepared with a little trap pack that sounds like every record that’s on the radio and I’d be like ok that’s cool now what else you got? Where’s your Jay-Z stash and where’s your stash that you would play for Eminem? You know I mean play me something. And then they go back like oh oh I got this throw away and that throw away for some reason as always the best shit they play so much. And then another thing that I do like what I have to go to L.A. like once a month because a lot of creative community here is happening in L.A. in Atlanta and you know New York we’re still cool but we’re kind of like not as lit creatively at least on a songwriter producer site like. There’s definitely a wave of artists popping in New York but like I said I have to go to Atlanta I have to go to L.A. once a month so when I go to L.A. I set up meetings with all these producers and songwriters and I kind of invade their hard drive because they send me stuff but again it’s not like what I need. Like I need to go in there and hear it I should get you started but didn’t finish because you didn’t know you know what i mean? So like I raid producers hard drive. But yeah just a dope beat pack. I love to hear producers they actually get in with songwriters and have demos whether its hooks or full songs or ideas. It’s always dope if you’re a producer and you come into a meeting. If you only playing beats that meeting is only going to be about 10 or 15 minutes because I can’t sit and listen to an hour worth of beats. It’s just a waste of, you know, not a waste of time because I can do it on my own time but I’m not going to sit in front of you for hours just going to pieces. Unfortunately unless you know I really gotta be fucking with the beats or you got to be giving me more than just beats. So I definitely feel like a lot of producers should try to get in with songwriters and try to bring those beats to life because as you know it’s that much easier for you to set the record.

Hatch: 18:29 And in this day and age like with all these artists and the budgets aren’t as big as they used to be they recording like 50 60 records just to kind of narrow that down and like the 12 or 14 are going to have on the album. So when you lead them to the water you know with the dope hook or a concept or an idea it’s hopefully going to get you some more money in on the pub side of things but it also provides you know somebody like Success one of his artist a better idea, you know, of where the record would go what the concept is it takes less time to write to it and it’s also a better presentation overall. Then the one thing I wanted to also add to that too is you can be a great songwriter you could be a great artist but you gotta make sure these references are spot on and ready to go radio wise.  You know if it’s like not done or like the vocalist isn’t exactly where they should be. You know he’s not going to wait around for you to finish that record. If it’s like something he feels I can go right now you know like I make sure when I go see success I’m bringing him like a perfect record. So if he likes it he can give it to an artist they can say let’s go cut it right now. Like they’re that impressed by it. Because you guys are all competing with everybody up top.

Success: 19:31 That gets tricky too because if you bring me a piece of an idea and I like It a little bit and I play it for an artist now you’ve already diminished some of your publishing because if the artist has to come in and change something in that 15 20 percent that you thought you were getting for the hook they’re going to be like I wrote this. So now you in the 5 percent 7 percent place. So the more tight and crisp it is the better off you’re going to be as a writer and a producer same thing. You know I don’t have time for six weeks work on a beat. I’m going to just take it to somebody else and it’s going to turn into a co-production and then I say listen I need this record for Cardi B but it’s got to be this co-pro and if you’re not with it?So you’re beats and your top line should be as close to perfect as possible.

Hatch: 20:27 Absolutely. Also collaborate with each other as well. You know like producers and other producers and other writers should all collaborate you know more minds are better than one. And I think you know if you have a great record you’re great at drums and somebody comes in that is great musicality and somebody comes in that is great at the bass line and like you guys can create more opportunities if you guys work together and you guys understand the strength is in numbers out here for the most part. Also don’t try to sell the record to Rihanna if you’re a male singer and you’re top lining it yourself. I try to find someone who’s got a similar texture. You know find somebody and kind of get the point across and again maybe somebody’s not as understanding or astute as somebody like success has been in the game for a while. They may not get it. They want to get the vision and they’re not going to wait for you to go and have somebody else reference it. You know what i’m saying? It just happens that way.

Success: 20:27 That’s a fact.  

Audience: 21:39 Do you think the industry is starting to become more buzz versus less nectar? So what I mean by that is it’s like you get all these people that you know got the social media presence. Now I know the importance of that don’t get me wrong but they really don’t have any quality in their music. So that’s why you see a lot of stories like J Cole and Kendrick that took like forever to get somewhere because their music was so different that it took so long for them to get there. So what’s your opinion on that? Because I feel like a lot of people have that microwave mentality. You know to get a bunch of people get a bunch of numbers and then you hear a lot of trash on the radio. And we wonder why? But then you don’t want hear like what J Cole when Jay-Z and when Kendrick. So what’s your opinion on that and how should a person do with it.

Success: 22:21 I feel like there’s different preferences of music right. It’s funny because I remember when I first got to New York, New York was still like super New York east coast hip hop boom bap and the South was catching a wave and then I felt it because I was outside of living in New York. I felt like certain people was kind of salty you first like yo the south wave taking over our radio and everything. Now like I have a 15 year old daughter that listens to Kendrick. And 21 savage in the same playlists so that so my point is that for every Kendrick I sign I’d also sign at 21 because again they connected with a fan base right say what we want about you know gimmicks people call Cardi B a gimmick. She’s lit and you know the numbers show. So for every Cardi B I sign a Nicki Minaj you know for every J Cole for every Kendrick I sign a 21 Kodak Black so I feel like there’s room for both. Right? You know if you’re in your car and you’re dealing with something you may want to hear more lyrical content from a Cole or from a Kendrick. If you in a club turnt up you want to hear 21 21 or A Boogie. So I think the game has changed a little bit and people were more diverse in what they listen to and what’s quality. You know? Who am I to tell you that Tay K is not dope. Like if you fuck with it and he likes it she likes it. I’m a hater if I say yo that shit is wack. I might be pro-Cole, like J Cole or nothing but I think everybody has has different tastes and preferences so I think that’s good for them for the industry actually.  

Audience: 24:31 You stated that it’s a little bit different with R&B singers to develop other than vocally. what other way would you develop an R&B artist?

Success: 24:41 I think for R&B vocals is still a big part of it but I think it comes down to the songwriting as well. I know for us you know really RCA is killing it with the R&B right now from the Bryson story the Khaled the SZA. I mean they’re lit we have, you know, we still got our guys we got Trey Songz and we got K. Michelle. We got you know 7 Streeter, TY $ Sign if you consider him R&B. But my point is that R&B is still about a song. Right? So if you’re a song if you’re an R&B artist but you’re not necessarily the best songwriter and part of the development for me is to go and find you a song that matches that amazing vocal and if like I said if you think about it a lot of these guys that I’m naming had a dope project that was like their first body of work you know. Bryson had that mix tape even you go back to The Weekend when he was putting out House of Balloons mixtapes. You know Frank Ocean dropped that I forget the name of the first one but when he first got lit it’s like putting together a quality body of work is development because you know you can have it. There’s a great singer on every every street probably in every church on any given Sunday you could find somebody with a good vocal.  But what does that mean? You know you’ve got to really get in the studio with the writers producers and and take that to the next level so I feel like performing is also super important for R&B artist. Whereas a rapper can get up and do whatever kind of to a certain extent. If you’re singing you know your stage show is important. Your quality of holding the mic and you know so this is definitely a development in R&B. And then I know a lot of people who are really getting getting creative with the auto tune and that sort of thing. But again it goes back to the song.

Audience: 26:59 My question for you is you spoke on a songwriting and stuff. I produce and I write my own music but a lot of people tell me have a good voice like speaking wise. So I want to like venture on into like writing like all types of genres like. Even as far as like country so I can reach everybody. So what would your advice be to somebody who who is fluent in they know how to speak and know how to write? I’m more of a conscious rapper by the way. So if I wanted to go right like a mumble rap song  or like some trap stuff or like even like I said country or a pop record for somebody how would I like start up that thought process to like you know

Success: 27:38 That’s a good question.  I think often times people feel like the record label is the only place like the one stop shop like oh I got to get to the label get to the label but what people don’t understand is some of the publishers are just as important as us A&Rs because especially for songwriters and producers. If you’re in the studio cutting demos if you’re interested in country or you’re interested in writing mumble rap hooks or whatever. I think a publisher can be your best friend because they’re going to publishers have access to all of us first off and all of our artists and then they’re able to sign you and start putting you in a position to get those songs placed to some of the artists that you’re writing for. So I don’t know how much you’re familiar with some of the big publishers or some of the A&R that worked for publishing companies but that’s a great place to start because they, just like i look for artists they look for songwriters and producers.

Hatch: 28:38 Also to surround yourself with those talented people in those different genres as well. Do some co-writes just kind of work that out too that will help you extend.

Audience: 28:57 You said that if someone gets 500 shazams in Atlanta you’re basically flying out there. Is that the same for all over the world or is that just like mainly United States or would you like go to Hawaii or  Australia or something like that.

Success: 29:15 Well me personally I actually deal with a lot of international artists. You know i sign stuff from UK. I got to a dancehall artist that is kind of popping in different parts of the world different things so my research guys, you know, we look around the world because learning our friend Lanny we’re a worldwide company so you know we have your Bruno Mars your Ed Sheeran you know is from the UK, his just as lit over here as he is over there. So we’re definitely a worldwide company. So like I said our research I get reports from you know U.K,  France you know you name it, Caribbean. So I can’t remember the last time I looked at an artist from Hawaii but definitely if it shows up in my reports I’ll get on a plane and come to Hawaii for sure.

Hatch: 29:15 I’m sure you would.

Audience: 30:18 My question is, do you feel like the industry is kind of closed minded when it comes to signing a different kind of artist? Because from experience I got an offer do a deal with Universal. They offered me a record deal. But they were more interested in changing my image versus actually like signing off of just pure talent. So do you feel like image plays a really big part of being signed nowadays because one specific phrase that they told me was that every girl has to want to be you and every guy has to want to fuck you. Plain like that. And so do you feel like it’s kind of like this is how we’ve always done it, this is what always worked for us, this is how it’s going to stay.

Success: 30:56 I think that’s a great question. But I feel like in the last few years that’s totally changed because we’ve seen acts like a Young M.A who’s kind of already changed the trajectory of what that artist should look like. And you know I’m not going to judge men on appearances but I’ve seen some some guys that are lit that look like they just woke up out the bed so I know like I said five 10 years ago it was super important. You know depending on what type of music you were looking to get into. But I know for R&B that’s been a big thing like you have to look a certain way and some of the some of the stuff I used to hear about urban female artists was you know glam is super expensive hair makeup those deals you know they get expensive because you got to keep that up. But I feel like now a days again because people are connecting directly with what they want is you know we’ve seen examples of like the funniest look at people getting deals because they connected with the audience. So I think it’s changed in that way I don’t know when they told you that but I’m feeling like in the last couple of years that’s definitely changed.

Audience: 32:14 So you like I mean you automatically think I look like a rapper right. So what if I say I told you that I was actually an R&B singer. Would that make a difference on the way my image is like if I was a slow kind of ballad writer or singer.

Success: 32:29 Not at all. Again, I mean, trying to think of examples. I mean look at somebody like a Black or even The Weekend when he first popped off. You know it’s like there’s no look anymore like rappers look like you know Ty dollar sign is considered R&B guy but he looks just like any rapper that is out there too. And the same for females like I say Young M.A came and changed how you know a female rapper looked at etc. So I think again if you put the music out then you prove them wrong and say Yo people fuck with me the way I am. So if you come in a label with some leverage they can’t change you. And we’ve seen it too. Like if somebody is already doing it a certain way we’re not going to mess with it because it’s working. And so I think if they’re telling you to then you should just self-release it and prove them wrong. Chance around a lot of people doing the you know it’s also part of your team too.

Hatch: 33:29 You look at somebody like Alessia Cara who’s like just real regular you know?  I mean not super glammed out over the top. Amazing voice incredible songwriter. She has an amazing team around her that just kind of did it themselves and didn’t have to worry about the politics when they came to the label side of it and you can’t change that because somebody like a pinko came out super pop corn Poppy and then after her first major album and did a crazy she was like fuck it. I want to be this rock edgy pink hair chick you know so. So it also has to do with how you how you approach it creatively with your team what you bring to the table all those things are important too.

Audience: 34:12 My question to you is out in Sweden there’s a lot of singles. Labels do not sign artists and work on that album no more. It’s basically just singles. So my question to you is because yesterday the panel was talking a lot about patience. Good music takes time. Like Kanye for example he had some songs that he sat on for like five years before he released them. And what’s your advice to this? Of course no formula. Every artist is different. But do you have like a formula for actually releasing music? Like let’s do one single first wait two months. We do three months or whatever before you do the next one. How do you work with artists single wise?

Success: 35:05 Well that is a two fold question. As it relates to Atlantic specifically we still invest in artists we don’t necessarily do singles deals but if a single comes across the table we have affiliates like we have a deal with Empire and we have a company called ADA is in our system so guys like Made in T.Y.O, Ugly God, LIL Dicky their signed to ADA. It’s in our system but they do better at single deals. They run straight to radio on a record that’s kind of got legs on it already. At Atlantic were more about developing artists. So if we’re going to sign you because you got a hot single that’s movin then we’re going to see what else you have and we’re going to base the deal based on if you have the potential to make more or if it’s just a single then we may do like a EP deal to at least get out five songs in case you catch another one. And then you know we’ll get the option in case you are an artist that we haven’t figured out quite that you are an artist. It’s about the song so we may do an EP with an option to say that if this dude catches another one then we’ll extend his deal. The other side is that I feel like the game right now if you look again five ten years ago mixtape was super big great DJ Drama all these guys hosting a tape. But as of recently it’s been more about the single. Take like a Fetty Wap you know since Fetty popped what two three years ago. He had one big single that got him to the next big single got him to the next big thing. So I tell people nowadays you know it’s great to have a great body of work but when it comes to promo I feel like you should put your efforts into a focused track or a song and you can have the other stuff available online in case people discover your hit and then they want to see what else you got. So they’ll go back to Spotify and listen to the rest of your playlists. But me personally my opinion is now days you should put the effort into your single and if you see signs that the singles working then keep pushing a single then drop something else if the timing is right just to kind of build onto the next but I don’t I don’t think me personally I don’t feel like promoting a whole project is as effective as promoting singles right now. But then you have other examples of where like I said the whole project was so dope that everybody was talking about this amazing body of work. But I feel like to answer your question I will work singles if that means pushing to get your single play listed if that means shoot a video for this record or if that means working it this single to radio promo guys or what have you. I just feel like that’s more effective.

Hatch: 37:56 And that’s that’s where the patience comes into play because if you heard what they said in a radio panel before like you can’t compete with a lot of these budgets out here so you have to keep pushing it pushing it. That single might be performed for four years. But you’re sick of it as shit. But nobody else knows about it. So you’ve got to just like you know choose your battles. Always be prepared for more but know that if you want to really get somebody to you know pay attention you have to stand out from all of these other things. I use this analogy called the soda aisle right. What’s it like to pick like Publix is big out here right in Miami like grocery stores. So you got Pepsi on one side your coke on the other side right. But it’s still this long ass soda aisle. You’ve got bodega cola you’ve got vitamin COLA you got whatever cola what’s going to make somebody want to choose one of those as opposed to the big guys right. They spend billions of dollars on advertising. They put them in Beyonce’s hand they put him in Drake’s hand they put in everybody’s hands you’re like oh shit I want to be like this guy. So either somebody’s going to say you know my man told me about the soda i should try out or wow the packaging was kind of don’t me try this out or one day just like fuck it I’m just going to grab this and run. Right? You guys are in the soda. You’re on the soda aisle right now. So you’ve got to compete with the Pepsis the Cokes, Sprites, all these different brands because you don’t have the money to compete with them right now. But you have to figure out how to separate yourself and differentiate yourself from that as well. So it’s just a little tip.

Audience: 39:29 I wanted to ask you as an independent rapper How do we do demographics to begin to carve out our fan base to communicate that to you? That was one of the questions you said you would ask and In the meeting. who who are you rappin to? or who are you selling this to? So to prepare for that from independent level how do we figure that out? Because everybody likes hip hop so it’s like you know what I mean how do you do that from an independent level.

Success: 40:07 I mean you got to work where you’re at. You gotta work your market first. You know the first thing is to put the music out. Nowadays with with the Internet there’s really no excuses. You know there’s no right or wrong way. And there’s no rules to it anymore its like you got to work smarter not harder and figure out whatever it is. And I’ve seen it all from it and I’m not suggesting this but again I’ve seen cats on Worldstar doing dumb shit to get you know to get a fan base. So my point is I can’t tell you how to do it. You just gotta figure out how to do it. But the reality is nowadays independent artists, we’re competing with independent artists. Chance the Rapper just got two Grammys. My artist on Atlantic didn’t get 2 Grammys.  Nowadays artists have the ability to say yo I can do this independent or I could go get recognized by a label and get signed and go do it from a label. But it’s still about what you doing. You know you probably need to first put some money together and get a budget once you’ve got a budget then you’ve got to figure out how to promote your music and get it heard if that means any artist that comes to your market that’s performing. You’ve got to make sure you open it up because if it’s 500 people in a room that’s 500 people that you got access to the that hears your song. Again there’s no right or wrong way you just gotta figure it out. Online there’s resources to to get your music heard.  You know find out who these tastemakers are who these curators are on Spotify and Apple Music. They’re out here everybody knows. You know I’m sad just like everybody knows the radio PD’s and MD’s trust me and Apple and Spotify everybody knows who those key makers are who can put your music in those potential playlists and work them work those angles. But yes it’s the same thing. Like I say at the major level we compete in with the Indies too. So you know there’s a lot of indies that’s popping up as doing much better than some acts that are signed to a major. So it’s not necessarily all about money is just about fans and working smart figuring out this the kind of music I’m making how do I get this to the type of people that’s going to like this music? Do your research find out who’s doing what who’s listening to what. Like I say on Spotify you can read analytics of where your fans are who’s listening what sex male or female what region is is clicking more. Who’s skipping who’s listening in all the way through. Everything’s available online so I really can’t tell you what to do is just you know you’ve got to apply yourself to get it.

Audience: 43:02 Hi my name is Keets The Geek. I’m one of the top 25 finalists competing tonight. First off thank you for dropping this knowledge. It’s crazy. My question is how you were saying pertaining to nowadays the artist has to do the grind and the footwork because you’re looking to take off someone that’s already on trajectory. Have you ever seen someone and they might not have been the moment where you would take it up to a higher exec to work with them. But you see they’re a good songwriter. They’re a good producer. Have you ever pivoted them in and work with them in that case?

Success: 43:35 Yeah we seen that all the time. There’s a kid named Marko Pen that I signed who was a writer first. He wrote a couple songs for you know he wrote a Rihanna song he wrote us a song he wrote it Flo Rida a song he wrote you know B.O.B single and the chairman actually he was signed to me as a songwriter and then he wrote a few hits and the chairman of my company heard a few of his demos and was like Yo who’s that. And we ended up signing him. I’m like I wasn’t even ready to sign him yet but because of his vocal and his pen they apply pressure on me to sign him. So I had to sign him. You know I mean another example is like a PNB rock my boy Orlando signes PNB before anybody really knew who he was. Philly, he had a slight buzz in Philly but then he got locked up and you know he wasn’t poppin. So Orlando believed in it signed it and for a while he was grinding right. He was putting out his little tapes. He had a song out and then he just started to see it build and go. So again I’m not saying those success stories don’t happen about developing I’m just saying now right now I have like legit 60 rappers on the roster. Like every rapper you can think of is probably signed to Atlantic. So again if I bring another rapper. Every time I bring a rapper he’s going to say what’s the story. Why are we saying this right now? What’s the sense of urgency? So I’m just saying my advice is start the process so the story starts. You know yo I sold a thousand this week next week I’m a sell two because now I see a story like okay I believe in the kid. I see that he’s doing it on his own. He’s putting forth the effort. He put a budget together. He paid all his producers he streamin his streams is slowly building. His sales are slow. You know he’s performing he’s selling out three four hundred seat rooms and so forth. I’m not saying we don’t develop. I’m just sayin it’s hard. Labels don’t start from zero so you gotta start something you’ve got you’ve got to have a story you’ve got to start that process and have the talent.

Audience: 46:07 High success thanks for coming through. We appreciate all of the knowledge. Of an A&R  person coming here. I’m representing Keets and I’m Stevie DB. And my question is you know that’s my son. I’ve been interested in music for a long time as my cousin was his Allen Tucson Grammy Award song winning Lifetime Achievement Award winner so I always thought that was a great job as a little kid. So I grew up doing music but I thought that I wanted to be an artist. Was offered three contracts and I turned them down because I didn’t want to do that but I found out that I really would like to just be a songwriter producer it’s better for me more down my lane. So ultimately I’d like to know how can i get with you and show because I pride myself on my hooks and writing songs. I’m a songwriter producer, I would like to be able to let you see if it’s worthy because I believe in songwriting is the key.

Success: 47:08 Yeah we could connect after. I like songwriters and producers and I actually listen. So you sound like you’re passionate about your work. So I’m curious to hear what that sounds like.