Since I’m a host of a college radio show and get rappers hitting me up all the time. I think the best advice is to get some kind of buzz going with your music first. Here’s some things to try to get radio play (and get a fan base and get signed).
Shoot a video
And not just any ol’ youtube no-budget video. Shoot an AMAZING video. If you don’t have any money, get a job and save up. Find and pay an upcoming director who has a track record of making great videos or at the very least who has vision. If you have a friend that can make AMAZING videos get him to do it. Though be warned that it is highly unlikely that your boy is going to be incredible at making videos. Remember your video is like a commercial for you and your music. If it doesn’t match the style you’re going for, it’s not going to work. Like many companies that have to re-shoot commercials because they are not good enough, many artists re-shoot videos because they don’t fit the style they are going for.
I also want to stress again that you don’t need millions of dollars to shoot a decent video, you do, however, need creativity and someone that knows the technical side of making a video (i.e. how to set up lighting, shots, fx, color correction, and editing). Your video is not where you want to cut costs both financially and especially creatively. Also keep in mind that you are competing with Kanye, Eminem, Jay-Z, T.I., Drake, Rick Ross and whoever is popping at the moment so it’s a competition capturing the attention of viewers. You have to make a video that somehow competes with these rappers (as well as all the youtube stars). Don’t let this scare you, see this as an opportunity to use your creativity to do the videos they can’t do. Besides major artists make terrible videos all the time.
Shoot another video and then another
Considering you’re probably not going to listen to what I just said, and end up shooting a “good enough video” anyway. Go ahead and shoot another video and then another video until you finally realize “Hey yorapper is right!”. Most rappers that have been signed from youtube get better and better with each video. The point is they kept making videos. You can either choose to drop one AMAZING MIND BLOWING video which will cause random strangers to tell everyone about about it or you can do what most rappers do and make a bunch of “okay or good enough videos”. I would prefer you put all your effort into making one mind blowing video but you’ll probably make a bunch of videos in your grandma’s house with your shirt off anyway. Hey it worked for Chief Keef or did it?
While it’s hard to book shows when no one has heard of your music, it’s possible to perform at showcases. Depending on where you live, many urban cities have showcases for up and coming artists. It’s a great way to learn how to win a crowd as well as get over any stage freight you may have. Who knows if you are amazing, you garner some buzz. This is how Waka Flocka promoted himself when he was starting out.
Make Amazing Music
It’s funny how much impact a truly great song can have. When you hear a song you really love what do you do? You tell people about it. Especially if it’s from a relatively unknown artist. You want your music to give people this same feeling. There are no shortcuts here. The only way to do this is make game changing music. That’s it. The music will sell itself. You don’t need to follow a million people on twitter and spam them with your youtube link or any of these gimmicky marketing strategies. If the music is truly adding something to the world it will get the attention it deserves eventually.
I say “eventually” because it could be weeks, months or even years before the public realizes, “hey this music is great!”. Of course, if it is truly great co-signs will come early from other artists, promoters, radio personalities, djs, and fans, creating an echo chamber for your music to spread across the world. The main thing is you want to create music/videos that cause people to tell their friends about it in real life and especially online.
That’s about it. If you’re an upcoming rapper these posts may help you with your music career: