Master Your Craft: Independent album releases

By Jeff Bradford
Being an independent rap, hip r&b nowadays is easier than ever now. You can make a livable income just by marketing your music and selling it online. But to fully see the power in this, you have open your eyes. That is what this article is going to do for you. If you didn’t know, major record label’s are going down hill and losing money every year as the Internet is growing. It makes a lot of sense when you look at what the point of the label was in the first place.
 Before the Internet, it took millions of dollars to put your music in stores around the nation and around the world. This would be impossible for the aspiring average rap artist or r&b singer who may have all the talent in the world, but only be working a 9-5 job.
This is where the labels would come into play. They would sign a talented rap artist or r&b singer like yourself and pretty much loan you the money to promote and distribute your music to the world. They would even sometimes give you upfront money, or an “advance”.
The problem with labels was more than likely you would end up owing them a lot of money. Of course it all depended on the type of deal you signed, but more than likely you would always end up owing them money at the end of your contract. A lot of record labels have a bad rep for writing up terrible contracts. Leaving rap and r&b artist’s in millions of dollars in debt. Labels would structure the contracts, knowing that most artist wouldn’t fully understand the contract because they didn’t speak in proper business language.

Recently adopted the independent route: ProKid
Labels only had power because of their reach. Now you can reach and grow fans worldwide just from a few clicks on your laptop. You can do this for free with all the social networking sites available. Even the cost of building your own website and having it promoted to the world is nothing compared to what labels would charge you. You can have your own site designed and up within a few days for as little as a few hundred bucks.
The power is in your hands now. The Internet is growing at such an insane rate. The sooner you get on and start marketing yourself, the more money you will make because you will be building a strong fan base. With album sales dropping, digital album downloads are increasing. More people listen to music from their phones and iPods more than ever know, and they get music for these devices off the Internet
Another thing to keep in mind is that all the money goes into your hand. When you sell your album online, you don’t have to split your money with a record label. You will be getting 100 percent. This also means that you don’t have to sell that many albums to make a decent amount of money. Just to do a little math for you real quick, say you only had 5,000 fans and you were releasing an album every 4 months and only for $10. You would be making $50,000 every 4 months and $150,000 a year. These are small numbers when you remember that there are hundreds of millions of people online.
Just imagine if you had a solid fan base of just 50,000 people. I hope you are seeing the big picture now. This thing called the Internet is so powerful that it will set you free and bring all of your dreams to a reality, you just have to realize it and use it as a tool to do so. There are so many rap, r&b, hip hop music fans worldwide now, as hip hop is mainstream now. Just think of how many people listen to hip hop and r&b that you know. All you have to do is get online and target your fans.
The music business consultant Andile Nkosi adds:
Although this article is written by an American for an American audience it pretty much sums up the trends going around globally. In SA only, we have platforms like KasiMp3, Rhythm OnlineMTN Xploded, and eXact Mobile where you can get your music sold via downloads. Reverbnation.com is another platform that provides musicians a platform to create and maintain their music and profiles online with added functionality to update your status to FacebookMy Space and Twitter simultaneously. Reverbnation further allows you to setup a store that allows you to sell on iTunes and Lost FM for an annual fee of under R600.
KasiMp3 pays to artists royalities on every mp3 download completed, in this way the audiance gets free music, and the artist gets cash in their pockets.  For more info on KasiMp3 visit www.kasimp3.co.za 
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