EDITOR’S NOTE: Adam M. Levin was a regular contributor to RapReviews.com a couple of years back. He wrote the following editorial for HypeNews.org and after consulting with them and submitting it to us we’ve offered to reprint it here in its entirety.
So today I’m gonna vent a little bit. Back in high school, I began checking out RapReviews.com, a great website and resource for Hip-Hop criticism run by Steve ‘Flash’ Juon and began inquiring as to how I, being a huge smack-talker and smug, holier-than-thou opinionated Hip-Hop head myself, could get a job writing for him.
His staff hiring guy, Matt Jost (also a good critic) responded telling me I was too young to work there. Fast-forward a few years and I’m in college in need of a sideline gig. Who better to hit up than my favorite site? They gave me a job and I worked there for about a year and a half until I left for a country whose mailing practices were a bit… unreliable.
While I enjoyed most of the job’s process (as a cool little bonus, one of my reviews was quoted on Wikipedia), I was relatively lazy. I reviewed what I wanted when I wanted, and Flash kept sending me exceedingly polite e-mails about albums he’d taken the time to send me that I had yet to review. That may have been the point at which I realized rap criticism wasn’t a good career choice for a kid with ADD and a penchant for slacking. (Okay, “penchant” may be understating it a bit. “Addiction” is more accurate.)
There was only one real downside to this process: mailing lists. Foolishly enough, I believed that the e-mails I’d get would be from either grateful readers and artists… or angry readers and artists depending on the review. Instead, I’d have to say that a good 98% of the RapReviews-related correspondence I received were from promo companies trying to push their clients’ music.
Now, for those not in the know, promo companies are evil conglomerates bent on spamming your e-mail inbox with as much mediocre music as they possibly can.
Every now and then I’ve seen something that’s piqued my interest, and by “every now and then” I mean twice.
While I won’t name any of these companies, I will say that every morning since about a month into my term at RapReviews that I’ve woken up to about three or four e-mails whose header read like this:
Re: RISING RAPPER LIL BILLYJON’S NEW “BLACK & YELLOW” FREESTYLE!!!!!!!!!
Then should you open these e-mails, you will find the world’s most exaggerated press kit, complete with about 5 YouTube clips, 12 mp3 attachments and an average of seven exclamation points per sentence. (Note: I’d foolishly told Flash to post my college e-mail account—with limited storage—as a contact for me. BAD DECISION.) It turns your e-mail inbox (and eventually they find you on Facebook, too) into an online light post.
The only difference is that I’d be ten times more willing to read every sign on a light post than I would any of the e-mails I’m sent from these promotional companies.
Now, here’s the thing: as an artist that’s trying to eventually find a way to parlay my talents into a career (or at the very least a string of shows and music that could loosely qualify as a career), I understand impatience and the strong desire to take a shortcut sometimes. When I was a reviewer, I never really complained about it: nobody makes music to go unheard, so I get the concept.
However, I’ve also made this mistake before myself. I’ve also learned that if you want people to listen to your music, be proactive, but also make sure to take the time to write a personal message to the people you’re sending the music to. It indicates that the recipient isn’t just a contact in an e-mail listserv that they were kidnapped into in the first place.
Music promotion has its role, but when it’s done incorrectly, it tends to have a repellant effect as opposed to a magnetizing one. Thus, if you’re an artist trying to find an open ear, make sure YOU put the time and effort into working for YOUR success, and don’t pay someone to annoy your potential fanbase instead.
Oh… and don’t get me started on Facebook.
Have a great week, y’all.