PR and Branding For (Rap) Artists.

For anyone who doesn’t know what PR is, that’s Public Relations (also, I’m disappointed you don’t know what that is). Branding is, in lay man’s language, the world’s perception of you. It’s a strategy  that involves creating a unique name and image in order to establish a presence in your fans’ mind and attract new ones while still keeping the ones you’ve already got.

Why do artists need to manage their PR? Here’s the thing artists need to understand first of all. PR is NOT hype. Public relations helps artists deliver certain messages, helps in ensuring that people are saying the right things about you and helps create (if new) or to maintain the existing brand perception. PR needs to make sense to your brand and whatever message you’re trying to communicate or what you’re trying to push.

PR depends on what you’re doing basically. Say, you’re dropping a project or a song, it makes sense to have a publicist who will ensure that all the necessary people know about it. We’re talking entertainment bloggers, radio and TV presenters (producers too), DJs etc. It has to be something COMPLETE though. If it’s still a work in progress, getting a publicist would be pointless cuz you won’t get anything out of it.

When it comes to brand management, social media is the starting point and I pointed this out last week. Social media says a lot about you therefore it’s important to only post what you would like your audience to know. Always ensure that the music keeps coming, know your market, what’s selling and use that. Get the right manager who will ensure you have bookings once something drops and get a sampler (someone who will send the music out for airplay and who will help push the single). This is also the point the publicist will come in. Still, even with all this, you have to be a working artist to ensure that you obtain positive sustainable visibility/publicity.

A good artist manager‘s work is to ensure that you get booked for gigs, however minor for “up and coming” artists while a PR Manager‘s job is to ensure that the information about you that’s out there for the masses is monitored; keeping you in good books at all times, basically. A publicist should ensure that people know you and your music.

Having a hot song that is getting airplay doesn’t really mean anything if you’re not being booked for performances, even at clubs. How are you going to say you’re making money off music? For bookings you have to be visible. What club manager will book an artist that can’t pull a crowd?

As an artist it’s extremely important to constantly be in the news (and in positive light not cheap attention seeking stunts). This makes you memorable. Think about it this way, how many artists are there in the world? Who is constantly being talked about and why? See my point?

I’m pretty sure there are artists reading this who are thinking about how they’re just on the come up with no budget. You’ve got to invest in your craft. Remember Kanye sayinghe put money into his business? Billions that he lost at first. I’m a firm believer of “Work with what you’ve got”. If you’re an artist, you have a network of some kind, you probably know other people who are just like you or who are trying to make it in different fields in the entertainment scene. Work with what you’ve got!

Lastly, LISTEN. I’ve heard this complaint before. Artists don’t want to listen, they don’t want to be corrected. Could be ego, could be that closed mind mentality that they know what they want to do with their product best. If you don’t listen, how are people supposed to help you? How are you supposed to grow?

I’m done.

Information provided in this post is a summary of the discussion we had on the public Viber group; The African Hip Hop blog that you can follow on viber.com/africanhhb for more insights as far as Hip Hop and music in Africa is concerned.

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