For underground artistes, putting a mixtape up for free is a normal thing, a good thing too. You need feedback from the exposure and you don’t want to make it difficult for people to access your project. If you’re planning to sell your mixtape, read on.
The problem comes when you try to sell your stuff, you’re unsure of how your listeners are going to react. They are used to having your work for free, and they are asking why the sudden switch? What’s different now?
You don’t need everybody to buy your mixtape or album, you only need some of them to. This selected group is called a core fan base, they will travel to watch you in Kaduna or Jos, they’ll try to get in touch with you, they’ll ask when you’re coming to visit and recommend you to their friends.
As an underground artiste, they are the ones you need, it’s important for you to take this group very seriously. In the early days of your career, You need to gather them and follow them back on social media, reply their messages and try to keep them happy.
These are your first disciples and they’re going to evangelize your brand while you grow. Your core fan base will increase as you make progress, you can measure your strength by the reactions you get you get from this group.
Not everybody is going to be a major selling artiste but that shouldn’t stop you from making a living off your project. Most rappers believe they’ve got to be signed to a label before they start getting paid but this isn’t entirely true.
It’s important for you to push your product to your core for purchase even an an underground independent artiste. They already love and appreciate you so why not? Let’s look at a case, I selected an American underground rapper for this one.
The name Nipsey Hu$$le does not ring a bell, he is an artiste with a core fan base in downtown Los Angeles. He’s got strong ties with the rolling 60’s crip set and thus most his fans are street gang members.
After attempts to sign with Rick Ross’s Mayback music failed, he remained independent although he still had major names featuring in his mix tape.
He sold just 1000 copies of his “crenshaw” mixtape for $100 each. Thus making effectively making $100, 000. He could have given it for free, or just $10 but he was testing his influence within his fan base and he got a result.
In one great marketing stunt, he sold the mix tapes by himself, from the trunk of his car. Hard physical copies, not digital.
He drove out into the street on the release date and his fans showed up with $100 each for an autographed copy on the same day. This unorthodox approach drove people crazy, Jay Z alone ordered for a 100 copies.
The mix tape was not available anywhere else, in the following days more people from his core turned up to get theirs.
There is no verified source to show the exact number of copies given out since it was sold hand to hand, but its widely believed he sold about up to ten thousand copies, that could mean he made about a million dollars from this experimental move.
Many rappers in Big record labels don’t have a million dollars. Nipsey believes that if people can get iPhones for $800 then why can’t they get his. He’s still considered an underground rapper but he got rich off it.
Selling mixtapes can be a challenge, whats the point of making music if it cant feed you. Here are three things you can do to sell
1. Be a success in your locality
Before he could attempt something this outrageous, he had a strong following and was highly rated in downtown LA. The locals consider him one of theirs, this was the first step.
As an underground artiste you need to have strong ties to a place and its people. They have to be proud of you and consider you as a local success. The “I don’t want to be a local champion” idea is a major reason why underground artistes don’t get rich within their state.
A pop artiste like Duncan mighty is quietly buy freakishly rich, he’s not had a hit in years. He’s not winning awards, he’s not on TV and we don’t hear about him. But he’s worshiped in port Harcourt, and they buy anything he sells.
2. Be professional and put a price on yourself
You need to know the monetary value of your work.
When you ask for money to perform at a show, you’re not being proud. You’re just being an artiste, its a job. If you eventually get paid, go out there and put on the best performance they’ve ever seen.
This means rehearsal and logistics, get your hype man and check the sound equipment. Don’t go out there and be lackluster.
Wise artistes use stage performances to promote their new mix tapes, while giving shout outs and turning up you are unknowingly engaging with potential core fans who will buy your tape if you’ve impressed.
Deliver in such a way that they’d want to have you at every show. You don’t want to be booed of the stage like Burna boy was in Kenya.
3. Sell first to your core base
The next time you’re dropping a project, ask people to appreciate it by paying a stipend to get it. Not everybody will blow in Lagos.
If you’re a Kaduna rapper, make sure the whole of Kaduna is on your side, Alaba will hear about you and come looking for you with lucrative deals. Don’t run to Lagos half baked, everybody’s already there.
Let’s assume you’ve been growing in the hustle and you’ve been able to gather a thousand core fans, you can sell your project to them for N1,000 per copy and personalize their purchase experience by offering to deliver it to them yourself.
Be audacious. The truth is majority of Nigerians aren’t buying music online yet. But if you already have a tech savvy fan base then you can get it up on iTunes or spinlet.
But if you want to sell your mix tape locally and effectively, put it in a disk, make a jacket for it and sell it to your base. Treat it like a business, its time to leverage.
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