Internet marketing has become essential to any hip hop artist who wishes to spread their music abroad, but spending too much time navigating online social networks can take you away from the kinda grassroots street networking that made hip hop the force it is today. A well developed hip hop movement is and always will be built on the local level first.
I’m sorry, but a lot of the shit you hear and read out there about internet music marketing and the digital music landscape, don’t necessarily apply to the hip hop artist. They’ll tell you that CD’s are dead and that you should concentrate on your number of Twitter followers, email blasts, and Youtube views. Hip hop has always gone against the grain and made moves underneath the radar. A large part of the reason why vinyl, a format that was said to be replaced years ago, is still alive today is because of hip hop.
Independent hip hop artists became the heroes of their hood, and moved units out of the trunk of their cars in numbers that made the major labels crap in their pants. In my years in the music business, I can truly say that I’ve never seen another genre of music that was able to move on the streets as well as hip hop could. These artists were so successful, that they didn’t need the labels, and once they did strike deals with them, the terms were mutually beneficial. This was all do to a direct connection with their community and fans. Some of these artists seldom left the boundaries of their city.
Little has changed about those fundamentals. Until another format completely takes over, people will still buy CD’s on the street. Just ask the bootleggers! You have to understand that fans are drawn to you as well as your music. They relate to your message and what you represent. Having a physical CD gives you the opportunity to pass off additional information with your music that you can’t do with any other format thats gain enough popularity. Send a fan off to download your music on iTtunes and i’ll bet you that you’ve lost a sale.
Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and the other Internet social networking services should be used in addition to your ground hustle. It was never meant to replace it.