Hey everybody, my name is Asha Mullings. You may remember me from some articles I’ve written for this fantastic site. What some of you may not know is that I’m also an aspiring female rapper who knows by the name Ekelle. I know that it’s not an easy industry to crack into, but I feel like I have as decent a shot as anybody else. The following is what I have experienced and learned thus far since my small beginnings on this journey. Although I’ve only started to seriously pursue my musical goals this past January, I’ve learned a lot in that short time. Hopefully this short list of advice will help you or anyone else you know who is also on a journey to pursue fame and fortune.
1. Get Your Money Up
You’re going to hear me mention this a lot, but that’s because money is so important. Of course the game is about who you know more than what you know but money always talks real loud! I’m not sure where some of y’all are in your journey but you should start saving towards your next project and then some because you never know when unexpected expenses might come up. So if that means you need to work those night shifts at McDonald's to record your mixtape, just do it with no shame because you know where you really belong.
2. Network, Network, Network!
I’ve always had creative ambitions, but like most I was never really encouraged to pursue them so I went to school first. Yes, I have a full 4-year program degree and the student debt to prove it. At school they would always preach the power of networking for your career, but I was never that interested. In regards to music though, I’m always excited to meet new people and shake hands. Midsummer I performed at an open mic at a popular restaurant in my city’s downtown. A month later I had an artist from Chicago message me on Facebook to tell me that he and his crew were coming up to do a showcase and wanted me to perform in it. Fast forward, I did end up performing, met with another entertainer from my city and so much more. The entertainer was someone I saw at a different open mic and she gave me all sorts of information on opportunities I could get my hands on next summer. I ended up also getting an interview for an up and coming Hip Hop magazine called Urban Color and when I went after-partying with the Chicagoans, I ended up meeting Tasha the Amazon! You all may not be totally familiar with her yet, but I tell you she’s the next big thing out of Toronto.
3. Stay Open
Stay open to all the possibilities that you can. We all want that fame and fortune but at the beginning of your musical journey you’re gonna have to work for free for a little bit. I’m not sure how long, but that is just the reality until you start to generate some buzz for yourself. With that being said, be open to anything that can give you good exposure. Since the industry is more about just music these days, see if you can start modeling, try out for some TV shows and music videos, or be in the audience of a talk show. Basically you need to start getting into the practice of doing things you’ll be doing when you get on top such as talk show interviews, photo shoots, music videos, magazine interviews, etc. You need to start preparing yourself for the life you wanna live!
4. Market Yourself!
The good thing about being at the beginning stages of your career is that you’re the boss. No one can make you do anything you don’t wanna do. If you don’t see the value in certain things or people then you can just walk away. With that being said though, I think the biggest mistake a lot of new artists make is their marketing approach. You can put all the songs you want on Soundcloud, but if no one’s clicking on it then it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying that you should spend an obscene amount of money on marketing but maybe something like $100 dollars towards promotion of a new project is decent. Keep in mind that having Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Bandcamp, Facebook, etc are free methods of support but there are millions of people on them so you need to stand out. Don’t be afraid to make your friends and family promote your stuff because that’s what they should be doing in the first place if they want to see you be successful. Try and get yourself in as many online publications as possible and any local public access TV shows too because someone is always watching.
5. Stay Busy!
I do think that there are a lot of good opportunities out there when you go looking for them, so don’t stop looking! No one is going to hand you anything at first so keep finding work for yourself to do. Try not to have a huge gap between productions and videos by keeping yourself busy with the shoots, open mics and other things you’re doing. When you’re meeting new people and making your connections just be aware of who these people are and what their intentions with their careers are too. For example if you meet someone who proudly says they’ve been in the game for 13 years but they’re still at street level, really consider whether you need to have them in your posse. The other day through my adventures with my Chicago peeps I met another female artist who has some of her material on The Source which is pretty cool. We exchanged info and hopefully something great will come out of that connection. I’m not saying you should go around like a snob and only talk to some people but just be mindful of how their presence will affect you. Surround yourself with other likeminded individuals but don’t be afraid to cut people off who aren’t supporting the hustle. If you’ve asked certain people 10 times to share your link or come to your show then you need to cut them off! All you need is to keep believing in yourself, find yourself a go to team for production, photos, videos and even duets and you’re good to go.
I hope that was helpful! - Asha Mullings