I was just on Facebook with a funny post (at least, I thought it was funny) that I had composed:
"As the year ends, make this a resolution. ‘I will never initiate a relationship with: ‘your music is dope. let’s do a song together.” 2014."
A commenter replied with, “The thirst is real…”, and I instantly agreed. Then I re-thought it out and realized that, although this is ridiculously true for some, it may not be a fair assessment for the sincere Indies.
Some folks may not be ‘thirsty’ at all. On the contrary, they just may have assumed that was proper etiquette. This is especially the case in a world where some may still believe that the music industry is a “strike-oil” type model. Little do we understand that oilers spend months and months digging at the same hole with hard work and strategy. Some folks stumble-upon mass exposure. Most folks gain traction by tireless hours of work that go unnoticed. Many times we think, “Oh, they just got successful overnight.” Unbeknownst to us, there are typical years of silent relationship-building and honing in on the craft that allow for such seemingly overnight success.
You should just keep grinding and building/serving your personal following to the best of your ability. Features/collaborations from our favorite artists rarely happen on social media or quick emails. Typically, artists will spend much time “building” with other artists, and the music is usually a bi-product of that relationship. Plus, as independent artists the best fuel for collaboration (that is, from artists who create as a vocation) is to always consider what would be best for the party.
For example, if I’m a fan of an artist that I really would like to work with, I tend to put my personal motives on the back burner and go hard for what it is that the artist may need to help them. Sure you’ll get cross-promotion and duel exposure, but the proposing party has to have something to offer the requested one. We must remember, it was our idea to contact them with a cool idea in the midst of their horrendous schedule. The best thing that we can do is offer something worth the interruption of their time. Sometimes it could be a simple as a fee that the artist would request for collaboration. Since many of these artists are humans like the rest of us, they have expenses to run their music ministry/business and their time is of monetary value. If you’re low on cash like the rest of us, then there may be another alternative for barter, though. It is for this reason that it’s important to continue to be diligent and patient in building our own leverage, following, skill set, quality of product, etc. If you have skills to barter that have an inherent monetary value (such as graphic design, photography, promotional services, studio engineering, or other networking advantages) you may be able to use good old-fashioned bartering as a form of “help” and currency. It’s important to note that you would like to offer a service to your “fav” artist that is as advantageous for you as it is them. Remember, we are all in this together attempting to get the news out about the art piece, song(s), etc. This is the mark of a great relationship—showing that you sincerely care for the well-being of all of us as an entire art medium.
And just be faithful to know that the Lord brings everything in it’s due time and season. That’s what has kept me sane in waiting to do a song with Kanye West :)