Another week, another video in the can…

Next week will be my 26th video.  I started this whole “One-Song-a-Week” project on the last Sunday in May, with the goal of making at least ONE video a week – preferably every Sunday – for ONE year.  The goal was to get myself an audience for my songs, earn some money, become popular enough to where I could start touring, and get national recognition, which would, in turn, get me noticed enough to get signed by a major record label.

So, how have I done so far?

  • Audience for songs? Check – and a rather BIG one at that.  I regularly get about 200-300 readers on this site daily, a drastic pickup from the 10 to 12 I got when I first started.
  • Earn some money? Check – but not as much as I’d like.  I’ve received donations, and have sold quite a few singles, as well as copies of my album, “The A.P.T. LP.”
  • Become popular? YES, if only for one song – “Obama Obama,” which ended up being a bigger hit than I ever, EVER, expected.  Popular enough to tour? Not yet.  I got one offer during the summer to do college gigs (never heard back from them, though).  Yet, despite posting my E-mail address all over YouTube, I have yet to receive any offers to tour with any big-name (or small-name) musicians.  Guess I still have to grind a lil’ harder!
  • National recognition? YES! Of course, when you do a song about a popular Presidential candidate and put it to a beat that’s eerily similar to the hottest song out by the hottest artist, you’re bound to get national recognition.  This, of course, is in hindsight, and even if I HAD known, I would have never guessed the song would have gone global!
  • Major record label deal? NO. But to be fair, I didn’t send off any demos to anybody during this whole “Obama Obama” craze.  How dumb was that?!?

The truth of the matter is, having a song like “Obama Obama” taught me quite a few lessons about how the industry works:

  1. Industry rule #4080 rings true: Industry people are SHA-DY!!  I had radio DJs AND up-and-coming MCs (I’m talking about YOU, Tyga) trying to take credit for MY song.  In the case of Tyga, he was able to tour around the country performing his Obama song, while I continued to work at a crappy job where I dealt with crappy customers all day!
  2. MAKE SURE ALL YOUR STUFF IS COPYRIGHTED AND AFFILIATED WITH ASCAP or BMI.  That way, if people try to take claim to your songs, you can show proof of creation.
  3. It pays to have people to help get you to the next level.  I probably could have toured off this stuff, but I don’t have any managers or connections that would allow me to link up with other artists.  I could have been an opening act all summer, and been fine with it!
  4. If you aren’t going to perform, make sure your marketing game is TIGHT.  I was able to make some money off the instrumental of the beat, as well as having my song available for download.  Even without having major marketing dollars, I was able to make a profit off my songs.

Most importantly, though: TAKE A HOLD OF OPPORTUNITY WHEN IT COMES TO YOU AND RUN WITH IT.  I kept telling myself all summer that I didn’t want this song to be the one I got famous off of.  I didn’t want to risk being forever known as “The Obama Guy,” when I’ve clearly done 24 other videos so far outside of that one song. 

At the same time, had I known better, I would have done the opposite: I would have branded myself as “The Obama Guy” (in the same way that “The Obama Girl” did) and done enough clips about Obama online to gain national attention for it and earn money that way.

Of course, I still would have probably had that conflict of “if I had done that, would I have been taken seriously as an MC?”  I read one of Russell Simmons’ books where he talked about designers coming to him and wanting to add baggy jeans and jerseys to the Phat Farm clothing line.  He was tempted at first, but didn’t want to change the image of his line just to make a few quick dollars off a fad that would go away and leave his line in jeopardy.

So, in a sense, I didn’t want to be tagged as “The Obama Guy,” then have to struggle once the election was over to carve out a new identity.  As of right now, I have fans that watch my videos weekly – not as much as the number of viewers who have watched “Obama Obama,” but every fan base has to start somewhere, and I’m not trying to look like a sell-out to them, no matter how big or small it might be.

So, what is “The Obama Guy” doing for election night?  I was going to go to downtown D.C. and party at some place being hosted by a local radio station.  But I’m not really that much of a party guy – I think, instead, I’ll be heading home to catch “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” coverage of the election results.

As for this week’s video, it will be for one of the two songs off “The A.P.T. LP” that I have yet to shoot a video for.  The last video from the album will be shot next week.  These are two songs that, in my opinion, should be BIG hits, and I hope to be able to include people outside of just me in the video to give them more entertainment value.

Let’s just hope I can pull it off…

-A.P.T.

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