Gustavo Guerra, CEO of Money Maker Records in NYC, also known as mixtape DJ Phantom, has been in the business in numerous capacities for close to seven years. Known for his keen ear for undiscovered talent, Guerra started out as a street team promoter for Def Jam and moved on to an A&R at Cleopatra Records and consultant to Sony/Red. What's more, Guerra has helped the careers of rappers such as Saigon, Tragedy Khadafi, Immortal Technique, among others.
Guerra, who is readying his label's first 2009 release, Terminal Illness, by Knottingham producer Endemic, says cats who don't even have a record out yet can start to get exposure on their own.
1. Exploit the Internet: You don't need a high-priced pr person or marketing team to get initial exposure on the web. Get your tracks to sites like hiphopdx.com and hiphopgame.com. Make and post a video on youtube. We live in a different world today, use these platforms to your advantage.
2. If you feel like you have a hit, copyright it with the Chamber of Congress. The poor man's copyright (sending a copy to yourself in the mail) won't hold up in a court of law.
3. Always have your music on you, whether it be on a CD, an I POD, or a computer. You never know when you're going to meet someone with signing power. You could be on the street, on a train, anywhere. Be prepared.
4. Make a dope mixtape to give out to people. This is one of the best promotional tools an artist has today.
5. Don't rush. Make sure your sound is developed, your artwork is tight, and you take all the needed time to have your project polished. There's nothing worse than to have a talented artist rush to put out something that sounds or looks medoicre or unfinished.
6. Finally, start assembling your team early. Find good graphic designers, start doing research on pr people, talk to potential managers. The playing field is much more level today. You can start building those relationships early so you're ready when the times comes to release your album. Bottom line, be your own hustler.