January 2009 - FREE
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Producers Choosing the Right Monitors - Pg. 8 Technology Muzik Cards - Pg. 2 FEATURES B Sykes Pg. 2 B More Ben Pg. 4 Makin’ It Magazine Pg. 4
HOW TO Buy A RECORD Deal REAL TALK Written by K. Cannick If you’re an independent artist, producer, manager or label owner looking for a shortcut to success this may be the most important article you’ll ever read. I’m sure you’ve all heard that getting a deal is about having the right product at the right time for the right people. Success in the music industry takes a combination of hard work and good luck but even then nothing is guaranteed. Many artists struggle for five to ten years before ever getting that big break. In my years spent consulting independent artists I’ve ran into a countless number of individuals with a little bread that felt they could bypass natural order of
things and just buy their way into the industry. Looking for a shortcut to success many were fleeced out of small fortunes. One “artist/CEO” in particular spent over $1.2 million pursuing a music career only to end up in a federal prison. For all of the warnings I may layout in this article, some of you will finish reading it and walk away still thinking that for the right price someone in the industry will “put you on”. These are the same artist that I will see months later complaining about DJ’s, promoters, magazines, producers, studios, publicists and other companies that sold them a lie. The scenarios may differ but the underlying
theme is always the same: Success can be guaranteed for the right price. Sadly, this is a lie but the industry is littered with people who will line up to take your money under this false pretense. What you must realize is that it is your responsibility as a professional (and as a consumer) to evaluate all opportunities with a prudent eye before shelling out your hard earned cash. Nobody can sell you something that they don’t have. If someone offers to sell you fame or fortune for they might as well include the moon and the stars with it. There are a ton of snakes, leaches and bottom Continued on page 6
The Premiere A&R SHowcase Written by K. Cannick
Atlanta has become the new Motown for a generation of independent artists, producers and DJ’s looking for their big break in the entertainment industry. Every day I would estimate hundreds if not thousands of new industry hopefuls pour into the city pursuing this dream. Unfortunately, with so many aspiring artists floating through Atlanta, the Showcase circuit has become one of the city’s biggest hustles. I’ve seen artist spend their hard earned money to perform for the promise of cash and prizes that never get awarded. I’ve seen countless flyers with celebrity judges that never show up and many times the artists that
come out to these events only end up performing for a room full of fellow artists. When I originally came up with the story concept I had planned to write an article about everything that’s wrong with Atlanta showcase scene. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to participate in something so totally new and refreshing that I’ve decided to right about what is right with it. On Sunday December 15, 2008 I attended the very first audition for The Premiere A&R Showcase at Sugarhill in Underground Atlanta. This was a private, invite only, event full of A&Rs, Label Reps and a ton of Media. Out of
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over a thousand songs that were screened only twenty acts were invited to come and perform. The level of talent was great and the variety of music was impressive. There was free food and drinks for all in attendance (shout out to the caterer) and there was a lot of good networking going on. I originally met Kevin Shine, the events founder, speaking on a couple industry panels. As the A&R consultant to Wayne Williams, the Senior VP of A&R at Jive Records, he has brought a unique outlook back to the Showcase scene. Tapping his industry friends Continued on Page 6 The Atlanta Grind - January 2009 | Pg. 1
Publishers Note I would like to start the New Year off by making my personal endorsements for 2009. Over the past year many of you have seen me out in the streets. I’ve hit every showcase, open mic and industry event. I listened to what seems like a million peoples CDs, Mixtapes, and demos and through all of the records and performances there were four artists in 2008 that stood out in my eyes. I’ve watched these artists grind and grow over the past twelve months and feel vey confident in saying that if they continue to stay the course and putting in the work that they’ve been putting in 2009 is going to be a very big year for them. My hat goes off to J Harden, Luney Tunes, Matt Wade and Lyrical Preacher. Take a bow. You’ve made Kelby’s List. Before I get out of here I would just like to say I’m feeling real good right about now. Obama will be inaugurated on the 20th and we at Makin’ It Magazine are celebrating our second year anniversary. I would like to thank each and every one of our readers for their continued support in helping to make Makin’ It Magazine the #1 resource for the urban entertainment industry. We have a ton of new promotions I’m looking forward to. Keep your eyes open and your ears to the streets because it’s going to be a wild year. Kelby F. Cannick
The Atlanta Grind is published by Makin’ It Magazine For advertising and information contact: Kelby Cannick Phone: (678) 570-2745 Fax: (888) 812-9710 firstname.lastname@example.org
**Last Minute Updates** The top six acts that were selected to perform at The Premiere A&R Showcase on February 5, 2008 are Jacob Latimore, Sasha Gomez, Archie Eversole, Lyrical Preacher, Goldie and Mica Swain. In addition to these 6 acts being chosen there were a couple of other great connections made through the event. SSD is currently being looked at by Leonard Brooks who just did a label deal with Capitol Records; Liz Toussaint is being looked at by Shaka Zulu from DTP; SSD, Liz Toussaint and Mica Swain are all being looked at by Lamont Norris from Universal/Motown and Jacob Latimore is being looked at by Wayne Williams for Jive Records.
Pg. 2 | The Atlanta Grind - January 2009
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Feat. tech B Sykes Alabama’s Own MusikCards & You myspace.com/bsykesonline | C.Matkins 256-651-5704 Written by K. Cannick After hearing his record “Aint She…”, which placed as the top song on volume 4 of the On The Grind Mixtape series, Kevin Shine (A&R Consultant to Jive Records) invited this Huntsville, Alabama rapper down to Atlanta to audition for The Premiere A&R Showcase. Growing up on artist like Outcast, Ice Cube & Scarface, B-Sykes reflects on the lack of balance in today’s hip hop. Reminiscing on his youth he talks about how hip hop shaped his life and the elements he pulled from it, that he wasn’t receiving at home. His goal is to take things back to a time where music is less about your one particular song and more about the body of work.
ing to secure the proper funding and exposure he needs to make a real impact on both the industry and his community. As an avid exercise enthusiast he is a big advocate of health education, especially coming from Alabama (a state ranked 3rd in the nation for obesity). Ideally, He would love to secure sponsorship from a company like Vitamin Water or PowerAde. B-Sykes is looking to connect with producers, DJs and anybody else that’s about their business. For more information email email@example.com
“It’s all about balance. Yeah, you need the club records [because] sometimes you just need to disconnect from everything. You also need to speak on what’s going on outside of the club, but you can’t rap about trapping without offering an opposing view. Hopefully if you a d-boy that’s not want you wanted to do. It was more likely something you were forced into. We all know only a small percentage will ever see any real success from that. The rest will get scooped up.”
I remember sitting in the dorms my freshman year with my boy Juan and a couple other independent artists. We were having a discussion about the future of music formats, the transition from records to 8 tracks and from cassette to CDs. Half way through the discussion Juan blurted out that in the future all the music was going to be invisible. Well, the conversation quickly came to an end as we all started to make fun of such a ridiculous idea. For the next couple of days I would show up in Juan’s dorm room bobbing my head, bumping my invisible CD player. I’d complain about not being able to find my new Jay-Z CD because it was invisible. A couple of years ago, I realized that maybe I shouldn’t have made fun of Juan. While the wording may have been over simplified the concept was dead on. Music has indeed become invisible. C a s -
settes and CDs have been replaced with MP3s & WMA files. You can now buy and listen to an album from your computer or cell phone without going into a store. Music is without a medium just a series of 1’s and 0’s floating in the ether waiting to be interpreted by your IPOD or other MP3 enabled device. There has been a lot of resistance in the industry to the concept of music without a medium. While the production cost of a download is much cheaper than manufacturing a CD there is the issue of piracy. The Big 3 Majors have been so obsessed with trying to prevent people from illegally downloading they have totally overlooked one of the greatest advantages of going digital. Continued on Page 6
Considering his self to be a well rounded artist, B-Sykes is look-
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The Atlanta Grind - January 2009 | Pg. 3
Makin’ It Magazine
www.myspace.com/BMoreBen | Bmoreben111@yahoo.com Myspace.com/MakinItMag | www.MakinItMag.com Chris “B More Ben” Smith is an independent artist, producer and songwriter born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Growing up in Baltimore’s Turners Station and later in West Baltimore’s Randallstown, music found Chris at an early age. While he excelled at team sports in school, the academic curriculum offered by the Baltimore County Public School System failed to capture his attention. Turning to music as an outlet for his youthful energy and enthusiasm, he became the protégé of his older brother, who at the time was a very popular DJ. Now in Atlanta Chris is hard at work taking his music to the next level. Gearing up for an early February release of his new project, on Reign Music Inc., his goal is to bring something new to hip hop. His lead single, “Hold On” which features Danny Boy (Formerly of Def Row Records) is featured on the Industry Report 9, as it makes its rounds for adds on college radio.
ers everything from hustling to the family dynamic within the black community. His forthcoming project is slated to contain 12 tracks. He is very interested in connecting with promoters and booking more shows. Behind the mic, Chris has been busy producing and writing. While a majority of his work has been hip hop & R&B, he has also begun to stretch into other genres, working with alternative acts such as The Bakpax. Chris is looking to connect with anybody in need of production or writing assistance. The pricing on his beats range from $200$500 each but he is willing to work with an artist’s budget. His production tools of choice include Reasons, Protools and the Phantom. For production, booking and general information call (404)731-6915.
Chris’s music reflects the day to day struggles in the hood as he cov-
Words by K. Cannick
After years of consulting for independent artists, I began Makin’ It Magazine as a way to help anybody pursuing a career in the urban entertainment industry. While a lot has changed in the time since our first issue was published, our commitment to helping
informing its readers about the urban entertainment industry. We are a networking outlet for independent artists and entrepreneurs to connect with over 100,000 potential contacts and resources. We encourage you to read the stories of every individual featured in our publications as you may find a new contact or much needed resource. Every issue is filled with opportunities for serious networking. Previous clients that have been featured in the publication were able to connect with producers, promoters, investors, paid shows, production deals, artists, managers, new clients and one artist is currently in talks with two major labels.
shape the next generation of talent and entertainment industry professionals has remained the same. In just two years, we have expanded our distribution network to include more than 104 markets in 43 states. Our readership has grown to over 127,000 people per issue and we now publish a monthly newsletter in supplement to our quarterly magazine.
In closing, I would like to thank our readers for their support of these past two years and encourage all of you to actively read each issue and to continue to reach out to one another. If you would like the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming issue please contact our sales department at (678) 528-6925 Ext 2
With so much rapid growth I felt it important to restate our company’s mission for those of you who are just now joining us. Makin’ It Magazine and all its subsidiary titles are trade publications dedicated to educating and
Pg. 4 | The Atlanta Grind - January 2009
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Wanted Cash 4 Music Gear and Pro Audio Equipment. Dont get ripped off by pawn shops and music stores. Want Quick Cash call (678) 643-5534
Beats / Producers Need Beats visit www.TheBeatsquad.com Apply for the Trak Starz Program to get access to Out Full Production Catalog. Have tracks custom sequenced, receive promotional support and periodic Free Beats. Lease 3 Beats for $100 Bop Yo Trunk Productions Whatever beats you need Non-Exclusive rights just $50 Exclusive rights $150 soundclick.com/bopyotrunkent wwww.myspace.com/bopyotrunk BopYoTrunk@yahoo.com (502) 645-2086 High quility exclusives stating at $35 mybeatshop.com/moedoeproductions If You Want That Classic HipHop Feel With A New School Mentality Check Out Street Thief Productions. Myspace.com/STPINC NEED BEATS? HOLLA AT THE SULTAN PRODUCTION CREDITS: JOE BUDDEN SKYZOO MURDA MOOK AND MORE! LISTEN TO BEATS AT WWW. SOUNDCLICK.COM/WMSBEATS LOOK:LOOK:LOOK DeadALIVE production firstname.lastname@example.org myspace/dirtymusicbox :custom:production:team: LOOK:LOOK:LOOK Quality and creative Hip Hop/RnB instrumentals at www.reverbnation.com/jbeatz. Contact email@example.com to purchase a beat or network. For the hottest beats on the net check out: TrackBangas.com If your looking for sounds for beats check out: SoundGroupie.com MODERN HIP HOP, R&B, ROCK Music Tracks for Sale/License from PRODUCER BEN TREXEL. To listen, visit www.soundclick.com/
bentrexel .. firstname.lastname@example.org Hip-Hop beats for sale www.soundclick.com/shutupandlisten ONLY $20!!! Other inquiries email email@example.com
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Recording Studios Kool Kat Studio - High quality radio ready recordings. Experienced engineer to mix/master. Hot Tracks! Ask for specials. Accept Credit Cards (404) 216-2509 RexTrax Studios Production from $150/Song Recording $40/hr. CD Duplication & Mastering (678) 730-0008 www.Rextrax.com
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The Atlanta Grind - January 2009 | Pg. 5
The Premiere A&R Showcase contd from pg 1 for input and perspective, he came to the conclusion that most of the A&Rs and real decision makers in Atlanta don’t feel the need to attend showcases or open mics because the promoters tend to be more concerned with making money than actually helping them find the next hot record. This feedback received would soon become the inspiration for The Premiere A&R Showcase. The concept was simple yet elegant. This would be a showcase put together for A&Rs by one of their own. Assembling a team of industry professionals including Keitha “Ms. Crunk” Carter (Too Fresh Ent./Crunk Magazine), Monica Sawyer (Urban Grind Magazine), Briana Barlow (ATLs Talent) he began laying the ground work for something big. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the first audi-
tions from which 6 artists were chosen to perform at the actual Showcase on February 5, 2009. The response has been so overwhelming from his colleagues and friends that he has decided to make this a bi-monthly event, taking the 6 hottest artists his team can find and putting them in front of people with the power to change their lives. If you are an independent artist interested in submitting music to be considered for the next auditions please visit www.ThePremiereShow.com How to Buy A Record Deal contd from pg 1 feeders in this game. While I may not agree with their practices you can’t complain about being sold a load of shit if YOU choose to buy it. This is why I have always told every artist that I have ever consulted for, “You cannot buy your way into the industry.” As a busi-
Pg. 6 | The Atlanta Grind - January 2009
ness you will require the services of others but it is important to remember when purchasing these services that you are paying for the services themselves and not the results. A publicist cannot sell you fame, a consultant cannot sell you a deal, a DJ cannot sell you a hit record. While each can provide you with a unique service that will help you attain these goals none can guarantee those results. A DJ can guarantee you spins but not a positive reaction from the crowd. A consultant can provide you with an important contact but that doesn’t guarantee a working relationship with that connection. While having money will definitely ease the road to success, it will not make the journey for you. You must still put in the work. And while a plush bank account is a great asset to have, you must be careful to spend every dollar wisely and not let money become a crutch. While money may make a person
listen it can’t make them like what they hear. Until next time keep grinding. Written by Kelby Cannick Founder of Makin’ It Magazine Independent Artist Consultant If you would like to receive marketing assistance for your upcoming project please email the following information to Kcannick@ makinitmag.com Name, City, Phone # Project Description And Project budget Muzik Cards..net contd from page 2 Every medium has its built in limitations whether its playback, sound quality or something else. Digital distribution frees the provider from those limitations allowing the musicians to give the consumer more for their money. But, even with all the advantages of digital distribution nothing can replace the thought of the consumer receiving something tangible when
they hand over their hard earned money. One creative company shares my sentiment on this issue and has combined the best of both words. Muzikcards.com has created a system that allows artists to distribute or sell their digital content through a tangible medium. For just $350 (less than the cost of duplicating CDs) an artist or label can get 1,000 of these Muzik Cards which kind of resemble a calling card. The Muzik Cards are custom printed with the artists original graphics or design and act as a digital access pass to their online content. Here are a few of the finer points I found while researching this product: Affordable – With a cost less than duplicating CDs, MuzikCards can be a great promotional tool or an excellent source of income. Trendy – Consumers love to be on the cutting edge. MuzikCards have a novelty appeal that will intrigue consumers.
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Content – Since the card only acts as an access pass you are not limited by the amount or type of content that is distributed by the card. It can be a music, videos, ringtones or even whole discographies. Content can even be added over time like news, blogs, new songs, press clippings or exclusive interviews. Contacts – Consumers are required to enter their email address when access content online this helps artists build an awesome contacts database which can be used to build strong relationships with their fans and supporters. MuzikCards present a unique opportunity for artists to bridge the gap between their street and digital promotions campaigns Not only is it a good look for the artist but just think about the applications for DJ’s and Producers. For more information about MuzikCards email sales@ muzikcards.net or call (678) 368-3214.
Choosing Monitors contd from page 8 Headphones: To say that you can mix and master in headphones would get much ridicule a few years ago.. Its like a few years ago when DJs using CDs/ MP3s would get blasted for straying from vinyl.. Things change especially with technology... These days you can get a great pair of headphones to mix in. If using headphones for mixing, I recommend comparing them with your speakers before finalizing. I personally will use headphones for a lot of production, mixing and mastering while working on the track. Then when its pretty much done I’ll listen to it in the speakers to finalize level and subtle details. At the end of the day, all speakers sound good. It can get old and ridiculous spending time comparing speakers and seeing which ones work the best. The bottom line is making sure they are the right size for your studio,
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they are active and have a flat frequency response. When I first started using M-Audio’s speakers I didn’t even listen to them before I bought them. I just checked the specs and the price was perfect for a 2nd pre-production studio. No speaker is perfect or is the ultimate answer to the perfect mix. As with all equipment, you’ll need to take time to get to know them, hear what your favorite music sounds like through them, etc. I always listen to music in my speakers throughout the day. This drastically reduces the time to get to know your speakers. In summary, check the specs for a flat frequency response, make sure the price and size is in your budget, but bottom line is that many of the active speakers available today will do the trick. Ed Unger
www.computerproducer.com www.gotchanoddin.com www.bluesoundstudios.com www.ungerrose.com
The Atlanta Grind - January 2009 | Pg. 7
Choosing Studio Monitors
Studio Speakers have been talked about a lot lately. This is another area that has changed with the new music industry and technology advancements. Studio monitoring is definitely a priority. However, the changes are on the room, proofing, speakers available to choose from and also using headphones. Speakers: Most all consumer systems have EQ curves built into the unit and also offer presets for different styles of music. Professional speakers should have a flat frequency response. I have had great experience with Yamaha HS/NS Series, Event’s, M-Audio and Tannoy. The other important factor is the active speaker. These days thats almost all that you can find. Active speakers are speakers that have the powere included in the speaker instead of having to purchase a power amp and the speakers.
Room: These days nearfield monitors are meant to be ‘near field’... These speakers are meant to be listened to at conversation levels, moderate levels for mixing. When the volume is jacked up then the
overall sound of the room will blur the sound in combination with hearing the speakers ‘near’ you. Ideally, you want to be about a foot or two at most away from the speakers, listen at conversation levels, only increase the volume when checking certain frequencies, boomyness, etc. Two things happen at low monitoring levels. The first is the sound doesn’t blend with the room sound. The second is that you avoid ear fatigue, can get a balanced mix every time and can work all day if needed.
are more for surround sound or luxury than contributing to a mix. A proofed control room will best help a subwoofer succeed in your studio. Considering surround mixing with DVD audio and video has not caught on in the consumer market, you can put the subwoofer on the back of the priority list as this is the primary use of them. Or if you want to tick of the neighbors or show off they are fun to have. :) Continued on Pg 7
Proofing: Anyone who tells you that you need to proof a room to get professional sound quality is fibbing... Don’t get me wrong, clients love a professionally proofed booth, the look and feel, etc. but these days to start off a studio with a huge investment like that is not the wisest decision. The focus should be making sure you get the greatest sound with the least expense of equipment. Subwoofers:
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