PROPHET-Z on The Challenges of Today’s Music Business for Indie Artists

PROPHET-Z on The Challenges of Today’s Music Business for Indie Artists


” We are now witnessing the launch of more independent artists making greater success as a result of YouTube and other social media outlets, whereas before your success was dependent on a major label. ” – @prophet_z

Listen to the interview:
Episode #269 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW PROPHET-Z
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

The music business…
hasn’t really changed much to be honest. I think it’s just the marketing strategies of launching the careers of artists that has changed. We are now witnessing the launch of more independent artists making greater success as a result of YouTube and other social media outlets, whereas before your success was dependent on a major label. However, because of that, the competition has increased tenfold because everybody and their mother is an artist now. Also, with diminishing music sales, we see record labels having to be more creative with how they market artist in order to make profit, hence the 360 record deals—which could be seen as a pitfall. Like everything else, it’s a balance. As an independent artist you have freedom to say what you want when you want. As an artist you don’t have that same creativity nor authority. So there’s a fine line you have to ride within the music business to be “successful”. I’ve found that quality over quantity has proven to be the most successful though. If you put the effort into making a record hot, from the lyrics to the production to the overall marketing approach, this has proven to hit harder with fans and audiences alike.

Social media is…
a great tool because it’s a great way to communicate with people you may have never had the chance to before—A&Rs, label execs, other artists, etc. Where as you would have to go to an event or a company building to get in touch with someone, now they’re just a finger-click away on your keyboard or cellphone. However, what is fresh in the beginning, when saturated get abused, and then once again becomes a barrier for communication. For example, you can’t respond to 1000 people all at once who are hitting you up with the same info or shopping their demo to you. So this over saturation once becomes a negative of social media. There’s so “much” out there now. My main challenge has been how to sift through all that is on social media to reach my target audience being that the competition is extremely great. In many instances I’ve been able to cut through, but it still rears its head as a problem every now and then. So my team and I have to constantly be thinking of strategies to get around it.

Releasing singles in the Reggae market is not a new phenomenon…
I’m from end of an era where the “45” or 7-inch vinyl record created the Dancehall/Reggae movement. Reggae artist regularly released singles. Albums I find is more popular among the pop music genres. And by no means does this mean that Reggae artist haven’t made albums—look at Bob Marley, Peter Tosh or even Jimmy Cliff; but in the Dance hall arena, many artists have seen success from making single after single since the 70s. It’s much easier to market a single than it is to market a whole album. This has been the marketing approach in the music business for years now. The single was your advertisement. “Oh you like the song? Well buy the album?” This has always been the solid marketing strategy. And many times to this day it works. It has worked for me.

I would love to have 5 minutes to sit down and converse with…
Chris Blackwell. I would like to know how he was able to take the great Bob Marley and market him to the world in which he is now considered an international legendary icon. Bob Marley was always a talented Reggae musician, yes. However, the marketing strategy used to spread his music to the masses is something that has always intrigued me. This would be a great conversation.

It’s a Catch-22. It’s okay to be current and trendy, but…
you have to be careful that your music doesn’t become fast food. This is what separate artists who made a record 25 years ago that is still relevant today, as opposed to an artist that makes a song today and it stays hot for about 6 months and then you forget about it. Staying current and trendy can get you locked in a time bubble, where your music becomes short-lived. Being that we live in a time where everything has to be fast an immediate, we see this playing itself out with today’s artists and the music is becoming like fast food—just something to fill your gut, but you really didn’t enjoy it in actuality.

My personal definition of success…
being able to constantly create music and make a comfortable living by doing so. As an artist it’s easy to make music. It’s difficult to make music and live comfortably from doing so. You can be an artist sleeping on your friends couch waiting for your break…and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would like to get to a point where this is my certified career 24/7. There’s endless amount of success stories in this arena, which I don’t have to name. We’re all familiar with the “how I went from rags to riches” stories. That’s where I’m aiming to be very soon.

My overall goal for my life and career is…
to make a positive impact on people’s lives with my music. I don’t just want to be an entertainer, but I want to be an educator. I want people to walk away with something positive from my music. I don’t just want to be a gimmick. If I’m able to fulfill, then I will be satisfied.

I started rapping at the age of 4…
and started to perform at the age of 6. My brother was a break dancer at the time, so he taught me most of my dance moves that I would later work into my performance routine. My sister was an R&B singer and a rapper at the time. She was responsible for penning all my lyrics. That was the start of something special.

“To Me Lone”…
This song is the second song from my latest collaborative EP project with Brooklyn-based producer, Kooly Chat, titled, “Fi Di Gyal Dem (For The Girls Them)”. This song is an up-tempo, high-energy song, which is dedicated to all the ladies in the club. We really wanted to have a song that people could dance to. I know a lot of dancers in the Dancehall/Reggae world. So a few of them always asked me to keep them in mind when making music. That’s what I had set out to do with this song.

I tried to provide people with music that has an overall theme to it. Secondly, the production of the music itself is always one that is melodic and can move. For example, my latest EP is mainly directed to my female fans, hence it’s title. It has something for the fellas in there too, but it has an overtone that speaks to my female audience. I like to sing about love as well as other topics. You’ll know when you hear a Prophet-Z track because of that aspect. This is actually a great time for me because I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of artists and producers. There’s a lot more collaborations on the way, so I’m able to implement this into my music with them. I hope to reach a wider range of people with this EP and increase my fan base and convert them to the “Wellsharp” side, lol.

(iTunes purchase link)

I currently live in Brooklyn, New York…
where the Dancehall/Reggae scene is alive and kicking.

A go-to place has definitely got to be Flatbush Avenue and Utica Avenue. Here you can take in some good ol’ Caribbean culture. From the food to the local shops and the people.

I enjoy going to the club or better yet, the dance hall. Here is where you see Dance hall, as a culture, not the music, lol, come to life. You hear all the latest music that is big on the market play, all the people come out to enjoy themselves, all the dancers showcase their latest moves, ladies come out to showcase the latest styles and fashions; it’s an overall amazing experience. Here is where you go to unwind from the stresses of the day. I often get inspired to write music as a result of frequenting the dance hall.

I am most afraid of …
becoming a one-hit wonder. That would suck. To only have one song that you’re recognized for…not a good look in my opinion.

3 Ways I challenge myself…
1) READ – I read at least one article on something having to deal with the business of music daily

2) LEARN – Learn the business—I make it a job to make sure I’m taking care of the business side of things that will ensure my music is protected

3) PRACTICE – Practice! Practice! Practice! – I practice everyday

(Soundcloud link)
(YouTube link)