Making Moves – Building a local following

Building a local fan base has been tough because I didn’t grow up in New York, so I’m kind of starting fresh. Figuring out where to begin has been difficult. I’ve realized though that I have been thinking too big picture. It’s better to focus on smaller fish in the beginning, find exposure to different circles and try to bring people from those circles together.

I recently spit a few bars at a cypher during Barrelhouse Bklyn’s Yo Barrelhouse Raps BBQ. It felt great to introduce myself to such a tight knit group of people. Barrelhouse has, over the past few years, successfully harnessed a Brooklyn based movement of talented rappers, and true hip hop fans, with a lot of positive energy. Here’s a video from the event. I was the lone whitey in attendance, ha…

I’m grateful to have linked up with Barrelhouse and am looking forward to teaming up with them in the future. I’m still working out the details but, if all goes well, Chi Guy will be hosting its first NY shows with Barrelhouse promoting. The first show will be before the end of August.

Like I said in the beginning of the post, I am trying to bring a few different circles together with these concerts to build a solid core of Chi Guy followers. So far the concerts look like me performing (either solo or with a band behind me, The Classical Movement), Scienze and Kris Kasanova (two rappers who I was introduced to by my peoples at Barrelhouse who perform with live instruments behind them), and two electronic/dance DJ sets TBD. The hope is that the hip hop crowd will mix with the DJ crowd well. And who doesn’t like to see hip hop with live instruments?

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Making Moves – Social Network Updates and Future Plans

After using social networks as Trevor the Trash Man for about a year now I have really figured out what works for me, and what doesn’t. I know that I prefer using Facebook’s artist page above all as the landing site for my fans, though Facebook has its limitations in reach. I know that Twitter’s platform provides the best opportunity to reach new fans if I could only figure out how to use it better (I’m not super comfortable with the hashtags, but getting there). I have given up entirely on Myspace, yet I still update it with status updates through other sites. And ReverbNation is a nice hub of operations, but has provided me with few real opportunities even though I have tried some of their paid premium services for a few months now.

There is no substitute for meeting people face to face. You hear that a lot, but it’s really the truth. I am in the process of planning out a series of four shows with Chi Guy and BarrelHouse and every bit of progress we’ve made has come as a result of meeting people in the real world as oppose to on the Internet.

Future Plans

In my opinion, the average hip hop show I go to leaves a lot of room for improvement. For starters, the sound quality is usually off, and that alone has ruined some shows I’ve been to. Do people really like that much bass? I’m also sick of seeing the tired set up of the rapper with the hype man, and 20 of the rapper’s boys just standing around on stage.

Exhibit A: Waka

The better shows I’ve been to have had lights, dancers, entertainment – something visually appealing going on at all times. Incorporating live instruments into the mix at a hip hop show is also something I have long been a fan of. Yeah it’s a little more work, but it makes for a much better concert-going experience.

Exhibit B: The Experiment feat. Mos Def

For my next show (Date TBD) I am putting together a concert with some thought behind it. It will include video art, and a live band (which I am in the process of forming, called The Classical Movement).

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of putting out my first album as Trevor the Trash Man entitled The Classical Movement. I have an album’s worth of written material ready to be recorded and am learning how to produce so I can put my material on fresh beats rather than recycled old beats.

Also, check out the new Trevor the Trash Man logo. Designed by yours truly on my iPad.

Trevor the Trash Man Logo

Back from Hiatus

Sorry for abandoning my readers for the last few months. I got distracted with a number of, mostly music related, other things and the blog suffered the brunt of it. In the time since my last post I have played a few shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn, officially started Chi Guy Entertainment as a service provider for independent artists, and am in the process of learning how to be an audio engineer. Starting today the blog is back up and running so expect regular posts in the future.

A Few Updates

  • The yet to be finished Classical Movement pt. 2 Mixtape has become more of a full album, and instead of using instrumentals from famous classical era hip hop songs, I will be producing an entire album of original material inspired by that era. I have spent too much time and effort on writing great material that it would be a shame to waste it on instrumentals ripped off of Youtube.
  • I have also begun work on another project called “Once You Pop…” under the pseudonym Larry Poppins. It will go in a completely different from The Classical Movement as I experiment with more dance music and electronic components.
  • Chi Guy Entertainment’s website is up and running after months of back and forth with my design team. Here is a link to the site: www.chiguyent.com. The site is pretty basic now but it gets the main point across quickly. We recently had our first client, a band called Graphyt Blimp who wanted a logo designed.
  • Although progress has slowed a bit since I have been learning how to produce (rather than writing new material), there hasn’t been many new fans or services to report. But stay tuned for stats from the past couple months. One of my greatest successes has been the music video for The One Who Got Away. To date it has 7,876 views!
  • I am working towards booking a Chi Guy summer concert series to showcase independent hip hop around New York and promote the company. More on that to come…

Making Moves – Promoting a YouTube Video

I recently posted my most successful YouTube video. Although it hasn’t blown up and been a gigantic viral success, it’s my first video to reach outside of my circle of core fans. In its first four days of being up it has received 160 views and I’m working hard to get more each day.

It has become a core part of hip hop to release free material, oftentimes using instrumentals from popular songs, to promote your own material. So I picked a song that was released last week by Lil Wayne called “6 Foot 7 Foot” that I could tell right off the bat would become a big hit. It’s produced by Bangladesh, the same producer that did “A Millie” with Wayne on The Carter III.

I made the video using iMovie, which came with my MacBook, and photos from my live shows and music video shoots. Using the editing tools available on YouTube and iMovie I added lyrics to the video in the form of blurbs coming out of my mouth, I added title screens to the beginning and end of the vid, and I made it look like I was moving to the music by aligning the pictures to go with the beat.

Some key pointers on how to post a successful YouTube vid and promote it:

1. Keep it short, sweet and entertaining. My video is 1:18 in total and in that time I showcase my lyrics, get my name out there, and link to my other music.

2. Relate your promotional video to something that people are already interested in. Lil Wayne has a huge following already established, so when he releases new material people are going to want to listen to it and talk about it. If you can find the sites where people are talking about related topics and showcase your video there, you might strike a cord with another artist’s fans. For example, I posted my video on http://www.lilwaynehq.com, where there are thousands of people discussing Wayne in very active forums. After one day I got over 30 independent views from that site alone.

3. Get familiar with YouTube’s editing tools. I can’t believe how much extra work you can do after you upload footage to youtube. You can add annotations, add links to your other material and have it all streamlined right into your video.

Making Moves 7 – New Equipment

I have new toys to work with! The studio is definitely coming together with new studio monitor speakers and a microKORG. Soon I will be getting Pro Tools 9 for more advanced recording and mixing than my current program (Garageband). There comes a point in any rappers career when it no longer makes sense to pay someone else an hourly rate for mixing. For me that point is now, as I am making a conscious effort to expand my horizons and properly learn how to mix and master. Until this point I have been either paying someone to mix my music or playing around with the mix without really knowing what I was doing. I have paid people rates ranging from $30-75/hour and they never put as much into the mix as I would like. They have trouble seeing the vision that I am trying to communicate when I tell them the way I want the song to sound, and the effects that I want. More likely they don’t really know what they’re doing.

I am also going to be getting into more production. My roommate recently got a Maschine, (~$500 retail) which is an extremely powerful sampling, beat making monster, so I will have access to that. I have tried my hand at producing on a few projects when I really have a vision of a melody in my head and I can just try to translate that into an electronic version. But with the KORG and the new recording software I will have all I need to really see what my producing capabilities are.

Here are my brand spanking new Yamaha HS 80M Powered Monitor Speakers (~$300/speaker). They are shown “floating” on foam pads atop two wooden towers.

The reason why these speakers are going to make such a difference is that they are allow me to mix songs properly. They are reference speakers so when you play something through them you are hearing a reference of the true sound that is meant to be heard. So if the mix sounds good on these speakers, it should sound good on any speakers, theoretically. I will keep everyone posted on the progress of my mixing and mastering skills and what is helpful along the way…

Here is the microKORG in all its glory (~$400 retail).

At first glance, the microKORG looks like your average electric piano with midi capabilites. But once you hook it up to some speakers you start to feel the true power of this instrument. Rather than just being a piano with a few effects you can throw on top, it is an instrument in its own right. Officially it is a midi capable virtual synthesizer/vocorder. After playing around with it for a few days I am beginning to see that I might want to take lessons to learn how to play this thing (do they have microKORG classes??). I will look into it. Not only does it have vocorder capabilities, but the complexity of the effects and the ease of switching between effects makes for an extremely powerful tool. I can see why so many well-established acts use the microKORG as part of their live show. Bands using the KORG include JUSTICE, Chromeo, Devo, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers, Le Tigre, The Neptunes, Kings of Leon and many more. It has famously been used by Dr. Dre and many other big name hip hop producers in their arsenals. As far as I’m concerned, sky’s the limit with this instrument. Can’t wait to get more familiar.

Making Moves 6 – Budgeting for a Music Video

I kept notes of the whole music video production process so others can see and plan their own projects.

You’re Welcome

The One Who Got Away Music Video Budget

Food/Drink $170

–       $40 Sandwiches, etc.

–       $50 pizza

–       $80 Alcohol

Wardrobe $322

–       $96 makeup, etc.

–       $16 Costumes

–       $210 = 30 + 180 Masks

Set Design $145

–       $90 fabric

–       $55 Christmas lights, paper to cover window, props

Equipment $80

–       $80 DSLR Cinema Support rental

$717 total spent on video

Equipment Used

Camera:

–       Canon Rebel T2i 550D DSLR

Other Equipment:

–       DSLR Cinema Support

–       Chrosziel Lightweight Follow-Focus

–       100mm Hi Hat

–       Kessler Cinelsider

–       Sachtler Cine 7+7 HD Tripod

Time Spent

Shooting Hours: 13.5 hours (Sat, Dec. 4 5:30pm-2:00am. Sun, Dec. 5 10:00am-3:00pm)

Set Design: 8 hours (Sat, Dec. 4 10:00am-5:00pm. Sun Dec. 5 9:00am-10:00am)

Labor

23 people in total (15 actors, 7 production crew, 1 director)

Making Moves 6 – Making a Low Budget Music Video (pt. 1)

This past weekend was a busy one for me. A group of people transformed the living room of my apartment into a music video set and we successfully shot the video for my song “The One Who Got Away.” It’s the third low budget film set I have been a part of in the last two months as my roommate and one of his friends have shot 2 films over that time. Let’s just say that the smell of stale smoke machine air is quite familiar to me now.

It’s a beautiful thing to see it all come together, to see people devote their time and energy to create something bigger than themselves (for free). We rented and borrowed as much as possible, yet still ran up a bit of a tab. Quality has its price. Although the video was in planning for over a month, there were still some unforeseen problems we ran into on the days of the shoot. The problems mostly involved actors (friends) not showing up, and shot setup taking longer than planned. But it helped a lot to write a detailed shot list and schedule.

Photos of the video shoot are up on my facebook page

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