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Read. The. Contract. Understand. The. Contract. Lil Voe Story

Though he produced SahBabii's "Pull Up Wit Ah Stick," you won't find Lil Voe's name on the official credits.

2017-07-13-lil-voe-pull-up-wit-ah-stick-producer-interview

Photo Credit: Instagram

He found out later that he signed away his rights to the publishing and the “official” credit for the beat.

Selling beats via the internet has been a staple of underground rap for years and is continuing its push into the mainstream.For Lil Voe, a 22-year-old producer from Anderson, South Carolina, life pivoted when he noticed his instrumental on a random Instagram story. That snippet would eventually become the beat behind SahBabii’s infectious single, “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick,” one of a number of viral sensationsto bubble up out of Atlanta late last year.

Though Voe had only been seriously producing for less than two years, he had a hit under his belt. While it’s easy to assume, as an outsider, that getting a major placement is the end of a producer's worries, in reality, Voe has been forced to learn about the harsh realities of the music industry in the wake of his biggest placement to date.

Last week, following my interview with "internet producer" Taz Taylor, I caught up with Voe on a phone call, discussing his musical background, landing the “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick” placement, and the importance of learning the business end of the music industry 17 million views later.


South Carolina, has a rich, if underappreciated, musical history. What, if any, non-hip-hop music were you listening to at an early age?

I started doing band in middle school, in the eighth grade. I had a friend who was into it so he turned me on. I kept doing that from eighth grade through high school, that’s how I learned about arrangements, reading music, and formal music training. I played percussion and another friend in high school said I might like playing around with this Fruity Loops program so that’s when I started making beats.

How long did it take you to earn your first beat placement?

I wasn’t really confident in my beats [when I first started], but friends kept encouraging me to put them online, so I’d post them on YouTube and stuff. My first placement was with Chicago rapper LUCKI. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but he’s got a large following and other rappers started to pay attention. Requests for stuff went up after that and people were hitting me up from all over the country.

Did that increase in workload tell you anything about the creative process?

That’s it’s important to take breaks (laughs). I felt productive at first sitting there for hours, but if it started to affect the quality of my beats, I’d step away. Go listen to some inspiring music or watch a movie, whatever is going to reset me and get back into that mindset.

Which producers have been a source of inspiration?

Zaytoven was a big influence coming up, he’s one of my favorites. The way Metro Boomin and Southside have hustled to get their names so recognizable to people in all walks of music is inspiring, too.

How would you describe your own beats?

I think 808s are my main draw. It’s not the same “Zaytoven 808” that a lot of people use. I was interested in crafting drums on the software from the beginning so I’ve been molding those sounds for a few years now, making it hit a unique way. I guess I’d say most of my instrumentals are “dark,” sad trap shit (laughs).

“Pull Up Wit Ah Stick” is the biggest placement of your career. What's the backstory?

It was a beat I posted on YouTube. In the first week, it had like 160 views, so I wasn’t really paying attention to it. Then, when I got back on not too long after that, it was up to like 44,000. Sometime after that, I was just clicking on videos on Instagram and I heard the beat I’d made and was like, “I made that!” So I hit up SahBabii and told him I made the beat and he was cool and said we’d work something out and could get some more work in too.

Once the song got on the radio, the record label sent me a “work-for-hire” contract about four or five months ago. I didn’t have a manager at the time, didn’t know anything about publishing, your rights as a producer, none of that. For me, I worked in a shoe store, so I’d never seen that kind of money being offered for my work. I have to help my mom out with bills and stuff so I signed the contract. I found out later that I’d signed away my rights to the publishing and the “official” credit for the beat.

How have you handled the business side of the industry since then?

It’s a lot better now that I got a manager (laughs). When you don’t know what you’re owed, it’s the worst, man, because people can take advantage of you. I’m not saying it was something intentional, but this industry can be like a cold machine that eats you up. Now that I’m with Bird, my manager, he’s taught me about publishing and getting credited and all that, so I won’t fall into the same trap again. I thought you just send beats out, got placements, then got paid and it was over. We tried to see if there was a way to get at least some of my publishing back for the track, but a contract is a contract, I guess.

Did they at least give you a call when SahBabii's S.A.N.D.A.S.was re-mixed and re-released?

I went back to the instrumental and tracked it out sometime before that, so they probably used that version when Thug’s engineer Alex [Tumay] got a hold of it. Before that, it was pretty rough sounding cause I didn’t know about tracking out and all that. Alex did his thing on it, though. It’s still rough, but it’s not harsh on your ears at all.

You’ve been producing for two years now. What have you learned during that time and what are your biggest goals moving forward? 

First, I’ve learned that you need a strong team behind you that knows more than you do. As you can see, it can cause you to miss out on ways to support yourself and your loved ones. I wouldn’t want another producer to make my same mistakes. I was just young and didn’t know. Also, backing up your stuff is really important (laughs). That’s a way to prove that you actually did a beat, which is, unfortunately, something you have to worry about in the industry. Even if you think a beat is trash, save it because you don’t know who could make a hit out of it.

In five years, what are you doing?

I’d like to get connected with more pop musicians. That’s no disrespect to anyone in rap, I just don’t want to confine myself to one type of artist. I really fuck with people like Sango and Kaytranada too, so it would be cool to be all over the place like those guys. As long as it’s dope, I’m wide open to the possibilities.

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Chance The Rapper Says After Call With SoundCloud, Streaming Service Is “Here to Stay”

Read More: Chance The Rapper Says After Call With SoundCloud, Streaming Service Is 'Here to Stay' - XXL

  If you were worried about the fate of Soundcloud, you can officially fear no more. Yesterday, reports surfaced that the streaming platform only has enough funding to last until the fourth quarter of 2017, but Chance The Rapper has come to the rescue after vowing to help. According to the Chicago superstar, the award-winning MC says he had a “fruitful” conversation with Soundcloud co-founder and CEO, Alex Ljung. Chance told his followers that the streaming platform is officially “here to stay.” “Just had a very fruitful call with Alex Ljung. @SoundCloud is here to stay,” the rapper tweeted. Yesterday, the Internet and tons of artists went into a frenzy after hearing of Soundcloud’s potential fate. Reports also came forward that revealed that the company had laid off 40 percent of their staff following a “tense” meeting with employees and former employees. After the news surfaced, Chance originally stated that he was “working on the Soundcloud thing.” It looks like he kept true to his word, but we don’t exactly have details on how the issue may or may not have been fixed. See the tweet from Chance below and stay tuned for updates. Read More: Chance The Rapper Says After Call With SoundCloud, Streaming Service Is 'Here to Stay' - XXL |
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#ViceLand THE THERAPIST with #RIPPRODIGY of MOBB DEEP

Rapper Prodigy of Mobb Deep discusses living with Sickle Cell Anemia and receiving supernatural spiritual messages.

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Social Media Royalty: (@yanblaze) A Quick Guide to Building an Online Audience

Social Media Royalty.  Over the past five years I’ve used and continue to use social media as a tool to build my name within entertainment and media. It has helped me to create so many connections and line up countless opportunities. Hence, I figured I’d drop some insight on the topic of “Social Media Fame”, along with quick pointers regarding how to build an online audience, implementing advice from Industry influencers  that I admire.

 

Time and time again, I see the discussion surface regarding whether a social media following validates your relevance, or if the concept of growing a large social media following for brand image and marketing purposes is something that holds any value. Interestingly, arguments for and against “Social Media Fame” both hold valid points, however ultimately as a brand or public figure, it is safe to say using social media as a tool to gain more of an audience and garner more attention for your brand or cause is imperative.

Almost a decade ago, Jack Dorsey, one of three of Twitter’s creators, sent the first tweet: “just setting up my twttr”, which would mark the beginning of a revolution that only continues to advance as the years progress. This platform allows one to reach the masses via 140 characters and the click of a button. As simple as the concept may be, Twitter dramatically transformed the way in which our society shares and gathers information -- whether it be regarding celebrities, relationships, events, TV shows, or even politics and world news. Twitter has made individuals whom we may have found to be seemingly “untouchable”, into regular people (obviously with a hell of a lot more money and resources) with opinions just like ours. This platform has made it simpler for brands to take on a sense of a personality and connect with current and prospective consumers. Twitter has succeeded in making the world seem much smaller and more connected, while all that one is required to do in order to experience this revolution is login and hit a follow button.

Recently, the question was posed on my twitter feed by Philadelphia Journalist, Bobby Sunshine:

“Do you ever notice that we appreciate some opinions and dismiss others? What makes us find credibility in certain people?”

As far as the social media world goes, the first thing many of us seek to determine credibility, is that verified badge. Secondly, we check the follower count. Often times we associate a follower count with relevance and/or credibility, which is not always accurate, however may in fact prove very true. If one has a large following (excluding those we solely follow based off of physical attraction, of course) it is most likely because the individual is well-known for something notable or extremely relatable to a specific audience. Hence, in a sense, those followers, retweets and favorites can absolutely translate to “credibility”. We live in a generation where social media is infamous for influencing opinions and decisions, therefore you cannot disregard the “relevance” of these individuals or “influencers” that possess these immense followings.

Another thing that I often observe many disregarding are analytics that come with social media "fame". With a large following, there is a much higher likeliness for higher percentages of social media impressions and unique visitors to an account, which furthermore results in the excessive amount of retweets, likes, engagement, in lesser words, visibility. These numbers are not guaranteed… for something to go viral it has to reach the right audience at the right time, and even then, those numbers are not a definite. Regardless, that visibility is extremely important to gain when trying to establish a brand.

 

While many argue that it is more important to build a fanbase/audience in real life, it is just as important within this technological society to connect with an audience online. As previously stated, Twitter has made the world so much smaller, and with that, the opportunity to expand upon your local audience quickly and much more effectively. One retweet from the right person can result in nationwide or even worldwide visibility. How else would some of these talentless acts have become famous had it not been for social media? For the most part, these people aren’t going around doing bullshit all over the country and getting famous for it. They record something, or someone catches it on camera, tosses a video up, the right people retweet and repost, and boom, viral. So why knock a large following? It could only help your brand and/or cause (unless, obviously you use your platform negatively, and that’s on you). Besides that, most of you retweet yourselves 1000 times just to get more retweets, favorites, and followers anyway, hence, doing numbers is always the goal.

So here’s a few pro-tips for building an online audience:

1

“Market yourself as an expert interested in providing information to your customers at no cost, one who is dedicated to maintaining a tight-knit group of like-minded followers.”

Nick Bandy, klickerinc.com

I’d definitely recommend following: @JoeHovasMF, @ErinASimon, and @CrooklynsDodger. These individuals have effectively maintained a group of like-minded followers by consistently dropping entertainment industry gems on the timeline, much of which many within the industry would charge for. Erin Simon recently provided her phone number via twitter for her followers to personally reach out and engage with her regarding brand related topics in which they could use guidance. In doing things like this, these individuals have built solid reputations for themselves and people follow them for their expertise (the credibility I spoke of previously). Similar to the way in which it is imperative for a brand or organization to have a mission statement, it is just as important that you tweet with a sense of purpose or a specific style, so that people know what to expect when following you. You can’t go from NBA Guru for three years as your main topic of discussion to woman basher of the year…that’s extremely confusing, and a sure way to quickly lose followers. Staying true to your brand identity is how you effectively brand your name via social media.

“Be on time. Timing is essential and important for content development, and what you must keep in mind when developing your pieces.”

Erin Ashley Simon, REVOLT

When building an audience, it is extremely important that you are mindful of timing (and I mean that in two ways). First, your content should be up to date. No one wants to read about last month’s celebrity break-up that was already covered by every major outlet, a month later. Be sure that you stay in tune with what is occurring on a daily basis and make sure that your content is appealing, fresh and presented in a way or perspective that it has not already been presented.

For example, when reviewing new music… instead of embedding a link to a new song with a quick blurb, listen to the music, deconstruct it, and write a piece that thoroughly reflects your thoughts on the track. It will draw in more readers, and loyal subscribers expecting to see more of these insightful posts.

Secondly, be mindful of your analytics. Go on youtube if you do not know how analytics work. Learn how to understand social media analytics, and post accordingly during the times that your analytics show are the best times for your content to be seen and engaged with by the highest amount of followers. Why post something at 4 in the morning when no one will see it? Post smart.

3

Make sure to always include some sort of visual content with your promotion of anything via social media.

Links look like spam.

We are a very visual society; most people need to be lured into clicking links by seeing a photo or video that is aesthetically pleasing. Make a quick graphic to go along with your article. If you are bad with graphic design, invest in yourself, pay to get them made. (Or you could simply post a GIF or image from google that correlates with your content.)

If you are dropping a music video, post the link with a 30 second to one-minute long promotional video, which could simply be the first minute of the actual video being released. You do not necessarily have to get a whole new promotional video created if that is out of your reach.

If you are dropping a song, ALWAYS post album artwork with the link. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS. Also, aim for a set format for the way in which you post your content. For example, with Dinner Land network audio posts, I always hashtag “#PressPlay” before the rest of the tweet so that our audience knows that the link contains either a song, playlist, or podcast episode. You can never go wrong with uniformity. Messy accounts are never a good look, it displays disorganization and a lack of strategy.

Also note, hashtags are very crucial. Do not be that person that includes 20 hashtags every tweet or instagram post because it looks sloppy. However, include hashtags that appeal to large audiences so that your content pops up when a specific topic is searched. For example, if you post a soundcloud link, hashtag “#soundcloud” and “#stream”.

 William Toms, Co-Founder of RECphilly, discusses key points in audience building.

4

“It’s one thing to tweet or talk about it, it’s another thing to actually see tangible results.”

Preezy, XXL Magazine

Of course your thousands of retweets and daily gems on the timeline look great to the simple minded, but are you actually working? It is so easy to get caught up in the matrix that is social media, but you cannot allow yourself to fall victim to your own hype. That is the quickest way to fall behind and lose out here. I’ve gotten caught up in my own hype in the past, and one day I realized… “damn… it’s definitely been a minute since I produced any work to show for all of these social media numbers I'm acquiring from solely tweeting.” I really had to buckle down, and get my shit together. I was associating myself with the right brands and people, and doing everything for everyone BUT myself. You must stay mindful of the work you are ACTUALLY doing, or the lack of. While twitter may land you opportunities and help you network and build solid connections, Twitter is not real life. Which leads me to my last tip…

5

Be yourself.

The REAL golden rule. We all know those people who are completely different online than in person, and that is no bueno. The most successful people are those who are genuine. Something as simple as retweeting a post that people know does not truly fit the brand identity or your personality (if your name is your brand), will have your followers questioning you and what you say that you stand for. God forbid these people meet you in real life and you are the complete opposite of the way in which you portray yourself via social media. People will instantly label you a fraud or a weirdo. The moment people question you, is the moment you lose credibility. The less credibility you possess, the less relevant you become. Your audience supports you much more when they believe that you are genuine, and the genuine love you show, is always returned tenfold. “No one is you, and that is your power,” so use that and capitalize off of it.

 

All in all, there are a ton of ways to gain a following. Some people don’t even have to do any of this, to be frank, and more power to them. However, there is strength in strategy, and every successful brand/influencer implements some form of strategy to grow and stay ahead of the competition. Find what best suits your goals and brand identity, build upon that, and most importantly don’t forget to #stayhungry.




 

Yan Snead, Dinner Land Network

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