A young rapper reading Shakespeare’s Tragedies? That hardly fits the typical hip hop image, right? Perhaps not, but is it really a less attractive image than a young artist being taken advantage of by ruthless labels or promoters due to a lack of business knowledge?
Like it or not, reading up on the industry is one of the best ways to improve your changes of success in this cut-throat business. Only by knowing the obstacles that you are likely to face, can you plan to tackle them effectively when they do arise.
Shakespeare may have little to do with the modern music industry, but there are many key lessons to be learnt nonetheless. ‘Hamlet’ teaches us the importance of taking control of a situation and taking action when necessary. The play also warns of the dangers of wasting time. Whilst ‘Othello’ demonstrates the necessity of doing your research on a situation before you act. As Tupac once said, “Shakespeare’s dope;” there is a lot to be said for these works. After all, anything that has managed to remain relevant for over 400 years is probably worth taking note of.
If Shakespeare is not for you, however, there are a number of helpful and insightful books on business and the industry. These will also help to enrich your knowledge and awareness. Rap mogul 50 Cent praised Robert Greene’s guide to ruthlessness in business ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ and accredited it with improving his business mind. The book had such a positive effect on his career, that 50 is currently working with Greene on a project called ‘The 50th Law of Power.’ Though if 48 Laws is a little too Machavellian for your liking, there are many books available, which take a gentler but effective approach.
Finally, it never hurts to read up about your craft. Reading biographies of artists that have been an inspiration to you may give an insight into what inspired them. By discovering how they found success, perhaps you too can benefit from their experiences. Books about the genre itself often also give an insight into market trends and reasons behind success careers.
So whether or not you feel that reading fits your image, it could arm you with the necessary knowledge and weapons to succeed in your career. in fact, the artists that have longevity generally tend to have a strong awareness of both their genre and the wider industry. Plus you would be amazed at the number of meetings that take place between industry professionals, where the conversation turns to literature of some sort. So instead of dismissing books as a drain on your time, look at reading as a necessary investment, which if used effectively could help turn a page in your career and lead to real results.
Han O’Connor (3threat Media)