Making it in the music industry is a difficult thing from any angle that you choose to approach it. As an artist, you have thousands of trials and tribulations that must be endured to even sniff an ounce of success. As a person who is part of an artist’s team, there are an equal number of challenges to be faced. How do you get people to listen to the music that you have done or are representing? How do you get yourself forward?
Well, in an attempt to answer some of these questions, I took the time to grab an interview with Mike Trampe. Now, you may be asking yourself, “who is that?” Mike is an industry individual that works for the Cheri Media Group, the people that run HipHopDX.com, one of the largest Hip-Hop websites known to man. Mike is also one of the key people behind the Get Your Buzz Up Hip-Hop showcase series that has been hitting it hard on the East Coast and will be making it’s way to Madison, November 8th and 9th, to see what the Midwest has to offer. You can read more about the upcoming Madison event RIGHT HERE.
Do you want some insight as to what someone in the industry is looking for? Well, here you go.
What was the motivation behind starting the Get Your Buzz Up series?
The GYBU series was actually started by Jason “J-Hatch” Hadshian a few years back. Hatch is also the Co-CEO of the nationally known I-Standard Producers Showcase, which is in 14 cities at this time. Hatch took the format of the I-Standard Producers Showcase and was able to create a showcase that helps indie artists out by giving them the chance to rock key venues in front of industry professionals and the chance to win prizes that most showcases weren’t offering. This is all due to the key relationships he has in this industry.
I met Hatch about 5 years ago at an I-Standard Producers Showcase in Philly. I was managing an upcoming producer who ended up placing 1st in the showcase. I came back with another producer who ended up placing 1st in the showcase and I think that’s when Hatch really took note of who I was. Eventually I brought 1 more producer to the showcase that placed 1st as well and over that time I built a very real relationship with him. I say real because most people in the game aren’t sincere about things and just come at people with their hands out. This was before I worked for HipHopDX.com too, so you have to understand I was very low on the totem pole and Hatch still helped me to understand this industry better.
Over the years I built up my resume, obviously becoming the Marketing Manager for DX, and starting Maad Management. Hatch has become more then a business colleague to me. I consider him a great friend & mentor. With that said, we both have the vision of finding that next dope artist. We both have so much love for the music and culture, and we both have love for indie artists and the grind they put into it. I started working as the Marketing Director for GYBU about 8 months ago and since then we have brought it to Philly, NYC, Boston, and are heading out to Wisconsin for a 2 day event that should be crazy!
That is the motivation, we are just two real genuine dudes who love Hip-Hop and the culture and we’re trying to help out the next person.
You work for a large media firm that focuses a lot of it’s time on the internet and it’s different avenues. What are some of the pluses and minuses of the world going largely online?
Going online has changed the industry! It has taken the A&R job away I feel, because a lot of these people would go out and find talent physically (clubs, shows, etc…). Now with the internet and how big it is, all you have to do is go to Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, and you will see everyone is an artist now. You have a huge amount of Hip-Hop sites/blogs as well, so it’s easy to get product out to the masses.
The downfall to that is there is so much to route threw and I feel like some real dope artists are being missed. Also, with the internet world taking over record sales have fell dramatically, most people download music illegally or most of these artists are putting out product for free on sites/blogs.
So, it’s a double edge sword. It gives artists the option of going independent and finding a lane but it also has taken away from the major labels really developing an artist in house. Labels want you to come with your own brand now, they don’t have the time to waste to develop that. So the online presence of an artist is very important, but again I feel some artists are missing out because of the politics of the game. That’s why I am so big on the music! You can have all the ins and outs covered but if your music sucks, personally, I am not interested.
The idea of “hustling” or being able to talk such a good game that opportunities are given to you for free or next to nothing seems to be dominating the culture of Hip-Hop as it becomes easier for people to gain visibility without exploring the older options of touring, print write ups, college radio, etc. Bottom line, do you have steps in the back of your mind that you’d like to see artists take to become successful or a certain way of doing things that you could clue people who are reading this interview and might be doing music, onto?
Be yourself, be sincere and show respect. I can spot someone who is trying to take advantage of me or just approaches me with their hand out from a mile away. Those types of people I don’t even consider doing business with. The music means the world to me, but if someone has that type of attitude or shadiness about them, I could care less because that type of “hustle” is a turn off.
Build real relationships in this game and positive things will surround you. Greediness may have its plus’s in the beginning but karma will come back around and bite you. I have made so many positive moves in this industry just off the strength of being sincere & honest with people. I do marketing very well, but I can’t design a flyer to save my life, so I have built a relationship with someone that does my stuff for me and in return I handle their marketing. It’s not always what another person can do for you, but what can you do for them to an extent. I am not saying that’s how you always have to think and be, but if you continuously come with your hand out, always asking favors and never in return get to know a person, what they’re into, what they like, and what they may need help with, you will continue to lose.
If you look back on Hip-Hop’s history, each decade brings along with it something new. Are you happy with Hip-Hop today or would like to see another paradigm shift in the music?
Do I hate it? Na. Do I love where hip hop is at right now? Na.
I am an 80’s baby so I grew up on early to mid 90’s hip hop. That is what I love and what I want to hear. Now, to hate a new form of Hip-Hop/Rap just because it’s not my style is corny. Times have changed so music will change. Just like, your parents listen to stuff and as a kid you were like, “what is this trash mom?” your kids/grandkids will probably do the same as the music industry changes.
I still think that 90’s era of hip hop exists but it just really hidden, back then it was promoted and marketed heavy. Now it is on the back burner to the public because the kids nowadays want to hear something different. They want to have something that they can call their own just like we did. The kids are buying the records, so that’s what the companies are going to push. Would I love to see the golden era of hip hop come back? Hell yes! Will it? Probably not. There are still tons of emcee’s doing it for the right reasons but they will never have that same feel as the golden era. The best I can do is adapt just like everyone else and support real artists who are doing it for the right reasons.
Why did you want to get into the music industry on the other side of the business?
I started as a DJ when I was 14. I was in the poetry clubs and started writing at age 9. I produced, owned a studio, I did all that. The odds that I would blow up were slim. It’s not that I even sucked, but I had a better chance with the business side.
I knew I loved Hip-Hop so much…the culture, the music, the feeling you get when you hear a dope record, I couldn’t do anything else but be surrounded by Hip-Hop music for the rest of my life. My chances of doing the business side were a lot greater than being in the industry musically. Don’t get me wrong, I still write and do studio sessions and make music for the love of it, but I take the skills I have and help other artists out. I help with hook writing, co-producing, artist features and more. I will always have a passion to create music but I feel like I have a better shot at helping someone else more talented. A lot of artists can’t say that. They can’t admit that maybe musically, they don’t belong in the industry. Artists are afraid of the let down and admitting that, but in the long run they will only help themselves, the next person & the music industry with their decision.
What is the worst experience you’ve had in dealing with new, fresh talent?
Laziness, attitudes, & The “Friend Factor”.
So many artists come at me like “I am the best artist out!” “I am the next thing to blow!” “I am this, I am that” but in reality they are just OK at best. Most artists want to get to the next level but don’t understand the work you have to do to get there. You just don’t rap in the studio and that’s that, there is so much work to do and most artists don’t want to do it.
The “Friend Factor” is when the artist has a close group of friends/family who tell them they are so dope when they really aren’t. But, if I were to tell them that they aren’t dope, I am automatically a hater. This ties in with attitude problems. I understand having confidence but the “my way or the highway” attitude has to go. You have to take criticism and advice, especially from people who have been doing this longer then you. Shoot, I still take advice and will until my dying day.
Why did you decide to come to Madison, Wisconsin to do your first Midwest event when you have Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee with larger populations and many of those cities having very rich Hip-Hop scenes?
Good question! People are probably like “WTF!?!”
It’s strategy, its research, and it’s a little bit of hope & luck. Obviously we wanted to come to a market in the Midwest, and we may still do those other cities that you mentioned. After looking at the amount of colleges (13 of them) in the area, and what events go on out there now, and the feedback we received from just throwing the idea around, it was a no brainer. We felt like the market is untouched and that we could find a diamond in the rough.
Also, sometimes you have to take chances. You have to roll those dice and see what happens, and luckily the feedback has been tremendous. We could have bounced the idea around and passed because we were just not positive on how the event would be perceived by people, but it’s the people who take chances and do things differently that are remembered. We want to give the artists from that region a chance to be heard, a chance to change the music industry, a chance that most people in certain areas take for granted!
This is a blog about Milwaukee Hip-Hop, so I have to ask this. As an East Coast guy, specifically Philly, have any of the efforts of Milwaukee Hip-Hop artists hit your radar out there? Is there any talk about any artists from Milwaukee or a perception about Milwaukee that you could share with us?
Honestly, I haven’t heard much about the MKE scene. When you approached me with the MKE mixtape I was genuinely interested to see what the scene was about. Politics aside, I really liked the music and was able to get it to the right people who liked it as well. I think in the back of my mind that was another reason why we wanted to come out to Wisconsin. We heard the talent but know the other parts of the country aren’t hearing it. We wanted to be that lane & voice for y’all.
The artists that are being talked about out here are Smokes, Romey, JC Poppe & a few others. I know there will be more after this event! I can’t wait to network and meet them!
I did a post about the Get Your Buzz Up event coming to Madison and I noticed that there were some things left as “to be announced”. Can you announce any of those developments now?
I wish I could, but we have some big things & sponsors in the works. The prize package is absolutely insane right now and once we hopefully add a few more pieces, this may be the best prize package I have ever seen in ANY showcase!
The judges are great, the panels will be very informative and the knowledge & relationships people will walk away with is priceless.
We were just nominated for the “Best Event” at the Southern Entertainment Awards, which is a huge success for us just to be nominated. We want to share our knowledge, love, and passion for this culture, and we do it like NO ONE else does! So, please come experience a showcase that will never be duplicated.
Thanks for your time and incite! Any shout outs?
Shout out to J Hatch aka Mogul Status, my brother from another mother!
Shout out to the whole HipHopDx staff & the whole Maad Management Staff!
Shout out to Nico The Beast, Chic Raw, Jakk Frost, Rox, KoKo, Oz, Nachural, 2ew Gunn Ciz, Boardroom Show, Brook, Don DiNapoli, Dino Blanco, Big O, Jodie, Ccelli, Rhythm J, Rob from Who Mag, Diana & Mig From AudioMaxx Studios and more!
Shout out to every single person who has influenced me in a positive way, and shout out to every person who has hated on me for no reason. And, a special shout out to the teachers who told me I wouldn’t amount to shit when I was younger, no biggie pun intended!
I could go on for hours naming people! Shout out to every single follower I have on twitter!
If you’re looking to catch up with Mike about music or getting onto the Get Your Buzz Up showcase in Madison, here’s his information: