Q+A: Beats and Rants

Camden, NJ native Trent Fitzgerald has been a big-time player in the hip-hop blogosphere with Beats and Rants since 2003 and earned the honor of making Vibe Magazine’s Top 50 Hottest Rap Blogs list not too long ago, in 2009. In this week’s edition of our blogger highlight series Fitzgerald sheds light on the number one common marketing mistake independent artists make and how he sees his blog separated from the rest of the incumbent brands like Nah Right and The Smoking Section.

How did it feel to be recognized by Vibe Magazine?

It was a huge honor. It was something that was unexpected because I didn’t get out to get noticed like that and it’s weird to see a magazine such as Vibe notice all the hard work. For at least the past 10 years, I’ve been putting a lot of hard work into the blog, showcased a lot of different types of music and writing about hip-hop music and the future [of the genre]. Never saw it coming.

What does Beats and Rants do to separate itself from other hip-hop blogs?

I don’t post every single song by Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj or Young Jeezy. I think what separates me from the other blogs is I present quality, not quantity. That’s not to throw any shade at Nah Right, or Rap Radar or 2DopeBoyz or The Smoking Section. Those are all fantastic blogs, but I try to focus on great hip-hop music; music that inspires me as opposed to posting hundreds and hundreds of stuff that most people don’t want to look at or listen to half the time.

What artists are you paying attention to these days and what are your methods for discovering new music?

Right now, I’m all about Jay-Z and Kanye West’ s ‘Watch the Throne.’ I’m also listening to Kendrick Lamar (Just like The Couch Sessions). What I do when I look for artists is I pretty much surf the Internet. A lot of the time, spend a couple of hours just surfing the Internet and I find artists simply by just bumping into them by using various rap blogs and Google search. I just look and I find brand new artists. It’s good for independent rappers to have a Tumblr blog, a Twitter page and a Bandcamp page.

What’s the most common mistake artists make when trying to market themselves, and what specifically gets your attention?

Spamming. Spamming is the biggest mistake that a lot of independent artists do. A lot of artists ask me, ‘how can I get noticed? How can I blow up on Nah Right? How can I blow up on The Smoking Section?’ Well, you have to create a buzz for yourself on your own. Spamming Nah Right, spamming me, sending me emails, sending me tweets is not going to help anybody. So what you have to do is create noise for yourself. When you create the buzz, I’ll be knocking on your door. Stop spamming. It simply does not work.

The best thing an artist can do is set up a Bandcamp page, start their own official website, set up a blog and just promote their music.

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