UPDATE 05/01/2017: We now host mixtapes as well. We also have a completely new site. Please refer to this article for more advice regarding getting your music onto The Blacksmithed.
As you might know, The Blacksmithed just took another step forward in the Eastern Cape’s hip hop industry by launching an exclusive music site exclusively for the benefit of Eastern Cape hip hop artists: The Blacksmithed Music. You can stream and download singles exclusively originating from artists who rep Eastern Cape wherever they are in the world. This is a first for the Eastern Cape and it promises to only house Eastern Cape hip hop and give the best packaging for artists who have really great music and just need that extra boost.
We’ve followed and modelled our platform with other platforms who are successfully implementing similar types of platforms across the world and we are excited for what this could do for Eastern Cape hip hop artists.
We currently do not support the uploading of full mixtapes yet. We’re starting out with singles and assessing how the site will be used and decide from there as to whether we’ll be hosting full projects and dwelling on other considerations that come with it.
We have serious plans for this platform. However, we can only do so much. You – as the artist – are the determining factor as to whether your song makes it onto our site, and how well it does on there. Here are a few tips to get the most out of The Blacksmithed Music:
1. Mix and master your music well.
This is the one of the determining factors of getting onto our site. The quality of your song needs to be up to scratch. We understand that everyone cannot afford an A-grade studio. And that’s okay. We just want audible song that’s easy on the ears. Distortion, clipping, peaking – a big no-no. Make sure your final product is levelled out well and not too soft. There are some great articles and videos on how to mix and master your beats/songs on applications like FL Studio (what most peeps are using these days). Check out these below:
It is very important that your music is mastered well. It could also be the determining factor as to whether you get airplay on radio, or a potential endorsement deal could come through.
2. Send us a radio-friendly version. For your own good.
This is a problem which we believe arises from the fact that platforms in the Eastern Cape don’t really put Eastern Cape hip hop artists on that well. Because of this, artists don’t really create music that’s ready for public consumption. This then results in singles being dropped that have more cussing than a Samuel L Jackson movie. Sending us a dirty version of your single will not stop us from uploading it, definitely not. The problem is that it limits reach for you as an artist. If your song is really dope and you’ve packaged yourself really well, it will still not be considered for airplay if there is even only one swear word on your entire track. And when it comes to radio, the word “n*gga” is a swear word too. Send us music that has these words blanked out. If the song starts sounding too silent after muting all your cuss words, record a radio-friendly version and replace those words with radio-friendly words (and also, consider cussing a lot less in your songs if they make up the bulk of your song).
Also be mindful of what it is you’re talking about on your track. Radio stations are accountable to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa and listeners can lodge complaints with them for playing music that contains descriptions of “gratuitous violence” or “explicit sex” (you might have seen/heard the BCCSA ad on radio/TV before). Should your song reach those descriptive levels of the said topics, you can definitely consider it never being play listed on any radio station.
3. Stop using internet beats. Now.
This is the biggest problem in the scene: downloading beats from the internet and using them like they are your own. We have dealt with artists attempting to get their music on our site and lying about their producer, only to find that Shazam picks up the name of the song associated to the beat. Please artists, no internet beats! We understand how easy it is to use internet beats. The problem arises when your song starts getting traction and larger corporations start taking interest and want to use your song for some campaign they’re running (much like what happened with Cassper Nyovest’s ‘Gusheshe’ track with Sprite). If you are not contacted directly by the organisation, they will be reaching out to us to find you. If it comes across that we are distributing music that is not original (you do not have exclusive rights to be using the instrumental), quite a lot could happen: 1) you lose what could have been a great endorsement deal, 2) we as The Blacksmithed are caught distributing music with ‘stolen’ content (the beat), and 3) you are associated with a stolen song, and now have a bad name with the said recruiter who took interest in your song.
The only way to avoid all of that is to use original beats. We personally support that move as well as we are aiming to showcase Eastern Cape talent and build a hip hop industry in the province, which would require co-working between local artists and producers. In this way, should your track blow up, you will run into very little problems.
4. Visuals are everything.
The Blacksmithed Music is essentially a visual platform. We show no bias with regards to uploads: we upload music on a first-come first-serve basis. The ordering of the music is solely based on the date of upload. That would happen the moment we get the song from the artist. On the homepage of the site, the site visitor is presented with the 15 most recently uploaded songs. From there, they can infinitely scroll down to view more. What is presented before them is an array of single art images that are associated with the respective single. The single art is very, very important ladies and gentlemen.
The art associated with your single will be the determining factor of how your music and you as an artist are interpreted. The difference between the user clicking on your single and listening to your single and not doing it depends on your album art. You need to make sure that your visuals are really on point. Make sure the cover you submit is really good; you would be helping yourself immensely in doing that. If you need some inspiration, check out this really great article from Smashing Magazine.
When sending us visuals, make sure the art is at minimum 800 square pixels and nothing less (800px x 800px). High resolution images play greatly to your advantage and your visuals just look better. Anything larger is better of course. However, we will resize it to 1000 square pixels at maximum for the sake of file size.
We will also not upload singles that do not have any album art. This will destroy the core functionality of the site as it relies on the visuals of the multiple single art images to serve its purpose. Make sure your album art is present and of good enough resolution for the site.
5. Don’t make your song too long.
The way most radio stations approach new music – especially from unknown artists – is they’ll use your music more as a ‘filler’: they look through their playlist for songs that are a certain length and usually play them in between certain slots on their shows, e.g. right before the news, or in between a break when they try to time themselves returning to talk on air. If your song is too long, it will be ignored and other songs will obviously take preference. We recommend your single be no longer than 3min; a little bit over that is not too much of a train smash. Anything getting close to 4min as a come-up artist is not recommended.
6. Add as much metadata to your song as possible.
Your song metadata – the song’s information embedded in the actual MP3 file – is more important than you think. This is the information that shows on the audio player when it’s played on media applications on computers and phones. We’ve dealt with many artists sending us MP3s with no metadata. This does such a disservice to you as the artist: should someone like your music, they do not know who you are; they don’t know that it is you who sings the song; they don’t know any information relating to the song, and this means you’ve lost a potential fan. It’s even worse when your song starts making the rounds but there is no information as to who sings the song. You’d be losing out on a great potential fan base.
Make sure you’ve added as much relevant metadata as you possibly can to your MP3 before sending it to us (artist name, album, composer, year, album art [album art is VERY important]). Many applications allow you to easily add metadata to MP3 files such as VLC, Windows Media Player, and iTunes.
7. Get your social media ready.
As an artist, we at The Blacksmithed will treat you like one. You want to be treated like one as well as far as we understand. We just hope you are also treating yourself like one too.
We’ve distributed music on our main site on many occasions and we do our best to ensure maximum reach for the artist. When we share a link, we try to tag the artist’s page to make sure our audience can connect with their page, as well as tagging them on Twitter to have the same effect. We’ve dealt with artists who do not have Twitter handles, nor do they have Facebook artist pages. This just harms you as the artist, as your audience will no longer be able to find you online should you release more music. It’s a wasted opportunity for you as an artist to increase your fanbase.
In other cases, there are users who own Facebook pages but have not set usernames, and this makes it impossible for us to tag them in our updates when sharing their music. Facebook does not allow pages to tag personal profiles in status updates, and this is why it is highly necessary for you to have an artist page. You also need to make sure you have created a username for your page that we can access directly when tagging you. You can do so by visiting Facebook’s Username facility.
It’s imperative that you get your social media ready. Start building that fan base from day one and never stop from there. Do not lose a potential fan at all costs!
The purpose of this platform is for the distribution of quality Eastern Cape hip hop to represent the province. We want people from all over South Africa – and even the world – to be aware of the type of hip hop that is being created in the Eastern Cape. We want record label execs and big players in the national music industry to visit the site and listen to what quality hip hop music the Eastern Cape has on offer. We want corporate companies to invest into the Eastern Cape hip hop industry through initiatives such as shows, festivals, corporate sponsorships, etc. We want Eastern Cape radio stations to playlist music they find on our site and put Eastern Cape artists on. We want Eastern Cape artists to blow up nationally and do shows in other cities across South Africa with the freedom to commute nationally from their home in the Eastern Cape and not needing to move to a bigger city. We want the Eastern Cape to go toe-to-toe with the rest of the country. The Province has the potential; the problem is that no one is pushing for it. The Blacksmithed wants to make that happen.
We plea with you as the artists to help us help you. You, as well as the Eastern Cape province, are the true beneficiaries in this equation. We hope you let this article sink in and hopefully it will influence your next moves when sending us material.
We are not too fussy with how you send us music. We need to make sure the song is publicly available already. If we find it and we like it, we put it up (we will not put up music that is not originally available for download – we can only assume from that that your intention is not for your single to be downloaded). Otherwise, you can kickstart the process and send us links to your work in a message to our Facebook page.
We look forward to receiving your music and we’re excited for what this could bring to the Eastern Cape!