The code of the beat.

DIY Resource

What Does “DIY” Mean?

Simply put, DIY stands for Do It Yourself. More broadly speaking, it means take control of your own destiny, by managing your own unique product. Indeed, DIY is about being your own boss and calling your own shots. Moreover, it’s about recognizing that you are a professional the moment you take your product serious, and try to bring it to a marketplace.

“Musical artists are some of the most resourceful people in the world.” –David Sherbow

DIY doesn’t mean that you have to do everything. Instead, it simply means that you are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your products and services. Thus, as the CEO of “Your Products & Services,” Inc. (if you will), it is your job to make sure that your product/service ultimately gets the best chance to perform well in the marketplace. In other words, there are some steps in the DIY process that you should do alone; there are other steps that you should do along with someone else; and then there are also other steps that you must (necessarily) contract-out to other professionals.

Context of the DIY Artist

Right now, it’s never been better to be an indie artist. Music listeners know that they now have immeasurable access to massive choice and variety; and therefore, they are seeking out and finding new music and related products that cater to their own unique interests and tastes. Moreover, today’s music listeners are not sitting back and waiting for the radio or other traditional “taste-maker” instruments to tell them what they should be listening to.

This context is of particular importance to beatmakers (producers), who are, by the nature of the music business, self-contractors. Point is, why chase down placements for well-established or veteran acts with declining fame, when you can use your time and effort to establish your projects and acts.

The largest advantage to any new artist in any new artistic medium is unfiltered choice! Today there’s an “infinite menu” of music. And in the web age, where radio and TV no longer serve as the chief purveyors of taste, ALL artists compete in the same space, with the same ground rules: He who wins a presence on the web, wins indeed. In fact, “winning” is no longer measured by the metrics of enormous (hard to repeat) record sales, but by the amount “space” you create and expand online; record sales are just a residual effect of the space that you’re able to maintain.

What Is a DIY System?

A DIY System is simply an organized plan of action that an artist uses to do it for him or herself. Although there may be any number of factors that contribute to a successful DIY system, I believe that there are eight key factors to any artist’s DIY system.

The BeatTips DIY Checklist: 8 Points of an Effective DIY System

(1) Assess Your Current Situation.
Assessing your current situation means honestly and objectively analyzing where you currently stand. This includes an analysis of your products and services, your talent level, the level of your contacts and alliances, and the city and region that you currently reside in.

(2) Create Your Own Style/Brand.
In a wide open music market, such as the one that currently exists, the best way to really compete is by offering your own unique style/brand. Although you may necessarily make the sort of music that falls in to one broad category or another, in order to separate yourself from the rest of the pack it’s a good idea to create a sound and style that is truly distinguishable.

(3) Get a Website/Blog and Create Your Own “Web Space” and Marketplace
The largest advantage to any new artist in any new artistic medium is unfiltered choice. Today there’s an “infinite menu” of music. And in the web age, where radio and TV no longer serve as the chief purveyors of taste, ALL artists compete in the same space, with the same ground rules: He who wins a presence on the web, wins indeed. Indeed, “winning” is no longer measured by the metrics of enormous (hard to repeat) record sales, but by the amount “space” you create and expand online. And the ability for your presence online to expand is most directly related to your own website/blog. Without your own website/blog, it is virtually impossible for you to build a following for your products or services. Bottom line here: You must consistently maintain your online footprint; and you do that by (1) recommitting yourself to the task of making your web property (or properties) the best experience(s) that it (they) can be; and (2) by building up social equity with the people you encounter, especially the people you interact with in social media networks.

(4) Create your own Sales & Distribution System
Traditional distribution channels, such as large retailers and major/indie distributors are no longer the only game in town. In today’s music sales environment, there are a plethora of options. Aside from the many digital download options, you can also sale and distribute your product or service directly from your own website.
In this case, the easiest way to take online payments is through an all-in-one payment gateway system like PayPal.

(5) Build a Solid Fan Base.
No matter what product or service you offer, there is no group that will consistently support you more than a solid fan base. But how do you start a fan base? Well, first of all, the oft-repeated notion of starting a fan base is flawed. You don’t just one day decide to “start” a fan base like it’s the push of a button. You have to earn a fan base; and once you earn it, you have to continue to maintain it.
So then, how do you earn a fan base? In order to earn a fan base, there are three things that you must do above all: (1) consistently create new product; (2) regularly offer something free, whether it be content or your side exclusive product; and (3) ALWAYS engage with your fan base.

(6) Create Your Own “Word-of-Mouth Chain”
In a global consumer market, one that is increasingly being powered less by mass media and more by niche-based consumption, word of mouth is even more crucial to the success of your products or services. Word-of-mouth marketing is certainly not new; however, within the old music industry and traditional media, word-of-mouth strategies were nearly always considered a secondary marketing apparatus. But things have changed dramatically. Because of the rapid emergence and direct influence of social media, word-of-mouth marketing is now the premier marketing strategy for all forms of entertainment, especially music.

Therefore, in order for you to compete in this climate, it is absolutely essential that you come up with your own word-of-mouth strategy. The best way to do this is to create what I call a “word-of-mouth” chain. A word-of-mouth chain is a network of people that is composed of your core supporters and their closest peers. It’s important to note: every person in your word-of-mouth chain is essentially an independent marketer for you!

To assemble your word-of-mouth chain, begin with your most ardent supporters. Identify those people who repeatedly support you and take the time to have thoughtful exchanges, via message boards and/or through email. As these people make themselves known, be sure to trade updated contact information with them. Next, let them in early on all of your upcoming products or services; and even grant them access to much of your past works (if you have any). Also, whenever possible, directly invite them to help you market your products or services. If you follow these basic steps, you will inevitably build solid relationships—friendships—that you be able to count on for your word of mouth of campaign.

(7) Manage the Rights of Your Music.
Even if you make a song/beat, and upload it to your own site, your music is NOT as protected as you think; you still need to maintain evidence that you are indeed the copyright holder of that music. Most people get caught up with the idea of sending their music off to the U.S. Copyright Office. Indeed, at some point, you may need to do that. However, perhaps an even more efficient way to “manage the rights” of your music is by joining a performing rights Society like ASCAP or BMI, and filing your music with them each time you create something for commercial release, or let’s say, for a promotional mixtape.

(8) Understand the Music Business System and Its Relevant Sub-Systems.
The music business system is a phrase that I use to describe the fundamental framework by which the music industry is organized. Up until now, the music business system was defined by the formulaic manufacturing of a few clear “hit” records, whose channel of distribution was controlled by a few major companies. Today’s a whole different system, specifically because there’s no longer a dominating mainstream that dictates what music listeners hear. In fact, “mainstream” is actually a relic notion of the old music industry; micro-streams of shared interest is the new way. Having a clear understanding of this fact, is absolutely essential to your bid to do-it-yourself music-making.

Note: Any effective DIY system requires planning, sacrifice, investment in both time and money, and, finally, reaching out to pivotal people within your field of skill and interest.

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The BeatTips Manual
Beatmaking, the Hip Hop/Rap Music Tradition, and the Common Composer
6th Edition

by Amir Said

Beatmaking is a rich and very meticulous art-craft. It contains a number of unique methods and practices, each potentially more complex and challenging than the other. The BeatTips Manual breaks down the complexity of beatmaking and hip hop/rap production, and erases all of the myth and mystery.

The BeatTips Manual is brilliantly divided into five primary parts—an absolutely stunning History part; an extensively detailed and robust Instruction part, which covers everything about making beats from drum programming to composition and arrangement; a Music Theory part; a Business part; and an explosive Interviews part, which includes exclusive interviews with DJ Premier, DJ Toomp, 9th Wonder, Marley Marl and more. A groundbreaking study of hip hop/rap music’s chief compositional process and its tradition and culture, The BeatTips Manual is the definitive book on beatmaking and hip hop production.

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The Art of Sampling
The Sampling Tradition of Hip Hop/Rap Music and Copyright Law
by Amir Said

The art of sampling, one of the most innovative music processes to emerge in the late-twentieth century, stands today as both a celebrated art form and a cultural activity within the hip hop/rap music tradition and beyond. The Art of Sampling by Amir Said (author of The BeatTips Manual), examines this complex and controversial music process, and brings forth a study that illuminates its history, creative mechanics, and philosophy, along with the implications that it holds for copyright law.

The art of sampling is the world’s most explosive music technique. It contains a number of unique methods and practices, each potentially more complex and challenging than the other. It stands as one of the most highly debated music processes of all time. And, of course, it raises a number of important questions about copyright law. The Art of Sampling, which contains everything found in the “Art of Sampling” chapter of The BeatTips Manual, 6th Edition, plus additional information and a crucial Copyright Law Part, breaks down the complexity of sampling in the hip hop/rap music tradition, and erases all of the myth and mystery. Divided into three primary parts, including an in-depth History part, a robust Instruction part, and a highly comprehensive and accessible Copyright Law part, The Art of Sampling is sharply informative and engaging. Through a highly detailed analysis of the origins of the art of sampling and beatmaking in general, as well as its key aesthetics, principles, predilections, nuances, and priorities, Said offers an unmatched level of “how-to” instruction. And with an equally impressive examination of United States copyright law and policy, he delivers an astute (and approachable) study that’s certain to increase the public’s understanding of copyright law.

Intensely thought-provoking, eye-opening, and timely, The Art of Sampling is the most comprehensive exploration of sampling in the hip hop/rap music tradition and copyright law ever written, and one of the most striking and poignant music studies to come along in years.

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The BeatTips.com DIY Resource Center™ and the BeatTips DIY Checklist™ are trademarks of Superchamp, Inc. Unless otherwise noted, All information, articles, editorials and the like within the BeatTips.com DIY Resource Center and the BeatTips DIY Checklist are written, outlined and arranged by Amir Said. Copyright © 2009-2014 Amir Said.