It’s a mid-August (probably scorching hot) Los Angeles day and I received an email from a rap artist named ‘Its Phyre’. Attached was an audio file which included an entire song recorded a cappella. I had just sent him an instrumental beat a few days before with heavy anticipation. I guess I should mention that this was in 2006 and that Its Phyre lived in Cleveland, Ohio and that we met on myspace. Yep, thats right, those are true facts. For some reason he stood out. He got my attention, as I was searching for artist to work with. What ever it was, turned into multiple collaborations and still working together 12+ years later. I asked Its Phyre aka Al Majors what he thinks it takes to get noticed and how do you stand out.
How to stand out
Location, Location and Location!
Being seen is more than simply being visible. You can be in a highly visible place like NYC (east coast), the west coast and the south. These areas get a lot of exposure but if you don’t stand out you are just another tree in a forest. You have to position yourself to be an outlier or rarity. That is an easier setting than coming from a place with low to no visibility like the Midwest. In this scenario you must find a way to be seen where no one is looking or even knows it exists.
Look At Me
Almost everyone creates art and media, so as stated you must find a way to differentiate oneself from the pack. When you look at the sky at night you won’t notice a particular star amongst the millions unless it catches your eye. It could be twinkling or appear larger than the others, the point is that it stood out and now has your attention.
One of the first ways to standout is to know where you stand. For instance, if you are a rapper great at freestyling, obscure storytelling and punchlines, you can see what strengths that can be used to standout. Knowing what skills to lean into allows you to see what areas you can excel in when trying to be noticed. If a show is coming up and the acts are more dance or commercial, focus on performing songs that highlight your storytelling ability.
When performing on a hip-hop oriented show focus on punchlines and club songs. In each situation you appear different to everyone else and can gain more notice and fans. Having this mindset is how you build awareness and a brand.
I See You
Now one must make a brand stay ahead or at least maintain pace with current trends. Gone are the days of deals being handed out because someone heard your cd, or you got radio play. A strong digital presence is the wave right now. If a person cannot google you and instantly find your music, your website, logo and number of streams you might as well be invisible.
We are in the instant gratification era. People need what they want without waiting. You must be able to instantaneously show everything you are and have done at the touch of a button. A #hashtag, digital logo and a consistent streaming record are just the bare minimums to stay “current” in today’s world.
Being able to get people to notice you and maintaining that notice are not the same. Once you work to solidify your digital footprint the most difficult part is maintaining it. People want to stay engrossed in your content. A flash in the pan is only relevant for a few months tops, so consistency is key. You need to constantly provide a quality amount of content and intrigue every day as much as possible. People are slaves to binging on content and the artists who can provide this have the better chance of being noticed and being the most visible. You symbol or logo needs to be a beacon that people can automatically associate with who you are and what you are all about.
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Photos by Canva