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Commentary: I don’t want your CD

Brian Velez, LV Life Editor

Brian Velez, LV Life Editor

This summer I did something I had not done in a long time: I was a tour guide for my foreign relatives during their visit to Los Angeles.

I drove them to the Ontario Mills mall, Hollywood and Highland, Venice beach and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

While my relatives shopped, ate cheeseburgers and shopped some more, I noticed a group of musicians who still promote their music like its 1998.

Musicians, specifically rappers, who still promote their music one person at a time, on the street with a pair of headphones and a CD player struck me as odd. Unlike 10 years ago, the Internet now supplies all users with an abundance of resources to promote music.

Websites such as Facebook, Soundcloud, and YouTube allow musicians to share and promote their music more effectively and in a less expensive way than standing on a corner with a stack of CDs. Considering all the options a rapper has, I was confused when approached on Hollywood Boulevard by a man with a CD in a paper envelope.

“Hey man, this is my new album. I’m going be famous. Let me autograph it for you,” said the musician on Hollywood Blvd. The man walked away after I told him I had no money.

It is bad enough this person offered me a CD with no label in a plain paper envelope, but this person didn’t even tell me what type of music was on the CD or ask what type of music I listen to. It’s 2012 and pitching homemade demos on the street is like paper boys from the 1920’s trying to sell newspapers on the corner in the year 2012.

Following the dream of being a musician is awesome. All people should follow their dreams, but do it logically considering available resources. It seems that people who desire a career in the music business only hear the word music and ignore the equally and, in some cases more important word, business.

Successful musicians, including rappers who may seem to lack business savvy, have a basic understanding of the music business and how to promote themselves and their music. An audience for the music must be defined and that audience must be approached.

Walking laps around the Ontario Mills Mall or sitting on a bench in Venice beach and occasionally approaching a person who may seem to enjoy Hip-hop is a horrible plan.

Some people may argue that musicians pitch their music in way this because they lack computer access or knowledge of the Internet. This is the year 2012, and all quality music is recorded on a computer.

No person is recording music and vocals to a cassette tape. If rappers have access to recording equipment then they have access to a computer with Internet access. Starbucks and even public libraries provide free Internet connection. While I do not know if these musicians simultaneously promote their music online and in person, promoting to individuals on the street remains a waste of time. More listeners and potential customers can be influenced through the Internet.

Sadly, most people who desire to claim “Rapper” as a main source of income will never accomplish their goal due to a lack of marketing and networking skills, and mostly a lack of talent.

Brian Velez, a senior communications major, is LV Life editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by email at

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