Well it’s not that simple.
In this article I am going to break down the costs of what it takes to even have a chance at becoming a successful rapper. Nowadays with technology the barrier to entry with music is at the lowest its ever been however it still costs money to make a credible attempt at making a career out of rap.
Who am I to write about this?
I have been an observer of hip hop / rap (and the business behind it) since I was 14 and I am now 25. I have also actively worked in the music industry for the last 5 years from concert venues to nightclubs to booking agents to managing to blogging and a whole lot in between. In all of that time I have watched many people become successful and many people fail and many more who ended up somewhere in between.
Why am I writing about this?
I am writing this piece because of two reasons;
- With blogging and in my personal life I talk to wannabe (not in a bad way) rappers every day and I really feel like some of them need to read this article.
- I am currently going through the process of this right now watching a family member make his own attempt at rap stardom.
“So how much is it going to cost me to possibly become a successful rapper?”
The short answer: Anywhere from $1,550 and all the way up to $113,500.
The long answer:
Music video(s) – $400 to $6,000
Most videographers on average cost $400 to $1500 so I highly recommend that you really wait till you are 100% confident behind the track(s) that you are making a video for. Then once you do have a song that deserves a video you try and make something that has replay value, something that will catch peoples eyes.
As for the price listed, that really is the average price. Sure you can find videographers for less than this of course but if you want anything of quality its probably going to cost you in this range.
Also, please remember that it is an anomaly to get big from just one music video. Even if you do get some attention from one video you are going to need to release 2 or 3 other videos at least to really solidify a fan base and / or presence worthy of getting record deals. Look at Ca$hrina who has several music videos out and is unsigned or Lil Toe whose 4 videos deep and still unsigned and GlokkNine who is currently creating a major buzz and in negotiations with several labels, he’s released 5 videos this year and is still unsigned. Each video costs money.
Recording / studio – $250 to $1000
Doesnt matter if your making your own studio, using someone’s barely above amateur studio, or a professional one. Studio’s and the engineer cost money and you very rarely get your tracks done in one take even if you’ve practiced a hundred times before you go in the studio.
Beats – $100 to $500
Depending on how many beats you want to rap on and depending on the producer. I mean, even myself has spent over $200 on beats I never ended up using.
You could try and get away with stealing someones beats but if you do and the song becomes even remotely something of a hit, the producer will find out and you will get sued and get a bad reputation among producers.
Drugs / Alchohol – $200 to $1,000
Maybe your one of the lucky ones who makes music without drugs or alcohol but in this game we call rap, we love our weed, drink (alcohol), and a plethora of other intoxicants.
Marketing / Promo – $500 to $5000
If you want to accurately market and promote your music then you are going to need a real budget. So many rappers contact me and personally a lot of the times it seems to me that they have this idea that they can get a bargain or a discount on fame? Which is the weirdest thing to me. Yes I understand negotiating and trying to get the best price. But I also talk to so many rappers who tell me they have no budget or the budget they do have is somewhere between $10 and $50.
Listen, I don’t care how talented you are. You are not going to get famous with a $10 dollar budget. If you’ve gotten to the point that you have music that you are releasing and you want people to check it out then you need to put time and $$ behind your project. Even Jay Z and all the major label and major indie artists have to put $$ behind their projects. Getting your video out to millions of eyes doesn’t just happen overnight.
Just as an example, WorldStarHipHop costs $800 to $1500 to have your video just on the site, that’s not even the YouTube channel either. That price of $800 to $1500 also is varied due to how successful you already are as a rapper, so if you have somewhat of a name your going to be pay closer to $800 but if you are absolutely fresh to the game it’s going to be $1500. Now if you want to be one of the featured videos at the very top of the page, one of my sources in the industry say’s that’s $5,000 a day. That’s just for one day mind you and the person who told me that said that’s even the price for people who have a working relationship with them already.
Just like WorldStar, all those channels you might know like elevator, nojumper, astari, and all the others like them cost money. But here’s the thing though you can’t just drop a video on one of these channels and expect that your going to blow up overnight just from being on that channel. That does happen but it is for the most part an anomaly. Just because rapper a got 200k views on Elevator doesn’t mean you will. You have to put even more $ on top of what you paid the site or channel to host your video, to influencers and bloggers to get your video out. After that you have to do it every time you release a video you can’t just go for one big promo push, not see the results you were hoping for then give up.
Your Time – $100 to $100,000
The barrier of entry is lower but that just means there’s more people at the party. If you want to stand out you have to spend time creating an image and promoting yourself on social media. All those people who post comments like check out my new track, tape, etc, they are spending hours posting those comments.
You are going to spend hundreds of hours outside of the time you spend on lyrics and recording. Which when you factor in lyrics and making the songs that’s where the high cost comes in.
- Eminem wrote a 1,000 songs before he released his first album infinite.
- Joe Budden used to write 10+ pages a day of lyrics for years.
Why I am mentioning this is because you have to spend time on something you want to be your career. Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that 10,000 hours is needed to become a master at a craft is true. Hell, Macklemore even wrote a song about the whole thing. I myself before I focused on other things, have put in I would say easily over 2,000 hours writing lyrics.
Time is money they say and lets just say for an average, that your earning potential is $10 an hour. All that time you are smoking and making music or doing whatever and making music could hypothetically be spent on earning money or learning a different skill, etc.
But let’s be real. Half of the people reading this who want to be rappers, are most likely trying to be soundcloud or clout rappers. Which I am not knocking one bit. So that’s why the cost on this is so varied. Even if you only spend 50 hours on your music total, that’s $500 and THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE YOUR TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Email email@example.com if you are looking to:
- Submit your music
- Get consulting
- Marketing / Promo