Trent Clark

Ex-Rapper Rob Jay Says Giving Away Music For Free Killed His Career


Do you want to be an MC or do you want to serve? Simply call it a wise question posed from an artist who is no stranger to longevity. Common didn’t carry “Sense” as his surname just because it sounded cool. (Well, maybe.)

The veteran rap legend has never went platinum, yet has never bowed down to trends of being trendy or the scrupulous demands of his corporate bosses. With those principles, he still can garner money via rapping or acting off the strength of his credibility.

Rob Jay was on his way to a similar career of music first, intangibles second. If seeing his name enacted your brain’s function to register a “who?” from your mouth, just now he, was once a potential somebody in the early stages of “the blog rapper era.”

You’d think with the Internet on your side, there is an everlasting cruch or lifeforce that would propel artists to go about their business in a timeless circle of either success or struggle. Yet, there’s not. There is a form of purgatory where rappers go after either their passion is derailed or fans stop pushing them to follow the music.

It’s called real life.

Rob Jay acknowledges that he came and went in a new blog post titled Confessions of a Failed Hip Hop Artist. In the lengthy yet informative read, he reminisces on how his name was mentioned with rappers we still post today such as Freddie Gibbs, Jay Rock and Royce da 5’9″ or how prominent tastemakers would reach out to him instead of vice versa like much of the struggle found on Hip-Hop Wired’s official Twitter page.

Here’s an excerpt:

Drake’s So Far Gone exploded right around this time. Seeing his success I made the first and worst major mistake in my career. I started giving my music away for free, this one decision changed everything. 6 months after making it I got a job and never again was I a full time artist. My initial fans never had a problem paying, my fans were my friends and real supporters. On top of that I just had this strong connection that I was making with people and the momentum was contagious.

It wasn’t rare for people to pay $15, $20 and in some cases $40 for Art Life, an 8 song EP. It was normal for me to go out to Venice Beach for a day and make $200 selling my music. But I didn’t appreciate that, it felt like begging to me. I didn’t want to be a Guerrilla Marketer, I wanted the bright lights and the big screen. I’m the next Kanye West, or at least that’s what I thought. I had a meeting with Universal during this time.

They passed on me but one thing the guy mentioned was that I should start sending my music to blogs to get more exposure. I didn’t even know what a blog was at the time. I did my research and started sending my stuff off and almost immediately people started posting it and giving me nice reviews.

Read the rest over at Rap Rehab.


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